Oct 11, 2010

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF TAMIL SECESSIONISM IN INDIA – 3


Oct 12th, 2009


After the tryst with destiny on August 15th 1947 Independent India embarked on its historic journey. In what was then the Southern state of Madras the “double – barreled” Dravidian movement comprising the Dravida Kazhagham (DK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK)  commenced their own march towards the goal of Dravida Naadu.

Initially both the DK and DMK focused more on social reform rather than political emancipation from New Delhi. Both remained steadfastly opposed to Hindi imposition, North Indian domination and Brahmin supremacy.

As time progressed it became apparent that an unplanned division of labour was emerging. The DK spurned participatory democracy and relied more and more on extra – Parliamentary agitational politics. The DK priority was the re-structuring of society through socio-cultural reform.The DMK also espoused these goals but the emphasis was more on reform through political means. The DMK leader CN Annadurai known popularly as “Anna” (elder brother) was veering around to the view that the DMK policies could be implemented from the inside by capturing state power rather than “agit-prop” from outside.

Though the DK and DMK were of the view that a Dravidian state was most desirable there were practical difficulties. Chief among them was the fact that the majority of Tamils in the state were not enamoured of secession. Another problem of equal dimension was the total apathy and even antipathy of the other non – Tamil Dravidian ethnicities towards the Dravida Naadu ideal.

TELUGU

While the DK and DMK strove together to keep the flames of Dravida Naadu flickering new developments in “Free India” began changing the political landscape.

Tamils were the single largest ethnic group in the Madras state of that time. But the Telugu speaking people were a close second. They were not very happy to play second fiddle to Tamils  within Madras state. The cry for a separate Telugu state being carved out of Madras state was raised.

There were also Telugu speaking people in the princely state of Hydrebad ruled by the Nizam. Hyderabad Nizam had resisted being absorbed into the Indian union and “Iron man” Sardar Vallabhai Patel had to send in the armed forces to annex it.

With this annexation, the numerical strength of Telugu people in the Indian union increased. Telugu people in the Telengana regions of the erstwhile Hyderabad princely state along with those in the northern Telugu districts of Madras state made up a population slightly larger than the Tamils themselves.So Telugu nationalism grew. The demand was for a greater Telugu state comprising both segments. The new state within the Indian union was to be called Andhra Pradesh. Telugu nationalists began agitating for Andhra Pradesh and also wanted the Madras city to be the new capital. “Madras manadhe” (madras is ours) was the Telugu cry.
The demand for Madras by Telugu nationalists was resented by Tamils of Madras state. The “commonality” of Dravidian  affinity was  shattered by the Telugu – Tamil rivalry. The Telugu demand for Andhra Pradesh gathered momentum when a Telugu political leader Potti Sree Ramulu went on a fast unto death and died after 66 days.

ANDHRA PRADESH

The Indian government of Jawaharlal Nehru gave in to the demand and created the new state of Andhra Pradesh in 1953. It consisted of 16 Telugu – majority districts in  the north of Madras state. Telengana regions of Hyderabad were not included. Madras city too  remained within the old Madras state.
Nehru being an enlightened leader saw that linguistic nationalism within Indian borders could tear the fabric apart unless it was contained through appropriate adjustments. He decided to re-structure Indian states on a linguistic basis.

Nehru appointed the States Reorganization Commission in December 1953 under Justice Fazal Ali to recommend how states should be formed on linguistic lines. The Home minister Govind Ballabh Pant oversaw the commission’s functions. The Fazal Ali commission submitted a report in 1955  with recommendations. On the basis of that report , Nehru got the States Reorganization Act of 1956 passed. It came into effect from Nov 1st 1956.

Madras state out of which the new Andhra Pradesh had been carved out suffered further truncation as a result of state re-organization. The Malayalam speaking Malabar districts were absorbed into the new Kerala state. The Tulu speaking regions  were incorporated with the new Mysore state (now Karnataka). The residual Madras state was now preponderantly Tamil.

In a single, decisive  move the territorial basis for a Dravida Naadu had been undermined. With the Telugu, Malayalee  and Kannada including Tulu ethnicities having states of  their own the demand for the erstwhile Madras state becoming an independent Dravida Naadu had lost its  validity and power.

Furthermore, cracks and fissures within the Dravidian communities were clearly visible.There was much  conflict among the  states –in – formation over the borders. Each demanded  greater real estate. This bickering further exposed the Dravidian myth.

ELLAIKKAAVALAR

This inter – state strife caused much unease among the ruling Congress as well as the Dravidian parties. The Congress stood for an all – embracing Pan – Indian identity and this fighting for territory on the basis of linguistic states was frowned upon. The Dravidian movements espousing a greater Dravidian homeland was embarrassed by this intra – Dravidian competition.

It was left to a veteran Congress stalwart and freedom fighter MP Sivagnanam to take up the  cause of Tamils. “Ma. Po. Si” as Sivagnanam was known  started a movement to protect the territory of Madras state. He was expelled from the Congress for his “parochial”  politics. Sivagnanam  formed  the “Thamizharasu Kazhagham” ( Tamil state Association).

Malayalam speakers wanted the Kanniyakumari district bordering the “new” Kerala; Telugu speakers wanted Madras city and the Thiruthani area. Kannada speakers wanted Hosur in the  Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. Sivagnanam spearheaded political resistance to these moves.

At the same time he led the agitation for  some other border  areas to be merged with Madras state. The Tiruppathy area in Andhra Pradesh, the Kolar  area of Karnataka and Devikulam – Peermedhu areas of Kerala were all  claimed by Sivagnanam as being integral to the “Tamil” state of Madras.

“Maposi” did not succeed in getting the territory he asked for but the movement claimed success in  protecting the Kanniyakumari district, Madras city, Thiruthani and Hosur. Sivagnanam upstaged the Congress and Dravidian parties in preserving the territory of the Tamils in Madras state. He was dubbed “Ellaik Kaavalar” (guardian of the borders).

The Dravida Naadu for Dravidians demand suffered a massive setback due to state re-organization. No longer was it possible to demand a Dravidian state for all the Dravidian linguistic nationalities. On the other hand the Madras state was now predominantly Tamil and therefore more susceptible to Tamil or ultra – Tamil nationalism.

PERIYAAR

The plain speaking Periyaar was the first to acknowledge the changed situation. When asked “What constitutes Dravida Naadu now?” by the press, Periyaar replied bluntly “ Whatever that remains of the old Madras state is the new Dravida Naadu now.”

Perceiving the rise of Tamil as opposed to Dravidian nationalism in Madras state the  Dravida patriarch now began talking of a separate Tamil Nadu state.  The DK changed its stance gradually to “Thamizh Naadu Thamizharukke” (Tamil Nadu for Tamils) from the earlier Dravida Naadu for Dravidar. The shift was illustrated vividly when the party newspaper “Viduthalai” (liberation) altered its masthead to Tamil Naadu from Dravida Naadu.

Annadurai however was not so willing to jettison the Dravida Naadu demand. He too realized that the DMK had no choice other than to do politics among the Tamils of Madras state. But he still paid lip service to Dravida Naadu. Annadurai argued that the four South Indian states should secede from India and then merge together as a  Dravida Confederation.

If the state re-organization undermined the basis of Dravidian politics another event brought about  significant de-valuation of other  linguistic and caste based grievances. This was the elevation  of a common  Tamil man Kumaraswamy Kamaraj known as Kamarajar as chief minister of Madras state.

D.B.S. Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com
-Dailymirror-


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