BBC radio tells the story of Myanmar’s Tamils
Staying back in the Golden Land – the lives Myanmar’s Tamil minority are atthe centre of a 12-part weekly series launching on BBC Tamil radio this Sunday.
The series explores the conditions in which Myanmar’s ethnic Tamils live today and talks about their collective memory, their daily lives and their aspirations for their future in a changing Myanmar.
Myanmar’s ethnic Tamils, whose number is unofficially estimated at half a million, are the descendants of Tamils from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They migrated to Burma during the days of the British Empire and worked in finance and trade as well as agriculture. The end of the British rule in Burma in 1948 led to a decline of the community’s fortunes. In the 1960s, in the wake of the military rule, many were forced to leave Burma – but many also stayed back.
The BBC Tamil series producer, Swaminathan Natarajan, travelled across the Tamil-speaking areas of Myanmar, interviewing people from various cross-sections of the society including traders, community leaders, farmers and social activists. Their cultural identity is the focus of the series.
Editor of BBC Tamil, Thirumalai Manivannan, comments: “Having retained their cultural roots, Burma’s Tamils also seem to have achieved some success in integration with the mainstream Burmese society. The series looks at how this integration works – and also throws light on the issues affecting this section of the Burmese society and takes a historic look at the vicissitudes of their lives.”
The series will also be available as podcasts online via the BBC Tamil website, bbctamil.com.