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Posted at: May 14, 2016, 9:38 PM; last updated: May 14, 2016, 9:38 PM (IST)

Indian-origin pioneering Tamil scholar dies in S Africa

Johannesburg, May 14

An Indian-origin pioneering Tamil scholar and author, who was instrumental in persuading the South African government to introduce Tamil as a language at secondary schools, has died here aged 103.

Cundasamy Kuppusami, who died yesterday, began his career as a teacher and went on to become the first inspector of schools in the Department of Indian Education when the system was still segregated by race in the apartheid era.

The South African-Indian community is mourning the death of Kuppusami.

He was also a prolific author on education in the Indian community and Tamil culture among the Indians in South Africa.

Among his most popular books which are still sought after are 'A Short History of Indian Education', 'Religions, Customs and Practices of South African-Indians' and 'The Three Pillars of Tamil'.

Kuppusami was a founder member and the longest serving member of the South African-Tamil Federation (SATF).

"Volumes could be written about this doyen and his contribution to our language, culture and the arts. The centenarian was one of the greatest Tamil scholars that we had in our midst," said SATF representative Bobby Pillay.

"He was responsible for the drafting and the layout of the first Tamil alphabet card that the SATF printed and distributed freely to all Tamil organisations in the country to utilise at their schools. The late Mr Kuppusami was also responsible for spearheading the numerous Tamil teacher programmes that the SATF held in the past.

"Whilst still with the then Department of Indian Education, he was instrumental in persuading the Department to commence Tamil as a language at secondary schools. Mainly through his efforts, the first Tamil class commenced at the Brindhaven Secondary School, at Montford in Chatsworth with the combined efforts of the Tamil Advancement Society," Pillay said.

Kuppusami's funeral will take place tomorrow at his hometown Durban. — PTI

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