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People of India: Volume XL. Tamil Nadu (In 3 Volumes)

Ramaraju Thirumalai (Author) S. Manoharan (Editor) K.S. Singh (Editor)

The Anthropological Survey of India launched the People of India project on October 2, 1985 to generate an anthropological profile of all the communities of India, the impact on them of change and the development process, and the links that bring them together.  As part of this all-India project, the ethnographic survey of all 364 communities of present-day Tamil Nadu was taken up in collaboration with local scholars.  The results of this survey were discussed at workshops held in Madras in April 1988and January 1989, at Madurai in January 1989 and at the regional workshop held in Maysore in May 1991.  Tamil Nadu derives its identity from Tamil, the sweet language.  Tamil identity, inter alia, is defined by language, territory, kinship, many elements of culture including life-cycle ceremonies, cuisine and folk and classical traditions.  While Tamil is the language spoken by the largest number of people, there are also speakers of other languages of the Draviudian language family and a smaller number of soeapers of the languages of the Indo-Aryan family.  Sangam literature mentions a number of communities which can be identified today in what was Tamilaham.  Various ethic streams and gene pools have intermingled in this ancient land as waves upon waves of immigrants arrived.  Tamil Nadu has the second larges number of communities in the country.  Its ecology explains the presence of the tribes, peasants, fisherfolk and the largest number of coastal communities, including some with trans-oceanic connections.  There are also many artisan groups and large clusters of Scheduled Castes.  And there are the religious communities, such as Christians and Muslims, most of them steeped in the Tamil language and Dravidian kinship.  The cultural traits that stand out in Tamil Nadu are the largest incidence of consanguineous forms of marriage, non-vegetarianism and phratry organization in non-tribal groups.  With the growth of economy, there have been occupational shifts and occupational diversification among the communities as they have coped with the challenge of survival and development.  Most Tamil Nadu communities, rapidly moving into the middle order of ranking, have reported a marked emergence of modern linkages, such as entrepreneurship and professionalism, and of the rise of leadership at local and regional levels.  Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in various programmes of development, particularly family welfare, female literacy and the midday meal for schoolchildren, all of which are well perceived by the communities.  However, protection of tribals' land and environment needs more energetic action.

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About the authors

Ramaraju Thirumalai

Mr. Ramaraju Thirumalai has over four decades of association with conceptualization, planning and implementation of modern scientific research laboratories, high rise buildings, hospitals, administration complexes and housing complexes in many parts of India. He was associated with projects like Pelletron Vertical Accelerator Complex at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. Giant Meter Wave Complex at Pune and Laboratory complex for Atomic Mineral Division at Bangalore, Hyderabad and Shillong. During his early years of his professional career he was associated with Low Level Thungabhadra Canal Project and Panchat Hill Dam Project (DVC). He was the chief Engineer of Department of Atomic Energy and Brought to bear on all its activities his rich experience and concerns for resource management during this period. On retirement, the author was a Project consultant to Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai, assisting them in planning and implementing various hospitals, research and educational facilities and very modern auditorium and conference center. Thereafter, as a Technical Advisor to Artson Engineering Ltd. Mumbai, he had added value to the company's business development by launching their foray into the LPG gas section. At present he is the Technical Advisor to the Technical Services Division of Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd. And actively involved in bringing out their technical publications. He has presented Several papers on technical and educational subjects. He has authored a book titled Project Management in Emerging Environment of Globalisation He has traveled widely in India and abroad. He received his Engineering degree from the University of Mysore, India, and M.S. degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA and Diploma in Management from the Bajaj Institute of Management, University of Bombay, India.

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S. Manoharan

S. Manoharan, the State Coordinator, is Assistant Linguist posted at the Southern Regional Centre, Anthropological Survey of India, Mysore.

K.S. Singh

K.S. Singh, a senior member of the Indian Administrative Service spent many years serving among and studying backward communities in central India. He held several important assignments including the directorship of Anthropological Survey of India. Author of the well known work Birsa Munda and His Movement in Chotanagpur he edited a large number of books on Indian tribes. He was general editor of the multi-volume People of India series of Anthropological Survey of India. He died in 2006.

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Bibliographic information

Title People of India: Volume XL. Tamil Nadu (In 3 Volumes)
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1997
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8185938881
length xlvi+1819p., Maps; B/w Plates; References; Glossary; Bibliography; Index; 24cm.