In Memoriam
Veerasingan Dhuruvasangary: A Reflection



Yet another prototype




Veerasingam Dhuruvasangary, B.Sc, M.Sc, M.Phil, Ph.D(Candidate) was a scientist, an inventor, a writer, an artist, an internationalist and above all, a beloved friend; we called this modest, unassuming man Dhuruva or, more often than not, Inventor.

Dhuruva was the last of 12 children. His parents named him Dhuruvasangary after a poor child who was transformed by the Hindu Lord Siva into the pole star "Dhuruvan Natchathra", a star that has helped fishers, traders and seafarers for thousands of years to navigate the oceans.
- from Robin Oakley's Eulogy, Toronto, Ontario, 10 December 2006

WE RECEIVED the news of Inventor's passing away early Sunday morning with shock and profound sadness. We had no idea Dhuruva was in ill health. We had so much work and projects on the horizon to tackle and finish that I never once thought of him not being available. Indeed when I thought of him it was always of this modest and humble hard-working man with his warm smile, lively mind, pure heart, and his steadfast defiance and challenging of imperialist science, dogma and prejudice. Like so many of the Tamil people I have come to know, Dhuruva represented the finest convictions and emotions humankind has given rise to. I send my most sincere condolences to his beloved family, friends, colleagues and comrades.

I would like to express briefly my own appreciation for the life and work of our dear departed friend, and recall several moments in our collaboration. These projects included the publication by our New Media Publications Inc. of the English translation of his The Story of My Language. We esteemed this work highly as an important contribution not only to the defence of the four-thousand-years-old Tamil language, a patrimony of humanity, but for all those striving to preserve, renew and strengthen their languages and their right-to-be before the imperialist onslaught on the cultures, history, memory and intelligence of the oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world under the pseudonym of the "war on terror."

We worked on and off for some five weeks together in Halifax in the summer of 2005 on this project. Dhuruva was kind enough to comment that he had never before worked in such a collegial atmosphere. Our work was intense but in an ambiance of camaraderie; a disciplined man, he walked forty-five minutes in to work early every morning, leaving late, forever turning down the offer of a ride home, without ever making any demand beyond a small space for his portable computer.

This son of the historic fishing town of Point Pedro, Jaffna on the Indian Ocean expressed an abiding interest in the trials and tribulations of the small and poor fishermen of the Maritimes, Canada and the grave problems posed by the degradation of the marine environment. Sadly, we will not see Dhuruva's return to Halifax to take up work with our Shunpiking magazine as a science editor and columnist, a collaboration we both looked forward to with great anticipation. Of writing and analyses expressing the reality and solutions, the dreams and hopes of the coastal sectors of both our Lankan and Canadian peoples astride two oceans, marginalized until now.

Like Dhuruva, we too had been transfixed by the Tsunami of 26 December 2004. Some 40,000 of his countrymen perished (of whom 7,500 were fishermen), another 90,000 displaced, and the blue became one of the most cursed of colours. We knew something of the lively fishing communities, historic towns and refugee camps along the eastern coasts in Jaffna, Trincomalee and Amparai devastated by that enormous tidal wave, the ensuing flooding, and the grim anarchy and exploitation of state and imperialist relief. His empathy for his people, for all peoples of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean, led him, from afar, to invent simple technological solutions with the aim of preventing the reoccurrence of such a disaster. Indeed, anyone who knew this man was astonished at the innovative inventions and achievements our dear friend made. Though characterized by common sense, unfortunately, few were turned into reality, due to the block people and science face from monopoly capital.

Dhuruva was generous enough to promise unsolicited his expert scientific consultation on research I had started on the self-serving role of the Canadian neo-liberal and "humanitarian aid" in hydro-electric "development" in Sri Lanka since the Colombo Plan, e.g. the Mahaweli Ganga project, the Gal Oya dam, the Allai-Kantali project, etc. What was the outcome of this "aid"? The Government of Canada, CIDA and different multinationals have "aided" the spreading desertification of once fertile Sri Lanka with its 103 rivers, of which Dhuruva had intimate technical knowledge from his own first hand field research as an agronomist for the Ministry of Agriculture in the early 1980s. These "development" projects had another insidious feature and aim; as the violent programs of a neocolonial state to forcibly dispossess the indigenous Tamil people from their ancestral homeland and farmlands, an ethnic cleansing and colonization worthy of Zionist Israel and apartheid South Africa. Together, these contributed to the miserable conditions in which the courageous Tamil people, in refugee camps and fishing villages metres from the ocean's edge, were exposed to and perished from that destructive tsunami without any defence. Dhuruva's own scientific researches reaffirm the truth bitterly confirmed by reality; the decisiveness of the human factor/social consciousness. Man's vulnerability to such extreme but inevitable natural events has as much to do with those few men who hold in their hands the power of life and death, as with the violence and destruction of nature.

Dhuruva barely reached the age of 56, but such a productive life and glorious internationalist spirit of uniting with all, no matter what their differences in terms of way of life or benefits, led him irresistibly to become an integral part of our collective being and struggle. He had many friends because to struggle for truth, for science, for knowledge and enlightenment, for a people's history, language and culture, and for a just world is to struggle for the hope of life for all peoples.

The life and work of Dhuruva and the transcendent ideals he represented are a pole star for the new generations to navigate the roiling seas engulfing the world and the new disasters being created for our peoples and homelands.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, to all his many friends, relatives and our Tamil and Canadian communities who together have conceived and worked to turn his grievous passing from us into such a noble tribute organized out of friendship, admiration and respect, on which occasion we are congregating in Toronto. Without you and everything you stand for, Dhuruva's work would not have been possible.

We all are standing together in this moment, treasuring Dhuruva's life and work, and unified by his memory, his vision, his spirit and his internationalist ideals.

Let us then collectively carry his memory and our unity forward for the rest of our lives as our radiant beacon in the struggles unfolding before us.

All honour to Veerasingan Dhuruvasangary!

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

7 December 2006



*Tony Seed is editor and publisher of Shunpiking, Nova Scotia's Discovery Magazine and of Shunpiking Online (www.shunpiking.org), and the recipient of the 2006 National Media Award of Excellence from the Canadian Islamic Conference. He visited Sri Lanka in 1999.


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