In a petition for the adoption of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in the state of Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court has stated that teaching Hindi as a third language alongside Tamil and English in educational institutions would not do any harm.
Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Munishwar Nath Bhandari heading the first bench of the court on Tuesday inquired from the state government as to why Hindi can’t be taught as the third language in Tamil Nadu and what harm it would do.
The bench was hearing Arjunan Elayaraja’s public interest lawsuit, in which he sought directives for the implementation of the NEP, 2020, in educational institutions across Tamil Nadu. Elayaraja had argued that in view of the NEP 2020, the state cannot opt-out of supporting Hindi and Sanskrit in the state.
It may be recalled that in 2019, the DMK and other parties in Tamil Nadu had strongly opposed the three-language formula in the draft National Education Policy alleging that it was tantamount to thrusting Hindi language on the non-Hindi speaking states. In 2020, the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had rejected the three-language policy proposed by the Union government in the National Education Policy (NEP) and said the state will not deviate from its two-language policy, being followed for decades.
The bench stated that the state had the authority to make such decisions. The court did note, however, that people from Tamil Nadu will be at a disadvantage if they travel outside the state without understanding Hindi.
‘Not knowing Hindi might be a barrier in getting jobs’, says Madras HC batting for Hindi being taught as third language in Tamil Nadu
Citing examples of people being rejected jobs because they didn’t know Hindi, Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari said that this shouldn’t be a barrier for Tamil Nadu residents.
“For taking a job in the state of Tamil Nadu, there is no difficulty but outside the state there would be difficulty,” he noted.
Responding to the observation made by the Judge, Advocate General (AG) R Shunmugasundaram said, “The Tamil Nadu government follows two language policy and not three language policy as it would be overburdening the students.” Moreover, no one is stopped from learning Hindi in Tamil Nadu. “There are institutions like the Hindi Prachar Sabha where one can learn Hindi,” he added.
The two-judge bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P D Audikesavalu reacted by saying: “Learning is different from teaching.”
“If you give the option of three languages to the students, only then will they be in a position to opt for one or two or three. If everybody is opting for Tamil, (it is) fine. There is no difficulty. But they should be having the option to go for English or Hindi or any other language they require,” Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari stated.
When the AG said the state is following two language policy and not a three-language policy, ACJ questioned, “What is the harm if you follow the three-language policy (with Hindi).”
The bench granted Arjunan Elayaraja of Cuddalore’s petition four weeks to file the counter-affidavit, notwithstanding the AG’s request for eight weeks.
Home Minister Amit Shah slams those indulging in language politics
It may be recalled how in 2019, HM Amit Shah, on the occasion of Hindi Diwas, had appealed to the citizens to increase the use of Hindi. Speaking at a function to commemorate Hindi Diwas, Shah hailed the diversity of languages and dialects in the country that he stressed was the “strength of our nation”.
His statement was, however, distorted and used to stir controversy. Immediately media was abuzz with reports that Amit Shah was seeking a common language for the country and had proposed Hindi’s name. This got the ball rolling and raised the hackles of political leaders in some non-Hindi speaking States, especially in South India.
He had then cleared the controversy fomented by the opposition over his remarks on the Hindi language. Slamming those indulging in language politics Shah said he has never asked for imposition of Hindi anywhere in the country but advocated its use as the second language after one’s mother tongue.