New Delhi: After DMK MP Kanimozhi alleged that she faced language bias at an airport where a Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) officer asked her if she is an Indian because she didn’t know Hindi, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said he had faced “similar taunts” from government officers and other people.
In a tweet Sunday, Kanimozhi posted, “Today at the airport a CISF officer asked me if ‘I am an Indian’ when I asked her to speak to me in tamil or English as I did not know Hindi. I would like to know from when being indian is equal to knowing Hindi (sic).”
Chidambaram tweeted Monday that Kanimozhi’s unpleasant experience at the airport was not unusual.
“I have experienced similar taunts from government officers and ordinary citizens who insisted that I speak in Hindi during telephone conversations and sometimes face to face”, he said.
I have experienced similar taunts from government officers and ordinary citizens who insisted that I speak in Hindi during telephone conversations and sometimes face to face
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 10, 2020
In the thread, he also said if the central government was genuinely committed to both Hindi and English as the official languages of India, it must insist that all central government employees speak both the languages.
“Non-Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts quickly learn functional, spoken Hindi. Why cannot Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts learn functional, spoken English?” Chidambaram said.
The Hindi imposition debate
Kanimozhi’s tweet, which she posted with the hashtag #HindiImposition, came in the midst of a language debate triggered by the new National Education Policy (NEP) that encourages mother tongue or local language as medium of instruction for students up to class 5, and preferably till class 8.
The Tamil Nadu government has rejected the Centre’s proposed implementation of a three-language formula in schools.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E.K. Palaniswami has said he will “never allow the Centre’s three-language policy and will continue with its dual language policy (of Tamil and English)”.
DMK president M.K. Stalin has also been critical of the new NEP, calling it an attempt at “imposition” of Hindi and Sanskrit. He called the reforms “a glossy coat on the old oppressive Manusmriti”.
“With Education placed in the State List, the Centre will assume the remaining rights of the states and take in its control (aspects ranging) from syllabus to university,” he added.
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