Special officer for linguistic minorities

Special officer for linguistic minorities
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Highlights

Article 350B (1) The Special Officer acting as a Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India, who appointed by the President of India. This Officer is known as National Commissioner Linguistic Minorities. 

India is a Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic and the largest democracy in the world. Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities is a constitutional body. The government needs to address educational and livelihood needs of minority communities through reformative and target-oriented programmes and schemes.

Article 350B (1) The Special Officer acting as a Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India, who appointed by the President of India. This Officer is known as National Commissioner Linguistic Minorities.

The Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities (CLM) Organization came into existence in July, 1957 at New Delhi. After a brief period it was shifted to Allahabad and now it has been shifted to New Delhi with effect from1 June 2015.

The Commission Streamlining and strengthening implementation machinery and mechanism for effective implementation of the Constitutional Safeguards for the Linguistic Minorities, thereby, ensuring protection of the rights of speakers of the minority languages so as to provide them equal opportunities for inclusive and integrated development.

Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India (CLM) shall ensure that all the States/UTs effectively implement the Constitutional Safeguards and the nationally agreed Scheme of Safeguards for the linguistic minorities for providing them equal opportunities for inclusive development.

Isn’t the Commissioner Linguistic Minorities a mere paper tiger?
He is not a paper tiger. In fact he is not a tiger even. Is he a watchdog? No, he is not even that. He is not expected to growl when he detects something amiss. He is actually the conscience keeper of the nation.

The safeguarding of the interests of the linguistic minorities is the concern of every authority and the CLM merely points out the deficiencies which the Central and the State authorities should take care of.

What is meant by minor languages?
The minority languages are those which are other than the Principal Language in a State. But these may be the major languages which are spoken in other states where they are the Principal Language. Or they may be languages confined to a small region or spoken by a small number of people.

We have called these languages "the minor languages". But we have taken the liberty of including other languages which are spoken by a large number of people and in different states over a fairly large area but have not been accepted, due to historical reasons, in either the educational stream or the administration.

These languages are still to achieve their rightful potential. We have also included them in the definition of minor languages so as to focus attention on them also. Examples are Santhali, Bhili, Dogri.About 36.3 million of India's 1.21 billion strong population (census 2011) speak an "absolute minority language", a language which in every of India's 28 States forms a minority. Most of those language are Adivasi languages

Who are the linguistic minorities?
In each state, there is a language which is the mother tongue of the majority of the residents of that state. All others who do not speak that language belong to the linguistic minorities. Excluded are the persons whose language is the official language of the state. for example, in Jammu and Kashmir, Udru speaking persons though numberically in minority are not part of lingusitic minorities because Urdu is the official ;language of the state.

Safeguards for linguistic minorities agreed to at the national level
In addition to the Constitutional safeguards, the detailed scheme for the practicalimplementation of safeguards has been worked out on the basis of decisions arrived atvarious Conferences:
a.Education Ministers’ Conference, 1949
b.Government of India Memorandum, 1956
c.Southern Zonal Council Decisions, 1959
d.Chief Ministers’ Conference, 1961
e.Meeting of the Committee of Vice-Chairmen of Zonal Councils, 1961

The States Reorganisation Commission (src) 1956, recommendations
The States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) 1956, recommended for creation of a mechanism to address the grievances of the linguistic minorities. Although, the word linguistic minorities has not been defined in the Constitution of India, the linguistic minorities are considered as a group or collectivities of individuals residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language or script of their own.

The language of the minority group need not be one of the twenty two languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. In other words, linguistic minorities at the State level mean any group or groups of people whose mother tongues are different from the principal language of the State, and at the district and taluka /tehsil levels, different from the principal language of the district or taluka/tehsil concerned.

On the recommendations of the SRC, the 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 1957 was enacted, whereby Articles, 350 A & B were included in the Constitution. Article 350-B provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities, who is known as the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India (CLM) to investigate all the matters relating to the Safeguards provided for the linguistic minorities in India under the Constitution

Article 350b Special Officer for linguistic minorities

  1. There shall be a Special Officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed by the President.
  2. It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under this Constitution and report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament, and sent to the Governments of the States concerned

Functions of commissioner for linguistic minorities in india:

  1. To investigate all matters related to safeguards provided to the linguisticminorities.
  2. Report to H.E. President of India regarding the status of implementation of theConstitutional and the nationally agreed Scheme of Safeguards for the linguisticminorities.
  3. Monitoring status of implementation of Safeguards through Questionnaires,Visits, Conferences, Seminars, Meetings, Review Mechanism, etc.

Key objectives

  1. To submit to the Hon’ble President of India, the Reports as mandated underArticle 350B (2) of the Constitution on the status of implementation of theConstitutional and the nationally agreed Safeguards for the linguistic minorities.
  2. To provide equal opportunities to the linguistic minorities for inclusivedevelopment and national integration.
  3. To spread awareness amongst the linguistic minorities about the Safeguardsavailable to them.
  4. To ensure effective implementation of the Safeguards provided for the linguisticminorities in the Constitution and other Safeguards, which are agreed to by theStates/UTs.
  5. To take up the representations for redress of grievances related to theSafeguards for linguistic minorities with the States/ UTs.

Duties of commissioner for linguistic minorities in India:

  1. It is his duty to investigate all matters relating to safeguards provided for the linguistic minorities and report to the President at such intervals as may be fixed.
  2. Annual reports are being presented to the President through the Minister of Minority Affairs.
  3. They are laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament.
  4. The 52nd Report of the CLM was presented to Hon'ble President on 29th March, 2016. The Report is mainly related to various linguistic minorities groups in respect of implementation of the Constitutional Rights and the nationally agreed Scheme of Safeguards provided to the linguistic minorities in India. The Report records its findings and recommendations for appropriate action by the State Governments and the Union Territory Administrations, as applicable.
  5. It was laid on the table of the LokSabha and RajyaSabha on 4th May, 2016 and 3rd May, 2016 respectively.

The government focus
The Government shall work for more focused approach towards issues relating to the notified minority communities namely Muslim, Christian, Budhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain.

The policy and planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities.

We need to focus on empowering the minority communities and creating an enabling environment for strengthening the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious character of our nation.

We need to concentrate to improve the socio-economic conditions of the minority communities through affirmative action and inclusive development so that every citizen has equal opportunity to participate actively in building a vibrant nation.

To facilitate an equitable share for minority communities in education, employment, economic activities and to ensure their upliftment.

Constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities in India
i.Article 29: Protection of Interests of Minorities
a.Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereofhaving a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right toconserve the same.
b.No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institutionmaintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on groundsonly of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

ii.Article 30: Right of Minorities to Establish and Administer EducationalInstitutions
a.All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the rightto establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
b.(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any propertyof an educational institution established and administered by a minority,referred to in clause (1) the State shall ensure that the amount fixed byor determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is suchas would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under the clause.
a.The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminateagainst any educational institution on the ground that it is under themanagement of a minority, whether based on religion or language.

iii Article 347: Special Provision relating to Language Spoken by a Section ofthe Population of a State:On a demand being made in that behalf the President may, if he issatisfied that a substantial proportion of the population of a State desire theuse of any language spoken by them to be recognized by that State, directthat such language shall also be officially recognized throughout that state orany part thereof for such purpose as he may specify.

ivArticle 350: Language to be used in Representations for Redress ofGrievances:Every person shall be entitled to submit a representation for the redress of anygrievance to any officer or authority of the Union or a State in any of the languagesused in the Union or in the State, as the case may be.

vArticle 350 A: Facilities for instruction in Mother-Tongue at Primary stage:It shall be the endeavour of every State and of every local authority within theState to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at theprimary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups; andthe President may issue such directions to any State as he considers necessaryor proper for securing the provision of such facilities.

viArticle 350 B: Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities:
a.There shall be a Special Officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed by thePresident.
b.It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to thesafeguards provided for linguistic minorities under this Constitution and report tothe President, upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct,and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House ofParliament, and sent to the Governments of the States concerned.
viiThe Articles of the Constitution Guaranteeing to Citizens CertainFundamental Rights.

Equality before law (Article 14), prohibition of discrimination on grounds ofreligion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15) and equality of opportunityin matters of public employment (Article 16) also operate as safeguards forlinguistic minorities.

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