Rendering of a Sanskrit invocation song at an event attended by two Union ministers at the IIT Madras on Monday triggered a controversy with some opposition parties questioning why the Tamil anthem was not sung. ‘Maha Ganapathim Manasa Smarami’, penned by late composer Muthuswami Dikshithar, was sung at the start of the foundation stone laying ceremony of National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts, to be set up along with IIT Madras.
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan participated at IIT-M function. Vaiko claimed it was the usual practice at the start of any government function in Tamil Nadu to sing the Tamil anthem and alleged that the Centre was trying to impose Hindi and Sanskrit by various means.
As the controversy surfaced, IIT-Madras Director Bhaskar Ramamoorthy, who was present at the event, clarified the institution does not issue any directions to students for a particular song to be sung. “We do not issue any directions to the students. It is they who choose the invocation song and render it on such occasions,” he said. He was reacting to questions from reporters on the rendering of the Sanskrit song instead of the Tamil anthem penned by Manomaniam Sundaram Pillai, sung during functions in the state.
Normally, the Tamil anthem “Tamil Thaai Vazhthu” (invocation song of mother Tamil) is played at the start and the national anthem towards the end of state government events. Vaiko condemned rendering of the Sanskrit song and said it was not acceptable to ‘impose’ it at the function. He demanded stringent action be taken against those responsible for it. “Both Nitin Gadkari and Pon Radhakrishnan, who were at the function, should publicly tender an apology as singing of the Tamil invocation song is the usual practice in any government function,” he told reporters in Coimbatore.
He alleged that the Centre was trying to impose Sanskrit and Hindi by various means. CPI-M and PMK also condemned overlooking of the Tamil invocation song. CPI(M) State Secretary K Balakrishnan charged that it was another form of ‘imposing’ Hindi and Sanskrit. PMK Leader S Ramadoss said the state government should take steps for making singing of Tamil anthem mandatory in all the functions of IIT, Madras.
“The Government of Tamil Nadu should take steps to ensure that IIT Madras tenders an apology. It should also be made mandatory that only Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu is played in functions held within its premises”, he said.