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Why Tamil deserves national status

Last updated on: September 13, 2013 14:14 IST

BJP’s Member of Parliament Tarun Vijay on why he chose to demand national status for Tamil

Tamil is us. Take a bow and try to know a little bit about the great language, culture, the history of their literature and the social upheavals they have passed through. You will wonder what kept you so distant from the wealth of knowledge and Indian-ness. No other society in India has passed through such turmoil as Tamils in the past one hundred years, and no other society has seen such unexplainable ignorance from other Indians about their pains and dreams. 

We hated them when they started the anti-Hindi agitation. When Periyar began a strange but powerful Dravidian movement that almost touched extremist levels. We know their anti-Brahmin movement, which perhaps prohibitively gets mentioned as an anti-TamBrahm outlook and so on.

No sir, this is just not enough. Understanding India must mean understanding the threads that bind it. When I say Tamil, I speak for all Indian languages which are facing a ‘never before’ challenges due to the overwhelming and largely unwarranted influence of English. My Tamil friend lamented the other day that his kids can’t pronounce or recognise Tamil numerals. This is true about so-called high profile kids in Lucknow, Dehradun and Guwahati too.

Newspapers are full of English words, some even use the Roman letters in their titles. Stories of Chola kings, Thiruvalluvar’s classical literature, MS Subbulakshmi’s divine music, tales of Tamil valour, scholarship, splendid achievements in arts and culture are read more by foreigners in Singapore in printed coffee table books than in ‘fast forward’ Tamil homes.

So, have a Chetan Bhagat and forget about Cholas or the identity that defines you? And keep on mentioning the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka to deaf ears in Parliament?

Agreed, every single language is as great as any other, and all states have a case to state that their language is the best. Even the Warli spoken among the Warli tribes or the Coorgi in Coorg is the best for those who have lived that flow of words, or the great richness of Bengal, that gave us two national lyrics, of which one became our national  anthem and the other our national song. And why not Gujarati or Marathi or Kannada or Punjabi?

Yes, please do ask these questions and ask yourself if your home has a mother tongue or you speak to your kids in English. No one opposes the Queen’s language and says go purely desi. But English can never be allowed to take the place of our mother tongue. Learn it, speak and write and read it. But the mother is a mother is a mother and hence when I speak of Tamil I speak for every single Indian language, and if at all we have to give them an honourable place, can there be another language but Tamil to represent the vibgyor of all Indian languages?

It represents the south like none else. It envelops unspeakable sufferings, struggles and aspirations of a great people. It binds India, builds bridges as the strongest representative of all that we see beyond the Vindhyas. It has no clashes with any of the southern language family constituents, leave aside water-sharing issues. It has influenced, enriched and walked aside all the southern languages. And, no malice intended, it has that magical, overpowering and definitive Madrasi flavour that defines all that we see through our southern gates!!

If we lose Tamil, we lose India. And this is true of every other Indian language. Lose Marathi, Bengali or Kashmiri, and we lose our national milieu. The national anthem is the national fabric of all threads and designs, from Jammu to Ladakh, Kashmir to Indira Gandhi Point and Kanyakumari to Tawang and Kutch. India is made of all the people, their customs, colours, fragrances and diversities.

Recognising Tamil is to salute and internalise that diversity with a vigour that secures India’s distinct civilisational colour.

We are changing, and so is Tamil society. Learn and feel the warmth of a very large number of people learning Hindi and welcoming a Chennai Express as heartily as Hindi-wallahs welcome the phenomenal success of Rajnikanth.

Say Vanakkam to Tamil and it will be instantly translated as a Vande Mataram to Mother India.

Images: BJP MP Tarun Vijay making a plea for making Tamil a national language in the Rajya Sabha (left); and (top) a Bharata Natyam dancer

Tarun Vijay is a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the Rajya Sabha; member, Parliamentary Consultative Committee on External Affairs; member, Parliamentary Group on India China Friendship.

A follower of former prime minister AB Vajpayee, Tarun Vijay recently made history by speaking in the Rajya Sabha in support of making Tamil a national language, the first member of Paliament ever from north India to make such a demand. In  his written and signed statement Tarun Vijay said, "It is the arrogance and the feeling of a self-styled supremacy of some of my fellows in the North that we have not been able to fathom the real glory and importance of one of our greatest languages, ie. Tamil, its glory and influence can be felt seven seas across, on the waves and caressing the highest peaks of the  classical influence, since ages and in all times.'

Tarun Vijay