The industrial city of Coimbatore is all decked up to play host to the first ever edition of the World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC), scheduled to be inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on June 23.
The five-day event, touted to be close to the heart of DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, is expected to attract thousands of persons from countries like U.S.A, Switzerland and Malaysia, among others.
Iconic musician A. R. Rahman has scored music to the lyrics of Mr. Karunanidhi that will be the theme song. Leading singers, including veterans T. M. Sounderrajan and P. Suseela, present generation singers such as Shruti Hassan, Carnatic musician Soumya and Rahman’s fellow composer in Tamil cinema, Yuvan Shankar Raja among others have lent their voices.
The theme song video has been made by noted filmmaker Goutham Vasudev Menon, maker of Hindi flick ‘Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein.’
Finnish scholar Asko Parpola will be awarded the ’Kalaignar M Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award’ during the inauguration.
A slew of scholars, experts and political leaders are scheduled to participate in the event. Some prominent names include Tamil scholars V Sivathambi (Sri Lanka), UNESCO Director Armoogam Parasuramen, MPs and political leaders including Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M)), D Raja (CPI), PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss and many others.
A total of 23 conference halls will be in place for the five-day government sponsored event. Union Ministers Pranab Mukerjee, P. Chidambaram and A. Raja will participate in the valedictory session on June 27.
While Southern Railway has announced special trains for the benefit of people intending to visit Coimbatore for the conference, the State government has declared a holiday for educational institutions to enable students participate in the meeting.
However, the conference is not bereft of controversy, with principal opposition AIADMK announcing boycott of the event.
Soon after Mr. Karunanidhi announced last year that the government would conduct a World Tamil Conference (last held in Thanjavur in 1995 when AIADMK was in power), AIADMK leader Ms. Jayalalithaa said it lacked the International Association for Tamil Research (IATR) recognition, forcing the government to not only postpone it from January to June, but also rechristen it as WCTC.
She has also declined to nominate a party member to one of the many committees involved in the preparation leading to the much-hyped event.
Cultural programmes, Tamil IT conference and a mega rally highlighting Tamil culture on the first day of the event are some of the major attractions incorporated in the WCTC.
Last year, Mr. Karunanidhi had hinted that he may quit politics after the successful conduct of the conference. He had placed two things-construction of a new Assembly-Secretariat Complex and the successful conduct of the WCTC, as his top priority even as the State is scheduled to go to polls next year.