Controversy: GB Pant Hospital bans nurses from talking in Malayalam, Later revokes order
New Delhi: Controversy erupted at Delhi government-run Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER) after the authorities issued an order banning nursing employees to use Malayalam for communication at work. However, the circular was later withdrawn after facing backlash.
The recent government order has further assured that the matter would be investigated and strict action would be taken regarding the matter.
This comes after G B Pant Hospital issued a circular on Saturday asking its nursing employees not to use the Malayalam language for communication purposes at work. The circular, issued on Saturday, 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."
An official of the G B 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".
Ramchandani, also the secretary-general of Delhi Nurses Federation said, "As a language''s name, Malayalam, has been inserted in the circular, many will take offence".
He also claimed that this circular was "consequent of the complaint filed by the patient" and "internally, there is no issue among the nurses and the administration".
The circular invited criticism from the medical fraternity, political leaders and the public.
Speaking to The Hindu regarding the matter, a nurse said, "There are around 300-350 Malayali nursing staff at the hospital [GIPMER] and we always talk to the patients in Hindi. Do you think they will understand anything if we talk to them in Malayalam? Now they are saying we can't talk even among ourselves in Malayalam."
"We only talk to other people from Kerala in Malayalam at the hospital. It is our mother tongue. How can they say the staff cannot talk in Malayalam? Will they tell Punjabis not to talk in Punjabi among themselves?" another nurse from Kerala and who is also the general secretary of the nurses' union in LNJP hospital told the daily.
According to sources, the Delhi Health Department has issued a memo to GIPMER in connection with the controversial circular, reports PTI.
"The circular, which was issued by the nursing superintendent, G B 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 told PTI.
Political leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Rahul Gandhi also expressed their voice and concern regarding the matter. Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twiter, "Malayalam is as Indian as any other Indian language. Stop language discrimination!"
Criticizing the whole episode, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor wrote, "It boggles the mind that in democratic India a government institution can tell its nurses not to speak in their mother tongue to others who understand them. This is unacceptable, crude,offensive and a violation of the basic human rights of Indian citizens. A reprimand is overdue!"
In the face of criticism the G B Pant hospital has finally revoked its "no Malayalam" order. A source told PTI that the health department has asked the hospital to "explain why such an order was issued".
Last year, the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences had also issued an order advising staff that regional languages should not be spoken on its premises.