Hindi Advertisements in Tamil Newspapers: Does it Make Sense?
TAMIL TRIBUNE, February 2007 (ID. 2007-02-01); Updated July 2012
Advertisements in Hindi appeared in some Tamil newspapers published and sold in Tamil Nadu in 2006. Why would any reasonable business place advertisements in Hindi in Tamil newspapers in a state where very few people know Hindi?
Purpose of an advertisement is to tell consumers of a product or service, with the intent of influencing them to buy the product or service. So the advertisement should be in a language the consumer understands. So placing advertisements in Hindi in Tamil newspapers in Tamilnadu does not make any business sense. Will a Japanese car maker place a Japanese advertisement in Tamil newspapers in Tamil Nadu? No, it would not. If the advertisement department were to place such an advertisement, the department manager would be dismissed for wasting company money. Yet a company placed Hindi advertisements in Tamil newspapers in Tamil Nadu? What is this company?
The company that placed Hindi advertisements in Tamil newspapers in Tamil Nadu is the Southern Railways, owned and operated by the Indian Government.
Now it all makes sense and we understand the reason. The purpose of those Hindi advertisements is not to tell readers about Southern Railways' services and induce them to travel more by train, the purpose is to throw Hindi at their faces. The Hindi politicians who dominate and thus control the Indian Government [Reference 1] are very unhappy that Tamil people oppose Hindi as India's official language and that Tamilnadu State controlled schools do not teach Hindi. So they are throwing Hindi at our faces through Hindi advertisements and other means (Hindi television programs, Hindi drug labels, etc.) Another purpose is to immerse Tamil people in Hindi until they choke in it.
All-India broadcasts of the Indian Government controlled free television (Doordharshan) are primarily Hindi 24 hours a day. You can see over a dozen Hindi programmes anywhere in India any time of the day. That is not all. Even Doordharsan regional channels within Tamil Nadu broadcast more Hindi movies than Tamil movies [Reference 2]. Does it make sense to broadcast more Hindi movies than Tamil movies in channels available only in Tamil Nadu? Television ratings consistently show that viewers prefer Tamil movies over Hindi movies by a huge margin. It makes more sense to broadcast Tamil movies in Tamilnadu. That would also bring in more advertisement revenues. But that is not what the Indian Government does. Why? To throw Hindi at Tamil people's faces and immerse them in Hindi. There is no other valid reason.
It is this kind of arrogant, single-minded, concerted efforts by the Indian Government to impose Hindi on Tamil Nadu by hook and by crook, directly and indirectly, overtly and covertly that is further building resentment among Tamil people. One day that resentment could burst like a fire breathing volcano.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: More articles by the author may be found by searching the Internet.]
UPDATE (July 2012)
U1.1 Again in 2012
Indian Railways placed a Hindi advertisement again in the Tamil daily newspaper Thinathanthi on May 24, 2012; Thinathanthi has the largest number of readers among Tamil daily newspapers. This Hindi advertisement asks rail travelers not to carry inflammable articles in trains. A rough translation of this Hindi advertisement is as follows: "Small articles lead to big accidents. Please do not carry inflammable articles during your rail journey. Indian Railways --- Your safety ... Our aim." As we asked in 2007 when we published this article first, we ask again, what is the purpose of placing a Hindi advertisement in a Tamil language newspaper, very few of whose readers know Hindi? Will it not make sense to place advertisements in Tamil in a Tamil language newspaper published in Tamilnadu?
U1.2 Safety and Health Concern for Non-Hindi Speakers (1999 and now)
There is more to it than the waste of taxpayer money. Tamil readers are not getting this useful safety message because it is in Hindi. Is Indian Railways interested in the safety of Hindi speakers only? Would it not be better to publicize this safety message in Tamil in Tamil Nadu? In the name of establishing Hindi supremacy all over India, it is blacking out this useful safety message to non-Hindi speakers. People do get injured sometimes when inflammable materials like kerosene are carried in trains without proper safety precaution. There are people who are unaware that carrying inflammable materials like kerosene in trains is not a good idea. So this safety-related advertisement is an useful public service message. But because it is published in Hindi, people are not getting this useful message. Indian Railways' attitude seems to be, "Learn Hindi if you want to benefit from our safety messages." This is Hindi arrogance of the worst kind.
This reminds me of another such Indian government action back in 1999.
AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) is a menace to the human race. The best way to control the spread of AIDS in India is to teach the general public AIDS prevention information. It is the wide dissemination of AIDS prevention information that stopped the fast spreading of AIDS in western countries although AIDS is still a problem in the west to a lesser extent. So the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) allocated funds in 1999 to write AIDS prevention related books. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) allocated funds for writing such books in Hindi only. So only Hindi speakers benefit from these taxpayer supported preparation of Hindi books. Indian Government attitude seems to be, "Do you want to benefit from Indian Government funded books on AIDS? Then know Hindi well enough to read and understand them. If you do not know enough Hindi, it is your fault. Too bad, tough luck, good bye!" You can read more about this in Reference 3.
U1.3 The Tamil Telegraph Incident of 2005
Here is another angle of looking into this Hindi advertisement in Tamil newspaper. In 2005 the Indian Postal Service stopped accepting Tamil telegrams in most post offices in Tamil Nadu saying that very few people send or receive Tamil telegrams. This deprived Tamils, especially poor Tamils in rural areas who know neither English nor Hindi, of sending and receiving urgent communications to and from loved ones working at a distant place. You can send/receive Hindi telegrams from/to any post office in Tamil Nadu. We asked at that time, "How many people send Hindi telegrams in Tamil Nadu? Why is that facility still available while stopping Tamil telegrams". If Tamil telegram facilities were closed down because only a few people are using, why are you wasting our tax monies to publish Hindi advertisements in the largest circulation Tamil newspaper? When it comes to Hindi imperialism, money is no problem. (LATE NEWS: All telegraph services in any language were ended in 2013 because e-mails took over. The incidence we are discussing here took place 8 years earlier in 2005.)
1. Who Rules India? (Part I) (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, November 2000.
2. Hindi on Chennai Television (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, November 2004 (13 KB).
3. India: Health and Welfare for Hindi Speakers Only (by K. S.), TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2004 (10 KB) (h)
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