Karthigesu Sivathamby, renowned Tamil scholar from Sri Lanka, passed away at his home in Colombo on Wednesday at the age of 79.
He is survived by his wife Rubawathy and three daughters.
An Emeritus Professor of Tamil in the University of Jaffna, Mr. Sivathamby, along with the late K. Kailasapathy, is known as an outstanding Tamil scholar, specialising in the social and literary history of Tamils, culture and communication among Tamils, Tamil drama and literary criticism. He has authored about 70 books and 200 research papers in Tamil and English.
Born in Karaveddi in Jaffna in 1932, he studied B.A. (History, Economics and Tamil) and M.A. (Tamil) at the University of Ceylon and received his Ph.D. (Drama in Ancient Tamil Society) from the University of Birmingham in 1970, where he studied under Marxist scholar George Thomson.
After serving as a simultaneous interpreter in the House of Representatives of Parliament of Ceylon, he taught at Zahira College, Vidyodaya and Eastern University of Sri Lanka. He was a visiting professor of Tamil at the University of Madras and the Institute of International Studies, Chennai. He was also a senior research/visiting fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Tamil University, Thanjavur, and the University of Cambridge.
He has served as chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Citizens of North and East of Sri Lanka; chairman of The Refugee Rehabilitation Organisation (TRRO) – Jaffna, during 1986-98, and served as the patron of the Colombo Tamil Sangam.
‘An irreparable loss'
Leaders in Tamil Nadu, including the former Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, have offered their condolences. In a statement, Mr. Karunanidhi said Mr. Sivathamby's death was an irreparable loss. He recalled how the Tamil scholar, despite ill-health, had participated in the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore last year and chaired academic sessions.
G. Ramakrishnan, State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said Mr. Sivathamby's writings were gifts to Tamil literature and the Left movement. Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko termed him a great socialist and rationalist.
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