SPL CORRESPONDENT

NEW DELHI, Jan 17: Use of regional languages in the Rajya Sabha has risen to over five times. Members spoke in 10 of the 22 scheduled languages first time during 2018-20, while another six languages including Assamese, Bodo and Manipuri have been used after a long gap.

According to official sources, the use of regional languages in the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha has increased manifold during the three-year period of 2018-20 with Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu regularly urging the members of the House to do so.

During this period, four languages including Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani and Sonthali have been used for the first time since the Rajya Sabha came into being in 1952 and another six languages including Assamese, Bodo, Gujarati, Maithili, Manipuri and Nepali have been used after a long gap.

Number of times regional languages (other than Hindi) were used during 2013-17 (329 sittings) and 2018-20 (163 sittings), respectively, were: Tamil (32 and 18), Telugu (19 and 33), Urdu (19 and 24), Bengali (6 and 17), Sanskrit (0 and 12), Marathi (3 and 6), Odiya (5 and 6), Kannada (2 and 5), Punjabi (2 and 3), Malayalam (2 and 0) and Assamese (0 and 2).

While Hindi and English are the widely used languages during the proceedings of the House, the use of 21 other scheduled Indian languages (other than Hindi) has increased to over five times (512 per cent) per sitting in 2020 over that of the  14 year period between 2004-17.

Rajya Sabha members spoke in 10 scheduled languages (other than Hindi) in the House on 269 occasions during 923 sittings between 2004 and 2017 at the rate of 0.291 per sitting. In 2020, 49 interventions in regional languages were made during 33 sittings at the rate of 1.49 per sitting, marking an increase to 512 per cent.

During 2013-17 spanning over 329 sittings, members spoke only in 10 regional languages (other than Hindi) 96 times, all limited to debates. However, during 2018-20 with 163 sittings, regional languages were used 135 times including 66 interventions in debates, 62 Zero Hour and seven Special Mentions, said sources.

Four of the 22 scheduled languages, including Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani and Santhali were used for the first time in the House since 1952, further to the introduction of Simultaneous Interpretation Service (SIS) in these four languages and Sindhi at the behest of Chairman Venkaiah Naidu in 2018.

After becoming the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha in August, 2017, Venkaiah Naidu has been urging the members of the House to speak in their respective mother tongue in the spirit of the federal nature of the House. While announcing the availability of Simultaneous Interpretation Facilities in all the 22 scheduled languages in July, 2018, he spoke in 10 languages in the House.

With 12 interventions in Sanskrit, all during 2019-20, it has emerged as the fifth widely used in the Rajya Sabha among the 22 scheduled languages coming after Hindi, Telugu, Urdu and Tamil, said sources.