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In Conversation With Karthikeyan Ramu

Ranjani Saigal

Karthikeyan Ramu is an Engineer by profession. He graduated with a Masters in Technology Management from Columbia University. He loves family, plays volleyball, enjoys movies and listening to music. Writing Tamil poems and volunteering for charities are his passion. He lives in Bedford, MA with his wife and two boys. He hails from Allivilagam, a village in Nagapattinam District of Tamilnadu. He founded the non-profit organization Tamil Makkal Mandram in 2011 along with few of his close friends.

Can you describe the Tamil Chair initiative?

This is an initiative to setup Endowed Chair for Classical Tamil Language & Sangam literature at renowned Harvard University. The Chair will support teaching, scholarship and research in Tamil at Harvard forever. This greatest initiative has been supported by Tamil community of the world. This initiative is pioneered and lead by Dr.S.Sambantham and Dr.V.Janakiraman. $6 Millions is required to setup the chair. So far $2.5 Million have been raised among which the founders Dr. Sambantham and Dr.Jankiraman have contributed $1 Million dollars

Why do you feel it is important to support this initiative? 
It is important to not just me. Each and every person in USA belong to Tamil Diaspora and Tamil from all over the world should support this great Tamil Educational cause. 

The great poet Bharathiyar, who is a scholar in Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, Telugu, English says “ Yaam arindha mozhigalile thamizh mozhipol inidhaavadhu engum kaaNom” , meaning “ Of all the languages known to me, I haven’t found any language sweeter than Tamil”. Further, “Sollil uyarvu thamizhch cholle, adhaith thozhudhu padithidadi paapaa” - meaning, “ the words of the Tamil language are the best; therefore, study it in a worshipful manner”.

Among 7000+ living languages, 7 are considered as Classical Languages based on various research criteria. Apart from Tamil all the rest of the languages ( Chinese, Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Persian, Greek) were all already having chair in Harvard. Tamil definitely has more to offer for the world community and to Tamil Community itself through the Chair.

Could you tell us about the Walkathon? 
Like me, many like minded volunteers who values this initiative and New England based community and educational organizations came together for this cause and conducting a walkathon. The list of organizations include Tamil Makkal Mandram, New England Tamil Sangam, Boston Tamil Association, Kalaimahal Tamil School, Kolam Academy of Dance, Kolam Media Creations, ShishuBharathi, Connecticut Tamil Sangam, Rhode Island Tamil Sangam, Bharathi Vidhyashramam, Lokvani, Abhyaas School of Music, theFoundationsTV. 

The 5K Walkathon is on May-27th the Saturday @ Minefalls Park, Nashua, NH​ ( Tickets available at tamilchairwalkathon.eventbrite.com ). So far 500+ tickets have been sold. We believe that the Walkathon will create awareness about Tamil Chair initiative in New England region and support the Fundraiser target of $250K. 

Why is Tamil special to you ? 
​Tamil is my mother tongue. I grew up studying Tamil language and literature. I would like to recall the same words which Dr. Sambatham use to say, " Today, I am what I am.. it's because of Tamil ". Tamil has taught me love, compassion, faith, respecting others, valuing tradition and culture etc. They are just few droplets of Ocean what Tamil Language and literature can offer to us. It has very rich proven content in all areas of studies such as business, medicine, science, architecture and more. I think these incredible values must be spread across the world and taught to our next generation through premium institutes such as Harvard.​

Can you tell us a little  about the Tamil Makkal Man
​Tamil Makkal Mandram(TMM) is a vibrant Tamil Community non-profit organization in New England area. ​"Arunthamizh valarpom .! Araneri Kappom.!" is the organization's motto meaning "Enrich Tamil and Encourage Charity". It is run by passionate volunteers who values Tamil and Charity to the most.

There are quite a number of Tamil Diaspora in the area and they all miss the nativity fun and celebrations. We conduct events to time to time to rejoice the cultural values. Our last event was attended by 750+ attendees. Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming outdoor summer festival - Kodai Kondattam on June-18 ( More details at https://www.tmm-usa.org ). 

What is your favorite Tamil Epic and why? 
​Silapathigaaram ​ - is my favorite. It is because, I was brought up and studied in the town of Poombuhar ( Kaveripoompattinam ). This is the original setting of the Epic. I was lucky to listen to passionate lectures on the Epic along with other literature in my school, where we do celebrate "Kannagi Thirivizha" every year to celebrate "Kannagi" the women of chastity.

Any special message for our readers?  
​Thank you Lokvani for giving me the opportunity ​to share information about Tamil Chair and Tamil Makkal Mandram among your fabulous readers. I would like to recall one of my favorite poems from " Nalvazhi" by the great poetess  Avvayar and seeking continued support for Tamil Chair and Tamil Makkal Mandram.

ஆண்டாண்டு தோறும் அழுது புரண்டாலும்
மாண்டார் வருவரோ மாநிலத்தீர் - வேண்டா!
நமக்கும் அதுவழியே! நாம்போம் அளவும்
எமக்கென்? என்(று) இட்டு, உண்டு, இரும்

​English Translation
Even when one wails rolling on the floor, year after year,
The dead are not going to come back. So stop crying.!
That is the way everyone goes and until that day comes
Do not worry, feed the hungry, eat and be yourself.​

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