The Tenth World Tamil Conference is not far gone and the development comes after a twitter user @KRS put out on his Twitter handle that the world’s largest Aeronautics and Space Administration should include Tamil as a means of instruction (written communication) on its space telescope. The organisation was quick to respond. It said, “Hi there, could you email us at email@example.com? We’d love to add Tamil. Thank you!”
Even as recently as December 2018, amongst millions of entries that were sent in for NASA’s new international commercial crew calendar for 2019, Thenmukilan, a class 8 student from Palani, was selected. NASA has displayed an affinity and acknowledgment towards the Tamil language and its people.
Speaking of NASA’s tweet expressing their willingness to add Tamil to their learning notes, Ravikumar, Member of Parliament from Villupuram constituency and a noted Tamil writer, points out, “It is a good move by the organisation. As far as our country is concerned, I demand that Tamil and other languages included in the eighth schedule should be made official languages of central government. Tamil Nadu Assembly has already passed a resolution asking the Centre to declare Tamil as administrative language of Madras High Court. A resolution passed in TN Assembly on Jan 23, 1968 asking the Centre to accord official language status to Tamil is still pending. Only including Tamil in the RRB examinations in not enough.”
Renonwed educationist P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu, who is also General Secretary, State Platform for Common School System, enthusiastically said, “There are many Tamilians spread all across the globe, not just in India. An international space station considering having an Indian language, that also our very own Tamil, included in their programme is only going to instill more confidence in the people who speak the language. Be proud of your mother tongue. Often there is a need for people moving internationally for jobs to learn a different language. But with Tamil being given this prominence it builds a sense of confidence and pride in people moving out for jobs too.”
Biochemist and pharmaceutical scientist Dr Uma Ramachandran, who is also well-versed in general science, tells DC, “Given that the Indian population is quite sizeable and the Tamil language being so widely spoken, NASA may be taking this opportunity to cater to the demands of the natives. That aside, nowadays it’s just a matter of press of a button to get a language translated, with the emergence of translation apps and the like. The official languages of the United Nations include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. And now an international space station considering including Tamil is a happy news. In this context, let us remember the two kids from Tamil Nadu who won NASA’s commercial crew programme calendar Art contest and the 18-year-old Sharook’s project made it through the competition ‘Cubes in Space’ which was a collaboration between NASA and I Doodle Learning.”
Divyansh Upadhyay, a former civil engineering student of IIT-Madras, has another perspective. “ Another regional Indian language finding a representation at NASA will only uphold the diversity that our country is all about. Inclusion is an important aspect I see in this and I am proud as a citizen of India.”
However, the news has also garnered mixed reactions. Suresh Dhas, a former professor of the Madras Christian College who has a totally different perspective, says, “Where is the need to have the language inclusion in their programmes at all? When coding is done in English, I do not see any significance in including an Indian language here. What purpose does it serve,” he questions.