Do you think Tamils are in the right
path in taking the language forward?
They should take Tamil forward but they are not in the right path in
doing it. I will explain. 10 years from now, we can expect the world
to have solved most of the technical problems with connecting minds
worldwide, just as there are little tech problems with TV now. So that
means a wirelessed or a wired halls without walls. International conversation
is the same price as local conversation and I'd say there's a 90% chance
that politicians would have succumbed to the pressure so that villages
in Tamil areas in the world, Tamilnadu in particular are wirelessed.
People would have figured out that the value of brains and their output
is higher than the cost of a computer and ongoing wireless charges,
like TV now.
But how do these changes
affect Tamil language?
The problems then will be in communication. It is already quite obvious
to many of us now. Weaknesses in interpersonal relations, in conflict
resolution, in networking, in talking precisely.
Do you think Tamils are weak
in these areas?
Yes, in being able to deconstruct abstracts and aggregate specifics.
In sharing feelings freely just as the birds in the sky do, Tamils are
weak. Most Tamils are not good in writing/comprehending in any language
compared to native English speakers.
What do you think is the reason for this?
The shift from Tamil to English caused a drop in Tamil comprehension
standards and Tamil vocabulary and most Tamils who use English know
it in rather narrow confines - technical people are notorious for their
Do you think we should
insist on Tamil as the medium of study?
Yes - Tamil should be compulsory. I am talking about Tamil as a language.
Everybody in Tamilnadu should be proficient in Tamil and more importantly
great effort should be made to make Tamil a practical language at our
fingertips. We should know how to say "risk-taking", "dating" etc in
Tamil. We should be able to discuss today's issues, economic issues,
occupational issues, liberal arts issues, civil society issues, sweat
capital in Tamil.. We should look to the vibrance of the creative Sangam
ages and bring back some of the vocabulary that has fallen out of use.
The root words are there.
Much of Tamilnadu's education has been geared to produce
people for the offshore tech koolie market. We shouldn't take this market
for granted. One can't assume that those tech jobs will always be there.
If you ask me it is not good strategy to rely on an overseas market
so much. Right now that's exactly the problem and really if Tamilnadu
had its act together and there were plentiful challenging jobs there
itself less people would go overseas. So we have to develop the services
sector and people make a sector
How do you think tamil
medium will help this cause?
To be good communicators, cooperators and group workers we have to understand
each other. We have to know some about all kinds of fields. We shouldn't
be tunnel-visioned. We should know there are other perpectives. Communication
requires references. References like proverbs, movie scenes, locations,
historical recollections, humourous sides and analogies. The 70 million
Tamils in the world looked at from a past-present-wired perspective
would be stronger at using these references in Tamil than in English.
Sure there will be transitional problems to tackle. Amongst them there
will be enough who can bridge the Tamil mindcosm with the English mindcosm.
Instead of having the majority to be koolies to the West, let's have
the majority to be working for each other and a number who bridge these
clusters with the non-Tamil world.
There are some efforts in building Tamil
vocabulary.....do you think it's not adequate?
Totally absolutely inadequate.
What would you suggest
to intensify the efforts?
We have to cooperate as a society. Language is of the society, by the
society, for the society. Without language we cannot think, we cannot
communicate, we cannot build good relationships. It belongs to all of
us - it is the essence of gluing community together. Let us cooperate
as a community and make it happen. How? Use Yahoo Instant Messenger
to team up with other networked Tamils who are pushing this. Buzz me
at my Yahoo ID at bala2pillai or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
U mean to say that it
should be a collective effort?
The initiative has already been taken by the Internet using Tamils.
You can see lots of new Tamil words coming out of here. For example
the word "Innaiyam" -- Tamil for Internet -- was coined in Thamil Innaiyam
www.tamil.net in 1996.
Right...there are lot
of such words coming up....Is there any organisation collecting and
There is not an organisation collecting it yet. The best way of organising
this I would say is a Tamil net-enabled networking cooperative, a group
of wired Tamils.This doesn't have to be a large group.
Do u think Tamilnadu government
should take some initiative to form this group ?
No. Bureaucrats mostly worry about how to settle their mortgages, about
their next position and what happens when the ruling party changes.
Too many distractions for them to concentrate on passion or long term
issues. It is about time Tamils, you and me, realized that there is
a lot of power that we have ourselves. If a little ant, in an ant-hill
has power, so does any Tamil in the Tamil ant-hill. The ants have no
problem finding food and shelter without any government. I don't see
why Tamils cannot organise Tamil words without government.
Someone to take this initiative...why
can't it be Bala?
Yes it can be Bala. We are in the process of organizing such a cooperative.
That's nice of you...Is
there any forum to discuss tamil vocabulary?
There are several that took off from the inspiration of Thamil Innaiyam
(email@example.com). kalaichol@yahoogroups is one. So is agathiyar@yahoogroups.
These are the best for Tamil words. Great catalysts there are Periannan
Chandrasekaran from Atlanta and Ram Ki from Chennai. But lots of other
Thamil Innaiyam members from all disciplines provide the interactivity
platform that is essential for creativity. They include people like
me, Ramani from New Orleans and Kumarabarathy from New Zealand amongst
tens of thousands.
Do you think political climate in TN deter
the progress of tamils all over the world?
Yes very much so.
Well for example - the way Karunaanidhi was arrested. That is a symptom
of a masked gang-war and Tamil society allowed the foundations of civil
society that we had from our Sangam era heritage to be torn down.The
average man today cannot get justice from the police or the courts or
even the media. Where's our non-negotiable passion to see the flowering
of trust, truth, commitment and respect today? If we brought that back
would not Tamils be thousands of times richer both materially and spiritually?
We heard that you are working
on net working Tamils all around the globe…can you tell us more about
A group of us called Thamil Innaiya Erumbugal are organising the Tamildom
and more pioneers are welcome to join this history-making
initiative. Say you joined a cooperative that gave you US$2000 on one
condition. The condition is that you use it to buy any services from
an A-Z list from other cooperative members. And you provide US$2000
worth of whatever services you are good at to the cooperative. There
are lots more aspects to Tamildom -- this is the entry-level bread-and-butter
You seem to have done
a variety of things and interested in many things, how would you describe
you in a single sentence?
A thinker, a process innovator, a communitarian and an ecosystems and
Where are you heading,
Bala? What do you think your destiny is?
I think there is a 70% chance that I would catalyse a Tamil thought
revolution and a 30% chance that I would die a nobody. Either is cool.
I've had lots and lots of fun in the journey and I confident that if
I don't achieve my preferred destination, somebody else will continue
with the baton. My closest political role model is Pierre Trudeau and
if you know him he had fun all the way . Ditto with me - there is lots
more fun and challenges to be enjoyed in the journey.
What would you like to
achieve, in precise?
I would like to make use of this once in a millenia opportunity to reverse
1000 years of Tamil decline through networked cooperation. We have been
on the decline since the establishment of the caste system. Our collective
psyche that was superb during the Sangam era got whack upon whack The
first whack was the caste system - that limited the amount of cooperation
you could get from the flow of Tamil society. It weakened us and set
the stage for foreigners to attack us and that happened in the 11th
century. We didn't respond then by dismantling the caste system. Our
defensiveness had us to break up into more subcastes. It is not an accident
then, that a small number of British were able to control millions of
Tamils and Indians. Only those who suffer from an inferiority complex
need the caste system umbrella. Covert racism against another who is
born in your same locality, speaks the same language, professes the
same religion is the worst form of racism. I want to strengthen Tamil
society by helping remove the impediments to mass cooperation.
Then why is a caste name attached with
We did not have the Periyar thing in Malaysia that was there in Tamilnadu.
But for mundane birth certificate process and English illiteracy reasons
there are few with caste/clan etc it is Mostly an accident -- me being
in the west and a need there for a family name and since then I have
come to understand this sensitivity but see the hypocrisy. the Westerners
like Schumaker or Carpenter retained the name and lost all the name-social
stigma rigidity. we did the opposite. so I am sticking to my name. Bbut
I would not suggest for one moment that others should do the same..
Thank you so much Bala
for your time.
Romba nantri for nilacharal .