Tamil trouble for Modi government again
The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday cancelled the postal department recruitment examination held on Sunday after its ally in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, broke ranks for the day to join hands with arch rival DMK to protest the conduct of the test in only Hindi and English.
The Centre, buffeted by language-related protests for the second time in less than two months, announced that the exam would be held again with regional languages, including Tamil, as an option along with Hindi and English.
The protest, which included picketing in the Rajya Sabha well and AIADMK parliamentarian V. Maitreyan tearing up paper and strewing it around, was initially limited to the Tamil Nadu-based parties that alleged “Hindi imposition”.
In the post-lunch session, others in the Opposition, including the Congress, Trinamul, BJD and the Left parties, lent them support.
After proceedings had to be adjourned for the fourth time in the afternoon, communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad stepped in to announce that the examination held on Sunday had been cancelled. “The examination will now be held in all local languages as per the notification of 10/5/2019 of the department concerning the examination, including Tamil,” he said.
Prasad, however, did not elaborate on why the department of posts had revised the May 10 circular for the appointment to the posts of multi-tasking staff, postman, mail guard, postal assistant and sorting assistant. According to that circular, the examination was to be conducted in Hindi and English, besides the respective local languages.
However, a subsequent circular issued earlier this month said the exam should be conducted only in Hindi and English.
Prasad sought to allay fears about imposition of Hindi, maintaining that the Modi government “has respect for all the regional languages of this country, including Tamil”.
While all the parties thanked the minister for the decision, the CPI’s D. Raja reminded Prasad that “there is no regional language; there is no national language; all languages are Indian languages and all Indian languages must be respected and promoted”.
The Congress’s Anand Sharma wanted a categorical assurance from the government that “for all future recruitments, examinations and interviews in all central government departments, PSUs and paramilitary forces, the three-language formula, the assurance of which was given by India’s first Prime Minister, shall be adhered to, honoured and not diluted in any manner”.
This is the second time that the Modi dispensation has run into trouble over language in less than two months.
Soon after taking office for the second time on May 30, the government had unveiled the draft National Education Policy in which it proposed the implementation of the three-language formula for school students in all states, including Tamil Nadu that had rejected it 50 years ago.
Under the three-language formula, school students in the southern states had to study Hindi as a compulsory subject along with English and their mother tongue.
Following the protests, the Union human resource development ministry decided to modify the proposal in the draft and said it had no intention of imposing Hindi.