The smoldering politics over language, fanned by the debate over the new education policy, found a new nucleation point on Sunday when DMK MP Kanimozhi shared a recent unpleasant experience at the airport. The Tuticorin MP said a CISF officer at the airport asked her if she was “an Indian” because she said she didn’t know Hindi and asked the officer to speak in Tamil or English.
She ended her tweet asking, “I would like to know from when being Indian is equal to knowing Hindi.” A hashtag of “Hindi imposition” followed.
Today at the airport a CISF officer asked me if “I am an Indian” when I asked her to speak to me in tamil or English as I did not know Hindi. I would like to know from when being indian is equal to knowing Hindi.#hindiimposition
— Kanimozhi (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) August 9, 2020
Her tweet found support from many including Congress MPs Manickam Tagore, who called it “condemnable”, and Karti Chidambaram who wanted the CISF to respond to what he called “outright ridiculous.”
— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) August 9, 2020
And CISF did respond soon after.
They asked for Ms Kanimozhi’s journey details – name of airport, location, date, and time of the incident to take action against this. They also apologized.
Language politics has always been a sensitive and emotive issue in Tamil Nadu where the new education policy has been stirring up a controversy. The proposed implementation of a three-language formula in schools – two of which should be native – was met with particularly strong opposition in Tamil Nadu, which has always resisted the “imposition” of Hindi.
Many argue that Sanskrit is the root of many Indian languages and hence should be learnt by all. However, it is not the root to all Indian languages, Tamil being one of them.
In the 1960s, there was a massive anti-Hindi agitation in the state when the then Congress government attempted to make Hindi the official language. This had catapulted the DMK to power in Tamil Nadu. The present day is no different.
The MK Stalin-led DMK and many opposition parties in Tamil Nadu has opposed the new education policy and want a review of the sweeping reforms it has proposed.
Ms Kanimozhi too has always been strictly against imposition of Hindi or Sanskrit in her state where the two languages taught at school are Tamil and English. Hindi however is taught as an optional subject in some schools.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami also called the three language police “painful and saddening” and vowed to not implement it in his state.
Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had however said that the centre will not impose any language on any state.