When Annadurai endorsed the three-language formula

A flashback to his 1967 interview to Kanaiyazhi

October 04, 2019 01:04 am | Updated 01:09 am IST - Chennai

The three-language formula, considered a taboo among political parties in the State for over 50 years, once found a conditional acceptance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) founder and former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai.

“We [in the State government] are ready to accept it [the formula]. But other States too should follow it,” Annadurai said in an interview in April 1967, to Kanaiyazhi , a literary Tamil journal, which was launched in July 1965.

The interview forms part of one of the five volumes of issues (1965-70) of Kanaiyazhi, which have been published by the Kanaiyazhi Padaippakam . M. Rajendran, editor of the journal, has compiled the volumes.

In the interview done by the then editor of the journal, K. Kasturirangan, the DMK founder pointed out that Chennai had schools where languages like Gujarati and Marathi were being taught. “There is no bar to teaching Hindi in adequate number of schools on similar lines,” Annadurai told the interviewer, who, in the early 1990s, became editor of the Tamil daily Dinamani.

To a query whether Tamil candidates would not be affected for not having learnt Hindi when they went for jobs in the Central government, the former Chief Minister posed a counter question, asking, “How many persons are going in search of Central government jobs?”

The interview was done in New Delhi, when Annadurai visited the city to attend a conference of Chief Ministers. In January 1968, the Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted a resolution, stating that “the three language formula shall be scrapped and Tamil and English alone should be taught.”

Months prior to Annadurai’s interview, Kanaiyazhi carried, in August-September 1966, an interview of M. Bakthavatsalam, the last Congress Chief Minister of the State (1963-67). On the language issue, Bakthavatasalam explained that in the scheme of three language formula, Tamil would occupy the place of primacy followed by English and Hindi, the third language. “There is no compulsion to study Hindi but everyone should learn Hindi,” he observed.

Asked whether students could opt for any other language than Hindi as the third language, the Congress leader wondered what purpose would be served by learning Telugu or Marathi. “Only political leaders are carrying on the anti-Hindi campaign, but thousands of students are studying Hindi,” Mr. Bakthavatsalam said.

Leading writers

The two interviews have been included in the second volume of the Tamil journal. Interviews of Indira Gandhi, when she was Information & Broadcasting Minister in the Shastri Cabinet, and Y.B. Chavan, who was an important Union Minister in the 1960s and 1970s, are featured in another volume.

Apart from pieces of non-fiction, the five volumes contain a number of works of fiction, including contributions of leading Tamil writers like Indira Parthasarathy, Ashokamitran, Sa. Kandasamy, S. Vaideeswaran, N. Muthusamy, Neela Padmanabhan and Nakulan.

Dr. Rajendran says all works of fiction and non-fiction, published in the five years, have been indexed. “We are planning to bring out another round of volumes,” he adds.

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