Hindi row: How Periyar, Anna continue to inspire the language of resistance

Hindi imposition row
While Periyar wrote and spoke against Hindi based on the social events of the time, Annadurai made it a political issue | Image - Eunice Dhivya

“Hindi is a horse’s language because every sentence in it ends with an ‘ee’. Hindi is a monkey’s language because every letter hangs from a branch.” This ‘description’ of Hindi by famous Tamil lyricist and poet Kannadasan back in the 1960s triggered a wave of mockery against the language.

It became a standing joke that ‘ee’ at the end of every sentence in any language becomes Hindi. Tamilians, and some non-Hindi speakers, to this day recall those lines to mock the language.

However, Tamilians don’t just love their native language (Tamil) but also take great pride in it. Renowned poet Bharathidasan even went on to say that “if anyone disrespects Tamil, I will not remain silent, no matter what”.

Similar arguments were put forth by social reformer and Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar, and later by his disciple CN Annadurai, who founded the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

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