A day after NDA allies and the DMK blasted Sanskrit Week celebrations in Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools on the Centre’s directives, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday stepped in to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to modify the order and honour classical languages instead.
The chief minister was reacting to a letter sent by the Union ministry of human resource development to state chief secretaries asking the states to celebrate Sanskrit Week from August 7 to August 13.
“Any official celebration of Sanskrit Week in Tamil Nadu is highly inappropriate,” Jayalalithaa said in her letter released to the media in Chennai, adding that “it would have been more appropriate to have organised a Classical Language Week in each state based on the linguistic heritage of that state.”
She requested Modi to advise officials of the Union government to suitably modify the HRD ministry’s letter to enable each state, including CBSE schools, or organise celebrations in tune with the language and culture of the state.
“This would be in keeping with the cultural and linguistic sensitivities in a diverse country like ours,” wrote Jayalalithaa.
From the letter it appears, Jayalalithaa said, “while the celebrations would be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in all State, the state governments have also been requested to organise such events at the state, district and other levels.”
“Tamil Nadu has a rich cultural heritage based on the ancient Tamil language and there has also been a strong social justice and language movement. Hence, any official celebration of Sanskrit Week in Tamil Nadu is highly inappropriate,” the chief minister said.
She was echoing the sentiments of political parties cutting across the spectrum in the state opposing the directive from the central government, as she did on the Hindi circular of PSUs.
When it comes to the emotional language issue, Tamil Nadu and its politicians are fiercely protective and take an offensive position to ward off any challenge to Tamil.
There are an increasing number of people supportive of Hindi as a language of communication in Tamil Nadu, but imposition of any language, whether Hindi or now promotion of Sanskrit, is fought with full vigour.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s first ally in Tamil Nadu for the 2014 general elections, MDMK chief Vaiko was first off the blocks with protest against the Sanskrit Week celebrations describing it as mischievous and dangerous,.
PMK chief S Ramadoss, another BJP ally, declared that “imposition of another culture would not be tolerated.”
DMK too made a high pitched protest against the Sanskrit move and read sinister designs of “provoking non-Hindi speaking states” with moves such as these.
“If it is a celebration of classical languages, we have no objection and Tamil is a classical language,” said DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi.