Tamil wins left, right and centre

This week, a lesson in class 12 English textbook sparked a heated debate over whether Sanskrit or Tamil is the oldest language.

Tamil has been hogging the limelight for the last two months over three controversial decisions made by the Central and state governments.

It all started with the draft of the New Education Policy released by the Centre which sought to make Hindi a mandatory third language to be taught in schools throughout the country. The '3-language formula', considered as a move to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states, triggered a huge uproar in Tamil Nadu. The state had always resisted the imposition of Hindi. Soon, the Centre removed the contentious paragraph in the NEP draft and said the policy will be finalised only after getting feedback people's feedback and consulting state governments. It also promised that there would not be any discrimination or imposition of any language in educational institutions.

In July, political parties in Tamil Nadu protested a Central government circular which restricted the language of writing the postal services exam to Hindi or English, removing the option of regional languages, including Tamil. The postal department had amended a notification restricting the language of question paper to Hindi and English just three days before the exam. Parties took up the issue in the Rajya Sabha and wanted the examinations to be cancelled. The issue echoed in the state Assembly with DMK staging a walkout after the government didn't pass a resolution urging the Centre to conduct the exams in regional languages.

Soon, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Upper House that the postal exams held have been annulled.

He also told the LS that fresh examination will be conducted in all local languages including Tamil.

In a related development, the ministry of communications also informed the HC that candidates from Tamil Nadu can write the examination for selection to vacant posts in the postal departments in Tamil too.

This week, a lesson in class 12 English textbook sparked a heated debate over whether Sanskrit or Tamil is the oldest language.

The lesson had the essay of scholar Hart, professor of Tamil Language at the University of California, stating that Tamil is an ancient language but then, Sanskrit "is much older than Tamil language". He said while Tamil's antiquity goes back to 300 BCE, the origins of Sanskrit is 2000 BCE. Political leaders slammed the government for the “error” in the textbook. Soon, school education directorate issued notices to all editors involved in the preparing and printing of the textbook. Also a circular was sent to all chief educational officers to scrap the lesson on Tamil classical language from the textbook from current academic year.

Central and state governments must not undermine regional languages and ensure their proposals or decisions don't ruffle feathers. They better not set off a political storm and then neutralise the hostile reaction.

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