Assam Official Language Amendment Bill

The Assam Cabinet recently approved the bill to make Bodo an official language of the state. The bill has been framed in accordance to the Bodo Peace Accord signed between the Government of India, Assam Government, four Bodo rebel groups and two Bodo organizations.

Official Language in India

There is no National language in India. The article 343 says that the official language of Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari. Business in Indian Parliament shall be transacted only in Hindi or English. English is allowed to use for official purposes such as parliamentary proceedings, communication between Central Government and state government, Judiciary Communications in the country.

In addition to the official languages, constitution recognises 22 regional languages. This includes Hindi but not English. Therefore, in India English is neither an official language nor a scheduled language. It is simply a language for communication solving the official purposes.

Official language in Assam

The official language of Assam is Assamese. The additional official languages are Bengali and Bodo. Bengali is official language in three districts of Barak Valley and Bodo in Bodoland territorial Council areas.

Assamese language movement

The Assamese language movement refers to a series of political activities that demanded the recognition of Assamese language as an official language. The struggle began in 19th century when the region was under British rule. The Assamese resented the use of Bengali language as a language of courts and also for official purposes since the British rule. After the State Reorganisation Act, 1956, the Assam Sahitya Sabha demanded the use of Assamese as official language in the state. The inclusion of Assamese language in the 8th schedule of constitution helped to increase a sense of confidence for the movement.

In 1960, Assam official language Act was passed recognising Assamese as an official language in Assam. The act also included provisions for the safeguard of linguistic minorities in the state. In 2019, the Assam Cabinet approved to make Assamese the State Language.

Background

According to Census 2011, there are more than 14.16 lakh people speaking Bodo language in the state of Assam. They account to 4.53 % of the total population of the state.

Other Approvals

  • The cabinet also approved to setup the Bodo Kachari Autonomous Council. This is also a part of Bodo Accord signed in January 2020.
  • The cabinet also approved to increase the service age of all National Health Mission employees to 60 years.
  • The cabinet approved the Career Progression Scheme for doctors serving as faculty members in Assam medical colleges.
  • The cabinet also approved a loan of 91 crores of rupees from NABARD under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund.

What are the issues associated with the Bodos?

The Bodos are ethnic communities demanding separate land. The entire Bodoland issue has its roots to 1930s.

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