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New Trends in Tamil Reading

Indira Parthasarathy

By Pa. Raghavan
Kizhakku Pathippakam, Chennai, 2006, pp. 700, price not stated.

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 12 December 2006

In the recent past there is an appreciable rise in the number of books published in Tamil on national and global issues. That such books have a good market augurs well for the future of Tamil. And who are the readers for these books? The last few decades of the last century found a new class of readership, that was recently empowered by education but still, that lacked an adequate knowledge of English, the language of intellectual dialogue internationally. And yet, these new readers were thirsting for knowledge and wanted to know all that was happening around them near and far. Their expectations were not belied and books dealing with a variety of issues started appearing.   The new readership transcended the caste hierarchy. No longer were reading and writing the monopoly of the upper classes and the new young writers belonging to the oppressed section of the Tamil society wrote books in simple and elegant Tamil, on various subjects to educate and quench their fellowmen’s intellectual thirst. The dalit writers wrote especially about the Afro-American social awakening in America and brought the problem home by comparing their own plight in a caste-ridden society in India. The stories of the Black Panther movement, Nation of Islam in the US and the dalit awakening in Maharashtra and Karnataka were published in Tamil. Lives and teachings of leaders like Dr. Ambedkar, Mahatma Pule and the scholarly and indefatigable but nationally not so well-known Tamil Dalit leader Ayodhya Das were retold. It was a revelation for many that this redoubtable eminent scholar, Ayodhya Das had thought far ahead of his times and reflected the problems of dalits in a manner almost in consonance with our contemporary thinking. Dr. Ambedkar’s books were translated and published in Tamil that ran several reprints. This new reading and writing brought a tremendous awareness and robust optimism in the minds of the socially disadvantaged that were never there before.   True, it was Subhramanya Bharati, the father-figure of modern Tamil poetry who initiated this movement of enlightening the not-so-well English educated Tamils about global issues. Unfortunately there are not as many takers for his equally remarkable prose writings as for his brilliant poems. Bharati was a visionary. He welcomed the Russian revolution just after fourteen days of its happening, perhaps, the first Indian writer to have done so. He soon got disenchanted with it as many thousands of ...

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