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Maharashtra government puts Marathi as first language in Mantralaya

The BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis seems to have taken the adage – ‘walls have ears’ – quite seriously. Because there is a proposal to have vigilant officers prowling in the corridors and offices of Mantralaya. Their onerous responsibility will be to pry and eavesdrop on officers – their private chats and official conversations — to ensure that they speak only in MARATHI.

And, there is a rider as well: if officers do not comply with the diktat to converse only in Marathi, it will be a black mark in their confidential reports, which could jeopardise their promotions, increments and seniority. This absurd Government Resolution (GR) was issued on Tuesday, making it mandatory ‘‘for every officer to communicate, speak, interact and write in Marathi language only.’’

The staff will have to religiously adhere to the directive as vigilant officers will keep a close eye on them to ascertain whether they are indeed speaking in chaste Marathi! This is for the ninth time since 1982 that the state government has issued a GR making Marathi compulsory for all its employees across departments in Mantralaya. But this GR goes a step further, saying that employees will not use English phonetics and the use of Devnagri script is mandatory.

Interestingly, there are several mistakes in the 18-page GR wherein ‘bhasha’ (language) is written as ‘bappa’ and ‘rabavnyat’ (implementation) as ‘ravavnyat.’ The ‘Ravan’ in the ministry seems to have come alive, was the snide remark of a few Mantralaya employees. The directive enforcing Marathi — and that too in Devanagari script — further requires employees to speak on phone only in Marathi.

What is going to be a tongue-twister for non-Marathi officials is that they too have been told to speak in the lingo at staff meetings. The officials will also have to make presentations only in Marathi. The vigilance has been extended to changing the name plates of all ministers and officers, which is going to cost this debt-ridden government a few more lakhs.

The GR cites a few examples for the greenhorns. For instance, names of officers cannot be written in Roman – say, H N Apte will have to be written in Marathi as Ha Na Apte. While mentioning the designation, it should be mentioned in Marathi only. The undersecretary will now be addressed as Upa Sachiv.

Incidentally, only a few Marathi speaking staffers understand such nuances of the language. This linguistic dislocation is too much of ‘tantra shikshan’ for outsiders, said RG Karnik, advisor of the state government employees’ organisation. Karnik told the Free Press Journal, “Many people do not understand Marathi even though they have been living in this state for many decades. And we cannot expect them to speak and read in the Devanagari script. Several Marathi words used in official jargon are difficult for most to comprehend, and the government should change this order,” said Karnik.


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