Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami of Tamil Nadu denounced the three-language formula contained in the New Education Policy (NEP) recently unveiled by the central government, which critics claim is a tacit attempt to impose Hindi in the state.
“The Tamil people have stood firm on the two-language policy (Tamil and English) over the past 80 years and have expressed their feelings regarding the three-language policy in various forms of protest,” the statement read.
Stressing that the state government would not adopt the three-language formula recommended in the NEP, the statement continued, “even though the New Education Policy recently released by the central government contains provisions for the three-language policy, the Government of Tamil Nadu would never allow such a policy to take effect in the state and continue to follow the two-language policy”.
“Furthermore, popular opinion in Tamil Nadu and most political parties in the state favour the existing two-language policy. At this stage, it is deeply saddening that the three-language formula has found a place in the NEP.”
“I warmly request the Prime Minister to pay heed to the will of the Tamil people, reconsider the education policy and grant states the leeway to devise their own education policies,” the statement said. “The government of the AIADMK (All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) will take swift action when the Tamil language or the Tamil people are affected.”
The statement also recounted the history of instances of Tamil Nadu political leaders standing up to the centre’s attempt to impose Hindi as a compulsory language in the state, including the storied anti-Hindi agitations of 1965.
“When the Congress government attempted to make Hindi the official language of all of India, students and the common masses of Tamil Nadu conducted a massive campaign of protest against the move,” Palaniswami said.
“On 23rd January 1968, CM Annadurai himself passed a legislation making the two-language formula the official policy of the state in order to allay people’s fears over the three-language policy.”
This move by Palaniswami marks a departure from his government’s previous policy to toe the centre’s line. Since the demise of former CM and AIADMK chief J.Jayalalitha, the Tamil Nadu government and AIADMK under Edappadi’s stewardship has been criticised as acting as a stooge of the BJP, contributing significantly to its diminishing popularity in the state - exemplified by the party’s poor performance in the national general elections of 2019. As the state general election of 2021 draws closer, AIADMK is attempting to salvage its battered image and take the wind out of DMK’s, its rival, sails.
In a first, the leader of opposition MK Stalin of DMK has expressed his gratitude to the Chief Minister for rejecting the New Education Policy.