Tamil Nadu Telangana Hindi

Chennai: Revising its draft education policy, the Narendra Modi government on Monday dropped the contentious provision of compulsory teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states after the three-language proposal sparked outrage, mainly in Tamil Nadu.

The DMK and other parties in Tamil Nadu, which had strongly opposed the proposal in the 484-page draft National Education Policy (NEP) to make Hindi a mandatory third language to be taught in schools across the country, welcomed the Centre’s decision. The parties had alleged that the move was tantamount to thrusting the Hindi language on the non-Hindi speaking states.

“Students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations sometime during secondary school,” the revised draft of the NEP said.

In the earlier draft, the panel proposed mandatory teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states.

“Students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English,” the earlier draft policy said.

“It was a draft report and not policy yet. We have sought feedback from various stakeholders. The committee has modified the earlier draft and made some changes,” a Human Resource Development Ministry official said in Delhi.

According to the revised draft, the modular board examinations for language proficiency would test only basic proficiency in each language.

“Such a change in language choice in Grade 6 would certainly be feasible if the student so desires and would in such cases be supported by teachers and the schooling system.”

Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who had the formed the panel when he was the HRD minister in the previous term, earlier asserted that no language should be imposed on anyone. He clarified that the committee had only prepared a draft report and no decision had been taken on implementing it.

South Indian States welcome dropping of Hindi

The Centre dropping the contentious clause of mandatory Hindi teaching in non-Hindi speaking States was Monday welcomed by Tamil Nadu parties including main opposition DMK, celebrity music composer AR Rahman and the Congress in Telangana.

The DMK said the decision showed that late party patriarch M Karunanidhi was “living,” apparently suggesting it was a success to the late leader’s legacy of opposing “imposition” of Hindi.

A revised draft education policy was issued on Monday that did not have a mention of Hindi being compulsory amid controversy over the recommendation of an HRD Ministry panel to teach the language in non-Hindi speaking States.

In a tweet in Tamil, Rahman said, “A beautiful solution.”

Hindi is not compulsory in Tamil Nadu. The draft (policy) was amended.” The top music director also had placed emoji of the national flag, and a rose welcoming the Centre’s move.

Founder-leader of PMK, S Ramadoss in a tweet said the Centre’s announcement was a thing of joy. “This is a huge victory for the PMK which raised its voice against the Hindi imposition and the Tamil Nadu people,” he said.

PMK was an ally of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

In Telangana, senior Congress leader and former MLA Marri Shashidhar Reddy too welcomed the Centre’s action.

“No doubt that the three language policy has been enunciated long back. But, it was almost given up. Recalling the long anti-Hindi agitation that was witnessed particularly in Tamil Nadu, now, for that to find a place in 2019 in draft education policy, was something which was not necessary,” he said.

Map of Telangana

The knowledge of English gave a headstart to Indians in the IT sector, while the Chinese struggled to learn English, he said.

If a student feels that a certain language would help him, he would choose it but no language should be imposed, he said. Organisations like the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, which actively spread Hindi in the southern States, should be strengthened, Reddy said.

After presiding over a meet of his party district secretaries, MPs, and MLAs, DMK president MK Stalin said in a tweet, “At a time when we are celebrating the birth anniversary of Thalaivar (leader) Kalaignar (late Karunanidhi), the Central government withdrawing the Hindi compulsory subject clause shows that Kalaignar is living.” He said, “Let us guard mother Tamil always breaking up the hegemonic imposition of Hindi.”

The DMK is today celebrating the 95th birth anniversary of Karunanidhi, who passed away last August.

In Karnataka, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah strongly opposed the now dropped three-language formula in the draft. “Nothing should be done against our opinion. There is no need for three languages. English and Kannada are there… they are enough. Kannada is our mother tongue, so primacy should be given to Kannada,” he said.

Map of Karnataka

In Mysuru, he also told reporters that there would be no compromise on the issues of Karnataka’s water, land and language. Asserting that no attempt should be made to impose Hindi forcefully, Siddaramaiah said, “If they are making a three-language policy, then it will be like a forceful imposition.” He added, “Did we ask for Hindi? If it is done without our consent it will be forceful. It will be a unilateral decision. We will also protest.”

Earlier in the day here, a DMK party meet said it would democratically fight tooth and nail any decision that may imperil the two-language formula in force in Tamil Nadu for five decades.

A resolution adopted in the meeting said, “This meet categorically States that the DMK will democratically fight tooth and nail any decision that may imperil the two language policy in force in Tamil Nadu.”

It cautioned the BJP-led government at the Centre to “not play with the sentiments of the Tamil people.”

Since 1968, after the DMK stormed to power in 1967 under the leadership of Dravidian stalwart and party founder C N Annadurai, a two-language formula of Tamil and English was being followed in the State.

The meet took note that after opposition erupted against the draft National Education Policy, Union Ministers had clarified that it was only a proposal and any decision would be taken only after consultations with stakeholders.

The DMK and other parties in Tamil Nadu had strongly opposed the three-language formula in the draft National Education Policy and alleged that it was tantamount to thrusting the Hindi language on the non-Hindi speaking States.

Another resolution wanted the withdrawal of Hydrocarbon projects in Cauvery delta districts and immediately declare such districts as a “Protected Agricultural Zone,” in deference to the views of farmers who oppose it.

The meet said it strongly condemned the “anti-farmer attitude,” of the BJP government and the ruling AIADMK regime for backing the Centre on Hydrocarbon initiatives.

The DMK said such projects would lead to “desertification of the fertile delta region.”