Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi objects to use of Tamil term ondriya arasu for Union government

Mr. Ravi says the word ondriyam was used perhaps with an intention to “belittle” and be “disrespectful” to Union government; an invitation distributed by the Raj Bhavan for Pongal celebrations came in for criticism for using the Government of India’s emblem instead of the Government of Tamil Nadu’s emblem.

January 10, 2023 07:45 pm | Updated January 13, 2023 11:51 am IST - CHENNAI

Governor R.N. Ravi interacts with civil services aspirants at the Raj Bhavan in Chennai on January 10, 2023.

Governor R.N. Ravi interacts with civil services aspirants at the Raj Bhavan in Chennai on January 10, 2023. | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

A day after he walked out of the Tamil Nadu Assembly following a face-off with Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi on Tuesday disapproved of the ruling DMK’s use of the Tamil term “ ondriya arasu” to denote the Union government.

Mr. Ravi said he was fine with people using the term “Union government” to refer to the Government of India, but he felt the term being translated into Tamil as “ ondriya arasu” was not acceptable.

Interacting with a batch of civil services aspirants who have cleared their Civil Services (Main) Exam and were looking forward to their interviews, the Governor shared his view that the word “ ondriyam” referred to a sub-district, sub-divisional level structure in the hierarchy and was used for the Union government perhaps with an intention to “belittle” and be “disrespectful” to the Union government.

He was responding to a query from an aspirant on how to answer a question on the “Central government” versus “Union government” controversy in Tamil Nadu. Since coming to power, the present DMK government in Tamil Nadu began using “ ondriya arasu” in all its communications, a move that attracted criticism mainly from the Bharatiya Janata Party, which heads the NDA government at the Centre.

According to Mr. Ravi, the term “ ondriyam” to refer to the Union government would have been acceptable if there was no “lower level social structure” called “ ondriyam” in the society.

Mr. Ravi said he himself used the term “Union government” often and there was no confusion about the fact that India is a Union of the States. The problem in Tamil Nadu was because the term “ ondriya arasu” is used in a “politically overloaded” manner in a “political game” of playing down (the importance of the Union government), he added.

Row over Pongal invite

Meanwhile, an invitation distributed by the Raj Bhavan for Pongal celebrations slated for January 12 on the campus came in for criticism for using the Government of India’s emblem instead of the Government of Tamil Nadu’s emblem.

The invitation, which has been distributed over the past few days, was also criticised for the use of the word “Tamizhaga” instead of “Tamil Nadu.”

Only a week ago, the Governor had remarked that he preferred the word “Tamizhagam” than “Tamil Nadu” to refer to the State, attracting criticism from all major parties except the BJP.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Su. Venkatesan took to Twitter, juxtaposing the invite sent out for the tea party that happened on April 14, 2022 and the invite for Pongal celebrations. He pointed out that the Government of Tamil Nadu’s emblem has been replaced with Government of India’s emblem in the latest invite.

Similarly, he showed that the Tamil title for Mr. Ravi in the invite “Tamil Nadu Aalunar” has been replaced with “Tamizhaga Aalunar”. He asked if the Governor did not want to use the word “Tamil Nadu”, would he leave the State?

DMK MLA T.R.B. Rajaa charged on Twitter that the Governor has “immaturely” excluded Tamil Nadu’s emblem. Stating that the money spent by the Tamil Nadu government for the Raj Bhavan was the highest in the country, he urged the State’s Finance Minister to disallow the expenses as the State’s emblem had not been included.

Tamil Nadu BJP general secretary Raama Sreenivasan, however, said Mr. Venkatesan was partially disclosing information since the English part of the Pongal invitation used the title “Governor of Tamil Nadu”. “While using in Tamil, the word ‘Tamizhaga’ is more appropriate. In English, the invitation says Tamil Nadu. Why is it an issue,” he asked.

On the change in emblems, he said one should not assume Governor’s intervention in such routine tasks like preparing an invitation or expect him to proofread them. If anyone had a problem with the invitation, they should ask the officers in the Raj Bhavan who are all State government employees, he said. The ruling party and its allies should stop dragging the Governor into their “dirty politics” every day by manufacturing controversies.

Despite many attempts, the Governor’s office could not be reached for a comment on the invitation.

On Tuesday, at several places, there were attempts by certain outfits to burn Mr. Ravi in effigy protesting against his “selective deviation” while reading out the Governor’s address in the Assembly.

Seven Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK) members were arrested at Tiruchi for attempting to set fire to an effigy.

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