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BJP MP from Uttarakhand seeks official status for Tamil

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu MPs in the Rajya Sabhawere in for a surprise when Tarun VijayBJP MP representing Uttarakhand, demanded that the Centre declare Tamil the second official language of India. 

"It is the arrogance and the feeling of a self-styled supremacy of some of my fellows in the north that we have not been able to fathom the real glory and importance of one of our greatest languages which is Tamil, its glory and influence can be felt across seven seas and caressing the highest peaks of the classical influence since ages and in all times," Vijay, a former editor of RSS mouthpiece 'Panchajanya', said in a special mention in the House on Thursday. 

Vijay, one of the national spokespersons of the BJP and a former editor of RSS mouthpiece, Panchajanya, also said special scholarships, salary benefits and promotions be provided to government officials who gain a working knowledge of Tamil and demanded that Tamil chairs be established in all central universities. 

Vijay, 52, said the Centre must start a scheme to propagate Tamil in all north Indian schools and colleges. 

He said Tamil scholars had in the past visited Hindu holy places like Kedarnath and built links between the northern and southern parts of India. He buttressed the point about national integration with a mention of poet Subramania Bharati who, Vijay said, "wore a north Indian turban and became an icon of national unity and cultural renaissance". 

He wondered if Tamil, "which has become the vehicle of a new Indian renaissance and cultural change", was ever given the respect and status it deserved. Vijay, who is learning Tamil, greets MPs from TN with a 'vanakkam'. 

Expectedly, Vijay's unexpected eulogy for Tamil was welcomed by MPs from TN. CPI's D Raja said leaders living in north India acknowledging Tamil was very significant and they (MPs from TN) appreciated what Vijay said. 

Vijay's promotion of Tamil is interesting as it also reflects a maturing of the approach towards languages in the country, especially within the Sangh Parivar. Outfits like Jan Sangh, the precursor of the BJP, and the RSS have been staunch proponents of making Hindi the sole national language. It was the aggressive championing of Hindi at the expense of regional languages that led to anti-Hindi protests and forced the Centre to continue with English as the second language for official purposes. 

According to the Official Languages Act, 1963, Hindi is the official language of the Union of India with English as a second language for use of official purposes of the Union and for use in Parliament. 

However, the Constitution allows states to adopt its own official languages. According to the 8th schedule of the Constitution, there are 22 official regional languages.

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