Slamming the reported recommendation of a Parliamentary Committee on Official Language to use Hindi as a medium of instruction in IITs, IIMs and Central universities (in Hindi-speaking States and regional languages in other parts), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Monday cautioned the Union government against forcing another language war by imposing Hindi.
"All [State] languages should be elevated into official languages of the Union government. Do not take a totally opposite position and attempt to make Hindi mandatory and force another language war on us. Do not try to test the fire of our mother language affinity," Mr. Stalin said in a three-page statement.
Urging the Narendra Modi-led Union government to drop the proposal to make Hindi mandatory and uphold the flame of Indian unity, he charged that forcing an "impractical" proposal would only portray as if Hindi-speaking population alone were Indian citizens and others were second-class citizens.
"Not only Tamil Nadu but any State which upholds its mother tongue would not accept it," he said, adding a majority of teachers, officers and students in Central educational institutions were from States that did not speak Hindi.
The "persistent actions" of the Union government to destroy the brotherhood between various communities by forcing the idea of 'One Nation' (in the context of uniformity) would only pose a threat to integration, said Mr. Stalin quoting various recommendations of the panel, as reported in a section of the media, and opposed them. He said all 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution were equal and asked, "while so, where is the emergency or the necessity for the panel led by [Home Minister] Mr. Amit Shah to make only Hindi as the medium of instruction?"
Mr. Stalin also questioned a recommendation to remove English as one of the languages in the recruitment for jobs in the Central services. Treating Hindi and other languages differently amounted to partiality, he pointed out and contended that it would pose a threat to the country’s unity. The population of those who do not speak Hindi was more than that of those who speak Hindi, Mr. Stalin said.
Recalling the DMK's campaign since 1957 to protect regional languages, including Tamil, Mr. Stalin pointed out that then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had assured that English would remain as a language for official communication till such time the non-Hindi speakers desired.
"Do not forget that brave youths took bullets and even killed themselves to protect the mother language of Tamil, when contrary [to assurances made by Nehru] steps were taken to impose Hindi in 1965," Mr. Stalin recalled. It was only after such protests resolutions were passed for making English and Hindi as official languages in 1968 and 1976.
"In these times of scientific development and technical advancement, the Union government's motive should be only to make all languages, including Tamil in the Eighth Schedule as official languages," Mr. Stalin said.
Unacceptable, says Yechury
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said on Twitter, “imposing RSS vision of Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan on India’s unique and rich linguistic diversity is simply unacceptable” and urged that all 22 official languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution be treated equally.
News agency PTI had reported that the Parliamentary Committee on Official Language headed by Mr. Amit Shah has recommended that the medium of instruction at IITs, Central Universities as well as Kendriya Vidyalayas should be Hindi in Hindi-speaking States and in other parts of India in their respective local language.
The panel has also recommended that Hindi should be one of the languages of the United Nations.
It proposes that Hindi or local language should be used as the medium of instruction and the use of English should be made optional.
The suggestions are part of the panel’s 11 th report presented to President Droupadi Murmu last month.
‘Make it 100%’
BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, who is the deputy chairman of the committee, also told PTI that Hindi use should be improved from current levels to “100%” at higher education institutions such as Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University. Hindi is being used only 20-30 per cent, whereas it should be used 100%.
The panel has also suggested that officers and employees in the Central government who deliberately don’t work in Hindi in Hindi-speaking States should be warned, and if they continue to disobey, it should be reflected in their Annual Performance Assessment Report (APAR). It requires that Central government offices, ministries or departments should communicate in Hindi while exchanging letters, faxes, emails, invitation letters and that events organised by them should also be moderated in Hindi or local languages.
The report also seeks that there be no compulsory English language question paper in recruitment examinations, and that there should be provisions for Hindi translations in the order of the high courts in Hindi-speaking States.
(With inputs from New Delhi)
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