Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu’s two-language policy affecting rural children: Balagurusamy

E.Balagurusamy

E.Balagurusamy   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

Former Anna University Vice-Chancellor and Union Public Service Commission member, E.Balagurusamy, on Sunday contended that children from poor and rural families were being denied an opportunity to learn an additional language, particularly Hindi, due to Tamil Nadu’s two-language policy.

In a letter to Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami, circulated to the media, he expressed anguish over the former’s opposition to the three-language formula proposed in the National Education Policy (NEP 2020).

“By favouring two-language formula, only the poor and rural students studying in government schools are deprived of learning any additional language while the rich and urban joining CBSE, central and private schools have the freedom to study any language they wish,” he said.

According to him, the Chief Minister was “very well aware that the children and grandchildren of the leaders who oppose the three-language formula are all studying (or have studied) Hindi happily. Not only this, many of these leaders are running CBSE schools where Hindi is compulsory.” He asked “what do we lose by learning an additional language?”

Prof.Balagurusamy said, “Ours is the only State in the country that has been denying its students an opportunity to learn any other Indian language other than Tamil for more than five decades now. I am one of those who were badly affected by the two-language formula.”

The Hindu asked Prof.Balagurusamy how he was affected by the two-language policy considering that he had successfully held high offices in Tamil Nadu, New Delhi, and a few other States. He said, “When I left Tamil Nadu (for higher education and on work), I found it difficult to communicate. Tamil Nadu government says English is a bridge. But for day-to-day communication, such as in markets or while travelling, you have to communicate in the local language. Even in Hyderabad you can manage with Hindi, if you do not know Telugu.”

He sought to know how a government could deny its students to learn what they want.

Though the NEP does not insist on learning a particular language, he felt learning a widely spoken language like Hindi was better as it would facilitate mobility across states for employment, trade and business and satisfy the needs of people joining Central services. In his view, it would also “promote patriotism, national harmony, unity and integration.”

Contending that much water had flown under the bridge since 1968 when Chief Minister C.N.Annadurai introduced the two-language formula, the academic felt, given the present scenario, even the DMK founder “would have certainly changed his view, had he been alive today.” The time has come for Tamil Nadu to change and move forward with other people and states.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 6:27:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tns-two-language-policy-affecting-rural-children-balagurusamy/article32308593.ece

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