Malcolm Adiseshiah - in The Cause of Tamil and Tamil Nadu

In The Cause of Tamil and Tamil Nadu

Adiseshiah loved Tamil, but was no chauvinist. He was instrumental in obtaining UNESCO assistance to the programmes of translation of Tamil classics. The Ayodhya canto of the Ramayana as told by Kamban translated from the Tamil by C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) was published in 1961 under UNESCO-sponsored programmes and publications. The Interior landscape: love poems from a classical Tamil anthology translated by A.K.Ramanujan was published in 1967 under the same programme.

He encouraged publication of research articles in Tamil. MIDS brought out, and still brings out, Tamil translations and Tamil books.

He brought out the Hindi and Tamil versions of UNESCO’s journal ‘Courier’.

He lent a helping hand for the launching of the World University Centre in Spur Tank Road in Chennai.

He desired the heritage sites to be well preserved. So he arranged for UNESCO funding for renovation of Sri Rangam Ranganatha, Madurai Meenakshi, Thanjavur Brahadeeswara and seven other temples. He initiated a pioneering research work by a French scholar tracing the history and traditions of Sri Rangam temple in Tamil Nadu.

He lent a helping hand in obtaining assistance from UNESCO and French government for organizing the Third World Tamil Conference in Paris in 1969. As Acting Director-General of UNESCO, he inaugurated it, delivering his address in three languages, Tamil, English and French.

The speed with which he acted could be gauzed from the fact that the General Conference of UNESCO at its session in November 1968 accepted the recommendation of the Second International Conference on Tamil Studies held at Madras on 3-10, January 1968 and authorized the Director General of UNESCO to assist in the creation of an International Institute of Tamil Studies at Madras. In 1970, his last year in UNESCO, he had the satisfaction of witnessing the setting up of the Institute at Madras, Tamil Nadu.

Though it was personally inconvenient for him because he had lost touch with the language during his long sojourn in Europe, he still would write articles in Tamil whenever requested to do so. At a function to commemorate his 83rd birthday on April 18, 1992 when the new office premises of the Tamil Nadu Board of Continuing Education was named after him, he gave a stirring speech in chaste Tamil which was well appreciated.

He strove hard to reply in Tamil all letters addressed to him in Tamil.

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