Indian School Textbook from NCERT Distorts and Disparages 1965 Tamil Nadu Students Anti-Hindi Imposition Agitation

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, September 2012 (ID. 2012-09-01)
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NCERT - National Council of Educational Research and Training

Class XII Political Science textbook prepared under the auspicious of the Indian government funded National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has a discussion on Tamilnadu Anti-Hindi Imposition Agitations. It includes a cartoon depicting a mean looking angry Tamil Nadu man (identified in the cartoon as "Student Agitation") about to throw stones or already throwing stones at an English sign saying, "Assurances. No Hindi! English to continue! No compulsion to learn Hindi. No Hindi! English for ever!" In the background, one of the onlookers in the cartoon was saying, "The boy can't read English either!". A few broken things and books are seen on the ground. In June 2012 this cartoon came under criticism from a number of  Tamil political leaders and some scholars on various grounds. One of the criticisms was that Tamil Nadu students were depicted as illiterate in English. You can see the cartoon in the following link (we did not reproduce it here for copyright reasons) http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/01107/TH09_ANTI_HINDI_CA_1107915f.jpg

I read the textbook online from the NCERT website. The textbook is "Politics in India since Independence", Textbook in political science for Class XII, First Edition, 2007. In my opinion the whole discussion of the anti-Hindi agitation there (both text and cartoon) is distorted and disparaging of the agitation. The cartoon appears in page 153, in the subsection "Dravidian movement" (pages 152-153). There is also photograph of the 1965 student march against Hindi imposition; it is captioned "Anti-Hindi Agitation in Tamil Nadu, 1965"; we have no objection to the photograph or caption. The cartoon, photograph and the text in that section do not tell the complete and true history of the 1965 agitation. There is no mention of shootings by security forces, the number of shooting deaths or self-immolation of Tamil youths. It shows the students on a rampage throwing stones and destroying things without a word about the far more serious shooting deaths.

There were dozens of cartoons published during that time. Why choose this cartoon depicting Tamil Nadu students and the agitation as a whole in a biased bad light? If the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is fair, it should have included one more cartoon showing security forces shooting at students and dead bodies (or a dead body) on the ground. At least the shootings and resulting deaths could have been mentioned in the text. That may balance the picture. Also there is no mention of the ultimate sacrifice seven young Tamil men made by pouring petrol (gasoline) over themselves and burning themselves to death to show their opposition to Hindi imposition. This is a unique protest, first time ever in India and only the second time in the world, as of that time. In our opinion, this is a deliberate act of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to show the 1965 Tamil Nadu Students Anti-Hindi Imposition Agitation in bad light. Generations of students using NCERT textbooks may grow up not knowing the whole truth.


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

2. Archived Articles on India, Tamil Nadu and Hindi Imposition

Index to Archived Articles

Thanjai Nalangkilli

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