‘Short-Sighted’: Kamal Haasan Slams Shah Amid Hindi Imposition Row

Stressing that that Tamil Nadu has always loved its mother tongue, Hassan said “If needed we will agitate.”

Updated
India
3 min read

Video Editor: Md. Ibrahim

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan on Monday, 16 September, opposed any attempts to "impose" Hindi saying it was a promise made to the country decades back which "no Shah, Sultan or Samrat must renege on." Further, India was an "excellent feast" and that such imposition would lead to "nausea", he said.

“The unity in diversity is a promise that we made when we made India into a Republic. Now, no Shah, Sultan or Samrat must renege on that promise. We respect all languages, but our mother language will always be Tamil.”
Kamal Haasan

The "No Shah or Sultan or Samrat" remark was an obvious reference to Union Home Minister Amit Shah's pitch for Hindi as the nation's common language, which drew sharp responses from many opposition leaders, including DMK President MK Stalin and former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramiah.

Haasan, referring to the 2017 pro-jallikattu protests here, said "it was just a protest, the battle for our language will be exponentially bigger than that."

India or Tamil Nadu "does not need or deserve such a battle."

"India is an excellent feast. Let us consume it together. If one thinks of shoving (food--Hindi in this context), it would lead to nausea, please don't do that," Haasan said in the Tamil version of the video.

Referring to the country's national anthem, Haasan said that it was penned in a language (Bengali) that was not the mother tongue to most citizens.

“Most of the nation happily sings its national anthem in Bengali with pride, and will continue to do so. The reason is the poet (Rabindranath Tagore) who wrote the national anthem gave due respect to all languages and cultures within the anthem and hence, it became our anthem.”
Kamal Haasan

There should be no attempts to transform an inclusive India into an exclusive one as "all will suffer because of such a short-sighted folly," he said.

The veteran actor signed off hailing the Tamil language, Tamil people and the Indian nation.

Later, Hassan told reporters at the airport that “Years before we said it and we like to reiterate Tamil is our pride will not give it up. And this was a promise made when we became a Republic and now we can't change that one.”

Students should decide on what to learn irrespective of what the political parties say, he asserted. “Now class 10 students are dropping out of school due to our new education policy. Now students will be tensed because of the new exam rule.”

Stressing that that Tamil Nadu has always loved its mother tongue, Hassan said, “If needed we will agitate. We are ready to accept numerous languages, but imposition of this (Hindi) is is what we oppose,” he said.

On Saturday, 14 September, Shah had pitched for a common language for the country and said that Hindi is spoken the most and can unite the whole country.

The home minister had also said that efforts will be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country and asked everyone to use their native languages as much as possible.

His remarks, however, drew sharp reactions from opposition parties, especially in Tamil Nadu where all of them, including the ruling AIADMK, rallied against Shah's statement.

AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Culture Minister K Pandiarajan had said if the Centre imposed Hindi unilaterally, there will only be (adverse) reactions and no support, not only in this state, but also in West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, all non-Hindi speaking ones.

Stalin, who termed Shah's remarks as "shocking," had accused the Centre of "autocratic imposition of Hindi" and underscored the need for unity in the ranks of the opposition to take forward the protest against the government.

Tamil Nadu was witness to the famous anti-Hindi agitation that was successfully taken forward by the DMK in the 1960s, against the alleged imposition of the language.

(With inputs from PTI)

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Published: 
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!