Tamil Chair Inc.

Tamil Chair Inc.

Tamil Chair Inc. is a non-profit organisation that is currently working on fund raising for Harvard Tamil Chair. Two of the main donors Dr. Vijay Janakiraman and Dr. Sundaresan Sambandam are part of the Harvard Tamil Chair who initiated the Chair with seed money.

What does a chair mean?

An endowed chair is an academic unit under a specific department in an institution of higher education to teach and research, with the financial support of donors and it lasts indefinitely.

What is Tamil Chair, Inc.?

Harvard University has accepted a proposal to set up a “Sangam Tamil Chair” in the Department of South Asian Studies with the focus being on Tamil Sangam Literature and all Tamil literature influenced by it. Tamil Chair Inc. is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization set up specifically to collect funds for the establishment of the Tamil Chair. Donations given to Tamil Chair, Inc. are tax deductible.

How did Tamil qualify as a chair at Harvard University?

Only classical languages are qualify to have a chair at Harvard University. There are about 7100 languages spoken in the world. To be considered a classical language 11 requirements must be met.

The requirements are

  1. Antiquilty
  2. Individuality
  3. Common Characters
  4. Neutrality
  5. Parental Kinship
  6. Finding expression in the culture, art and life experience of the civilized society
  7. The ability to function independently without any impact/influence of any other language/literature
  8. Literary prowess
  9. Noble ideas and ideals 
  10. Originality in artistic and literary expressions
  11. Linguistics principles

Among the 7 classical languages of the world, 6 languages (Greek, Sanskrit, Latin, Hebrew, Persian and Chinese) meet only 8 of the above requirements to be a classical language.  Only Tamil language qualifies all 11 requirements. Tamil language surely surprised Harvard the most when considering the chair.

As a child of Tamil language, we should be proud.

What is the need for a Tamil Chair?

Tamil language has ancient literature dating back to around 300 B.C. Tamil is one of the classical languages of the world, with Greek, Sanskrit, Latin, Hebrew, Persian, and Chinese being the others. The Tamil language has had a continuous and vibrant literary history which continues to this day. Tamil is the 20th most commonly-spoken language (by 80 million people) in the world. Today, Tamil is spoken in many countries of the world.

Tamil literature is a vast field and there are many areas which need to be researched. Tamil needs to be taught at institutions where other classical languages of the world are taught. Also, there are many Tamils from all over the world who attend Harvard University. They had expressed an interest to learn Tamil and so it is taught there at a basic level.

It is a matter of prestige for the Tamil community to set up a Tamil chair at the oldest and most reputed academic institution in the United States. It will also help produce Tamil scholars who will be trained in modern research methodologies.

For other classical languages, there is research and progressive work done at various international academic centers. It is quite urgent and highly imperative that the same attention be given to the Tamil language. It will enhance the chances for its continual use and growth, and also gain global recognition.

This chair at Harvard could become the guiding light for other institutions that are engaged in Tamil studies and research.

Why at Harvard University?

Harvard University, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, established in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and is considered as one of the celebrated citadels of Higher Education in the world. It has produced many U.S. presidents, noble prize winners and celebrated scholars.

Representing many different countries, languages, and research interests, Harvard functions as a premier academic hub promoting great diversity and intellectual vitality. Harvard has many of the best scholars in the world in its teaching faculty.

Being a teaching and research university, Harvard provides great opportunities for Tamil students, scholars and researchers.

How long Tamil will be taught at Harvard University?

Once the Chair is endowed, Tamil will be taught there indefinitely.

How can you help?

Both Dr. S.T. Sambandam and Dr.V. Janakiraman have made the seed contributions of $500,000 each. Many others have made contributions. The balance of the amount needs to be raised.

You can donate directly to Harvard University by using the following link http://harvardtamilchair.org/donate

Encourage your friends and family to donate and help in setting up this chair. By being part of this great effort, you will become a part of the Tamil history.

Source: Harvard Tamil chair Inc