Resurrecting the anti-Hindi movement in Tamil Nadu

Organisations have decided to form a Tamil Language Rights Federation to keep at bay efforts to “impose” Hindi

Published - January 06, 2015 12:00 pm IST - CHENNAI:

With the BJP-led Union government upping its focus on promoting Hindi, over 40 organisations in Tamil Nadu have come together to resurrect the memories of the anti-Hindi agitations and fight for vernacular rights.

Following a two-month deliberation across three cities, the organisations have decided to form a Tamil Language Rights Federation (TLRF) to keep at bay efforts to “impose” Hindi at the cost of regional tongues.

The move is of some import as it seems to be the first concerted reaction from the civil society on the language issue since the Lok Sabha elections in April. While political parties individually have opposed the pro-Hindi stand of the Centre, a coordinated movement was lacking.

The federation has decided to launch a campaign on January 15. The date is significant given that it witnessed the first known martyrdom of the anti-Hindi agitations of 1938 when Natarajan, a Dalit and Tamil rights crusader died in prison after he was arrested for the protests.

Aazhi Senthilnathan, coordinator of the federation, said the year 2015 was a landmark in the State’s history as it marked 50 years of the anti-Hindi agitations that served as a catalyst for a tectonic shift in Tamil Nadu politics. Riding the popular wave of the movement, the DMK unseated Congress from power.

“The federation will mark January 25 in a big way across Tamil Nadu,” he said.

The federation’s ultimate focus would be to press for an amendment to Article 17 of the Constitution and declaration of all languages under Schedule 8 as official languages.

“Given that this target of a constitutional amendment is not possible without the support of political parties, we have approached all of them barring the AIADMK, DMK, BJP and the Congress in the first phase. After we draw up a draft Language Equality and Rights Bill through consultation with experts from all States, we will reach out to these four parties,” he said.

At a meeting of the federation on Sunday, participants charged the Narendra Modi government with aggressively promoting Hindi and Sanskrit to the detriment of regional languages. While the federation was not against individuals learning multiple languages, the mother tongue should be given primary attention at the State level.

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