Tamilnadu, Tamil language and India

Tamilnadu, like the other southern states of India, has been witnessing a slower growth in population than the rest of India. The result is that Tamilnadu’s population according to 2001 census accounts for only 6.04% of the country’s, down from 8.34% in 1951 census.

The number of Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) seats are based on the population of the state. Accordingly 46 seats were allotted to Madras (former name of Tamilnadu) state for the first Lok Sabha (1952-57). Subsequently, due to slower growth rate of population the number of seats allotted to Tamilnadu came down from 46 to 42, 41, 40 and finally to 39 which is 7.18% of the total number of seats in Lok Sabha. By now it would have come down to 32, but for an amendment to the constitution in 1976 to freeze the number of seats on the basis of 1971 census. But the period for which the seats were frozen is being extended and sooner or later, the demand for lifting the freeze, by an amendment of the constitution would come. Tamilnadu would finally get only around 6% of the total, which is 32. This may keep on decreasing as the time passes.

Till recently, Tamilnadu used to be treated as a major state and its views used to carry weight in the central government. If the population of the state and the number of MPs from the state is reduced, will Tamilnadu be continued to be counted as a major state?

Tamil is the 5th important language in India, in terms of the number of speakers. However, the share of Tamil speakers in the total population has come down from 6.88% in 1971 to 5.91% in 2001. It appears that the declining trend may continue particularly because of low population growth in Tamilnadu and the Tamil people’s preference to mix foreign words in their language. The 2001 census shows that the population growth in Tamilnadu was second lowest at 11% against national average of 21%. Despite its classical status, people around the world may not continue to regard Tamil as the “world’s oldest living language.”


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