New Delhi, June 5 (): Modi has decided to speak in Hindi to visiting diplomats. Interpreters will be present hereafter in all his meetings, including those where the dignitary speaks in English. The only time the interpreter will not be used is when both sides speak in Hindi or Urdu.
Modi is conversant in English as many New Delhi-based diplomats had met him after he took charge and never felt the language to be an obstacle, sources said but now Modi has decided to stick to the rashtra bhasha (national language) in his meetings with diplomats and visiting dignitaries. The fact that there is no interpreter present in any meetings so far shows that Modi is comfortable with the English language.
Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa spoke in English during his meeting with Modi and the PM did not require the interpreter’s assistance. So was the case in the meeting with Sultan of Oman’s special envoy who conversed in English.
Modi was at ease with Pak PM Sharif and Afghan President Karzai who spoke in Urdu.
It was Vajpayee who spoke in Hindi to those who spoke in their national language and for those who conversed in English, he too replied in the same language. In some cases when he found it difficult to understand English due to the accent, his staff would help him.
Many remember that Vajpayee a Hindi poet and author would be floored by the Russian interpreter who translated his country’s language to Hindi with perfection. Vajpayee as External Affairs Minister in the Janata Party government gave a speech in Hindi at the UN.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is conducting all her meetings in English but she will need an interpreter during the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit beginning on Sunday.
Ex-PM Chandrashekhar would give his speeches in Hindi but he did manage with English in conversations. Modi will be the first Indian PM to speak in Hindi at all times, a practice that China and Russia follow.