Internet World Tamil conferences

EDITORIAL: Internet Tamil and Government Patronage

TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 1999 (ID. 1999-04-e)
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AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Significant strides have been made in developing Tamil resources on the Internet. Virtually all these developments were the result of private (that is, non-government) efforts. Tamil community should ever be thankful to the many individuals who contributed to "Internet Tamil" in many ways.

The Tamil Nadu government, which under successive DMK and AIADMK rules has done much for Tamil in other areas, has recently played a visible role in the 1999 Internet Tamil Conference (TamilNet 99) held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Government patronage is always good for Tamil development because of the financial resources available. Unfortunately, Tamil Conferences usually become more of a circus than a platform for serious discussions when taken over by government. We saw a little of it in the 1999 Internet Tamil Conference (TamilNet 99) also but it did not get out of hand thanks to the individuals involved from both the government and non-government side. As long as we could keep the mix of show and substance to this level in the future also, we would be happy. Those involved should be on guard to make sure that things do not tilt towards pomp and festivities.

We may learn a few lessons from the World Tamil Conferences. The First World Tamil Conference was held in Malaysia in the 1960s through the tireless efforts of many Tamil scholars around the world, with very little government interference. The Second Conference was held in Chennai (at that time called Madras) in 1968, just a year after DMK came to power in the state. This conference had much more fanfare than the first conference. There were processions and street decorations and a lot of money was spent on this. Successive World Tamil Conferences held in Tamilnadu during the DMK and AIADMK regimes saw more and more fun and gala. In general, conferences held outside of Tamil Nadu had much less of a circus atmosphere. The last conference in Tamil Nadu was held in Thanjavur a few years ago. More government money was spent on this conference than ever before but virtually all of it went for festivities. While millions were spent on festivities, the Tamil University nearby was starving for funds to continue with some important work it was doing.

We hope that Internet Tamil Conferences (TamilNet Conferences) would not go the way of the World Tamil Conferences held in Tamil Nadu, but remain solid, scholarly conferences to keep Tamil language abreast with emerging computer and communication technologies.

Inia Pandian, Editor

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