India has donated $1 million to the United Nations to support the promotion of the Hindi language. Melissa Fleming, the Global Communications under-secretary-general, expressed gratitude to @IndiaUNNewYork and @ruchirakamboj for their generous investment in the @UNinHindi service, aimed at delivering UN news and stories to Hindi-speaking audiences in India and beyond.
India’s Commitment to Promote Hindi at the UN
- India’s Permanent Representative, Ruchira Kamboj, presented the donation cheque and reaffirmed India’s commitment to promoting the use of Hindi at the United Nations.
- She highlighted the efforts made by the UN to mainstream and consolidate news and multimedia content in Hindi, which have been well-received both in India and among Hindi-speaking populations in other countries.
Historical Significance of Hindi at the UN
The introduction of Hindi at the UN can be attributed to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who, in 1977, became the first Indian official to address the UN in Hindi when he served as the external affairs minister.
The Multilingual Nature of the UN
The United Nations initially began with three widely spoken languages: English, French, and Spanish, carried over from its predecessor, the League of Nations, along with Russian and Chinese, the languages of the two permanent members. Arabic was later added as an official language in 1973.
UN’s Efforts to Promote Multilingualism
The UN provides simultaneous interpretation in its meetings and translates documents into its six official languages. Countries can also arrange for simultaneous translation of speeches from and into their languages, as India has done with Hindi.
India’s Pursuit to Include Hindi as an Official Language
India initiated efforts to include Hindi as an official language at the UN in 2003, with the constitution of a high-level committee chaired by the external affairs minister. Renewed efforts were made in 2007 at the recommendation of the 8th World Hindi Conference.
India’s Resolution on Multilingualism
India co-sponsored a resolution at the UN General Assembly last year, emphasizing the value of multilingualism at the United Nations. The resolution appreciated the dissemination of information in non-official languages such as Portuguese, Hindi, Kiswahili, Persian, Bangla, and Urdu, in addition to the official languages.
Financial Implications for India
Besides securing the approval of a majority of the 193 UN member states to add Hindi as an official language, India will also bear the majority of the cost for interpretations and translations, considering the UN’s financial constraints.