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Of an estimated 80 million Tamils in the world, 10 million live outside their native India and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), says Ramalingam Shanmugalingam, of San Diego, California.

"Events in the not too distant past in their native habitats have forced many Tamils to migrate to other lands," he says. As International Coordinator, he helped plan formation of a World Wide Tamils' Coalition (WWTC) in San Diego on October 26 and 27, 2002. You can read the details in the e-magazine KUVIYAM.

"The Tamils speak the language Tamil, which has a vast cultural and literary wealth," says Mr Shanmugalingam. "In the absence of an Independent Tamil homeland, it is felt that the preservation of Tamil culture and the adoption of Tamil language in the receptive and flexible electronic media should be privately organized. More than 20 Tamil lovers from various parts of the world are meeting in San Diego to initiate a Tamil Think Tank."

The proposed World Wide Tamil's Coalition would be a non-partisan, secular global organization devoted to the well being of people of Tamil origin, stimulating cooperation and communication among Tamils living all over the world and help maintain their Tamil identity under one flag, anthem and Tamil Language.

It would seek to:

  • Promote the interests and aspirations of Tamil communities around the world through the various existing organizations on a global scale.
  • Promote Tamil studies particularly among those who were deprived of the use of Tamil in the past, and create a binding relationship.
  • Promote understanding of Tamil heritage, culture and language.
  • Ratify the Tamil flag and anthem adopted by the 8th International Conference on Tamil Culture in December 2001 in Durban, South Africa.
  • Establish a Tamil financial institution to mobilize financial, intellectual and professional resources of Tamils all over the world for their mutual development and advancement.
  • Encourage interaction between Tamil communities to deliberate and decide on common issues and problems facing them including education, technology, Human Rights violations, sub-standard labor practices and citizenship issues.
  • Monitor Tamil refugee cases and help ease their sufferings.
  • Help interaction between Tamil communities and other communities at global level in promoting world peace, progress and ecological harmony.

Tamils are dispersed around the world. About 200,000 live in Canada, mostly in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The Tamil community there is a relatively new group. Some settled as early as the 1960s, as independent immigrants. The vast majority, however, arrived in Canada after 1983 in the aftermath of the 1983 Colombo riots in Sri Lanka. In 1983, the Canadian government took Tamils into Canada under humanitarian and compassionate consideration. Today Tamils continue to make up one of the largest group of refugees seeking asylum in Canada.

About 80,000 Sri Lankan Tamils have settled in the UK. Thousands of other Tamil-speakers live in Australia, Fiji. France, Germany, Malaysia, Mauritius, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and the US.

Ryerson (Toronto) University School of Journalism's Diversity Watch  lists these prominent Tamils:

  • Sonya Jayaseelan - Canadian tennis player.
  • Shayam Selvadurai - author of Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens.
  • Sanjay Kumar - president and CEO of Computer Associates in New York.
  • A. Sivanandan - author of When Memory Dies, and editor of the journal Race and Class.
  • Yasmin Tambiah - lesbian author.

Read the interesting biographies of three Tamils who became world-famous:




The World's First Multi-National E-book can now add Sri Lanka to its list of countries which have posted our stories.We are delighted to learn that KUVIYAM, a monthly internet magazine in Tamil and English, has published our article about the World's Longest Place Names 

That story seems particularly appropriate, since many Sri Lankans have long names, some even longer than Ramalingam Shanmugalingam (mentioned above).


Copyright 2002

Eric Shackle

Story first posted November 2002

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