Hindi imposition row? Southern Railway withdraws circular after protests

The circular asks division control office, station masters to avoid regional language

Dayanidhi MP Railways Twitter DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran at the Southern Railway office | Twitter handle of Dayanidhi Maran

Social media users on Friday shared a circular from the Southern Railway headquarters that specifies communications between the division control office and station masters be either in Hindi or English. The DMK objected to the Southern Railway circular, with its activists protesting at the office of the Southern Railway in Chennai.

The Southern Railway circular | Via Twitter The Southern Railway circular | Via Twitter

By Friday afternoon, the Southern Railway General Manager announced the circular specifying the use of only Hindi and English would be withdrawn. The general manager announced the previous practice of using regional languages also would continue.

DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran met Southern Railway officials to protest against the circular.

The circular was issued on June 12. The Southern Railway circular notes that “use of the regional language should be avoided to prevent either side not understanding what is being said”. The circular states that the objective of the decision to push for use of English and Hindi was to improve communication between the station masters and the division control office.

The Southern Railway oversees movement of trains over a large portion of the southern peninsula. The Southern Railway network covers Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pudhucherry and parts of Andhra Pradesh.

Several social media users, particularly in Tamil Nadu, uploaded images of the Southern Railway circular and labelled it as an attempt to impose Hindi.

The controversy over the Southern Railway order comes little more than a week after the Narendra Modi government's draft National Education Policy triggered protests. The original draft of the policy required students to study Hindi and English, along with their regional language. This led to protests from groups in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, following which the government modified the draft National Education Policy to remove references to Hindi.