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All set for World Tamil Conference

Coimbatore, June 22 (Calcutta Tube) More than 5,000 people from India and abroad, including a large number of scholars, will take part in the first five-day World Classical Tamil Conference starting here Wednesday.

President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the conference that has dramatically improved the infrastructure of Coimbatore, a throbbing Tamil Nadu city about 510 km from Chennai.

Thousands of delegates from India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Singapore, Canada, the US, Greece and other countries have confirmed their participation.

These include around 1,000 scholars who will submit research papers. About 200 of the papers will come from 50 countries.

‘The conference is expected to raise the awareness level for cooperative and collaborative research on the classical side of Tamil language,’ said Gregory James from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and author of ‘A History of Tamil Dictionaries’.

Tamil language has a recorded history dating back two millennia. It is estimated that 75 million people in the world speak Tamil, an overwhelming majority in Tamil Nadu in India.

Evidence of earliest Tamil civilization is the megalithic urn burials found in Tamil Nadu dating back to around 1,500 BC. The ancient Tamil land was dominated by three dynasties – Chera, Chola and Pandya.

Originally from Tamil Nadu, Tamils now live in large numbers in many countries including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Canada, Fiji, Maruitius and Britain.

According to K. Umaraj, research scholar in the Central Research Institute on Classical Tamil, a parallel conference to be held on the sidelines is expected to decide on standardization of Tamil internet fonts.

Said V. Jayadevan, Prof Emeritus in the University of Madras: ‘After this conference, more students are expected to study Tamil and do research.’

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi has said that the conference was significant as it was the first gathering of its kind after Tamil won classical status in India.

The conference theme song has been penned by Karunanidhi, who is also a recognized script writer. Music has been scored by Oscar winner A.R. Rahman.

Schools and colleges across Tamil Nadu have been ordered shut during the conference period so that students and teachers can attend it.

Special trains will ply to Coimbatore to meet the expected rush. Special counters have come up at the Chennai and Coimbatore airports to assist the delegates.

Karunanidhi earlier indicated he would retire from active politics after the meet, paving the way for his second son and Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to lead the party and the government. But the decision was put off after eldest son and central minister M.K. Alagiri opposed it.

AIADMK leader and former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa has come out against the conference, saying it should not be held when Tamils in nearby Sri Lanka find themselves distressed after the end of the war.

As for Coimbatore, there is a festive atmosphere.

‘All major roads and pavements have been redone, making it pleasurable to drive and walk around,’ resident R. Sandhya told IANS. ‘There is no garbage and traffic is better regulated now.’

C.R. Srinivasan agreed: ‘It is a pleasure to see compound walls around the major roads being painted with Tamil cultural symbols.’

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