Telling the Tale of Tamils Across the Oceans – A Talk

Telling the Tale of Tamils Across the Oceans – A Talk
Prof. M. Anandakrishnan Endowment Lecture Series

 About the talk

A talk on an unprecedented publication on Tamils in Southeast Asia and Singapore. Two distinguished Singapore institutions – the Indian Heritage Centre and the Institute of Policy Studies – join hands to publish an authoritative, scholarly but accessible account of  the 2000-year history of Tamil influence on and imprint in Southeast Asia and a more contemporary history of Tamil arrival and settlement in the island of Singapore. The two-volume book features insightful essays by established scholars from around the world as well as by young Singaporeans who have lived as Tamil Singaporeans. The connections between Tamil Nadu and the lands across the Bay of Bengal speak of one of the most penetrating soft power projections anywhere in this world and yet that tale has largely been forgotten or ignored or both. This book and the introductory talk are gentle reminders of our continuities and discontinuities.

About the speakers

Arun Mahizhnan is Special Research Adviser at the Institute of Policy Studies. He undertakes selected special projects at the Institute. Currently, he is leading the effort to publish Singapore Chronicles, a 50-volume book series to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s Independence ( He was previously Deputy Director and the head of the Arts, Culture and Media research cluster in IPS. He was concurrently an Adjunct Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information at the Nanyang Technological University till 2017. Before joining IPS in 1991, he held senior positions in public communications in broadcasting and public relations. In the public domain, he has been a long time contributor to the development of arts and culture in Singapore and currently serves as Chairman of the Intercultural Theatre Institute, a tertiary level theatre training institute, and as Director of the Centre for Singapore Tamil Culture, an NGO focused on building bridges across Singapore cultures.

Nalina Gopal is Curator at the Indian Heritage Centre and oversees the centre’s curatorial team. She has a BA in History and an MA in International Studies from the University of Madras. Prior to joining the centre in 2008, she was curator and registrar at a private museum in Chennai, India. Her research interests include South Asian diaspora in southeast Asia as well as Indian history and art. Her recent publications include Singapore Indian Heritage (2017), and Once Upon a Time in Little India (2019), for which she has authored chapters and artefact descriptions; some recent publications include “Through the Lens of Art: Setting the context to Indian Heritage in Singapore and Southeast Asia,” in ASEAN— India Shared Cultural Heritage in “Act East” ASEAN-Indian Shared Cultural Heritage (2019). In addition to the Centre’s permanent galleries, she has also recently curated exhibitions including Once Upon a Time in Little India, Symbols and Scripts—The Language of Craft, Chetti Melaka of the Straits—Rediscovering Peranakan Indian Communities and From the  Coromandel Coast to the Straits— Revisiting our Tamil Heritage.

About Prof. M. Anandakrishnan

Prof. Anandakrishnan obtained Ph.D in Civil Engineering (1960) from the University of Minnesota, USA. He served as Professor of Civil Engineering at IIT, Kanpur between 1963 and 1974. He served the United Nations  in the UN Centre for S&T for Development(1978-1989); as the Vice-Chancellor of Anna University (1990-96); and as Vice-Chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education from 1996-2002.  Currently he is the Chairman,  Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology  Kanpur and Rajasthan; President, Ranganathan Centre for Information Studies (RCIS), Chennai; President, Tamil Nadu Academy of Sciences,  Chennai; Member, Board of Management, NUEPA, Delhi; Member, High Power Committee on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education in India and Chairman, Executive Council, Science City, Chennai. He was Chairman, MIDS between 2003 and 2008. He has served as Chairman or Member of several high level committees of MHRD, UGC, AICTE and NAAC. His honours and awards include Padma Shri from the President of India (2002); the Order of Scientific Merit from the President of Brazil (1996); Distinguished Leadership Award of the University of Minnesota (2003); Honorary Fellow of the Indian Society for Technical Education (2005); UGC National Swami Pranavananda Saraswati Award in Education (2006); Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, India and Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India.


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