Given on 23 February 1948, this speech is still aptly applicable in Indian context where states constantly oppose Hindi
Sir, in moving this— the motion that stands in my name— I can assure the House that I do so not in a spirit of narrow Provincialism, but, Sir, in the spirit that this motion receives the fullest consideration at the hands of members.
I know, Sir, that Bengali is a provincial language, but, so far our state is concerned, it is the language of the majority of the people of the state. So although it is a provincial language, as a language of the majority of the people of the state it stands on a different footing. Out of six crores and ninety lakhs of people of people inhabiting this State, 4 crores and 40 lakhs of people speak the Bengali language. So, Sir, what should be the State language of the State of Pakistan? The State language of the State should be the language which is used by the majority of the people of the State, and for that, Sir, I consider that Bengali language is a lingua franca of our State.
It may be contended with a certain amount of force that even in our sister dominion the provincial language have not got the status of a lingua franca because in her sister dominion of India the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly is conducted in Hindustani, Hindi or Urdu or English. It is not conducted in the Bengali language but so far as the Bengali is concerned out of 30 cores of people inhabiting that sister dominion two and a half crores speak the Bengali language. Hindustani, Hindi or Urdu has been given an honoured place in the sister dominion because the majority of the people of the Indian Dominion speak that language. So we are to consider that in our state it is found that the majority of the people of the Indian Dominion speak that language. So we are to consider that in our State it is found that the majority of the people of the State do speak the Bengali language then Bengali should have an honoured place even in the Central Government.
I know, Sir, I voice the sentiments of the vast millions of our. In the meantime I want to let the House Know the feelings of the vastest millions of our State. Even, Sir, in the Eastern Pakistan where the people numbering four crores and forty lakhs speak the Bengali language the common man even if he goes to a Post Office and wants to have a money order form finds that the money order is printed in Urdu language and is not printed in Bengali language or it is printed in English. A poor cultivator, who has got his son, Sir, as a student in the Dacca University and who wants to send money to him, goes to a village Post Office and he asks for a money order form, is printed in Urdu language. He can not send the money order but shall have to rush to a distant town and have this money order form translated for him and then the money order, Sir, that is necessary for his boy can be sent. The poor cultivator, Sir, sells a certain plot of land or a poor cultivator purchases a plot of land and goes to the Stamp vendor and pays him money but cannot say whether he has received the value of the money is Stamps. The value of the Stamp, Sir, is written not in Bengali but is written Urdu and English. But he can’t say, Sir, whether he has got the real value of the Stamp. These are the difficulties experienced by the common man of the State.
The language of the State should be such which can be understood by the common man of the State. The common man of the State numbering four crores and forty lakhs find that the proceedings of the Assembly which is their mother of parliaments is being conducted in a language, Sir which is unknown to them. Then, Sir, English has got an honoured place, Sir, in Rule 29. I know, Sir, English has got an honoured placed because of the International Character. But, Sir, if English can have an honoured place in Rule 29 that the proceedings of the Assembly should be conducted in Urdu or English why Bengalee, which is spoken by the four crores forty lakhs of people should not have an honoured place, Sir, in Rule 29 of the procedure Rules.
So, Sir, I know I am voicing the sentiments of the vast millions of our State and therefore Bengali should not be treated as a Provincial Language. It should be treated as the language of the State. And, therefore, Sir, I suggest that after the word ‘English, the words ‘Bengali’ be inserted in Rule 29. I do not wish to detain the House but I wish that the Members of the Constituent Assembly present here should give a consideration to the sentiments of the vast millions of our State, Sir, and should accept the amendment to Rule 29 that has been moved by me.