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Tamils boosted Lankan economy

[Express Buzz, Sunday, 17 January 2010 10:04 No Comment]

Historian S Muthiah on Saturday said the contribution made by Tamils of Indian origin had given a boost to the Sri Lankan economy.

“The Indian Tamil labourers in the island nation built harbours and railways, giving a boost to the country’s economy between 1930-70,” he said at the inauguration of a four-day archaeological exhibition on ancient Tamil civilisation in Sri Lanka, organised at Sri Parvathi Art Gallery here.

Muthiah said Tamils mostly migrated from the south parts of Tamil Nadu such as Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli districts to the island nation. Around two million Tamils, he said, were working in tea plantations in Kandy province of Sri Lanka, which has shrunk to one million of late. In fact, marriages were solemnised between the Sinhalese and Tamils, he added.

According to the historian, the Bandaranaikes, who ruled Sri Lanka during the post-independence era, were actually Telugu- speaking Nayaks, and five kings from the community ruled Kandy.

On the entry of Tamils to the eastern part of the island nation, he said: “When Sinhalese King Gajabhagu Kamani visited ‘Chera Nadu’ (now Kerala), in 180 A.D, he urged the Chera King to send some farmers to his country. Following his request, 8,000 farmers went to eastern Lanka.” Interestingly, even today one can find that the farming style in East Sri Lanka and Kerala are almost similar, Muthiah pointed out.

In such a scenario, he called on universities in both India and Sri Lanka to join hands to carry out extensive research on historical links between the two countries, cutting across political boundaries.

Earlier, T K V Rajan, an archaeologist and Editor of Indian Science Monitor, urged students to visit the exhibition, as most of them were not aware of that country beyond its celebrated cricketer Muttaiah Muralitharan.

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