In the midst of the controversy over Hindi being proposed as part of a three-language formula in the National Education Policy draft, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to include Tamil as an optional language in curriculum across India.
"Request Honourable PM Narendra Modiji to include Tamil as an optional language for study in other states. This will be a great service to one of the most ancient languages of the world," he tweeted.
The clause recommending the teaching of Hindi language in all schools has become an issue of contention across the nation, despite it only being a draft and later being amended. This has invited criticisms from the southern states primarily Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala which have spoken up against Hindi imposition.
The National Education Policy drafted by a panel of experts led by former Indian Space Research Organisation chief Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan had initially recommended that students in non-Hindi speaking states learn a regional language, Hindi and English, while students in Hindi-speaking states learn Hindi, English and a modern Indian language from other parts of the country.
This however raised an outcry from the political leaders of the south, following which the National Education Policy was modified on June 3 and the clause pertaining to the mandatory learning of Hindu was dropped.
Palaniswami's reference regarding Tamil is noteworthy as it isn't just the official language of Tamil Nadu, but also Pondicherry and the Andaman Islands, apart from being one of the oldest surviving languages in the sub-continent with a rich cultural legacy.
Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah had strongly opposed any imposition of Hindi:
However, in one of his first tweets after taking charge at the Ministry of External Affairs, S Jaishankar put the record straight:
(With ANI inputs)