Anti-Hindi Agitations of Tamil Nadu - Official Languages (Amendment) Act of 1967 - Amendment Efforts in 1965

Amendment Efforts in 1965

Efforts to amend the Official Languages Act according to Shastri's assurances given in February 1965 faced stiff resistance from the pro-Hindi lobby. On 16 February 55 MPs from 8 different states publicly expressed their disapproval of any change in the Language policy. On 19 February 19 MPs from Maharashtra and Gujarat voiced their opposition for change and on 25 February 106 Congress MPs met the Prime Minister to request him not to amend the Act. However, Congress MPs from Madras did not debate the issue on the Parliament floor but met the Prime Minister on 12 March. Congress and opposition parties hesitated to debate the issue in Parliament as they did not wish to make their bitter divisions in public. On 22 February at a meeting in Congress Working Committee, K. Kamaraj pressed for the amendment to Official Languages Act, but received instant opposition from Morarji Desai, Jagjivan Ram and Ram Subhag. The Congress working committee finally agreed to a resolution which amounted to slowing down of Hindi-isation, strong implementation of the three language formula in Hindi and non-Hindi speaking states, and conduct of the public services exam in all regional languages. These decisions were agreed upon during the Chief Ministers' meeting which was held on 24 February.

The three language formula was not strictly enforced either in South or Hindi-speaking areas. The changes to public services exams were impractical and not well received by government officials. The only real concession to the south was the assurance that the Official Languages Act would be modified. However, any effort to follow through with that pledge received stiff resistance. In April 1965, a meeting of a cabinet sub-committee comprising Gulzari lal Nanda, A. K. Sen, Satyanarayan Sinha, Mahavir Tyagi, M. C. Chagla and S. K. Patil and but no southern members debated the issue and could not come to any agreement. The sub-committee recommended the continuation of English and Hindi as joint link languages and was not in favour of either quota system or use of regional languages in public services exams. They drafted an amendment to Official Languages Act incorporating Nehru's assurances explicitly. This Bill guaranteeing the use of English in inter-state and state-Union communications as long as desired by Non-Hindi states was approved for discussion by the Speaker on 25 August. But it was withdrawn after a bitter debate citing inopportune time due to the ongoing Punjabi Suba movement and Kashmir crisis at that time.

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