The usually media-shy AR Rahman has been actively participating in the Hindi-language imposition debate | Image credit: News18
Amid a furious debate over the imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states, Oscar-winning Tamil music composer AR Rahman has posted a mysterious message on Twitter that could be a subtle message to India.
Taking to the micro-blogging site, the usually reticent music composer posted the word “AUTONOMOUS” on his handle, along with a link to the definition of the word.
AUTONOMOUS | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary https://t.co/DL8sYYJqgX
— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) June 4, 2019
The Cambridge dictionary page that he linked on the post defined “autonomous” as an “independent and having the power to make your own decisions”. Alternatively, it added that “an autonomous organization, country, or region is independent and has the freedom to govern itself”.
The cryptic tweet comes just days after intense debate and protests that followed post the initial announcement of the draft National Education Police 2018, which sought to make Hindi a compulsory third language in all states of India. The draft did not sit well with Southern India, especially Tamil Nadu, which has a history of opposing northern political and cultural imposition on its customs and traditions. Many leaders from the state warned the Centre of protests if the rule was carried out. In fact, the protests grew so intense including dissenting voices on social media that the Centre was quick to issue a reviewed draft NEP in which the clause to impose Hindi as third language in all states was dropped.
Rahman, who usually stays away from making flamboyant statements on media, social or otherwise, could not stay away from the debate. On June 2, the musician shared a video of a Punjabi singer covering a Tamizh (Tamil) song.
Tamizh is spreading in Punjab 😀 https://t.co/VU9q17c9e5
— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) June 2, 2019
After the Centre retracted the proposition for making Hindi compulsory in all schools across the country, Rahman tweeted in Tamil, “Beautiful decision. Hindi is not compulsory in Tamil Nadu. The draft has been edited.”
In this background, could his current “AUTONOMOUS” tweet be a result of the urge to express Tamil freedom and autonomy within India?
This is not the first time that Rahman, who usually prefers to stay out of the limelight, shared his views on a poignant cultural/political issue.
Just recently, when he and his family came under attack from right-wing trolls for a photo of his daughter wearing a burqa, he gently rectified trolls with a photo of his other daughter and wife who did not choose to wear a burqa, asserting that his family had the freedom to choose what they wore or how they practiced or expressed their religion.
In 2015, when Islamic extremists issued a “fatwa” against AR Rahman for agreeing to work with renowned Iranian film director Majid Majidi for a film on Prophet Mohammad, he shut them up by stating that he followed the middle path between traditionalists and rationalists.
The Dravidian movement has for long resisted the imposition of North-Indian culture and the resented the Centre’s control over key state issues such as education. A similar sentiment is shared by citizens of southern states as well. In fact, Tamil Nadu itself has a history of anti-Hindi movements, which were at the root of Dravidian protests in both pre and post independence era, and has historically been led by DMK and its ancestors.
Could his present tweet by Rahman be a subtle hint to the government to leave Tamil Nadu along with Tamizh culture and language alone? The state recently saw the Congress-DMK alliance win a majority of seats in the LoK Sabha elections. DMK alone won 22 seats out of the total 38 in the state with the AIADMK-BJP combine failing to recover ground, even as AIADMK retained power in the Assembly by-polls.