Monday, 19 March 2018

Third Law #8: So, South India is gonna be a separate country?

A century-old idea, that was in cryosleep for over 55 years, has now become the talk of the town. This time, the idea was regenerated from all four ethnic roots of the south calling for 'a separate union of southern States.'

Former Tamilnadu Chief Minister CN Annadurai before he revoked the agitations, demanding Dravida Nadu, in 1963, said prophetically, "The need for Dravida Nadu is still seen sparsely. If not now, it will resurrect sometime in far future."

Where did it all start?

When the Justice Party (formerly, South Indian Liberal Federation) was formed in 1916, it was initially operating as an anti-Brahminical movement, claiming other communities here were not given equal rights in employment, education and government jobs.

The anti-Brahminical ideology started to evolve into ethnicity-based patriotism following the domination of north over south, during the freedom movement. With this, there started to arise an ideology that called for a separate Tamilnadu (popularly known as Tamil Desiyam or Tamil Nationalism). It was welcomed during the times of K A P Viswanatham Pillai, who took up the general secretaryship of the Justice Party in the early 1930s. Following KAPV, Erode Venkata Ramasamy Naicker (also known as Periyar among Dravidian idealists and something nearer to Edward Vincent Ramasamy by H Raja) proposed the slogan Tamilnadu Tamilarukke (Tamilnadu only for Tamils) in 1938, as denoted by his Dravidian legacy.

However, in 1939, Periyar escalated his ideology to the whole of south India and took forward his Dravida Nadu movement in the penultimate phase of the pre-Independence era, by transforming the Justice Party into Dravidar Kazhagam. This was later carried over by C N Annadurai and Karunanidhi for two more decades and was brought to a dormancy in 1963, when the DMK was in need of a bigger vote bank. However, even today, Tamil nationalists and Dravidian nationalists say that the idea of a united India is much younger than a separate Tamilnadu and Dravida Nadu.

What did they say?

Though Tamil nationalism was alive in some way or the other due to continuous efforts of the Central government to Indianise (to be more accurate, Aryanise) Tamilnadu by imposing Hinduism, Hindi, Jallikattu ban, Nuclear powerplant, Neutrino project, Methane project, NEET and so on, Dravida Nadu ideology was waiting for the right time to up-rise again. And finally, it started last year.


With the revival of the Dravida Nadu ideology now, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after the beef ban controversy in May 2017, said his government will not implement the rules and warned the Centre against interfering with the dietary practices of Keralites. Following this Dravida Nadu started trending in social media.

Andhra Pradesh:

In the beginning of this month, a TDP MP from Andhra Pradesh, Muralimohan, said the day was not far off when south India will declare itself as a separate country. Two Ministers of the TDP resigned earlier from the Union Cabinet and the party quit the National Democratic Alliance ruling the Centre, over the failure of the BJP to give special category status for the State of Andhra Pradesh.


Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah adopted a separate flag for the State on 8 March this year. He said, "The demand for a separate flag was not inconsistent with the idea of building a strong India." Also he had explained that, "From a union of States, we are evolving into a federation of States. Therefore, I do not think the demands for greater federal autonomy and recognition of regional identity are inconsistent with our nation."

Siddaramaiah referred to Tamilnadu in his context. "The Constitution of India has stood the test of time. We have also learnt useful lessons from turmoils in Tamilnadu over Hindi language imposition and demands of autonomy from certain States like Punjab and Assam," the Karnataka Chief Minister said in one of his Facebook posts.


Though all three States down south have raised the banner of revolt, there was no reaction or response from Tamilnadu, where the ideology was mooted initially, way before Independence. May be we have an invertebrate leadership here. However, there was apparently a comment from the leader of the opposition and DMK working president M K Stalin, who said in Erode last week, "If such a situation comes, it would be welcomed by us. We hope that such a situation arises." This had been in response to a question over the rising sentiment over the separate country of 'Dravida Nadu'. However, the very next day, Stalin denied that he was initiating the idea, but would stand by it, if it again starts to evolve.

What next?

Will this idea take form in near future is the question that arises now. The idea also has received a mixed response. If I can point out any random Tamil nationalist out there, their version would be "As Tamils, we are extremely cornered by even our neighbouring states Karnataka, Kerala. So, Tamilnadu’s position will be the same even if there is a Dravida Nadu." They remind of that situations like Karnataka not sharing Cauvery water with Taminadu, Kerala's stand on the Mullaiperiyar issue and Andhra Pradesh’s adamant attitude with regard to Palar.

While, any Dravidian idealist would say, "This idea will not be complete unless we have a total infusion of social justice and anti-communalism in the newly-formed country. When it comes to Periyar or Ambedkar, they were very clear in securing the rights of the downtrodden sections of society and were concentrating more on them. We have to ensure the same happens now."

Recently, one such Dravidian idealist has also raised a criticism on Facebook that even if Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu comes out of ‘India’, it is to be questioned whether he will come out of the Naidu tag, and will think about social justice.

And finally we have BJP's national secretary H Raja, who is always in the news for his controversial comments, who has said, "Periyar took up Dravidian ideology only to undermine Tamil patriotism that was at its peak." The BJP leader also had said the same is going to happen again. But I am not sure what he actually is trying to convey. What's his problem?

-Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, Mar 19, 2018.

This column, 'Third Law' will feature current affairs that break out to be the news of any day. In this column, I will try to figure out and put to the public debate, the reactions of any incident that might cause some serious effects on the society. Because, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.