Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s passion for Tamil language and its culture explained

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Prime Minister Modi’s love for Tamil language and Tamil Nadu is uncomparable if one traces his speeches and quotes from Tamil literature. He has also given priority to Tamil Nadu-based skilled, talented and meritorious bureaucrats in key posts. It is not election oriented or appeasement-based but his innate and profound love for the people of this state and its rich language, culture, traditions that have no parallels.
As rightly pointed out by Jayanarayan Vyas of Gujarat “communication in regional language establishes instant rapport and immediately connects the leader with his target audience by presenting his ideas in their language.” Knowing the importance of speaking in their own language to communicate views and ideas, PM Modi has been attaching more importance to Tamil Nadu. To the best of knowledge of this writer, he has not been attaching such importance to any other language. That does not mean that he has no affection for other languages.
Shri Narendra Modi has been attaching a lot of stress on Tamil, which was evident during his speeches in and about the language during his foreign visits besides his official engagements in Tamil Nadu and in other parts of Bharat.
In July last year Modi described Tamil Classic 'Tirukkural’ as a treasure of rich thoughts and noble ideals, in series of tweets in Tamil and English, Modi said “The Tirukkural is extremely inspiring. It is a treasure of rich thoughts, noble ideals and great motivation. The words of respected Thiruvalluvar have the power to spread hope and brightness. I hope more youngsters across Bharat read it”.
While releasing Tamil version of his poem on Mamallapuram Sea’s beauty, he said the Tamil language is beautiful, the Tamil people are exceptional. He tweeted “Glad to be expressing myself in the world’s oldest language, which has nurtured a vibrant culture.” He welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram wearing Tamilian’s traditional attire ‘dhoti with border and a shawl (angavastram) and a half sleeve white shirt’. The visiting President was treated with a variety of cultural programme that included folk dance like Tappattam, Poikal Kuthirai with over 500 artistes, a group of colourfully decked up women presented Bharatanatyam dance programme to the accompaniment of Thavil, a percussion instrument and Nadaswaram (a traditional wind instrument) music.
PM Modi welcomed his Chinese dignitaries in Tamil. He spoke “I was speaking in Tamil. It is an ancient language. I am extending a hearty welcome to all of you and I am taking this opportunity to congratulate the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China”. Upon his arrival, Modi tweeted in Tamil, English and Mandarin “Landed in Chennai. I am happy to be in the great land of Tamil Nadu, known for its wonderful culture and hospitality.”
Prime Minister Modi during his UN assembly’s speech in October last, had spoken in Tamil and highlighted the significance of the language with a quote from Sangam era Purananuru. . Modi said in Tamil “ 3,000 years ago, a great poet of Bharat, Kaniyan Pungundranar wrote in Tamil the most ancient language of the world ‘ Yaadhum Oore Yaadhum Kelir’ which means “ we belong to all places and to everyone. This sense of belonging beyond borders, is unique to Bharat.”
On his 15th August Independence Day address in 2018, Modi mentioned the flowering of “Neela Kurinji’ which occurs once every 12 years in Western Ghats especially Kodaikanal hill station. In 2019 Independence speech, Modi said “ the great Saint Thiruvalluvar ji had professed hundreds of years ago when perhaps no one would have thought of the water crisis and the importance of water. Neer Indri Amiyadhu Ulganein” meaning that if water starts disappearing, the nature’s process get disrupted and eventually come to an end. This initiates the process of total destruction”.
While addressing a gathering in US in the year 2018 (February) Modi said “My dear brothers and sisters. I bow my head to Tamil language and its rich tradition. I feel proud standing amidst the people who have come from the great poet Bharathiyar. Tamil is more ancient than Sanskrit. We should all learn Tamil. In his Madras IIT convocation address in 2019, Prime Minister Modi said “We are in the state of Tamil Nadu which has a special distinction. It is home to the oldest language in the world, Tamil. And it is also home to the newest language in India – the IIT Madras lingo. The hospitality of Chennai is extraordinary in its warmth. I enjoy the special breakfast Idli, Vada, Dosa..”.
While addressing the International Bharathi Festival in November last, PM Modi has paid rich tributes to the great poet on his Jayanti. He described Subramaniya Bharathi as a very different personality. He said, “ Bharathi can’t be linked to any single profession or dimension. He was a poet, writer, editor, journalist, social reformer, freedom fighter, humanist and much can marvel at the body of work of great poet, his poems, his philosophy and his life. He had a close link with my constituency Varanasi. In a short life of 39 years, Bharathi wrote so much, so much and excelled in so much. His writing are guiding light to us towards a glorious future. ” Quoting Bharathi, he said, “ Fear I have not. Fear I have not even if all the world opposes me”. Modi said Bharathi held both Indian nationalism and Tamil linguistic pride as his two eyes. He was connected with his roots while looking at the future. Women’s empowerment is an important vision of Bharathi. His definition of progress had a central role for women”.
In July last year, Prime Minister Modi again quoted Thirukkural while addressing the troops. He said “the tradition and credibility of valour, honour, dignified behaviour, these four qualities are the reflection of the army of any country. Indian forces followed this path. This was from the 766 couplet under the chapter Padai Maatchi which means the dignity and honour of the defense forces.
He mentioned the 10th century Chola era Uthiramerur model of democracy while laying the foundation stone for new parliament. He said its unique principle had been a characteristic feature of governance in Bharat even during ancient times.
His distracters claim that Modi speaks in Tamil for political gains, which is untrue if one goes through above instances. His closeness with late CM Jayalalithaa, Thuglak editor Cho Ramaswamy, actor Rajini Kant, S Gurumurthy and others helped him to know better about Tamil. After becoming PM in 2014, he never missed an opportunity to praise the richness of Tamil, one of the classic language of Bharat. When he was CM of Gujarat, Modi’s advisor Kailasa Nath was an alumnus of Udagamandalam school in Tamil Nadu, He relied on officials from TN and believed they are talented, skilful and intelligent. He picked up former IPS officer Vijaya Kumar and gave him important assignments including war against Naxals, Kashmir Separatists issues. Sakthikanta Das, a TN cadre bureaucrat was member Finance Commission and now RBI governor. P Amutha, a 1994 batch IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, is now working in PMO as joint secretary. Another TN cadre IAS officer S Gopalakrishna was appointed last year as Additional secretary in PMO. Modi government appoints Tamil Nadu cadres IAS and IPS in plum posts in various ministries to cash in on their expertise and skill. The term of ISRO chairman K Sivan’s term of office has been extended one more year. He visited PMO official’s family marriage in Chennai and blessed the couples. Nirmala Sitaraman and Jaishankar have been given plum cabinet posts considering their specialization.
In all his ‘Maan ki baat’ talks, achievers from the state are getting mentioned. Earlier this year he appreciated Madurai School girl Nethra, daughter of salon owner, spent over 5 lakhs, saved for higher education, to pandemic people by distributing provision kits. In October this year, he praised school dropout Thoothukudi barber Pon Mariappan for maintaining a library in his salon with more than 800 books and offers a discount to customers who brows the books. In September Modi mentioned Chennai based Srividya Veera Raghavan , mother of a 10-year-old, for her storytelling avocation. PM Modi helped TN girl Rakshita, who now become “ Modi Rakshita” secure free seat in Kendriya Vidyalaya school and paying her school fees. On 28th last month, Modi lauded the innovative method followed by government higher secondary school teacher NK Hemalatha based in Villupuram. She was coaching class tenth students during Covid 19 lockdown by loading 53 chapters on pen drives and shared them with students who are going to sit for the public examination this year. Modi said such an initiative should be popularized through the Diksha platform of the union Education ministry. PM Modi also mentioned about Sreenivasachariar, a 90-years Tamil and Sanskrit scholar for his willingness to equip himself with fast-changing book publishing skills even at this age.
On 25th this month, Modi spoke to a farmer Subramanian in Krishnagiri district through video conferencing. He asked him to share his success story of using drip irrigation, the acreage under irrigation and production has increased manifold with other farmers in TN. These are only a few to cite in this article.
Modi even before becoming CM of Gujarat, posed in front of a banner with pictures of Bharathiyar and Vivekanandar at Srinagar Lal Chowk in 1992 when he was there to hoist the tricolour national flag. This is to prove that his passion for Tamil Nadu and Bharathiyar is not motivated for election. All his acts have been focused on uniting all states and union territories right from the beginning.
A Tamil Nadu Indian Forest Service official, who was posted in Gujarat, recalled that Modi used to know more about Tamil Nadu and its people, language. He showed keen interest in learning a lot of words and attempted to speak many a time in Tamil. He has a soft and special love for Tamil Nadu and its people.
No other statesman, leader, Prime Minister, President has ever shown such remarkable love for Tamil. In the last 60 years, leaders from North who come for electioneering would only utter a few words like Vanakkam (Namaste), Nnandri (Thanks) not beyond that. Modi has an astounding memory to recite Tamil words without stammering, not using a piece of paper, which most Tamilian’s could not. M K Stalin’ s best example who could not speak with a gaffe, faux pas, despite referring chit of paper which is holding. Most of the times he misspells or stammers.