Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday rejected the three-language policy proposed by the Union government in the National Education Policy (NEP) and said the state will not deviate from its two-language policy, being followed for decades.
“Tamil Nadu will never allow the Centre’s three-language policy. The state will continue with its dual language policy (of Tamil and English),” he said in a statement.
Calling the Centre’s plan “painful and saddening”, Palaniswami said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reconsider the three-language formula and allow states to implement their own policies on the subject.
Opposition leader and DMK chief M K Stalin thanked Palaniswami for his strongly worded statement against the Centre’s move.
The NEP states: “The three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of the students, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.”
On why the state cannot agree with the three-language formula, Palaniswami recalled political history of Tamil Nadu and pointed out that then chef minister C N Annadurai had declared the two-language policy in January 1968, followed by an anti-Hindi agitation against the imposition of Hindi. Recalling that M G Ramachandran – known as MGR, who founded AIADMK – and his successor as the AIADMK chief and former chief minister, late J Jayalalithaa, had safeguarded the state’s two-language policy, Palaniswami recalled a statement from Jayalalithaa asserting that Hindi cannot be imposed on a population that doesn’t use that language.
“She also demanded use of Tamil as the official language and making it the official language of Madras High Court,” Palaniswami said. He said both MGR and Jayalalithaa had fought against the imposition of Hindi.
He said when the NEP had come for discussions, Tamil Nadu had opposed the idea, and he had written to Modi about this. He said the entire state and almost all political parties in the state are supporting the two-language policy.
Anti-Hindi agitation had given birth to many top politicians in the 1960s and Dravidian parties continue to fight any attempt by the Centre to impose Hindi as a mandatory subject in the state’s school curriculum.
Since 2014, Tamil Nadu has seen public protests on several occasions against the BJP-led Union government’s alleged attempts to impose Hindi and Sanskrit on Tamil people. Stalin at one point had accused Prime Minister Modi of trying to relegate people who don’t speak Hindi to second-class citizens in their own country.
Among the Modi government’s alleged attempts to promote Hindi, political parties and civic organisations in Tamil Nadu point out a Parliamentary committee’s earlier proposal to make use of Hindi mandatory for MPs and Union ministers as official language, use of Hindi in airport announcements, media advertisements, making Hindi a compulsory subject for CBSE schools across the country, promotional campaigns exclusively in Hindi script even when the words pronounced are in different languages, transliteration of Hindi names of programmes and schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan instead of translations, different government cess and schemes named only in Hindi or Sanskrit, renaming Teacher’s Day as Guru Purnima, milestones on national highways re-lettered in Hindi instead of English.