Tamilnadu Politics

I have had a nomadic, apolitical upbringing. I have appreciated logic, non-emotional and non-judgement way of life. I grew up in various SBI Officers’s quarters i.e. Orissa, Mumbai, Chennai and in Pondicherry. Also stayed briefly in the US in and around Berkeley. Then moved to Mumbai, Bangalore and then back to Chennai. I have never been passionate about Politics. I have voted only once in my entire life at Mumbai 4 years back and the candidate lost! In fact looked down upon it during my college days and continue to do so :-) I have always believed that the entire world is one country. An utopian or naive way of life. But over the last few years, I have come to terms with the fact that having been exposed to democracy as the way of life in the places I have visited it is important.  As part of work, I even participated in the Mobile SMS campaign for BJP as part of the last elections (in other words spam!)

I have always wondered why lots of my India friends have taken appreciating US politics more than India. Why the India TV channels create drama. Always admired the way students and people in US supported and had a view on the politics of its country. They way the US presidents talk, the UK House of Commons functions and why Indians mostly take up to yes-manism, chair throwing, buying votes. Pondered very briefly, Why can our representatives sit down as statesman and fix the real situation? And never get lost in who shouts the most and not have structured discussions. Whether if we were a dictatorship, India might be a better place to live :-) The statement from my physics professor who helped me prepare for IIT exams always comes to my mind when I think of these things : Thank God Physics doesn’t behave as democracy does. (He would ask a spot poll on what people think the answer is and the majority of intelligent people came up with wrong answers! ;-) )

Off late, Tamilnadu has been in the national news over the last few months. Main items have been the 2G scandal (which I don’t think is a scandal! Apparently Time lists the scandal as the biggest one after Watergate!!), AIDMK wining the state elections, Eminent fall of the DMK and now the Sri Lankan war crimes associated politics that have been affecting the Indian Nation. I think everyone should watch the video Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields  on youtube first before forming an opinion.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write this post was, I was not sure how do I get started to know or even started comprehending the political situation in Tamilnadu. And the best way I thought was history. But, I am very lazy when it comes to reading books and taking the effort to have a fact based opinion. Partly because at a gut level, I don’t care in my heart but my mind accepts I need to get educated! Its like if you are an engineer you don’t care about sales but for the success of the company sales is very important function! I happened to pick up a copy of Frontline (Jan 25, 2013 Issue) during my travels across india in Jan, Feb and Mar and it had very interesting articles about Tamilnadu politics and its history. Would love to discuss with some people who understand this more but just thought will blog it away for later reference.

The last article is very relevant to the current news that has lead the DMK to withdraw support from UPA and current TN Government deciding not allow Srilanka players to play the IPL while also making a resolution today to push for Sanctions, Trade Embargo against Sri Lanka and declaring that Sri Lanka is not a friendly nation to India. Though these developments are primary political in nature, the actions are being taken as a good portion does reflect the mood of the state. I think one should also see the movie Iruvar (also Aishwarya Rai’s debut movie?) to get a feel of the political climate then when AIDMK was founded. The rise of Jayalalithaa is also an amazing story, which I still don’t understand.

Tamil Eelam (A survey in late 2008 by the Tamil Nadu daily Ananda Vikatan found 55.4% of Indian Tamils in the state supported the separation of Tamil Eelam, while 34.63% supported a federal Tamil Eelam) is only point on which Tamilnadu stands together and no party wants to be seen lacking in terms of actions against it. Some quotes from the last article Tamil Nationalism – Then and Now:

The frequent references in Tamil Nadu and outside to “Tamil nationalist” and “Tamil protectionist” movements by leaders of the Patali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and other political parties are confusing and misleading.

These terms were initially used in the context of the struggle for Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. But their use in the context of Tamil Nadu calls for explanation. The concept of “Tamil nationalism” was initiated at the end of the 19th century mainly to protect the separate identity of the Tamil language. When a false impression was created that the pan Indian culture was Sanskrit, a section of educated Tamils asserted the point that Tamil culture was distinct from Sanskrit culture and demanded its independent recognition. This was followed by the non-Brahmin movement of the non-Brahmin upper castes (who identified Brahmins with Sanskrit) against Brahmin monopoly in education and employment in the first three decades of the 20th century and by E.V. Ramasamy Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement since 1925 and the Dravidian movement thereafter.

The non-Brahmin movement of the Justice Party founded in 1916; the Justice Party’s rise to power in the 1920 elections to the Madras Legislative Council through the “communal electorates”—a major outcome of its non-Brahmin movement; the Self-Respect movement founded by Periyar in 1925 with his long-term goals of establishing a rational egalitarian society; C.N. Annadurai’s acceptance of Periyar as his leader in 1935; their work together for the next 14 years when they changed the course of Tamil culture, politics and society, with Periyar more on the campaign side and Anna on the culture side; the related groundswell and efflorescence of the Dravidian movement from the 1930s to the 1960s; Anna’s entry into the Justice Party in 1935 when it was in its last gasp, which, as he revealed later, was “to convert the party of the affluent into a democratic and socialist party”; the Justice Party unwittingly facilitating this radical change by naming Periyar as its leader in 1938 when he was in jail for the anti-Hindi agitation.

Anna and Periyar together transforming the moribund Justice Party into the Dravidar Kazhagam (D.K., or Dravidar Federation) in 1944, laying the foundations of Tamil cultural and political nationalism in the province; the rupture between Anna and Periyar in 1949 when Anna left Periyar and the D.K. and founded the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or Dravida Progressive Federation); Anna’s election to the Rajya Sabha in 1962, even as the DMK graduated to become the principal opposition party in the Madras legislature; Anna’s demand in his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha expounding his goal of an independent Dravida Nadu (Dravidian country), which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru rejected in the House later; the Sixteenth Amendment to the Indian Constitution, which proscribed advocacy of secession and the DMK’s decision to drop its Dravida Nadu demand, all should be seen as precursors of the DMK’s rise to power in 1967.

Anna, after he became Chief Minister, used power to achieve the goals of the Dravidian movement, of Dravida Nadu. He named Madras State Tamil Nadu, enacted the progressive legalisation of self-respect marriages, which was central to Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement, encouraged inter-caste marriages by awarding gold medals to such couples, and, daringly, abolished Hindi as a mandatory subject in government schools.

Anna pleaded with the Centre for a constitutional realignment in favour of the States, and believed that India could play an international role when Indians “are socially integrated, economically self-reliant and work out ostensibly what can be federal and State subjects”. Anna’s DMK pioneered the advent of regional parties in India’s polity, providing a safe and democratic outlet for regional aspirations within a united India and the espousal and accommodation of linguistic cultural nationalism in India’s complex plural ethnic and religious mosaic.

After the breakup of the DMK in 1972 when film actor-turned-politician M.G. Ramachandran formed the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the political landscape of Tamil Nadu spawned many new parties, each for the promotion of a single caste, mainly to gain from the loaves and fishes of public office, have a share in the State’s caste-based power play and a larger slice of the cake in its caste-based reservation politics.

The PMK is a product of this caste-centred political churning. Its single-point political agenda has fostered the Vanniyar caste, first through the family of its founder, Dr S. Ramadoss, and then through “Vanniya Nadu”. For this, Ramadoss has been doing a Bal Thackeray in Tamil Nadu by appropriating what he fantasises as Tamil culture and Tamil nationalism, crying foul that “Tamil culture is in danger” without understanding the heterogeneous and palimpsest nature of culture, which is of multiplex complexity in a caste-ridden society.

The upshot of the power play and factional politics in the State is the conflict between the Scheduled Castes and the intermediate castes. The non-Brahmin movement was successful in highlighting Brahmin domination in every sphere of public life. The Brahmins retreated tactfully. It was a slow process. In the face of the social mobility movements of Dalits and their legitimate aspirations for a higher and better place in what is increasingly seen as a secular and not a caste society, that too after centuries of subjugation, sections of the so-called “intermediate castes” such as Vanniyar, Mukkulathore (Thevar, Maravar, Agamudayar) and Goundar, who once tried to move up the caste hierarchy by claiming Kshatriya status through Sanskritisation (briefly, imitation of Brahmin behaviour), are unwilling to yield social and political space to Dalits as the Brahmins did from the 1940s to the 1970s. (These castes were not really intermediate in the traditional fourfold Varna system but at the bottom of the hierarchy of the Sudra castes and are “intermediate castes” only now in relation to Dalits; Dalits were outside the Sudras and hence were characterised as Avarnas or Panchamas.)

HP31022C.N.AnnaduraiVCK_Protest

What should I do with my life?

I came across a book lying on my Dad’s table.  The titled read “what should I do with my life” by Po Bronson. As I been on a break for close to a year and its one question has come across my mind often. I decided to grab and see what special gyan this book was going to help me with. I initially thought it would one of those 10 steps to be a millionaire books :-). Surprisingly I felt it was worth the read! Po Bronson has written this  book in a way that appealed to me. The author has collected around 60 stories after interacting deeply with people who tried answering the question or atleast had the will to go looking got it rather being stuck with existential view of life. Check out the link for some sample stories.

I really loved his final summary. Very appropriate one. It goes as (verbatim from the book):

Some of the important things I have learned:

A calling is not something you know, it’s something you grow into through trials and mistakes. Work shouldn’t just be fun. Work should be like life – sometimes fun, sometimes moving, and defined by meaningful events. Attack your fears, rather than shy away from them. Bring what you do in alignment with who you are. Freedom is the confidence that you can live within the means of something you ‘re passionate about. Failure’s hard but success at the wrong thing can lock you in forever. Don’t be seduced by artificial love. Be open to defining experiences. Don’t mistake intensity for passion. You don’t find your purpose about you neck, you find it below the neck, when you are transformed by what you have witnessed. You can get good at what you need to serve what you believe in . Get your mind 80 per cent of the way there, then go looking for the catalyst. Look backward as much as forward, inward as much as outward. Nothing helps like knowing you are not alone. There’s a powerful transformative effect when you surround yourself with like-minded people. Create an environment where the truth is invited into your life. If you develop the character, the odds are pretty good you can succeed. Success is defined as when you’re no longer held back by your heart, and your character blossoms, and the gifts you have to offer to the world are apparent. Don’t cling to a single scenario, allow yourself many paths to the same destination. Give it a lifetime to pay off. Things you work hardest for are the things you will most treasure.

I used to think life presented a five-page menu of choices. Now I think choice is in whether to be honest, to ourselves, and others, and the rest is more of an uncovering, a peeling away of layers, discovering talents we assumed we didn’t have. I used to treasure the innocence of first love. Now I treasure the hard-fought. I used to want to change the world. Now, I’m open to letting it change me.

I think lot of people in my generation have started thinking about this in India. As the Indian economy has grown and the world has shrunk due to increased connectivity (transport and communication technology) has given way to increased opportunities. Unlike my parent’s generation who were really not able to question traditions and take risks in their work life. Bunch of stories spoke to me personally. The way I look at life now tells me that I need not regret that I feel I will keep doing things in my life (instead of having one specific calling). Keep exploring and solving tough, meaningful problems in life and move on to newer things. Its the journey and not the goal. Till now I have followed my heart and have always given my best in all the work I have done. Luckily I have been only held back by my health. Have a great family that has supported me always and good set of friends I can lean on. I will always cherish the role of serendipity and look at opportunity in every challenge thrown at me :-) And yeah, its never too late!

silence economy

I have been thinking and feeling a lot about silence. You can find posts on this topic in my blog : silence : Infact I lived the last 2 years of my life trying to appreciate in better :-)

This quote by Lao Tzu is so profound! Silence is a source of great strength

Buddha

Meditating on silence

I mention about it in the following posts : Being Creative ; Creative Silence ; LoCuSt Theory . 2 years back i was so much into internet and mobile, I suddenly felt if I was too dependent on it. What if, I asked myself, I don’t have the connection? Will I be okay and happy? Am I too social? Can I be happy with myself and people around me? Or am I addicted to the internet to the extent that its a relationship I am dependent on? Hence over the last 700+ days I completely withdrew myself and now I am back to full form myself. Happy to say, I can go to an island and still remain happy with out electricity :-) The internet and mobile with facebook, twitter and google definitely keep me happy and entertained. But I shall be happy and thriving without it as well …

Coming back to the topic of the post, I see the whole world economy as a result of the human kind not be at ease with the silence. As I said in my earlier post, Locust Theory : The whole universe is built around Nothingness or impermanence. Actually a massive silence. The absolute truth is nothingness or silence!

The whole modern materialistic, capitalistic world seems to be making money from the inability of people to be at peace with the silence. The economy of the growth i.e. GDP is a measure of how much the country is working towards filing this silence! The only problem I see with this is its fundamentally unstable. Growth where the foundation of the economy is silence is more sustainable and democratic. Growth that is more thought out – a step though slower definitely towards a stronger, better and richer tomorrow. I think India’ growth trajectory is in the right direction with focus on sustainable development, long term development as the future i.e. as per needs and abilities. Of course, there is a balance of power, a big gap in the socio-economic structure. But the inclusive development will happen in sometime … if not now definitely by 2050! the internet and mobile will play a very critical role in this.

HAR PAL … KUCH ZAROORI ( www.mytoday.com Every Moment … something u need ) a new product we are re-launching and re-branding where I work. I guess this will add more fuel to the economy in general : ;-) and we take a cut! Hopefully in the more sustainable way.  Only time will tell but I am sure we are onto something really big here. Possibly the next google or facebook? I am sure this will be addictive. Atleast thats my job role to make it addictive – hope I live up to the expectations!

Coming to the more details of the silence economy, this is how the economy functions. In order to get away from the silence, a person, institution or group of people can do one of the following things:

  • create
  • consume
  • comment
  • curate
  • collaborate (co-create)
  • destroy
  • share

Depending where you are in the value making or consumption chain your either make or spend money! Thats the gyan session for today :-) too much philosophy. Next blog post on ‘life’ would be either on anger or how / why the future of money will be barter in the open, social and free world :-)

what is journalism

With technology costs coming down and people becoming more participative, I have always wondering what and how to define what journalism actually entails. Jeff Jarvis quotes in his post on Product vs Process Journalism and I totally endorse Robert’s definition

Robert Picard writes that journalism

is not business model; it is not a job; it is not a company; it is not an industry; it is not a form of media; it is not a distribution platform. Instead, journalism is an activity. It is a body of practices by which information and knowledge is gathered, processed, and conveyed. The practices are influenced by the form of media and distribution platform, of course, as well as by financial arrangements that support the journalism. But one should not equate the two.

Another point, I strongly feel everyone (esp. India Media) should start understanding the implication of what they mean by citizen journalism. Just aggregating tweets or news bits or live reporting on the internet by people is not what I would call journalism. And the word citizen journalism with the general interpretation becomes too overloaded and loose. What is processed and how it is presented in any media at the end is what matters not how fast (not too late ;-) !) and how much (esp Indian New TV Channels).

Re: Morality or the woman’s womb

I chanced about reading Rachel Chitra’s post Morality or the Woman’s womb. After first reading I was very tempted to critically comment :-) But then I said to myself, I think I shall reserve my critical views for sometime if and when we meet in future! However, I glanced About me section, turns out she is a journalist from my home town and so is her husband! That made me think about the quality of the writing and the points she makes (I expect better Chitra?). For the moment, I shall just hide behind the ‘I am not a journalist window’ and pepper my immediate thoughts in line …

For women with great power to procreate comes great responsibility to safegaurd it. The Indian society, has somehow lacked the ability to talk openly and make people understand the different changes their body undergoes. Hopefully in the decades to come with more information awareness, things will change for the better. And also technology aided birth prevention (condom, contraceptive pills and abortion) comes to rescue to bring balance into the equation of man & women.

And yeah, I kind of strongly disagree with her view of “In India, people also have the disgusting habit of holding a grand function in which all friends & relatives attend, when the girl attains puberty. I don’t see anyone celebrating a boy’s attainment of puberty in India. “

Its a immature to conclude it as a disgusting habit. I see it as a celebration of the girl child and her maturity. Also a very grand way to convey the message to the community of her puberty. Southern traditions are laden with such rituals equally among the girl & boy child. Seemandham (Baby Shower) couple of months before child birth. The thread ceremony being something equivalent for the boy?

From what I have understood, all the traditions had some thought behind when they were put in place. Over periods of time, the reason people think has changed in similar ways the mis-interpretation of BiBle, Quran and Gita. Agreed some of the traditional tradition may not be needed or re-looked. Kindly note that my understanding has been self observed & objective one (and yeah I don’t believe in the concept of God!). Anything specific you don’t agree, I would love to engage in a constructive dialogue if you need.

Will open this post for comments. I have closed my comments on the blog due to mega spamming. Trackbacks are appreciated ;P