Why Names Matter and What is the Problem with Namma School and Makkal ID

Makkal ID & Namma School

The Government of Tamil Nadu recently announced the ‘Namma School‘ (நம்ம School) initiative, with the aim of sourcing support from Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and other donors to finance the construction of government schools. The project is being headed by the Chairman of TVS – Venu Srinivasan and it hopes to leverage the resources of the Tamil diaspora and NRIs to help build the necessary infrastructure for the schools. Tapping into the Tamil and non-resident Indian communities is a great idea.  

Although I had some reservations regarding the chosen name (School), particularly given that the project is prompted by the Tamil Nadu government in Tamil Nadu, what is the need to use School? Would it not be more appropriate to call it Palli or any other name that would resonate more with the local culture? I refrained from voicing my concerns as I felt that the purpose of the project was of greater importance. 

On DailyThanthi, I read a headline about Makkal ID (மக்கள் ஐடி). The Makkal(People) ID is a unique individual identifying system similar to Aadhar, would be made available to all people of the state of Tamil Nadu. For qualified recipients, the distinct ID is meant to facilitate quicker implementation of government schemes. 

Initially, I was confused by the acronym ஐடி, and was wondering what was ஐடி (IT)? – Later came to a realization that it is an ID. This is an alarming pattern and deeply concerning. 

Not sure what is the need to come up with names like this. If this is for marketing, why not embrace Tamil language and explore creative possibilities? I would like to suggest that the authorities reconsider the current naming conventions of these schemes and embrace Tamil and explore the creative possibilities it has to offer. I also humbly request them to ensure that any new scheme that is announced has a Tamil name, in order to make it easier for the people to understand and accept the scheme. This will help to strengthen the way these initiatives are received. This will help the cause and also have better results. 

When it comes to the use of language and diversity, another striking incident that comes to my mind is

Tamil Nadu MP, Kanimozhi struggled to pronounce Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan during the winter session of Lok Sabha. Her comical remark followed on how welfare schemes being named in Hindi were a ‘problem’ for non-Hindi speakers. But her remark brings light upon the fact that Linguistic Inclusivity is often disregarded when naming schemes.

For government schemes, names matter | Deccan Herald

The change should start at the state level. The state authorities need to take significant measures to proliferate the use of regional languages by using it for the official purposes.

The Tamil language is facing serious issues in the modern world, and many individuals are opting to write Tamil using English alphabets. This is a concerning trend that must be addressed, particularly in cities such as Chennai where speaking the Tamil language is often looked down upon in restaurants and other public spaces. It is imperative that the State lead the way in fixing this issue, and that specific measures are taken to ensure the preservation of Tamil culture.

In order to ensure that the Tamil is widely spoken, written and. used, it is essential that the state government takes proactive measures to promote its usage. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to make sure that government initiatives and schemes are given Tamil names to further encourage the people to make use of the language. This will help to promote the language and this is one of the prime responsibility of the State.

Thank you for reading and listening.

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Further reading

Karthik Chidambaram