Friday, 31 January 2014

Remembering the Bringer of Sweet Siruvani Water

C.S. Rathina Sabapathy Mudhaliar

For the present day Coimbatoreans, it is unimaginable to come across a patch of vacant land in R.S. Puram, which is a posh residential and busy commercial area in the city now. But, several decades ago, people were hardly ready to purchase residential plots there, as they feared that the place was highly unsuitable for human habitation!

Throwing light on this and various other aspects in Coimbatore’s history, Arangasamy, a literature and history enthusiast said:
“When I was a boy, I have seen announcements being made on megaphone inviting people to buy plots at cheaper rates in R.S. Puram”

 Arangasamy addressed on the title “The Contributions of C.S. Rathina Sabapathy Mudhaliar to the Development of Coimbatore” on Wednesday evening at the Thinkers Forum, a literary organization functioning in Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan.

Dr. Arangasamy

Sharing from his memoirs on Rathina Sabapathy Mudhaliar, the former chairman of Coimbatore Municipality, who was instrumental in bringing the sweet Siruvani water to the city, Arangasamy noted that the present day R.S. Puram, which stands for ‘Rathina Sabapathy Puram’ was once a vast stretch of agricultural lands.

 “The busy R.S.Puram of today was once a 350 acre agricultural land. Though the municipal chairman Rathina Sabapathy
The busy R.S. Puram today
Mudhaliar announced that people could buy the plots on payment of the price even in installments, many did not come forward to purchase them due to the place being desolate”

The 78 year old Arangasamy, who naturally presented his speech in pure Kongu Tamil dialect, is a homeopath by profession and was one of the few, who spread the benefits of homeopathy, when the alternate medical treatment got introduced  in the city almost half a century ago.  

Tracing the settlement of Rathina Sabapathy Mudhaliar’s family in Coimbatore, Arangasamy informed:

“The ancestors of C.S Rathina Sabapathy Mudhaliar came to Coimbatore from Kancheepuram in 1796 as traders of cereals. When C.S.R’s grandfather Muthuranga Mudhaliar reached Coimbatore, the city was under the rule of Kurikara Madhayyan, a representative of the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan” he added.

Listing out the various contributions of C.S.R to the development of the city, Arangasamy averred that bringing of Siruvani water to Coimbatore was his landmark service.

“In the thick forests, where Siruvani originates from the wild streams Muthikulam, Pattiyaru and Pambaru, CSR appointed a team of men under Zamedar Chinna Maruthasalam of Puliyakulam to look after the work ” informed Arangasamy, adding that even a street in Puliyakulam is still called ‘Chinna Maruthasalam Street’ in honour of his service.  

Recalling the demise of C.S.R in 1956, Arangasamy recalled:

“As C.S.R was an active office bearer in Justice Party, I saw rationalist leader Periyar E.V.Ramasamy participate in his funeral. I also remember the large crowds of people in front of C.S.R’s bungalow on Avinashi Road, where the luxurious hotel The Residency stands now”

Krishnraj Vanavarayar, Chairman, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan and Prof I.K. Subramaniam, Assistant Editor of the ten-volume Tamil Encyclopedia were among those present in the meeting.
Link to my article in The New Indian Express:




Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Writer Kaliyarajan is no More

Writer Kaliyarajan, the author of the historical Tamil novel Saraboji and plenty other books on Thirukural, passed away at his home in Kovaipudhur on Wednesday morning after a prolonged illness due to renal failure. He was 81.
Born in Pudukottai in 1933, Kaliyarajan had his college education in St. Joseph College, Trichy, where former president of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and the late Tamil writer Sujatha were his contemporaries. Though he later obtained his Bachelor of Engineering in Andhra Pradesh, Kaliarajan developed a taste for literature and wrote a number of books under his pen name Kalaiarasu including Thirukural - Puthiya Parimanangal, Valluvarin Samayakotpaadukal, Therintha Kuralum Theriyatha Porulum, Thirumanthiram Sollum Vingnana Rakasiyangal and Siddharkalidam Irunthu Ariya Vendiya Ariya Vishayangal. Kaliyarajan’s last book, which was his Tamil translation of the celebrated French writer Guy de Maupassant’s short stories as Manam Kavarum Maapasaan Kathaikal, appeared in 2013 in two volumes.

Writer, translator and proprietor of the lending library Yaazh Noolagam,   Duraimadangan said that Kaliyarajan’s novel Saraboji portrays the life and mission of the Maratha ruler Serfoji II, who ruled the principality of Tanjore. The historical novel, unlike the works of Kalki and Sandilyan, contains rare information on the Maratha ruler’s efforts to modernize his kingdom, as how Peter the Great took great measures in modernizing Russia.

Literature and history enthusiast Perur Jayaraman, a close associate of Kaliyarajan said that the octogenarian author was not as popular as other writers in the city on account of his uncompromising principles in life and  he never claimed recognition or fame for his books.

Kaliyarajan had worked as an engineer in the Public Works Department before he switched over to teaching. He was the principal of various government-run polytechnic colleges in Karaikudi, Madurai, Ooty, Thoothukudi and Coimbatore in different periods. He is survived by his wife Sabapathi Ammal and seven sons.

B.Meenakshi Sundaram  

Link to my report in The New Indian Express:


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Kambar’s 70 Poems on Agriculture

Recently on a day of Pongal celebrations at a local library, the function organizer was seen displaying turmeric rhizomes to the school children and explaining to them that the yellow turmeric powder, which is bought in packets from provision shops and departmental stores these days, is extracted from the rhizomes. He also said in a lighter vein to the audience that, in the days of rapid urbanization, children, who hardly know about agriculture, think that water is ‘born’ in their house taps and rice is ‘grown’ at the green grocer’s! However, decades ago, when cultivable lands were no real estate plots in the Kongu region, agriculture was inseparable from the everyday life of the people. And they worshipped their traditional occupation even in wedding ceremonies by reciting the 70 poems on agriculture attributed to the great Tamil poet Kambar.

The 70 poems, which are collected as a book titled Eaer Ezhupathu, are recited in the wedding ceremonies of the Kongu Vellalar community.

Reminding the meaning of the famous couplet “They alone live who live by agriculture; all others lead a cringing, dependent life” from the great literature Thirukural, poet Kamban too praises the farming community in his work.

What if, when children are born
In families of austere Brahmins,
Powerful monarchs and rich merchants
And rise to the heights of fame

But, greater are those who hail from
Farming families 
For, they alone keep the earth alive.

Kamabar says in another poem of Eaer Ezhupathu that every occupation in the world is not only next to agriculture but because of agriculture.

The yagnas performed by Brahmins
The bounteous wealth amassed by powerful monarchs
All are born from nowhere
But, from the plough of the farmer,
A prophet, who predicts the world’s destiny

C. Subramaniam, former Vice-chancellor, Tamil University, Thanjavur, in his book Kongunaattu Mangala Vazhthu Paadal, says that a farmer is called by different names as Vellalan, Karaalan and Kudiyanavan. Researching the etymology behind the words, Subramaniam points out that the word Vellalan literally means a person who ‘rules the flood’ ( Vellam), Karalan as the one who ‘rules’ the rain with ‘Kaar’ meaning ‘rain’ and Kudiyanavan, as the one who protects the people with ‘Kudi’ meaning people.

Kambar’s Eaer Ezhupathu , which also calls the farming community as Karalar, praises the glories of agriculture and describes the tradition of cultivating lands through indigenous methods and tools. Kambar writes a poem even on the use of spade (Manvetti) in agriculture thus:

The Goddess of wealth seated on
The nectar-filled flower
The happy Deity of earth
And the Goddess of victory
Protect the earth from disaster
However, harm will not near the planet
When farmers work on lands
With their spades  

Compiled by: B. Meenakshi Sundaram

Sources: Kavi Chakravarthy Kambanin Eaer Ezhupathu, Kongunaattu Mangala Vazhthu Padal – Dr. C. Subramaniam, Kongu Kalanjiayam – Volume I 

Link to my article in The New Indian Express:


Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Writer with a Social Cause

Mumbai –based Tamil writer Puthiya Maadhavi, knows how the political system of India has got corrupted these days. But, recalling the honest political career of yesteryear leaders like D.M.K founder C.N.Annadurai, she informs that political parties in the by-gone era worked for the welfare of the state and people.

The 53 year old poet, who was in the city on Sunday to address at the literary organization Kovai Ilakkiya Santhippu, brings to mind the day she glanced C.N. Annadurai:

“As a child seated on the shoulders of my father’s friend, I saw C. N. Annadurai addressing a gathering in Bombay. I remember Anna saying emotionally at the meeting that his Thambis (Younger brothers) were leading hard up lives that they could hardly invite him even for a meal at their homes”

Puthiya Maadhavi informs that her father P.S. Vallinayagam, a bank officer in Bombay, was an ardent follower of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy and C. N. Annadurai. And leaders of the Dravidian movement including Murasoli Maran, Mathiazhagan, A. V. P. Asaithambi, M. G. Ramachandran and C. P. Chitrarasu would visit his home whenever they came to Bombay.  

With writers Subrabharathimanian, C.R. Ravindran and me
“Our house would be filled with books by Periyar E.V.R and C.N. Annadurai. My father’s day would never begin without browsing through the magazine Dravidanadu, edited by Annadurai “avers Puthiya Maadhavi.

Though Maadhavi was brought up in an atmosphere of Dravidian ideology, she says that she enjoyed reading books by modern writers including La.Sa. Ramamritham and Ku.Pa. Rajagopalan in her college days at Palayamkottai.

Reminding a scene in Ram’s film Kattrathu Tamil, Maadhavi informs that she was discouraged to pursue academic studies in Tamil literature even decades ago.

“My college principal too wondered how I could get a job by studying Tamil. But, taking this as a challenge, I got a placement in HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation) in Mumbai, though I quit it later” she says.

An author of around twelve books, Maadhavi says that she could read and write amidst her busy work schedules both at home and office.

With Suriyapayanam being her first collection of poems, Maadhavi says that the verses in the collection were mostly her ‘scribblings’ during her regular travels on train from office to home in Mumbai. Her other books of poems are Hey Ram, Nizhalkalai Thedi and Aynthinai. Besides, the writer has penned a number of short story collections Minsara Vandikal, Puthiya Aarambankal and Thaniyarai. Her books Sirakasaikum Kilikoondukal, Seythikalin Athirvalaikal, Oomai Thasumbukal and Malaikaala Minnalaai are collections of essays.

Maadhavi says that her works are none but criticisms on contemporary corrupt politics.

“ However, many ‘modern’ writers of these days keep themselves away from addressing political issues and celebrate only their subjective world in their writings” she rues.

 Link to my story in The New Indian Express:




Rediscovering Unique Terms in Kongu Tamil

In Mundhanai Mudichu, a popular 1983 Tamil film made by well-known director cum actor K. Bhagiaraj of Coimbatore, the heroine Urvashi would ask the hero Bhagiaraj, who plays the role of a widower arriving at her village with his little child, thus
“Sir, is the child ours? “                                                     
But, the hero would answer her ironically:
 “It is ‘my’ child” placing a special accent on the first person possessive ‘my’.

The popular film director, who has portrayed the life and culture of the Kongu region in many of his films, brought out the uniqueness of the Kongu Tamil dialect in the dialogue spoken by Urvashi in Mundhanai Mudichu, when she  respectfully addresses him in first person as Namma instead of Unga. It is sad that such words and phrases, which reflect the reverence one has for the other are hardly heard in modern Coimbatore.  

Moreover, with certain words suffixed in the ‘ing’ sound while addressing people as Vanga, Ukkarunga, Saappidunka, Avinga, Ivinga and so on are found only in the Kongu Tamil dialect. Also the way of mentioning a third person as ‘brother’ while speaking to the second person as Annan Avunga Irukurangala (Is the brother at home) and enquiring young boys and girls affectionately as Ennappa? and Enna Ammini? are hardly heard in any other vernaculars  of Tamil except in the Kongu Tamil dialect.

With the impact of English, most women in modern Coimbatore prefer to mention their husbands only in English. But, gone are those days, when they used a  Kongu Tamil expression Pannaadi to address their better halves respectfully. Though the word Pannadi literally meant a Mudhalali or master, the expression reflected the women’s respect for their husbands. Also, while mentioning the relations as Orambarai, the word reflected its natural meaning with its root from the chaste Tamil expression Uravin Murai meaning ‘Relationship’.

Sadly, the traditional names of food items in Kongunadu have also been replaced by alien words and phrases in modern days as Idly for Puttu, Idiyappam for Santhakai, Keerai for Rakkiri, Rasam for Molaku Saaru, Kachchayam for  Opputtu and so on. Interestingly, the original Kongu term Rakkiri for green (Keerai) takes its root from the chaste Tamil expression Ilai Kari, which literally means ‘vegetable of leaves’. Also, In contrast to the present day expression Vaaram for week, the yesteryear Coimbatoreans used the word Ettu as in the example Ettuku Orukaavavathu Vanthu Paaththiya? (Did you visit me at least once in a week?)

Moreover, the expressions Meththai Veedu for a double storey building, Ravikkai for blouse, Angarakku for Shirt are no more heard in the language of modern Coimbatore. With the Kongu Tamil word Oorpatta meaning ‘Many more’ there are ‘Oorpatta’ Kongu Tamil expressions, which ought to be rediscovered and brought to usage in the everyday speech!

Compiled by: B. Meenakshi Sundaram
Source: Kongu Kalanjiyam – Volume I  
Link to my article in The New Indian Express:

The Tale of Coimbatore’s Popular Olayakka

It is no wonder that the present day school children may not know the meaning of the English nursery rhyme Ring a Ringo O’roses, which is associated with the Great Plague of England. But, it is sad that the popular Tamil folk song of Coimbatore  Olayakka Konadayile Oru Saadu Thaazhampoo, which would be sung by girls once in the city on the following day of Pongal,  needs to be reintroduced with its background.
The song, which is recorded in the book Engal Nattupuram by the first historian of Coimbatore, Kovai Kizhar C.M. Ramachandran Chettiar, portrays a girl named Olayakka, who is described as the one that chides her mother lamenting her dissatisfaction over the clothes and ornaments presented by her mother. Though the girls of yesteryear Coimbatore would not know the meaning of the song, they had a culture of singing it on the Pooparikira Nombi, a festival following Pongal.
However, K. Padmanathan, who researched the origin of the song in his book Olayakka – Verum paadalalla Varalaru ( Olayakka is not just a song but a history) says that the song was to commemorate the death of two little girls, who killed themselves by jumping into the fire on a river bank.
It is said that the people belonging to the Dasa Palanchika community from Karnataka migrated to Kongunadu during the rule of Hyder Ali. As it was a rainy month, the people heading towards the Kongu region were blocked by a flooding river in the forests of Hasanur. Though, they later crossed the river after the flood water receded, they discovered that two of their girls, who had gone to collect firewood for cooking, were missing. The river started flooding as rain began to lash again. Now, the people, being helpless, noticed the two girls on the other side of the river bank.
But, the poor girls, who feared a possible outrage of their modesty with a strange group of men nearing them on the river bank, ended their lives by jumping into the fire, which they set on the firewood they collected from the forest. The parents, who were helplessly standing on the other side of the river bank, noticed the gruesome scene of their children’s suicide. From then onwards, the members of the Dasa Palanchika community, who settled at Masagounden Chettipalayam, Koyilpalayam, Kottaipalayam, Karamadai and Thadagam in the northern belt of Coimbatore, commemorated the death anniversary of the two girls, whose names could be Olayakka and Thirumaalayakka.
On the occasion of their death anniversary, girls from each family in the Dasa Palanchika community would collect palmyra fronds and make the dolls of Olayakka and Thirumaalayakka. After worshipping them, the girls would visit each house in the village to collect the dolls by singing the song Olayakka Konadayile Oru Saadu Thaazhampoo. Finally, they would burn the dolls at a place called Olayakka Kaadu.

Compiled by: B. Meenakshi Sundaram
Sources: Olayakka – Verum paadalalla Varalaru – K. Padmanathan
Photo: Palmyra dolls of Olayakka and Thirumaalayakka in the attachment.  
Link to my article in The New Indian Express:

Admiring Glories of Tamil Abroad

For Tamil lovers of Coimbatore, Monday is the day of days, as they had a rare opportunity to meet internationally -renowned Tamil scholars, when the inauguration of the international conference on Tamil Diaspora Literature and Education was held at Dr. N.G. P Arts and Science College in the city here today.

Organized by the Centre for Tamil Culture, the programme included the release of the book Thayagam Kadantha Tamil, an anthology containing articles from Tamil scholars abroad. The contributors include Ulrike Niklas, Head, Department of South Asian Studies, University of Cologne from Germany and Zhao Jiang, Director of the China Radio international’s Tamil station from China.

Explaining the objective behind the international conference, veteran journalist Malan pointed out:

“With Tamils living all over the world today, the demarcation of the ancient Tamil speaking region just as Vadavenkatam to Thenkumari  mentioned by Tamil scholar Panamparanar in his prologue to the ancient Tamil grammar work Tholkappiyam, has lost its meaning today”

Malan also noted that Tamil language has crossed new horizons through developments in media, technology, education and literature.  

Introducing the chief guest V. Ramasubramanian, noted Tamil scholar and Judge, Madras High Court, poet Sirpi Balasubramaniam, said in his welcome address:

“ Ramasubramanian’s famous column Sol Vettai ( Word hunt) in Dinamani, a sister publication of The New Indian Express, was so popular among readers of Tamil, as he roped in even readers for coining equivalent terms to the new words  in English. In fact, he proved his skills as a judge in etymology too, by accurately investigating the deep meaning of words” 

Dr. Nalla. G. Palanisamy, founder-president of The Centre for Tamil Culture, said in his presidential address:

“The age- old tradition and culture of Tamil language is preserved and practiced more by the Tamil people, who have spread across foreign countries these days”

Expressing concern over the degradation of culture in the modern world, popular Tamil scholar Silampoli Chellappan rued that the cultural values of Tamils are under threat due to lewd dialogues and visuals in commercial Tamil movies and T.V. programmes these days.

Sharing the experiences of coining new Tamil words in his popular column Sol Vettai in Dinamani, V. Ramasubramanian said in his special address:

“In one of my articles, I just thought of coining the equivalent Tamil word for the expression ‘Phobia’ as ‘Achcham’ which generally means ‘Fear’ in English. But when I received a letter from a Tamil scholar by name Saiva Pulavar Tamizh Selvi from Sekkizhar Sivanadi Kazhagam, I was amazed to know from her that the Tamil Saivite  literature Saiva Sidhdhantha has a total of 47 words to mean different forms of fear arising out of four states of mind namely Manam, Siththu, Budhdhi and Akangaram!”  
Admiring the rich corpus of vocabulary in Tamil language, Ramasubramanian worried that most Tamils are still unaware of thousands of such words in Tamil language
P.K. Ponnusamy, Former Vice-chancellor, University of Madras, ‘Iakoka’ Subramaniam writer and industrialist and Tamil scholar R. Karthikesu from Malaysia were among those present in the function. 
link to my article in The New Indian Express: 




Conference on Tamil Diaspora Literature Bids Adieu to Tamil Scholars Abroad

Zhao Jiang alias Kalaimagal from  China

The second and the last day of the International Conference on Tamil Diaspora Literature and Education in the city on Wednesday must have left the Tamil lovers of Coimbatore with a longing to meet again the Tamil scholars, software technologists, journalists, writers and educationists from various countries, who took part in the conference.

“Due to the love I have for my mother tongue Tamil, I just
wanted to do something for the development of the language by establishing The Centre for Tamil Culture with the help of poet Sirpi Balasubramaniam and former Vice-chancellor of Madras University P.K Ponusamy” said Dr. Nalla. G. Palanisamy, founder-chairman of the Centre for Tam
il culture.

Palanisamy also thanked veteran journalist Malan for his valuable efforts in bringing Tamil scholars and technologists from various foreign countries to address in the conference in the city.

The second and the last day of the conference also included sessions on Thamizh Koorum Oodaga Ulagam (The world of Tamil media), Mozhipeyarppu ( Translation) and Thayakathirru Appaal Thamizh Kalvi ( Tamil education abroad.)

“Chinese and Tamil are the oldest languages in the world. After learning Tamil, I felt the language so beautiful ” said Zhao Jiang alias Kalaimagal, Director of the Chinese Radio International’s Tamil Station.

Ulrike Niklas,Professor of Indology from Germany

Explaining the various Tamil services rendered by the Chinese Radio International’s Tamil Station, Kalaimagal said to the thunderous applause of the audience, adding the phrase Themathura Thamizhosai ( The honey sweet sound of Tamil) from one of  Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi’s poems. 

Engal Vanoli Themathura Thamizhosai Paravum Vahaiyil Paniyaatrukirathu                  (Our radio station by its programmes broadcast in chaste Tamil, is on the mission of spreading the honey -sweet Tamil to countries across the world”

In her address in the session Tamil Education Abroad, German Tamil scholar Ulrike Niklas, professor of Indology at the University of Cologne in Germany, informed:

“Tamil has been taught in the University of Cologne since 1963 in various branches including classical Tamil, spoken Tamil and contemporary literature. The university library contains around 40,000 Tamil books” added Ulrike Niklas, who obtained her PhD in Muthollayiram, a Sangam period work.

Vetri Selvi from the USA, the founder of California Tamil Academy, which has established schools for teaching Tamil for the children of emigrant Tamil people in various other foreign countries, pointed out:

“The California Tamil Academy, which was started with the strength of 13 students and four teachers in 1998, has now a total of 4000 students and 800 teachers. But these teachers are from various positions like doctors, engineers and accountants and they are the academy’s honorary staff” she added.

Writers Nagarathinam Krishna from France, Ilaya Abgullah from England, veteran journalist Tirupur Ktishnan, Singapore-based journalist Azhahiya Pandiyan,  Tamil scholar K.Chellapan, writers and translators M. Lenin Thangappa, Jayanthashri Balakrishan, poets Puviarasu, Indiran, Madras Ubiversity former Vice-chancellor P.K Ponnusamy, Tamil University professor  Era. Kamarasu, Prof. Veeramani from Japan, Educationist Anbujaya from Australia and Prof. M.G Subramaniam from USA spoke in the programme.

Link to my story in The New Indian Express:  



Sharing Pains of Migration in Tamil Diaspora Literature

Poet Cheran Adressing the conference
Ponnavaikko speaks on Tamil as language in computers

Due to the migration of thousands of Tamils to various countries of the world, it is true that the modern Tamil literature penned by authors living abroad reflects the pain and anxiety borne out of the isolation from their native land. In order to introduce and analyze this new form of literature in Tamil, the first day of the conference on Diaspora Literature and Education included a symposium on the title Pudhiya Sirakukal  ( New wings) in which popular Tamil poets from abroad addressed here on Tuesday.

Presiding over the symposium, popular Tamil poet and a two time winner of Sahitya Akademy award, Sirpi Balasubramaniam pointed out that Eelam Tamil poetry written by women in the island nation is unique in modern Tamil literature.

Addressing in the symposium, popular poet Cheran, who is also a professor in the University of Windsor, Canada, said:

“When I read the great Tamil epic Silapathikaram for several times, I realized the pains of migration from the two main characters Kovalan and Kannaki, who left their original land Pukar  and settled in Madurai, where Kovalan was murdered for a crime, which he did not commit”

Cheran noted that people, who migrate to foreign countries due to wars and other political turmoil, are isolated in there, experiencing the pains of nostalgia and anxiety.

However, pointing out the popular line Yadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir  ( All countries are ours and all people are our kin) from a Sangam lyric penned by Kaniyan Poongundran, Cheran said that writers of Diaspora literature seek solace from such cosmopolitan elements found in ancient Tamil literature.

The conference also included a session on opportunities in Tamil through developing information technologies for publication of Tamil e-books in the internet and Tamil as language of internet through smart mobile phones.

Addressing the session, Ponnavaiko, Vice-chancellor, SRM University, said that internet played a very important role in communication among the immigrant Tamils spread across world countries.

“The first electronic computer was invented in the early 1940s and the user’s language of the machine was English. However, later on, many immigrant Tamil software technologists created Tamil software for communication through internet” he added.   

Muthu Nedumaran, a software technologist from Malaysia, who spoke on the title Kaipesiyil Tamil (Tamil in mobile phones), said:

“In making Tamil as the user’s language in smart phones, technology is not a barrier. However, the popularity of using Tamil in mobile communication devices depends on the number of Tamil users” added Muthu Nedumaran, who has been in the mission of creating software technologies for using Tamil in mobile phones for over two decades.    

Poet Perundevi from USA, poet Anar from Sri Lanka, Tamil software technologist, Tirumurthi Ranganathan from USA and writer and publisher Badri Seshadri spoke in the function.  

Link to my article in The New Indian Express: