At an IIT Madras event on Monday which was attended by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister of State Pon Radhakrishnan, the IIT students sang a Sanskrit song Maha Ganapathim, by late poet Muthuswami Dikshithar. This song was sung at the start of a foundation stone laying ceremony for setting up of a National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts, at the institute.
This act of singing a Sanskrit song though has angered various Tamil Nadu politicians, who called it a Sanskrit and Hindi imposition. DMK’s working president MK Stalin asked the centre to stop infringing upon the cultural identity of Tamils and Tamil Nadu. He also questioned why Tamizhthai Vazthu the Tamil anthem was not played. To take things a step further he called the act of singing a Sanskrit song as a “deliberate bid to sideline Tamil in the centrally-funded secular institute of higher learning”.
CPI(M)’s state secretary K Balakrishnan too condemned this act and called it another form of imposing Hindi and Sanskrit. PMK leader S Ramadoss in light if the matter has decided to demand that the Tamil anthem is made mandatory at all functions in IIT Madras. MDMK leader Vaiko alleged that “they” are trying to destroy all languages and cultures, and are imposing their idea of Hindi and Hindu Rashtra”.
While the shrill outcry of Tamil politicians was in full flow, IIT Madras’s director Ramamurthy came out to publicly defend the student’s actions. He stated that being an engineering college they don’t have any trained music team and generally ask students to voluntarily sing the invocation songs.
Hence had Tamil students sung the song it would have been in Tamil, and so on had the students been from Maharashtra or Bengal. There is no set instruction from either the institute or the authorities regarding which song should be sung.
As a result of this statement by the IIT director, it can be inferred that unlike the allegations by the Tamil politicians, there was no conscious effort to “impose” Sanskrit at the cost of Tamil, and the song was merely a choice of the students.
Even though IIT Madras is a very premier and exclusive institute to impart technical education, it has in recent days started to be infested with local and parochial politics.
The institute was riddled with the whole beef debate back in May 2017 when members of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle were known to have organised a beef festival, which resulted in a controversy.
In 2016 it was noted that well-known defence analyst Major General G.D. Bakshi was heckled by a bunch of leftist and Kashmiri students while he was at IIT Madras to give a speech.