‘Won’t Allow 3-Language Formula’: TN Parties’ United Front on NEP

TN government and the opposition parties are in up in arms against the three-language formula in NEP.

4 min read
Hindi Female

The Tamil Nadu government and the Opposition in the state seem to be united in their disapproval of the three-language formula in the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

"Three-language formula in NEP is painful and saddening. I appeal to Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) to reconsider. Let the states implement as per the policy," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said in a statement released on Monday, 3 August.

He stated that the government has planned to reject the three-language policy and will continue with the two-language policy practised so far.


What Is the Three-Language Formula?

The NEP recommends that all students will learn three languages in their school under the 'formula' and at least two of the three languages should be native to India. For example, if a student in Chennai is learning Tamil and English, he/she will have to choose to learn another Indian language. Though the policy dictates that the states can decide on what the third language would be, political parties in Tamil Nadu have pointed out that this could lead to Hindi imposition.

The chief minister mentioned in his statement about how several leaders like late chief ministers Anna Durai, MGR and Jayalalithaa have been consistent in expressing their opposition to the imposition of Hindi.


Why Has DMK Demanded a Review?

The MK Stalin-led opposition, DMK and many other parties in Tamil Nadu have demanded a review of the reforms proposed by the NEP stating it was against the Constitution and the interest of the student community.

On Saturday, during a virtual meeting of DMK district secretaries, MLAs and MPs, Stalin said that the policy was an attempt at imposition of Hindi and Sanskrit. NEP is "a glossy coat on the old oppressive Manusmriti," he said.

He questioned why the "successful" 10+2 system was being replaced with 5+3+3+4 and described the vocational education system as a "psychological attack" on children.

He urged the Tamil Nadu government to reject the NEP on the grounds that it was against the rights of the state government and social justice. He said the creation of a higher education authority to control the state universities, entrance examination for arts and science colleges, the permission for foreign universities would deny the states their rights.

“This is an attack on the federal structure being underscored by the Constitution of India.”
MK Stalin, President, DMK

He vowed to fight against it by joining hands with political parties and chief ministers of other states.


Why Are Parties Alleging This Is an ‘Attempt to Saffronise?

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi president Thol Thirumavalavan on Thursday too, urged the state government to reject the NEP.

In a statement, he said the policy took away the autonomy of states and attempted to saffronise education. He asked the chief minister to call for an all-party meeting.

“This is anti-people and against the principles of democracy,” his statement read.

TNCC president KS Alagiri on Thursday stated that the NEP was an attempt to saffronise education and said it should not be implemented without discussion in the Parliament.

He stated that the policy was an attempt to communalise education and aimed to force Sanskrit.

“The Centre is trying to force its ideology of One Nation, One Language, One Culture through this,” he claimed.


Are Any Parties Seeing Merit in NEP?

PMK youth wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss on Thursday said though the NEP had good aspects, the proposal of adopting a three-language policy is not acceptable.

The general secretary of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam and nephew of Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran urged the state to pick out only those aspects of the policy that would promote development of the students, while leaving out those that might not be in the larger interest of the students.


Recalling Protests in TN When NEP Draft was Submitted

The hashtags #TNAgainstHindiImposition and #StopHindiImposition were trending when the draft of the National Education Policy was submitted on 31 May 2019, with the bulk of the traffic coming in from Tamil Nadu. This had sparked a controversy with MK Stalin warning the Centre that such a move would lead to protests, like in 1965 and 1937.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had tweeted, both in Tamil and English, assuring that ‘no language will be imposed’.


What is Tamil Nadu’s Long-Standing Contention with Hindi Imposition?

Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, in his statement, referred to the anti-Hindi agitation by Tamil Nadu students in 1965 when the Congress government had attempted to make Hindi the official language.

The 1965 Riots

After the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, Tamils were apprehensive that his assurances of continuation of English as an official language would not be kept. The state government under Congress' Bhaktavatsalam introduced the three-language Formula (English-Hindi-Tamil) in Madras Legislative Assembly.

Then, Anna Durai announced that 26 January 1965 will be observed as a day of mourning. When the then chief minister called it blasphemy as it fell on Republic Day, he advanced the protest to 25 January. He along with 3,000 DMK members were taken into preventive custody. But college students took forward the protests in Chennai and Tiruchy which soon turned into violent clashes with Congress workers.

Several agitators died by suicide – self-immolating and consuming poison – a  number of students were arrested and a lot of public property was damaged.

Central ministers from Tamil Nadu, C Subramaniam and OV Alagesan, handed over their resignation to Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who promptly accepted it and forwarded it to the President who refused to accept it. Finally, the prime minister backed down and made a radio broadcast on 11 February 1965 promising that English would continue to be used for Centre-state and intrastate communications.

The 1986 Agitation

When Rajiv Gandhi planned to introduce Navodaya schools across India and in Tamil Nadu in 1986, it was met with statewide protests and suicides. Late former chief minister Karunanidhi, the pioneer of the DMK, had rallied over 20,000 party workers in protests, of which 21 men died by suicide.

The success of the 1965 anti-Hindi agitations helped DMK defeat the then ruling Congress party in 1967.

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