Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu created out of his personal funds an endowment in hisname for research in Classical Tamil. The endowment includes an award, which is given to scholars for a lifetime contribution in different spheres of research relating to Dravidian art and culture. This year, the selection committee made a careful of 131 nominations received from scholars of eminence from various countries and it was unanimously decided that the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award for 2009 be present to Professor Asko Parpola, a distinguished scholar of international renown from Finland, whose contribution to advocating A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem is exceptional and acknowledged international as a work of great erudition. His conclusion, after a lifetime of painstaking research in Indology, has led to the conclusion that the Harappan-Indus script-that defied for long any attempt to read it-does not belong to the Indo-European family but to the Dravidian family of languages, the oldest of these being Tamil. Several studies of inscription have been made recently to decipher the Indus script but Parpola’s conclusion seems the most convincing of all. His masterpiece Deciphering the Indus Script (1994) is hailed a trailblazer in this area of study. His Concordance to the Indus Texts and The Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions in two volumes have now to be considered as indispensable material for any research on Indus script.
The paper that Parpola presents at the World Classical Tamil conference”A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem” succinctly summarises the work he has done so far, besides showing the lead for further work. He feel confident that ‘an opening into the secrets of the Indus script has been achieved’ and the ‘underlying language was Proto-Dravidian’. The Central Institute of Classical Tamil feels honoured at undertaking the publication of this learned paper. It is hoped that this paper will serve as an eye-opener for laymen as well as for those interested in culture studies while promoting scholarship in Tamil studies.
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