Attitudes to Hindi, Tamil, etc.

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at
Tue Apr 15 18:47:51 UTC 1997

	Narayan Sriranga Raja wrote:

	"never attribute to malice that which can be explained by 
	stupidity."  :-)  :-)

Unfortunately, there are many instances of stupidity in 
Indian education policy and language policy... these are 
compounding in nature and soon amount to gross insenstivity 
at least, if not malice. 

	My observation is that Indian languages (including Hindi)
	are all being marginalized by English.  Hindi -- if at
	all it's a "threat" to other languages, which I doubt -- 
	is much less so than English.

	Seriously, what do you think?  Is it English or Hindi 
	that is displacing Tamil among many Tamil-speakers?

Robert Zydenbos' main thrust was the marginalization of
other languages in Indological studies... I was merely
referring to the arguments you presented then.  In any 
case,  that's quite a different issue from your angst 
as a Tamil speaker or Kannada speaker or Hindi speaker 
in India, of being overrun by English.

Tamil may very well be losing out to English...  but it 
is still _perceived_ by many as desirable and as a matter 
of right choice... since it is seen as a language of 
modernisation, empowerment, and what not.  

Hindi on the other hand is quite irrelevant in this whole 
scenario... hence any efforts to impose its use, as has 
been tried at various junctures, is unwelcome.

	Since you live in Michigan (as I used to), perhaps you 
	attend meetings of the Detroit/Michigan Tamil Sangham.  
	In what language do most people -- Tamilians from TN,
	most of them -- talk at those meetings?  You'd expect 
	that people would see a "Tamil Sangham" meeting as a 
	rare opportunity to speak Tamil, wouldn't you? But in 

I am afraid that you may have seen very little of the Michigan
Tamil Sangam... I have been here for 12 years and have been on
its Executive Committee for a year... most gatherings are largely 
social affairs, and so people talk to each other mostly in colloquial 
Tamil, and additionally in English, Telugu, and even Marathi (since
there are a good many Bombayites who like to keep up their Marathi). 

But when the President or Secretary gets up to speak to the crowd,
they try to speak in formal Tamil... with people like Ramalinga
Raja (son of the great poet Namakkal Kavignar), Shantha Jayabalan
(who has taught Tamil at U of M, off and on), I must say that it
has been pretty successful.

Tamil movies, dramas, etc are a big draw... the crowd at
literary events is very sparse... but this is as expected. 

	This used to be primarily a Tamil Brahmin problem.
	Unfortunately, that isn't true any longer.

	I don't mind about the "takeover" by English.  I think
	it has become part of "Tamil culture."  But it bugs me 
	when people quietly ignore that fact and pick on Hindi.  
	That seems like people in search of a grievance, rather 
	than people who are really concerned about what's happening 
	to Tamil.

It is unfortunate that you raise the caste issue... but since
you mention it, I have to remark that it is largely Brahmins,
and mostly Tamil Brahmins domiciled outside TN, who are at
their carping best on this issue,  paying little attention 
to even the reasoned and reasonable voices coming out of TN.

Tamils within TN itself couldn't care less... as I said, they
see English as a language of empowerment... and those with
all-India aspirations take to Hindi on their own initiative. 
It is when Big Brother comes down with 3-language poop for
their schools, that they revolt.  They would rather be learning 
Tamil/English/Java or English/Java/Mocha.


ps: Please do not mistake me for a Hindi-hater ;-) 
Since my father was all-India transferable, I studied in Central 
Schools all my life... Hindi was our first language and we did
even Social Studies (Hist/Geo/Civics) entirely in Hindi... so, to
use the felicitous Americanism, I can kickass in Hindi and indeed
do so with mirth !

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