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Tamil Maiyam and its journey since 2002

T. Ramakrishnan

CHENNAI: Tamil Maiyam, whose office in Mylapore here was searched by the Central Bureau of Investigation a few days ago in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, was established by Jegath Gaspar Raj in July 2002 as a private trust to promote Tamil art and culture.

But it came into prominence only in 2005, with the ‘Thiruvasagam in Symphony' project. From then on, it started attracting politicians and industrialist donors.

A fusion of western classical music and Carnatic music, ‘Thiruvasagam in Symphony' combined the ancient Tamil poetry with contemporary English text. It was composed by veteran music director Ilayaraja. Musicians from three continents and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra were part of the ensemble. At a function held here in June 2005, Union Minister S. Jaipal Reddy launched the audio compact disc of the work. Among the speakers was Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko.

In 2006, Tamil Maiyam became a public charitable trust. Professionals and public figures, including Kanimozhi, daughter of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and now a Rajya Sabha member, and K. Pandiarajan, who runs human resource service provider Ma Foi and now a leader of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, had by then come to be associated with different events of the organisation. Vincent Chinnadurai, chairman of the State Minorities Commission, was once its president.

Fr. Gaspar Raj, who hails from Kanyakumari district and holds two postgraduate degrees, worked as a radio journalist in Manila from 1996 to 2002. Earlier, he was a parish priest in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at Sahayanagar in Kanyakumari (1992 to 1995).

In August 2006, Tamil Maiyam organised ‘Mozart meets India,' another fusion programme, which was supported by Ms. Kanimozhi, who by then became a trustee of the organisation. It gained greater visibility through Chennai Sangamam, a high-profile cultural event held since February 2007. It was also supported by Ms. Kanimozhi. Musicians, artists and prominent personalities from different walks of life participated in four editions of the event. The other activities of the organisation include ‘Give Life,' a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative launched along with Shriram Social Welfare Trust, which targets corporate bodies with a strong CSR philosophy; ‘Season of Love,' aimed at benefitting marginalised sections such as orphans and poor children; and ‘Chennai Marathon,' an annual run held since 2008. Last year, actors Sneha, Priyamani and Prashanth and sportspersons, including Narain Karthikeyan, endorsed the run. Karti P. Chidambaram, son of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, officially launched the marathon. In this year's curtain raiser, chess champion Viswanathan Anand took part.

Ten days after A. Raja resigned as Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology in the wake of the controversy over the spectrum allocation, Fr. Gaspar Raj, who says he is a supporter of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, addressed a public meeting that was critical of the allegations in the media against Mr. Raja. But Fr. Gaspar insists that Mr. Raja has not directly donated funds to Tamil Maiyam.

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