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To Counter Hindi Push, G.N. Devy to Launch Cultural Front to Promote Other Languages

A delegation led by the writer met DMK chief M.K. Stalin to support the party's demand of equal rights for all scheduled languages.

New Delhi: Amidst the Centre’s sporadic attempts to push for Hindi as the national language, public intellectual, linguist and Padma Shri awardee G.N. Devy met DMK leaders M.K. Stalin and A. Raja to discuss the creation of a united pan-Dravidian, Prakrit and Pali Language and Cultural Front, according to a report in The News Minute.

A delegation, which included Kapil Patil, MLC from Maharashtra, Atul Deshmukh, general secretary Rashtra Seva Dal, and professor Surekha Devy, led by G.N. Devy met the DMK leaders in Chennai. Devy, who is the chairman of the Peoples’ Linguistic Survey of India, discussed the possibility of establishing a united cultural front to promote ancient Indian languages other than Hindi and Sanskrit.

The delegation welcomed the resolution by the DMK demanding equal rights for all scheduled languages and expressed strong opposition to the ‘one nation one language’ idea propounded by the Amit Shah.

According to a press release from Devy, the Front would “include most of the scheduled languages and several hundred non-Scheduled languages from the North-East, states like Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc., the Central Tribal Belt, and all the southern States” and that the group would “truly represent the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution in terms of diversity and pluralism”.

Also read: What History Tells Us About Discussions Around Hindi as ‘Rashtra Bhasha’

The press release also said that the front would likely be launched in Chennai next year, in a mega event led by Stalin. “Dr. Devy discussed the possibility of unfolding this inclusive socio-cultural initiative with a mega event to be held in Chennai early next year to be led by Mr. Stalin. Mr. Stalin welcomed the idea,” the release said.

Speaking to The News Minute, Devy said that, “Out of 121 crore population as per 2011 census, 33 crore speak Hindi, which means out of every four Indians, one speaks Hindi. It is a great thing, I respect that language. But three persons do not speak Hindi. It means that three-fourth of India has (linguistic) legacy from Prakrit, Pali and Tamil”.

Devy also said that there was a need to understand “the mosaic of Indian culture in terms of a diversity, which cannot think of one nation, one language formula anytime — now or in the future”. Devy also added that the Front would conduct meetings in every state and in every language and would not be limited to any party.

Outlining the reasons as to why he had met the DMK, Devy said, “I thought of the DMK for role to play in this because soon after independence, when we were talking about linguistic groups, the language movement in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, among others, played a constructive role in making the state reorganisation realistic”.

Devy also specified that the front would not participate in agitations or protests to further its goals and would instead work to educate people through campaigning, publications, discussions and meetings.

Also Read: India Doesn’t Need Hindi to Unify the Masses

On September 14, observed as Hindi Diwas, Union home minister Amit Shah had renewed a controversy by saying that the Hindi language could be a unifying factor for the country.

Shah’s remark came months after the Centre withdrew its “three-language formula” – which was perceived as a move to impose Hindi on the non-Hindi speaking states – in the draft New Education Policy 2019.

Shah’s comments prompted widespread criticism from several political leaders including Stalin, H.D. Kumaraswamy and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi, following which he attempted to clarify that he had not called for the imposition of Hindi over other regional languages and had merely “requested” for learning Hindi as the second language after one’s mother tongue.