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Don’t converse in Malayalam, stick to Hindi, English: Delhi govt hospital to nursing staff

A Malayali nurse at the institute said that such objections have not been raised in the past. “We have been told that a patient raised a complaint and that the order came from the Secretariat… This is very wrong. Around 60% of the nursing staff are from Kerala but it’s not like any of us speak to patients in Malayalam."

A circular issued at Delhi government’s Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER) on Saturday ordered nursing staff members to only communicate in Hindi or English, threatening ‘serious action’ and specifically disallowing the use of Malayalam.

The order, which has been issued by the Nursing Superintendent, stated, “A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language is being used for communication in working places in GIPMER. Whereas maximum patient 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.”

Neither GB Pant Hospital director Dr Archana Thakur nor Delhi government representatives responded to multiple calls and messages seeking a comment.

A Malayali nurse at the institute said that such objections have not been raised in the past. “We have been told that a patient raised a complaint and that the order came from the Secretariat… This is very wrong. Around 60% of the nursing staff are from Kerala but it’s not like any of us speak to patients in Malayalam. There are also many Manipuri and Punjabi nurses and when they talk to each other or get together, they speak in their own languages. This has never been a issue,” she said.

In the meantime, Malayali nursing officer representatives from various Delhi hospitals including AIIMS, LNJP and GTB hospitals formed an ‘action committee’ on Saturday night which condemned the order and decided to launch a social media campaign against it.

Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor also took to Twitter to condemn the order, stating, “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!”

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