by Kristal Bivona
The State Assembly passed the West Bengal Official Language Amendment Bill, which recognizes Urdu as an official language in areas that have over 10% of the population speaking Urdu. West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee called the passing of the bill a “historic development.”
“This is a historic decision taken by our government and would help many poor people of the Muslim community use the language for official communication,” Banerjee explained. Giving Urdu official language status was one of Banerjee’s pre-election platforms that helped her win her position as Chief Minister.
Critics of the bill complain that public employees are not equipped to use Urdu, which will complicate the execution of the bill. Opposition Leader Surya Kanto Mashra said, “Their files will end up in the departmental cupboards.” Mashra also pointed out that the law did not specify whether Urdu-speaking students will be able to use the language in college examinations.
Meanwhile, in Uttar Pradash, the State Chief Minister, Akhilsh Yadev, announced that the government would set up Urdu medium government schools. The state will provide primary, middle and secondary education in Urdu where there are prominent Urdu-speaking communities.
Yadev said that these schools, along with technical training schools, will help people in the Muslim community in Uttar Pradash be more competitive in the job market.