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'Vaazhga Tamil Nadu': Why Governor RN Ravi Omitting Speech Bits Led to a Storm

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi left out key parts of his speech in the state Assembly. Why?

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Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has once again landed in the eye of a political storm, this time for omitting some sections from a speech he made in the state Assembly on Monday, 9 January. Ravi cut short the speech, the text of which the state government, as per convention, had given him, to exclude some key points.

This led to TN Chief Minister MK Stalin moving a resolution against Ravi in the Assembly and the Governor leaving the venue amid protests.

But the controversy began when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the party's allies led a protest, before the session began, against Ravi favouring the term 'Thamizhagam' or 'Tamilagam' instead of Tamil Nadu to refer to the state at an event hosted at Raj Bhavan on 4 January.

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi left out key parts of his speech in the state Assembly. Why?

Governor RN Ravi at a public event.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint) 

The House reverberated with the slogan 'Vaazhga Tamil Nadu' or 'Long Live Tamil Nadu' as Ravi left in a huff on Monday.

What's the difference between Thamizhagam and Tamil Nadu? What did the Governor omit from his assigned speech and why? Here's all you need to know.

'Vaazhga Tamil Nadu': Why Governor RN Ravi Omitting Speech Bits Led to a Storm

  1. 1. What's Thamizhagam vs Tamil Nadu Controversy?

    On 9 January as the TN Assembly convened for the first session this year, what seemed to be the most heated topic was a remark that Governor RN Ravi made on 4 January.

    At an event organised to felicitate volunteers of Kashi Tamil Sangamam, Ravi said:

    "Thamizhagam would be a more appropriate word to call the state (Tamil Nadu)...There has been regressive politics with the wrong habit of refusing everything that benefits all sections of people including academicians blindly for their own interests, claiming that the state is not integrally part of India."
    RN Ravi, as reported by PTI.

    While Tamil Nadu is a linguistic state, formed to represent the Tamil speaking people, the Dravidian movement which took root in the state had always upheld Tamil people's autonomy. Here, the word 'Nadu' meaning 'Land' often stood for an autonomous region, and not always a state, imagined as one having Dravidian identity, which later got defined as Tamil identity.

    The successive governments in the state too foregrounded the federal structure of India, which awards autonomy to states.

    Hence, the Governor's suggestion to replace Tamil Nadu with Tamizhagam was interpreted, by his detractors, as an attempt to erase Tamil identity which Tamil Nadu's stalwart social and political leaders including 'Periyar' EV Ramasamy and DMK's CN Annadurai had upheld. On Monday, DMK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and Congress protested demanding Ravi to retract his 'Thamizhagam' remark.

    But there was more to come.

    Expand
  2. 2. What Did RN Ravi Omit From His Speech?

    Ignoring protests, Ravi went on to read the speech which the DMK government had provided him. As per the House convention, the Governor's address is provided by the State government. The speech often dwells on the state government's achievements and the status of welfare measures in the state.

    Ravi, however, went on to omit some parts of the speech. What did he leave out?

    • Ravi omitted an entire section on the Dravidian model of good governance.

      The omitted bits read:

    1. "Today, it (Tamil Nadu) stands tall as a leader among all states. This is primarily due to the model of good governance built on the pillars of social justice, equality, self respect and rational thinking."

    2. "The government will continue to march with vigour on the path of this Dravidian model of development which has ensured the welfare and empowerment of suppressed, marginalised, and backward sections of the society."

    • Ravi omitted a section about CM MK Stalin's achievements.

      The left out bits read:

    1. "Tamil Nadu has been adjusted as the best performing big state in India...This award is a testimony to the dynamic leadership of our Honourable CM and Dravidian model of development, which is founded on the tenets of social justice and inclusive growth."

    2. "I (Governor) would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the government of Tamil Nadu for the remarkable feat."

    • Ravi also omitted a section on Periyar, BR Ambedkar, and Annadurai.

      The left out bit was:

    1. "Following the principles and ideals of stalwarts like Thanthai Periyar, Annal Ambedkar, Perunthalaivar Kamrajar, Perarignar Anna and Muthamizh Arignar Kalaignar, this government has been delivering the much acclaimed Dravidian model of governance to its people."

    Why are these omissions controversial?

    Expand
  3. 3. Not the First Time: Why Is the Omission Controversial?

    RN Ravi has been at loggerheads with the state government for almost a year, with the Governor refusing to sign around 20 bills passed by the Assembly. On Monday, slogans were raised against the Governor for not signing a bill on online gaming, which is considered one of the least controversial of legislations.

    The Governor's apathy had led to a constitutional stalemate with the state government accusing Ravi of using his Constitutional office to further the political agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    The Governor's omission of sections on Dravidian model should be looked at in the context of his other controversial statements, which were considered a direct affront to the Tamil identity.

    What other political statements did Ravi make?

    In June 2022, RN Ravi went on to speak about 'Sanatana Dharma.' He said:

    "Worship of Ayyappa is Rashtra Seva (service to the nation), because the country was created by Rishis (sages) who relied on the truth enshrined in the Vedas. This truth is Sanatana Dharma."

    The statement was considered communal, as DMK leaders accused Ravi of erasing the multicultural ethos of not just India but also Tamil Nadu.

    In August 2022, Ravi went on to say ancient text Thirukkural was "de-spiritualised" by Christian missionaries who translated the Tamil text to English. He said:

    "While translating Thirukkural, the colonial objective was to trivialise the spiritual wisdom of India."

    This was again considered a polarising statement, with DMK leaders insisting that Ravi was no authority on Thirukkural.

    His statements on the Vedas, Sanatana Dharma and Thirukkural, were also considered to be in line with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) understanding of Tamil history. Several DMK leaders accused Ravi of being an 'RSS man in Raj Bhavan.'

    With the DMK often pitting itself against the RSS and the BJP, accusing the outfits of being "anti-Tamil,' the Governor's conduct was considered the saffron party's way of getting back at the regional parties in TN. In Tamil Nadu, the BJP had earlier formed an alliance with the DMK's regional rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

    On Monday, the slogan 'Vaazhaga Tamil Nadu' of DMK leaders met with 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' shouts of the BJP leaders. The AIADMK has not issued a statement on the controversy yet. On Tuesday, 10 January, the trend #GetOutRavi took over Twitter.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What's Thamizhagam vs Tamil Nadu Controversy?

On 9 January as the TN Assembly convened for the first session this year, what seemed to be the most heated topic was a remark that Governor RN Ravi made on 4 January.

At an event organised to felicitate volunteers of Kashi Tamil Sangamam, Ravi said:

"Thamizhagam would be a more appropriate word to call the state (Tamil Nadu)...There has been regressive politics with the wrong habit of refusing everything that benefits all sections of people including academicians blindly for their own interests, claiming that the state is not integrally part of India."
RN Ravi, as reported by PTI.

While Tamil Nadu is a linguistic state, formed to represent the Tamil speaking people, the Dravidian movement which took root in the state had always upheld Tamil people's autonomy. Here, the word 'Nadu' meaning 'Land' often stood for an autonomous region, and not always a state, imagined as one having Dravidian identity, which later got defined as Tamil identity.

The successive governments in the state too foregrounded the federal structure of India, which awards autonomy to states.

Hence, the Governor's suggestion to replace Tamil Nadu with Tamizhagam was interpreted, by his detractors, as an attempt to erase Tamil identity which Tamil Nadu's stalwart social and political leaders including 'Periyar' EV Ramasamy and DMK's CN Annadurai had upheld. On Monday, DMK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and Congress protested demanding Ravi to retract his 'Thamizhagam' remark.

But there was more to come.

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What Did RN Ravi Omit From His Speech?

Ignoring protests, Ravi went on to read the speech which the DMK government had provided him. As per the House convention, the Governor's address is provided by the State government. The speech often dwells on the state government's achievements and the status of welfare measures in the state.

Ravi, however, went on to omit some parts of the speech. What did he leave out?

  • Ravi omitted an entire section on the Dravidian model of good governance.

    The omitted bits read:

  1. "Today, it (Tamil Nadu) stands tall as a leader among all states. This is primarily due to the model of good governance built on the pillars of social justice, equality, self respect and rational thinking."

  2. "The government will continue to march with vigour on the path of this Dravidian model of development which has ensured the welfare and empowerment of suppressed, marginalised, and backward sections of the society."

  • Ravi omitted a section about CM MK Stalin's achievements.

    The left out bits read:

  1. "Tamil Nadu has been adjusted as the best performing big state in India...This award is a testimony to the dynamic leadership of our Honourable CM and Dravidian model of development, which is founded on the tenets of social justice and inclusive growth."

  2. "I (Governor) would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the government of Tamil Nadu for the remarkable feat."

  • Ravi also omitted a section on Periyar, BR Ambedkar, and Annadurai.

    The left out bit was:

  1. "Following the principles and ideals of stalwarts like Thanthai Periyar, Annal Ambedkar, Perunthalaivar Kamrajar, Perarignar Anna and Muthamizh Arignar Kalaignar, this government has been delivering the much acclaimed Dravidian model of governance to its people."

Why are these omissions controversial?

Not the First Time: Why Is the Omission Controversial?

RN Ravi has been at loggerheads with the state government for almost a year, with the Governor refusing to sign around 20 bills passed by the Assembly. On Monday, slogans were raised against the Governor for not signing a bill on online gaming, which is considered one of the least controversial of legislations.

The Governor's apathy had led to a constitutional stalemate with the state government accusing Ravi of using his Constitutional office to further the political agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Governor's omission of sections on Dravidian model should be looked at in the context of his other controversial statements, which were considered a direct affront to the Tamil identity.

What other political statements did Ravi make?

In June 2022, RN Ravi went on to speak about 'Sanatana Dharma.' He said:

"Worship of Ayyappa is Rashtra Seva (service to the nation), because the country was created by Rishis (sages) who relied on the truth enshrined in the Vedas. This truth is Sanatana Dharma."

The statement was considered communal, as DMK leaders accused Ravi of erasing the multicultural ethos of not just India but also Tamil Nadu.

In August 2022, Ravi went on to say ancient text Thirukkural was "de-spiritualised" by Christian missionaries who translated the Tamil text to English. He said:

"While translating Thirukkural, the colonial objective was to trivialise the spiritual wisdom of India."

This was again considered a polarising statement, with DMK leaders insisting that Ravi was no authority on Thirukkural.

His statements on the Vedas, Sanatana Dharma and Thirukkural, were also considered to be in line with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) understanding of Tamil history. Several DMK leaders accused Ravi of being an 'RSS man in Raj Bhavan.'

With the DMK often pitting itself against the RSS and the BJP, accusing the outfits of being "anti-Tamil,' the Governor's conduct was considered the saffron party's way of getting back at the regional parties in TN. In Tamil Nadu, the BJP had earlier formed an alliance with the DMK's regional rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

On Monday, the slogan 'Vaazhaga Tamil Nadu' of DMK leaders met with 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' shouts of the BJP leaders. The AIADMK has not issued a statement on the controversy yet. On Tuesday, 10 January, the trend #GetOutRavi took over Twitter.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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