A day after the DMK and PMK stoked controversy alleging that Tamil was being ignored by the Centre for awards given to scholars of classical languages, the Tamil Nadu government has denied the claim. Talking to TNM, Minister for Tamil Culture and Archaeology, Mafoi Pandiarajan, slammed the Opposition, saying it was deliberately misleading the people.
The controversy erupted on Monday after the Opposition parties claimed that the Centre did not invite nominations for Tamil scholars for the Presidential Award for Certificate of Honour and Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman. Citing a circular reportedly sent to educational institutions by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry seeking recommendations for the awards in this regard, the parties claimed Tamil did not feature in the communique.
“Only Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Arabic, Persian, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam finds a place and not Classical Tamil. This shows the BJP-led Centre’s deep-rooted hate and discrimination for Tamil,” DMK working President MK Stalin had claimed. “Ignoring Classical Tamil is an unpardonable betrayal by the BJP-led Centre.”
Mafoi Pandiarajan has, however, told TNM that the Central Institute of Classical Tamil was an autonomous body and that it had invited nominations for the Tholkappiyar, Kural Peedam and Young Scholar Awards. The HRD Ministry's circular, meanwhile, was for nominations from scholars of other classical languages which have no autonomous outfits.
"Tamil is the only language which has a classical institute. It has been set up by the Central government. For all other things, there is no separate institution to foster the language. The HRD ministry has directly invited applications," says Mafoi Pandiarajan. "Tamil is in fact given eight awards, while other nine languages receive only two awards each. Tamil is given a special status because it is a language that has a huge continuity of literature for almost 3000 years.”
And was the DMK, which has held power in the state before, not aware of this?
"This is a deliberate attempt to mislead people because the AIADMK government is scoring in this aspect every year. If you look at all institutions created for Tamil, it mostly is by the AIADMK. MGR created Tamil University, Amma created Music and Fine Arts University and also created the World Tamil Sangam. Out of 58 awards totally given by the state, only 4 are instituted by DMK. All 54 other awards were instituted by MGR or Amma. So they are misleading people by saying Tamil is neglected," the minister alleges.
From 2005-2006 to 2015-16, a total of 66 awards were given away to Tamil scholars, says the minister. Nominations for 2016-17 were reportedly invited through newspaper advertisements. The Tamil Nadu Development Department has further said that a selection panel was constituted to choose the eligible recipients.