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Role of Tamil ethos in Indian identity and progress hailed
Thursday, June 24, 2010 09:39:09 AM, Agencies
The President presenting the 'Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award' to Asko Parpola at the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore on Wednesday
(Photo: M. Vedhan/The Hindu)
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Coimbatore: The first World Classical Tamil Conference got off to a grand start in Coimbatore on Wednesday with President Pratibha Patil inaugurating the mega event and scholars from various parts of the globe singing paeans to Tamil language and literature.
Inaugurating the five-day event, the President said that many concepts intrinsic to India's society and critical to its polity were found in Tamil discourse over the millennia. The message of peace, universality and the spirit of equality was propounded in a Sangam poem more than 2000 years ago, she said, referring to a poem in Purananooru.
The President presented the first Kalaignar M Karunanidhi Classical Tamil award to Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola, and said the next generation of Tamils must equip themselves with knowledge of Tamil culture, literature and values.
“A language must fulfil two functions; it must base itself on its ancient roots and, at the same time, vary and expand with growing needs, becoming essentially the language of the masses, and not of a select coterie,” she said, recalling former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi described Tamil as supreme among all classical languages. The Tamil scholar from Sri Lanka, Karthikesu Sivathamby agreeing with his views, underscored the need to update Tamil according to developments that are taking place.
"There was a worldwide consensus that Tamil possessed greater merits than the 11 parameters laid down for declaring a language classical", Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi who was presiding over the inaugural function said.
“Tamil is not only an international language; it is like a mother for all the languages of the world,” he added.
Noting that the roots of Tamil words were present in many languages of the world, Karunanidhi said such words differed only in form but retained the meaning. Quoting extensively from works such as the Valmiki Ramayana, Arthasastra and Purananooru, he stressed that the Tamil people had an ancient origin and a hoary past.
Though the demand to classify Tamil as a classical language was made over a hundred years ago, it was the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre that granted the status [in October 2004] to the language. It was after the declaration that such a meet was being organised for the first time, he added
Karunanidhi referred to research by late Tamil scholar Devaneya Pavanar, saying, “Many languages in the world have words originating in Tamil, for example, ‘Amma’ (mother), ‘Appa’ (father), ‘Naan’ (I), ‘Nee’ (you), ‘Avan’ (he), ‘Neer’ (water), ‘Neruppu’ (fire) and ‘Katru’ (air).” Tamil has all qualities of a classical language: antiquity, individuality, common character, neutrality, parental kinship, linguistic principles, literary prowess, noble ideas and ideals, he said.
Governor Surjeet Singh Barnala said Tamil had the privilege of being an official language in Sri Lanka and Singapore and was spoken in more than 55 countries. Literary works like Tirukkural, Kamba Ramayanam and Silapathikaram bear testimony to Tamil’s claim as a classical language.
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