Recent incidents in Tamil Nadu has showcased that the Ummah matters more to the Islamists than the identities of language or region that is prevalent in the country today
The disproportionate love Dravidianists have for Muslims doesn’t seem to be working out. While the apologists for Dravidian brand of politics tried to subsume the Muslim identity within their fold in the name of the great Tamil language, the Islamists don’t seem to be obliging. Both the Dravidian politicians and Islamists got together to counter the Hindus but appears that the Islamic agenda of one-upmanship is getting the better of them. Recent incidents in Tamil Nadu has showcased that the Ummah matters more to the Islamists than the identities of language or region that is prevalent in the country today.
Mazharul Uloom Higher Secondary School in Ambur
In 2006, the Government of Tamil Nadu issued an ordinance which mandated all schools in the state, including the minority run schools, to have Tamil as a compulsory subject till Class 10. As per the government, this was done to further the interest of the Tamil language and the culture of the State. The government while releasing the ordinance had also said that such a move was warranted as many schools were not giving Tamil its due importance. So to inculcate Tamil in children from all backgrounds and schools, the government had promulgated the Tamil Nadu Tamil Learning Act, 2006. It was expected that all schools implement the act albeit in a phased manner. Few schools obliged readily while most schools implemented Tamil as a compulsory subject in due course.
Students of Mazharul Uloom Higher Secondary School in Ambur protesting against Tamil
It was during the 2015-16 academic year, ten years after the act was passed, the act became applicable to the 10th standard. Several schools got together and moved the Supreme Court against the implementation of the act for the 10th standard. The Supreme Court dismissed their petition. However, students and parents from minority institutions, mostly Muslim run schools, approached the Madras High Court and sought an exemption. The High Court gave them temporary relief for a year and mandated that the schools implement the act from the subsequent year. But the minority school continued to protest for a permanent exemption from having Tamil as a compulsory subject.
The students of Mazharul Uloom Higher Secondary School in Ambur resorted to a flash strike inside and outside the school premises demanding that they be allowed to write their 10th exams in Urdu and also exempt them from writing the exam for Tamil as a compulsory subject The 10th standard exams this year commence from March 14. On March 9, the students of Mazharul Uloom Higher Secondary School in Ambur resorted to a flash strike inside and outside the school premises demanding that they be allowed to write their 10th exams in Urdu and also exempt them from writing the exam for Tamil as a compulsory subject. The school which is in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu and affiliated to the CBSE was one of the schools which had approached the Supreme Court and High Court against the 2006 Tamil Learning Act. More than 200 students left their classes and spilled on to the streets blocking the road and indulged in sloganeering.
Later, the District Educational Officer (DEO) of Ambur arrived at the spot and pacified the protesting students and parents. He urged them to concentrate on studies and not indulge in protests that will divert their time. The DEO then promised that their request will be taken to the top officials in the State Education Department soon. Following his promise, the students ended their strike and joined classes. The Superintendent of Police of Ambur was also present at the spot to control the crowd. The episode lasted for around 3 hours but is expected to leave a lasting effect on the state of schools and Tamil language in the State.
The flash strike purportedly by the students is expected to be emulated by other schools to arm-twist the government into heeding to their demands to write exams in Urdu and exempt them from taking the Tamil language exam. Sources say that the protest though seemingly organised by the students had all elements of support from the management and the self-serving interests in the state politics. Experts say that the State Government out of fear of L&O or for the sake of appeasing the minorities could take a decision that could pacify the Muslims before the polls. The Dravidianists, who thus far regarded the Islamists as their brethren in their ‘fight’ against the Hindus and cried ‘Hindi imposition’ over non-issues, have been silent on this episode. While their discomfort to antagonise their ally is understandable, it needs to be seen if their brand of language politics has space for such leniency.