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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil Language & Literature > Project Madurai > Dr.K.Kalyanasundaram (Project Leader) on Fourth Anniversary of Project Madurai - Pongal Day 2002

 

Dr.K.Kalyanasundaram (Project Leader) on Fourth Anniversary of Project Madurai - Pongal Day 2002:

This week we will be celebrating PONGAL and along with this the FOURTH ANNIVERSARY of PROJECT MADURAI. On these happy occasions I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to fellow Promads for all their encouragement and enthusiastic support during the past four years.

Project Madurai was started four years ago on Pongal day 1998 by a small group of 25 volunteers who were interested to build a public access digital archive composed of Tamil literary works. This "Promad" group has been growing steadily and stands at ca. 190 today.

After a steady increase in the list of Etexts released to the public during the first three years (18 in 1998; 28 in 1999 and 49 in 2000), new releases during the past year stand at 37. In order that the PM etexts are easily accessible in all commonly used computer platforms, we now routinely release the PDF (portable document format) version of etexts as well.

Global Tamil Diaspora figure is ca. 70 million with at least a million of this population having Internet access. I am not sure how many of this are aware of PM efforts to contribute or benefit from the availability of etexts of Tamil literary works online. We need to work hard to increase the awareness amongst the public and indirectly increase the number of Promads involved in the etext preparation.

I would like to repeat the appeal I made last year: "building a decent, comprehensive Digital Library devoted to Tamil works is like building a Temple". It is a community effort, by the people for the people. It needs committment and hardwork from many people with different expertise over a long period of time. Every one of us should participate and contribute whatever he/she can and be proud of it as well."

Project Madurai cannot (and should not) depend on the same handful of Promads for sustained growth. I request majority of Promads subscribed to this list who remain as back-benchers to come forward and engage in most important tasks of key-in and proof reading of etexts.

If we count the individual works (small and big), we have put up already more than 200 Tamil works. A good number of ancient classics of the sangam period has been covered already. We are pleased to note that Mr. Maa Angiah of Malaysia has now an online web-based search interface that allows quick search on the availability of a given Tamil work at PM archives.

Project Madurai is being recognized increasingly as an important electronic resources. During the past year Dr. Thomas Malten and Mr. Sascha Ebeling of the Inst of Indology and Tamil Studies of the Univ of Koeln came forward to place their entire collection of electronic texts of cangkam period as part of PM archives and also provide us with photocopies of other Tamil ancient classics that are at the Koeln Library.

We have now the TSCII version of these works. If not a rigorous proof-reading, the Tamil script version of Koeln texts have to be quickly checked for integrity of the etext during the conversion of etexts from transliterated format to Tamil script (TSCII) format. In 2002, our priority is to get these etexts online as soon as possible. IITS authorities have also provided us with a copy of "pirantat tirattu" of T. Minakshisundaram Pillai.

Coverage of key works of leading Tamil authors of 20th Century is also progressing well. Thanks to Dr. N. Kannan and Mr. Iyer we have placed online a number of Tamil works of authors of Sri Lankan origin. Quite recently one of the well known contemporary authors of Malaysia, Prof. Ra. Karthigesu of Penang has come forward to place some of his works at PM. A collection of his short stories has just been released. We look forward to contributions from other leading authors of Malaysia and Singapore region.

We are also fortunate to have some of the leading contemporary authors of Tamilnadu come forward and place some of their representative works at PM. Indira Parthasarathy, Vasanthi and Ira Murugan have already agreed. We are in the process of identifying key works of them that can be placed as etexts in PM. In these cases, authors themselves are trying to provide etexts of the works in question.

Few weeks back we saw the announcement from Tamilnadu that long-awaited OCR software for Tamil is now available, one from Prof. V. Krishnamoorthy. Promads can now look forward to using this software and thus accelerate rate of generation of etexts.

Most of you must have heard of recent initiative of fellow Promad Dr. N. Kannan of Germany in launching a global "Tamil Heritage Foundation (THF)" devoted to preservation in digital form of major elements of Tamil culture and History. A key event of last Tamil Internet 2001 conf. was the spontaneous gift from a key member of the audience during Kannan's talk, (Malaysian Minister Dato Seri Samy Vellu) of 10000 US$ and continued support to this cause. Digitization of palm-leaf manuscripts of Tamilnadu is one of several projects that are being started. This topic has been discussed several times in this list during the past years. I am pleased to associate with Dr. Kannan in these efforts as well (as the Secretary of the non-profit organization THF)...

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