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".

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