London-Capital of the Tamil Speaking World (Post No.3907)

Picture taken twenty years ago at SOAS. I am at the right extreme.

Left extreme Dr Singvi, High commissioner of India.

 

Written by London Swaminathan

 

Date: 14 May 2017

 

Time uploaded in London: 13-47

 

Post No. 3907

 

Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.

 

contact: swami_48@yahoo.com

 

Talk by London Swaminathan (Santanam Swaminathan)  at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London on 13th May 2017. It was organised to celebrate the 20th anniversary of installation of Thiruvalluvar statue at the SOAS. I was there twenty years ago and yesterday as well. They invited me to give a talk on the development of Tamil Studies in London. Here is my speech delivered yesterday.

Thiruvalluvar Statue on 13-5-2017 (Twenty years later)

Dear Friends

Good Afternoon and Vanakkam.

Thanks for giving us an opportunity to express our views on the development of Tamil Studies at SOAS.

 

The very fact that Government of India approached SOAS to get some space for the installation of THIRUVALLUVAR statue ( twenty years ago) and the very fact that you readily agreed show us the importance of Tamil .

 

What are the advantages SOAS got over other places?

This is a prestigious institution with a long history of supporting South Asian culture.

It has a huge library with very old Tamil books.

Very near we have got the world famous British Library with a treasure trove of old Tamil books. I have been posting on face book all the 100 year old books for the past two years. And yet I have covered only a fraction of the treasure trove.

This has got a tremendous potential for research.

If a one-eyed person starts describing the beauty of nature and arts, we know that person hasn’t got the full view of the thing he describes.

 

Mother India- Bharat Mata- has got two eyes TAMIL AND SANSKRIT. Sanskrit is available here. We have got a big department. But if Tamil is not taught here SOAS will like a handicapped institution —  a one eyed giant!

 

Tamil is not taught anywhere in the UK universities; it is a black mark on the country which boasts of a multicultural society. But we have Tamil at Cambridge University holding A level O level exams only.

And as I mentioned earlier SOAS is the best place for teaching TAMIL

 

Great Tamil poet Valluvar has inspired generations of Tamil scholars. He is here to inspire us and guide us.

 

(Picture taken by Mrs Manian)

TAMIL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

We know that London is the financial capital of the world. It is in such a time zone it can cover the early morning Hong Kong Tokyo share markets and late evening NY markets. No need to say that it covers all the European markets

Friends,

Let me tell you that London can be the capital of the Tamil speaking world. Now there are over a 100,000 Tamils in the country. Plane loads of Tamil personnel are coming every week to work in computer and other industries. There are over 25 Tamil Hindu Temples, over 130 Tamil organisations and 100 Dance and Music schools in London.

 

They all need help to learn the language. Particularly foreigners who are attracted towards Tamil culture are very keen to learn the language. Everyday British tourists are landing in the airports of Tamil speaking countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Seychelles, South Africa and far away Mauritius, Fiji and Guyana. If we conduct Tamil crash courses or summer school, there will be a good response. In the past they tried without much success because they lacked our support—I mean the community support. If we come together and help SOAS, they can help us in supporting our language.

 

I told you that there are over 30 Tamil week end schools in London alone. last week a Tamil organisation was launched at Chelmsford. The teachers need good training. They need a uniform syllabus. They need a structure and a certificate from a good institution like ours. Here we can play big role

 

london swaminathan now (20 year later)

Do we need a Separate Country?

I used to meet my Sri Lankan solicitor friend for a friendly chat. He was for a separate country for the Tamils. I am against it. One day our conversation turned towards Teaching Tamil. When I told him even languages spoken by lesser number of people have a lecturer and a department here, he asked me why.

I told him  “Are you asking me Why? You they are representing a country”.

Before I finished the sentence, he said, “ Look, that is why are fighting for a separate country”. I was shocked and surprised. I quickly change the topic.

Now my question is, “will Britain and SOAS teach Tamil and honour Tamil only when we divide a country? Doesn’t it look ridiculous?” I don’t want that situation to come.

 

Last week the BBC TamiI Service stopped broadcasting. They recruited me thirty years ago and brought me here on 1st January 1987. Why did they stop? Because there is no more political struggle there.

For them it is politics!

 

Thank You.

B V Bhavan students TIRUKKURAL recitation

 

During Question Time, I told them:

WAY FORWARD!

1.Restart the courses that were stopped.

2.Get teachers from India on secondment like the BBC world service do with the broadcasters.

3.Meet every third month to celebrate some Tamil event to gather and maintain the momentum.

4.Start a movement like Harvard University Tamil Chair movement here.

5.Involve all the Tamils by collecting donation. During the installation of Swami Vivekananda Statue in Kanyakumari, India we took the picture of Swami Vivekananda in Madurai and collected just one rupee to get them involved. We can do that here by distributing Tirukkural or Tiruvalluvar picture and get them involved.

 

Unhelpful attitude and Poaching

When I answered another question, I mentioned, “We have funding available at SOAS. Tamil was taught for over twenty years. I had been teaching here for 20 years. That funding is still there. Only because of the unhelpful attitude of the people at SOAS, Tamil is dead. Nepalese, Singhalese, Burmese are spoken by half of the population of Tamils in the world. But because they had lecturers appointed with big fat salary they pushed all the students toward learning those languages. It is called poaching (only when my Professor mentioned it after he left the SOAS, I came to know about it). Last four or five students were sent to me at the last minute and they were struggling like rudderless ships because they must sign the papers and give that evening. I told them to do what they think right because I did not want to spoil the future of the students. Unless we get five students we cant run the course. And I was not able to give them assurance because there were only four students and that too at the last minute. That is how the Tamil language was made to die.

Following points were in my speech but I read them the topics and I couldn’t deliver it for lack of time. Along with me three others spoke about Tamil teaching

Praticipants:-

Dr Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS (Chair)

Prof.Michael Hutt,SOAS

Mr Suresh Kumar, Tamil Reading Group, Ealing Rd Library

Mr Kuttiandysamy, London Tamil Sangam

Mr Santanam Swaminathan, formerly BBC Tamil Service and SOAS

Dr Chandramohan Balasubramaniam, SOAS, presented a Video. He was the main organiser of the event.

 

Tamil Training

My friend Dr Kalyanasundram of Project Madurai, based in Switzerland conducted a training course for the European Tamil Teachers. He asked me to organise a training course for UK based Tamil teachers. We can do that here.

Tamils are more in number than the Nepalese Singhalese and Burmese taught here. History wise it is one of the oldest and richest languages. If we don’t teach Tamil here it there will be a big vacuum.

—Subham–

 

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