Hindi in Tamil Nadu classrooms: Regional pride over rational thought?

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 17, 2014 13:49 hrs

The 'Down with Hindi' attitude threatening to take over classrooms in Tamil Nadu has come up with surprising reactions. It has taken a U-turn resulting in a demand for Hindi.

Now, parents and schools in the state are keen to deride the monopoly of the regional language in the classrooms.

Back in June 2006, the then DMK government had passed the Tamil Nadu Tamil Learning Act, stating that only Tamil should be taught till Class 10, making it a compulsory paper. This court order due to be implemented in the academic year 2015-16 will undoubtedly put several students in the spot.

It is a well known fact that knowing multiple languages opens up a world of opportunities. An insular attitude only affects a student's job prospects not only in India but abroad as well.

Also, a lack of cultural diversity in the formative years inadvertently curbs a child's curiosity in the long run.

G. Selvarajan, Secretary, Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Tiruchi harps on the growing need of Hindi in the state. In an interview with The Hindu, he mentions that a total of two lakh students gave the Prathamik and Praveshika examination at 850 centres in the Tamil Nadu in February 2014. He also added that there is nearly a 20 per cent increase in the demand for learning Hindi this year.

An association of private schools has approached the Madras high court for a stay on the 2006 court order implementation. Based on the June 5, 2014 petition the Madras High Court has sought a response from the state's AIADMK government.

In 2000, the Madras High Court crushed an attempt to make Tamil the medium of instruction in at least two of three subjects - social history, mathematics and science in schools.

Going back in history

The Tamil versus Hindi battle dates back to 1938. Back then, the Congress Party under the leadership of C. Rajagopalachari in the Madras Presidency, made Hindi compulsory in schools.

This quickly escalated to a political issue where Tamil was feared to become a secondary language in Tamil Nadu.

The Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu spearheaded by E. V. Ramasamy lasted for three years. Several students resorted to violence for the cause.

The situation was finally put to rest when the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave assurances that English would continue to be used as the official language as long the non-Hindi speaking states wanted. The riots subsided after the assurance, as did the student agitation.

Image: Front page of the Dravida Nadu magazine dated 29 September 1946. The magazine was published by C. N. Annadurai from Kanchipuram. This particular scan is taken from the collection of Pollachi Nasan. It depicts Periyar E. V. Ramasamy and his speech in the court during the Anti-Hindi Agitations of 1937-40

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