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The Tamil Nadu government’s initiative to make a Tamil paper mandatory in the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) examinations is quite welcome, says  Ilakkuvanar Thiruvalluvan, president, Tamil Protection Association. But more should be done, he says, suggesting the inclusion of the ancient grammar text, Tholkappiyam. Below are excerpts from an interview he gave to inmathi.com

“I am doubly delighted at the Tamil Nadu government’s initiative, which will be conducive to the creation of a situation that guarantees government jobs only to those with knowledge of Tamil. This will put an end to the trend of Tamils being neglected on their own soil owing to non-Tamils occupying the higher echelons of power and creating a gap between the people and the government.

This government must go all-out to stem the trend of people from other States taking away job opportunities from local Tamils. To achieve this, not only the Tamil Nadu government but also the Union government, government agencies, nationalized banks, public sector units and private sector must all come up with an order mandating knowledge of Tamil for all competitive exams for jobs in the state.

This will go a  long way in fulfilling  the plan to make Tamil the official language entirely in letter and spirit.  I had put forward these ideas at a workshop held by TNPSC experts in the 1990s.

Tamil and Tamils boast of a 3,000-year-old classical grammar text Tholkappiyam.  But, it is unfortunate that it finds no place in the primary syllabus.

Tamil and Tamils boast of a 3,000-year-old classical grammar text Tholkappiyam.  But, it is unfortunate that it finds no place in the primary syllabus. Even at graduate and postgraduate levels, it is studied only by way of a grammar paper and a culture paper.  The TNPSC examination committee members seem to have totally neglected Tholkappiyam in the Tamil papers with an ulterior motive.  It can hardly be constructed as an omission by oversight. Tholkappiyam is not only a book of grammar but also a guide for life.

Referring to the inclusion of 19 chapters from Tirukkural in the TNPSC syllabus, Thiruvalluvan wondered at the logic. “Generally, the chapters are selected based on their serial numbers which can be divided by five,” he said, wondering at the selection of 19 chapters at random 19.

“Once in two years, 25 chapters from Tirukkural can be included in the TNPSC syllabus so that the candidates, who keep writing the exams undeterred by failures, will become highly familiar with the Tamil classical work,” he said.

Referring to the Sanskrit paper in the TNPSC syllabus, Thiruvalluvan said it had probably been included during the previous regime itself.  If there are exclusive papers for every Indian language, then Sanskrit paper can be justified.  “For those going to work in Tamil Nadu, if selected through the competitive exams, is the knowledge of an artificial language necessary? The Centre has already launched a campaign to popularize Sanskrit. Should Tamil Nadu chip in with its mite on this count? The Tamil Nadu government must intervene immediately to ensure the removal of Sanskrit paper from the TNPSC exam syllabus.”

The Centre has already launched a campaign to popularize Sanskrit. Should Tamil Nadu chip in with its mite on this count?

As regards the history papers for the examination, Thiruvalluvan said that the syllabus should be structured in such a way as to ensure that Tamil civilization and Tamil history get precedence and also ensure that Sangam literature is not just read for namesake, but deeply. The anti-Hindi agitations are of historic and historical eminence. Hence they must figure in the syllabus. In English language paper too, Tamil history  should find its due slot, he noted.

On the Tamil script, Thiruvalluvan said, “The history of Tamil script as presented is per se wrong. Tamil grammar texts assert that all Tamil letters are of ancient origin. Except for minor alterations, the Tamil script has undergone no great changes. Letters found on epigraphs can hardly be considered as an evolution of Tamil script. Such changes are not found in palm-leaf manuscripts.”

The lesson on the evolution of the Tamil script is wrong and should be removed from the TNPSC syllabus, he said.


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