One of the most divisive issues in the independent India was the Language policy. The constituent assembly was split wide open and spirited and passionate debates ensued. But what lingers in my mind today is that one statement by RV Dhulekar on the second day – literally the second day of constituent assembly (translated from Hindi) – “People who do not know Hindustani have no right to stay in India. People who are present in this House to fashion out a constitution for India and do not know Hindustani are not worthy to be members of this Assembly. They had better leave.” (http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/vol1p2.htm)
From there, we moved to Seth Govind Das, one of the supporters of Hindi as national language said during constituent assembly debates: “Our country is one of the six oldest countries of the world, which are India’ China, Egypt, Greece, Babylon and Mesopotamia,” and continued to conclude, “Only India is one of those six ancient countries where the tradition of its ancient culture and civilisation can be seen in a very field of life.” (http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/vol11p4.htm)
To cut it short, moral of the story from those debates is this – for the benefit of India, we, Tamils and rest of non-Hindi speaking population had made a compromise – in language, one of the most important element in any civilization. Other states in India have more or less unofficially learnt Hindi but we in Tamil Nadu, didn’t. India, is a fine amalgamation of diverse and divergent things – languages, customs, history, religions, festivals, mythologies and more importantly, diverse people. Let us take this one for the team – Team being India.
We formed ‘the’ Union, not ‘a’ Union, for the mutual benefit of all who inhabit this land. But where has it taken us from that compromise?
Fast forward to 1970s, India handed over a piece of land, historically of Tamils to Sri Lanka, not because of goodwill or genuine concern or historical right but to placate Sri Lanka against the growing influence of a superpower in our backyard. Let us take this one as well for the team.
From then on, there is no official count on the number of fishermen who have been killed by Sri Lanka on sea. Why should a country accept this? It was the American bogey in the cold war and now, it’s the Chinese bogey. Tamils, literally have paid in blood and land to keep rest of India safe. Every state has contributed to Indian military, but Tamil Nadu has a distinction of contributing civilian lives, with rest of India not caring, not bothering and not even aware of this. This one is for the team as well.
I have said this in the past and I am right – we are ready to share waters without any issue with an enemy nation but not with our own brothers and sisters. The issue of Cauvery river has not died and will not die in the near future. Some may view this from a nationalistic perspective and get agitated and call me names. It doesn’t matter. Fact, yes, fact remains that Indus Water Treaty stands test of time and wars, whereas, we, citizens of same nation with common future and shared prosperity cannot come to an agreement. Remember, only Tamils were and are portrayed as villains in the entire saga. The national parties have no base in Tamil Nadu and they vie for power in Karnataka. So, for the benefit of someone’s power play, we are cast aside. The central government has not agreed to the supreme court order in forming Cauvery Water Management Board, with some weird and nonsensical logic. This one for the team?
In a power starved state, we constructed Kudankulam, much against the wish of many of the people living around the plant. Now, what did we get in return? Not all power is for TN. It has to be shared. Now, look at the logic. Its contradictory between what was applied for water and power. We underwrite the risk 100% but the return is not for us. If that be the case, why should we underwrite the risk? We can be a consumer of power where the risk is present in other states. If people say that the technology and money has come from Government of India, feel free to close this and place it somewhere (its called as Skin in the Game by NN Taleb). Let’s see if you can do it with other population. There is a Jaitapur test case which will prove this point. So we took this one for the team as well.
Historically, people in the world are connected, by blood. There cannot be a more provable and historic connection than what the Tamils in India share with Tamils in Sri Lanka. Without going into the political situation, India has let down Tamils in Sri Lanka. The Tamils who cross the Palk Strait and come to Tamil Nadu are refugees and are not provided citizenship. Cut to 2016, the government of India wants to provide citizenship based on Religion. So a Tamil from Sri Lanka is a refuge or illegal immigrant but a Hindu from Bangladesh is not. In what way are our blood cheap? Are we not worthy of being accorded the same rights as the rest of the nation? If nation is collection of people, are we aliens? On what basis shall we swallow our pride and take this one for the team?
Now, lets come to the bull in our midst. The supreme court banned Jallikattu on the basis of animal cruelty. Some have compared this to halal meat, non-vegetarian or biriyani in Bakrid. All these are false equivalence where the animals are killed whereas in Jallikattu, animals are not. The most apt comparison, in my mind, is horse race. What is the purpose of riding crop in a jockey’s hand? Isn’t it to tap and to hit? So isnt that cruelty? If that is the case, then which cruelty is less and which is more? Who is to judge? Ironically, Supreme Court stated that horse racing is not animal cruelty! (http://www.thehindu.com/…/Horse-racing-…/article16765154.ece)
As I see it – we compromised on our language status, we gave our land to another country, allow our civilians to spill blood, beg for water, underwrite risks without any return, let our fellow Tamil brothers and sisters die and now should we allow our custom to be dead?
P.S.: It is not to say other states haven’t sacrificed or lost. Our North Eastern brethren suffer a lot, which is humiliating. This is how I, as a Tamil see it. Others are free to express their displeasure as well.