The World Classical Tamil Conference is as much a political animal as an academic, linguistic one. It has been shaped by M. Karunanidhi, a keen navigator of language’s political undercurrents, and is, according to him, “a forum for generating...aid” for the “suffering Sri Lankan Tamils”.
He is pushing to identify the Indus Valley Civilization as Dravidian, to project Tamils as the oldest Indians and reap the political capital: The Classical Tamil Award will thus go to Asko Parpola, a Finnish Indologist and champion of the “Dravidian hypothesis”; the conference’s logo includes seven seals from Indus Valley. In Tamil Nadu, the language of politics is inseparable from the politics of language.
Tracing roots: A May picture of Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi inspecting the model of the exhibition hall to be constructed for the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore, which starts today; and (inset) the logo for the conference, with seven seals from the Indus Valley on the rim. K. Ananthan/The Hindu