The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the three language formula prescribed in the New Education Policy (NEP) and has insisted that it would continue with the two language policy that has been in vogue for many decades.
In a statement, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami has regretted that the NEP went ahead with the three-language policy even after states like Tamil Nadu had opposed it in the draft stage. He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to let states decide the language policy as per their own requirements and asked the Centre to reconsider the three-language formula proposed by the NEP.
"Tamil Nadu will never allow the Centre's three-language policy. The state will continue with its dual language policy (of Tamil and English)," the chief minister said.
The state enforces a two-language formula of Tamil and English in schools affiliated to its state board. A 2006 law also makes Tamil a mandatory subject in all schools in the state, as part of Tamil Nadu’s attempt to maintain its distinct Tamil identity. Failure to implement Tamil as a medium of instruction, at least at the primary level, resulted in an outcrop of English-medium nursery and primary schools that demand premium fees, while state-run schools are hunting for students.
Language has always been a prickly issue in the state especially after the DMK rode to power in 1967 by exploiting the anti-Hindi riots. Subsequently, the first DMK government under Annadurai passed a resolution banishing Hindi from schools in Tamil Nadu and implementing only the two-language formula of Tamil and English in the state board schools. Subsequent governments under Karunanidhi, MGR and Jayalalithaa have also toed the same line.
So, it is no surprise that the EPS government has chosen to take the same path in spite of Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal yesterday tweeting in Tamil that no language would be imposed on any state. The two Dravidian parties feel that accepting a three-language formula would only result in Hindi sneaking into the state through the backdoor. Further, the ruling AIADMK does not want to be seen buckling down on the language issue ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections.
The state’s constant opposition to Hindi had proved to be an obstacle for students from Tamil Nadu securing Central government jobs or finding employment outside the state due to the primacy of Hindi from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. This has resulted in many Tamil students learning Hindi in private. The Hindi Prachar Sabha in the state has the highest number of students learning Hindi compared to any other Indian state.