Distorting Tamil Culture and Ethos – a Certainty with the Harvard Tamil Chair

In the last week of October 2017, the Tamilnadu government headed by Mr. Edappadi K. Palaniswami announced ₹10 crore towards the plan initiated by two US-based Tamil enthusiasts, cardiologist Dr. Vijay Janakiraman and oncologist Dr. S.T. Sambandam, to set up  a Chair for Tamil at Harvard University. (1) This culturally ignorant (and obviously misinformed) move is based on the late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and the then AIADMK party chief, Ms. J.  Jayalalithaa’s Tamilnadu election manifesto of 2016 (2) which reads on the archived version of their website as follows:

தமிழ் மொழியின் சிறப்புகளை உலகெங்கும் கொண்டு செல்லும் வகையில் புகழ்பெற்ற ஹார்வர்டு பல்கலைக்கழகத்தில் தமிழுக்கென்று தனி இருக்கை ஏற்படுத்தப்படும்.

(“A separate Chair for Tamil will be created at the famous Harvard University in order to spread the greatness of Tamil  worldwide.”)

The Tamil people, having been misled by greedy politicians for many decades to consider their Tamil identity much closer to their hearts than their national identity, jumped at once with all gusto to support this move. Intellectually colonized, rich Tamils want Harvard University to spread the fame of Tamil while they care not for the status of Tamil education back at Tamilnadu.

Not knowing the huge negative impact that the Tamil Chair at Harvard University would create, there is even a Quora topic on the importance of the Chair (3) with the highest upvoted (162 times as of 02/11/2017) answer which cites the Harvard Tamil Chair’s official website (4) as a source. It is also disheartening that there are approximately 66,000 “followers” and 64,000 “likers” on the Facebook page of the Harvard Tamil Chair. (5) It is important to note that the “answerers” on the Quora topic (3) do not speak of the treacherous motives of the Chair based on past evidence. This may be because these netizens know not the devious plans of those who use the Chair as an innocent good-samaritanish front.

The creation of a Chair for a Bharatiya language at Harvard University is pure Déjà vu. The funding for the Chair is purely a business investment for the investors who fall for lucrative offers of scholarship programmes, endowment recognitions, and introductions to high profilers of the upper echelons of American society. The highly biased ideologies and their modus operandi were exposed by Mr. Rajiv Malhotra in his revealing book, Breaking India (2011) (can be bought online via Flipkart here).

It is prima to note that the Tamil culture and ethos would be grossly misinterpreted once the Chair has been created at Harvard University and no one can do anything about it. The Berkeley Tamil Chair (6), created in the late 1990s, has already begun changing the narrative of Tamil ethos and culture. Many years prior to being the first person hired for the Berkeley Tamil Chair, Professor George Hart, a separationist at heart, even wrote a full book titled The relation between Tamil and classical Sanskrit literature (1976) (7) dedicated to showing how Tamil and Sanskrit have little or no resemblance and hence, belong to two different cultures.

Writings of Professor Ilakkuvanar Maraimalai from Chennai, the first visiting professor invited for activities of the Berkeley Tamil Chair, include topics such as ‘sexual assault on Christian nuns’ in India, and ‘I love America’. Moreover, the Berkeley Tamil Chair organizes Tamil conferences which usually showcase papers destroying and misinterpreting traditional Tamil images of devotion, as followed by those with modern Dravidian political motives. Undoubtedly, Christianising and creating separationism in Tamilnadu is the primary goal of the Berkeley Tamil Chair and the Harvard Tamil Chair will prove to be no different.

The following image from Breaking India gives a surface level understanding of the underground gears that will be put in motion once the Chair is created at Harvard University:

                                                                   Source: ‘Breaking India’ (2011)

The control over the narrative and interpretations of the Tamil literature and traditions will be transferred to Western academia and funding agencies, which are in turn supported by the Churches and the Government in a vicious nexus. This will influence how the Bharatiya academia and media will portray the Tamil culture. This intellectual infiltration will be followed by the active physical infiltration by NGOs and Church subsidiaries.

Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, in an article (8) published on his website around the time of releasing Breaking India, explains succinctly the background of this issue with Harvard University:

“Many years ago, when … briefed on what to do about Harvard’s request for funding chairs there…China, I was able to show, gets treated as a serious civilization. One factor was that China studies is done largely in Mandarin while India is studied in English. Also, China regulates visas for western scholars such that it blacklists those it finds troubling, whereas India is open and welcomes everyone without supervision, and fails to do any analysis after the fact as to whats (sic) being produced. In fact, Bharatiyas find it a compliment when westerners study them, as though suffering from an inferiority complex of feeling left out.

Finally, a key difference is that Bharatiya intellectuals are heavily anti-India because of pseudo-secularism and Marxism deeply entrenched in Bharatiya intellectual circles, and most important Bharatiya scholars are western trained and/or funded and/or craving to be in their good books for fame and prestige. Chinese do not suffer such complexes, which in India are the after-effects of colonization. This is because Gandhi got superseded by Nehru in defining the elitist Indian ethos. Gandhi was emphatic about his Indianness, whereas Nehru bragged to John Kenneth Galbraith that he was the “last white man to rule India.””

This is why the Infinity Foundation is organizing the Swadeshi Indology conference series to reawaken the Bharatiya conscience. This year’s edition is titled ‘Tamil Nadu – The Land of Dharma’. (9)

In summary, what we can be sure of is that the creation of the Tamil Chair at Harvard University will most certainly distort Tamil culture and ethos and changing that will be an uphill battle.


  1. Tamil Nadu government announces ₹10 crore for setting up Tamil Chair in Harvard. The Hindu. [Online] October 27, 2017. [Cited: November 2, 2017.] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-announces-10-crore-for-tamil-chair-in-harvard/article19931803.ece.
  2. தமிழ் நாடு சட்டமன்றப் பேரவை பொதுத் தேர்தல் – 2016 அனைத்திந்திய அண்ணா திராவிட முன்னேற்றக் கழக தேர்தல் அறிக்கை. AIADMK – The Official Website. [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2017.] Accessed archived page from10 May 2016. https://web.archive.org/web/20160510163613/http://aiadmk.com:80/manifesto2016/tamilnadu.html.
  3. 3 answers – How important is “Tamil Chair” at Harvard University? How it will enrich the language? – Quora. Quora – A place to share knowledge and better understand the world. [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2017.] https://www.quora.com/How-important-is-Tamil-Chair”-at-Harvard-University-How-it-will-enrich-the-language.
  4. Harvard Tamil Chair Inc. Harvard Tamil Chair Inc. [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2017.] http://harvardtamilchair.org.
  5. Harvard Tamil Chair – Home. Facebook. [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2017.] https://www.facebook.com/HarvardTamilChair/.
  6. Tamil Chair _ Institute for South Asia Studies. Institute for South Asia Studies _. [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2017.] https://southasia.berkeley.edu/tamil-chair.
  7. Hart, George L. The relation between Tamil and classical Sanskrit literature. s.l. : Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1976.
  8. Malhotra, Rajiv. Harvard And The Indian Billionaires. Infinity FOundation. [Online] 2011. [Cited: November 2, 2017.] https://rajivmalhotra.com/library/articles/harvard-indian-billionaires/.
  9. Call for papers – Swadeshi Indology Conferences. Swadeshi Indology Conferences – इच्छन्ति देवाः सुन्वन्तं स्वप्नाय स्पृहयन्ति . [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2017.] http://swadeshiindology.com/si-3/call-for-papers/

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About the Author

Melur Subbaiya Saravanan

An engineering professional and an Indology enthusiast actively studying Tamil and Sanskrit. He can be contacted at [email protected]