New Delhi: Oscar-winning musician A R Rahman’s post “Beloved Tamil” on Friday, is seen as a response to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s comments that sparked controversy as it suggested people from different states to speak in Hindi with each other and that Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English.
Rahman shared an illustration of “Thamizhanangu” of “Goddess Tamil”, a word from Tamil Thai Vaazhthu or the Tamil national anthem, penned by Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai and composed by M S Viswanathan.
— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) April 8, 2022
He included a line written by modern Tamil poet of the 20th century Bharathidasan from his ‘Thamiliyakkam’, a book of Tamil poems, which read: “Beloved Tamil is the root of our existence.”
Rahman shared the post on his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media handles.
At the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee on Thursday, Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that the medium of running the government is the Official Language, and that this would increase the importance of Hindi. “Now the time has come to make the Official Language an important part of the unity of the country. When citizens of States who speak other languages communicate with each other, it should be in the language of India,” Shah was quoted by the Ministry of Home Affairs as having said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin responded to Shah’s comments by claiming that the BJP administration was continually attempting to destroy India’s pluralistic character, and that Shah’s speech was eroding India’s unity. Stalin cautioned Shah that he was repeating the same mistake again and over again, but that he couldn’t win.
This isn’t the first time Rahman has commented on the language debate. In June 2019, when there were plans to make a three-language policy mandatory for all states, Rahman had tweeted: “AUTONOMOUS | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary,” with web link of the word’s meaning in the dictionary. His tweet triggered a popular hashtag, ‘#autonomousTamilNadu’ by his fans worldwide.
Similarly, when the Centre decided to scrap the need for non-Hindi-speaking states to teach Hindi, Rahman praised Tamil Nadu’s two-language policy, tweeting, “Good move. In Tamil Nadu, Hindi is not required. “It has been rectified in the draught.”
Tamil Nadu’s two-language policy arose from a special pride in the Mother Tongue, Tamil, which is founded on the belief that Tamil is India’s oldest language and cannot be compared to Hindi or any other Indian language. Delhi has been persistently lobbying for Hindi on different levels for several decades, ostensibly for majoritarian grounds and the belief that having a single national language would make government easier. However, practically all Tamil political parties and almost all Tamil politicians continue to oppose efforts to impose or introduce Hindi as the country’s single national language.
Since the 1960s, the state has taken a hard stance against Hindi imposition; state schools consider Tamil and English to be basic languages, while Hindi is not required to be taught.