Tamil Nadu: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) ruffled feathers again last week as it instructed its district secretaries to brief youngsters about multiple ways in which they claimed the Center was trying to “impose” the use of Hindi on them. The order seems to focus on establishing the Dravidian Party as being the ‘defender of Tamil rights’ in the state.
MK Stalin, DMK President has alleged that since coming to power Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party are trying to ‘decimate’ the sense of unity in India. He claims that to keep insisting on using Hindi is a betrayal of all non-Hindi speakers in the country. The issue was aggravated when English signs on Vellore highways were replaced in favor of Devanagari script.
Originally, the Indian Constitution mandate on the issue instructed that English was to be used additionally for a period of 15 years from the time of the Constitution’s adoption. Later on, the Union Government was to use Hindi as the sole official language. This naturally did not go down well with non-Hindi speaking states down south and led to the passing of the 1968 Act by PM Nehru. However, even then the DMK refused to be appeased and objected to the use of “may” instead of “shall” in the Act where it states that “English may continue to be used.”
Several have criticized Stalin and termed him an opportunist. V Geeta, activist and historian is of the opinion that Stalin is trying to capitalise on the anger of people post the Jallikattu-ban fiasco. She feels it is a new political ploy to try to establish his relevance post the Jayalalita era. Meanwhile, there are also those who are in support of the leader’s latest political tactics. Professor V Arasu, who has served formerly as the head of Tamil department, University of Madras is one such supporter. He says that because of leaders like Stalin and the DMK the use of Tamil across the state as a medium of instruction is still possible. With the continuation of this issue as it is, it will be far more difficult for centre-state relations to improve.