CHENNAI: Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday described language as the “life of a race” and said it was the DMK that named the land of Tamils as Tamil Nadu. Speaking after inaugurating a three-day Chennai literary festival at Anna Centenary Library, the CM said it is important to take Tamil language and literature to youngsters, and literary festivals will help in doing that. DMK’s rule is the rule of Tamil and literature in the state, the CM said.
He listed out the steps taken by successive DMK governments for the language, including change of name of the state to Tamil Nadu, installation of 133-ft-high statue for Tiruvalluvar in Kanniyakumari, promotion of Thirukkural, and release of all textbooks in Tamil.
Tamil race gave its life to protect its language, Stalin said, referring to the anti-Hindi agitation of the 1960s. “Ensuring respect for the language is indispensable,” the CM said, quoting DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s speech in 1974. “Language is the soul of a race and literature is its heart. We are a race that gave its life to save our language,” he said.
Stalin’s assertion came a day after Governor RN Ravi said ‘Thamizhagam’ would be a more appropriate name for the state than ‘Tamil Nadu’. The comment triggered a controversy and #TamilNadu trended on Twitter on Thursday.“After the DMK returned to power, several initiatives have been taken to develop Tamil. Literary festival is the pinnacle of these initiatives,” Stalin said.
Pointing out the history of the Dravidian movement is intertwined with Tamil, Stalin said, “Though the Dravidian movement is political, it has functioned as the guardian of Tamil language since its inception. No other political party has been a literary movement. DMK is the only party with such history. Language can’t be developed only through our love for it; it has to be developed with our knowledge.” Batting against communalism, Stalin said literature will make a man cultured. “While caste and religion divide men, Thiruvalluvar’s words — all are same by birth — will unite us,” he said.
Writer Bava Chelladurai said in no other state, government hosts five literary festivals to promote writers. He said the state has understood that students have to go beyond textbooks to become more humane and creative.Speaking at the event, writer Paul Zacharia said he was elated to know that the ‘Thisaidhorum Dravidam’ project for cultural and linguistic outreach was the brainchild of former CM Karunanidhi. He praised Stalin for stressing democratic norms, secular values and modernisation.
“I admire the breadth of vision of the ‘Thisaidhorum Dravidam’ project (implemented by Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation) which seeks to consolidate Dravidian identity. Developing multilingual connectivity is culturally and politically important particularly when cultural and linguistic identities were facing attacks in the country. Sectarian forces are seeking to impose a monocultural, mono-religious and monolinguistic authority on this beautiful and unique multicultural democracy. The project gives the possibility to foster Dravidian unity to fight domination and subjugation,” he said.
Over 100 writers and literary personalities will speak at the three-day literary festival to be held under four divisions — Padaippu Arangam (creative hall), Pailarangam (learning hall), Panpaattu Arangam (cultural hall) and Kulandhaigal Illakkiya Arangam (children literature hall). Stalin released 100 books printed by TN Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.