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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State> One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century > Thamizhavel G. Sarangapani

One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

Thamizhavel G. Sarangapani
1903 - 1974
[Courtesy: The Modern Rationalist]

An individual, if he has in him the spark of a noble principle and a lofty goal, will be able to lead a whole community in such a way as to secure them a safe, secure and respectable position in a nation. The life history of 'Thamizhavel' G.Sarangapani of Singapore bears testimony to this fact. Born in Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu, India, on 20 April 1903, he went to Singapore at the age of 21. He began his career as a book-keeper and rose to be the manager of the firm. Being a Matriculate of early 20th Century, he was effectively bi-lingual in Tamil and English.

Kosa, as Sarangapani was known among the Tamils in Singapore, came under the influence of the principles and policies of Periyar E.V.Ramasamy. He accepted the need for rationalist thought and the goal of creating a casteless society. As the agent of Periyar's magazine, "Kudi Arasu" in Singapore and Malaysia, he was closely associated with Self-respect movement. When Periyar visited Malaya (Malaysia) and Singapore in 1929, Sarangapani was among those who stood in the forefront to welcome him and to arrange functions, enabling the social revolutionary leader to propagate his ideas among the immigrant Tamils. He did the same to Periyar in 1954 when he went there second time.

Sarangapani (Kosa) asked the Tamils to give up caste, give importance to education, live united and not to be addicted to alcohol. He earned the goodwill of the workers and the middle class. He propagated his progressive views through his magazines Munnetram (Progress) started in 1929 and Tamil Murasu, started in 1935. He used Tamil Murasu, not for his personal gain but to rally the Tamil community to live unitedly. He explained the benefits of having a stake in the country, and motivated Indians/ Tamils in Singapore to become Singaporeans.

Kosa (G.Sarangapani) was one of the leading founders of the Singapore Tamils Reform Association. He served as its Chairman and Secretary at various intervals. In 1937, he married Madam Lim Boon Neo, a Peranakan Chinese. They became proud and loving parents of four sons and * daughters.

It was due to the concerted efforts of Kosa and his colleagues, Tamil has become a legally taught language in the educational institutions from the primary to the University level in Singapore and Malaysia. He played a vital role in Tamil being made one of the four official languages of Singapore.

When he died on 16th March 1974, sincere tributes were paid to him in Tamil Nadu, the land of his birth, in Malaysia and in Singapore. His foresight and dedicated services endeared him to all, Tamils and non-Tamils.


Dravidar Kazhagam celebrated in cooperation with the Thamizhavel Narpani Manram the Birth Centenary of 'Thamizhavel' G.Sarangapani on 12th June 2004. It was a grand and colourful function. The Radha Manram in Periyar Thidal in Chennai was fully occupied. The Kavi Arangam (the poet's tribute) was the first programme of the function. Kavikkondal Ma. Senguttuvan presided over and poets Maraimalaiyaan, Malarmaamani Pulavar Ilanjezhian and Kavingnar Sigamani participated paying glorious encomiums to Thamizhavel in sweet and effective rhymes.

Then followed Karutharangam (Seminar) on the life and achievements of G.Sarangapani. Dr.A.R.A.Sivakkumaaran presided over the seminar. Dr.M.V.Thiagaraasan, Dr. R.Velmurugan and Thi. Veerapaandian spoke, presenting cogently the various aspects of Thamizhavel's dedicated services, talents and charming qualities.

The President of Dravidar Kazhagam, K.Veeramani chaired the concluding session of the Centenary Celebrations and recollected the glorious achievements of Kosa. M.Ilias, Secretary, Thamizhavel Narpani Manram, Singapore, welcomed the distinguished guests and the gathering. Prof. Dr. Thinnappan gave a special speech on the occasion.

The President of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Kalaignar Mu. Karunanidhi released the Souvenir published on behalf of Viduthalai, the rationalist Tamil daily, and commended the services of Thamizhavel Kosa. K.Siladas, Bar-at-Law, Vice-President of Oxford Tamil Association, prescented to Kalaignar, on behalf of the Association, a memento in appreciation of his wonderful contribution to Tamil literature. A.Ayyub, P.Ponnaiyya, K.Murugaiyya, G.Paramasivam, Irshad Mohammed, M.Rahmathulla, A.Azad Ali, P.M.Ashraf Ali, brothers and close relatives of Kosa were honoured on the occasion. Kali Poongunran, Deputy General Secretary of Dravidr Kazhagam coordinated the function.

Tribute by Thiru S.R. Nathan, President of the Republic of Singapore

"Thamizhavel G. Saranga pany was one of our senior community leaders who had worked hard for a united Singapore and the welfare of Singaporeans. In the early 1950's Thamizhavel Sarangapany helped many members of the Indian community to register themselves as citizens of this country. He personally collected and distributed the application forms to those who were permanent residents and those who were stateless. The Indians who are now living in prosperous Singapore must never forget his efforts in encouraging and securing cotizenships for them. He was instrumental in setting up the Department of Indian Studies at the then University of Malaya in Singapore.

Thamizhavel Sarangapany was a good friend of Periyar EV Ramasamy, a great social reformist in Tamil Nadu. He made many attempts to eradicate the differences caused by the caste system, superstition and alcoholism which had ruined many families.We must appreciate the enormous service done by Thamizhavel Sarangapany to the Tamil language and the Tamil community.We should be grateful to him for the yeoman services he rendered to the society and the nation"

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