Pathivugal  ISSN 1481-2991
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K.S.Sivakumaran's Columns!
Gleanings!
Ratnanathar Sivagurunathan 

K.S.SivakumaranA Lankan journalist to edit a Thamil newspaper continuously for nearly four decades is something remarkable. The passing away recently of R. Sivagurunathan, former editor of the Thinakaran and the Thinakaran Vaara Manjari was a great loss to the Thamil community in Colombo in particular and to Lankans in general. His importance went unnoticed. The dictum' survival of the fittest' befits him best. He managed to hold his position as an editor despite changes in administration at the Lake House for a number of years from the 1960s to the turn of the last century. 

He was amiable, adaptable, humble to the fault, trilingual, specialist in Islamic law, accommodative, humorous, visibly pious with his holy ash (Thiruneeru) on his forehead, studied negligence in dressing and most of all promoter of new generation of writers and journalists as well as giving a place to older generation of writers in his pages. 

Siva, as he was popularly called, enjoyed the support and friendship of the Sinhalese and Muslim comrades at his workplace. The Working Journalists' Association of Sri Lanka elected him as their president twice, transcending ethnic prejudices. He had a master's degree and a law degree and was a visiting lecturer at Law College. The late politician and Muslim leader, Ashraf (who was also a poet and writer in Thamil) was one of his pupils. Besides him, there were many important people who were tutored by him. 

He could sing beautifully Thevarams (Saiva hymns ) and had acted in plays during his undergraduate days at the Peradeniya University. He had edited the university's Thamil journal and even as a high school student at Zahira College in Colombo, he engaged himself in editing the college magazines. 

Sivagurunathan and K. Sivathamby (the leading Thamil intellectual and academic amidst us) entered the university during the principalship of the late A. M. A. Azeez (the first Muslim Civil Servant and scholar). Sivagurunathan was the President of the Colombo Thamil Sangam, again for many years. He was also a visiting lecturer in journalism at the University of Colombo. His book on the History of Lankan Thamil Journalism is not widely known, although it is singularly important. R. Sivagurunathan succeeded the late K. Kailasapathy (a scholar and intellectual ) as editor of the Thinakaran. 

I was greatly indebted to Siva for the kind patronage he gave me to write freely in his paper for many decades. Although I write in English, I am essentially a writer in Thamil and my development as a literary critic or columnist was largely due to my various arts columns and fiction I wrote in his paper. 

I had known Sivagurunathan, when he was the news editor of the Thinakaran. Kailasapathy was the editor who brought in a Sri Lankan and social consciousness among Lankan Thamil writers in an ostensible way. The staffers in the paper during the early 1960s included a galaxy of fine Thamil journalists in the calibre of Sivapragasam ( who later became the editor of Virakesari), Sabaratnam, Balasingam, Kumarasamy, Hanifa, Hussein, Shanmugam and the Sunday editor, M.R, and reporters like Nadarajah and Balasundaram. Sivagurunathan continued a tradition of promoting 'progressive' thinking and writing in his paper. 

Balasingam and Sabaratnam work or had worked for the Daily News Seafront trained some fine journalists who were later to become editors of importance. One such talented journalist was S. Thiruchelvam, who publishes Tamils' Information in Canada.Ratnanathar Sivagurunathan was a colourful personality who survived the vicissitudes of life. 
 

Courtesy: Daily News (Sri Lanka)
kssivan1@juno.com
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