From Sachi’s Files – Chapter 17

My Participation at the Madurai Tamil Research Conference (January 3-11, 1981)

by Sachi Sri Kantha, May 1, 2021 

Front Note

Forty years ago, I made my first (and as of now, only) trip to India, as a Sri Lankan Tamil delegate to the 5th International Tamil Research Conference, held in Madurai, between Jan. 5 and 10th 1981. I was 27 then. Though originally scheduled to be held in Jan. 1980, due to the vagaries of Indian national politics this Conference was postponed twice.

Madurai Conference, Jan 1981. Sachi (3rd from lt.) with three of his friends, from left Fr. Joseph Mary, Dr. J.T. Xavier and Bro. Anton John Alagarasan

The idea that I had to participate at this conference was first noted in my diary entry of November 27, 1978. I had recorded as follows: ‘I met Mr. James Rutnam in the morning at 8:30. When I inquired about the next International Tamil Research Conference, he said that it will NOT take place next year in London. Most probably it will be held in January 1980 at Madurai, under MGR’s leadership. He asked me to prepare research papers towards this date.’

Then, according to my 1979 diary entry of Aug.8th, I submitted three abstracts to the Sri Lankan IATR office branch, V.S. T(hurairajah) buildings, at Ward Place, Colombo 7. IATR is the abbreviation of International Association of Tamil Research. The titles of the three abstracts were,

  1. Some observations on the ethnophaulisms used against the Tamil-speaking ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. (in English)
  2. Arunagirinathar – The Adiguru of Carnatic Music? (in English)
  3. Unarchi kavignar Kasi Ananthanin aakangal – Oor ilakkiya thiranaivu (in Tamil)

[Creativity of emotional poet Kasi Ananthan – a literary analysis]

On Oct. 29, 1979, I received a response from the IATR office, signed by Prof S. Vithiananthan. It stated that, among the three abstracts, they had chosen the submission on Saint Arunagiri and Carnatic Music to forward to the Indian IATR office. Also attached with the letter were the invitation form and application form and the registration fee for the conference was indicated as 160 Sri Lankan rupees.

The first postponement of the conference was due to the 7th Lok Sabah elections, which was held in the first week of January 1980. The chief culprit was Indira Gandhi, who toppled the minority government of Charan Singh in August 1979, after promising to support him in the parliament, and then demanding her ‘pound of flesh’ to withdraw the Special Courts Act No. 22 of 1979 (May 17, 1979). This was an act to provide speedy trial for certain class of offences. After receiving a clear mandate from the voters, Indira Gandhi became the prime minister on Jan 14, 1980. The postponed Tamil conference was re-scheduled to take place on June 1980. But the IATR organizers of the Tamil conference didn’t anticipate that Indira Gandhi would dismiss MGR’s Tamil Nadu government on February 17, 1980, to placate M. Karunanidhi, who had aligned with her. Culprit again was Indira Gandhi. Tamil Nadu legislative assembly election was then scheduled for May 28, 1980. Though Karunanidhi aimed to regain the chief minister position again, after being toppled by Indira Gandhi in 1976, Tamil Nadu voters decided otherwise. They opted to thump Indira’s nose, for her high handedness, and elected MGR’s party preferentially. As such, the twice postponed conference was re-scheduled for January 1981, to be held under MGR’s government patronage.

In a diary entry on Nov.7, 1980, I had written, “Went to Ward Place [Colombo 7] and met V.S. Thurairajah, to inquire about the arrangements made for the Madurai trip. He stated that from Sri Lanka, a total of 150 delegates will attend. Among these, 72 will present papers and the remaining 78 will be in the category of ‘observers’.

Some diary entries in December 1980 follows:

Dec. 11, 1980: ‘A memorial meeting for late Rev. Thani Nayagam was held at the Geography Lecture theatre (University of Peradeniya). Fr. Joseph Mary had come from Batticaloa. I met him, after three years. He told me that he’ll also go to Madurai Tamil conference, as an observer.’

Dec. 16, 1980: ‘Today, I received the air ticket from Mr. Thurai Rajah. This is my first trip abroad. Colombo to Trivandrum AND return, Trichy to Colombo: 698 rupees + 675 rupees + 48 rupees = 1,421 rupees.’

Dec. 25, 1980: ‘Received from my printer S. Kannan in Point Pedro, 105 copies of my paper booklet ‘Arunagirinathar – The Adiguru of Karnatic Music?’, that I’ll read at the Madurai Conference. With cover, each booklet had 16 pages. Total cost, 600 rupees.’

Dec. 26, 1980: ‘Today’s Virakesari newspaper carried a news item about me, with a photo, providing details about my forthcoming presentation at the Madurai Conference on Saint Arunagirinathar, as presenting a novel hypothesis as the father figure of Carnatic Music, in English.’

Flute tutor T.P. Jesudas

Dec.28, 1980: Wrote a letter to Jesudasan Master and attached a copy of my research paper that I’ll read at Madurai. I offer the first copy of my research effort to the tutor who led me in the music path. Though a nominal Christian from Nadar community from southern region of Tamil Nadu, he did focus my sights on the theoretical aspects of Carnatic Music and the contributions of Tamil saints, which led me to my own research on Saint Arunagiri.

Dec. 29, 1980: ‘Went to Indian Bank in Main Street to get travelers cheques and US dollars for the trip. Luckily, my former student Maya Sadwani was working at the counter. I asked her to change 4,500 rupees in Indian rupees and few US dollars. She worked out the numbers and handed me, 1,900 Indian rupees (4,378.55 SLR), USD 12 (213 SLR, at the currency exchange rate of 1$= 17.75 SLR) with a bank commission charged for 25 SLR. Total – 4,616.55 SLR).

I present below, my diary entries of this Madurai trip. An earlier version was posted previously in the Tamil Nation website, in January 17, 2001.

This had been expanded with additional factual details here, after I had checked my second 1981 diary entries, following my 2004 visit to Point Pedro.

Then, camera was a luxury item for me and I didn’t have one. At Madurai, my diary records note that I had purchased 6 prints from a photographer-vendor, where I was featured (such as while presenting my paper and among the group of Sri Lankan delegates). But, what remains with me now, is only one photo, presented above. I was with three of my friends – from left, Fr. Joseph Mary, Dr. J.T. Xavier and Bro. Anton John Alagarasan. I was wearing a ‘Chaplin style’ hat. My habit of using a hat as part of my attire (This I had begun during my sophomore years in 1973, being influenced by Chaplin) served an essential function. The son and son-in-law of my flute tutor T.P. Jesudas were able to locate me among the crowds. They had come from Palayamkottai to meet me, but without any identification tips. Somehow they located other Sri Lankan delegates and had inquired about me. Those who have known me, had told them, ‘He is the one who wears a hat, and move around with two Christian priests wearing cassocks.’ With this bit of tip, somehow they were able to find me in the Madurai streets! In those days without cell phone links, it was a remarkable effort by them to locate me among the thousands on that evening.

Jan. 3, 1981/Saturday

Today, I’m leaving for India, to participate in the 5th International Conference on Tamil Studies, which is scheduled to commence in Madurai tomorrow. This is my first foreign trip; and I’m flying in an airplane after a lapse of 20 years. Went to Saraswathi Hall [Colombo 4] by 1.00pm. Started off from there by 1.20pm and reached Katunayake. Boarded Air Lanka flight from Colombo to Trivandrum, and it started by 2.45 pm and we landed at Trivandrum by 3:30 pm. There we had to spend nearly three and a half hours inside the airport to get clearance.

Mr. James Rutnam introduced me to Prof.K. Indrapala. Mrs. Ambika Thamotheram was inquiring about the contents of my research paper.

Around 7.30pm, I passed through the airport customs and changed 12 US dollars into Indian rupees. Our delegation was taken in two tourist buses and we had dinner at Kerala M.L.A. hostel. A typical South Indian diet of chappathi and thosai. Only around 11pm, we started off from Trivandrum; reached Nagercoil by 12.30am, and proceeded towards Madurai, passing Sathur around 4:15 am.

Jan. 4, 1981/Sunday

Our Sri Lankan delegation reached Madurai city, early morning by 6.00am. We were taken to Madurai Kamaraj University Men’s Hostel. Today is the opening day of the 5th International Conference Seminar on Tamil Studies. I managed to get a room at the 2nd floor of the Men’s Hostel. After having a quick wash, we got into a vehicle, and landed at the Mu.Va.[Mu.Varatharasan] Arangam.

During the breakfast, I was able to meet a lot of foreign delegates. First, I introduced myself to Saalai Ilanthiraiyan and Saalini Ilanthiraiyan from New Delhi. Then Eelaventhan introduced me to Krishna Vaikunthavasan. We joined the queue at the registration counter to receive our delegates’ batches and bags. I cashed the traveller’s cheque for Rs. 1,000 at the counter. Fr. Joseph Mary introduced me to Dr. J.T. Xavier.

Around 1.30pm, MGR came to Mu.Va. Arangam to open the lunch for delegates. We had to squeeze in and greet MGR with a handshake, and moved on to pick a plate, to serve ourselves. I just introduced myself to MGR as “Sri Kantha; Ilankai-Kandy-le irunthu vanthirukiren” [Sri Kantha: I’ve come from Sri Lanka, Kandy]. He just greeted me “Vanakkanga“. That was my only exchange with the legendary man!

In the evening, around 5 pm, we were picked up in delegates’ buses and taken to Race Course. The Opening Session began around 6.00 pm, and we were seated at the Delegates’ section. I was surprised to see Uma [Maheswaran] – my former TULF Youth Council pal. By the time MGR began his speech, it was around 10.30 pm. We didn’t have proper dinner and reached our residence hostel by 12.00 midnight.

Jan. 5, 1981/Monday

First day of the Conference. Got up around 6.00 am and I was given the conference program. Hurriedly went through it to note my time of presentation. Many of my colleagues were disappointed NOT to see their names. Mine -It’s there! -it’s today afternoon for 30 minutes, 3.00-3.30 pm.

I could talk to Es. Po. [aka, S. Ponnuthurai]. He shared a nearby room in the Men’s Hostel, with his wife. He did recognize me, as I was one of the 45 selected participants among the 250 odd applicants for the Worskhop Seminar on Tamil film script writing, he organized for three days Aug. 1979. It was sponsored by the Sri Lankan State Film Corporation.

Morning Plenary Session was presided by Justice S. Maharajan. Two professors, from Japan (Dr. Susumu Ohno) and Czechoslovakia (Dr.Vacek) presented their papers. In the afternoon I presented my research paper on ‘Arunagirinathar – The Adiguru of Karnatic Music?’. It was chaired by Dr.S. Ramanathan. This is my first international presentation to a learned audience. There were about 15 people in the room. Amongst these were, Salem Jeyalakshmi [noted Carnatic vocalist] and Dr.S. Premalatha.

Global Tamil Authors – Who’s Who (1980) book cover

Purchased a book, Ulagat Tamil Ezhuthalar – Yar Evar? [Global Tamil Authors – Who’s Who?], published last year by the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai for 4 rupees and 80 cents, in an exhibit stall. Was pleased to see my name listed as entry 521, in page 87. It provided thumb sketches of 1,443 authors, among whom Indians counted for 1,153, and Sri Lankans came second with 142. Third in the ranks were Malaysians 114.

In the evening, went to Tamil Isai Sangam Hall to witness Vyjantimala Bali’s dance performance. We were a bit late. So, I was able to watch only 15 minutes. While returning, I was chatting with Sabah Jeyarasah, in the bus. We had dinner at the Pandiyan hotel, and returned to hostel by 11:30 pm.

Jan. 6, 1981/Tuesday

Third day at Madurai; I joined with Fr. Joseph Mary. It was around 9.30am, when 2nd day’s Plenary Sessions began. Saalai Ilanthirayan’s address on behalf of foreign delegates was an outspoken one. The research presentations scheduled for morning didn’t interest me much. So, I was hanging around the verandah of the Seminar auditorium, glancing through the exhibited books at the stalls. Bought 9 books for Rs. 67.55.

We were really exhausted after lunch; so, Fr. Mary and Bro. Anthony John and I didn’t bother to present ourselves at the Afternoon sessions.

In the evening, went to Tamil Isai Sangam Hall. Witnessed Padma Subrahmanyam’s dance performance – mainly demonstrations of many bhavas, from Kambaramayanam. A versatile performance. Kovai Mahesan, seated besides me, asked me to write a travelogue on the Madurai Conference for ‘Sutantiran’, which I agreed. Dominic Jeeva, the editor of Mallihai monthly, was also nearby.

We had dinner at the Pandiyan hotel, and returned to hostel by 11:30 pm.

[Note: This travelogue of mine appeared subsequently in three parts in the Sutantiran weekly of Feb.15, Feb.22, and Mar.4, 1981. Unfortunately, now I don’t have a published version or even a copy of the prepared manuscript with me! When I left Sri Lanka, I did not bother to take with my writings of the pre-1982 period. After the 1983 anti-Tamil riots in Colombo, these were sent to our house in native Point Pedro by my parents for safe-keeping. God only knows what happened to them. I had a complete collection of ‘Sutantiran‘ issues from 1970 to 1981. And all my writings published in ‘Sutantiran‘ from 1974 to 1981. When I visited Point Pedro in March 2004, I was able to locate a segment my book and journal collections, stored in two almirah cupboards, at my cousin’s house. I could retrieve my diary collections, written between 1969 to 1980.]

Jan. 7, 1981/Wednesday

Third day morning’s Plenary Session was on Dance, Music and Drama. Dr. Sudharani Raghupathi read a paper on bharata natya, accompanied by demonstrations from three of her students. After this presentation, there developed a heated discussion on the origin of bharata natya. Padma Subrahmanyam, who was also present, was asked to contribute her views, which she did for almost more than half-an-hour, in an impromptu style.

TULF leader Amirthalingam released a book in memory of Fr.Thani Nayagam. Dr.S. Ramanathan presented a paper on music, with demonstrations. This was also superb. But the paper by Putthaneri Subramanian on drama, was not that impressive. Presented a copy of my research paper to Padma Subrahmanyam.

Met ‘Mukunthan'[alias, Uma Maheswaran] after a lapse of two and a half years at a book stall and had a chat with him about the activities. I was having a high temperature; didn’t take lunch; so, went to hostel to rest. Couldn’t attend the afternoon research sessions.

In the evening, went to Tamil Isai Sangam Hall. Witnessed Swarnamugi’s dance performance. A thrilling performance indeed and one will get hair-raising experience when he sees the ‘karanas’ demonstrated by Swarnamugi. And the snake-dance and peacock-dance were real delights.

Jan. 8, 1981/Thursday

5th day at Madurai. 4th day of the Conference. As today’s Plenary Sessions are scheduled on Tamil literature by Ma.Po.Si. [Sivagnana Gramaniaar] and Justice Maharajan, Fr. Joseph Mary and I thought to shift our attention to town. While we were moving out only, we learnt that MGR had come to the seminar auditorium.

For the first time, I was in Madurai city during day time. We had lunch at St. Mary’s Church, being guests of Fr. James Rodriguez. Returned to the university around 2.30pm. Obtained a copy of Ma Naatu Vizha Malar [Conference Souvenir Issue], priced at Rs.35, issued free to us.

In the evening, we strolled along the roads around 6 pm, and witnessed that large number of masses gathered around the posters of ‘January 1974 incident’. We went to witness Sol-Luminare show (Oli-OLi kaatchi – sound and sight show) titled, ‘Puthiya Ulagam Puthiya Poomi’ (New World – New Land); then, witnessed a theru koothu [folk street drama] ‘Manu Neethi Cholan’, a legendary Chola king who delivered merit-based justice.

We spent the night at St. Mary’s church.

Jan. 9, 1981/Friday

6th day at Madurai. 5th day of the Conference. We felt that yesterday, we should have been present at yesterday’s Plenary Sessions, when MGR addressed it. We were unfortunately not physically present to witness what C. Rajadurai spoke, and what was commented by one Kumaradasan, said to be a Sri Lankan delegate, and what MGR retorted.

Today’s Plenary Session was presided by V.R. Nedunchezhiyan and by the time he addressed us, it was around 1.00 pm. I was laughing all the time, when he delivered his address, sprinkled with humorous quips on everything under the sun. He was fantastic – a pro’s pro in oratory indeed. I presented a copy of my research paper to him.

I was lucky to meet the son and son-in-law of my flute tutor Palayamkottai T.P. Jesudas. They had come all the way from Palayamkottai to meet me.

In the evening, at Madurai Tamil Isai Sangam Hall, we witnessed Jayalalitha’s dance drama, ‘Mathura Nayaki’ [Then, Jayalalitha was only a movie star, and not even a member of Anna DMK party]. The hall was filled to capacity. After the program, it took our bus nearly 3 hours to pass through the traffic jam. We were unable to have a good dinner. Reached the Kamaraj University hostel by 12.30 am in the night.

Jan. 10, 1981/Saturday

7th day at Madurai. 6th and final day of the Conference-Seminar. Plenary Sessions closed by 11.30 am. After having lunch, we started off to Madurai city by 1.30pm in Delegates’ buses; our bus was directed through a by-route to reach the city. But we got stuck in the traffic jam.

Indira Gandhi had just arrived and she was passing along the route. We couldn’t see the exhibition of floats. All we could see, ahead of us, in the sides and behind us, were just heads! – mass of humanity – surging this way, that way, crushing, pushing and jostling. Finally we landed at the Race Course for valedictory function by 5.30 pm. MGR and Indira Gandhi addressed the function. It was over by 7.00 pm.

Then we moved over to Tamil Nadu Hotel, to attend the dinner hosted by the Chief Minister MGR. I couldn’t enjoy the dinner whole-heartedly. MGR was there, having dinner, and C. Rajadurai, S. Thondaman Sr. were also seen. After the dinner, MGR delivered a farewell speech; all the delegates were offered a Thanjavur Golden Plate and we managed to collect ours.

We left the tour party at the Madurai railway station around 11.00 pm, and returned to the hostel by 12.00 midnight. We were told that tomorrow morning we have to pack up and leave the premises.

Jan. 11, 1981/Sunday

8th day at Madurai. We packed our baggages and left the hostel by 6.30 am; but left the Madurai University premises only by 10.30 am. One by one left, and we (Fr. Joseph Mary, Bro. A.J. Alagarasan, V.S. Thurairajah and myself) went to Melur and returned to Madurai. Garlanded the statues of Arumuga Navalar and Fr.Thani Nayagam.

Thurairajah family and James Rutnam left for Tiruchi to take the plane for return trip to Colombo. By 2.30 pm, Fr. Joseph Mary, Bro. Anton John Alagarasan went into residence at St. Mary’s Church, Madurai. We were received by Fr. James Rodriguez.

Jan. 12, 1981/ Monday

In the morning, checked my cash balance. I had bought books for Rs. 113.00, textiles for family Rs. 398.25, 6 photo prints Rs. 36.00 and sundry gift items Rs. 42.85. We moved to the Bishop’s House, with Fr. Joseph Mary and Bro. Anthon John. Had lunch at Hotel Karpagam.

Jan. 13, 1981/ Tuesday

Visited Madurai Meenakshi Temple, for prayer with Fr. Joseph Mary. After lunch at St. Mary’s Church, we left for Madurai railway station. The train bound for Rameswaram, started off at 1.55 pm. Reached Rameswaram by 7.30 pm. Stayed overnight at a house arranged by Fr. Joseph Mary’s acquaintance Raja Gomez. He was a functionary of local Anna DMK branch.

Jan. 14, 1981/ Wednesday -Thai Pongal day

Visited Rameswaram temple with Fr. Joseph Mary, and Raja Gomez. After a sumptuous ‘fishy’ breakfast at Raja’s house, we entered the Rameswaram port and easily passed through the Customs, courtesy of Raja. We boarded the ship ‘T.S.S. Ramanujam’. The total number of passengers were 569. The ship started off at 2.30 pm. I could sense the respect for the cassock worn by Fr. Joseph Mary, as we were able to enter ship captain’s deck. I could have conversation with Capt. Poopala Rayar as well as Second Officer Paldano and Quadron Officer Ponnusamy. The discussion turned to Madurai conference. While two of the three sided with MGR, officer Ponnusamy was supportive of the stand taken by Karunanidhi, in not attending the conference. We landed in Talaimannar at 6:00 pm. Passed through the Customs check, with no duties paid for the gift items. Had to spent 3 hours at Talaimannar pier, and boarded the night mail train at 10.30 pm.

MGR’s switch from an Eelam opponent to Eelam supporter

When the 5th International Tamil Conference was held, there was no doubt that MGR was an opponent to the idea of Eelam. His actions during the Conference caused irritation to the Eelam activists. Regarding this, I subsequently commented in a letter, published in the Lanka Guardian (March 1, 1981), under the caption, “Observations on the Madurai Tamil Conference”, as follows:

….Though the exhibition stall organised by the Eelam supporters who travelled from UK and USA, was demolished on the instructions of Tamil Nadu government, the administration could not stop the activists pasting the posters depicting the ‘Jan.10 incidents of 1974 Conference’ all over the Madurai city, again on 7th night. As a matter of fact, large crowds converging to Madurai city, gathered around the places where the posters were pasted; the posters themselves were different in colour, content and appeal. In fact most of the commoners were blaming the MGR administration, for not allowing them to know what had really happened in the 1974 Tamil Conference….

Lanka Guardian May 1 1981 What Happened at Madurai Conference

This was my early impression. Subsequently, I came to realize that MGR’s behavior in Madurai platforms was misinterpreted by the Eelam Tamils, and could be easily explained. He was the hero of that Tamil festival, organized by him for his political profit . He funded it. It was his ‘movie experience’ instinct in not to allow others to steal a scene from him. Eelam demonstrators wished to hijack the stages unprofessionally towards their objective and MGR wanted to protect his invited guests and deftly showed to the protestors who held the whip hand.

If MGR took a mis-step in 1981, he turned out to be a quick study and eventually became an Eelam sympathizer, to the extent that the then ruling UNP politicians came to tag him as the god-father of Prabhakaran and LTTE. In hindsight, one can well agree with MGR’s response in 1981 to the TULF-led Eelam campaign as an apt one.

I wonder whether he would have sensed that the TULF-leadership of Amirthalingam was only paying lip service to Eelam without any heart-felt conviction to its aims. But in 1981, MGR received lot of flak from Sri Lankan Tamils for his anti-Eelam comments at the Madurai Tamil Conference, while the Sinhalese media trumpeted his sentiments with glee in the Sri Lankan ‘kept’ media. It may not be an exaggeration to note that the emergence of Prabhakaran among the Eelam activists was a critical factor for MGR to switch his stance from an Eelam opponent to Eelam supporter.

I reiterate that Prabhakaran was one critical factor for MGR to become an Eelam supporter. There are other factors also which deserve mention. One could propose that the suffering of Eelam and estate Tamils during the 1983 anti-Tamil riots and the resulting influx of refugees into Tamil Nadu could have had a seminal influence on MGR.

Cynics may counter this by noting that MGR didn’t have such an altruistic sympathy to Eelam Tamils. He was just trying to protect his political base in Tamil Nadu, by aligning with the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, who courageously took the first step in training the young Tamil militants to check the aggression of J.R. Jayewardene.

Additionally, analysts may also present an opinion that MGR linked with LTTE, to spite Karunanidhi, after watching the DMK leader’s camaraderie with Amirthalingam. Like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon movie theme, truth may lie in each of these compartmentalized, simultaneous developments of that period (between 1983 and 1985).

My opinion, expressed in 1995, was as follows:

“Eelam issue also provided a psychological tonic to MGR in his last years of the legendary career. It gave him an opportunity to contribute to the history of his land of birth. It is well known that displaced individuals keep an affectionate spot to the land of their birth, and this affection reaches a climax, when they near the end of their lives. MGR was a displaced individual and fate had it that he was moved to Tamil Nadu as a toddler from Kandy, the place of his birth. Though he earned fame in Tamil Nadu, MGR was treated as an outsider in the political arena. Thus an active role in the Eelam issue would have given MGR a psychological uplift to influence the history of his land of birth. It can be asserted that other ranking Indian politicians would not bother to engage themselves with the Eelam issue as MGR was, since they do not possess the ‘birth identity’ MGR had with Sri Lanka.” (source: MGR Movies Revisited, and Other Essays, by Sachi Sri Kantha, 1995, p.10)


End Note

I had to return to Colombo immediately, to participate at the Second International Winged Bean Seminar, that was scheduled to start on January 19th, 1981, and receive my future mentor Prof. John W. Erdman of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Thus, much to my regret, I had to forfeit the post-Conference train tour opportunity of Tamil Nadu, arranged by the Tamil Nadu government for foreign delegates. Only after reading Es.Po’s descriptions about the ‘Special Train for Tamil’ tour arranged by MGR’s government in his autobiography (2003), I could infer what an opportunity I had missed. Es. Po had written that MGR suffocated the delegates with his brand of hospitality. More about this, I’ll cover in my MGR series, at the appropriate time.

Other than the noted politicians, some of my mentors and activists who enriched Tamil culture and literature (James Rutnam, Prof. Saalai Ilanthirayan, Dr. S. Ramanathan, Kovai Mahesan, Dominic Jeeva, Krishna Vaikunthavasan, K. Uma Maheswaran aka Mukundan and V.S. Thurairajah) mentioned in this diary entries have died now. To my regret, I had lost contact with Fr. Joseph Mary and then Bro. Anton John Alagarasan, after I went to USA in August 1981.


Cited Sources

Es.Po: Varalarril Vazhthal (Living through History), vol. 2, Mithra Arts & Creations Ltd., Chennai, 2003, pp. 1467-1490.

Sachi Sri Kantha: Observations on the Madurai Tamil Conference. Lanka Guardian, Mar.1, 1981, 3(20): p. 15.


No Responses to “From Sachi’s Files – Chapter 17”

  1. Arul

    What a lovely article! I was a student volunteer during the conference and who knows I might have seen Dr. Sachi during the conference!
    It was a nice journey down my memory lane, in particular I like the details wherein Dr. Sachi mentions his money transactions! I was having just a few rupees as packet money during those days!!
    Some unique landmarks like ‘Hotel Karpagam’ are so memorable!