The introduction of Hindi classes at the International Institute of Tamil Studies (IITS) evoked strong criticism from the opposition DMK on Tuesday with former School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu saying it was an attempt to destroy Tamil language and culture.
The classes were launched by Minister for Tamil Official Language Ma Foi K. Pandiarajan on Monday. Students could also choose French language.
“The State government has allotted ₹ 3 lakh to each of the two languages. The 66 students in the institute will have 300 hours of Hindi and another 300 hours of French classes,” Mr. Pandiarajan said.
While the Minister insisted that the courses would facilitate comparative learning of literature, besides opening the windows of job opportunity in the country and abroad, Mr. Thennarasu said it was nothing but a story of old wine in a new bottle.
“By his announcement that the courses would be conducted by the Hindi Prachar Sabha, the Minister has ridiculed the Tamil Development Department in the State. Mr. Pandiarajan has proclaimed himself as the Tamil destruction Minister,” Mr Thennarasu alleged and urged the Minister to withdraw the courses.
Mr. Pandiarajan, however, explained that learning of the languages was optional and all the students had agreed to join the courses out of interest.
“The languages are taught through Tamil. As we are planning to set up the International Tamil Institute and International Tamil Cultural Institute, learning these languages will come in handy to students who will get appointments,” he also said.
The argument of Mr. Thennarasu was that teaching of Hindi would betray the purpose for which the institute was set up.
“It was created to increase research, create documents for research on culture, language, history and arts. The objective of the institute is also to teach Tamil to people in other States and countries. Teaching the students Hindi will defeat the very purpose of its establishment,” he said.
Mr Pandiarajan said the announcement was made during the budget session.