A single-word tweet - containing only the Cambridge English Dictionary definition of 'autonomous' - posted yesterday by music director AR Rahman has caused a stir, with his message interpreted by some of those responding to the post as a comment on autonomy for Tamil Nadu in state matters.
The popular composer has rarely made such public comments before, preferring to keep his opinions on political matters private. As of 2.40 pm today, his tweet had received over 22,200 likes and had been shared over 1,300 times.
Mr Rahman's message simply read: AUTONOMOUS | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary," with a link to a definition of the word on the Cambridge English Dictionary website.
AUTONOMOUS | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary https://t.co/DL8sYYJqgX— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) June 4, 2019
The Oscar-winning music director's post came after protests last week by the DMK and the AIADMK, Tamil Nadu's two main parties, against what they described as the imposition of Hindi as a mandatory third language in schools led to a change in the National Education Policy 2019 Draft.
Mr Rahman had tweeted in Tamil after news of the revision of the policy. A translation reads as: "Hindi is not mandatory in Tamil Nadu. Draft policy corrected. Beautiful solution."
The revised draft now states: "In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages...".
The reference to Hindi has been deleted.
The Hindi language issue flared up last week after a draft version of the NEP, prepared by former ISRO chief Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, was released.
In it, a section of the report read: "In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English."
The recommendation was immediately met with criticism from political leaders in Tamil Nadu, a state that saw anti-Hindi protests between 1937 and 1940 and again in 1965.
The state's ruling AIADMK said the state would follow only the two-language policy of learning Tamil and English and would boycott the new policy.
The DMK, meanwhile, said it was opposed to the concept of a three- language formula. "The three-language formula with or without Hindi is unacceptable to Tamil Nadu. The thee-language formula is a tool to impose Hindi," said DMK Spokesperson A Saravanan.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, a parliamentarian from Kerala, and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had also spoken out against making Hindi mandatory.
Union Ministers S Jaishankar and Nirmala Sitharaman, whose families hail from Tamil Nadu, had attempted firefighting on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. Both ministers had tweeted, in Tamil, that draft education policy would be reviewed before implementation.
With input from ANI