Editorial 1 : The united States of India


In an important discussion in The Hindu, the scholars argued that what distinguishes the south from the north politically is its language of politics, its regional parties and their demand for more power to the States, its multiple languages and cultures, its countercultures built through various anti-caste, anti-Brahmin and rationalist movements, its higher economic status and its investment in education, modern institutions, industrial infrastructure, etc. while the north lagged in most of these aspects.

Linguistic movements

  • To understand that, we must look at the most important historical factor that distinguishes the two regions: the linguistic nationality movements, which imagined India as a federation of nationalities.
  • While the north imagined India as a homogenous nation that resonates with the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan slogan, the south aspired to build India as a federation of nationalities.
  • The print and publishing culture led to the formation of distinct linguistic public spheres in the south, which were further consolidated by cinema.
  • By the early 20th century, different linguistic communities in the south began to claim nationality status for themselves.
  • The leaders were inspired by the political developments in Europe where, in the aftermath of major revolutions, new nations were founded based on linguistic identity with the political objective of achieving ‘popular sovereignty.’
  • Linguistic identity had proven to be secular, flexible and more inclusive than religious or racial identities, so the then Madras Presidency leaders consciously tried to cultivate it.
  • The middle-class intelligentsia from the south recognised the crucial connection between language and liberal democracy.

Language being not a barrier

  • For a democracy to function, it is essential to employ the language of the common people in the domains of education, administration and judiciary, without which equality and justice cannot be realised.
  • Also, to perform this new role, people’s languages needed to be modernised adequately. However, all these, it was believed, would be possible only when India was created as a federation of nationalities.
  • These languages would perish if India were forced into a single homogenous nation.
  • Even a cursory look at the condition of the languages of the south today makes it clear that such fears are vindicated.

The need for a strong bond

  • India is  not a nation but a subcontinent of multiple nationalities (similar to the European Union), and a unitary India would be unsuitable for democracy, which required the sovereign-citizens to participate in the decision-making processes of the nation-state actively.
  • They argued that no single language could facilitate such a process for the entire subcontinent.
  • Moreover, a strong nation needs strong bonding among its people. But the population of the Indian subcontinent spoke multiple languages, so no single language could bind them all as a national community.
  • The idea that Hindi could keep India together, a fallacy that continues even today, emanates from the gross misunderstanding that it could bind people who do not speak it.
  • We know that the French language could unite the people who spoke it. Or Tamil could unite the people who used it in their everyday life.
  •  However, to believe that Hindi could unite people from Kerala and Punjab or West Bengal who do not speak that language is to believe in the impossible.


  • After independence, the Congress made peace with the south through a compromise formula of agreeing to create linguistic States with limited powers granted by the Constitution.
  • The right-wing Hindu groups vehemently opposed the idea of the federation and continue to do so as it would undermine their dream of creating a homogenous Hindu nation.
  •  In the end, while the Indian state has triumphed over the nationalities of the south, the ghosts of the latter continue to haunt the champions of the former, at least during elections.

Editorial 2 : Outreach to diaspora and statesmanship


  • In a speech while addressing the Tamil diaspora in Tokyo in the course of his overseas tour in May 2023, to Singapore and Japan, to attract investments to the State, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin, had said that the Government of Tamil Nadu would protect the Tamil diaspora that has spread far and wide in search of education, business, and employment.
  •  He added that protecting the Tamil language meant protecting the Tamil community. He held forth the promise that his government and the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) would extend all support to the Tamil community.

Diaspora facts

  • Among the Indian diaspora, Tamils constitute a substantial number.
  • They form the overwhelming majority of the Indian population in Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, are in good numbers in Myanmar, Mauritius, South Africa, the Seychelles, the Re-Union Islands, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Australia, New Zealand, the Gulf countries, the United States and Canada, Britain and the European countries.
  • These dynamic groups have three identities — first, the Tamil identity; second, the Indian identity, and third, the identity of the countries in which they have settled.
  • Equally interesting is the phenomenon of the diaspora of the diaspora.
  • It would be simplistic and naïve to assume that the hopes that they entertain and the problems that they face are identical.
  • It is closely related to the nature of their migration, their numerical numbers, their educational and professional attainments, their economic clout, and, above all, the majority-minority syndrome in the host countries.
  • The Tamil diaspora has excelled in politics, economics, literature, the fine arts, sports, and science.
  • A few names that shine include Dr. Chandrasekhar, Monty Naicker, Sambandan, Indira Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, Raghuram Rajan,  Kamala Harris etc.

Host country policies, their impact

  • As far as neighbouring countries are concerned, bilateral relations have two dimensions.
  • The first is to improve relations with governments, politically, economically, and culturally.
  • The second is to protect and foster the interests of Indian minority groups
  • An overview of India’s policy towards Sri Lanka shows that to improve political relations, New Delhi, on some occasions, was willing to sacrifice the interests of the Indian diaspora.
  • The Sirimavo-Shastri Pact of October 1964 is an example of betrayal. New Delhi adopted the policy of give and take and converted the Indian Tamil community into merchandise to be divided between the two countries.
  • It must be highlighted that all important leaders of the Madras Presidency, Rajagopalachari, Kamaraj Nadar, C.N. Annadurai, P. Ramamurti, and Krishna Menon were opposed to the agreement.
  • Mr. Stalin has highlighted the necessity to protect and promote the Tamil language.
  • But the sad fact remains is that in many countries, the Tamil community has forgotten the Tamil language, one of the key elements of Tamil culture.

Federal camaraderie is essential

  • The policy towards the Indian diaspora comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the central government. Even then, State governments can influence policies by building public opinion.
  • What is essential, in the present context, is camaraderie and friendship between the Narendra Modi government and the DMK government.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), could have used the term ‘persecuted minorities’.
  • The CAA also does not include Sri Lanka, where ethnic fratricide has compelled many Tamils to come to Tamil Nadu as refugees.
  • New Delhi terms Sri Lankan Tamil refugees as illegal immigrants and argues that they must go back to Sri Lanka.

Way forward

The need of the hour is for the state and central government to come together and arrive at an amicable solution. This calls for statesmanship, not political opportunism.


Instead of trying to have cordial relations with the central government, a policy of confrontation by Tamil Nadu would be self-defeating. What the refugees want is Indian citizenship. All of them fulfil the residential qualifications laid down in the Indian Citizenship Act. What is more, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are willing to surrender their Sri Lankan citizenship to get Indian citizenship.


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