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தங்களின் பிராந்திய செய்திகளை அனுப்பி வையுங்கள் உலகறிய செய்கிறோம்
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'Vanthaarai vaazha vaikkum tamizh naadu' (வந்தாரை வாழ வைக்கும் தமிழ் நாடு ) has always been the slogan of Tamil Nadu in welcoming 'outsiders'. It has gone to such an extent that today, Tamil is seen as a foreign language in Tamil Nadu! I was quite excited to visit my home state but to my surprise,  when I landed at Anna International Airport, I felt I was in British Madras and not in 'my' Tamil Nadu - perhaps the most progressive and urbanised state within an Independent India.  'Vanakkam Anna' was immediately reciprocated with a 'Hello'. On my way to home, I noticed how sparingly Tamil was used be it on the shops, signs or on advertisements. I couldn't comprehend how could even one treat one's own mother tongue with such disgust that too in a state where the only official language is Tamil. I owe an apology to readers who get offended by my statement but that's the impression that I got regardless of what the Tamils of Chennai intended to communicate as far the lingo is concerned. 

When I was in Paris, I was not attended to by a lady because I spoke 'English'. Although I felt helpless, I could see the 'French Pride' deep  down in everyone's heart. I know where they were coming from. The other day, I read a news article that the Japanese Government apparently fined a TV channel for excessive usage of foreign words. I shared a flat with two Chinese in Sheffield and all they spoke amongst themselves were nothing but Mandarin. When I met a Tamilian from Coimbatore, he began the conversation with ' Hi! How are you doing?'. And in my observation, this is quite unique to Tamil Nadu Tamils for the Eezham Tamils speak a reasonably good Tamil with very minimal usage of foreign words. Why do we even need a 'link' language? I have come across people in Chennai who have been living for decades without knowing a word of Tamil. If I were to carefully analyse, I think we need to take the blame for 'creating' an atmosphere where in the migrants can do away without learning the lingo of the land. Aren't we being hypocritical by making everything available in English and other languages and then  blaming the migrants on not learning the language.

Lets imagine this scenario: All signboards across the state are only in Tamil except the airports, train stations and hospitals. The 'attitude' of migrants would automatically change. They will spare no effort to learn atleast basic Tamil even before they land in Tamil Nadu. This is a state which saw the 1969 Anti - Hindi imposition riots on one end but on the other end, we have the Hindi Prachar Sabha propagating Hindi.I am afraid in my opinion the cosmopolitan outlook is actually taking away the identity and language away from the natives of Tamil Nadu. 

The Margazhi Festival in Chennai: In a three hour concert you hardly get to hear Tamil songs these days. There needs to be a distinction between coming across as chauvinistic and taking pride in one's identity and mother tongue. I am of the opinion that there is a very thin line that separates both. India is a federal nation, each state with its own official languages. In 1969 we fought against imposition of Hindi while in 2013, I have to ask Tamil Nadu people this question : 'Does Tamil really exist?' - A vast majority of the Tamils from this state struggle to finish a sentence without using an English word or phrase. Forget about Tamil signboards in England, you cant see it in Delhi! There is no doubt that Hindi, a mother tongue of a section of a people is aggressively being promoted in the Non Hindi states. For instance, what is the necessity of destination boards and announcements in Hindi on a Chennai- Madurai route? It only highlights the linguistic discrimination. 

Factually speaking, the official language Act 1976 is not applicable to Tamil Nadu. "In exercise of the powers conferred by section 8, read with sub-section(4) of section 3 of the Official Languages Act, 1963 (19 of 1963), the Central Government hereby makes the following rules, namely (ii) They shall extend to the whole of India, except the State of Tamilnadu."  (Ref:http://www.rajbhasha.nic.in/GOLPContent.aspx?t=endolrules)  

Knowing Hindi has nothing to do with patriotism. Today, there are associations like the Tamils Cultural Center, who struggle to promote Tamil within their best capacity. It is rather shameful that we are in a situation where we have organisations to promote Tamil in Tamil Nadu. Two years ago I chose to switch from English to Tamil on social media.  My Indian friends especially those of Tamil origin found it rather bizzare. I actually learnt it from the Chinese when it came to mother tongue and pride in who they were. In fact we all have a lesson to take away from the Europeans and the Chinese when it comes to language and identity. What is used less today will be useless tomorrow.  I  have noticed this linguistic and identity pride in the English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and the list goes on. 

With realities and my experience, I am afraid the Tamils come no where close. All I've heard from Tamil Nadu folks so far are reasons as to what prevented them from using Tamil which is worth trashing. Lets get it straight into our heart and mind: Its not politics, its not chauvinism, it our classical mother tongue and our identity- our pride, We need to realise that its our responsibility to ensure that we create an atmosphere where one can experience the 'essence' of Tamil language, culture yet welcoming people from all ethnic background from across the world.  Your action must speak loud and send a clear message : ' Tamil Nadu means Tamil and Tamils'. When I went back to England, people were curious to learn about my experience and I told' Tamizh naatil, tamizh theruvilae, tamizh thaan illai' (தமிழ் நாட்டிலே தமிழ் தெருவிலே தமிழ் தான் இல்லை )

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