“We are not against Hindi, we are against Hindi Imposition”: DMK youth wing, students speak up on the issue 

The fight against Hindi imposition in Tamil Nadu has been going on for decades; social media has been trending with hashtags against the imposition of the language
A protest in Tamil Nadu against imposition of Hindi by DMK Youth Wing Secretary, Udhayanidhi Stalin | Pic: Twitter
A protest in Tamil Nadu against imposition of Hindi by DMK Youth Wing Secretary, Udhayanidhi Stalin | Pic: Twitter

Recently the Central Government introduced MBBS books in Hindi. This happened in Madhya Pradesh where Amit Shah launched the said books. Several southern states in the country are against this measure and see it as the imposition of Hindi. Most medical colleges issued notices stating that they will not be implementing Hindi MBBS books in their institute. This issue has instigated the recent protests in Tamil Nadu against the imposition of Hindi by the Dravidian parties.

It may be recalled that the three-language system introduced under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 also continues to create unrest among non-Hindi speakers, especially in Tamil Nadu. It gains fresh impetus and is propelled further by political support extended by leaders of the Dravidian parties in the past few decades.

Even in the recent past, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu MK Stalin has expressed during various instances that Hindi cannot and will not be imposed in the state. Social media, of course, has been abuzz with trending hashtags such as #stopHindiImposition, #TNagainsthindiimposition, #hindiimposition, #hinditheriyadhupoda, and so on.

Not against the Language
The current spate of Anti-Hindi protests happening across Tamil Nadu are being led by the Student Wing (Manavr Ani) and Youth Wing (Ilainar Ani) of the ruling party DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). While talking about how Hindi imposition will affect the students of the state, DMK's Student Wing Deputy Secretary Kaviganesan Veeraswamy made their stand clear — they are not against Hindi. 

What they do think though is that every student should be given the option to study it, if a few of them want to learn Hindi, they can. "We are not against Hindi, we are just against Hindi imposition,” reiterates Veeraswamy. But what about the job opportunities that learning Hindi might open up for others, we ask. "If people from southern India move to northern states, they learn the local language there and it should be the same case for people who move from northern states."

We all know there are certain languages that have been lost or are on the brink of extinction. Take for example languages such as  Marathi, Bihari, Bhutia (The language of Sikkim), Khasi (The language of Meghalaya). DMK's VS Kalaiselvan, District Deputy Secretary of the youth wing, doesn't want Tamil to meet the same fate years down the lane. He said that DMK’s opposition to Hindi imposition is a permanent fight to protect the classical language that is Tamil. 

On the topic of college students being affected because of Hindi imposition, he said that most students are not interested to learn the language. If it is imposed, he adds, “Students just blindly mug up without the intention to learn and just to clear their examinations. No one benefits from this, instead, they can be given the option to choose the language they want to learn instead of imposing a language on them,” he added.

How it is affecting the students?
The shift from school to college is a difficult one as it is. Now, upon that, imagine being forced to learn a language that you do not want to. This is the situation for several students like Moneshwaran who is pursuing his MBA in a private college in Chennai and wishes to study and work in Tamil Nadu. “I am planning to study and work in Tamil Nadu all my life and I have no plans to migrate to a different state. Then what is the point of me studying Hindi or any other language for that matter? We are already learning English as it has become a universal language and we also learning our mother tongue, why should we learn another language unless we actually want to?” he questions. “Language is just a means of communication and I know two languages that will help me in my state,” he adds.

What if you wanted to learn French or any other language in school along with your mother tongue? That was a difficult option for this student who is now studying at BS Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai as she was forced to choose between a language she wanted to learn and her mother tongue as Hindi was a compulsory subject as a school student. “English is already a commonly used language worldwide and I can manage with English wherever I go. Is it fair that I was forced to choose between my mother tongue and the language I wanted to learn?” she stated.

“With Hindi Imposition, we are going against our Indian constitution. There are several languages in the country and we proudly talk about unity and diversity. We still try to impose one language across the country,” says said a student from a private college in Chennai. He was forced to learn Hindi in school which was not an easy task for him. “My parents were not familiar with Hindi and failing in Hindi always brought my total average down.” The 2015 initiative of the ruling party stated that students of Class X must learn Tamil, which was a blessing in disguise for him and his classmates.

When this student from BS Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology says that learning more than two languages is a good skill, one can agree with her. But she also puts forth a question. “Is imposing one particular language on students the only way for students to learn? I feel that the language spoken in the state should be given priority first rather than Hindi,” she opines.

Made to feel inferior at school or in society because of one's inability to converse in one language is something that happens every day, but feeling inferior because you don't know Hindi in Tamil Nadu might not happen every day, but it did happen to Karen Delcia, a college student. “Although in school we were not pressurised to learn Hindi, somehow an image was created that made me feel like learning Hindi will be the only way I can get by in this county. I believe that a language is just a tool for communication and there is no need for any language to be forced on anyone,” she says with discouragement and frustration.

Akshayanivasini RR from SRM medical college said, “ Learning a language should be an option and students should be given the freedom. It is a democratic country with diversity, languages and our cultural roots are linked and it is not fair to impose one language,” she says, adding that she might be interested in learning the language but does not support the imposition.

What about non-Tamil students in Tamil Nadu?
While several students whose mother tongue is Tamil expressed their opposition to Hindi Imposition, several students who migrated to the state when Tamil was made compulsory faced issues with learning the language. Nupur Lodha M from Guru Shree Shanthi Jain College for Women shared her school experience, “When I was in school, Tamil was made compulsory in the state and it was difficult for me to learn that language as my mother tongue is Marwadi. Most of the schools in Tamil Nadu are Tamil medium and there is scope to learn Hindi in these schools. Why is there an imposition of Tamil on other language students who have migrated from other states? What is wrong if there is one language at a national level that is known to everyone?”

The fight against Hindi imposition in Tamil Nadu has been going on for decades. This issue has been kept alive in the state since the time of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, who is popularly known as Rajaji, when he was the Chief Minister of the state over six decades ago. There were anti-Hindi protests in Tamil Nadu in 1964 when the then Indian National Congress government at the Centre made Hindi compulsory in secondary school. Since then the anti-Hindi movement in Tamil Nadu has been escalating.

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