Anti-Hindi protest by South states against MHRD’s New Education Policy: What is the matter?

English would continued to be used as the official language as long as the non-Hindi speaking states wanted- Lal Bahadur Shastri

The MHRD has submitted the first draft of New Education Policy to the government with the suggestions of essential assumptions to be made in the existing school level education system and higher level educational system.

One of the suggestions made in the draft to impose Hindi as the mandatory language in all states, have heard a lot of outrage and disagreement by the South residentials.

Political Opinion

– “Most of us in South learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malyalam or Tamil”- Shashi Tharoor (MP, Kerala)

– “Tamil Nadu will continue to have the two-language formula and there is no move to either change it or dilute it- KA Sengottaiyan (AIADMK veteran and Education Minster of TN)

– “The DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) will never allow imposition of Hindi. It will raise its voice in Parliament and outside and strive to stall it”- Kanimozhi Karunandhi (Lok Sabha MP, DMK)

– “One language should not be imposed on others for any reason in the name of the three-language policy”- HD Kumaraswamy (Karnataka Chief Minister)

After receiving such negative responses the MHRD has assured to set back the decision to implement the move to mandate Hindi as the third language in the states.

Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Only after hearing public opinion the draft policy will be implemented. Only to nurture all Indian languages PM launched Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat. The centre will support to honour and develop the ancient Tamil language.”

What the policy says?

According to the draft, the three-language formula should be introduced at an earlier stage in the schools. The draft says-

“Since children learn languages most quickly between 2-8 years, and multilingualism has great cognitive benefits for students, children will be immersed in three languages early on, from the foundational stage,” the policy said. Suggestions of Hindi’s domination like a reference to the 54% of Indians who speak Hindi didn’t go down well in Tamil Nadu.

“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, 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.”

Why are south states against Hindi language imposition?

Back in the year 1937 the Indian National congress government led by C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) had introduced a compulsory teaching of Hindi in the schools of Madras Presidency. This was the year when first anti-Hindi imposition agitation was launched. The agitation, which lasted 3 years was multifaceted and involved fasts, conferences, marches, picketing and protests.

To constitute a common language post-independence, Hindi was chosen as an official language overpowering English, which remained as an associate official language. This wasn’t acceptable to non-Hindi Indian states, which led to protests. After receiving the oppositions by DMK, then Prime Minister Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru in 1963 constituted Official Languages Act, to ensure the continuous use of English.

Even this wasn’t acceptable by the Madrasis and they quashed another protest, which concluded with deaths of many. In 1965 then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri proclaimed that- English would continued to be used as the official language as long as the non-Hindi speaking states wanted.

This was a relief to the South-Indians and since then (before 2019) no impositions have been led considering the language barriers.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar giving the assurance tweeted, “The National Education Policy as submitted to the Minister HRD is only a draft report. Feedback shall be obtained from the general public. State governments will be consulted. Only after this the draft report will be finalised. GoI (Government of India) respects all languages. No language will be imposed.”

The public is open to give their feedback on the the National Education Policy Draft 2019 at [email protected] It should be noted that the feedback portal is only open till 30th June. It is the date when the final draft will be presented in the cabinet to get approval.





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