Good relations between the Central government led by the Congress and the State government headed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam resulted in Tamil getting classical language status, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said here on Friday.
Presiding over a seminar on ‘Engum Tamil, Ethilum Tamil,' held as part of the World Classical Tamil Conference, he also said that it was not as though the Centre was unwilling to accede to the State's demand for Tamil as the language in courts. It was yet to be met only because of procedures and the workload in New Delhi.
He suggested that Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V. Thangkabalu could take up this issue with the Centre by pointing out how the Congress in Tamil Nadu was co-operating with the State government and how the latter was supportive of the Centre.
The Chief Minister was responding to a 10-point charter of demands placed by Mr. Thangkabalu at the seminar.
The demands included compulsory Tamil from primary education level, recruitment of qualified Tamil teachers at all levels and the constitution of a classical Tamil sangham and opening of its branches in all places where Tamils lived.
The Chief Minister also exhorted diverse linguistic sections to accord due importance to their languages and make them acceptable to all.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said Tamil language continued to develop unlike other classical languages such as Latin because it had maintained its liveliness by being constantly among people.
Mr. Yechury pointed out that the Left parties had played a significant role during the previous tenure of the United Progressive Alliance in fighting for classical language status for Tamil.
The Communists had also participated in the struggle for significant status for Tamil. Sankaralingam died while observing a fast to demand that the name change from Madras Presidency to Tamil Nadu. Language should be universal and not vary with the communities. Tamil's strength lay in this area. Instead of the Nehruvian three-language formula, the language of the land should prevail.
Dravidar Kazhagam leader K. Veeramani said he was happy to note that Tamil had become a classical language now from the days of being associated with lower castes. He lamented the situation where orders from governments were still being sought in order to ensure that Tamil was used in all spheres. “Should it not be used spontaneously?” he asked. People in urban areas should learn Tamil from those in rural areas, he said, criticising the tendency to speak more in languages other than Tamil.
Praising the Chief Minister for organising the WCTC, he wanted it to serve as a strong foundation for encouraging more people to learn Tamil and achieve in letter and spirit, the theme of the seminar: Engum Tamil, Ethilum Tamil.
Pattali Makkal Katchi president G.K. Mani promised to the Chief Minister his party's support to the movement for ensuring that Tamil was used in all fields. “It pains to see Tamils living in other countries speaking chaste Tamil than those living in Tamil Nadu. The media too has a key role in encouraging wider use of Tamil,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader L. Ganesan said the basic step was to encourage students to read aloud in Tamil while studying. Only then would they perfect proper pronunciation of Tamil words. He also said it was important for all parties to unite while working for the development of the language.
Communist Party of India secretary D. Raja said Tamil always had a unique identity. Yet, it had to struggle for due prominence. Even now, the status of an official language remained elusive.
Mr. Raja cautioned that the promotion of Tamil should not be misconstrued as an effort at degrading other languages.
“Language does not belong to one community or a party. A united effort to promote Tamil should be made by breaking political barriers.”
M.G.R. Kazhagam leader R.M. Veerappan said the conference was a fitting reply to those in the State who had boycotted it, even as Tamils in other countries participated.
The Chief Minister concluded his speech with an element of suspense. “I am not going to say on everything we have planned to do after the conference. I will announce a detailed plan of action, may be even as big as the budget, at the valediction of the conference,” he said.