Delhi Govt Hospital’s ‘No Malayalam’ Diktat Draws Flak; Unions up in Arms

The Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER) under the Delhi government has directed all its nursing personnel to not speak Malayalam. The hospital, which as over 60 percent of Malayali nursing staff directed to use only Hindi and English for communication and said ‘serious actions’ would be taken against anyone found speaking in other languages.

The GIMPMER, in a circular issued by the Nursing Superintendent of the hospital, said that it had received a complaint against the use of the Malayalam language.

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

Many have criticised the move. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to criticise the move. “Malayalam is as Indian as any other Indian language. Stop language discrimination,” he wrote.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor terming it “a violation of the basic human rights of Indian citizens.”

“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!” Tharoor tweeted.

Commenting on the matter, Congress MP KC Venugopal urged Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to order an immediate withdrawal of the “bizarre” and “unconstitutional” circular issued by the authorities of GIPMER.

“I urge to Hon’ble health Minister @drharshvardhan to order an immediate withdrawal of the bizarre & unconstitutional circular issued by the authorities of GIPMER,” Venugopal tweeted.

“Nurses from Kerala are sincerely discharging their duties across the world and taking care of the patients. Naturally, nurses belonging to the same region would speak the language among themselves as it is their mother tongue. It is illogical to assume that they would speak in their mother tongue to a person who can’t speak that language. The circular is, undoubtedly, highly discriminatory and denying the basic fundamental right guaranteed by our constitution,” the Congress MP stated in the letter.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “Absolutely, totally bizarre! This is unconstitutional, really…”

The circular has drawn sharp criticism from nursing unions too, including that of the GB Pant hospital. G B Pant nurses’ association president Liladhar Ramchandani claimed it was issued in pursuance of a complaint, while adding that “the union disagrees with the wordings used in the circular”.

Malayali nursing officer representatives from various Delhi hospitals including AIIMS, LNJP and GTB hospitals formed an ‘action committee’ on Saturday night which condemned the order and decided to launch a social media campaign against it.

Meanwhile, after facing sheer criticism, the hospital decided to withdraw the contentious order. The hospital administration said that the circular was issued without their information. They also said that the health department of the Delhi government has issued a memo to the hospital.