SOUTH AFRICA: The Tamil language has now become a subject of discussion on social media since today. It has been brought to the Indian community’s attention that Hindi language classes are being offered free but the Tamil language being offered at a nominal fee to anyone keen to learn.
This is in direct contradiction since the 2008 announcement made by the then Consul General Harsh Varshan Shringla as indicated in this Times of India article.
The public are urged to show their support to petition that this rule be overturned. South African Tamil scholar Mala Lutchmanan is leading the protest against this ruling made by the Indian Government. Sign the petition now and make a stand click here
This has created tension within social circles and will not stop there, the South African Tamil Federation (Official governing body) which represents the concerns of the Tamil speaking community has already scheduled meetings to discuss the matter and seek clarification from the Indian High Commission. The community has rallied together both North and South Indian in favour of equality in languages and request that all Indian languages benefit from free classes.
The Indian High Commission and the Consular offices have been contacted for comment however the offices have not responded.
The Tamil language, a member of the Dravidian language family, spoken primarily in India. It is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry). It is also an official language in Sri Lanka and Singapore and has significant numbers of speakers in Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji, and South Africa.
In 2004 Tamil was declared a classical language of India, meaning that it met three criteria: its origins are ancient; it has an independent tradition; and it possesses a considerable body of ancient literature. There are very few tangible benefits of this classification. Though many linguists familiar with Tamil think that it is a classical language, the official recognition by the Indian Government was thought to bring some additional prestige to Tamil. There are a few universities around the world, for example, the Yale University, University of California at Berkeley and Pennsylvania University that have already recognised the antiquity & richness of Tamil and teach Tamil.
As noted in the Tamil Tribune that since 2004 as per Section 6, there has been very few benefits to Tamil being recognised as a classical language by Government of India. Tamil and Tamil people’s future (from an economic and cultural perspective including job opportunities, job performance, job promotions, etc.) are not threatened by whether Tamil is recognised as a classical language or not but the threat comes from Hindi imposition and Indian Government’s official language policy.
It was Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan (DMK) founder and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai who said, “If Hindi were to become the official language of India, Hindi-speaking people will govern us. We will be treated like third rate citizens”.
1. Tamil Tribune
2. Thanjai Nalankilli
3. Times of India