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Posting in Tamil Nation mid 98

"My response to the quest (for hundred Tamils) is as follows. In such a quest it is easy to be swept off the ground according to the immediate environment and the current consciousness in vogue. The nominees have to stand the test of time in our assessment of their work and a vision that surpasses current pressures. The hundred, by their commitment and personal example should have imparted a sense of confidence and a shift in paradigm or consciousness of the people. Such a shift should be an upward movement. In doing this, they should have put themselves to the test as well. This leads me to people who have cleared the way for better understanding of human nature and will be and are releasing untapped potential....

The other problem is "how much of a Tamil, these gentle persons should be?" and then if we go back to texts that form the fountain of Tamil culture, we may be surprised to find that most of the sources have deep origins beyond an identity that we have now formed and call Tamil. What will be Tamil togetherness over the next 10 years?

May I suggest that a criteria be drawn up if this list is to be widely respected over a period of time.?... The history of a bigger Tamil nation in the late last century and present century and how the historical challenges were met by the community may be the underlying theme here. In the context of these issues, how these individuals grappled to resolve them with integrity and commitment may be a good common factor to introducing their work. This way, the readers can be walked through the history at many levels.

From this point of view, EVR Periyar for social justice is a valid candidate. The movement was a historical necessity. Similarly the name of a staunch Tamilian Congressman would be in order. This could be Rajaji. EVR & Rajaji were complimentary really. S.J.V Chelvanayakam for Sri Lankan Tamil political awakening. The leader of the estate Tamils who stood for their emancipation is required .... I think Thondaman may be suggested here. Rudramoorthy (Mahakavi) is the representative voice of middle class, who had known its short comings but could only voice it....

We live on many levels and should acknowledge this. I accept that a change of perception of Tamil politics took place with the armed movement. They stood for something for which they were prepared to die. This is a definite turning point in attitude. No history will be complete without the foremost leaders of this calibre.

In dealing with Indian names we have to be and we can be more objective. That is understanding the necessity of the DMK movement and also realising its shortcomings. It has reached a philosophical cul-de sac after 35 years in power. It would be a good thing to steer away from the classic Brahmin-non Brahmin divide. Just as much as EVR was a tireless atheist, Kanchi Sankarachariyar was a versatile and revered figure on the other side so to speak. His writ was running independently and unhampered throughout Tamil Nadu at all levels...

Among literary figures, T. Jayakanthan deserves mention. There are other stalwarts (some of them better creative artistes) but he stood for something in the conscience of the middle class.... Other names are Ramana Maharishi, Yogaswamy, U V Swaminatha Iyer, Maha Kavi Bharathiyar, Sir CV Raman, Ramanujan, C. S. Chandrasehkar"

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From New Zealand: C.Kumarabharathy writes: ( 19 98)

The initial list can be considered as an exercise in consolidating opinion on the nominees and arriving at a consensus. Thereafter a finalisation could be made on a representative basis. But the list upto now I see will gain very wide acceptance. This is really an exercise in getting to the roots. If the process is articulated/elaborated it could have educational value for future. We must bear in mind that this is being carried out at a time when Tamil society is in a state of search on many fronts, perhaps the most appropriate time for evaluating history. The lack of well set ways and security spurs earnestness.

What the future generations will need in time are role models. Being in some sort of contact with people who could appeal to them as behavioural role models is probably the only way a " middle class" can shed its self centeredness in stages. The bottom line really is this and then culture can look after itself. In fact then 're culturing' will happen as a matter of course. This is not likely to happen in any dramatic fashion but a certain movement away from the main stream of consumerism etc is the most crucial for expats. As it is it is difficult to have objective discussions on issues simply because we are not used to it. Being honestly aware of the fact that we are materialistic will help to a great extent.


Gnana K Bharathy writes: ( December 98)

" I browsed Tamilnation after several months and I am glad it has been updated with new contents. I am writing this from one of the cyber booths proliferating the city (Chennai). It is humid and hot here. The other booths are crowded with boys (school uniform). As I write sounds emanate from the adjoining booths - four students per booth are trying out some hot site!

This would be an appropriate point of time to sum up the contribution of Tamilnation's (TN) contribution and its potential. TN is a one man crusade essentially. This website effort is directed to achieve "a growing togetherness" among millions of Tamils scattered all over the globe, spanning the seven seas and continents. The important contribution at this formative stages being the creation of the concept (of togetherness) itself. The concept of togetherness in a diverse environment. "Togetherness" is not a static state. It is a continuously evolving concept that has to be consciously nurtured. The website should be a medium for communicating experiences that are mutually satisfying . Thus it has to include the intellectual emotional and spiritual aspirations of a large body of participants.

These participants exist (and thrive/suffer) in diverse universes.The backdrop is of diverse social and economic environment. Moreover, they come with an "extra luggage" of experiences. Needless to say, the "back home" experiences of Sri Lankan Tamils (SLT) have been traumatic. We do not like to makeup these horror stories. But they happen to our kith and kin and these come uninvited and prowl in our consciousness. This fact should be recognised.

But we have to live and dream. Hence the need to express ourselves. The common factor we have is called "Tamil". The word "Tamil" can be expanded to cover a whole matrix of things. For people to express themselves, a common platform which prompts them is necessary. I think Tamilnation has achieved this status. It is not important that we should agree, but it is important we should communicate in a civilised and dignified way. This is a rare feature among Sri Lanka Tamil (SLT) web efforts. I think the project "One hundred Tamils" is notable in bringing people together. Unlike the political outpourings, which have become a second nature- a conditioned reflex, this forum requires people to think deeper into future and past issues.

A society which is informed on various aspects of the human condition, is better equipped to meet the challenges, for whatever purpose they may be directed to. This might even appear to be unrelated to our immediate needs or might even appear to be contradictory to our popular consciousness but truth has a way of finding its target more accurately than our conditioned reflexes and thought processes. In certain instances we have to take a step back and see the ground. My observation is that TN should attract more Indian Tamil (IT)expatriates.This kind of interaction might result in creative dialogues.

While both groups ( SLT & IT) suffer similar alienation problems, the IT perception is that they have a culture back home to go back to. I am amazed at the number of Websites dedicated to cinema stars done by IT expats. The energies of people skilled in high tech are being poured into these ventures. We do not ask deeper questions and are foot loose in a consumer society. As a people who belong to a linguistic and cultural background with lot in common, there is a need to interact - interact not only on social one to one level, which we anyhow do, but 'institutionally'.

As for SLTamils, politics aside, Tamil Nadu has become an important destination. It is not only the cinema,spice & silk route, but also it is a sort of surrogate mother land. Increasingly we are depending on Tamil Nadu for cultural & spiritual support - be it at the profound level of say, Carnatic music or at the banal level of film world. Our cultural life is dominated by videos and audios of Chennai, not withstanding the political love-hate relationships. There has been no discernible separate SLT identity ( not that I am promoting one), other than successfully keeping out IT from our sangams and Tamil societies. I grant that the style of operation of Tamil societies have a strong Jaffna flavour.

I said earlier about having to ask deep questions. The sources of culture in Tamil Nadu is drying out. The scene in both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu are dismal in their own ways. After four decades of Dravidian parties' rule, at last we have arrived. A peculiar Dravidian brand of irrationality ( this is a subset of verbal Rationalism) and superstition has been permanently enthroned. This is deep rooted and is reflected in the style of governance and internal party rivalries. These are feudal to the core.

The words and terms used in the governing process are not only pre colonial semantically but by repeated process of party rituals (Perani, Mahanadu),and by the public behaviour of leaders and followers, these words have acquired a meaning. The meaning is unambiguously feudal. These have been re-enacted and elaborated publicly to give substance to the style of the governing process. This goes far beyond the use of Tamil as an official language- which is understandable. It is difficult to distinguish between political machinery and state bureaucratic machinery. It is seamless. The IPS IAS are now fully integrated into the governing system. The only hope is that not only middle class but traditional vote banks (poor) now watch helplessly (instead of enthusiastic participation of golden years)as the parties make the entire Tamil Nadu a playground to enact their party rituals ( Thoranam Valaivu, Perani). The time has come for us to think on our 'own'. Seeing what is happening in Tamil Nadu, my perception of Tamil culture has changed. The situation makes one to 'unbelieve' everything we think of as sublime in Tamil culture.

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" Wise man points his fingers at the moon and the fool looks at the finger "- Zen saying

Mail Author: C Kumara Bharathy