Tamil became a talking point in US: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo/PTI)

Three days after he quoted a verse written by Tamil poet Kaniyan Poongundranar on the world being one at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to display his “love” for the “world’s oldest language” by praising Tamil in his speeches here on Monday.

Tamil Nadu, its culture and heritage and Tamil language found mention in all three speeches that Modi delivered here on a day-long visit – reception by BJP workers, distribution of prizes to winners at the India-Singapore Hackathon and IIT-Madras Convocation.

From praising Tamil as the world’s oldest language to crediting the “satisfaction of task well accomplished” by experts at the hackathon to Tamil foods such as idli, sambar and dosa and asking everyone to visit Mamallapuram, the ancient coastal town of Pallava rulers, Modi made it a point to strike a chord with people of Tamil Nadu.

Modi’s lavishing praise on Tamil comes amidst a controversy over “imposition of Hindi” by the Union government and three days after he quote the verse ‘yaadum oore, yaavarum kelir’ (To us all towns are one, and all people our kin) written by Tamil poet Kaniyan Poongundranar 3,000 years ago in his speech at the UNGA on September 27.

“During my USA trip when I said something in Tamil, when I told the world that Tamil is the world's ancient language, the language became a talking point in America,” the Prime Minister said at a reception hosted by Tamil Nadu BJP at the airport here after his arrival from New Delhi.

At the prize distribution ceremony of the India-Singapore Hackathon, Modi spoke in detail about the satisfaction of a task “well-accomplished” and said he knows that the sense of satisfaction came from Chennai’s breakfast of “idli, dosa, vada and sambar.”

“The hospitality offered by Chennai is extraordinary in its warmth,” he said, adding that visitors from Singapore must have enjoyed Chennai and its rich heritage.

At the IIT-Madras convocation too, Modi displayed his ‘love’ for Tamil by calling it the “oldest language in the world.” “We are in Tamil Nadu which has a special distinction as it is home to the oldest language in the world and it is also home to one of the newest languages in India, the IIT-Madras lingo,” Modi said.

Modi’s mention about Tamil and lavish praise could also be viewed from the political prism as the BJP tries hard to make inroads in the state. The party despite stitching a formidable alliance drew a blank in the state in April Lok Sabha elections and is finding it difficult to be on its foot after the electoral loss.

Since the Modi government was re-elected, there have been efforts by him and his colleagues to praise Tamil. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who hails from Tamil Nadu, had quoted a verse from Sangam literature ‘Purananooru’ in her Budget speech this July.

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