Sushma Swaraj to Begin 5-day Visit To ASEAN Countries

Shashi Tharoor

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday embarked on her first visit of the year 2018 to three South East Asian countries - Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. Tharoor said, "Hindi is not the national language, it is an official language". As per the UN rules, support of two-third member countries (129 nations) is vital out of the total 193 member nations, the minister said in Lower House during Question Hour. "When we get that kind of support and they are also ready to bear the financial burden, it will become an official language".

Sushma Swaraj explained that the procedure is long and requires two-thirds of the 193 member countries of the United Nations to vote in favour of Hindi being an official language in the United Nations, and also share the resulting financial expenditure in the process. Why do we need an official language in the UN?

To this Swaraj said that the government is ready to pay "even Rs. 400 crore if required" but the world body's rules do not allow to do so.

He pointed out that Hindi was India's official, not national, language.

Also, spending taxpayers' money on something so trivial is not acceptable.

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Ms. Swaraj promptly responded that Hindi was not only spoken in India, but in countries such as Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, as well as by NRIs living in the United States. Seeking to promote Hindi raises an important question.

"The question is what objective is being served by this". If, indeed, we have a Prime Minister or a foreign minister who prefers to speak Hindi, they can do so and we can pay for that speech to be translated. "Why should we put our future Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers who may be from Tamil Nadu in a position", he said. The minister replied back and said, "I am proud of all Indian languages".

The statement did not go well with several members of the treasury benches who raised the pitch in protest. In America, NRIs speak Hindi even today.

When it comes to listing out the most graceful and responsible minister the country ever had, the first name that strikes every Indian brain is undoubtedly External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

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