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Indian-origin radio and TV personality Bamah Balakrishnan passes away in Singapore

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Popular Indian-origin radio and TV personality Bamah Balakrishnan, whose iconic voice reverberated over radio and television sets for decades, has died following a heart attack at a Singapore hospital on Wednesday, a media report said.

MediaCorp radio station Oli 96.8FM, on which Balakrishnan hosted the popular show “Mathiya Nera Koothugalam”, announced her death on its Facebook page, The Straits Times reported.

Balakrishnan died at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

“Bamah was a true professional with a passion for the Tamil language. An evergreen radio voice who will be thoroughly missed but one that will be remembered forever,” Chitra Rajaram, MediaCorp’s head of community segment (Indian and Malay), was quoted as saying in a statement.

The 59-year-old, who was “very popular” amongst the Indian community in Singapore “for her jovial personality and charisma”, worked with MediaCorp’s Indian radio station for the past 39 years.

Proficient in English, Tamil, Malay and Telugu, she hosted and produced numerous radio programmes of human interest that have helped create awareness about issues facing the Indian community. Balakrishnan was a versatile personality, having written and acted in radio and TV dramas. She also gave talks at various public forums.

Balakrishnan is survived by a son. Her husband died more than 10 years ago.

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Singapore launches ‘Arumbu’, a mobile app to foster understanding of Tamil language among youth

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

With an aim to kindle interest among young children, Singapore has launched a mobile app to foster understanding of the Tamil language, one of the four official languages in the city state.

The app named “Arumbu” was launched at the opening of the 14th Tamil Internet Conference yesterday. The event is being attended by 150 Tamil speaking delegates from Singapore and 200 from 10 countries.

Speaking at the start of the conference, S Iswaran, Singapore Minister in the Prime Minister Office said, “Pre-school children can soon benefit from the Arumbu app. It harnesses audio and visual technologies to inspire an interest in the Tamil language among young children,”

“We have successfully developed mobile apps and academic software such as Singai Agaram, an English to Tamil and Tamil to Tamil digital dictionary to facilitate and encourage the use of the Tamil language,” Iswaran added.

Earlier this year, MediaCorp launched an online Tamil news and current affairs portal to allow consumers to follow major developments within and outside Singapore.

Also, the local Tamil news bulletins, broadcast daily on MediaCorp’s Vasantham (Tamil) channel began Tamil subtitling following requests from the general public and the deaf community.

The renewed interest towards the promoting Tamil comes in the backdrop of many languages facing the risk of being lost by becoming irrelevant among the youth.

To address the deteriorating interest, Iswaran said that the connection between technology and the Tamil language must be forged with greater effort so as to cultivate a life-long interest in the language and to encourage future generations to celebrate its rich heritage.

One of the four official languages in Singapore, along with Malayalam, Chinese and English, the development of Tamil is supported by the government by holding annual language speaking campaigns, cultural activities and national level debates among Tamil speaking students.

UniSIM, or the Singapore Institute of Management University, offers the Bachelor of Arts in Tamil Language and Literature (BATL) programme, which is the first and only undergraduate Tamil language and literature programme in Singapore.

The three-day conference that ends tomorrow is attended by foreign delegates from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Middle East, Australia, France, Switzerland, Canada, the US and the UK.