‘Those who sell panipuri in Coimbatore speak Hindi’: Tamil Nadu minister

Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy created a flutter after he said those who sell panipuri in Coimbatore speak Hindi. The minister was speaking at the convocation ceremony of the Bharathiyar University.

The 37th convocation ceremony of the Bharathiyar University was presided over by Governor R N Ravi, who is also the Chancellor of the University. The event also saw the participation of former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Dr K Sivan.

While speaking about how students who study in regional languages are able to achieve greater positions, Ponmudy said he requests the Governor to acknowledge his statement that they are not against Hindi but they believe it should be an optional subject and not a compulsory one.

“In Tamil Nadu there have been two languages, English and Tamil. English is an international language, Tamil is a local language. Many people say that if we learn Hindi, we will get jobs. Are we getting them? You can see in Coimbatore, people who are selling panipuri are them (Hindi speakers) only,” he said.

Further, Ponmudy spoke of another ideology to support his claim. He said, “A person made two doors, one for the cat and another for the rat. When someone asked him why he made two doors, the person replied that the big door is for the cat and another one for the rat. Ponmudy said, “When the rat can also move through the door created for the cat, why is there a need for another door?” Equating the story to Tamil Nadu, he said, when people in the state are learning an international language (English) what is the need for Hindi.

He added that they are ready to follow all the good things in the Centre’s New Education Policy but differ with the language part. He added, “Students can learn any language as per their wish be it Hindi, Malayalam or any language and the state has the responsibility to make arrangements for that but Tamil and English are compulsory here in Tamil Nadu and we want to implement the same in the Tamil Nadu Education Policy.”

“The Governor should not mistake me, I am expressing our feelings to him so that he could express the same to the Centre. As a Governor, I hope he will understand the problems of the Tamilians and Tamil students. They are ready to learn any language but Hindi should be an optional language and not a compulsory one. English and Tamil should be the compulsory ones as that is the system followed in Tamil Nadu for a long time,” Ponmudy reiterated.

Governor R N Ravi, who felicitated the students, said Tamil Nadu has to be a leader to take this country where it belongs. “An impression is created by a few people that the central government is imposing a language on Tamil Nadu, I think that’s far from the truth, that’s not correct,” he said.

Further he said there is no question of imposition of Hindi or any other language on anyone. “We have to encourage and enrich every language. Learn from the richness, the wealth that language has,” he said.

He noted that the prime minister has set up the ‘Subramania Bharati’ chair for Tamil language in the Banaras Hindu University. The governor also said the central government is persuading other states to include it as one of the three languages in their school curriculum because people of this country must have the benefit of richness of Tamil language, literature and philosophy.

“I would like to urge the state government, just like the initiative taken by the government of India to set up Tamil chairs, we should also take up the initiative to set up Tamil chairs in some universities in other states. We are setting up Tamil chairs in south east Asia, even Europe and North America so why not set up Tamil chairs in some of the universities in India?” he asked.

Meanwhile, the event also came under the scanner by providing cash to journalists who had gone to cover the event. According to reports, journalists were handed press kits that contained a brown envelope inside which a Rs 500 note was found. The Coimbatore Press Club took to Twitter to condemn the act of the university.

“We demand stern action against those responsible for the incident and an apology to the reporters who covered the event,” they wrote.

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