What the anti-Hindi agitation means to Tamil

Updated - January 26, 2015 05:45 am IST

Published - January 26, 2015 12:00 am IST - CHENNAI

: The anti-Hindi agitation, its critics argued, would keep Tamil Nadu in backwaters and deny its youth, handicapped by lack of knowledge of Hindi and employment opportunities elsewhere in the country. 

 DMK deputy general secretary Duraimurugan, a student leader in the days of the anti-Hindi agitation, said that the Tamils, contrary to the popular perception, had reached every corner of the globe because of quality school and higher education in the past 50 years.  Rejecting the notion that the agitation was spurred by a sectarian notion of the Dravidian movement, Mr Duraimurugan said the agitation merely should be viewed in the larger context of an attempt to impose a unitary culture in place of the pluralistic nature of India.

 The outcome of the agitation, he said, was that many States including Tamil Nadu gave up their secessionist demands. “Had Hindi continued as a language of the country, it would have offered perfect fodder for secessionism,” he notes. 

 His argument is supported by R. Kannan, biographer of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai, the first Chief Minister of the non-Congress government. ‘Hindization’ was an attempt at uniformity and not unity, he says. 

 “Languages cannot produce unity any more than religions,” he said, reiterating that the argument for a national/official language was specious.  “Most countries had done well without these and many have several official languages. The 20 million or so Indian diaspora have jobs not because they know Hindi or Malayalam but because they know English or another foreign language,” he emphasises. 

 Writer and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) leader Ravikumar said the agitation had not only had put an end to the authoritarian attitude of the Centre towards States, but also awakened the country to the basic democratic principle of respecting the aspirations of the people of a State.   At the same time, he said that the agitation had reduced Tamil as a political tool in the hands of politicians here. 

 “We have not moved forward. Look at the way the Tamil institutions such as Tamil University and Classical Institute of Tamils are run. Proliferation of private English medium schools and colleges has not stopped. We are not even able to bring out a good lexicon,” he rues.  Going beyond the issue of language, Mr Kannan said, “Any country where one third of the population is illiterate should focus on literacy and banishing poverty.” 

 “The dignity of India is in seeing its citizens strong and prosperous. No single Indian language can do that if India continues to be so behind in human progress,” he remarks.

The agitation had reduced Tamil as a political tool

The agitation had reduced Tamil as a political tool

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