Knowledge of One’s Land and Language is a Must in Youth Formation

Cenkantal
5 min readFeb 7, 2024

Himlar P. V.

The future of a nation depends on how the present day youth are educated and formed. All our social reformers pinned their hope on the formation of the youth. There are many reasons for saying this. Foremost them is the right knowledge of their land and language which plays an indispensable role in the formation of youth. We shall highlight this factor in details.

Land is not just a place where people inhabit and language is not merely a means of communicating one’s ideas. If such perception prevails, then we shall lose the land and language altogether. Land is our right and language is our identity mark. Though land and language are two different words denoting different realities, there is an inseparable relation between them. Only where the people live in a territory for a continuous period of time, there will be a common language. Based on this language will their identity be established.

Tokāppiyam has recorded thousands of years ago the boundaries of the Tamilakam. “In the virtuous Tamil-speaking land, that extends from Vēnkatam in the North, and Kumari in the South.” (Pāyiram). Tamil is the language of the people who inhabited this part of the landscape. They are defined by their language which sustained all these years.

There were always attempts to occupy this land by outsiders from the beginning. Wars were waged all over the world centered on this question of ownership of the land. People had to defend their land against the occupiers and liberate it if they are already occupied. Who owns the land becomes the central theme is all the conflicts between nations.

India faces constant conflicts from the neighbouring nations like China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka due to the border issue. Even within India there are constant conflicts between various states about demarcating their borders between them. Pakistan was separated from India and became a separate nation. Though they were all united mostly by one religion, conflict arose among them due to the difference in language spoken by sections of people and so another nation was formed out of that as Bangladesh. This is a clear example of how a language can create a nation.

Kanyakumari is mentioned as the southern Border of Tamilakam in South India from the days of Tolkāppiyam. But in 18th century the Tiruvankur Samasthānam was created and brought under Malayalam speaking people and Tamil was sidelined and eventually eliminated from that part of the territory. Thus the Tamils lost their rights for education, ownership of property and job opportunities in their own motherland. Kumari area is a good example to show how losing authority over one’s land deprives people of everything else.

At the same time, if the Tamils are today living with their land and language, it is because their forefathers before 75 years struggled to protect this land and language. Without proper understanding of the language and land of Kanyakumari it has created the impression that Kanyakumari is a Malayalee territory and people living there are Malayalees. Such a false notion prevails even now among some. To identify the birthplace of Tamils, Kanyakumari, as Keralam and the successors of Tolkāppiyar as Malayalees is a painful message. This is again another example to show how without knowledge of land and language, one’s identity itself is lost.

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. If the future leaders are to be committed to this society, they should know who they are, their land, their language, only such knowledge will teach culture and civilization. We need such leaders who know the importance of their land and language. Hence this importance of this aspect must be insisted upon.

People quote the poet Kaniyan Pūnkunranār’s poem: “yātum ūrē …”. “Every country is my country and every one is my brother and sister,” to counter the notion of Tamil nationalism. Is it not fanaticism to boast of one’s land and language? There is a difference between saying that my wife is beautiful and another man’s wife is ugly. So to be proud of one’s language’s uniqueness and glory does not mean fanaticism. Only if one abuses another language and holds one’s own language exclusively as great, then it violates the rights of others.

One who forgets his language, forgets his mother. Marcel Nesamony was father of Kumari land, as he understood the importance of that land and so even after decades he is held in honour by people. In this century the Tamils faced several ethnic cleansings. Just because they were Tamils, lakhs of them were buried alive and still many roam around the whole world as refugees. The Easter attack on the Tamil churches in Colombo was not because they were Christians, but because they were Tamils. The Tamils were pushed out of Sri Lanka by the Singalas. First, they denied space for Tamil language and then occupied their land. The process started with destroying the language.

This makes it clear how an oppressed ethnic group could give birth to leaders to liberate them. That is how Prabhakaran arose on the scene as a unique hero and leader and the discourse on Tamil nationalism grew in strength in the land of Tamil Īlam.

In the future to prevent the danger to our land and language we need an army of youth equipped with the weapons of knowledge and historical grasp of things. Only then they will become the leaders of that society. Who am I? What is my language? My land? Its cultural history? If one does not know this, such a one cannot protect them.

The whole world is in turmoil now on this question of land ownership. The tribal people are driven out of their land giving way to Corporates. The world powers are waging wars to control the natural resources of the land. That the tribal people have more attachment to their land than the educated elites is a sad story.

At present the whole world is watching the fight between Israel and Palestinians for gaining control over the land. This must be carefully looked into from this angle. We appreciate the struggle of the Palestinians to protect their land. We need to support any group that fights for their rights.

This applies to Tamil nationalists who are facing this question all along their history.

It is not in vain that people dedicate their whole life for this cause by their writings and political campaigning and protest. The lesson for the youth to be highlighted is the right understanding of the issue involved, namely, the knowledge of the history of one’s land and language.

There are many people who were jailed, tortured and killed for this cause. Their sacrifice has benefitted the next generation and we must be grateful to them. There is a saying coming from the Tamils of Īlam — “The deer that does not run to escape the danger and the ethnic group that does not struggle for its rights, are not known to have survived in history” (Ōṭāta mānum, pōrāṭāta inamum vāḻntatāka varlāru illai.)

(Mr. Himlar P.V. is Mechanical Engineer. Director of Ainthinai Exports and Imports Pvt. Ltd. He enjoys Travelling and Cooking. At present he is the State Youth Wing Coordinator, Nām Thamilar Party and CEO of Thadam Media.)

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