New Delhi: India has not made a proposal for introduction of Hindi as an official language of the United Nations as it would cost the government over Rs. 82 crore annually even by a conservative estimate.The information was given by the External Affairs Ministry in reply to a Right to Information plea filed by a 12-year old girl, Aishwarya Parashar, of Lucknow who sought to know that why a formal proposal to make Hindi as an official language of the UN has not been given.
“The introduction of Hindi as one of the official languages of the UN has several financial and procedural implications, which require to be met before a formal proposal can be tabled in the UN,” Central Public Information Officer of MEA, S Gopalakrishnan said in his reply.
He said India, a proposing country, would need to provide sufficient financial resources to the UN to cover the additional expenditure on interpretation, translation, printing and duplication of documents and related infrastructural costs.
“This according to conservative estimates, could cost in excess of USD 14 million (app Rs 82.6 crore) per year. This is based on the decision of the UN General Assembly in 1973 to include Arabic as a working and official language of General Assembly and adding an inflation component of 2-3 per cent per annum on a compounded basis.
“The actual cost is likely to be considerably higher since infrastructual changes would also need to be made in all conference halls to provide for an additional interpreter`s booth,” he said.
The MEA said it is not simply a question of expenditure as UN General Assembly would need to adopt a resolution supported by a majority of the 192 UN member States.
“As adding another official language entails a significant increase in the budget of the UN (personnel, equipment, and other recurring costs), Member States have been generally reluctant to support proposals entailing additional financial burden,” he said.
He said in 1973, when General Assembly approved the inclusion of Arabic among the official and working languages of the General Assembly, it did so recognising that Arabic was the language of 19 members of the United Nations.
“It was also the working language of specialised agencies such as UNESCO, FAO, WHO and the IOL. It was the official and working language of the OAU,” he said.
The MEA official said notwithstanding the fact that Hindi is spoken in many countries of the world, its recognition as an official language of other countries as well as official language in some of the specialised agencies and regional/sub-regional groupings is a factor which is to be considered for recognition in the UN.
“No special weightage is given by the UN for population, size of the country of its Gross Domestic Product. The basic principle of the UN is the sovereign equality of all nations, whether big or small,” he said.
The official said because of these reasons, Japan and Germany, who are the second and third largest contributors of the regular budget of the UN and who also have a strong policy and preference for using their own language, have not pressed for inclusion of their respective languages in the list of official languages of the UN.
The world body has six official languages–English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic–which are also the working languages in the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
First Published: Thursday, May 29, 2014 – 22:52