By Siva Sivapragasam
Canadian Tamil Congress & Tamil Chair Inc. pledge to raise $ 3 million for the Chair in Tamil Studies
”தேமதுர தமிழோசை உலகமெல்லாம் பரவுதல் வேண்டும்” – பாரதியார்
The University of Toronto, one of world’s prestigious Universities and acclaimed as a leading learning institution will soon establish a Tamil Chair to promote the Tamil language, history and culture. Two Tamil community organizations, the Canadian Tamil Congress & Tamil Chair Inc., have pledged to raise $ 3 million for the proposed project.
Tamil Poet Bharathiyar’s dream of spreading the Tami language around the world is now being made a reality. The establishment of a Tamil Chair by the University of Toronto will be the second University in the world to establish a Tamil Chair following the proposed establishment of a Tamil Chair at another world class University,namely the Harvard UniversityinBoston,USA.A sum of $ 6 million was raised throughout the world for the Harvard University Tamil Chair.
A traditional lamp-lighting ceremony kicked off the event recently to raise the funds required for the Tamil Chair when a group of well-wishers from Canada and US gatheredat the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus. A record sum of over $ 600,000 was raised at this event by the 240 guests who attended the function. This is the largest amount ever raised in one event in University history. There is a target of $3 million Canadian required to form the Tamil Chair.
“This commitment to establish a chair in Tamil studies is truly inspiring,” said Professor Bruce Kidd, Vice President of U of T and principal of U of T Scarborough.
“Language is an integral part of Tamil identity,” said Sivan Ilangko, vice-president of the Canadian Tamil Congress and a director of Tamil Chair Inc. “This initiative will not only help the academic advancement of the language, it will help open it up and share it with the rest of the world.”
Tamil is one of the world’s oldest and longest-surviving languages and is spoken by more than 80 million people around the world. Tamil poetry and literature have also existed for more than 2,000 years and comprises large volumes of works. “Among all the classical languages, Tamil has been largely ignored at the university level outside of Asia,” says Dr. Janakiraman, a cardiologist from Pennsylvania who initiated the Harvard Tamil Chair project. “Our goal is to change all that. We want to have a chair at all of the top universities around the world because without an endowment fund to support a chair, it’s difficult for consistent research to take place.”
The pledge from the two community organizations follows two recent gifts made to support Tamil studies at U of T Scarborough by Ravi Gukathasan, a U of T alumnus and Scarborough businessman who donated $2 million in 2017,while Brenda Beck, an adjunct professor in anthropology who donated $327,000 in 2018 to support programming and digital archiving.
Many future events are being planned by the University of Toronto Tamil Chair team to raise the balance funds required for the establishment of the Tamil Chair.The Team is headed by Messrs. A.Muttulingam and Sivan Ilangko.
Tamil is the language of over 80 million people across the world and is rich in content and abundant in literature.
(Photos Courtesy: GanaArumugam)