Indian Coast Guards, Protection of non-Hindi Peoples and the Language Policy

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2018 (ID. 2018-04-02)
Click here for MAIN INDEX to archived articles


1. Duties of Indian Coast Guard and its Language Policy

2. Tamil Nadu Fisherman Died because of ICG’s Language Policy

3. Hindi Poetry Festival at Indian Coastguard Office in Tamil Nadu

4. Amend the Indian Constitution

1. Duties of Indian Coast Guard and its Language Policy

One of the duties of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is providing protection and assistance to fishermen in distress while at sea (according to their web site).

All coastguards are required to know English and Hindi. There is no requirement that they know the local language where they work; for example, many coastguards posted in Andhra do not know Telugu, many posted in West Bengal do not know Bengali, etc.

This lack of knowledge of the local language is a hardship to local fishermen because they are unable to talk to the coastguards when they need information or help. Indian government’s arrogant, callous attitude seems to be, “If non-Hindi fishermen want help from coastguard, let them learn Hindi or English”. Why are we paying taxes if we cannot get help from the coast guard?

2. Tamil Nadu Fisherman Died because of ICG’s Language Policy

Indian Government’s Hindi-centric attitude has a blood toll—non-Hindi blood. Here are the details.

A Tamil Nadu fisherman died from Sri Lankan Navy shooting in March 2017 because Indian Coast Guard ship nearby could not understand a distress phone call from fishermen in Tamil; the fishermen did not know Hindi or English. According to the fishermen with him, he was alive for an hour after the shooting and could have survived if Indian coastguard arrived upon receiving the distress call and provided medical aid. See the interview (in Tamil) with one of the fishermen at: Video-click here This video aired in some TV channels and then posted on Facebook in the Internet on March 7, 2017.

Death of this fisherman falls squarely on Indian government policy of not requiring its employees’ proficiency in the local language, but requiring only proficiency in English and Hindi.

3. Hindi Poetry Festival at Indian Coastguard Office in Tamil Nadu

Instead of teaching its employees the language of the local people, Indian Coast Guard is spending money and time on holding “Hindi Poetry Festivals”. Here is a tweet message from the Indian Coast Guard in March 2018, “Hindi Kavi Sammelan (Hindi poetry Festival) was organised at Chennai (Tamil Nadu) on March 14, 2018 by Indian Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (East) and Town Official Language Implementation Committee to promote Hindi language. Poets from various government agencies participated in the event”. (Twitter Message from Indian Coast Guard; March 21-22, 2018)

Instead of promoting Hindi, teach coast guards the language of the fishermen it was asked to protect. Instead of organizing Hindi poetry festivals, organize classes in the local language.

4. Amend the Indian Constitution

Indian Coastguards is not the only Indian security organization that does not require proficiency in the local language. Many employees at Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indian Railway Protection Force (RPF), security guards at airports, ports and central government institutions such as Neyveli Lignite Corporation do not know the local language.

It is high time that Indian parliament amends the constitution to require working knowledge of the state language to all employees at all central security forces (Central Industrial Security Force, Indian Railway Protection Force and any other). If Hindi-belt members of parliament block such an amendment, then non-Hindi states should consider if we should be one country with such Hindi-centric states.

Reference 1 lists several instances where Indian government issued important safety and health related information in Hindi and English only, thus endangering the safety and welfare of non-Hindi citizens who know neither language.


1. How the Indian Government Puts Safety, Health and Welfare of Non-Hindi Peoples at Risk to Further its Hindi Imposition Agenda

Examples, brief descriptions and links to detailed information about each example (AIDS prevention information, drug labels, cooking gas safety instruction, railways emergency instructions, coast guards, ...)


Collection of articles on Hindi Imposition

Index to Archived Articles

Thanjai Nalangkilli

If you would like to translate this article to Tamil for us, please write us. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

This is a "Category B" article.  Free to publish as long as the entire article (or translation), author's name and Tamil Tribune name and URL (http://www.tamiltribune.com) are included (no permission needed). Click here for more details.

FIS180331 - 2018-a1d


Your comments on this article or any other matter relating to Tamil are welcome

(e-mail to: tamiltribuneatasia.com Please replace "at" with the @ sign.)


Copyright © 2018 by TAMIL TRIBUNE

All rights reserved. http://www.tamiltribune.com/gen/permit.html)