Special Officer For Linguistic Minorities

A Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities is an officer appointed by the President of India to safeguard the rights of linguistic minorities. This article falls under the polity segment of the UPSC Exams.

The details from this article will be important for candidates attempting the exam this year.

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What is a Linguistic Minority?

Before we go into detail on what is a Special Officer for a Linguistic Minority, one must know the definitions of linguistic minority.

A linguistic minority is a class of people whose mother tongue is different from that of the majority in the state or part of a state. the constitution provides for the protection of the interests of linguistic minorities.

About 36.3 million of India’s 1.2 billion strong population ( as per the Census of 2011) speak an “absolute minority language”, a language which in every of India’s 28 States forms a minority.

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Objectives of the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities

  • To provide equal opportunities to the linguistic minorities for inclusive development and national integration
  • To spread awareness amongst the linguistic minorities regarding the rights that safeguard them.
  • To ensure effective implementation of the rights and safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution of India

How is the Special Officer For Linguistic Minorities appointed?

Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities. Later, the States Reorganization Commission (1953-55) made a recommendation in this regard.

Accordingly, the Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 inserted a new Article 350-B in Part XVII of the Constitution. This article contains the following provisions: There should be a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities.

He/she is to be appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

He/she would report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct. The President should place all such reports before each House of Parliament and send it to the governments of the states concerned. It must be noted here that the Constitution does not specify the qualifications, tenure, salaries and allowances, service conditions, and procedure for removal of the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities.

Powers, Functions, and Responsibilities

In pursuance of the provision of Article 350-B of the Constitution, the office of the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities was created in 1957. He/she is designated as the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities.

The Commissioner has his headquarters at New Delhi. He/she has three regional offices at Belgaum (Karnataka), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Kolkata (West Bengal) and Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh). Each is headed by an Assistant Commissioner. The Commissioner is assisted at headquarters by Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner.

He/she maintains liaison with the State Governments and Union Territories through nodal officers appointed by them. At the Central level, the Commissioner falls under the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Hence, he/she submits the annual reports or other reports to the President through the Union Minority Affairs Minister.

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