BJP clueless about South; Tamil Nadu doesn't see value in being compelled to learn Hindi, writes DMK's Manuraj S

Let it be said once again, for we live in the times of fake news and clichéd thinking, that Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) does not oppose Hindi. Nor does it oppose Bengali, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam or Sindhi. However, the imposition of any one language, through school education policy or otherwise, is not acceptable to the DMK. In other words, any such move to insidiously bring Hindi in through the backdoor will be thwarted.

 BJP clueless about South; Tamil Nadu doesnt see value in being compelled to learn Hindi, writes DMKs Manuraj S

Representational image. Reuters

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for its resounding political success across the West, North, and East of the country, continues to be clueless about the South. Here, it is often said that Hindi is not a language issue, as it is often portrayed to be. It is a political issue. The imposition of Hindi, directly or indirectly, on non-Hindi speaking states is viewed as an extension of the cultural majoritarianism policy of a Delhi-based government. Furthermore, it reflects the unrequited desire of mainland (read: Hindi-belt) political parties to make Hindi acceptable to Tamil speakers.

India is a multicultural, multi-religious and multi-linguistic country. The fact that there is a great deal of diversity is and must be celebrated in India. The stirring up of age-old debates on the three-language policy is of concern to us because it comes at a time when the BJP has raked up a huge electoral victory in the Hindi heartland.

It is of a bigger concern to us because of the Dr. K. Kasturirangan Committee which submitted the draft National Education Policy 2019 with the problematic recommendation to the new Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank — who had famously tweeted on 1 August 2017 that "Making Hindi the national language is absolutely essential."

pokhriyal tweet

As the issue caused ripples on social media, it became obvious that the words of the Union Minister for Human Resource Development would not provide sufficient reassurance.

So, it appears the Quick Response Team, within the BJP's Public Relations Department went looking for a Tamil minister. Unfortunately, with the BJP losing all its seats in Tamil Nadu and no representative from its ally All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in the Union Cabinet, it was left to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to assuage the fears of Tamil speakers and opposers of Hindi imposition.

jaishankar tweet

Commendable acts of ministerial overreach notwithstanding, the BJP has failed again to understand the sentiments of Tamils and the recent political history of Tamil Nadu.

It is a settled fact that the anti-Hindi imposition protests leading up to 1965 provided the base for rise of Dravidian politics and heralded the end of the dominance of national parties in the state. Since 1968, Tamil Nadu has adopted a two-language policy — Tamil and English - and this has worked very well. Today, Tamil Nadu is an urbanised state with an expansive manufacturing base.

The state has been role model in welfarism and social justice. The policies of the state have created sufficient opportunities for upward social and economic mobility. All of these advances have taken place without a three-language policy. Quite simply, Tamil Nadu does not see the value of being compelled to learn Hindi.

Nevertheless, various governments and their coterie of nationalists have tried in the past to revive the three-language policy using various arguments. The most vocal arguments in favour of Hindi being lingua franca have always come from Hindi speakers. Surprise surprise! It would almost seem like the Hindi-speakers would like the non-Hindi speakers to learn Hindi to suit their own narratives of nationalism, which have now found refuge under the Narendra Modi government's Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat sloganeering.

However, each time such campaigns and efforts to casually bring about Hindi as a "national language" take shape, they always run into strong resistance from the DMK. For, the DMK believes, more than anything else, that Tamil is not just a language but an identity.

In his book, 'Hindi Against India - Meaning of DMK', Mohan Ram in 1968 wrote that the "greatest threat to Indian unity is Hindi and what it represents. Hindi is not a language issue; it is a political issue. Hindi is the spearhead of the movement for the Hindi-speaking midland's domination of the rest of the country".

Even in 2019, it would seem that the greatest threat to national unity is not from fringe groups but from an autocratic state that imposes its will on people without their consent.

The author is a spokesperson of the DMK

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2019 14:08:23 IST