Dr.Veeramani’s exemplary and selfless service to humanity has attracted great admiration from educationalists across the globe. Following the footsteps of his mentor, Dr.Veeramani has proved to be a relentless fighter for social justice, literacy and for the development of the downtrodden society.
Veeramani-2019 Humanist Lifetime Achievement Award
The reformist firmly believes that improvement in education is the key to create productive, informed citizens and to disseminate all social injustices, thereby strengthening the growth of our nation.
Dr.Veeramani himself has been an academic achiever all his life. He was a rank holder throughout his school days and received a Gold Medal for his Post Graduate degree in Economics. He also has another degree in Law. Asiriyar also received his Doctorate (D.Litt.) (Honoris Causa) from Alagappa University in the year 2003.
Recognizing his efforts towards the effective implementation of Community Development Scheme, the Canadian Government awarded him the prestigious “CIDA – Award of Excellence,” – an international award given to the best social service organization in the world.
The Malaysian Dravidar Kazhagam awarded him the title of “Karuthukkanal” [Spark of ideas] identifying his excellence in innovating ideas that benefit the society, while the Myanmar Self-respect Association conferred him the title of “Per Arivaalar” (genius) for his supreme intellect. Though titles and awards flood him, Dr.Veeramani remains to be a simple down-to-earth person, who leads an envious life with a humble mind and attitude.
Indeed, a legend born to make a difference!
Dr.K. Veeramani is the ideological disciple of the great humanist-social revolutionary Periyiar, founder of the Self-Respect Movement and the now famous Dravidar Kazhagam (DK).
Veeramani was born in a middle-class family in Cuddalore, South Arcot District, Tamil Nadu, his original name was Sarangapani. Highly educated, he obtained his master’s degree in economics where he was top of his class, and also achieved a Bachelor of Law degree from Madras University.
Veeramani entered the limelight at the age of ten when he was allowed to address the gathering in the Justice Party conference in 1944.Apart from one year in which he practised as a lawyer in Cuddalore, his career was in social work and activism. He began working with Periyar in 1956, and assisted him in editing the rationalist daily of Dravidar Kazhagam, called the Viduthalai (meaning Liberation), which he worked his way up to editing himself. In March of 1978, when Periyar’s widow and successor Maniammai died, the Managing Committee of the Dravidar Kazhagam elected Veeramani as General Secretary of the Dravidar Kazhagam.
For the last 40 years, Veeramani has been running the Dravidar Kazhagam social movement. Playing an important role in fashioning the principles of social justice and harmony, the DK fought for the property rights of women, encouraged self-respect marriages (which replaces arranged marriages,with love marriages unconstrained by caste), adopted the two-language formula in the State, fought superstition, and heralded rationalism. Today it continues to challenge the rise of governmental reliance on religion, defying governmental ministers’ reliance on astrology and public participation in temple functions, thereby truly championing the cause of the separation of church and state.
Veeramani continues to be active in social campaigns in support of “socially discriminated people.”
Not afraid to extend himself for others, he was incarcerated more than forty times for his activities. Veeramani’s bold statements about the downside of religious faith, even resulted in a petition by religious conservatives to the governor of Tamil Nadu signed by over 20,000 calling for the governor not to tolerate what they see as an “act of rascalism” implying that Veeramani should be subject to censorship or worse. But just as his activism attracted the ire of those who would oppose progress, he also received praise for his accomplishments.
Not only on the rational side of humanism, but also on the humane side of humanism, Veeramani also champions the causes of infant and child care, village development called Periyar PURA, free medical clinics for the poor and education to girl children. He is one among the first in India to open an engineering college exclusive for women students.Veeramani is also an accomplished Tamil Scholar and also the Chancellor of the Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology (Deemed University).
Respectfully called the lone voice of rationalism, Veeramani is the recipient of many honors. Alagappa University conferred the Doctor of Letters on him in 2003. Veeramani is an Honorary Associate of Rationalist International. Additionally, Periyar International USA gives an annual award for outstanding contributions to Social Justice, which is named his honor. Mr. V. P. Singh, former Prime Minister of India, was the first recipient of the award and yesterday, it was bestowed upon Professor Ulrike Niklas.
And now I’d like to take this time to present the American Humanist Association’s 2019 Humanist lifetime Achievement Award. It reads: For work that embodies humanism and for furthering humanist values in thought, writing, and activism. Thank you Veeramani for your remarkable accomplishments, for your steadfast humanism, and for your continued good works!
(The above was the brief profile presented by Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of American Humanist Association about the Awardee, Asiriyar Dr. K.Veeramani)