DMK demands English as National Language; all other languages as mandatory Mother Tongue itself in respective states

CHENNAI: A row erupted in Tamil Nadu on Friday over a circular of the Southern Railway making English and Hindi mandatory as the languages of communication between divisional control officers and station masters. Southern Railway Hqrs withdrawn the Circular after the DMK took it up with officials, with the Opposition slamming it as another attempt at “imposing” Hindi.

The circular, issued in May and published in a section of media on Friday, had come days after a reported language issue between two Station Masters in Madurai district, leading to two trains running on the same track. Three officials were suspended over the incident.

Calling the move “arrogant”, DMK president M K Stalin alleged that the circular amounted to imposing Hindi and destroying the local language.  They are repeatedly playing with the sentiments of not only in Tamil Nadu, but also in all other non-Hindi speaking states. If such cheap orders are not stopped with immediately, we will put a full stop to them,” said Stalin. “We urge the Ministry of Home Affairs to make necessary amendments by declaring English as the National Language, and other languages such as Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Oriya, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamee, Punjabi including Hindi as local native language. There is no need to impose Hindi as the Official language, as it will disintegrate India further. Because Hindi is a National Language, the Hindi speaking people are not even learning English, whereas all other non-Hindi speaking citizens in various states are mandated to learn 3 languages. This is causing serious impact in the society,” he said. 

Some people argue that while China, Germany, Japan, Korea, France have respective languages as their official language, why not India. This is very vague argument, since those countries have single language practiced, be it Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, German, Italian, across their countries, whereas India has many languages and hence it will not work here in India:, he said. Adding that one of the Station Masters who hail from north India doesn’t even know English, and the other Station Master knows Tamil and English. That was the reason for communication gap between the station master that led to rolling two trains on the same track, leading to a possible head-on collision which was luckly averted,” he said. “Had there been a Globally acceptable language i.e. English, as the National Language, then all Indian citizens would also develop global outlook rather than totally local outlook that which has an impact on its citizens in communicating with other people while moving around in different parts of the country for the sake of employment,” he said.  He urged Ministry of Home Affairs should take a logical, balanced, objective and judicious view on this issue, and make English as India’s National Language; all other languages to remain as mandatory Mother Tongue languages in respective states. This clears the mess,” he said. “Imposing Hindi language will not suit for Indians”, he added.

On the DMK chief’s instructions, party MP Dayanidhi Maran presented a memorandum to Southern Railway General Manager Rahul Jain and Chief Operations Manager S Anantharaman against the circular. The officials assured them of withdrawing the circular “immediate effect”.

Maran later told reporters that the DMK would “make any sacrifice” to prevent what he said was the imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu.

Officials in the Southern Railway clarified that the circular was “purely internal” and issued to avoid any communication problem. The controversy comes close on the heels of the row over the alleged imposition of Hindi in the draft new education policy, which has been revised later.

The DMK had said only the two-language formula should exist in the state. “We had come with the intention of staging a protest if our demand was not heeded to, but they have assured (us of) cancelling the circular and Stalin has ensured a good solution to the matter,” Maran said. “(The) DMK will make any sacrifices to prevent attempts of Hindi imposition.”

PMK founder S Ramadoss and MDMK chief Vaiko also slammed the move. Ramadoss wondered if there was any “gag” on communicating in Tamil among the railway staff and urged that more Tamil-speaking people should be employed in the central department in the state. Even non-Tamil speaking people should be asked to learn the local language, the PMK leader said in a statement. “The circular is an attempt at imposing Hindi, which is condemnable.”

Vaiko warned that attempts at “Hindi imposition” in the railway department would lead to an outrage in the state. “The Centre is aggressively trying to impose Hindi by all means,” he said and recalled the stiff resistance to the Centre’s proposed three-language formula from states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala and West Bengal.

Dravidar Kazhagam leader K Veeramani also criticised the move. Anti-Hindi sentiments had peaked in Tamil Nadu in the 1960s when the DMK then successfully led an anti-Hindi agitation against the imposition of the language, which found great resonance with the public.