Demoting Tamil antiquity in textbook creates major controversy

Chennai: A new controversy was triggered by a class 12 English textbook that has been issued to students in Tamilnadu.

It refers to Tamil as being only 2,300 years old whereas Sanskrit was 4,000 years old.

With Leader of the Opposition in the Tamilnadu Assembly and DMK president M K Stalin tweeting about it and others raising questions, the AIADMK government has jumped into action.

School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan has stated that the wrong information would be removed from the textbook. He said the principals of the schools have been asked to implement the order.

The committee that was involved in compiling the textbook had taken a part of the book written by George L Hart, a professor of Tamil language in the University of California, Berkeley, on page 142 of Unit-5 book.

In the exercise section, the students are asked to fill in the blanks with the details of the antiquity of various ancient languages. The dates given are: Chinese language – 1250 BC, Hebrew – 1000 BC, Tamil – 300 BC, Greek – 1500 BC, Sanskrit – 2000 BC, Latin – 75 BC, and Arabic – 512 AD.

Though Hart’s writing about Tamil’s greatness has been incorporated in the book, the editors have made it seem like Sanskrit is older than Tamil. This has led to protests from politicians, Tamil scholars and activists.

Stalin tweeted that such a thing will only happen in a regime that has smeared itself with saffron hue and asked if this was Tamilnadu government or Sanskrit government.



NT Bureau