A flag for the global Tamil community
A flag represents so many things. It may represent an idea, a brand, a sports team, an organization, a community or a nation. Flags have been used by human societies from ancient times. Today apart from our tri color Indian National flag, all major political parties have their own flags. Two Indian states – Karnataka and Kashmir have their own flags. In countries like the USA, apart from the 50 states, even the Native Indian Tribes have their own flags.
State flags flown along with the National flag gives a sense of unity and freedom. It is also a symbolic representation of how big and diverse a nation is. While states have their own flags, what about trans-national communities?. Communities that span across nations and geographies? Communities that share a common identity by means of language, religion or a philosophy.The Tamil identity is today a global one. Tamils are integral part of several nations across the globe. They form a considerable group controlling the politics of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. The present stalemate and political turmoil in Sri Lanka has caused serious concerns and grievances for many Tamils across the world. The political situation in India and the inability of Tamils in India, Malaysia and Singapore to prevent the large scale killing of Tamil civilians during the war in Sri Lanka has caused a sense of urgency among Tamils to create an umbrella group that will work with various government and non government organizations to protect their lives and properties not just in Sri Lanka but where ever they live.
The Sri Lankan civil war has changed the perception of politics for several Tamils in India. The Congress leaderships hatred towards LTTE was successfully manipulated by the Rajapakse regime to massacre 40,000 Tamils. While the ruling DMK alliance in the state of Tamil Nadu negotiated good portfolios from the Congress government in return to turning a blind eye to the massacre in Sri Lanka, they deployed all possible constitutional and non constitutional means to black out the protests by various groups in Tamil Nadu. The Tamils of India bore witness to grave crimes towards humanity committed in Sri Lanka. The Congress-DMK political alliance successfully downplayed all the public outcry and protests to stop the carnage during 2009.
Despite all the blackouts, several Western and Indian media have successfully exposed the horror. Several Tamil books have been released detailing the scale of the state sponsored violence and massacres in Sri Lanka. The horrific Tamil genocide in May 2009 has not only shaken the minds of Sri Lankan Tamils, but has also melted the hearts of the Tamils in India, Malaysia and Singapore.
While restoring the freedom and safety of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka is still a political challenge, what the Tamils realize across the globe is the need to have a global network of legal organizations that can effectively neutralize the high-jacking of Tamil interests by political groups and lobbyists that operate for petty personal gains.
Creation of an International flag for Tamils and their language could possibly be a next move of the Tamils spread around the world.
While each community takes pride of some unique aspects of theirs, the Tamils take pride of their language because of its rich literature – both ancient and contemporary. During the 60’s and 70’s the Tamils in India vehemently protested the three language policy. The adoption of English as the link language not only solved the language problem but propelled the state towards economic growth and prosperity. Today several other Indian states are actively pursuing adoption of English as a link language to get on the wagon of economic progress.
While several Indian states are gearing to fight against petty schemes to promote one language over the other and one community at the cost of other, Indian Tamils have focused on building a strong self sustaining economy. They replied to Bollywood with Kollywood which has now gained international repute. The Tamil Diaspora have expanded the market for Tamil movies to be a global one. The Tamil entertainment industry has also matured into a well organized and innovative industry attracting talents from all corners of the world. Today the South of India has become the business and economic hub of the nation with Chennai playing a major role in Automobile and Information Technology sectors. The threat posed by Hindi imposition and cultural overpowering by the Hindi belt has been opposed fiercely by a collective effort.
Tamil flag is nothing new to the Tamils. Only since Tamils lost their land to foreign invaders, Tamils did not have a flag. After independence from the British rule and after Tamil land came into the control of Indian government, Tamils did not have a flag of their own. Prior to the British Raj, Tamils were ruled by mighty empires like the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas. These three dynasties had their own flags carrying emblems such as Bow & Arrow, Tiger and Fish respectively. These dynasties never failed to nurture Tamil language and culture regardless of their enmity amongst themselves. After the defeat of these Tamil dynasties, for centuries Tamils did not have their own flag. Tamils in India have almost forgotten about their history and pride as they are overshadowed by the Indian identity.
The Eelam Tamils on the other hand were brave enough to safe guard their identity by creating their own flag with Tiger emblem under the leadership of Prabakaran. However, Tamil Eelam flag only represents the people of Tamil Eelam and their homeland in Sri Lanka. It does not represent the Tamils of India, Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji and Americas.
A common Tamil flag should represent Indian Tamils, Sri Lankan Tamils, Malaysian Tamils and Tamils of any country in the world. Formation of Tamil flag will definitely unite all Tamils of the world and give them a feeling of togetherness. The government of Tamil Nadu has a greater role to play in attesting this Tamil flag.
It is high time that Tamil leaders, Tamil political parties, Tamil poets and the Tamil people think and create a Tamil flag. Also this flag will be a symbol of pride, uniqueness and greatness of Tamil language and culture which has survived thousands of years. Unlike religion, mother tongue is not taken by choice, it is a gift of nature. So it is the duty of every man to protect it.
‘Let all living beings share joy and be delighted’ – Saint Vallalar