Feature Article

Queen Elizabeth honours three Tamils this year

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 January 2011, 18:52 GMT]
Queen Elizabeth II honoured three Tamils this year at New Year’s awards in New Zealand and in UK. Significantly, The Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) to 77-year-old Eezham Tamil, Mr. Arumugam Thevarajan from New Zealand was in specific recognition for his services to the Tamil community in New Zealand. Another Eezham Tamil who received Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) was Mr. Chelliah Yogamoorthy, an old student of Jaffna Hindu College, who was honoured for his outstanding service to the Department of Transport. Mr. Yogamoorthy is also a trustee of a Tamil school in Birmingham. The MBE honour for Lakshmi Holmstrom, alumna of Madras and Oxford universities, was for her services to literature. She translated a number of Tamil literary masterpieces into English. In 2007, Canadian Tamils also honoured her with an award.

A Thevarajan
Mr. A Thevarajan, New Zealand [Image courtesy: Vanitha Prasad, Western Leader]
Born in Puloali West, Vadamaraadchi in Jaffna, and an old student of Hartley College, Point Pedro, Mr. A. Thevarajan moved to New Zealand in 1997. There he founded New Zealand Tamil Studies and Humanitarian Trust, which was in the forefront in helping the Eezham Tamil migrants in many ways, ranging from helping the migrant retirees in getting their entitled pensions to fighting for the rights of the migrants to swear on the religious text of their choice in legal situations.

Mr. Thevarajan is one of the two members representing New Zealand in the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. "What's happening in Sri Lanka is not war or even riot – it's genocide,” he told media in New Zealand this week.

His community service and contributions to Tamil language and culture span well over half a century. Leaving government administrative service in the police department after the language policy of the state in the island of Sri Lanka, Mr. Thevarajan, a prolific writer in English and Tamil, became a trade unionist and freelance journalist, and devoted his entire time to society and heritage.

Since 1960s Theva Rajan was associated with the organization of a number of societies such as the committee for the installation of the statue of Arumuga Navalar in 1969, society remembering a Tamil scholar Sathaavathaanam Kathiraivet Pillai and Fr. Thaninayagam Foundation.

Theva Rajan was one of the first to study the Brahmi inscriptions of Sri Lanka, bringing out the Tamil personal names and the other Dravidian elements in them to the attention of scholars in India and Sri Lanka.

In the early 1970s, associated with the Jaffna Archaeological Society, he brought to light a megalithic urn burial in Vallipuram.

His research presentations and publications were on wide-ranging topics: Murukan cult among the Sinhalese, Tamil language rights in Sri Lanka, public servants and legal remedies, human rights, children’s literature and many others.

* * *

Chelliah Yogamoorthy
Mr. Chelliah Yogamoorthy, UK [Image courtesy: Jaffna Hindu.org]
Born in 1946 at Karaveddi in Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna, Mr Chelliah Yogamoorthy had his early education at Karaveddi Vigneswara College and went to Jaffna Hindu College for university entrance studies. He was selected to do Engineering at Peradeniya University in 1966.

Mr. Yogamoorthy went to UK in 1972. Initially he worked with civil engineering contractors building motorways and with consulting engineers on design before joining Shropshire County Council in 1976.

He joined the Department of Transport in 1987 as a quantity surveyor in Birmingham. He was in at the inception of the Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department where he later became the leader of the Quantity Surveying team.

He was also a lecturer teaching MBA programme in the UK, Rhine Army in Germany and in Moscow.

In 1986, while in Birmingham, Mr. Yogamoorthy started teaching diaspora children to read and write Tamil in a Tamil school, which later evolved into Midland Tamil Cultural Association. Mr. Yogamoorthy is now a trustee to the Tamil school that will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee this year.

Speaking to Old Students Association of Jaffna Hindu College in UK, he thankfully remembered the kind of education he received from educationalists like N. Sabaratnam, a team of eminent teachers and the care of the hostel warden K.S. Subramaniam.

* * *

Laksmi Holmstrom
Ms. Lakshmi Holmstrom, UK [Image courtesy: writerscentrenorwich.org.uk]
Tamil Nadu-born Lakshmi Holmstrom currently lives in the UK. She did her first degree in English literature at the University of Madras and later chose the works of the great Indian writer R.K.Narayan for her postgraduate research at the Oxford.

She is the founder-trustee of SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive) - an organisation for archiving the works of British writers and artists of South Asian origin.

Lakshmi extensively translated some of the greatest ancient works in Tamil such as Chilappathikaaram and Ma’nimeakalai, and some of the greatest modern writers like Puthumaippiththan into English.

She has also recently translated a good number of Eezham Tamil poetry into English.

Canadian Tamil foundation Tamil Literary Garden awarded her Iyal Viruthu (Lifetime Achievement Award) in 2007.

A bibliography of her would speak for itself of her achievements:

  • Indian Fiction in English: the Novels of R. K. Narayan, Calcutta: Writers Workshop (1973)
  • (Ed.) The Inner Courtyard: Short Stories by Indian Women, London:Virago Press (1990)
  • (Trans.) Ambai's A Purple Sea, Affiliated East-West Press (1992)
  • (Ed.) Writing from India: Figures in a Landscape, Cambridge University Press (1994)
  • (Trans.) Silappadikaram: Manimekalai, Orient Blackswan (1996)
  • (Trans.) Ashoka Mitran's My father's friend, Sahitya Akademi (2002)
  • (Trans.) Bama's Karukku, Oxford University Press (2000)
  • (Ttrans.) Imayam's Beasts of Burden, Manas (2001)
  • (Ed.) Waves: An Anthology of Fiction and Poetry Translated from Tamil, Manas (2001)
  • (Trans.) Pudumaipithan: Fictions, Chennai:Katha (2003)
  • (Trans.) Sundara Ramasami's That's It But, Chennai:Katha (2003)
  • Mauni:A Writers' Writer, Chennai:Katha (2004)
  • (Trans.) Na Muthuswamy's Neermai (Waterness), Chennai:Katha (2004)
  • (Trans.) Bama's Sangati, Oxford University Press (2005)
  • (Trans.) Madhavayya's Clarinda, a Historical Novel, Sahitya Akademi (2005)
  • (Trans.) In A Forest, A Deer: Stories By Ambai, Chennai:Katha (2006)
  • (Trans.) Salma's The Hour Past Midnight, Zubaan (2009)
  • (Ed.)(Trans.) The Penguin book of Tamil poetry: The rapids of a great river, Penguin Books (2009)



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