Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi, Senior Journalist
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin charges centre with divisive agenda on language issue, and urges Prime Minister Narendra Modi to drop this move that could harm the country’s unity. He is not alone – Kerala Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan too asked the Prime Minister to intervene on this matter and desist from the move that would place many Indians at a disadvantage when it came to jobs and livelihood.
Yes, the language was has well and truly begun for the 2024 Lok Sabha general elections if media report on the Centre’s purported move to replace English with Hindi as a language of higher learning like the IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and central universities.
Within few hours of a media report citing government’s apparent intentions, contained in a report of a parliamentary committee on languages headed by the union Home Minister Amit Shah, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister hit out strongly against the reported move.
Yes, the language war has well and truly began – and sparks will fly over the issue in the run up to the general eolections with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin coming out strongly against the move to “impose” Hindi as a common language for the country and central universities and institutes of higher learning adopting Hindi as the lingua franca. He said, this move would reduce South Indians to the status of second class citizens.
In a hard-hitting statement issued in Chennai, on a report published in a section of the media, the Tamil Nadu Chief minister reminded the Centre of the previous anti-Hindi agitation in the state and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provoke another language war in the country.
Reacting to a report on contents of a parliamentary committee on official language carried in different sections of the media, Stalin said if implemented, the vast non-Hindi population will be made second class citizens in their own country.
“Imposing Hindi is against the integrity of India. The BJP government would do well to learn lessons from the anti-Hindi agitations in the past,” he said pointing out to the previous anti-Hindi agitations of the 60s that ejected the Congress government from the state, and since then Congress has had to hang to coat tails of either DMK or AIADMK for a few seats in the state. At present the Congress is in alliance with the DMK for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Incidentally, the DMK led front swept Tamil Nadu, winning all but one of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 general elections, and if once again handed over an emotional issue on platter, in all probability it can repeat its previous performance even in 2024 general elections.
Stalin tweeted, “The rigorous thrust by Union BJP government for #HindiImposition, negating the diversity of India is happening at an alarming pace. The proposals made in the 11th volume of the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Official Language are a direct onslaught on India’s soul.”
The Centre’s stance on enforcing One nation, One language, One religion, One food and One culture would affect India’s unity, Stalin said added, “The report presented to the President by the Parliamentary Committee on Official Language chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah contains recommendations that endanger the integrity of Indian Union.”
As per media reports, the committee has recommended English to be replaced with Hindi as medium of instruction in all Central universities like IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, Central universities and Kendriya Vidyalayas.
Expressing shock over the move, Stalin pointed out that the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution has 22 languages, including Tamil, entitled for equal rights. But, the panel has recommended Hindi as the common language across India, he said.
“In such a scenario, where does the need arise for the Union Minister-led committee to recommend Hindi be made the Common language of India,” the Chief Minister asked.
Wondering why English language question paper in the union recruitment examinations should give preference for Hindi, he claimed it was against the spirit of the Constitution to provide undue, unfair advantage to Hindi and discriminate against other Indian languages.
Accusing the BJP-led government at the Centre of “continuously attempting to impose Hindi with utter disregard to the Constitution” Stalin said to mandate a common language which is practically impossible is akin to stating that the only Hindi speakers are the rightful citizens of India and speakers of other languages ??are second-class citizens. “This is divisive in nature,” the Chief Minister stated.
He said, in the true character of the country – Unity in Diversity — India’s character is unity in diversity and hence all languages must be treated equally and all made official languages equally.
Stalin is the only, and will not the last to lash out against the central’s government’s apparent stance on the language issue with opposition to the move coming from activists in south Indian states, West Bengal, to name a few.
(Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi is a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political issues and takes a keen interest in sports as well. He has worked with prominent news organisations.)