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Out of my mind: Puratchi Thalaivi

South India, especially Tamil Nadu, will continue to be an autonomous political region with no scope for outside parties.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published: December 11, 2016 6:13 am
jayalalithaa, jaya, tamil nadu, tamil nadu cm dead, amma dead, jayalalithaa dead, new tamil nadu cm, aiadmk leader dead, india news Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s mortal remains being carried during her funeral procession in Chennai. (Source: PTI Photo)

Last week Fidel Castro and now another Revolutionary Leader, Jayalalithaa. Of course, it sounds incongruous to call her a revolutionary leader. Revolutionaries have to be Left, anti-American and rebellious. Jayalalithaa managed to be loved and mourned for by a vast number of her voters without being traditionally Left or anti-American. What is the secret?

Tamil Nadu is a unique part of India. As a ‘nation’ with one of the oldest languages in the world, it also has literally only a single revolutionary movement, the Dravida Kazhagam, which shaped its economy and politics. Half a century before Ram Manohar Lohia told his followers about caste, Periyar had picked up the struggle against Brahmin domination as the key to transforming Tamil Nadu. The two main parties which are really only the same are his creation.

The DMK/AIADMK saw the Congress, with its Brahmin leadership, off. Even getting K Kamaraj in as Chief Minister did not restore the fortunes of the Congress. For the last 50 years, Tamil Nadu has been ruled by the Dravidian uplift ideology. It is a progressive welfare state unlike no other. If all Indian states were like Tamil Nadu, India would be so much better.

Not just Tamil Nadu, the entire South India has been half a century ahead of the rest of India in the quality of its social life. The CPM manages to run Kerala well while it wrecked West Bengal. One may ask why is that so. How come the CPM destroyed Presidency College, one of the finest educational institutions in India, without any intellectuals protesting? How could the economy of West Bengal be ruined by the CPM with untold harm to the thousands of workers? Why is there a welfare state in Tamil Nadu and Kerala but not in West Bengal?

The contrast between North and South India remains a puzzle. We will see how strong the grip of caste politics is in UP soon when the elections take place. UP’s ruin started with the Congress domination, which reinforced the rule of the higher castes. No subsequent political party has pursued the sort of deep social reform that the DMK achieved in Tamil Nadu. Bihar is again the same; ruined by decades of Congress rule and not improved much by the other parties.

Neither Congress nor the Left ever challenged caste domination. They spoke of socialism but not of the ground reality in India. The Lohiaite parties promoted OBCs but ended up strengthening caste. The social backwardness of India was reinforced. The pathetic nature of SP (despite its title about being Socialist) as a querulous Hindu joint family party says it all.

There will be fake debates about Bharat Mata and secularism but there is no hope that any political party will argue for the abolition of caste or even the removal of Mandal. Caste has now been deeply entrenched in Indian politics with no hope of radical change. South India, especially Tamil Nadu, will continue to be an autonomous political region with no scope for outside parties. The deep roots of welfare politics sown by Periyar and watered by successive chief ministers of both parties have made it a unique state. The other parties will never understand or attempt radical change. India will remain divided into a progressive South and the rest.

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  1. A
    Dec 11, 2016 at 6:58 am
    First Kerala is completely undeveloped. It looks to be working because of people go to work in middle east - most of them are low or semi professional careers like nurses, cooks, drivers etc so I don't know what author is talking about. Also, casteism in Modern India is kept live by politicians and concessions offered to lower castes. When there is benefit offered to a belong to a lower caste then people are greedy and sign up for it. It is very easy to see that by number of castes asking government to declare them as OBC. This is because they get benefits in education, jobs, careers. I know number of Brahmins who wanted to make their children adopted by backward cl folks so they get that benefits. This proves that actually there is more advantages of being lower castes than higher castes. In short if government asks higher cl people to convert to lower cl - I bet 80% will do it. Casteism is used to divide the country and people. DNA studies also showed that there is no difference between the people. If you look even today - son/daughter of Film Actor or Actress becomes an Actor, Lawyers kids are becoming lawyers, Politicians children are becoming politicians, Big businessmen children are becoming businessmen, Doctor kids become doctor, IAS officers are becoming IAS officers. There is some mobility between trades/jobs because of education in schools and colleges, entrance exams and exposure to internet - But in only 200 years children had only one way of learning - that is from their parents and that how it was fixed. Also, to claim that it doesn't exist in European or other countries - It existed everywhere in world - In England - Royals would not marry or mingle with commoners. Lords, clergy, commoner lived separatelly. Just we stupid people are dividing ourselves. FYI I belong to vishya (business cl) - third from top and 2nd from bottom - but for last two generations - I am brahmin as I work as teacher.
    1. A
      Dec 11, 2016 at 11:27 am
      The article is completely lacking in any depth and the analysis is shallow. While the write is broadly right about the national parties' fortunes in Tamil Nadu, his analysis is just average. He talks of southern states but leaves AP and Karnataka out. Why can national parties attract strong local leaders? Can anyone address that?
      1. K
        Kannada First
        Dec 11, 2016 at 11:42 am
        Tamils vote for Dravidian parties based on LANGUAGE not caste, religion or even development. They consider language, traditions and the ruler (some xyz Dravidian party) as part of their 'national' heritage. Tamils consistently voted for DMK and AIADMK alternatively over last 50 years. That's an impressive record of pathetic conservatism. lt;br/gt;Just to give an example, they even resisted changes in their language. Hale Kannada (meaning 'old' Kannada) is so similar to Tamil.... but Kannada language evolved with time into 'Nadu Kannada' (middle Kannada) and present day 'Hosa Kannada' (New Kannada). But Tamil remains Tamil even after 2000 years.
        1. S
          Dec 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm
          No one can deny TN is a developed state, yes casteism is practiced but it has no way hampered growth and development of Dalits and Brahmins.JJ have provided good opportunity for dalits many dalit ministers and secretaries in TN government are performing exceedingly well it is not the caste but opportunities provided decides everything you may not see this in any part of India. Freebies have not made TN public lazy infact it has helped many poor. Only people who have suffered for one meal a day can understand how poor have benefited.
          1. H
            Dec 11, 2016 at 7:15 am
            There is nothing wrong with caste, whatever condemnable is caste discrimination, which is anti humanity. Similarly, why there should be any outside party in Tamil Nadu as it is perfect if people follow Periyar and it is in their democratic rights. Secularism does not mean that somebody has to condemn all and protect only views of powerful and carry out some charity to overcome the feeling of sin. Secularism is to respect and to legally protect human values for all human beings irrespective of their social and economical status.
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