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Hindi-Tamil Discrimination by Indian High Commission (Embassy) in South Africa

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, November 2015 (ID. 2015-11-01)
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[Executive Summary: Indian government provides free space to hold Hindi classes at the Indian consular office in Durban (South Africa) but refuses to do so for for Tamil classes even though Tamils are the largest language group among South Africans of Indian origin.]


1. Background

2. Indian Government and Indian Languages

3. Indian Government and Myanmar Tamils

4. Crores of Rupees Spent on Hindi Propagation Abroad

5. Final Words

1. Background

There are over a million South Africans of Indian origin. Majority of them are descendents of migrants from Tamil-speaking Tamil Nadu, South India. According to http://www.indiainsouthafrica.com (seen on October 12, 2015): "The number is about 1.15 million (about 2.5% of South Africa’s total population). Approximately 80% of the Indian community lives in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal. According to the Department of Education and Culture, the linguistic break-up of the Indian community in that province is: Tamil 51%, Hindi 30%, Gujarati 7%, Telugu 6%, Urdu 5% and others 1%. Clearly the largest linguistic group among Indian-origin South Africans is Tamils and then Hindis.

Yet the Indian Government, which is dominated by Hindi politicians because Hindi is the largest linguistic group in India, offers free Hindi classes in South Africa and not any other language. South African Tamils asked the Indian High Commission (similar to embassy) in Durban to provide free Tamil classes also; Indian consular officers there refused saying free classes would be offered only for Hindi, and Tamil classes need to be charged a fee. In fact, Indian government is going back from its announcement in 2008 that Tamil classes would be offered free (Times of India; January 29, 2008). Indian consular office did offer free space to hold Tamil classes until June 2014. Then it started charging for the use of the space while Hindi classes were not asked to pay a fee.

A Tamil delegation consisting of Mr Karthi Moothsamy (President, South African Tamil Federation), Mr Micky Chetty (the President of the International Movement for Tamil Culture in South Africa/Africa), Mr Richard Govender (President, KwaZulu-Natal region of the Tamil Federation), Ms Mala Lutchmanan (Tamil teacher and scholar) and Mrs Mallie Pillay (Tamil scholar) met with Indian consular officers in March 2015 and the talks failed to achieve free space for Tamil classes.

Eighty six year old Swaminathan Gounden was a stalwart against apartheid; he was under house-arrest for more than 10 years during the days of apartheid . He said, "We struggled all our lives to overcome racial discrimination but now we are being discriminated along language lines by those representing India here" (The Subry Govender Column, Blogspot; March 26, 2015; Subry Govender, a journalist for over 40 years, is a Foreign Correspondent for Radio Deutsche Welle).

2. Indian Government and Indian Languages

I have published a few dozen articles on Indian government's Hindi imposition policy within India. I had explained with examples that the intent of the Indian government is to slowly make all other living Indian languages useless in day-to-day life and elevate Hindi as the only useful language. [Reference 1].

Indian government is implementing its language discrimination policies not only within India but also in foreign countries. It uses every chance it gets to weaken and eventually kill off language and cultural activities of non-Hindi peoples of Indian origin in foreign countries, and pushes Hindi on to them as best it could; the ultimate goal is to Hindianize Indian communities abroad.

3. Indian Government and Myanmar Tamils

Read how the Indian government (back in the 1960s) tried to suffocate Tamil and Telugu languages and culture in Myanmar (called Burma at that time) in Reference 2. What they did was just outrageous.

Imperial Hindi policies did not start today. It started from the day the British left India and power changed to Hindi politicians in 1947. Read the language debates at the Constitution Assembly in the late 1940s. Some of the arrogant statements by Hindi chauvinists are repulsing. Here is an extreme example. "People who do not know Hindustani have no right to stay in India. People who are present in this House to fashion a Constitution for India and do not know Hindustani are not worthy to be members of this Assembly. They had better leave." - R.V. Dhulekar (speaking at the Indian Constitutional assembly on December 10, 1946) [Constitution Assembly Debates-Official Report, Volume 1 (p 26-27), Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1988]

4. Crores of Rupees Spent on Hindi Propagation Abroad
(1 crore = 10 million)

Money is not the reason for Indian consulate asking a fee to use a few hundred square metres of space a few days a month to teach Tamil at the consulate building where Hindi is taught free. Why not ask a fee for Hindi too? Money is spent lavishly to propagate Hindi around the world. Here are a few examples.

India established a Hindi Chair in 2010 at the Yerevan State Linguistic University (YSLU) in Armenia; that is, India will pay the salary of a Hindi professor at the university for ever. Indian government funds a Hindi Professor position at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia since 2011. Salary of one professor that India pays is more a thousand times the cost of providing free space for Tamil classes at the consular office in Durban. Indian government has been providing similar funding for professor positions and scholarships in a number of other foreign universities as well. To the best of my knowledge, Indian government is not paying the salary of any professor of Tamil anywhere in the world. Tamil people living in America held fund-raising to pay the salary of a professor at the University of California in Berkeley and currently raising funds to pay the salary of a Tamil professor at Harvard University; both universities are in America. Indian government did not help with these efforts. At about the same time, Indian government promised all help to establish a Hindi Centre near New York (America) that will serve as an academic and cultural hub and facilitate exchange programs between Indian and American universities. The center will serve as a vibrant hub of academic and cultural activities focused on promoting Hindi as a world language (The New Indian Express; April 12, 2015). See Reference 3 to find more examples of how the Indian government is spending money to teach and promote Hindi abroad.

5. Final Words

It is evident that Indian government will not help the preservation of Tamil heritage, culture and language among Tamils from the Indian subcontinent living abroad while money is spent lavishly to promote and teach Hindi not only to foreign-living Hindi people but also to non-Hindi peoples of Indian origin and to other foreigners. May be, if the Hindi politicians in India are in a good mood, they will allocate a few Rupees to non-Hindi languages, like the master throwing a chewed bone to the house dog while the Hindi family is eating a sumptuous feast at the table.

Actually it is not the money. After all Indian consular office in Durban is not charging a fee for Hindi classes, they want a fee only for Tamil classes. Indian government wants to extinguish the non-Hindi languages and cultures among non-Hindi peoples living abroad and Hindianize those non-Hindi peoples.

Post your comments and/or Read other comments (Subject: November 2015)


1. Indian Government Language Policy: Destroy all Languages Except Hindi (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2012 (10 KB) (h)

2. How the Indian Government Stabbed Burmese Tamils in the Back (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 2002 (9 KB) (h, i)

3. Indian Government Promotes Hindi Around the World (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 2012 (12 KB) (h)


A Special Report from Mauritius: Mauritian Tamils Rise up to Protect Tamil (Names of the authors and photographer withheld), TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 2000 (8 KB) (t)

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