External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is one of the most popular people on Indian Twitter. She interacts with people and listens to their problems, and she actually gets things done.
However, right now, the Minister is not on the list of favourites of many of people across the country; Sushma’s statement on Friday that personal details on all passports will now be bilingual - in Hindi and English - has drawn flak from many quarters.
“Passports should at least be bilingual. All Arab countries have their passport in Arabic, Germany makes it in German and Russia makes it in Russian. Why cant we make it Hindi? Personal details in passports are now printed only in English and Swaraj said she had received several complaints about it. Now, we have given an order to Nashik printing press that passports should be (printed) in Hindi as well. So you will receive passports in Hindi and English,” the Minister reportedly said.
While many were angry with the very fact that Hindi is being imposed on other parts of the country - especially south India, where Hindi is neither spoken nor understood in most parts - they also diligently pointed out the lack of logic in such a move.
The move to print Passports in Hindi and English instead of English alone is yet another attempt to impose Hindi on non Hindi speaking ppl.— Sumanth Raman (@sumanthraman) June 23, 2017
What is logic in printing a Tamil Nadu residents Passport in Hindi when neither he nor immigration staff in country he visits can read Hindi— Sumanth Raman (@sumanthraman) June 23, 2017
There were also many counters to the ‘when you’re ready to use foreign language why not Hindi’ brigade. (Not that English is a ‘foreign’ language in India anymore.)
The use of English over Hindi in Tamil Nadu is not English elitism. English there is utility, Tamil is identity.— Vasudha Venugopal (@vasudha_ET) June 24, 2017
Some people also pointed out the hypocrisy of some politicians, who have been less than charitable to other regional languages, but have no qualms about Hindi imposition.
Passport isn't a ration card to have it in Kannada said our representative. His Party is now rolling out passport in Hindi for "All".— Suhruta Yajaman (@syajaman) June 23, 2017
Even some BJP supporters are not happy with the move!
Passport already has Hindi but personal details were printed only in English. Now they want to add Hindi as well. Wonder what is the need.— SG Suryah (@SuryahSG) June 23, 2017
Of course, some people defended this move by the Minister.
Passport is issued by Govt of India, official language of GOI are English & Hindi.— Raju Das | ৰাজু দাস (@rajudasonline) June 23, 2017
Docs issued by state govts can have regional languages.
Case in point, this Hindi-imposed signboard in Karnataka, where Chennapatna became ‘Chanpatanh’, pointed out by many people including a BJP MP:
Imagine if Channapatna becomes Chanpatan, how they'll mangle South Indian names and places in the passport. Unnecessary step @SushmaSwaraj— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) June 24, 2017