Skip to main content

Signs of trouble (Hindu)

Including Hindi on road signs on national highways is understandable, but not replacing English ones

After reports pointed to locations on milestones being represented in Hindi rather than English on NH 75 and NH 77 in Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Krishnagiri districts, there was the expected sound and fury from various Dravidian political parties. This happened despite the fact that Tamil signs were more or less intact on these highways. Strident opposition to the move was expressed by the working president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, M.K. Stalin; Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko; and Pattali Makkal Katchi president S. Ramadoss. Protests were threatened as the political leaders sought to blame the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre for the move.

Continuum of anti-Hindi agitations

For these parties, and many others in Tamil Nadu’s civil society, the change from the use of English to Hindi signs on milestones is not merely a matter of convenience (or inconvenience) for itinerants on the road. This was a symbolic overturning of a decades-long policy to use English on a par with Hindi as an official language, which was itself a consequence of the anti-Hindi agitations of 1965. The agitations marked a milestone in Tamil Nadu politics, which paved the way for extended Dravidian rule in the State. It is no wonder that the parties reacted with such alacrity to the reports of sign changes. These protests must also be seen in the continuum of agitations that first began in 1938 against the imposition of Hindi.

That “culture” remains the predominant idiom for political expression in Tamil Nadu was evident in the protests for the conduct of the bull-taming sport, jallikattu. Linguistic assertion is also a common ploy in these cultural protests and has been used lately by parties that have not managed to taste power at the State government level. For example, parties such as the PMK in the last decade sought to even raise the issue of hoardings being primarily in English and organised protests.

Including Hindi road signs on national highways is an understandable idea. Tamil Nadu, as the Economic Survey for 2016-17 records, is the State that has shown the fastest rise in in-migration, largely due to its significantly urbanised economy, job prospects, and presence of numerous educational institutions. Far more people from north India travel to the south, and Tamil Nadu in particular, than before. But replacing English — which connects the north and the south and helps travellers within the south — seems illogical and a way of stoking pent-up passions. The Centre would be well advised to take onboard the concerns of the Tamil Nadu polity. There is a perception that linguistic assertion, specifically against Hindi being “imposed” as the national language, is fissiparous in nature. But, as the record shows, since the anti-Hindi agitations in the 1960s, linguistic autonomy afforded to non-Hindi States has only led to greater integration.

Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

NGT terminates chairmen of pollution control boards in 10 states (downtoearth,)

Cracking the whip on 10 State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) for ad-hoc appointments, the National Green Tribunal has ordered the termination of Chairpersons of these regulatory authorities. The concerned states are Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra and Manipur. The order was given last week by the principal bench of the NGT, chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar.

The recent order of June 8, 2017, comes as a follow-up to an NGT judgment given in August 2016. In that judgment, the NGT had issued directions on appointments of Chairmen and Member Secretaries of the SPCBs, emphasising on crucial roles they have in pollution control and abatement. It then specified required qualifications as well as tenure of the authorities. States were required to act on the orders within three months and frame Rules for appointment [See Box: Highlights of the NGT judgment of 2016 on criteria for SPCB chairperson appointment].

Having fai…