‘Dahi’ or ‘tayyir’? ‘Hindi imposition’ battle over curd, MK Stalin slams centre

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FSSAI says all packets of ‘curd’ must be renamed ‘dahi’ in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where it is called ‘tayyir’ or ‘mosaru’.

A row has erupted in Tamil Nadu – over the imposition of Hindi in the southern state – after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India directed milk federations and dairy producers to re-name products. According to the FSSAI directive, ‘curd’ (English) or ‘tayyir‘ (Tamil) will now be labelled as ‘dahi‘ (Hindi). The change in labels will also apply to products like cheese and butter. Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin hit out at the national food safety authority and declared those responsible would be ‘banished’ from the southern states.

The chief minister raged at the ‘unabashed insistences of Hindi imposition’ and, in a tweet posted Wednesday evening, said: “(Hindi imposition has) … come to the extent of directing us to label even a curd packet in Hindi… relegating Tamil and Kannada in our own states.”

“Such brazen disregard to our mother tongues will make sure those responsible are banished from (the) South forever,” he said, sharing a screenshot of a news report that said Tamil Nadu and Karnataka milk federations must ‘prominently’ label curd as ‘dahi‘.

In a note seen by many as patronising, the FSSAI said the Tamil and Kannada words – ‘tayyir‘ and ‘mosaru‘, respectively – ‘can be used in brackets’.

The state-run Aavin milk producers co-operative in Tamil Nadu has said firmly it will not use the term ‘dahi‘ on its packets and will only use the word ‘tayyir’.

The FSSAI move has not been well-received in either state with Hindi and its perceived imposition has been a fiercely emotive issue since the massive anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu in the 1960s, when the Congress-led centre tried to make it the ‘official’ language.

In the past too – recently over the education policy – regional parties like the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, which is allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party that is in power at the centre – have spoken out.

“Notification by FSSAI for use of ‘dahi’ in curd sachets produced by state-run cooperative societies is not in tandem with policy of prime minister Narendra Modi to promote regional languages.