Why are those speaking Hindi selling ‘Paani Puri’ in Tamil Nadu, asked the state’s higher education minister Dr K Ponmudy as he questioned the rationale behind the argument that learning Hindi could open more employment opportunities.
Speaking at a convocation event in Coimbatore’s Bharathiar University, Ponmudy said English was more valuable than Hindi as a language, claiming those who speak Hindi are engaged in menial jobs. “…If the argument that learning Hindi could open more employment opportunities was true then why are those speaking the language selling ‘Paani Puri’ here?” Ponmudy asked.
He added that Tamil students were willing to learn any language but Hindi should be optional and not compulsory.
The minister’s statement comes amid a raging debate over Hindi ‘imposition’, which was recently reignited after a Twitter war of words between actors Ajay Devgn and Kichcha Sudeepa.
In response to a statement by south star Kichcha Sudeep that “Hindi is no more our national language”, Devgn said if Hindi was not the national language of India, why were movies made in different languages and eventually dubbed in Hindi.
At a film launch event, Sudeep was asked how he viewed the record-breaking pan-India success of the Kannada film KGF: Chapter 2, the Hindi version of which alone has over Rs 350 crore since its April 14 release.
Devgn, who recently starred in filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s pan-India blockbuster RRR, tagged the Karnataka-based actor on Twitter and wrote, “Hindi was, is and always will be our national language.” “My brother, according to you if Hindi is not our national language then why do you release your mother tongue movies by dubbing them in Hindi?” Devgn wrote in Devanagari, the Hindi script. “Hindi was, is and always will be our mother tongue and national language. Jana Gana Mana,” the actor-filmmaker added in his tweet.
Addressing the media in Kannada, Sudeep had said, “Hindi (filmmakers) should say they are making pan India movies. They have been dubbing those (Bollywood) movies into Tamil and Telugu, etc and they are struggling. They are not able to. Today, we just make films that reach everywhere.”
The issue soon turned political as Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and former CMs Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy insisted that Hindi is like any other language in India and not the national language.
Earlier in April, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English and not to local languages. Presiding over the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee in Delhi, Shah had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided that the medium of running the government is in the official language and this would definitely increase the importance of Hindi.
There is no mention in the Constitution that Hindi is the national language. According to the Constitution, India doesn’t have a national language as Hindi is among the 22 languages listed in the eighth schedule. However, the notion of Hindi being the national language is widespread.