Rajaratnam Snr, an icon in Tamil philanthropy, passes away

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 June 2014, 16:24 GMT]
Jesuthasan Rajaratnam (JMR), born in Alvai, Point Pedro, and an old boy of Hartley College, later of Jaffna Central College, passed away at the age of 86, in Tenafly, New Jersey 17th June, Tuesday. His funeral was held on the 21st Saturday with a large gathering of his relatives, friends and leaders of various Tamil diaspora organizations in which he was a prominent member. A long-term friend who had known JMR for more than 60 years, while Rajaratnam was a student in accounting in U.K. in the 50s and later while holding executive positions in several Colombo-based corporations, described JMR as the most noteworthy person in his life "who has shown singular commitment to the rights and welfare of Tamil people in the NorthEast of Sri Lanka, and who took action to alleviate the debilitating conditions of his people."

J.M. Rajaratnam
J.M. Rajaratnam
"During trials and tribulations he and his family faced in their pursuit to advance the economic conditions and to advocate equal rights, JMR stood as a shining example to the Tamil diasporic community in his steadfast commitment to alleviate the suffering of Tamils, and to help advance the education in the deprived parts of NorthEast of Sri Lanka," community leaders in the U.S. told TamilNet.

While in London during 1952-1957, JMR soon became a mentor and guide, and provided much needed support to several new arrivals from Ceylon for professional and graduate studies. His leadership qualities resulted in his being elected as President of the Ceylon Students Association (London) in 1956, and it was then JMR gained greater interest in Tamil culture, and helped found the London Tamil Sangam of which he was also the first President.

After JMR returned to Ceylon, his social focus was on providing help to unemployed educated youth. He was preoccupied with seeking support from like-minded friends to initiate, finance and operate small scale private ventures in agriculture, commerce and industries, according to his associates.

Early establishment of building a boat-yard in Point-Pedro, a textile factory in Vallai, NoorAcre farm in Mullaiththeevu, Nandhi Industries and Agencies in Jaffna, a sugar-factory in Akkaraayan Ku'lam, and Green Acres farm in Mahiyangana are examples of JMR's untiring involvement in providing employment and improving the economic prospects of the under-privileged.

After his retirement, while in the US, JMR’s preoccupation has been philanthropy, providing and encouraging friends and family to meaningfully participate in humanitarian endeavors, providing educational and livelihood support, refugee rehabilitation, welfare and human rights. JMR also developed close friendships with many South Indian Tamils and leaders, and diaspora Tamils regarded JMR as their unofficial ambassador to Tamil Nadu.

External Links:
NYT: J.M. Rajaratnam


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