Sushma Swaraj arrives in Thailand

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reaches Thailand for the first leg of her 3-nation visit; As India marks 25 years of its partnership with ASEAN and in keeping with its Act East Policy, Swaraj is visiting Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore from January 4-8.

An unidentified BJP MP said India would have to pay Rs 40 crore to the United Nations make Hindi one of the official languages.

The minister explained that as per the procedure, two-thirds of the 193 members of the organization - which comes to 129 - will have to vote in favor of making Hindi an official language and also share the financial expenditure that would be incurred in the process. We are working on it, we are making attempts to get support of countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam. where people of Indian origin are there. "It is not hard to get the support, but when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant", she said.

The Congress MP Shashi Tharoor later questioned why India must make the effort to make Hindi as one of the languages in the United Nations as it is only India's official language and not the national language.

"For us to be spending government resources, for seeking to promote Hindi in this goal raises an important question as to why do we need to make it an official language?" asks Tharoor.

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He pointed out that Hindi was India's official, not national, language.

To that, the senior minister said: "Not just Rs 40 crore, the government is ready to spend Rs 400 crore on it". She added, money would, however, not serve the goal. Seeking to promote Hindi raises an important question.

He further added that any future Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers who did not prefer to communicate in Hindi, would be put in a hard spot and that would be unfair.

Sushma Swaraj, claimed that Tharoor was being ignorant, telling him that if he thinks that Hindi language is only spoken in India, then he is being ignorant about the reach of the language. "Why should we put our future Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers who may be from Tamil Nadu in a position", he said. "Saying Hindi is spoken only in India is your ignorance".

Tharoor picked the term "raj bhasha" to point out that Hindi was not India's national language. The minister replied back and said, "I am proud of all Indian languages".

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