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‘Hindi Theriyathu Poda’ - Kollywood joins growing opposition to Hindi-imposition in Tamil Nadu

Kanimozhi, Women's wing secretary, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Tamil Kollywood celebrities joined a growing campaign across Tamil Nadu this week, as social media platforms were buzzing with tens of thousands of tweets and messages, highlighting the widespread opposition to Hindi imposition in India.

The hasthag “Hindi Theriyathu Poda” (I don’t know Hindi, go! / #ஹிந்தி_தெரியாது_போடா) was trending on Twitter across India, after popular music director Yuvan Shankar Raja and actor Shirish tweeted a picture of them wearing T-shirts that read “I am a Tamil Pesum Indian” (I am a Tamil-speaking Indian) and “Hindi Theriyathu Poda”. 

Music director Yuvan Shankar Raja and actor Shirish

This picture inspired scores of Tamil netizens to express their opposition to the central government’s attempts to impose Hindi on them, as more celebrities also posted photographs wearing the slogans. In recent months, Tamil Nadu has been experiencing a resurgence of Tamil pride, especially amongst the youth, and dogged determination against New Delhi’s effort to impose Hindi on a reluctant populace. 

Shanthanu Bhagyaraj and Kiki Vijay

 

Actor Karunakaran.

Just last month, MP Kanimozhi from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was asked by an airport staff whether she was an Indian at the Chennai Airport because she couldn’t speak Hindi. She tweeted her ordeal and it drew her a flurry of support from prominent Tamil personalities who said they had faced similar experiences in which their identity as an Indian was questioned since they could not speak Hindi. 

This was followed by an incident where the secretary of a central ministry asked Tamil participants to leave a virtual meeting since they requested him to speak in English as they could not understand Hindi. 

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy wrote a letter early August to Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejecting the New Education Policy (NEP) that prescribed a three-language formula for the state which was widely regarded as a covert attempt to force Tamil children to learn Hindi. 

The Week magazine reported that a Tamil central government employee in Chennai, B Balamurugan, was being forced to promote Hindi in the office, a language he does not speak. I have been deliberately posted in the Hindi cell to belittle my Tamil sentiments. I am not interested in working for that," Balamurugan said in a letter. 

Director Vetrimaaran

Director Karu Pazhaniappan

Every political party in Tamil Nadu, except the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, opposes the forceful imposition of Hindi on Tamil people. Many of them jumped aboard the “Hindi Theriyadhu Poda” bandwagon and expressed their espousal of the viral hashtag. Udayanithi Stalin, the Youth Wing Secretary of the DMK, donned a “Hindi Theriyadhu Poda” T-Shirt demonstrating his party’s endorsement of the digital movement. 

Tamil Nadu has a storied history of standing up to New Delhi’s urge to foist Hindi in states where the language is not spoken. Tamil pride was a major plank of the Dravidian parties who alternated in power in the state for the best part of the past 50 years. With the passing of Karunanidhi of the DMK and Jayalalitha of the AIADMK, the position of both Dravidian parties have been considerably weakened and has seen parties such as the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) (We Tamils Party), led by the Senthamizhan Seeman, gain increasing support.

Read more from BBC Tamil, New Indian Express and The Week.

 

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