Learn Hindi, Tamil Nadu school

Should my Son Learn Hindi?

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2008 (ID. 2008-12-01)
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1. Introduction

2. Learning Options Before a Student (Hindi is not the Only Option)

3. Even if He Learns Hindi He Still is Disadvantaged in Indian Government Jobs

4. Your Son is a Tamil Whatever Language He Learns, and He Shall Not Disrespect Tamil

5. Concluding Remarks


Hindian - A person whose mother tongue is Hindi (in the same way a Tamil speaker is called Tamilan).

1. Introduction

I recently received an e-mail from a father asking me if he should ask his son to learn Hindi and if there is anything wrong with it. The family lives in Tamil Nadu and the only son is now in school. This article is based on my e-mail reply to that father.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in someone learning Hindi or asking the children to learn Hindi. It is an individual choice. Each person should decide for oneself. Learning Hindi and accepting Hindi imposition are not one and the same. A person who opposes Hindi imposition could learn Hindi (say, in order to keep an Indian government job) and still continue to oppose Hindi imposition. [For the record: No one in my family studied or studies Hindi. This is our personal situation.]

Whether your son learns Hindi or English or Japanese or French, ask him not to ignore Tamil. Also tell him that Tamil is no less than Hindi and that Tamil is an ancient language with rich ancient and current literature. Tell him that Hindi was elevated over and above Tamil and other languages in 1950 against the opposition of Tamil Nadu. Then he will grow up to be a well-rounded person who knows his own rich heritage and why he had to learn Hindi.

I like to see Tamil people get good jobs, rise in their jobs and be prosperous. If studying Hindi does it, so be it; but would studying Hindi really help everyone in the future career? Is Hindi the path to prosperity and happiness? Let us discuss that in the next section.

2. Learning Options Before a Student (Hindi is not the Only Option)

A school age student has only a limited amount of time and energy to study subjects over and above the core, compulsory subjects taught at school. Available time is finite and limited (a student needs play time too). How best to utilize the available time to help your son have a better job and career later in life is your decision to make.

There are a few options; we list here just three.

  1. Learn Hindi.
  2. Learn computer programming (over and above whatever is taught as part of school curriculum).
  3. Learn English over and above what is taught as part of school curriculum (such as conversational English, writing, translation, etc.)

Learning Hindi may give an advantage if your son chooses Indian Government job or goes to work in a Hindi state. Learning more computer programming may give your son an advantage if he chooses to work in the fields of computer science, software development, information technology, mathematics or science in any part of the world. Extra English may give an advantage in many private company jobs here and around the world.

Assess the options carefully in the same way your son would make future decisions about his life. For example, after completing school, if your son goes to college, he would have to make a decision on what subjects to major -- arts, science, mathematics, engineering, medicine, information technology, etc. Give the same serious thought in deciding whether your son should spend his time to study Hindi or computer programming or extra English or some other subject. Do not jump into the Hindi bandwagon without considering all the options seriously.

3. Even if He Learns Hindi He Still is Disadvantaged in Indian Government Jobs

Some people think that learning Hindi would give them Indian government jobs and make it easy on them. To start with, neither you nor your son know at this point of time whether he would one day work for the Indian government. If he were to work for the Tamil Nadu government or private companies anywhere in the world except the Hindi states, he could have better utilized his time learning computer languages or additional English. Even if he were to work for the Indian government and even if he studied Hindi at school age, he is still disadvantaged in his job compared to a fellow employee whose mother tongue is Hindi [see Section 2.2 of Reference 1]. So, whether your son learns Hindi or not, we should continue to oppose the use of Hindi in Indian government offices.

4. Your Son is a Tamil Whatever Language He Learns, and He Shall Not Disrespect Tamil

There is nothing wrong in your son learning Hindi if you think it would benefit him more than learning computer programming or other subjects. But tell him not to ignore or belittle his mother tongue Tamil. He should not grow up with an inferiority complex about Tamil. Let him know that Hindi is in no way superior to his mother tongue. Only reason you ask him to learn Hindi is because it is imposed on us as India's official language against our opposition [Reference 2, 3]. Tell him that, by historical accident and clever manipulation of Hindians, their mother tongue was elevated over and above other languages and made the official language of India. Tell him that Tamil is an ancient language with great classical and modern literature and a vocabulary that is second to none. He should not only be proficient is his mother tongue Tamil but should also know its history and heritage. (Hindian - A person whose mother tongue is Hindi.)

5. Concluding Remarks

One should not blindly jump into the Hindi bandwagon thinking that Hindi opens doors for jobs. There are other choices like computer programming that may open more doors. While Hindi knowledge from school days may help if you go to work in Hindi states or in Indian Government offices, there are other choices that could help in a broader array of jobs in Tamil Nadu, India and all over the world. Choice is up to you whether your children learn Hindi or not. There is nothing wrong in learning Hindi.

Learn Hindi if you have to. But oppose Hindi as India's official language. Elevating Hindi over and above other languages and making it the official language of India is unfair and unjust. Learning Hindi and working in Hindi is not the same as accepting Hindi imposition.

Work in Hindi as required if you are an Indian Government employee, in order to earn a living and take care of your family. But support those organizations that truly oppose Hindi rule. Hopefully Hindi hegemony will end one day and at least our children won't have to work in Hindi if they don't want to. People of Goa worked in Portuguese at their offices until Portuguese rule ended. People of Puducherry worked in French until French rule ended. We are made to work in Hindi at Indian government jobs because Hindians rule us. Bengalis of Bangladesh do not learn Hindi but Bengalis in West Bengal State (India) do so because, unlike Bangladeshis, West-Bengalis are under Hindi dominated Indian rule.

"Making a language (Hindi) that is the mother tongue of a region of India the official language for all the people of India is tyranny. We believe that it will give benefits and superiority to one region (the Hindi-speaking region).... This and future generations in non-Hindi areas will suffer immeasurable hardships." - Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai (during his trial for conspiracy to burn the Indian Constitution; December 5, 1963)

Learn Hindi if you have to, but
Oppose Hindi imposition always!

[Note: Puducherry was formerly known as Pondicherry.]

[Summary: Should my Son Learn Hindi? Tamil nationalist writer and a strong opponent of Hindi imposition responds. Answer may surprise you.]


1. Triple Injustice of Hindi in Indian Government Offices (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, September 2008 (14 KB)

2. A Chronology of Anti-Hindi Agitations in Tamil Nadu and What the Future Holds (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2003 (33 KB)

3. Burnt Offerings Against Hindi Imposition: Self Immolation of Tamil Martyrs in Tamil Nadu, 1965 (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2004 (20 KB)


 1. Should We Teach Hinfi in Tamil Nadu Schools? (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 2015 (28 KB) (h)

Hindi may benefit less than 10% students who may one day work in Hindi states or Indian government jobs. Why take up to 3 hours per week to teach it instead of using those hours to teach computers, science and mathematics that benefit 100% of students?

2. More Articles on India, Hindi and Tamil Nadu (OR search the Internet for Thanjai Nalankilli  Hindi imposition )

If you would like to translate this article to Tamil for us, please write us. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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