Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) working president and senior state minister KT Rama Rao on Sunday extended his support to nurses from Kerala who were barred from speaking in their mother tongue Malayalam during work hours at a Delhi government hospital. The order asking the staff to only interact in English and Hindi was later revoked following a massive uproar. Rao, also known as KTR, said no company or organisation across India can force its employees to not talk in their mother tongue.
Rao, who is in-charge of several departments like municipal administration and urban development, industry and commerce, and information technology, said the Constitution has granted Indians to speak in 22 languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi. “There cannot be any restriction on this. Every Indian should have the right to speak any language of their choice. No one should infringe on that basic right," the TRS leader said.
On Saturday , the authorities at the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research issued an order asked the nursing staff to use only Hindi and English for communication, and said serious action will be taken if that is not followed.
The circular read, “A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language 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 circular invited criticism from the medical fraternity, political leaders and the public. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called for stopping language discrimination. Party leader Shashi Tharoor said the order was “unacceptable, crude, offensive and a violation of the basic human rights of Indian citizens".
An official of the GB Pant nurses’ association said there are around 850 nurses working at the hospital, of which around 400 are Malayali. The association’s president, Liladhar Ramchandani, claimed the circular was issued based on a complaint by a patient to a senior officer in the health department about the use of Malayalam language at the hospital. He added that “the union disagrees with the wordings used in the circular".
Sources said the Delhi Health Department has issued a memo to GIPMER following which the controversial circular was withdrawn. “The circular, which was issued by the nursing superintendent, GB Pant Hospital, without any instruction or knowledge of the hospital administration and the Delhi government, stands withdrawn with immediate effect," a new order issued by the Medical Director Dr Anil Agarwal read. “The matter is being investigated and strict action will follow," Dr Agarwal said. The health department has reportedly asked the hospital to “explain why such an order was issued".