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A chronicle of ‘poetry in stone'

Staff Reporter
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Minister says ‘Samacheer Kalvi' books will have more of history, heritage and archaeology

Minister for School Education Thangam Thennarasu hands over the first copy of a coffee table book to Kalakshetra Foundation director Leela Samson, in Chennai on Wednesday. Writer K.R.A. Narasiah (left), MARG Group Chairman and Managing Director GRK Reddy and author of the book S. Swaminathan (right) are in the picture. — Photo: R. Ragu
Minister for School Education Thangam Thennarasu hands over the first copy of a coffee table book to Kalakshetra Foundation director Leela Samson, in Chennai on Wednesday. Writer K.R.A. Narasiah (left), MARG Group Chairman and Managing Director GRK Reddy and author of the book S. Swaminathan (right) are in the picture. — Photo: R. Ragu

Speakers at a book launch function here on Wednesday called for more literature on history and archaeology for the benefit of children.

Speaking at the launch of ‘Mahabalipuram – Unfinished Poetry in Stone', a coffee table book authored by S. Swaminathan, Minister for School Education Thangam Thennarasu said the ‘Samacheer Kalvi' books will have more of history, heritage and archaeology incorporated such that a child can assimilate a lot more information about the past.

Giving an example of Darasuram temple, the Minister said the intricate things that have gone into its making, the cultural value it holds, inscriptions etc would be brought in a more refreshing style through the books.

Heritage clubs

He insisted that schools start heritage clubs. “I have already raised it in the Assembly and a GO is yet to be passed, so schools are yet to formally launch heritage clubs,” he said.

Leela Samson, Director, Kalakshetra Foundation, who received the first copy of the book, underscored the need for “winds of change in children's books”. She spoke about how the Sangeet Natak Akademi is also doing its bit by asking artisans and artists to document the compositions they learnt and the history they know so that every child can get authentic information on India's past.

Heritage enthusiast Pradip Chakraborty praised the author for bringing out an objective and holistic book, which even talks about the plant species in Mahabalipuram. He said the Pallavas and Cholas stood over others including Pandyas as they documented their work. He asked the author to bring out a children's guide to Mahabalipuram.

“Pinnacle of art”

Prof. Swaminathan, who retired from IIT-Delhi, said Pallava architecture is the pinnacle of Indian art but very few know about it. The book is a study on the architectural and sculptural achievement of the Pallavas. “The motifs in Mahabalipuram can be used in colouring books, animation, and story telling sessions can be held here,” he suggested. The photographs in the book were taken by Ashok Krishnaswamy.

Writer K.R.A. Narasiah, MARG Group Chairman and Managing Director GRK Reddy, actor-dancer Swarnamalya and Madras Christian College professor Baluswamy spoke.

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