[lg policy] India: Is Tamil Nadu going to shut door on minority languages?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 24 15:48:13 UTC 2010

Is Tamil Nadu going to shut door on minority languages?

Submitted by admin3 on 23 February 2010 - 11:21pm.
Indian Muslim
By Shafee Ahmed Ko, TwoCircles.net,

Chennai: This is the fear that intellectuals of minority languages in
the predominant Tamil speaking state have today, thanks to the M
Karunanidhi government’s Samacheer Kalvi (Equitable System of
Education) policy that will be in force from the academic year
2010-2011. It is certain that due to the policy, based on two-language
system (Tamil and English), the state will not allow, after 2015,
Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada in public
examinations. The object of the government is to do away with all the
languages except Tamil and English from 2016. The text books will
contain syllabi extolling the Tamil scholars and Periyar's (Most of
the DMK people are atheist except MGR and Jayalalithaa) teachings.

Several Urdu language intellectuals have shared their concern with
TwoCircles.net. But let’s first have a look at the present language
situation in the state and the present DMK government’s views about
Samacheer Kalvi.

Tamil rules the roost

Tamil Nadu government gives a great deal of importance to Tamil
language. Those who study Tamil as main language obtain government
scholarships and get great job opportunities. Tamil leaders such as
E.V. Ramasamy and Annadurai, Karunanidhi, all strong advocates of
atheism, no doubt brought a renaissance in Tamil language. Their
prolific writings were quite popular. Theatres and films helped them
to bring alarming progress and great craze for the Tamil language.
Within the span of fifty years there was a sea-change in the language
both in spoken and written. All signboards bear Tamil language and all
government buses carry the Tamil poet Valluar’s couplets. Being a very
powerful party the ruling DMK is slowly introducing two-language
policy (only Tamil and English) in the educational curriculum, which,
however, is not quite apparent at the moment.

Tamils in India

Most of Indian Tamils live in the state of Tamil Nadu. Tamils are the
majority in the union territory of Puducherry, a former French colony,
borders Tamil Nadu. Tamils account for at least one-sixth of the
population in Andaman and Nicobar Islands also. There are also Tamil
communities in other parts of India. Most of them have emerged fairly
recently, dating to the colonial and post-colonial periods, but some –
particularly the Hebbar and Mandyam Tamils of southern Karnataka (2.9
million), Pune, Maharashtra (1.4 million), Andhra Pradesh (1.2
million), Palakkad in Kerala (0.6 million), and Delhi (0.1 million) –
date back to at least the medieval period.

Tamil Nadu population

Hindus: 88.34%
Christians: 6.08%
Muslims: 5.57%
Others: 0.26%
Population: Tamil speaking 50%
Population: Urdu, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada speaking (Linguistic
minorities) 50 %( Approximately)

(Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin admits it)

Govt’s views on Samacheer Kalvi (Equitable System of Education)

Equitable standard school education does not mean imposition of the
syllabus of one stream on others, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi
clarified last week. A common syllabus would be prepared,
incorporating the best of all the streams. An analysis of the syllabi
of the streams had revealed that there was not much difference, Mr.
Karunanidhi said in a statement. At present, the State has four
streams – State Board, Matriculation, Anglo-Indian and Oriental. Last
month, the Cabinet decided to adopt the system of equitable standard
school education. The Chief Minister said once the fresh syllabus was
prepared, its copies would be circulated to representatives of all the
streams for comments. This would be debated at panchayat and district
levels before finalization.

In a transparent manner, decisions would be taken on the syllabus and
text books. As announced by the government, apart from Tamil, steps
would be taken to continue with the present practice of permitting
other languages as a medium of instruction.

Minority language intellectuals

Despite clarification from the chief minister, intellectuals of
minority languages in the state have expressed their concerns. P.K.
Shabbir Ahmed of Organisation of Muslim Educational Institutions and
Association of Tamil Nadu (OMIET): “There is a slow poisoning in the
Tamil Nadu Educational System to negate the minority languages such as
Urdu, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. The Tamil Nadu was well crafty
in introducing in the two-language formula 1.Tamil and 2.English as
examination languages and 3.Subjects such as Mathematics and Sciences.
The Act known as “Tamil Nadu Tamil Learning Act 2006” has been in
practice with Tamil and English as compulsory languages and minority
languages such as Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Telugu, Malayalam, and
Kannada will be totally extinct in the year 2015.

When TCN asked him about the fate of Oriental Arabic and Oriental
Sanskrit Schools, Ahmed said: After 2015 the school name boards will
be there as Oriental Arabic and Oriental Sanskrit Schools but there
will be no Arabic and Sanskrit languages taught. How can you expect
these languages to exist, since there will be only two languages
compulsory for examination namely Tamil and English? Presenting the
government order to this correspondent he asks if there was any
provision for the languages he was asking for.

P.K. Shabbir further lamented that there are three papers in Oriental
language system in which the Seerathun Nabi and Islamic related
subjects are being taught. After 2010 there will be no such thing and
students will be taught about Kamba Ramayan and Periyar’s concepts
etc. On the way out, he said: the school managements should be
sensitive in such issues. All should gather to have a peaceful protest
against the new policy. Prof. P. Nisar Ahmed, Head of the Department
of Urdu, Persian and Arabic, University of Madras, Chennai and Prof.
Sajjad Hussain, Chairman, Urdu Language Committee: “There is peril to
Urdu and other minority languages if Tamil Nadu government is keen on
introducing two-language formula of Tamil and English.

Since you are the brain and nerve system for the government as far as
Urdu language is concerned and if you are given to understanding that
Tamil Nadu Government introduces two-language formulae, are you at
fix? The two professors said: Government has conducted several
seminars and we have attended them. They asked us our opinion and we
have presented our papers to them. The clarification given by Chief
Minister Karunanidhi is totally contradictory to the expert opinion of
others that after 2015 there will be no oriental languages taught in
the Tamil Nadu curriculum.


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