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Hindi Imposition Issue Raises Head Again in India's Poll-Bound Tamil Nadu

© Photo : Aakriti Sharma/twitterPolice in Tamil Nadu put violators of lockdown in ambulance with fake COVID-19 patient to teach them a lesson
Police in Tamil Nadu put violators of lockdown in ambulance with fake COVID-19 patient to teach them a lesson  - Sputnik International
The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu's resentment towards Hindi imposition dates back to the pre-Independence era. The state sees the imposition of Hindi as a threat to its culture and Tamil identity. The movement snowballed into violent student agitation and self-immolations in 1965.

Tamil Nadu's main opposition party leader Kanimozhi's tweet stating that "(govt) officials have not been sensitised to be inclusive and respect diversity" has triggered a passionate online drive against the "imposition of Hindi" in the southern Indian state.

The issue of Hindi imposition and supposed threat to Tamil identity is raising its head again in Tamil Nadu, which is set to face legislative assembly polls in 2021.

Speaking about the development, K.V. Lakshmana, a political commentator who specialises in Southern India politics tells Sputnik that in the wake of upcoming elections, political parties will use every opportunity to highlight this "highly emotive issue".

"If the mainstream political parties do not raise this language issue, there will always be a fringe group that would take it up. This will be the first election in Tamil Nadu without the big two (late leaders of the two major political parties in the state), political parties have to have some issues to emotionally awaken the people," Lakshmana said.

A twitter trend exploded during the weekend with posts by youngsters, who sported t-shirts printed with slogans like "I am a Tamil-speaking Indian". Opposition party DMK leader Kanimozhi tweeted a picture and said, "a spark is enough to ignite a sentiment".

​In a similar incident, an Indian Revenue Services officer from the Chennai city of the State has written to the federal government, to complain about the policy of not employing non-Hindi speaking officers to the Hindi cell in the indirect sales tax office (GST Commissionerate), terming it a "Hindi imposition".

This is also the first time that the state is headed towards polls without the ruling AIADMK party supremo Jayalalithaa and opposition DMK founder Karunanidhi - following their deaths.

The DMK was at the forefront of leading the students' agitation against the federal government's decision to adopt Hindi as the official language in 1965, and the party rode to power over the issue two years later.

Similarly, AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa resisted what it saw as the federal government's policy of Hindi "hegemony".

With these two leaders gone, will the two political parties be able to mobilise people of the state with the same intensity as it was in 1965? Lakshmana says the same intensity may not be there organically, but can always be orchestrated.

"The current government (AIADMK) is inclined towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and the BJP is equal to Hindi. Language is going to be a political issue in Tamil Nadu that even the party perceived to be close to the BJP will find it difficult to side with," the analyst pointed out.

In View of National Education Policy

The ruling AIADMK government led by state chief Edappadi K Palaniswami in Tamil Nadu has categorically refused to adopt the Modi government's three-language formula under the New Education Policy, which stipulates regional language, English and Hindi in schools for passing instructions. The state head termed the policy "painful and saddening".

The state government has decided to retain the state's two language policy that allows the use of only English and Tamil.
Lakshmana explains that Tamil Nadu people believe it will eventually be used to impose Hindi.

Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has maintained that the government does not aim to impose any language on any state.


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