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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
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.