All nursing personnel at GB Pant hospital in Delhi have been directed to use only Hindi and English for communication.

Five nurses standing around empty hospital beds in a ward, all in white uniformImage for representation
Coronavirus Rights Sunday, June 06, 2021 - 08:55

A Delhi government hospital on Saturday issued a circular asking its nursing staff not to use Malayalam at work as "maximum patients and colleagues do not know this language" which it said causes a lot of inconvenience. The circular, issued by the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER), one of the leading facilities in New Delhi, has asked its nurses to use only Hindi and English for communication or face "strict action".

GB Pant nurses' association president Liladhar Ramchandani claimed it was issued in pursuance of a complaint sent by a patient to a senior officer in the health department, regarding use of Malayalam language at the hospital, while adding that "the union disagrees with the wordings used in the circular." The circular signed by the nursing superintendent of GIPMER says, "A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language being used for communication in working places in GIPMER. Whereas maximum patient and colleagues do not know this language and feel helpless causing a lot of inconvenience.

"So, it is directed to all nursing personnel to use only Hindi and English for communication. Otherwise serious action will be taken,” it reads.

Congress leader and Member of Parliament from Kerala Rahul Gandhi tweeted to stop such language discrimination. "Malayalam is as Indian as any other Indian language. Stop language discrimination!" he wrote.

Ramchandani, also the secretary general of Delhi Nurses Federation, said, "As a language's name, Malayalam, has been inserted in the circular, many will take offence".

Read: Why many Kerala nurses are still forced to migrate outside India for jobs

He also claimed that this circular was "consequent of the complaint filed by the patient" and "internally, there is no issue among the nurses and the administration."

Many nurses at various hospitals across India hail from Kerala, with Malayalam being their native language. The circular has drawn sharp criticism from other nursing unions too. The nurses only speak in Malayalam to others from Kerala, said Jeemol Shaji of the nurses union in Delhi-run LNJP Hospital to The Hindu. Would Punjabi staff be asked not to use Punjabi among themselves, Jeemol asked. 

Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic in the country, nurses working in Delhi hospitals had struggled without basic protection as Personal Protective Equipment and face shields.

Read: From lack of PPE to discrimination: Nurses working in Delhi hospitals on official apathy

(With PTI input)

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