- There is a scholarly consensus that there is a Dravidian family of languages that is distinct from the Aryan family, and that Tamil is the closest to being the proto-Dravidian language.
- The first extant Kannada text is the Halmidi inscription that dates to 450 AD; the first non-inscriptional text is Kavirajamarga, which by the most conservative estimate can't be dated to earlier than the 8th century.
- Therefore in terms of antiquity Tamil is far older. Its inscriptions date to the 3rd century BC, while literary texts go back to about the 1st century BC.
- Tamil is considerably independent from Sanskrit in its vocabulary, grammar and literary tradition—important criteria for consideration as a classical language.
- In contrast there is a scholarly consensus that Kannada literature's largely derivative and owes a considerable debt to Sanskrit.
- Finally, the government's recognition of Tamil as a classical language is only a fait accompli as Tamil already enjoys the status of a classical language in advanced centres of research and universities across the world.
As told to S. Anand in Chennai