Speakers

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3rd International Humanism Conference on Social Justice

Gary Anandasangaree

Hon. Member of Parliament of Canada for Scarborough – Rouge Park

Gary serves as the Member of Parliament of Canada for the Scarborough – Rouge Park constituency and also as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He was first elected in 2015, and was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism (Multiculturalism). He was re-elected in 2019, and was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. He was re-elected for a third term in 2021.

In 1983, Mr. Anandasangaree arrived in Canada as a refugee with his mother. Subsequently throughout his adult life, he has advocated for the rights of refugees in Canada. This experience also ignited his passion for human rights and social justice. Mr. Anandasangaree is now an internationally recognized human rights lawyer, who has regularly represented Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Mr. Anandasangaree attended Osgoode Hall Law School, and was officially called to the Bar of Ontario in 2006. He then went on to manage his own law firm in Scarborough. To honor his dedicated work in law, Mr. Anandasangaree received the “One-to-Watch” Alumni Gold Key Award from Osgoode Hall Law School and the Young Practitioner Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto.

Even before his formal entry into politics, Mr. Anandasangaree was an engaged community leader and activist. He frequently advocated on behalf of the members of his community, especially the youth, as he often intervened when students were wrongfully suspended or expelled from school. Through his work with various organizations dedicated to supporting Canadian communities, Mr. Anandasangaree has demonstrated his effective leadership. He has served as the Chair of the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre, President of the Canadian Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the Youth Challenge Fund, Member of the Toronto Police Chief’s Advisory Council, and Member of the United Way Newcomers Grant Program. In honor of his devotion to community service and local advocacy, Mr. Anandasangaree was awarded both the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

On Parliament Hill, Mr. Anandasangaree continues his tireless advocacy for education and social justice. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, he works to achieve criminal justice reform, and address the over-incarceration of Indigenous, Black, and Racialized Canadians in prison systems.

Prof. Fr. Joseph Chandrakanthan

University of Toronto, Canada

Fr. Joseph Chandrakanthan was ordained a priest for the diocese of Jaffna in Sri Lanka in 1979. In 1980 he was appointed Lecturer and Dean of Studies at St. Francis Xavier’s Seminary in Jaffna. The State University of Jaffna appointed him in 1981 as the First tenured Lecturer in Christian Studies at the Faculty of Arts.  On completing his doctoral studies in Canada, he returned to the University of Jaffna and was appointed Senior Lecturer and Founding Head of the Department of Christian and Islamic Studies. 

He held a Sessional Professorship in Biblical Studies at Concordia University in Montreal from 1996-1999 and in 2000 he joined the Faculty of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics and was a Sessional Professor at the University of St. Michael’s College and concurrently began teaching courses in Systematic Theology and Scripture at St. Augustine’s Seminary. Fr. Chandrakanthan has given invited Public Lectures on Asian Religions and Political Theology in many Universities in Europe and Asia including the University of Oxford (1995), University of London (SOAS -2001), and Uppsala University in Sweden (2011, 2016 and 2019).

Prof. Dr. Arasu Chellaiah

University of Maryland, USA

Dr. Arasu Chellaiah has been a life-long biology Professor at college and University level, interspersed with several years of research experience. Due to his experimental research experience using molecular & cellular biological tools, his teaching has a research underpinning. Since 2006, he has been teaching Virology and CMB (cellular and molecular biology) classes for first year DDS students and one credit Immunology course for the residents at PhD level. His PhD thesis was on “Mitochondrial biogenesis and bioenergetics during cardiac hypertrophy”. Over the years, Arasu has come to realize that each class has its own uniqueness and personality. This realization also stems from his association with the Dravidian Movement where Diversity, Equality, Social Justice and Self-Respect are the key pillars of its operational synthesis.

Richard Dowsett

Coordinator & Treasurer, Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT), Canada

Richard has been the HAT Coordinator since 2017. He first became a member of HAT in December 2011 and joined the Steering Committee as Treasurer in 2012.

Experiencing Humanism as a practice that balances rationality with respect for all living creatures is the core of his philosophy. Providing others with a place to explore their own humanism is his passion.

Elangkathir Elamaran

Budding Young Humanist, New Jersey, USA

Elangkathir is a Ninth grader from New Jersey. As a budding young humanist, he has contributed a lot of articles on Humanist Leaders like Periyar, Martin Luther King, Maniammai and has also written on various other topics of social interest and awareness like the Earth Day, American Independence Day & Memorial Day.

Prince Ennares Periyar

State Secretary, Student Wing, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), Tamil Nadu, India

Prince is a digital media professional and leads the Student Wing of the Dravidar Kazhagam. He is a staunch Atheist Humanist and a devoted follower of Periyar EVR, one of the great humanists of India. Prince networks with the Next Gen Youth and carries forward the Dravidian torch of self-respect & social justice amongst them. He is also a passionate speaker, editor of youth magazines, producer of shirt films & digital editions on the Dravidian Thought and also a great organizer of events and agitations in the cause of Equality & Humanism.

Martin Frith

President – Humanist Canada

Martin has been a member of Humanist Canada since 1986 and an Officiant since 2002. He has long-been an advocate for civic and social engagement and believes that connecting with others, on the local, national and international level, is essential.

His goal is to see Humanist Canada grow in membership and national influence and continue to be agents of change representing the ideals of reason, science, humanism and progress. He lives in Toronto, has a private practice in relationship counselling, grief and bereavement and is an active recreational athlete.

Puhazh Gandhi

Spokesperson & Joint Secretary (NRI affairs), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) & Executive Coordinator, Dravidian Professionals Forum (DPF), Tamil Nadu, India

Puhazh is an International corporate lawyer turned social justice advocate. He is the General Managing Partner of the leading law firm SPAB & Co. Puhazh’s practice area includes Infrastructure, Banking and Corporate, International Trade (WTO), Information Technology (IT/ITES), Alternate Dispute resolution and International Investments. He is a consultant to a number of reputed law firms in the Asian region including LAW ASIA, a leading international law firm headquartered in Singapore.

A record holder in his LL.B. (First Rank Holder) program bagging nine gold medals from the University of Kerala, Puhazh did his M.Phil. in International Law from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. A Deans (Merit) Scholar at New York University School of Law for his LLM, he was also awarded the prestigious International Law and Human Rights fellowship. He was invited by the Hague Academy of International Law at the International Court of Justice for the prestigious Public International Law Lecture Series in 2003.

Puhazh is also a well-known arguing counsel. He has worked as a lawyer at the Appellate body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization at Geneva. He was a member of the Team, which assisted the WTO Appellate body in deciding the famous dispute of U.S v. Canada – the soft wood Lumber VI, and U.S v. E.C – the Zeroing case. He also worked as the Assistant Coordinator (Academics) for the Regional Trade Policy Course conducted by the WTO at the National University of Singapore. Recently he was a Visiting Expert Advisor for Judge His Excellency Rene Blattamann at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, to advise him in the trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congolese war lord from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Puhazh is ranked as a leading lawyer in India for ‘Contracts and Information Technology’ by Global, London. He represents a number of government organizations as well.

Puhazh is also the Spokesperson & Joint Secretary (NRI affairs) for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Party in Tamil Nadu, India and the Executive Coordinator for the Dravidian Professionals Forum (DPF), think tank for social justice headed by Dr PTR P Thiagarajan, Hon’ble Minister of Finance & HRM, Government of Tamil Nadu. He is a columnist constantly writes in leading dailies like The Hindu, Times of India, The Wire etc. He has delivered lectures in various international conferences, universities like Oxford-UK, Sciences Po-Paris.

Srishti Hukku

Humanist Canada, Ottawa

Srishti is a member of the global community with Kashmiri heritage and is currently based in Canada. Srishti loves exploring ethical, existential, emotional, and equity issues. As a founding chaplain, Srishti is the youngest and first racialized accredited humanist chaplain in Canada, and was part of the leadership team that professionalized humanist chaplaincy across the country.

Srishti is a lifetime member and officiant of Humanist Canada, and a supporter of the American Humanist Association, Humanists UK, Humanists Australia and Humanists International. Srishti is passionate about creating spaces that maximize human potential by leveraging a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive lens. As an interdisciplinary scholar and practitioner, Srishti is especially moved by sound public policy, and 2SLGBTQ+ issues including sexual, romantic and reproductive rights. Srishti is also interested in intersectionality, immigration/ integration challenges, kinship, technology, and equity, diversity and inclusion as it relates to (dis)ability, neurodiversity and social determinants. Srishti holds a Honours Bachelor degree in Political Science and Economics from McMaster University, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Queen’s University and is completing a cotutelle PhD in Population Health and Anthropology from the University of Ottawa and Macquarie University.

Amaran Kandiar

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

Amaran Kandiar is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an experienced public speaker and has been a passionate voice for many humanist causes including Anti NEET discriminatory exams, Eezham Movement, Condemnation of gun violence in the USA, Demand for Farmers’ Rights and Protests in the Indian towns of Thoothukkudi & Sathankulam against police violence. He gave a speech in support of the All-India Farmers’ Protest at the Indian Embassy in Washington D.C. He also spoke at the United Nations Youth Forum against the human rights violations of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

He is serving on the Board of Directors of the Tamil Americans United PAC and has eagerly worked to lobby in the U.S polity – both at the Federal and State levels for Tamil causes. Amaran has also been elected to serve on the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) Board of Directors as a Youth Representative.

Prof. Dr. Ravishankar Kannabiran

University of Paris, France

Ravi (or KRS) is a Researcher and Adjunct Professor. He focuses primarily in Comparative Linguistics. His specializations are Classical Tamil Literature, Literary & Grammatical History, History of Humanism & Social Justice, and Science in the Language Corpus. He is a full time Investment Banker by profession.

His publications include: Comparative techniques of Drama in Shakespeare & Ilango, Painting Patterns in ThirukkuRaL Concordance and 15 other research papers, with his main thesis being: ‘Comparative Studies of Master Poets: Ilango & Kamban’ from a Social Justice standpoint. In addition to Tamil, he is well versed in Sanskrit & Indo-European languages and adept in handling both Devotional & Rational Literature. He has also majored in the Sāma Vēda/ Chāndōgya Upanishad.

KRS has translated into Tamil, NASA’s Learning Card Project of the James Webb Space Telescope. He has authored the books: ‘aRiyapadaatha ThamizhMozhi’ (The Unknown Tamil Language), ‘What is Tamil – From Sangam Age to Scientific Age?’, ‘Humanism & Dravidian Movement – A Success Story’ and ‘Tamil or Sanskrit?’. He also serves as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Dravidian Studies – Dravida Pozhil.

Sri Kathirgamanathan

Annamalai University Canada, Toronto

Sri had been teaching Botany and Chemistry in secondary schools in Jaffna for Thirteen years, including Chavakachcheri Hindu College and Jaffna Hindu College. He himself is an old student and former teacher of those two schools. Later he served for another thirteen years as Instructor in English and Lecturer in ELT in the ELT Unit at the University of Jaffna. He obtained his master’s degree in Linguistics and thus a Biological Science graduate teacher turned into an English language teaching lecturer. After 47 years of life in Sri Lanka, Sri migrated to Canada and is currently teaching at Annamalai Canada.

Dr. Veeramani Krishnasamy

President, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), Tamil Nadu, India

Dr. Veeramani (or Aasiriyar as he is fondly addressed, meaning ‘The Teacher’) is the President of the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), the Parent Organization of all Social Reformation in Tamil Nadu. Great social & humanist reformers of the century like EVR Periyar & CN Annadurai have adorned this seat at the DK. He is also the Secretary of the Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution (PSRPI) and serves as the Hon. Chancellor of the Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology (PMIST), deemed to be University.

He began working with Periyar at a very young age and later assisted him in editing Viduthalai, the rationalist daily magazine. He has been addressing public meetings since the age of 9. That saga continues even today at the age of 89.

Dr. Veeramani still edits and runs magazines – Viduthalai, Unmai, The Modern Rationalist and Periyar Pinju – a magazine for children and budding rationalists. He has authored more than 75 books.

Veeramani is a Social Worker and has pioneered various efforts in the cause of Social Justice, Rationality, Self-Respect, Tamil Language and the Dravidian Movement. He is always active in social campaigns and agitations in support of the socially discriminated people.

He is a relentless fighter for social justice, reservations in educational and job opportunities for people belonging to the backward and downtrodden sections of the society, espousing the cause of Women’s Rights and Women Empowerment, and democracy in the political sphere. He was detained for almost a year under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), for protesting against the draconian and undemocratic Emergency Rule in India during 1976. He has been arrested & incarcerated almost 38 times in various political & social struggles, but that has not deterred his indomitable fighting spirit even by an iota.

Barbara Smoker in her book ‘Humanism – An update for the New Millennium’ published by the British Humanist Association, goes on record that, “Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) is one of the largest pressure groups in the world, mobilizing people and educating them via innumerable protest movements for many decades” and acknowledges the yeoman services rendered by Veeramani towards the cause of Humanism & Social Justice.

Dr. Veeramani holds a Masters in Economics and a Bachelors in Law. He is a Recipient of the CIDA – Award of Excellence (Canada International Development Agency), awarded in contribution towards Environmental, Health, Poverty alleviation and Women Empowerment activities in joint collaboration with College of the North Atlantic, Newfoundland, Canada. He is also the first recipient of the Periyar Award for Social Justice from the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Veeramani has widely travelled as a globe trotter delivering lectures on various topics in humanism at many conferences and seminars held in USA, Canada, EU, UK, Russia, Japan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and other countries. He delivered the G.U. Pope Memorial Lecture at the House of Lords, Westminster Palace, London in Jan 2004 and participated in the International Peace Congress Convention in Copenhagen – Denmark.

Dr. Veeramani is an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist International and a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and the British Humanist Society, England, UK.

Periyar International USA has instituted an annual award, named in his honor and its first recipient was the former Prime Minister of India, Mr. VP Singh.

In recognition of his lifelong services to the cause of Humanism, the American Humanist Association (AHA) conferred upon him the prestigious Humanist Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 International Humanism and Self-Respect Conference.

Hemant Mehta

Editor – Friendly Atheist, Chicago, USA

Hemant (Mehta) is an American author, blogger, and atheist activist. He is a regular speaker at atheist events, and has been a board member of charitable organizations such as the Secular Student Alliance and the Foundation Beyond Belief.

Hemant used to run the Friendly Atheist blog on Patheos, in which he published articles and also co-hosted a weekly podcast called the Friendly Atheist. He is the founder and editor of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, and podcast co-host. He is a former National Board-Certified math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He has appeared on CNN and FOX News. In Apr 2020, he won his first appearance on the television game show Jeopardy.

Hemant was raised in the Jain faith. He became an atheist as a teenager. Seeking to learn more about what motivated many Americans to be religious, he decided to attend and take notes at a number of churches across the United States. He based his choice of churches to attend on the results of an eBay auction in which he offered his bidders,” I am an atheist. You can bid on where I go to church or a temple or a mosque, etc.” Mehta’s experiences at the churches became the basis for his book, I Sold My Soul on eBay.

Even though a vocal advocate of building an atheist community, Hemant’s activism includes fundraising for charitable causes beyond his own ideology. He helped establish and serves on the board of the Foundation Beyond Belief, which has raised more than $2,400,000 since it launched in 2010. He also established a church cleanup fund in response to reports of church vandalism in Bend, Oregon, in 2012 and helped clean up the damage.

Hemant and some of his other associates moved to a new platform called OnlySky. He currently also publishes on Substack. He has written multiple books, including I Sold My Soul on eBay and The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide. He also edited the book – Queer Disbelief.

Nikhil Muniappan

Budding Young Humanist, New Jersey, USA

Nikhil is an 8th Grader at Brooklawn Middle School, Parsippany, New Jersey. He is passionate on understanding social structures in India and wishes to promote understanding on the Humanist Concepts of Equality & Social Justice to one and all. He aspires to travel around the world in order to see and understand the diversity of the human population and get to know people from different backgrounds and their social lives. He enjoys public speaking as well.

Stalin Muthuvel Karunanidhi

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, India

Hon. MK Stalin (also fondly addressed as MKS) is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State in the Union of India. He is also the President of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) – the political wing of the Dravidian Movement – founded by the renowned humanist scholar Arignar CN. Annadurai.  Stalin also served as the Mayor of Chennai City and also as the 1st Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

MK Stalin was placed 30th on the list of India’s Most powerful Personalities in 2019 by The Indian Express Magazine. MKS is the son of the (late) illustrious Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the former DMK Chief, Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi.

Stalin’s political career began in his early teens when he started the DMK Youth Wing with several of his young friends. As a fourteen-year-old student, he campaigned for the DMK Party. Because of his staunch support to uphold democracy & state autonomy, he was incarcerated by the then Union Government under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), for protesting against the draconian and undemocratic Emergency Rule in India during 1976. He was beaten up in custody and had to endure severe situations that followed. But he was undaunted in his goals towards social justice & democracy.

MK Stalin became the youth wing secretary of the DMK and he served in that position for more than four decades. He contested the Assembly elections and rose up as a People’s Representative by his sheer hard work and perseverance in the political field, with unflinching commitment to the Dravidian Movement.

He became the Deputy General Secretary of the DMK and was also elected as Chennai City’s Mayor. Under his Mayorship, the city scaled new heights in Public Infrastructure. He modernized the garbage disposal system of the city and implemented integrated development projects such as health, public construction and schools. He solved the congestion of the city by building huge flyovers. He also improved the quality standard of Government Schools to be on par with private schools. MKS was well received by the people of Chennai and was re-elected Mayor for the 2nd time.

After the 2006 Assembly Elections of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin became the Minister for Rural Development and Local Administration and was instrumental in the extensive spread of Women Self Help Groups across the State. He also became treasurer of DMK and rose up to be the first Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

After the passing away of his illustrious father in 2018, Stalin fully took over the reins of the DMK, formed the Secular Progressive Alliance, and led it to a massive victory in the 2019 National Elections. In the subsequent 2021 State elections & the Local Body elections, he led the campaign again and paved the way for an outstanding victory of the DMK.

Winning an absolute majority with the confidence of the People, MK Stalin took his oath as the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu with the rest of his cabinet on May 7th 2021. Having taken oath amidst the challenging second wave of the covid pandemic, Stalin started a war room to monitor the status of beds, ambulances, oxygen supplies & vaccines in the state and effectively brought the public health situation under control. He also set up a new Economic Advisory Council with global economists, including Esther Duflo, Raghuram Rajan & Jean Drèze.

Within a short span of governance, MK Stalin has implemented a plethora of public reforms including the below schemes to name a significant few:

  1. Free Public Transport (bus travel) for Women,
  2. Appointment without discrimination of All Caste Archakas (Priests) in Temples
  3. According equal status to Tamil language in Temple Worship (Tamil Archanai)
  4. Temple Properties Reclamation
  5. Declaration of Tamil Mother Language Invocation as the State Anthem
  6. Scientific Establishment of Tamil History via Archaeological sites like Keeladi.
  7. Declaration of Social Justice Day & Equality Day on the birthdays of India’s two great humanists – Periyar & Ambedkar respectively
  8. Urban Clinics & Healthcare at Doorstep
  9. Instituting Schools of Excellence
  10. Climate Change Mission and Protection of Wetlands & Irrigation
  11. Betterment at Sri Lankan Tamils Rehabilitation Camps
  12. Release of wrongful detainees & political prisoners who fought for social causes
  13. Free School Breakfast Scheme
  14. Skill Development Scheme for Students
  15. Transgender’s Pension Scheme
  16. Paid Maternity Leave for 12 months

Thus fulfilling 60%-70% of the poll promises within a year, MK Stalin ranked first among all Chief ministers of India with 42% in favor in the “Mood of the Nation” survey done by the India Today magazine in Aug 2021. His government successfully organized the 44th Chess Olympiad and was much appreciated by the western professional bodies

Stalin has also acted in a few Tamil films and is a passionate speaker & writer on the Dravidian Cause. His autobiography ‘Ungalil Oruvan’ (One Amongst You) was released in Feb 2022.

Hon. Chief Minister MK Stalin is committed towards the Social Justice driven ‘Dravidian Model’ of inclusive governance.

Gus Lyn-Piluso, CFIC

President, Center for Inquiry - Canada (CFIC)

Gus has served on CFI Canada’s board since 2016 and became president in 2018. While he has been a member of CFIC and other humanist organizations for many years, the majority of his board work has been with The John Howard Society of Toronto. He spent 15 years on JHT’s board including 8 years as president. In both these organizations he has been firmly committed to democratic values and practice and takes the vision of the organization’s members seriously, working toward actualizing it as expressed in the mission statement. Therefore, fostering “a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values” is not just a web slogan but an operational imperative.

He has been a college professor for 29 years teaching students to think critically, rationally, and to engage the world as active ethical citizens. He has been interested in Deweyan pragmatism for years and sees ‘truth’ not as something received but arrived at through the communal process of inquiry whereby ideas are tested in real-life situations. 

Gus seeks to bring this experience to CFI Canada and its public education endeavors. He is a member of the International Big History Association, the Heterodox Academy, and Humanist Canada. He is also a signatory of the Pro-Truth Pledge and is committed to telling the truth and is willing to stand up and publicly admit if and when he is wrong.

Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma

State of Washington, USA

Thomas Pruiksma is an author, translator, teacher, and performer. His translation of the classical Tamil masterpiece on ethics, power, and love – The Kural: Tiruvalluvar’s Tirukkural, was recently published by Beacon Press. His other books include The Safety of Edges (poems), Give, Eat, and Live: Poems of Avvaiyar (translated from the Tamil) and Body and Earth (with the artist C.F. John).

Tom speaks and performs widely, teaches for the Cozy Grammar series of online video courses, and has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, 4Culture, Artist Trust, and the U. S. Fulbright Program.

Leslie Rosenblood

Director, Center for Inquiry - Canada (CFIC), Secular Chair

Leslie joined CFI Canada shortly after its inception. He firmly believes that evidence-based public policy is the best foundation for laws and regulations, and that facts and their logical implications should form the foundation of discussions in society. Hence CFI Canada’s commitment to reason, science, and secular values appeal greatly to him and he hopes to increase their prevalence in Canada.

Leslie has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (Computer Science) from the University of Waterloo and an MBA in Science and Technology from Queen’s University. Leslie has performed in countless plays and improvisational comedy nights, ran one marathon, and has worked in multiple roles across numerous industries in several countries. He has four children and lives in Toronto. He writes about secularism, religion, politics, ethics, free speech, and other topics at opinionsquestions.blogspot.com (opinions there are his own, not CFIC’s).

Dr. Senthilkumar Selvaraj

Hon. Member of Parliament of India

A doctor by profession, Dr. S. Senthilkumar is a young politician from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) of Tamil Nadu. Senthilkumar completed his MBBS degree from Annamalai University followed by a MD degree from Sri Ramachandra University.

Senthil joined the DMK Party at an early age and successfully fought the 2019 parliamentary general election from the Dharmapuri constituency and made his debut into the House of the People (Lok Sabha) of the Indian Parliament. He is also the DMK NRIs Welfare Wing joint secretary. He is an active proponent of Secular Governance in the Indian Administration.

Dr. S. Sivasegaram Sivanandam

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Dr. S. Sivasegaram (BSc Eng., MSc, DIC, PhD, FIESL, FIMechE, CEng) is a retired Senior Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He also served as a professor in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, London. He is also a creative writer, political commentator, and a well-known contemporary Sri Lankan Tamil poet. In addition, Sivasegaram is a renowned Tamil Scholar. He is a deep observer and an acclaimed scholarly writer on various social justice challenges in Sri Lanka and also on its racial complexity and the demographics of the minorities. Sivasegaram’s voice is decidedly a Third World voice, the voice of the oppressed and the downtrodden, not only in the Sri Lankan Tamil society, but societies everywhere where the underprivileged people are clamoring for justice and freedom. He has been extensively writing on Sri Lankan and International Politics for more than four decades. He has published over 35 books in Tamil and English.

Dr. Ilangovan Somasundaram

President, Periyar International USA

Soma Ilangovan is the President of Periyar International and is a doctor by profession. He is also the President of ISHV (Institute for Science and Human Values) and is very passionate in the cause of Social Justice and Tamil Language. He is a member of the Tamil American Peace Initiative, a group of Tamil Americans formed to advocate for lasting peace, justice, democracy and good governance in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Ilangovan is also the Coordinator of the Organizing Committee of the 10th International Conference-Seminar on Tamil Studies (ICSTS) otherwise called as the World Tamil Conference, held for the first time in the United States at Chicago. He is on a constant mission to propagate the humanist ideas of the great social reformer of South India – EVR Periyar, to the whole world.

Kumaresan. V

Research Scholar, Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology. Treasurer – Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), Tamil Nadu, India

Kumaresan is the Treasurer of Dravidar Kazhagam founded by Periyar. He has been the Executive Editor of the monthly, ‘The Modern Rationalist’, with Aasiriyar Dr. K. Veeramani as the Editor in Chief and published by The Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution. Kumaresan is pursuing his Ph. D. research on the Leadership of Periyar, at Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology (PMIST) deemed to be University, Vallam.

Arulselvi Veeramani

Chicago, USA

Arul is the Treasurer of Periyar International USA. Having grown up in a complete rationalist surrounding right from her childhood, she stays strong and courageous in her convictions, yet with compassion and humility. An Business graduate, she has devoted most of her time in Tamil language teaching, as a volunteer in Tamil Schools. She takes keen interest in Next Gen encouragement and spends much of her time and effort in designing and organizing many developmental programs for kids at the Chicago Tamil Sangam.

Prof. Dr. Arasu Veerasami

University of Madras, Tamil Nadu, India

Vee. Arasu is a retired Professor who served at the Department of Tamil Literature, University of Madras for 29 years. During his service, he was the Prof. & Head of the same for 16 years and also was a member of the Syndicate, Senate and Academic Council for over 14 years. Arasu has been a member of Board of Studies in almost all the Universities of Tamil Nadu for over 20 years. He has functioned as an academician all his life.

He led the Curriculum Redesign Committee of the Eastern University, Sri Lanka and University of Malaysia. He served as the Visiting Professor and External Examiner at the Univ.  of Malaysia for three consecutive years. He has delivered many Endowment Lectures at various universities in Tamil Nadu and also at Jaffna and Peradeniya Universities, Sri Lanka.

49 Scholars have completed their Ph.D. under his guidance. He has published four volumes of his selected articles. He has over 30 monographs on different aspects of Tamil society and culture to his credit. He has edited over 70 volumes on many authors, subjects and fields. Va. Vu. Si, Jeevanandam, Madras Secular Society, Mayilai Seeni Venkatasami, Athippakkam Venkatachalanar and Puthumaippithan are some of the edited volumes that deserve mention. He has served on the advisory committees of Sahitya Akademi, National Book Trust, National Mission for Manuscripts and other award committees within the state and abroad. There are over 70 lectures of Arasu available online.

Arasu’s primary field of study is the social history of the Tamils. He has undertaken many studies on Tamil classical and modern literatures. He has paid special attention to 19th century social context, especially in the light of print culture. Many of his students continue the traditions set by him. He has travelled to Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Paris, London and Canada for academic purposes. Arasu is happy and proud to have created a vibrant generation of students who excel in scholarly works.

Anburaj. V

Board Member, Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology (PMIST). General Secretary, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), Tamil Nadu, India

Anburaj (aka Anbu) is a loving follower of Periyar EVR, and named so in his infancy by Periyar himself. He is the General Secretary of the DK and organizes much of its social events and conferences with a meticulous attention to every detail. He also champions the new project – Periyar World, a magnum opus on the History & Future deliveries of the Dravidian Movement and is a key planner in its design, construction and sustainability.

He also takes the Dravidian Philosophy to the Next Gen Youth and organizes discussions and discourses amongst the next generation at various levels. He is also serving as honorable Board Member at the Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science & Technology (deemed to be University) and provides immense focus towards the professional and career development of the Students at the University, who are mostly from rural, poor and underprivileged backgrounds.  He is of the solid view that Education is the Only Emancipation for the socially oppressed people and articulates his activities in that sphere, in the cause of Humanism & Social Justice.

Nakkalites

Coimbatore, Tamilnadu

A Channel with ~5 million subscribers and fan base, Nakkalites is a progressive family, which is in love with story-telling, that take all of us down the memory lane, with multifaceted episodes on school life, society, drama, politics, family and more. Tinged with political satire and comedy dialogues, the channel operates on the themes of Social Justice, Self-Respect, Equality, Women empowerment and Political Justice. It delivers episodes in an entertaining way. It partners with Divo, one of the leading digital media companies in South India working with brands and content creators across genres. The core team members of Nakkalites are: Prasanna Balachandran, Rajesh, Dhanam Amma, Arun, Sasi, Vikram Siva, Prasanth, Nivedita, Manoj, Brindha, Sirija, Sindhu, Vaidee, Savithiri, Sasti Pranesh, Mithra and many other likeminded young humanists in the field of satirical art and drama.