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How the Indian Government Stabbed Burmese Tamils in the Back

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 2002 (ID.2002-07-02)

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Definitions:
Hindians: People whose mother tongue is Hindi (similar to Tamil speakers are sometimes referred as Tamilans or Tamilians).

Tens of thousands of Tamil people from Tamil Nadu went to work in Burma during the British colonial rule. (Burma was renamed Myanmar in 1990 and is currently known by that name.) Their children, children's children and succeeding generations continued to live there. There were also Telugu and Hindi speaking workers who migrated to Burma from British India. 

Burmese Tamils (Myanmar Tamils) had their own Tamil language magazines for local and Tamil Nadu news, schools for teaching Tamil, and movie theaters for screening Tamil movies imported from India. Telugu and Hindi speakers also had similar institutions and facilities. 

Things were going smoothly for these people even after the British left and independence dawned on Burma in 1948. Then there was a military coup in 1962. The "immigrant population", although many had been living there for generations and have integrated with the Burmese society, became a target for discrimination and oppression by the new government. 

The then Myanmar Government (Burmese Government) closed down the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi magazines. Tamil, Telugu and Hindi schools were also closed except for some that were operated from temples and houses. Movie theaters showing Tamil, Telugu and Hindi movies were not closed but the Myanmar Government placed a restriction that movies in only one language could be imported from India, be it Tamil, Telugu, Hindi or whatever. The Myanmar Government asked the Indian Government to choose the language. Since the Tamil population in Myanmar was larger, Tamil movies were being imported in larger numbers than Telugu or Hindi movies, and Tamil movies were shown in more theaters and attracted more audience than Telugu and Hindi movies, people thought that the Indian Government would decide to export Tamil movies. That would have been the rational, unbiased decision. But that did not happen. Hindians who dominate and control the Indian Government chose to export only Hindi movies to Burma (Myanmar). It was a great blow to the large Tamil population there. The Indian Government betrayed the Tamils. It stabbed the Burmese Tamils in the back.

At a time when the Tamil people were being oppressed by the then Burmese Government, Hindians who control the Indian Government took the opportunity to impose Hindi on them. It was a clear attempt to destroy the identity and culture of Burmese Tamils, and Hinidianize them. Indian Government's hope was that, now on, the children and future generations of Burmese Tamils would adopt the Hindian culture and language (seen and heard in Hindi movies) and lose their Tamil identity (with no or very little access to Tamil culture and language through movies or magazines or schools). This is part of the overall plan to destroy the Tamil identity and culture everywhere Tamil people live. Why?

Hindians consider themselves to be the descendants of Aryans who migrated into northern India over three millennia ago. While the Aryan culture had engulfed and mutated most every culture in the Indian Subcontinent, Tamil culture and language stand almost pure in its original form, as a testimony that not every culture and language owe to Aryan culture and their Sanskrit language. Destruction (or gross degradation) of the Tamil culture and language would solidify their old claim of Aryan supremacy and that every culture in India owes it to Aryan culture and language. This explains the reason for Hindi imposition on Tamil Nadu. This explains why Indian embassies in countries with large Tamil population (for example, Mauritius, South Africa, etc.) do not promote Tamil cultural events but promote Hindianized and Aryanized cultural events. This is in countries where the Tamil people are treated well by the local governments. In the very few unfortunate countries where the Tamil population is oppressed, Hindians who control the Indian Government join hands with the oppressive government in keeping down the Tamil people. What are the people of Tamil Nadu going to do to protect and promote Tamil culture among fellow Tamils around the world?

(NOTE: The Burmese Tamil situation we discussed above pertains to the 1960s and 70s. Their situation has changed for the better in recent years. As far India, its negative policies towards Tamil people inside and outside India have not changed.)

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