Attitudes to Hindi, Tamil, etc.

Narayan S. Raja raja at galileo.IFA.Hawaii.Edu
Mon Apr 14 10:42:14 UTC 1997

A list member wrote:

>> Subject: Your Letter from Embassy of India (March 27, 1997)
>> Honorable Siv S. Mukherjee
>> Embassy of India

>> indicate that if my interest is not in Hindi, you are not interested in 
>> including me in the directory. The message seems to me to be rather 
>> clear, and quite damaging to the notion that India is a nation concerned 
>> for the united cooperation of India's linguistic, cultural, and
>> literary groups.
>> I am a scholar of Tamil, and I regret that you have decided that the
>> Tamil language, culture, and people are irrelevant or, at best, secondary 
>> to India's national celebration of independence.  I would like to remind you


Who was it who said "never attribute to malice
that which can be explained by stupidity"?  I
think India would be a less quarrelsome place
if everyone would make that their motto.

What an irony to write a confrontational
letter to a "Honorable Siv Mukherjee" -- a Bengali -- 
virtually accusing him of being a Hindi bigot?  The 
poor man is surely a bureaucrat mindlessly following 
some routine mandated by another bureaucrat -- who, 
for all I know, could easily be a Tamilian.  

In general, I think that the "system" in India
is well-intentioned, even idealistic in theory --
though usually bungling in practice.  And if one is 
friendly rather than confrontational, people will
usually see your point and try to cooperate.

And I wish our foreign friends would pick up some
of our good points, not our tendency to waste time 
striking poses of self-righteous martyrdom and
bickering with one another.

> The attitude of the Indian Government as experienced by Prof. Harman and
> farcical following of three-language formula by Hindi-speaking states is
> well-known. (They are supposed to study a non-Hindi language, but it is
> simply not done.) Tamilnadu and, if I am not mistaken, West Bengal openly
> adopted the two-language formula. In many non-Hindi states, I have heard

Sounds like the Hindi-speaking states at least
pretend to study a third language, while we
great and glorious Tamils have dropped even the 
pretence of studying any language other than Tamil 
and Hindi.  Which one sounds more fanatical?

I think more people in the world would study Tamil 
if we Tamilians would achieve something remarkable.  
Many people are now learning Japanese and Korean.  
It's because of those peoples' achievements.  Not 
because of their boasting, quarreling, and being 
just plain unpleasant.  You can't even sell a Big Mac
by being confrontational.  Much less convince people 
to study your culture.


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