Let there be unity of songs, scripts, sports: PM

Modi urges Chief Ministers to go in for cultural exchanges to overcome differences

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Chief Ministers to “pair up” their States with others for cultural exchanges, to allay any differences diversity may foster, even as parties such as the DMK have accused his government of attempting to push the use of Hindi over other languages for official purposes.

Pairing up

“Let each State of the country pair up with another, for at least a year. The State that does so with Tamil Nadu could teach their children at least five songs in Tamil, learn to recognise the alphabet in the Tamil script, hold a sports tournament with Tamil children, perhaps arrange a festival of Tamil films, and even visit there for tourism purposes,” said Mr. Modi said at the meeting of Chief Ministers called by the NITI Aayog on Sunday.

“We must constantly endeavour to find those elements in our cultures that emphasises its unity,” he said.

“The States can choose among themselves who they want to pair up with. This can be done under the Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat programme that we launched on Sardar Patelji’s birth anniversary last year,” he added.

Mr. Modi’s words also come at a time when DMK working president M.K. Stalin said the NDA government was trying to turn the country into “Hindia” or an exclusive enclave of Hindi speakers.

‘No reason to fear’

Speaking to The Hindu , BJP general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu, P. Muralidhar Rao rubbished any such intentions on the part of the government or his party. “There is no scope for fear, insecurity or inconvenience over any imposition of any language,” he said.

“There is no imposition, never going to be, of any language, even Hindi, on the people who do not want it. But if someone is advocating English, then all I want to say is English is nobody’s language. For the BJP, let me be clear, there is equal importance to all Indian languages, which for us are part of the same ideological tradition as Hindi,” he said. He said coercion in learning languages was never a good idea, and that “Hindi or any language will grow only if it is accepted without coercion”.