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Marathi signboards leave migrants lost in translation

With the city’s educational institutes and IT companies attracting a lot of people from other states, the ubiquitous Marathi signboards at state government offices are leaving many visitors baffled.

display board of the superintendent engineer’s office
All greek to them: The display board of the superintendent engineer’s office at the divisional commissioner’s building leaves migrants confused. All the boards in the building are in Marathi, as is the the nameplate outside District Collector Saurabh Rao’s office (below). Pics/Mohan Patil

Rajesh Kumar, a National Eligibility Test (NET) student from Bihar, was visiting the old Zilla Parishad building to attest photocopies of his educational certificates. He needed to get it verified from a Class-I officer, but the names and designations in the local language outside the offices left him confused.



Kumar is not alone and there are several people urging  that signboards at government offices should be displayed in English and Hindi as well.

“Pune is now becoming a cosmopolitan city and thousands of people come here from other states to pursue education and jobs. However, right from the birth and death registration office to the District Collectorate, the display boards outside these departments are written only in Marathi, which is difficult to read for visitors,” said IT professional Abhay Patil.

mid-day recently visited the District Collectorate, office of the Divisional Comm-issioner, Central Building (where the state government’s offices are located) and the Zilla Parishad building. Except for the office of the district election officer, none of the departments had signboards in languages other than Marathi.

Legal expert Advocate Aseem Sarode said that although there is no provision for providing information in the official languages (English and Hindi) in government departments, the policy of inclusion should be followed.

“Why should we abide by the provisions? Even if there is no concrete provision in this regard, if the government wants the participation of the people in the governance, it should follow the policy of inclusion for all by displaying the boards in English and Hindi as well,” added Sarode.

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said that a few months ago, while asking for suggestions, on the Land Acquisition Act, the government had provided  forms only in English. “The forms should have been in Marathi and other languages as well, but the government  never works according to the need of the people,” Kumbhar said.

The other side
Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh said, “The state government has directed us put up boards in the local language outside the department. However, if anyone faces problem in understanding the language, our employees help
them.” District Collector Saurabh Rao was unavailable for comment.

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1 Comments

  • Vikas02-May-2015

    I think if people are living in the city, they should learn Marathi. Not a big ask. Its time the government give priority to ensuring Marathi in Maharashtra, the only state where Marathi is the language in the world.

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