From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Tamil Thai Vaazhthu
Mains level : Read the attached story
The Tamil Nadu Government has declared the Tamil Thai Vaazhthu as State Song.
The decision came after the Madras High Court ruling that there is no statutory or executive order requiring the attendees to stand up when Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is sung.
Tamil Thai Vaazhthu
- A part of the verses under the title ‘Tamil Dheiva Vanakkam’ from Manonmaniam, penned by Manonmaniam Sundaranar and published in 1891, eventually came to be known as the Tamil Thai Vaazhthu.
- In 1913, the annual report of the Karanthai Tamil Sangam made the demand for singing the song at all functions.
- The Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is being sung at Karanthai Tamil Sangam since 1914.
- It is also being sung at all Tamil Sangams associated with the Karanthai Tamil Sangam.
- The Karanthai Tamil Sangam had appealed to the then Chief Minister, C.N. Annadurai, to declare Tamil Thai Vaazhthu the State song.
What was the Madras HC observation?
- There is no statutory or executive order requiring attendees to stand up when it was being sung.
- The court, however, ruled that Tamil Thai Vaazhthu “is a prayer song and not an Anthem”.
- While the “highest reverence and respect ought to be shown”, it was not necessary to stand for it.
- The song is sung at the commencement (and not at the end) of all functions organized by government departments, local bodies and educational institutions.
What about National Anthem?
- In the Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala (1986) Case, the Supreme Court ordered the readmission to school of three children who had been expelled for refusing to sing the national anthem.
- It was then noted by the SC that there is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem.
- Again, the Supreme Court had, in Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India (2017), directed that all cinema halls shall play the national anthem before the film and all present are obliged to stand.
What is the state directive?
- TN CM has issued a directive that everyone who is present during the rendition of the song, barring differently-abled persons, should remain standing.
- The song should compulsorily be sung at the beginning of events organized by all educational institutions, government offices and public sector undertakings, among other public organizations.
- The song should be sung in 55 seconds in Mullaipaani Ragam (Mohana Raagam) in the thisra thaalaa.
- At public functions, the playing of the song with musical instruments/recordings is to be avoided, and trained singers should sing it.
Point of discussion: Is it a case of Sub-nationalism?
- There has been an intensification of sub-nationalism in India by highlighting the greatness of their state, language or historical state icons.
- This pride has, at times, led to unimaginable actions. The latest issue of contention was regarding a separate State flag for Karnataka.
- India also witnesses shocking developments showing the ugly face of provincialism in the North-East.
Issues with such tendencies
- Overambitious aspirations: As much as it is a matter of pride it remains a matter of concern when regional aspirations become too strong.
- Secessionist tendencies: India has already faced partition due to rising religious motives and has been plagued by secessionism in J&K and Nagaland based on regional identities.
- National Unity: It can be argued that subnationalism emphasizes aggressively on its regional identities then it can break the sensitive thread through which India remains a nation.
- Communalism: It should be critically studied that whether the state’s assertions are to freely exercise their own culture and language or to belittle and suppress others.
Affirmations to offer
- Pluralism: An optimistic view emerges which characterizes subnationalism as the strength of a multi-cultural nation such as India.
- Socio-economic solidarity: Subnationalism encourages social development as the level of solidarity is high in a state under such motives of state song, flag etc.
- Unification: State symbols means that a region becomes more and more homogenous and dedicated for welfare under cultural and linguistic symbolization.
- As long as subnationalism is not secessionist in nature or is aimed towards other communities, it might become a positive force in India.
- It will help in re-establishing the nature of the pluralistic society of India amidst the growing manufactured rhetoric of nationalism being falsely related exclusively with religious nationality.