Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: The Federation of Tamil Associations of North America (FeTNA) will celebrate its 19th annual convention in New York's Manhattan Centre Auditorium from July 1 to 3.

Prakash M. Swamy, Joint Teasurer of FeTNA, told mediapersons on Tuesday that according to the 2000 census, the Indian population in North America was 1.7 million, while in 2006 it became two million. The Tamil population from India and other countries came to about 2 lakh.

Natarajan Rathnam, President of the association, said that founded in 1987, the FeTNA served as a major link among the Tamil speaking population in America, with 20,000 families and 42 Tamil Sangams from the US and Canada as members. Several artists and important personalities will be invited from Tamil Nadu to participate in the convention. The auditorium was an important landmark in New York, with a seating capacity of 2,850 persons. Personalities such as Vijayalakshmi Navaneetha Krishnan, Sarath Kumar, Radhika Sarath Kumar, Vairamuthu, Padmini, Vani Jayaram, Harish Raghavendra and Mathangi, among others have been invited to the event. Debates, poetry sessions, light and classical music and dance form part of the programme.

Secretary Albert Chelladurai said the convention would provide an opportunity for the political empowerment of the Tamil population in the United States. "The celebration of the Deepavali festival in the New York City Council for the past two years shows that the Tamil population is already a major force there," Mr. Prakash Swamy added.

Besides cultural programmes, there is an entrepreneurship forum for youths, where successful persons in top management cadres in the U.S. would be invited to inspire the youth. There are other sessions for continuing medical education programmes, business forum and media and entertainment.

New York Senator Charles Schumer and Shashi Tharoor, United Nations Under Secretary General, have been invited.