‘Don’t Speak in Malayalam’: Delhi Hospital Revokes Order Amid Row

The order had said the use of Malayalam among nursing staff was causing “a lot of inconvenience” to patients.

2 min read

Facing flak against its circular asking its nursing staff not to use Malayalam at work, a Delhi government hospital revoked its order on Sunday, 6 June. Many prominent people, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh had come out against the circular.

The controversial order, issued by Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER), on Saturday, 5 June, read,

“A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam being used for communication in working places in GIPMER. Whereas maximum patients and colleagues do not know this language and feel helpless causing a lot of inconvenience. So, it is directed to all Nursing Personnel to use only Hindi and English for communication, otherwise serious action will be taken.”

The order was signed by the hospital’s nursing superintendent.


Hospital Faces Flak

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the hospital, saying the circular is discriminatory. “Malayalam is as Indian as any other Indian language. Stop language discrimination!” he tweeted.

Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter, saying, “Absolutely, totally bizarre! This is unconstitutional.”

Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor called the move a violation of human rights.

“It boggles the mind that in democratic India a government institution can tell its nurses not to speak in their mother tongue to others who understand them. This is unacceptable, crude, offensive and a violation of the basic human rights of Indian citizens. A reprimand is overdue!” he tweeted.

“Malayalee nurses are the backbone of the Healthcare system in many States. Asking them not to speak to each other in Malayalam is ridiculous. Can other States issue similar instructions to native Hindi speakers?” Sumanth Raman, political analyst and commentator, said on Twitter.

After the strong criticism, the hospital on Sunday morning said that it had withdrawn the circular – and that the hospital administration was not aware of such an order.

Many nurses in Delhi, hailing from Kerala, had condemned the controversial circular.

“It is unfortunate that such a circular is issued amid this pandemic. All the Malayali nurses are outraged since this has targeted Malayalam particularly. If the order just said English and Hindi are official languages, that is understandable. But targeting one language particularly is the most unfortunate. This has now created a linguistic divide among the Malayalam and non-Malayalam speaking nurses in Delhi,” said Vipin Krishnan, who is part of AIIMS nurses' union, while speaking to The News Minute.

(This copy was first published on The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)

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