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'Tamil is Echoing in United States': In First Chennai Visit After Poll Victory, Modi Refers to UN Speech

'Tamil is Echoing in United States': In First Chennai Visit After Poll Victory, Modi Refers to UN Speech

In Chennai to attend the convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Technology, the prime minister also said he took it upon himself to 'teach everyone that this (Tamil) is one of the ancient languages'.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the Tamil language was echoing across the United States, days after he hailed India’s linguistic diversity in a series of references, which included quoting from an ancient Tamil poet at the United Nations General Assembly.

In Chennai to attend the convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Technology, the prime minister also said he took it upon himself to "teach everyone that this (Tamil) is one of the ancient languages".

"When I was staying in America, I spoke in the Tamil language once and told everyone that this is one of the ancient languages. Even today, the Tamil language echoes in entire America," PM Modi said after greeting the audience with the Tamil greeting "Vanakkam”.

In his week-long US visit, PM Modi referred to the linguistic diversity of India at least thrice.

Stressing on the need for universal brotherhood, he quoted Kaniyan Pungundranar, a Tamil poet, and said: "We belong to all places, and to everyone.” At the Bloomberg Global Business Forum before that, he said linguistic flexibility inspired confidence in potential investors.

The most prominent endorsement, however, came at the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event where the prime minister said: "... for centuries our nation has progressed with the co-existence of several languages..."

The references are seen by many as a damage-control measure in view of heightened tensions, especially in the southern states, over alleged Hindi imposition.

Home Minister Amit Shah stoked a row when he pitched foe ‘one nation, one language’, saying: "India is a country of different languages and every language has its own importance but it is necessary to have a common language that becomes the mark of identity of the country. Today, if a language can keep the country united, it is the widely-spoken Hindi language."

first published:September 30, 2019, 12:26 IST