Amidst the recent controversy over his remarks on Saint Andal, Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu has donated Rs. 5 lakh towards the establishment of a Tamil chair at Harvard.
The poet had announced earlier that he would donate the entire amount collected from the sales of his books at the Chennai book fair this year.
Speaking at he event, he thanked everyone who had come for the event saying "Everyone I love is here."
Vairamuthu also quoted his lyrics from a song, "puyal vinnil vandhal, mazhai mannil undu. Endha theemaikullum oru nanmai undu" (if there's a storm brewing, there's going to be rain. Behind every evil there's going to be a good), hinting that the ‘evil’ in recent events has helped bring those who support him together.
Industrialist Palani Periyasamy, writer Sa Kandhasamy and Arumuga Murugaiya, member of the Harvard Tamil Chair committee, were present at the event.
Tamil has been added as the seventh language in Harvard's list of ancient languages.
In his speech, Arumuga Murugaiya pointed out that of all the languages to have a chair at Harvard only the Chair for Tamil has been funded by its speakers from all over the world.
In October last year, Tamil Nadu government sanctioned Rs 10 Crore for the chair and actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan had also donated Rs 20 lakhs for the effort.
In his speech, Vairamuthu pointed out that after Chinese, Tamil is the only other living language among the seven languages to have a chair at Harvard. He added that Tamil comes 17 in the top 20 languages in the world.
He also thanked former Chief Minister Kalaingar Karunanidhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government for declaring Tamil as 'Semmozhi'. "Tamil as a language over-qualified all the criteria required to become 'Semmozhi'. We Tamils do not forget the contributions of Kalaingar and Manmohan Singh toward this cause and we will always be thankful," he said.
He also added that the 382-year-old institute should also feel proud for the addition of this 3000-year-old language and also thanked Dr. Janakiraman and Thirugnayasambandham for initiating the establishment of the Tamil Chair at Harvard.
"Harvard is one of the foremost institutes in the world and it's research papers are lauded and lapped-up by many all over the world. Instituting a chair for Tamil in such a place would guarantee the spread of its fame."
Towards the end of the event, hotel association members from Vasantha Bhavan and RR Bhavan came forward to donate Rs 10 lakhs for the cause.
Once instituted, Tamil chair will pave the way for Tamil related researches by Ph D scholars.
With a target of 6 million dollars (Rs 40 crores) the website currently shows that 92% of the amount has been collected (5.52 million dollars) so far.