45-year-old Ganesh Kumar, founder of a restaurant called Just Orient in Chennai, was mercilessly bullied by friends for his poor Hindi. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He says, “That is why today I am able to hire staff from Bihar and Jharkhand at my restaurant and I am able to work with them well, speaking a language they understand.” Kumar believes that language is the greatest leveller when it comes to coordination. “The restaurant business is all about how well you manage your human resource, and language is a crucial element in ensuring this.”
The Ministry of Human Resource Development’s draft version of the National Education Policy 2019 created a furore in Tamil Nadu recently, as it suggested mandatory learning of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states. The Federal, on taking a closer look at various sections of the Tamil speaking population in the state, found that there’s an alternative story to tell. The draft NEP brought about a discussion on formal language learning, but the state has always been open to informal means of language education.
Hindi not an imposition
While professionals like domestic help, bus conductors and service professionals learn Hindi on or for a job, many homemakers have jumped at the chance to learn and master a new language. Hindi, despite common perception, has found acceptance among the masses in Tamil Nadu. According to the 2011 census, of the total Tamil speakers in the state (6.3 crore), 3.2 per cent of them speak Hindi as a second language. That is the third highest after English and Telugu.
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