Madurai: Renowned Tamil scholar and author of the famous book ‘Tamil Oratory and Dravidian Aesthetic: Democratic Practice in South India’, Bernard Bate (55) died of cardiac arrest in California state, USA, two days ago.
Bate, who visited Madurai few months ago to participate in a conference on ‘Book culture in Tamil’ at American College, enth ralled the audience addressing his entire speech in Tamil. Overwhelmed sharing the dais with an eminent Tamil scholar Tho Paramasivan in the conference, Bate then praised Tho Paramasivan as” my Guru who shaped my intellect.”
During an informal interaction with this report then, Bate shared the fondness he had for temple town. During his research for the book at Madurai in 1990’s, Bate had close contacts with political leaders in DMK and attended all the political meetings organised here.
“On almost any night during my stay in Madurai, the sounds of “public” speaking could be heard; someone walking the streets in he evenings invariably came across several platforms set up or being set up, for speakers of one kind or another, political, literary, or religious,”- Bate observed in his book.
Bate, associate professor, head of studies, Anthropology, Yale NUS college, Singapore, explored the aesthetics of Tamil oratary and its vital relationship to one of the key institutions of modern society. “His book details about the medai pechu (public oratory) of Dravidian movement before the introduction of microphone in 1930s,” said Tho Paramasivan, speaking to DC from Tirunelveli.
The USA-born Bate had studied the public oratory of Congress leader Thir V Kalayanasundaram, trade union leader Varadaraja Naidu and Periyar in detail to explain how their speeches shaped the mentality of people, said Parama sivan. Former deputy mayor of Madurai corporation, Mannar of the DMK, was among those who expressed his condolence at the scholar’s death.