TAMIL TRIBUNE

Indian Government, Tamil Nadu and Hindi Imposition

Talking Points

K. Chezhian, Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 2012 (ID. 2012-10-01)
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Tamil Tribune has published over two dozen articles on "Hindi Imposition and its Effects on Tamil Nadu" (list of these articles may be found in Reference 1). Here we are publishing a collection of "micro-articles" on the subject. Each micro-article is self-contained. We will add more in the ensuing months and years, as new information become available.


OUTLINE

1. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) - A Tool for Hindi Imposition

2. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) - A Tool for Hindi Imposition

3. Indian Government Websites and Hindi


1. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) - A Tool for Hindi Imposition

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) issued a notice in Hindi and English regarding the expansion of a national highway in Gujarat State. Local farmers of Junagadh and Rajkot affected by the expansion project filed a lawsuit and the Gujarat High Court ruled that the notice is null and void because it was in Hindi and English only. The court said, "The language used by the petitioners in this area is Gujarati, and Hindi language used in the notification is a foreign language for them. The normal spoken language in the region is Gujarati and not Hindi. Similarly, government imparts education in primary school level in Gujarati." (This news appeared in some major Indian newspapers on and around January 1, 2012.)

In spite of these court rulings Indian Government would continue to push Hindi on unwilling peoples. It is this National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that removed Tamil signs in Indian national highways in Tamilnadu (Thinathanthi-March 6, 2003). Tamil was put back after protests. [For the record, our policy is that there should be no Hindi signs in Tamil Nadu; only Tamil and English. Outsiders coming to Tamil Nadu should learn either Tamil or English in the same way Tamils visiting Hindi lands should know a little Hindi or English. Hindi should have no higher place than any other language listed in the Indian constitution.]

2. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) - A Tool for Hindi Imposition

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) office in Chennai issued a circular in July 2012 asking its employees to sign all letters and communication in Hindi, at least on Mondays. All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA), South Zone, protested this circular on July 9, 2012 and LIC withdrew the circular. We thank the general secretary of AIIEA, K. Swaminathan, for his timely action and wish that all trade unions in non-Hindi regions would act resolutely and boldly like him. He pointed out something very important and interesting. He said, "We are going through a time when there is much competition in the insurance sector. Instead of concentrating on that, the management raked up an unnecessary controversy. What is more important? Doing the job well and economically or forcing employees to work in Hindi? As far as the Indian government is concerned, enforcing wider use of Hindi in Indian government offices seems to be take priority.

3. Indian Government Websites and Hindi

We recently visited (March 2012) over a dozen Indian Government websites (by different ministries and departments) to check their language policy. We found that all those sites are in English and Hindi only. Some of you may ask, "What is the big deal?" The big deal is that while Hindi speakers can find information about what their government is doing in their mother tongue, non-Hindians have to rely on one of two foreign languages--Hindi or English? If a farmer in, say, non-Hindi Karnataka State, want to find some information on crops, he/she has to know either Hindi or English or get someone who knows Hindi or English for help. Indian government's position that it is not just in Hindi, it is also in English is ridiculous. English is not the native language of Karnataka, neither is Hindi. Translate all information into all languages listed in the Indian constitution and post them on websites so all citizens can benefit equally. Why that privilege for Hindi speakers only? Are they citizens of a higher grade? Are they paying a higher tax rate for that privilege? Everyone pay taxes at the same rate set by the government--there is no difference there. Why, then, there is a difference, a special privilege for Hindi people?

Some people may say, "It is so trivial. Why nitpick on these silly things?" It shows the attitude and mentality of the Hindi politicians who set the language policy because of their large numbers (although not a majority) in the Indian parliament. What they do in small things, they also do in big things. Things like non-Hindi Indian government employees forced to pass Hindi examinations and forced to write letters in Hindi.

REFERENCES

1. India, Tamil Nadu and Hindi Imposition

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