DMK anti-Hindi agitation outdated: Tamil Nadu has moved ahead
by R Rajagopalan on 23 Oct 2022 2 Comments

“Hindi down down”.

Don’t impose on Tamilians.


This is how recently, MK Stalin, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu wrote a long letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 


The provocation was the Home Minister Amit Shah’s report to the President of India that the Official Languages Committee of Parliament has recommended that the medium of instruction in technical and non-technical higher education institutes such as IITs in Hindi-speaking states should be Hindi and in other parts of India their respective local language. Amit Shah also emphasised that the report recommended that local languages should be given preference over English in all States.


Why did the DMK react so quickly? Answer: DMK has several internal reasons. Its poll promises were not properly implemented, hence Tamil voters have developed a negative narrative towards the failed administration of MK Stalin.


Foremost is the issue of first family politics. Stalin has himself stated that he does not get sleep due to bickering in the party and the Government. He said his health is fragile. Stalin chose the platform of DMK’s General Council to vent his feelings. Instead of a political speech against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindutva, which was widely expected, he went off on a tangent.


DMK allies were perplexed even as DMK leaders wondered about the rationale for such a “self-goal speech” (aa bail mujhe maro syndrome; come buffalo, hit me). Editorials in major dailies and periodicals hinted that Stalin losing his grip over the party and Government. Amit Shah’s above mentioned Official Language report was a blessing to Stalin and not wasting a minute, the DMK leader raised the 55-year-old party slogan: Hindi Down Down. 


DMK alliance partners did not lag behind. They chanted the same chorus: Hindi Down Down, made famous by the 1965 anti-Hindi agitation.


Now, in October 2022, this slogan has been revived thanks to the Union Home Minister presenting the 11th Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Official Languages to President Draupadi Murmu. The Parliamentary Committee included members of all political parties, including southern parties like DMK and ADMK, but that is just a minor detail. The committee was set up in 1976 under the Official Language Act, 1963. It comprises 30 members of Parliament – 20 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha.


It is the discretion of the President whether to accept a report or not. There are more than 12 volumes of the technical dictionary of Hindi.


This was the 11th report of the committee which submits one report every five years. However, this time, the committee submitted two reports within three years. Its task is to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for official purposes and submit its recommendations to the President.


Interestingly, the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram had presented a report to the then President Pranab Mukherjee with far more stringent recommendations, that have also been implemented. Didn’t the Tamil Nadu chief minister remember that the DMK was part of the UPA government and Chidambaram was DMK’s best friend? 


The Chidambaram report (2011) stated that The Committee of Parliament on Official Language had submitted nine reports to the President since 1959, the last being in 2011, under the chairmanship of Chidambaram.


The government proposes to compile a dictionary of transliterated English-to-Hindi words and avoid difficult language in government correspondence. For instance, with a word like demonetisation can be explained as vimudikaran or the more popular note-bandi. Stalin is aware that the National Education Policy has certain inputs on similar lines, regarding Hindi being taught in colleges.


In Bhopal, Amit Shah released a Hindi textbook for MBBS students. A similar textbook is available in Tamil Nadu for MBBS students. The DMK leaders need to understand that the 21 century is the age of digitisation: each and everything will be digitised and available online, and even on one’s mobile.


Recently, a Korean tourist in Mahabalipuram was able to transact by speaking Tamil with the help of a Google Korean Tamil translation. The tourist wrote on her mobile in her own language, the voice of the message was spoken in Tamil by the mobile phone. Such is the miracle of technology today. 


It is truly pathetic that the DMK still functions in a 1965 era time-warp. The Hindi down, Hindi down slogan is utterly redundant. Hindi as a political weapon had long crossed its expiry date. DMK Ministers may heckle that those who sell pani-poori in Tamil Nadu are North Indians. But, ironically, in every restaurant across Tamil Nadu, one can find a youth from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand or Odisha.


Hindi has reached Tamil Nadu. The social fabric of Tamil Nadu has now a mixture of northern culture. One should not be surprised if by 2031 Tamil Nadu has a Bihari or Uttarkhandi as MLA, or even a Minister. That is the level of concentration of North Indians in Tamil Nadu in the agriculture, textiles, automobiles, tourism, and hospitality sectors. DMK needs to wake up to the new reality.


Stalin’s attempt to revive the ghost of the anti-Hindi agitation can be politically interpreted as DMK’s attempt to pigeon-hole the BJP in Tamil Nadu as a Hindi and North Indian party. The DMK’s internal assessment is that BJP in Tamil Nadu has grown and could pose a serious threat in 2024.


Hence the cries: Hindi down Hindi down. But they are howling to the wind.


The author is a senior journalist

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