Nadarajah Selvarajah – A Self made man

On this occasion of the 60th birthday of Nadarajah Selvarajah, it gives me great pleasure in writing a few words for this felicitation volume.

Selva, my younger brother, has been a self-made man who reached great heights by sheer perseverance.

Selva’s interest in Librarianship was developed even as a small boy. In our village in Anaiccoddai, most homes sell old newspapers and journals to a paper merchant who moves on a bicycle and buys old books and newspaper. He sells them as wrapping paper or to make paper bags.

As a young boy Selva used to collect old Tamil journals from friends, relations and neighbours who keep them to be sold. He binds them all by himself and has them as a collection of books. He used to bind the interesting stories and rent out the books – I think it was 5 cents for a week – and earn his pocket money. Most of the money collected was used for binding further books and occasionally to buy his favourite short eats. He loves Vadai (made by frying mashed black gram) and Bonda (made by frying mashed potatoes wrapped in wheat flour).

His first introduction to librarianship was when he started his first job at “Sarvodayam” – a village-based Non-Governmental Organization, in a remote dry island off the mainland of Jaffna. His job was to organize libraries in the villages. The day after he joined, I got a letter from him telling me he was frustrated with the work and wanted to leave the job. I replied to him to hold on for two weeks and then re-consider whether to continue or leave. By two weeks he had decided to settle down and continue his career as a librarian. This was his turning point.

I gave this advice to him because I had to just answer him. But later in life, I started to follow the same principle of “putting it on the shelf” for a week or two and taking it back for review. This has helped me immensely in my life

His one year in Indonesia as a UN Volunteer organizing village libraries gave a boost to his interest in Librarianship as a career.

He is a late developer about Librarianship. He did his formal degree in Librarianship after all this immense practical experience. He had an excellent record of achievement during the training and excelled at the examination. If not for the bitter experience of discrimination he had at the examination, during the training in Colombo he would have continued his career in Sri Lanka. It is a loss to his motherland. However, his migration to the UK has helped him personally and receive International recognition.

Although he has another job for his living in the UK, he continues with his interest in librarianship with unrestricted enthusiasm

Selva had been a hard worker throughout his life, who rose the ladder of fame by sheer hard work. He used to work late into the nights to complete the work he has undertaken and never rests until the assignment is completed. But he enjoys his work. That keeps him without stress.

Dr. N Sivarajah MD

(Community Medicine) Former Head, Department of Community Medicine, University of Jaffna and Consultant, World Health Organization

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