[lg policy] Genesis of language problem: Indira Gandhi's one vengeful act

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue Jun 4 11:16:39 EDT 2019


Genesis of language problem: Indira Gandhi's one vengeful act
By Balakumar Kuppuswamy
<https://www.mynation.com/author/balakumar-kuppuswamy/e6452805-9e51-5466-a3d4-ebdfda755023>
First Published 4, Jun 2019, 2:25 PM IST
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HIGHLIGHTS

It was former prime minister Indira Gandhi who moved five subjects from the
state list to concurrent list through the 42nd Amendment Act. Education was
one of them.



New Delhi: The 3-language problem, for many old-timers in TN, brings in a
sense of dispiriting deja vu. For, this issue is more than 5 decades old.
The country would not have had to contend with this vexatious Gordian knot
today had it not been for one act of crass vengeance from the Indira Gandhi
government.

The talk of 3-language formula has been on in India since the early 60s.
But it got more traction with the Kothari Commission ('64-'66) recommending
it, among others. The Indira Gandhi government, formulating a National
Policy on Education, accepted the recommendations in 1968 and went ahead
and passed a Bill for the same in Parliament.

The then 3-language plan is more or less similar to the one being suggested
in the draft new education policy now.

(The draft NEP, prepared by a panel led by eminent scientist K
Kasturirangan, has put forth a plan to implement three-language formula in
schools across the country. It means students in Hindi-speaking states
should learn an Indian language, apart from Hindi and English and, in
non-Hindi-speaking states, Hindi along with the regional language and
English.)

The then 3-language formula kicked up a huge storm in the country,
especially in South India. Tamil Nadu was in the forefront of it. In fact,
it could be argued that the Dravidian party came to power in the state for
the first time in 1967 based on its anti-Hindi protests. The DMK, then
headed by CN Annadurai, had managed to capture the imagination of the
public in the state by projecting the then ruling Congress as an agent of
Hindi hegemony.

So when in 1968, the Centre came up with the Bill for the 3-language
policy, the Annadurai-led DMK government in Tamil Nadu hit the streets in
massive protests, which till date are seen as a watershed event in the
annals of the state history.

The Tamil Nadu government opposed the 3-language plan as it felt that the
whole thing was a barely-disguised plan to impose Hindi.

The Annadurai government did not stop with that. In an act of bravura, it
went ahead and implemented its own 2-language formula. In this, Tamil was
the official language of the state and English the link language.

"It was a momentous period for Tamil Nadu. The state government heroically
cocked a snook at the Centre over its education (language) policy," recalls
V Kathiresan, a retired state government bureaucrat.

"It was also the period when the assembly passed the resolution for the
state's present name from the previous 'Madras State.'"

Even as Tamil Nadu remained intransigent, New Delhi couldn't do anything
because education, in the federal set up, was in the state list. Tamil Nadu
was practically free to do its own thing.

The Indira Gandhi government was thoroughly embarrassed. It was hoisted on
its own petard by a spirited government.

Indira Gandhi probably took this as a personal slight. You have to feel so,
especially based on latter-day developments. But she knew she had to remain
patient. She understood her time to strike back would come.

It came, but by then Annadurai was long deceased. During the Emergency
period in 1976, the Indira Gandhi government, unleashed a torrent of
changes to ensure that the power strings are firmly tied to the apron
strings of the Centre. It was the act of a dictatorial regime. But she
didn't care.

In a fatalistic moment for the country, her government grandiosely moved
five subjects from the state list to concurrent list through the 42nd
Amendment Act. Education, unfortunately, was one of them.

This essentially meant the Centre can, if need be, supersede a State's Act
(through a Central Act) in matters relating to education. From then on,
things have not remained the same for the country.

Clearly, Indira Gandhi had not forgotten the snub that she had received on
education policy in the 60s.

Her government's diabolic change has meant that the 3-language policy kite
is flown from time to time by various governments. But no State government
can baulk at the Centre's way firmly (like TN did in the 60s) because
education is no longer under the purview of a state alone.

No Central government can make bold to plan changes in language policy in
schools had education remained just with the states.

Indira's dangerous gambit has ensured that a ticklish and emotive problem
keeps perpetuating.





Last Updated 2:25 PM IST

   - Indira Gandhi <https://www.mynation.com/topic/Indira-Gandhi>
   - 3-language policy <https://www.mynation.com/topic/3-language-policy>
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South India looks up to PM Modi-led NDA for better representation
By Balakumar Kuppuswamy
<https://www.mynation.com/author/balakumar-kuppuswamy/e6452805-9e51-5466-a3d4-ebdfda755023>
First Published 24, May 2019, 5:17 PM IST
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HIGHLIGHTS

This time around, the NDA which has won 353 seats, will have 30
representatives from the five southern states — the BJP has 25 and four
respectively from Karnataka and Telangana, while AIADMK will provide one
seat from Tamil Nadu. Kerala and Andhra Pradesh will have no representative
in the treasury benches of the Lok Sabha

At the time of demitting office, the previous Narendra Modi government had
in place four ministers from south India — Anant Kumar Hegde, DV Sadananda
Gowda, Alphons Kannanthanam, Pon Radhakrishnan. If you include Nirmala
Sitharaman (elected to Rajya Sabha from Karnataka), the number will rise to
five. The list will swell to six if you magnanimously rope in Suresh Prabhu
on the tenuous ground that he made it to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra
Pradesh.

For the record, the NDA had 38 Lok Sabha MPs from the south after 2014
elections. But once the TDP, with its 15 MPs, walked out on it, the number
shrunk to 23.

Also read: India wins yet again, says PM Modi
<https://www.mynation.com/elections/lok-sabha-election-results-2019-latest-updates-india-wins-yet-again-says-narendra-modi-pryczd>

This time around, the NDA which has won 353 seats, will have 30
representatives from the five southern states — the BJP has 25 and four
respectively from Karnataka and Telangana, while AIADMK will provide one
seat from Tamil Nadu. Kerala and Andhra Pradesh will have no representative
in the treasury benches of the Lok Sabha.

So, on the looks of it, the Modi team this time too would be top-heavy with
north Indian names. Even from south, Karnataka is bound to dominate as it
has provided most of the numbers. The AIADMK man (O Panneerselvam's son, OP
Ravindranath) and a Telangana person are being talked of as outside chances
to make it to the ministerial squad. But these are early days yet as far as
ministerial composition goes.

Also read: Rajinikanth congratulates PM Modi
<https://www.mynation.com/politics/rajinikanth-congratulates-pm-modi-on-lok-sabha-victory-pryanq>

Anyway, just to provide a contrast, both the UPA governments had plenty of
south Indian ministers (over 20), and that of course was because the UPA
had relatively more MPs from the southern states.

The NDA can rightfully justify the meagre presence of the south as
representative of the strength of its MPs from each state. How can it
appoint ministers when it doesn’t have enough MPs to choose from?

However, politically speaking, the NDA (read: the BJP) has to find a way to
grow in these parts.

Also read: New York Times not happy with Modi's victory
<https://www.mynation.com/india-news/the-new-york-times-not-happy-with-modi-s-victory-pryeus>

The south will be crucial for the NDA's future. The southern states are
said to represent 20% of India’s geographical area and a fifth of its
population. The south is decidedly ahead of other states in the Union on
both the socio-economic and human development fronts. Industrial growth is
also better in the south.

But with under representation in the ministerial team, the NDA's opponents
do go on the narrative that the BJP is not interested in south's
development. This eventually becomes an election issue and voting is done
on based on this discourse. And it comes back to hurt the NDA, as it has in
this election.

So the biggest creative challenge for the NDA now is to somehow figure out
a plan to accommodate deserving names from the south so that the states get
adequate footing in the council of ministers, and ensure that the south
doesn't feel left out from the general scheme of things.

Aside from blooding ministers, the NDA should also look beyond the
traditional logic of extending most growth projects and developmental
impetus to the areas that have voted for the ruling combine.
Notwithstanding their political preferences, the states, which are critical
for the country’s socio-economic growth, deserve stronger backing from the
government.

These are indeed tough tasks when narrow-minded localism at its peak.
Certain political forces in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have taken vainglorious
pride in not having voted for the NDA. This injects a sense of provocative
chauvinism in the exchanges.

But the onus is on the victors, in this case the NDA, to rise above
piffling and puerile sentiments that are sought to be engendered by vested
interests at play in such situations.

Politics can be parochial. Governance should not be.

-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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