"After learning your mother tongue, if you want to learn English no problem, but I must tell you, I know I am in Chennai..(but) children should also learn Hindi," he said.
"It should not be forced at all. Nobody should force any language on anybody," he said.
Tamil Nadu has a long political history of opposition to alleged "Hindi imposition," by the Central government.
Mr Naidu was addressing students at SRM University's Special Convocation at Kattankolathur in Kancheepuram District near in Chennai.
The vice president said though one could do well in their respective states by being proficient in their respective mother tongue, for a national level role, he said Hindi should be learnt.
"Otherwise you cannot become acceptable at the national level," he said.
Narrating his own experience, Naidu said when he went to New Delhi he realised that he could not learn effective Hindi in his student days as he had participated in anti-Hindi agitation then.
"We went to streets saying Hindi down down," he recalled.
Besides his hardwork and commitment, his ability to communicate with people in different parts of the country stood him in good stead, he noted.
Advocating learning as many languages as possible be it English, French or German, he said the primary importance must be attached to one's mother tongue in which one needs to be "efficient and proficient."
He recalled his experience that world leaders who visited India, be it the French or Russian president, spoke in their respective mother tongue though some of them knew English.
On education, he said "We need to move to digital technologies and the universities have to change their delivery modes and adopt curricula which are relevant."
Mr Naidu said education is the single most important element in converting "our young population into national assets."
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