DMK MP Kanimozhi Saturday sought the suspension of Union AYUSH Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha for allegedly asking participants who did not understand Hindi to leave an online training session organised by the ministry.
The DMK MP also wrote to AYUSH minister Shripad Naik seeking an inquiry and demanding that English be used or translation be provided for Hindi at such events in future. “I write this letter to bring to your attention an incident of imposition of Hindi, in violation of our constitutional principles, which has taken place during a virtual training event/webinar conducted by the Ministry of AYUSH,” she wrote.
Kotecha has since denied the allegation and told the media that he had made it clear that he would speak in both English and Hindi. He told The Hindu that in a 10-minute introductory speech, he began to speak in Hindi, but made it clear that he would be speaking in both English and Hindi. He alleged that some “hooligans”, who had joined the programme, disrupted the event, insisting he speak only in English. Alleging that a video doing the rounds on social media has been manipulated, he said he requested participants to stop disrupting the programme and leave.
There were nearly 40 participants from Tamil Nadu among the 300-odd from different states who participated in sessions on naturopathy and Yoga during August 18-20, organised by the ministry along with the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga for Master Trainers of Yoga. Participants from Tamil Nadu claimed that several sessions were in Hindi, barring a few trainers who tried to translate portions in English.
On the last day of the programme, after several participants demanded bilingual or English speakers, Kotecha thanked those who attended the sessions and said, “I have information that there has been an issue for the past two days… People can leave… I don’t speak English very well. So, I will speak in Hindi.”
The video of the remarks have been circulated on social media.
Stating that his reply was an “insult” to many who are not fluent in Hindi, several naturopathy doctors from Tamil Nadu alleged that the same discriminatory approach was present in all the sessions.
Kanimozhi said Kotecha’s reaction spoke volumes about “the Hindi domination being imposed”. “The statement of Secretary of the Union Ministry of AYUSH, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, that non-Hindi speaking participants could leave during a Ministry’s training session speaks volumes about the Hindi domination being imposed. This is highly condemnable,” Kanimozhi said in a statement. “Government should place the Secretary under suspension and initiate appropriate disciplinary proceedings. How long is this attitude of excluding non-Hindi speakers to be tolerated,” she asked.