interview | K. Veeramani Tamil Nadu

‘It’s more than just about language, it is the imposition of culture’: DK leader K. Veeramani on National Education Policy

K. Veeramani  

The Draft National Education Policy has kicked up a political storm over a proposed three-language formula that seeks to make learning Hindi mandatory in non-Hindi-speaking States. Dravidar Kazhagam leader K. Veeramani says there is no such thing as a national language, and the Constitution only speaks of an ‘official’ language. Excerpts from an interview:

The Centre has clarified that the National Education Policy is still in the draft stage. Is there a need for strongly opposing it at this stage?

When we see a snake in the house, can we wait for the snake to bite or ponder whether it is simply a visitor? Can we be that complacent? The history of the imposition of Hindi as well as Sanskrit culture dates back 75-80 years. Former Chief Minister of then-Madras State C. Rajagopalachari tried to impose Hindi. Even then, the Dravidian movement opposed it. More than the imposition of language, it is about the imposition of culture. You have to probe deeper and see whether there is an ulterior motive. Even Periyar [E.V. Ramasamy] used to say cultural conquest is worse than political and economic conquest. This is nothing but the imposition of Hindutva, which is the core principle of the RSS. It must be opposed spontaneously.

Are you only against the imposition of Hindi?

If anybody wants to learn a specific language, it is their choice. We have no objection to that. For instance, we don’t have any problem with the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha [which offers Hindi courses in Tamil Nadu] and are not opposed to Hindi books. Our opposition is to the core principle of imposition.

There is an argument that Tamil students lose out on job opportunities in Hindi-speaking States because of the language barrier…

That is ridiculous. The job opportunities of the people of Tamil Nadu are being grabbed by Hindi-speaking people now. Take the Electricity Board for instance — there is an invasion from Bihar. Take railways — a Station Master from Bihar posted in Tamil Nadu did not know English, and that was the reason behind an incident where two trains were about to collide head-on. What does it show? There is no scope for Hindi-speaking people in Hindi States.

Is there politics at play here?

There is no question of politics. This is more about cultural conquest. Rajaji introduced the imposition of Hindi in 1938. Later, the same Rajaji was at the forefront of the anti-Hindi movement and said, “English Ever, Hindi Never!”

There has been opposition to Hindi in Karnataka, Punjab and Bengal as well.

Is there a need for a referendum on Hindi?

The recent elections can be considered the referendum. The whole of India, except Tamil Nadu, accepted [Prime Minister] Modi. And T.N. has produced a resounding victory. More than a political victory, it is a cultural victory in the ideological war.

Why do you think the BJP is trying to introduce this policy now?

Because it is now or never. They were already hurrying to implement the [recommendations of the] T.S.R. Subramanian report. Due to opposition, they wanted to gain some time by appointing the Kasturirangan Committee. The RSS wants to impose Hindutva. The BJP is commandeered by the RSS.

Do you think people are confusing Hindi’s ‘official language’ status with the ‘national language’ tag?

This is a very good question. Take the eighth schedule of our Constitution. It says only ‘Languages’. There are only two usages in the Constitution — official language and languages. Former PM Jawaharlal Nehru had given an assurance that Hindi will not be imposed. There is no such nomenclature as a ‘national’ language. Some people are deliberately confusing the two terms.


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 12:53:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/its-more-than-just-about-language-it-is-the-imposition-of-culture/article27407461.ece

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