For a long time, language has not only been an integral part of Tamilian politics, but also a matter for pride for its citizens. Do you know what changed the face of politics in Tamil Nadu? The simple decision of the Congress government to make Hindi compulsory in schools opened doors for other political parties in 1967. For nearly 50 years, Dravidian political parties – AIADMK and DMK have stonewalled every move of the Union government to impose the Hindi language in the state during their reigns.
Tamil Nadu is about to face its most crucial assembly elections in the first half of 2021 and the Union government is leaving no stone unturned to impose Hindi as a language in the state. We can indubitably say that after decades, the language politics is making a strong comeback in Tamil Nadu, and the state government is going to have a hard time getting itself out of this problem. Tamilians don’t have a problem with learning the Hindi language. But, they want to learn it on their own terms and not have someone shove it down their throats forcibly. For the youth today, social media has turned into a battleground.
A large number of Tamilians have taken to various social media platforms to voice their opinion about the forced language imposition with hashtags such as “Hindi imposition”. In fact, if you’re an active Twitterati, you must’ve seen thousands of Tamilians wearing t-shirts with the slogan “Hindi Theriyathu Poda” (I don’t know Hindi. Go man). The National Education Policy and its three-language formula is being viewed by the state government as the Centre’s attempt to forcefully impose the Hindi in Tamil schools. Furthermore, the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah’s statement that Hindi is the only language that can integrate the entire nation has worried the Tamilians.
What aggravated the Tamilians, even more, were incidents such as the DMK MP Kanimozhi being asked whether she knew Hindi or not, at the Chennai airport, farmers receiving answers to the Right to Information Act questions in Hindi, and a Secretary level officer asking Tamil Nadu doctors to leave the conference if they weren’t familiar with Hindi. BJP has made it crystal clear that they want to impose Hindi in the entire nation. But what they don’t realize is that the Tamilians are not opposing the language, they’re opposing the loss of their identity and integrity. And if things continue to go like this, the 2021 elections will surely see the impact of language imposition as an important criterion in deciding who rules the state.