Makkal Needhi Maiam President Kamal Haasan on Tuesday said the Hindi language was a “little child in diapers” compared to older languages such as Tamil and Sanskrit, The Times of India reported.

“Among the family of languages, the youngest one is Hindi,” he said during an event at Loyola College in Chennai on Tuesday. “We will have to take care of that language [Hindi] because it is our child too. Compared to Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu, it is still the youngest language.”

Haasan said that Hindi was a good language and he had “compassion and kindness” towards it, but it should not be forced on people. “Don’t stuff it down our throats,” he said. The MNM leader was answering a student’s question on the topic of language politics.

The actor-turned-politician’s remarks came on the same day when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make Tamil an official language of the country. Stalin’s request came after Modi’s speech in Chennai on Monday about how he had taken up the responsibility of telling people outside the country that Tamil was “one of the ancient languages”.

“The DMK has been pressing for making all the 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution the official languages of the country,” The Hindu reported, citing Stalin’s statement. “As a first step, Tamil, the ancient among the languages, should be [made] an official language of the country.”

He said that Tamil was already an official language in a few countries but not in India, which is its birthplace. Stalin said that it was Modi’s responsibility to make Tamil the official language.

The prime minister had quoted Tamil poet and philosopher Kaniyan Poongundranar in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week. At the Howdy Modi event in Texas on September 22, the prime minister had highlighted that India had progressed for centuries “with coexistence of several languages”.

Earlier this month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said Hindi was the only language that could unite the country. Shah backtracked after several political leaders, especially from the southern part of the country, protested against his remark.

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