Language barrier disrupts Lok Sabha

Last Updated: Fri, Aug 13, 2010 09:21 hrs

New Delhi: There was peace in the Lok Sabha on Friday with no protests from opposition MPs, but a technical problem that hampered English translation led to a minor commotion and disruption of the house.

Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the house for 15 minutes at 11.30 a.m. when some MPs from southern states complained that they were not receiving the English translation of Minister of State for Power Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki's speech in Hindi.

DMK member T.R. Baalu was the first to raise the issue and asked the speaker to 'adjourn the house, suspend the question hour' if the problem could not be resolved.

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'What is the use of we sitting here if we don't understand (what) the minister is saying?' he asked.

Solanki offered to speak in English but Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members objected and wanted the minister to continue speaking in Hindi.

The BJP members were joined by MPs of the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and others from the Hindi belt of Uttar Pradesh who also objected to the minister speaking in English.

Baalu and some other MPs then threatened to walk out of the house if the problem was not resolved. But the speaker got the technical snag fixed when the house was adjourned.

'I would apologise. There was some technical fault in the English translation and some members were feeling inconvenient. I am told it has been corrected,' Meira Kumar told the members after the MPs reassembled.

However, for the MPs, the issue was not resolved as they continued to protest against the minister offering to speak in English.

But the speaker pacified them saying there was nothing wrong if some members were feeling inconvenient in a particular language. The minister also shouted that he was speaking in Hindi, bringing back calm to the house.

There are three versions - Hindi, English and the original - of Lok Sabha debates available on central audio system.

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Interpreters translate the speeches and debates in real time and air it through headphones that can be heard on headsets available to the members and journalists.