Pugazhenthi An Art Ambassador From India                                                               

Eezhanatham, 2005

     “S.V.Rajadurai known as S.V.R widely known in SriLanka and Tamilnad is a very different intellectual in Tamilnadu. He was one of the very strong supporters of struggle for Tamil Eelam. He is a continuous writer with living energy and an activist. He is a leftist, Dalitologist, and he has achieved   more than any organization dependent intellectual.

     Last Hero’s day, he came to Vanni from Yalppanam. “What should I necessarily see here?” he asked. “Let us go to the abode of rest” I said. Our vehicle started towards the abode of rest. At the same time the Hero’s day talk also started. In the empty streets, in the late evening waiting for rains, when the vehicle was running fast he heard the Hero’s day exhortation by Veluppillai Prabakaran.

     Before the Hero’s day exhortation was over, we reached the abode of rest. we entered through the waiting masses among the tombstones and it was the time for the ringing of the bell.

     In the cold wind, there was the hesitant ring of the bell with sad song and there was the smell of ending burning flame among the hero stones. With burning and shining eyes the relatives were weeping. This atmosphere was very new to S.V.R. He saw every thing wonderstruck. The Hero’s day exhortation was very well balanced. He praised it saying that for a foreign visitor it presents matter briefly and cogently. The intellectual in him who would not easily give up or surrender anything, a tight intellectual, slowly melted and in high emotion, the Tamil in him came out.

     At that time he did not appear like a intellectual but a highly emotional Tamil.

     But SVR was first and foremost an intellectual cum activist. Secondly he was an artist and critic.

     But in recent days, the artist Pugazhenthi standing in Vanni, is not an intellectual. First and foremost he is a creator. He is highly emotional artist. When a local journalist was interviewing him, he was asked how he was able to stand for long supporting Tamil Eelam struggle, it is said that he began to weep.

     He and Tamilnadu Eelam creativists like him see art as an instrument. They use art as a vehicle of taking and conveying political ideas to the masses. To day this column is not going to estimate the artistic value of Pugazhenthi’s paintings. On the contrary the purpose of this column is to discuss the politics behind his paintings.

     The importance Pugazhenthi’s paintings got and the political content of his paintings is important, it is necessary to discuss the policies behind his paintings. In the backdrop of deteriorating Tamilnad and Tamil Eelam relationship, for a generation the discussion of the politics in his paintings becomes very important.

     The deterioration in the relationship between Tamil Eelam and Tamil nadu which started in 1987 with the Sri Lanka – India treaty has not been restored or corrected in the cease fire atmosphere of the last three years.

     In the past three years, people of Tamil Eelam bend fast towards the western Countries in particular Euope. Compared to this there is no change in the relationship between Tamilnadu and  Tamil Eelam. Comparatively there is very little.

     Most of the parties in Tamil Nadu and orthodox left parties abandoned Tamil Eelam people long ago. Sometimes they have even betrayed us. Only small parties without power, small movements and Dalit movements only have concern and interest in the people of Tamil Eelam.

     In this background, policy makers in Delhi may be satisfied and very happy that Tamilnadu is not the background of Tamil Eelam war. But in the last twenty years, many people of Tamil Eelam have crossed this region and they have settled in foreign lands and they have shaped into big financial background powers. The policy makers in Delhi have not at all taken this into account.

     This is an unusual change. Sure, those in Delhi would not have thought of such a change. But that has happened. Tamil Eelam people have settled in alien regions. Europe is ready to adopt them. They have hard work, a mania to  study, economic in saving, and wisdom and these people are a peculiar type of immigrants who can be attracted to their side so that Western countries under the leadership of America believe that their future is shaping bright. They have taken steps towards that.

     Just like the Irish community or Jews in America, Tamils of Eelam also will develop themselves one day into a community capable of creating and influencing opinions or political pressures in Europe. This opportunity is growing in the past three years.

     With this backdrop, people of a  nation are distancing themselves. They belong to this region, part of the great culture of the great sub continent. But they are small in number who are looked down with arrogance by Delhi policy makers because India is a big country. With this background and political atmosphere Pugazhenthi has come to Vanni on art Yatra, bringing his paintings with him.

     He has made similar visits earlier but this is quite different, emotional sometimes tear producing. He says that he wants to draw in places where Dileepan was on  hunger strike and other places where large scale murders, massacres took place. He wants to draw mammoth paintings there.

     There is a political situation when the visit of political geniuses and other important representatives from India to Vanni is considered a non entity. He is the first art ambassador from India who has come here openly and boldly.

     Formerly art ambassadors like Swami Vibulananda, Kalayogi Ananda coomarasamy, Thanianyagom Adigal, Navalar, Si.Vai.Damodaram pillai have visited India periodically. But now Pugazhenthi has come from India.

     This can also be said to be the result of the victory of the bold initiative and nonviolent struggle by Vai.Gopalasamy against POTA act.

     Vai.Gopalasamy was jailed for supporting an armed struggle. He accepted the prison life with all its pain and suffered by himself and converted it into a non violent struggle and succeeded in that. As a result of this victory, new confidence is slowly budding in Tamilnadu and Pugazhenthi is the first ambassador to set foot.

     He has come here a few months ago. Thankar Bachan, Professor Arasu, S.V.Rajadurai, Balu Mahendra, Saxophone artist Shyam Saran and others have quietly come and gone. But Pugazhenthi is the first to come out openly as art ambassador, in this backdrop.

     He is the thin connecting yarn, not to be broken, in the relationship between Tamilnadu and Tamil Eelam. Following his artistic ambassadorial visit, many more Indians should come.

     Delhi policy makers do not consider the Tigers alone as a banned outfit. On the other hand even the people under the control of Tigers are considered banned people.

     In this matter Tamils of Eelam have to be steady, balanced and different. you cannot measure Delhi policy makers and Indian citizens in the same balance. In the defining moment of Eelam struggle, just like the Tamils in Europe the Tamils of Tamilnadu also can be a huge deciding factor. This should not be forgotten.”