World Tamil Conference brings together scholars and community leaders

World Tamil Conference, Wellington

Scholars, motivation speakers, opinion-makers and community leaders from various parts of the world will be in Wellington next month to attend the first ever world conference on Tamil.

Organised by the Wellington based Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Tamil Sangams (ANTS) Inc, the one-day event will be held from 9 am to 6 pm on November 12, 2022 at the Lower Hutt Event Centre in Lower Hutt.

This will be followed by a gala dinner and entertainment programme, starting at 7 pm, in the presence of political leaders, diplomats and other dignitaries.

Raveen Annamalai, President, The Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Tamil Sangams Inc

ANTS President Raveen Annamalai said that the idea of organising a Tamil World Conference has been on the anvil since the Federation was formed last year but the closure of borders due to Covid-19 and the resultant issues posed several challenges.

“We are happy that we are now able to organise this event, bringing together celebrity speakers and Tamil leaders in various fields from across several countries. This is the beginning of a long journey on which ANTS has embarked with scholars, activists and speakers from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to promote Tamil Culture, Language and Identity,” he said.

ANTS Secretary Malini Yugendran said that the Conference will set the standard for meaningful engagement with the Tamil-speaking people and promote the involvement of women and the younger members of the community throughout the country.

“The event will also feature discourses on the evolving identity of the Tamil youth, provide unity among the members and be a conduit for the transmission of the language, culture, heritage and identity to the younger generation. There will be five segments of Seminars, with themes of relevance and importance to the Tamil-speaking people,” she said.

Malini Yugendran, Secretary, The Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Tamil Sangams Inc

The following information was provided by Malini Yugendran.

First Session

Prabha Ravi of Lower Hutt will speak on Women and Economy.

A a resident of Lower Hutt for the past 23 years with extensive experience various fields of activity, she will shed light on financial literacy and financial independence.

A Management Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Mentor, Assessor, Presenter, Panel Speaker and an experienced Governor, Ms Ravi is a member on the boards of not-for-profit organisations in New Zealand across various sectors such as Education, Health, Sports, Arts, Community and the Lower Hutt Regional Council. She brings the much-needed ethnic and cultural diversity and thinking to the boards spending several hours of her own time to ensure that there is fair and equal representation on the board where key decisions are made. She is a strong advocate of equity, diversity and inclusion across all sectors. She is regularly invited as a panel speaker by local and international organisations to share her knowledge and experience in arts, education and governance.

Kokila Annamalai of Singapore will speak on Gender Equality.

Topics on gender have been viewed with a binary lens: Male/Female. However, Ms Annamalai discourses on equality pays attention to also those who belong to the rainbow community.

She has over 10 years of experience in the non-profit and community arts space, often wearing multiple hats. She has conceptualised, organised and led community development programmes, research projects, arts festivals, conferences, forums, community arts and education programmes that brought diverse groups together for learning, relationship building and collective action.

Ms Annamalai has done arts and community programming in mainstream and independent sectors. These experiences have facilitated her growth as a writer, researcher, facilitator, community builder and arts practitioner who builds strong relationships with communities, government agencies, artists, media, educational institutions, funders and other stakeholders.

Her understanding of and sensitivity to diverse groups and cultures has enabled her to bring people together in safe and stimulating spaces for dialogue, collaboration and new, intersectional ways of tackling shared issues.

Ezhilarasi Manavalan from India will tackle the infamous discourse of Women are their worst enemies.

A world renowned Pattimandram (debate) speaker who has shared the stage with Suki Sivam, Mohanasundaram and many more orators, she is also famous for quick wit and sharp observational skills. She has donned the role of a moderator in many Pattimandrams.

Dr Malini Anandakrishnan (Pachaivathy), from Sydney, Australia.

She has Psychiatry and Mental Health Certificate from the University of Sydney. She is a speaker, poet, composer, translator, Interpreter, researcher and writer, she has written more than 30 books. She runs an organisation called AMAV Australia and has trained many teachers around the globe on Tamil Methodology and helped them to teach Tamil in a short time. She is actively involved in various community projects.

Session Two: Ethnolinguistic Identity

This Session will bring together the world renowned septuagenarian B H Abdul Hameed, Dr Mahesh Babu of New Zealand,  India’s Deepan Raj and Malaysia’s Paandi Durai. They will form the nexus in aligning and integrating Tamil language and media.

B H Abdul Hameed: The Architecture Of Language For The Next Generation.

B H Abdul Hameed is a very popular Tamil announcer on Radio Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) the oldest radio station in South Asia. He has compered many events in Colombo. He joined a band of announcers who enjoyed iconic status across South Asia. Millions of listeners tuned into the radio station once known as Radio Ceylon. Abdul Hameed was also honoured to act in the 2001 Tamil film Thenali as a guest role starring Kamal Hassan. He is usually chosen as a Master of Ceremonies for many international Tamil functions.

Mahesh Babu Purushothaman: Tamil: The Scientific Elixir

New Zealand will explicate the research he has done on Tamil language and has named his topic as Tamil: The Scientific Elixir.

Mr Purushothaman received his PhD from Auckland University of Technology with research interests in the human factors influencing lean manufacturing systems and waste reduction. He works in the School of Future Environments, AUT, prior to which he gained more than 25 years of industrial experience dealing at Middle and Top management level. He has managed lean manufacturing units for 25 years. His experience includes manufacturing, procurement, warehousing, marketing, demand planning, and change management. He has implemented projects, which combined digital and Information technology integration in the process to reduce stress in the manufacturing environment.

Mr Purushothaman has designed process architecture and was involved in developing IT projects for facilities, manufacturing, and SCM. Mahesh has publications in the Journal of Cleaner production and conferences. Mahesh has published an edited book titled “Lessons from lockdown.” Mahesh has research interest in Lean thinking, digital technologies, Cognitive influence, stress, and well-being of the people in the business and industrial processes to create a healthy and safe community.

Deepan Raj from India: Meta-analysis of the History of Tamil diaspora

Meta-analysis of the History of Tamil diaspora is underpinned with archaeological and historical facts and figures.

Deepan Raj is an experienced Radio Jockey and social media manager at Suryan FM, Sun TV Network, Chennai. He has over nine years’ experience in the respective field and is also a well-established YouTuber. His passion and unconditional love for Tamil language made him embark his YouTube journey in 2020. His channel named “Deep Talks Tamil”, stays true to its name and focuses primarily on in-depth talks on Tamil history, culture, literature, and much more. With his hard-hitting, factually correct and effective production quality videos, he has earned over 800,000 subscribers till date. Deepan is also a recipient of a few digital awards held by Chennai and Puducherry based events.

  1. Paandi Durai from Malaysia: Tamil: Sangam Period to Social Networking Sites Era!

Paandi Durai will engage the audiences with his speech on Tamil: Sangam Period to Social Networking Sites Era! He will tackle questions on the evolving Tamil usage: purism vs colloquialism. Mr Durai is a well-known motivational speaker from Malaysia and travels the world to engage in discourses that helps build a positive identity for individuals as well as communities.

Session Three: In Conversation

In this exclusive session Indian Newslink Editor and ANTS Patron Venkat Raman will engage with celebrity speakers and other dignitaries (to be announced).

Session Four: Dr Sithuraj Ponraj from Singapore and M Navin from Malaysia

B  Mr Ponraj will harness scholarly works to articulate on Promoting Youth Purpose Through Literature. A Senior Visiting Fellow at the RSIS Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) where he researches and writes on digital and cyber issues, Mr Ponraj was Director of the International Cyber Policy Office in Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, where he played a key role in the development of Singapore’s international cybersecurity strategy and in its international and regional engagement and capacity building initiatives. He is ann exceptional speaker on Tamil literature and Tamil history.

Mr Navin employs his creative skills to speak on Writing Diaspora – Tactics of Intervention

Navin is a Malaysian award-winning Tamil writer. He currently runs an e-magazine by the name of Vallinam. In 2010, he received the Young Talent Award from the Malaysian state of Selangor. In 2019, he received the Tamil Literary Garden of Canada Award. To date he has written and published more than fifteen books. His novel Peichi (2019) stirred controversy within the Indian community, resulting in a ban by the Malaysian government in 2020. As a publisher, Navin has published thirty-nine Malaysian Tamil literary works, from poetry, fiction, non-fiction and anthologies. He has also produced sixteen documentaries on Malaysian Tamil literary pioneers.

Session five: Youth Tamil Identity and Social Norms.

The participants of this segment are Jayasutha Samuthiran of Singapore who is Global Brand Manager @William Grant & Sons; Velmurugan Sellakkannu of New Zealand who is an engineer by profession and is also an active participant in Pattimandrams. He is Vice-President of Auckland Tamil Association; Sundaresan Thandavan, a Development Engineer by profession and a volunteer Tamil Teacher at the Wellington Muthamizh Sangam; Mathusha Paraneetharan, a 20-year-old, Eelam Tamil girl of New Zealand, she a student of Finance and Information Systems at Victoria University of Wellington and a drama teacher at Chilton Saint James School. Her passion and interests are in Bharata Natyam theatre and the history of Eelam Tamil.

Conference Objectives

According to Ms Yugendran, the Conference will provide a platform for the Tamil Diaspora to reconnect with our culture, heritage, traditions, language and identity.

“By understanding the richness and greatness of one’s roots, we will be able to manifest our identities confidently and with pride. The Conference will provide an opportunity for Tamils to be culturally competent global citizens,” she said.

Mr Annamalai said that the Conference will springboard objectives including (1) declaration of April as the Tamil month (b) official launch of the Te Tiriti O Waitangi in Tamil (3) Tamil Hui (4) A Book of 101 Māori quotes translated in Tamil (5) Standardisation of Tamil language across Aotearoa and (5) An Annual Māori-Tamil collaborative cultural exchange entertainment programme.

“The purpose of the Tamil Conference 2022 is to bring together like-minded Tamilians from all over the nation and the world in order to learn, share ideas, network, create ideas and ignite motivation,” he said.

The five sessions of the Tamil Conference 2022 are open to the public at no cost and seats will be reserved on a first come first served basis. Pre-registration is now open at

The conference will culminate in a Black-tie Gala dinner. The dinner is a ticketed event and is limited to the first 250 pax only. Book your tickets at:

About the Tamil Federation

The Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Tamil Sangams Inc (ANTS) is national Federation  with members from regional Tamil Sangams in New Zealand. It is the first of its kind in the South Pacific and champions Tamil ethnolinguistic identity and plays a crucial role in mobilising Tamils in New Zealand.

“Our vision is to encourage member organisations and other like-minded entities to work together on key projects, share experiences and other valuable information with other communities and become global citizens,” Mr Annamalai said.

Praneeta Mahajan is Indian Newslink Reporter based in Hamilton.

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