Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV), Hindi Imposition and Madras High Court Ruling (India)

Part I

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 2017 (ID. 2017-10-01); Uploaded on 2017-09-11
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1. Background

2. Madras High Court Ruling

3. Discussion and a Few Unanswered Questions

4. High Court Should Order Indian Government to Use Tamil in Tamil Nadu

5. Final Words


AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam


Author is of the opinion that the courts are interpreting the constitution and laws correctly, and are coming up with rulings that are unfair to non-Hindi peoples. What we need is amendment to the constitution that would protect the language rights of all the people. Our grievance is not towards those who are interpreting the constitution but towards the unfair constitutional provisions. The problem is with the constitution and the laws and not with the judiciary.


1. Background

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) (Jawahar Modern Schools) are operated by Government of India through Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti. These schools are instituted to provide high quality education to talented children in rural areas. Number of student admitted to this schools are only a minute fraction of the total students in India. Parents pay no or very little for the education. Most of the funding comes from the Indian government, that is Indian taxpayers. State government provides land and infrastructure.

Surely it is a good idea but it comes with a catch, a hook. Hindi is compulsory. If these schools are funded by Hindi States, it would have been alright. But it is funded by Indian government with taxes paid by Hindi and non-Hindi taxpayers. India is not Hindi. It has multiple languages and cultures.

Hindi is the reason Tamil Nadu state government refused Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in the state because people of Tamilnadu are opposed to Hindi as India's official language. Voters elected to power only parties (DMK and AIADMK) that are against Hindi as India's official language since 1967. The state government under Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai (DMK party) declared in 1968 the two-language formula (or two-language policy)  (Tamil and English) for all state government affairs and removed Hindi from state schools.

Tamil people opposed Hindi in schools ever since 1938 when Hindi was introduced as a subject in the state. During the massive Tamil Nadu Students Anti-Hindi Agitation of 1965, state police, police brought in from other states, central police and army shot and killed 63 unarmed civilians. Also seven young men self-immolated themselves to show their opposition to Hindi imposition [Reference 1].

This is the background under which Tamil Nadu refused to set up Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in the state. Tamil Nadu government reflects the views of the vast majority of the people of the state.

2. Madras High Court Ruling

In September 2017, Madurai Branch of the Madras High Court ordered Tamil Nadu state Government to establish Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) (Jawahar Modern Schools) in the state. Tamil Nadu state lawyer told the court that it is against Tamil Nadu's two-language formula. High Court told the state government that it should "give up its fear" that Hindi would be thrust upon students though these schools. The court told Tamil Nadu to provide sufficient infrastructure, including land, to the schools. (Business Standard; September 11, 2017)

3. Discussion and a Few Unanswered Questions

I am not a lawyer and I would think the court is interpreting the constitution and laws of the land correctly. Here are some layman's questions.

Why did not the court order the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) in Tamil Nadu not to teach Hindi? In other words, instead of asking Tamil Nadu to set aside its two-language formula, ask Indian government to set aside its three-language formula. Why should the state (any state) be subservient to India's three-language formula even when the people of Tamil Nadu had voted again and again for parties supporting the two-language policy during the past 50 years? Do voter sentiments and sensitivities mean anything in a democracy?

High Court is telling Tamil Nadu to "give up its fear" of Hindi imposition and allow Navodaya Vidyalayas into Tamil Nadu for the benefit of a few hundred Tamil students. Instead, why not ask Indian government to "give up its fervour to teach Hindi everywhere" just in these schools in Tamil Nadu for the benefit of a few hundred Tamil students?  Why teaching Hindi to these students so important to India government?

We would love to hear the High Court explain the reasons behind the ruling so that non-lawyers like me can understand it.

4. High Court Should Order Indian Government to Use Tamil in Tamil Nadu

Since the High Court had made this ruling about language use in the interest of potential rural students who may be admitted to Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (Modern Schools), I have a few related questions.

1. We ask the court to order the Indian Government to print safety instructions on cooking gas cylinders in Tamil (now it is printed in Hindi and English only) for the benefit and safety of people who know neither Hindi nor English. Why should a Tamil have to learn Hindi or English to live in the land where their ancestors have been living for thousands of years?

2. We ask the court to order that all rail tickets be printed in Tamil (now it is English and Hindi only) for the benefit of rural people who know neither Hindi nor English.

3. We ask the court to order that safety announcements at airlines flying into or within Tamil Nadu be made in Tamil (now it is English and Hindi only) for those travelers who know neither language but Tamil only. If a Hindi person from a thousand miles flying between Chennai and Madurai (two cities within Tamil Nadu) can have safety instructions in Hindi, why not Tamil? 4. We ask the court to order that all Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in banks have instructions in Tamil.

5. We ask the court to order that all Indian government employees in Tamil Nadu know Tamil so local people can communicate with them in the local language.

As I said before, I am not a lawyer. May be some lawyer has to file a lawsuit in the high court asking the court to order the Indian government to use Tamil in Tamil Nadu.

5. Final Words

Many Tamils would not understand what Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya or Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti mean? In the interest of those Tamils, will the court order Indian government to put entrance signs in all these schools with the translation in Tamil and English. Just writing it in Tamil or English script is not enough.

Although this article is centered on Tamil Nadu and Tamil, the arguments and concerns raised are equally true for other non-Hindi states, be it Maharashtra (Marathi), Karnataka (Kannada), Andhra/Telangana (Telugu), Kerala (Malayalam), West Bengal (Bengali), Odisha (Odia or Odiya), Gujarat (Gujarati), ...

Article continues in Part II. click here

Outline of Part II

6. Is it Hindi Imposition?

7. Whose Money is it Anyway?

8. Can the Indian Government Use Our Tax Monies to Force States to Surrender Their Rights?

9. Don't Blame the Courts, Amend the Constitution

[Summary: Author raises several interesting questions about Madras High Court ruling on Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (Modern Schools) in Tamil Nadu.]


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


India, Tamil Nadu and Hindi Imposition

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Thanjai Nalangkilli

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