Maharashtra Government Proposes Mandatory Marathi Language Requirement For Taxi & Auto Drivers In New Policy Document

Maharashtra Government Proposes Mandatory Marathi Language Requirement For Taxi & Auto Drivers In New Policy Document

The document also demands a greater emphasis on the state language in educational institutes, starting with the teaching of Marathi alphabets in preschools and nurseries.

Musab QaziUpdated: Thursday, March 14, 2024, 12:26 PM IST
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A new policy document of the Maharashtra government seeks to make the knowledge of Marathi language mandatory for taxi and auto rickshaw drivers in the state, even though a similar directive was previously shot down by the Bombay High Court. The proposal is part of the government's new policy on Marathi language, which was approved by the state cabinet on Wednesday.

The draft calls for Marathi to be recognised as the official language of the High Court and pushes for strict adherence to the state language for communication in government offices, among other measures aimed at boosting the usage of Marathi in public sphere. The document also demands a greater emphasis on the state language in educational institutes, starting with the teaching of Marathi alphabets in preschools and nurseries.

The policy aims to promote, preserve, conserve and develop Marathi and establish it as a language of knowledge acquisition and employment in the next 25 years. It also aims to devise steps for the conservation and promotion of various dialects of the language using modern technology like ChatGPT.

A number of recommendations have been made to infuse Marathi across various domains including school, higher and technical education, law and judiciary,finance and business and media.The policy suggests that the drivers of passenger vehicles be issued permits only if demonstrate their knowledge of Marathi. The proposed requirement is similar to a directive issued by the state transport commissioner in 2016.The diktat had met with opposition from auto rickshaw unions across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR),and was eventually revoked by the High Court, which had termed it 'illegal'.

The policy document also reiterates the demand to change the name of Bombay High Court to Mumbai High Court, despite the central government clarifying last year that it has no plan to do so at the moment. In July 2016, the Centre had introduced a legislation titled High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 to change the names of the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts to the Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai High Courts respectively. However, it wasn't taken up for discussion and eventually lapsed due to the change in government.The policy also insists that the agreements signed between real estate developers and their customers at sub-registrar offices must either be in Marathi or bilingual

A similar requirement has been proposed for other documents pertaining to the sale of properties in the state.While mandating officials at government and semi-government offices, except for those from outside the state, to only communicate in Marathi, the document threatens them with repercussions in case of non-compliance.

Among other measures,the policy seeks to have Marathi alphabet-identification as a compulsory subject in pre-schools. The requirement is in line with the state's new draft curriculum for foundational level (pre-school and classes 1 and 2),which provides for mandatory teaching of Marathi and English right when the children step into schools. A number of provisions have been made for promoting Marathi in higher education institutes as well. The policy directs universities to provide a Marathi language summary of all research work, while promising special financial aid to those PhD scholars who research on topics related to the language.

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