Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Tamil culture and language during a speech at the UN General Assembly, following backlash after India's Home Minister, Amit Shah, had frequently called for Hindi to be the national language of India.
This speech by Modi in which he praises Tamil history, culture, and language, follows a proposed controversial bill which would have imposed Hindi as a mandatory language which was received with strong opposition from Tamil Nadu.
"When I spoke in Tamil in the US and about the heritage of the Tamil language, it was received well and is now reverberating across the US," Modi told BJP supporters in Chennai. "When I addressed the people in the US, I learnt that Tamil is a rich and diverse language."
In response to his visit, grass-roots activists launched a social media campaign against Modi. On Twitter users posted the hashtag #GoBackModi which became a trending post and reached at least 76,300 tweets.
Former Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan, congratulated Modi on his statement maintaining he was the first Prime Minister to pay Tamil proper respect on an international stage. “He spoke about Tamil on the world stage at the UN," said Radhakrishnan. "No other Prime Minister has given so much recognition to Tamil on the world stage,”
“The PM himself is recognising Tamil’s rich history. This is the time for all of us to forcefully speak about the language’s history. Tamil scholars have to thank the PM, and I would say that the Assembly should pass a resolution thanking him.”
BJP leaders have insisted that his statements were not political, which was reinforced by Radhakrishnan who stated: “The Tamil Nadu government should take this forward without politicising it.”