Mumbai: The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill which makes Marathi a compulsory subject across all schools in the state.
The development coincided with `Marathi Bhasha Din' (Marathi language day) which is celebrated on February 27. The state Legislative Council had passed the bill on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, speaking at a function at the Vidhan Bhavan (state legislature complex) to celebrate Marathi Language Day, sought to downplay worries about declineof Marathi, saying that it is "inscribed on rocks, hearts and hills" and has survived foreign rule.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other ministers too were present.
"When we celebrate `Marathi Bhasha Din', why do we do it by expressing concern about what will happen to Marathi?" the chief minister said. "Marathi is not an ordinary language. Leave aside the language, there was a time when even the hoof-beats of the horses that Marathas rode made enemies run helter-skelter," he said.
"Marathi is inscribed on rocks, hearts and hills. Only speaking the language should suffice," Thackeray said. Marathi survived Mughal and British rules, he pointed out.
The chief minister also asked why there was a need for anyone's approval for granting the status of classical language to Marathi.
"Those who are seeking evidence of whether Marathi is a classical language wouldn't have been born had Shivaji Maharaj not been there," he said.
Stressing the need to imbibe Marathi culture, he also asked why schools are not named for Maharashtrian saints such as Tukaram, Namdev and others.
He respects other languages, the chief minister added. Ajit Pawar said the urge to speak the language should "come from within".
Marathi should be used in trade and also in computer operations, he said. The deputy CM lauded the passage of the bill in the Legislative Council making Marathi a compulsory subject in
the schools of all boards in Maharashtra.
Both houses of the Maharashtra legislature also unanimously passed separate resolutions, asking the Centre to accord Marathi the status of a "classical language". The resolution in the assembly was moved by Cabinet Minister for Marathi language Subhash Desai. The one line resolution asked the Centre to take a decision to declare Marathi a "classical language".