Sushma Swaraj arrives in Thailand

Shashi Tharoor

"Their Passports and phones were taken and they were held captive in Mombasa", External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj posted on Twitter, shortly before leaving for a tour to Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. He also made it clear that according to Article 343 of the Constitution, both Hindi and English are the official languages of India. Shashi Tharoor was in opposition of the opinion, and said that Hindi is not the national language of India, it is the Official language. We are working on it, we are making attempts to get the support of countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam... where people of Indian origin are there.

Sushma Swaraj, in her reply to a question, said: "It is often asked why Hindi is not an official language in the UN. Government continues to make such efforts towards securing due recognition for Hindi at the UN". All member nations have to bear the expenses of making Hindi an official UN language, she said.

To that, the senior minister said: "Not just Rs 40 crore, the government is ready to spend Rs 400 crore on it". However, she added that spending money would not serve the objective.

He further added that any future Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers who did not prefer to communicate in Hindi, would be put in a hard spot and that would be unfair. Seeking to promote Hindi raises an important question.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today discussed a range of issues of connectivity, security and cultural cooperation with her Thai counterpart here to keep up with the growing momentum of bilateral ties.

In response, Sushma said, "I am proud of all Indian languages".

Sushma Swaraj said Hindi was spoken in several other countries as well as by the Indian diaspora overseas. "I understand the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister can speak in Hindi, but what if a future External Affairs Minister comes from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, who couldn't speak in the language?" The government giving preference to one language is unfair to the more than 50% of Indian citizens that do not speak Hindi. He also said that India is the only country where Hindi was an official language.

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