The South Asian Times

17 January 2019 12:51 PM

Thiruvalluvar statue installed in the heart of NYC

By Suchitra Srinivas

New York: Dr. V.G. Santhosam, the octogenarian entrepreneur, from Chennai is on a mission to spread the values and spirit of the Tamil culture as depicted in the verses of the 2000-year-old couplets - Thirukkural.

The route he chose for accomplishing his mission is to install the statue of the poet Thiruvalluvar across the globe and inspire the people to read through his poems.

On May 12, the statue of Thiruvalluvar was unveiled in Queens. Over 7 ft tall, it is a sight on Caldwell Avenue, Middle Village.   

At a modest function there, Dr. Santhosam, who also heads the 25-year-old Ulaga Tamil Sangam, said, “Thirukkural has all the essential teachings required for leading a righteous modern life suited for the world and they go beyond language, creed or religion.”

Containing 1,330 crisp, two-line couplets, Thirukkural has clearly defined dos and don’ts around virtue and righteousness; economy / money making rules, and love and family life.

Since installing the first statue in Rishikesh in India in 1995, Dr. Santhosam has been at this project travelling across the globe: Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and so on.

The New York statue is 36th installed by Dr Santhosam. In the US, there is already one he installed in the Murugan temple in Maryland as early as 2005. The 37th statue is set to be unveiled in Punjab next month.

Each statute costs about Rs 4 lakh, paid from his personal funds.  

Chairman of VG Group of companies, Dr. Santhosam’s is a quintessential “rags to riches” story.

From a newspaper delivery boy to starting a tea shop, Dr Santhosam, along with his brother V.G. Panneerdas, went on to notch many business successes in Tamil Nadu. Pioneers of organized hire purchase system in retail business, the VGP beach resorts and the first time Hollywood style amusement parks are something everyone from south India  is too familiar with.

The entrepreneur’s love today seems to have shifted to spreading the righteous path professed by Thiruvalluvar.

The Ulaga Tamil Sangam plans to hold a Thirukkural convention at the UN in 2019 Fall, where some 100 scholars and officials from India will brainstorm the Thirukkural truths to provide an opening to world’s quest for peace, love and engagement.

But to a south Indian passing through Middle Village in Queens, the Thiruvalluvar statue is an instant and deep connection to his or her identity!

Update: 16 May, 2018