Tamil writers and scholars would be driven to silence if you ask them why no major literary prizes are coming to their literature! I have been asking these questions lately in many forums. I am surprised such thoughts haven’t come to the Tamil minds. They are all so self-absorbed, operating in many narrow factions and nursing their own petty egos. The very political environment helps the average writer or poet to settle down comfortably into this narrow groove.
We live in a world where English had become a much powerful force and in the globalised world, translations of our literature into English assume critical importance. How to expose the modern Tamil literature and poetry in particular to the international audience. We have to promote translation projects, run translation courses in our language departments, comparative literature and languages have to take the place of traditional English departments.
Today, there are many complex issues that impact on modern man Prof.Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winner for economics, a friend from my Santiniketan days had explored the theme of human freedom in many of his books. Sen, in my opinion, had taken our knowledge of human freedoms to new heights. There are also the positive and negative freedoms as expounded by the late Isiah Berlin. These are critical issues for our life today, for our democratic society.
I often ask friends and scholars: what chance we have to make this century an opportunity for Tamil Nadu? Tamil literature? Answers vary. The genuine Dravidian culture and civilization can be promoted to world level only by transforming the Tamil society into a vibrant enlightened society.
I feel there is no other way except to promote through good, governance, a new vision for creating a modern Tamil society and political culture. There is much platform talk but no serious research on Bharati’s poetical evolution, for instance, we don’t have any body of critical writing on our poets as there are on English poets.
Somehow, I feel the Tamil intellectuals; I mean the Tamil scholars, had never studied the intellectual growth of Tamil society in the past 300 years. In the way I see it. Why three hundred years? I take this period roughly correspond with the rise of European Enlightenment, starting with the Newtonian revolution in physical sciences and the growth of reason in modern discourse in all branches of life, politics, society and philosophy. The French Revolution and the thoughts and ideas that preceded the same, the thoughts of French philosophers, men like Rousseau and Voltaire and the growth of the ideas of freedoms and the rights of modern man.