Chennai Declaration seeks official status for all languages
The Union government’s purported plan to “resurrect Hindi in Tamil Nadu” has its resonance in parts of eastern India. A summit held in Chennai earlier this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the anti-Hindi agitation had participants from West Bengal and Odisha, among other States.The summit committee has published the Chennai Declaration demanding recognition of all languages on Schedule 8 of the Constitution as “official languages”. While 22 languages are in the Schedule, Hindi and English are considered the official languages.Other demands of the Chennai-based pan-India organisation, Promote Linguistic Equality (PLE), coordinating the movement to promote regional languages, includes immediate inclusion of all languages for which “demands” were made by various language communities, but are not accepted by the Union government. The summit also sought an “urgent support to the ethnic, indigenous and other languages with fewer numbers of speakers” to save those from “extinction and assimilation”.The Chennai Summit took place a week after the Bhopal Hindi Conference and was described as a “massive success” by the organisers.The PLE has connected people by social media and has been behind the #stophindiimposition that trended on Twitter during the Prime Minister’s speech in Hindi during August 15 and #stophindiimperialism trend during the World Hindi Conference in Bhopal from September 10 to 12.The representatives from Kolkata said they supported all the three demands of the Chennai Summit.“Bengali, like Tamil, Kannada and all other non-Hindi Indic languages, has been relegated to second class status due to the Union Government’s policies. Non-Hindi mother-tongue speakers are discriminated in every walk of life — from denial of essential public services to entry bars in government jobs. People have been struggling in their own spheres.It is now that Bengalis have slowly started linking up with this protests that are brewing all over the non-Hindi regions of India, given the deeper push and imposition of Hindi under the current regime,” said a signatory of Chennai Declaration, Professor Garga Chatterjee of Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata.PLE - West Bengal was created after the success of several India-wide social media campaigns. A language activist from Odisha, Saket Sahu, who attended the summit, said that besides providing a platform for the main languages of the States, the summit provided space to the mother-tongue movement as well, like his mother tongue, Kosali.“In Odisha we have two major languages: Odia and Kosali. Both are almost having same numbers of speakers and same age. But Odia has been recognised as a classical language and Kosali is struggling to get included in the 8th Schedule. Chennai conference is a platform of likeminded and hope it understand the agony of Kosali language which is facing Odia imposition the way they are facing Hindi imposition,” Mr Sahu said.Interestingly, few of Assam’s language groups in the Brahmaputra valley — who have many issues with the Bengali language-movement in the Barak Valley — have also launched a regional unit of PLE after the Chennai summit. Of the Schedule 8 languages, only Hindi and English are official languages now.
Our march in step with U.N. vision: Modi
Presenting his government’s domestic development agenda as completely in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a special summit of the U.N. on Friday that he came from a tradition that considered the entire world as one and the earth as our mother.Reiterating the Indian position on climate change, the Prime Minister emphasised the concept of “common but differentiated responsibility,” which is part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In his 18-minute speech, Mr. Modi outlined the various development targets that his government has set, and how special measures were being taken to ensure that they were environmentally sustainable.“The SDG mirrors India’s developmental goals,” the Prime Minister said. According to him, whenever nations have been united in dealing with a crisis, they have been successful.“Seventy years ago, the U.N. offered a new hope for humanity. Today, the time has come for us to seek a new direction,” he said, calling for reforms in the U.N.“The U.N. Security Council needs to be made more broad based in order for it to have higher credibility.”Pointing out that removing poverty is the biggest challenge before the world, the Prime Minister said it was the collective responsibility of all to work towards a “world that is peaceful, a system that is just and development that is sustainable.”
Sustainable future can’t be won without tackling poverty: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday invoked Jana Sangh founder Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya to argue that his ideal of antyodaya, or the uplift of the poorest, and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals were similar.Addressing a special summit of the U.N., Mr. Modi listed the Indian schemes of financial inclusion, education and skill development, direct benefits transfer, and pension schemes for the vulnerable among the initiatives that would promote sustainable development in India.He said, “It is not just about fulfilling the needs of the poor and upholding their dignity, nor about assuming moral responsibility for this, but realising that the very goal of a sustainable future cannot be accomplished without addressing the problem of poverty.”Mr. Modi also introduced an idea of the “Blue Revolution,” which he elaborated as a special effort to preserve the oceans and ensure the sustenance and prosperity of island nations, particularly the smaller ones that face the brunt of climate change. “We are committed to a sustainable path to prosperity; that is rooted in our culture,” Mr. Modi said, adding that, “we need to change our lifestyles in order to reduce energy dependency and consequently the impact on environment.”
Signals point to better economic activity: CEA
Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said in a wide-ranging interview to The Hindu that the economy is sending mixed signals.“The signals are unambiguously pointing to an improvement in economic activity. But on the pace, we do get mixed signals. For example, indirect tax revenue numbers are doing very well, direct tax revenue numbers are not doing so well. Real credit growth numbers are actually doing better than people think. Stalled projects have also come down, but at the same time exports are in negative territory. Private investment is still challenged. So, in that sense, therefore, the economy is still well below potential and that’s the sense in which you can completely logically say that even though it’s recovering and full of potential, therefore it needs monetary policy support since we are not going to aggravate inflationary pressures.”Dr. Subramanian said China was experiencing a temporary wobble and it would regain its footing, but at 5-7 per cent growth levels.“If that is the medium term forecast for China, then it throws up more challenges and opportunities for India. If China grows rapidly, it is good for the world and for India. If China slows down, it will throw up challenges.”
U.S. moots ‘Sri Lankan judicial mechanism’ with foreign judges
A draft resolution, submitted by four countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has mooted the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges in “a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism” to probe allegations of war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.Sri Lanka has co-sponsored the resolution. The proposed mechanism includes the Special Counsel’s office, according to the draft, which has been hosted on the extranet of the UNHRC.The text of an old draft had called upon the Sri Lankan government “to involve international investigators, prosecutors and judges in Sri Lanka’s justice processes”.Jehan Perera, executive director of the National Peace Council and a law alumnus of the Harvard University, says the earlier version on the nature of judicial mechanism was ambiguous whereas the revised text is more specific and it reiterates the government’s position, which is for a domestic mechanism. Dr. Perera says the role of the foreign judges is likely to be more in the form of advisory as otherwise there will have to be amendments to the existing laws.Another significant feature of the resolution is that “the reputation of those, including within the military, who conducted themselves in an appropriate manner with honour and professionalism” would be safeguarded even as a “credible accountability process” will be in place for “those most responsible for violations and abuses”. The document also talks of “the need for a process of accountability and reconciliation for violations and abuses committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”.Reacting to the tabling of the resolution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that “following extensive negotiations, the government has managed to include several clauses in the document recognising the progress made on reconciliation since January 2015”. He added that the government had agreed to implement a political solution to the island’s ethnic problem and bring the necessary constitutional measures.The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in a statement, described the suggestion of involving the foreign and Commonwealth jurists as a “significant victory for justice”.It added “the draft provides a constructive starting point for what will inevitably be a long road to reconciliation.”
Sources: The Hindu