India contributes $800,000 to expanding Hindi language use at UN

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A wide view of the 2nd plenary meeting of the 76th session of the General Assembly. The meeting dealt with the organization of work, adoption of the agenda, reports of the General Committee, and a comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
On the screens and at dais is Abdulla Shahid, President of the seventy-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: UN.org

India has contributed $800,000 to the United Nations as part of the initiative to enhance public outreach of the organization in Hindi, a language the Modi government in India is seeking to popularize worldwide and, critics say even impose, on a polyglot nation.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, R. Ravindra handed over a check for the UN project launched by India in 2018 to disseminate information about the UN to the Hindi-speaking population across the world.

“The Government of India has been making continuous efforts to expand the use of Hindi in the United Nations. As part of these efforts, ‘Hindi @ UN’ project, in collaboration with the UN Department of Public Information was launched in 2018 with an objective to enhance the public outreach of the United Nations in Hindi language, and to spread greater awareness about global issues among millions of Hindi-speaking people around the world,” the UN said in a statement (May 12, 2022).

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India has been partnering with the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) since 2018 by providing an extra-budgetary contribution to mainstream and consolidate news and multimedia content of DGC in Hindi, it added. Since 2018, the UN News in Hindi is disseminated through the UN’s website and social media handles and a UN Facebook Hindi page, the statement read further.

“A UN News-Hindi audio bulletin (UN Radio) is released every week,” it added.

While Hindi is yet to be one of UN’s official languages, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made sure he uses the medium to promote the language on international platforms, including the UN.

“On several occasions, Indian leaders have delivered statements in Hindi at the UN. This included the Prime Minister’s address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Sessions in 2014, 2019, 2020, and 2021, and the then External Affairs Minister’s address at the UNGA sessions in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018,” Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said in Parliament last year.

In sheer numbers, Hindi is the fourth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and English.

Recently, Home Minister Amit Shah advocated greater use of Hindi among non-Hindi speaking people in India, a statement that was met with howls of protest from state governments and people in southern India who resent what they call the imposition of Hindi.

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