Tamil Nadu to Taliban Nadu – 2

Take the case of a terrorist who does a heinous crime. Any normal civil society would ask for the most extreme punishment to the devil. But what happened in the case of Sandalwood smuggler Veerappan was the exact opposite. The hardened criminal that he had become, Veerappan was audacious enough to kidnap Rajkumar, a famous Kannada actor, and demand ransom like he did with various other people. He shot to notoriety by smuggling sandalwood and elephant tusks. He was ruthless in killing the forest guards and policemen.

But when the state wanted to take some stern action on him, his caste became an issue of debate. Political parties such as the one headed by a medical doctor espoused his cause and argued for a pardon to the saint – Veerappan. His story was serialised in a local Tamil magazine and he became part of folklore. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in a one of her heroic acts, eliminated him by engaging with him in a kind of deceptive combat. He was lured into a trap and was killed. Then, his wife became a hero and was the talk of the town later. She even formed a political party. I don’t know what came of the party.

Would this kind of madness, of eulogising a hardened criminal, happen in the democratic society elsewhere? I would think not.

The LTTE killed Rajiv Gandhi in cold blood. It denied its hand for many years until Anton Balasingham confessed to it in an interview before his death. Along with Rajiv, 23 other ordinary citizens of India were killed too. Just because the killers happened to be members of the LTTE – the so called saviours of Tamil – the terrorist organisation’s members had to dealt with kid gloves, claimed the chauvinists. The killers, even after 25 years of Rajiv’s death, are languishing in Indian prisons after clever lawyers helped them escape the noose. Now, it has become a fashion to sport the terrorist outfit’s emblems in public and claim the fight for a greater Tamil cause.

The January 2017 ‘protesters’ in the Marina beach, who were ostensibly fighting for an ancient animal sport, held out placards that had LTTE insignia. The ‘protesters’ held seditious placards that espoused secession from the Indian union, an old and un-intelligent call that even its originators abandoned in the late 60s. They had also shown thoroughly objectionable and crude messages against the nation’s Prime Minister, in completely base language that spewed with obscenity. So much for upholding Tamil, the classical language – what ever that is meant of the adjective.

Rev Robert Caldwell (1814–1891) sowed the first seed of secession with his ‘Dravidian Linguistic Unity Theory’. However he never concealed his evangelical intentions. He calculated correctly that once the southern languages are separated from the mainstream cultural unity based Sanskrit, it would be easier to reach the head count goals for which he had come to the country. Evidence for this is available aplenty.

His disciples carried forward his ideology and sanctified him in the annals of Tamil history. Now he has become an inalienable icon of Tamil hagiography. His evangelical intentions, however, do not eclipse his scholarship in Tamil. He took pains to learn the language and the many Bakthi literature ( eg : Thiruvachakam ) and became quite an expert in those. However, those that carry him in their higher scaffolds lack even the basic knowledge needed in Tamil to read and understand these Bakthi-era poetry.

The offshoot of Caldwell’s school of though was the dravidian separatist movement of the 50s. It proponent, E.V.Ramasamy Naicker, tried to enlist the Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam speakers into this ‘Dravidian’ channel and failed miserably at that. His protege, Annadurai, tried to carry this legacy, though a subdued one aimed only at the gullible Tamil audience, and abandoned it when Pt.Nehru threatened him with the new ‘Sedition Act’. Later Annadurai became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after committing to safeguard the Indian Union.

From then on, his protege, Karunanidhi, a screen play writer, and later a matinee idol M.G.Ramachandran became Chief Ministers in the same order. After the death of M.G.R, his screen pair and protege Jayalalithaa came to power in the state. The effect of all these was that the state had become the hotbed of movie centric madness. A stint in the movie industry became a path way to political power, with the result that, today every minor screen actor aspires to become the Chief Minister one day.

The supremacy of the show biz industry, easy access to power, excessive and unchecked flow of unaccounted money in the industry made sure that the persons associated with the industry were invincible. The ascendancy of people associated with cine industry to political authority led to lowering of standards in the educational scene. The screen stars who became political leaders began to believe in much of what they had mouthed in the movies. This resulted in empty rhetoric becoming academic mainstream. If one was able to deliver a mouthful of movie dialog without batting his eyelid, he was considered an academic and a person of erudition. Academic institutions became empty vessels that made the most noise, mostly unintelligible in nature.

Result : MGR, Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa and Sivaji Ganesan became ‘Doctors in Philosophy’, with each state run university falling over another in conferring these ‘honorary’ doctorates to the worthies out of which the highest educated one was a Class X pass out.

Leaving aside the assault on the national psyche, the damage that this did to the Tamil literary circle was enormous. That directly contributed to the speeding up of the downward spiral.

Annadurai, a former Chief Minister penned base stories like ‘Oru Iravu’ ( One Night), ‘Velaikkaari’ (Maid) and depicted not so honorable scenes in them. These were regarded as a sort of rebellion against the ‘brahmanical’ literature of those times.  His protege Karunanidhi, a former movie script writer and three time Chief Minister, carried Annadurai’s legacy forward and helped bring down the standards of literature in general.

The one who wrote the most obscene of scripts and songs became the most talked about in town, was conferred with the most prestigious government awards with the result that a cartoonist of a local daily presented a scene where a garbage picker lays his hands on a multitude of awards dumped in a garbage bin.

Getting an award became tantamount to purchasing one.

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Tamil Nadu to Taliban Nadu

The state of Tamil Nadu entered the hospital in December 2015. Then it graduated to an ICU in September 2016 and finally reached the mortuary in December 2016. From then on, it continues to be in the same state – lying in state.

Dec 15 floods not only devastated Chennai but also wrote the preamble to the destruction of the state’s economics. When floods ravaged the state, overseas companies that had their offshore operations in Chennai took a serious hit. The offshore sites were not reachable for 4 days and that had a devastating effect on the bottom lines of many IT enabled companies.

I took it as a cue and moved a critical function to another state in India. Many had done that too, later I learnt.

Then came September 2016, when the then Chief Minister of the state Ms.Jayalalithaa was taken ill. She was in hospital until December 2016 when she passed away. The business scenario took a serious downward spiral as the state didn’t have a head of state for many months.

Later during January 2017, assorted groups took advantage of the situation and held the state to ransom by holding an indefinite strike and protest on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in Chennai. What appeared to be a ‘student’s protest’ to voice opposition to the banning of a popular traditional animal sport soon metamorphosed into an ugly monster that espoused sedition and linguistic chauvinism.

From then on, periodic protests in the name of safeguarding agriculture, protecting tamil pride, opposing the ‘exploitative’ attitude of industries et al have begun to surface with no warning. Meanwhile the state government has gone into a paralytic mode with no visible activity happening in the name of governance.

This sudden vacuum in the power structure has provided the necessary impetus to the anti-social elements to wreak havoc on the state and upset the carefully built image of the state as a safe one for investment.

The LTTE money that is still available in a few hands, the religious conversion inspired and church backed activists who have seen their folk dwindling, the out of business politicians who were kept at bay by the two state political parties, the parties affected by the recent demonetization by the Narendra Modi government – mostly the hawala operators, movie producers et al – these are the forces that are behind the incremental descent into chaos.

Yet another force that is not spoken about at all by the mainstream media is the rapid wahabi inspired elements that are seeking to consolidate and bring about greater instability in the state. The late Jayalalithaa too pandered to this sect when she allowed the ‘Anti-Superstition Conference’ of the wahabi inspired elements. The elements openly asked for the desecration of the sufi shrines in Tamil Nadu, as the latter were not as per the teachings of the wahabi sect of Islam. For 100s of years, hindus and christians have visited these sufi shrines as a show of inter-religious harmony in the country. Disturbing this amity is a recipe for disaster.

Some of the leading movie stars like Kamal Hasan have found it fit to come out in the open and voice concern on the state of affairs – an attempt to enter the political scene now that the all powerful leader – Jayalalithaa- is gone. It was Kamal Hasan who had to face the music of wahabi elements when he sought to release a movie of his – Viswaroopam – that talked about terrorist elements and the US war on terror. That Jayalalithaa used Kamal Hasan to consolidate the wahabi elements to support her was an open secret that none wanted to acknowledge.

Tamil Nadu is seen to oppose any progressive central government scheme much to the detriment of its own people. Overseas investors are in two minds whether to invest in the state or not, now that there is no political leadership with clarity of thought and action.

The recent ‘protest’ in the village of Neduvasal in the name of opposing hydro carbon extraction is worth our attention. This was conducted by, again, the assorted groups of anti-India and anti-Progressive forces. No sooner were the protests announced than the communist parties sidelined with them. The recent converts into communism – the JNU radicals and his ilk – came all the way to Tamil Nadu, to Neduvasal, and ‘voiced’ their support to the cause. This, even after assurances from geologists from the Periyar University in Salem that the hydro carbon extraction in Neduvasal had nothing to do with the water levels going down in the state.

The not-so-recent Kudankulam protests have to be looked into through the same lenses. The local church organisations had gathered together, pooled their resources, and financed the fast-unto-death programme of the local residents. The fasts continued for so long that even Arvind Kejriwal, the born-again-anti-national, came all the way to Kudankulam to voice his support. It is a different matter that Kejriwal had promised free electric power to Delhi ( where he was Chief Minister) and it didn’t matter to him that the free power that he was proposing was drawn from the Atomic rectors of Rajasthan.

The Neutrino project in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu has been shelved after considerable money has already been spent. Reason – environmentalists of this anti-national conglomerate opposed it.

Tamil Nadu is seen as the only state that opposes the national eligibility tests for medical seats. Recently the state also abolished the state level qualifying tests for its engineering colleges.

The number of Tamil Nadu students qualifying in central government conducted All India Exams has come down, thanks to successive years of decay in the educational arena. The normally multi-lingual Tamil student is seen to struggle even in Tamil, leave alone English and Hindi. The student knows the next movie that is set for release than what goes into a mobile phone that makes it work.

For the average student, a movie star’s personal attributes are interesting than the issues in South China sea. One should not be surprised if a student, when asked ‘Who is the president of Tibet’, could blurt out, ‘Dalai Lama’. Such is the situation on the ground. The educational statistics of the state’s students, especially in Math and Science, paint a grim picture. While the state should pride itself in providing quality and free educations, it has stooped to the level of distributing liquor through state agencies.

The state had the gory spectacle of the top bureaucrat being raided, in office, by central tax investigators.

However hard I try, as an Indian Tamil, I cannot restrain from thinking that Tamil Nadu is marching progressively towards being rechristened Taliban Nadu.  And feel sad at it.

I plan to write more on these contemporary issues at different times. I shall write them as an Indian first and a Tamil next.

Tell me your views and share the article as appropriate.