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Oct 19, 2009

Classical Tamil conference from 24th June !!

With the board of International Association of Tamil Research (IATR) failing to come to a consensus on the suggested dates for the ninthWorld Tamil Conference, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday announced that a four-day international conference on Classical Tamil' would be held from June 24 next year in Coimbatore.

This means that the conference will be an independent event, and not be part of the World Tamil Conference series held under the auspices of the IATR for the last four decades in various countries. Tamil Nadu has hosted the conference thrice in the past in 1968 (Chennai), 1981 (Madurai) and 1995 (Thanjavur).

A resolution passed at a meeting chaired by chief minister M Karunanidhi on Friday said the conference should be held next year prior to the onset of the monsoon, before the end of the summer vacation of foreign universities and well before the work related to the May 2011 assembly begins. Taking all these into account, the dates were fixed late in June 2010.

The government had earlier planned to hold the conference in January 2010, but it was postponed by six months, acceding to requests from scholars for time to submit research papers. Even then, the government's plan had drawn criticism from opposition leader and AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa that any conference not held under the IATR could not be called the Ninth World Tamil Conference'.

Subsequently, on the state government's request, IATR vice-president and eminent academician VC Kulandaisamy approached IATR president Noboru Karashima for the body's formal consent.

According to highly placed sources, two IATR secretaries-general, Karthikesu Sivathamby and E Annamalai, as well as representatives from Malaysia and Mauritius, were in agreement with the state's intention to hold the meet in June 2010. However, despite a majority of the IATR board supporting the government's plan, Karashima was insistent that more than one year was needed to organise the event. "He was stubborn even though 11 out of 13 members were against him. He wanted the conference only in January 2011," the sources said.

Eminent scholars and writers, including Jayakanthan, Iravatham Mahadevan, Avvai Natarajan, Porko, R Muthukumarasamy, K P Aravanan, Abdul Rahman and Sirpi, who attended Friday's meeting, suggested that since a majority in the IATR favoured the conduct of the conference, the state government could declare it the ninth World Tamil Conference as planned, the sources said. However, the CM did not want any controversy and decided to hold the conference with a new title, World Classical Tamil Conference'. The UPA regime had accorded classical status to Tamil in 2004.

Karashima has been heading the IATR for more than two decades. The world Tamil conferences are held from time to time without any specific periodicity.

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