Thondar steals the Thunder
July 7, 2010 Leave a comment
The head honcho of “Tamilnadu Private Limited” Muthuvel Karunanidhi is a man of many records – no, I don’t mean the number of spouses where he has some significant catching up to do with Liz Taylor.
He has been a Chief Minister 5 times and more importantly has been part of the establishment at the Centre for the last 15 years or so. His record of successful alignment with whichever combination that holds advantage at the Centre is enviable. And add to the fact that despite his switchovers he hasn’t been accused of opportunism or playing communal politics. He is respected by his friends and foes alike.
He is virtually without any credible opposition in his home state, Tamilnadu. Jayalalithaa with her eccentric and somewhat high-handed style has lost her hold on the people. Not just that, he has mastered the art of leaving the people of Tamilnadu in slumber by singing the lullaby of freebies. His only troubles are to manage the expectations of the ‘directors’ of his family enterprise all of whom are vying to be the Managing Director.
But this note is not about the family enterprise of Karunanidhi but to discuss an interesting development in his state.
Tamilnadu is certainly among the progressive states in India. In GDP terms it is one of the leading states perhaps overtaken only by Gujarat and Maharashtra. It has one of the highest literacy rates and people are generally hardworking. It is fairly industrialized and now one of the IT bastions of the country.
Culturally too, Tamilnadu ranks very high. It is home to the ‘Dravidian culture’ and Tamizh, a classical language which has a rich legacy of literature.
With all these positives, Tamilnadu must be a model state. I would almost say yes, except for couple of aspects that I really loathe.
a) The herd mentality
The herd mentality is somewhat common to the whole of India but what is unique about Tamilnadu is the extent to which people keep their mental faculties in perpetual rest. A couple of pointers to buttress my view.
a) The NBFC scam : Non Banking Financial Companies caused a significant blip in the radar of stability of our financial systems that India can rightfully boast about. NBFCs were unregulated bankers to whom the banking regulations of CRR and SLR didn’t apply because of which they could offer higher returns to the depositors. The “rat race” pushed the borrowing rates further which increased the lending rates to keep the ‘spreads’ intact. And when the system couldn’t take it anymore, the whole business model collapsed. There’s nothing unique in this but for the fact that 80% of the NBFCs in India were operating from Tamilnadu clearly underscoring the “herd mentality” of people when it came to investing in these risky ventures.
b) The Hindi opposition : Tamilnadu shunned Hindi like plague merely because their political masters asked them to. The sycophantic tamilians didn’t even mind when the ‘boss’ Karunanidhi justified Dayanidhi Maran’s elevation as Cabinet Minister in his very first stint as parliamentarian citing his knowledge of hindi. What was not good for the goose (people of tn) it was good for the gander (his grand nephew)
On sycophancy of tamilnadu, the less said the better. The sycophantic craze for Rajnikanth for example is unheard of in any part of the world. It is quite all right to be a massive fan of anyone, but not to the extent of performing “milk abhishegams” (pouring of milk) to the freshly painted cut-outs and drinking “paint washed milk” as prasadam. Yuck !
The sycophancy of Tamilnadu reached yet another milestone when it was reported that one of the councilors of DMK is busy constructing a temple for Karunanidhi.
I am not surprised.
Tamilnadu wrote itself into the annals of history by constructing a temple for “Kushboo” the Mumbai import who made it very big in tamil movies. Kushboo’s tryst with tamil filmdom came a full circle when she enrolled herself as a “primary party member” of DMK and immediately propped up on the stage alongside her beloved thalaivar.
Karunanidhi has visceral hatred for Hindus particularly the upper-caste Brahmins as he learned his political trade under the aegis of Periyar and Anna. Rationalism is the over-arching framework he uses to escape adverse criticism of his selective criticism of Hindu religion. He uses his rationalism cleverly either to deflect a problem or whenever his faithful have nothing much to crow about.
Recently he had exhorted his partymen that it is a shame to visit temples or worship (hindu) gods being a member of the rationalist party, the DMK. Nobody ofcourse ever questions as to how he doesn’t mind his womenfolk – spouse(s), daughters, daughter-in-law- who openly profess their faith in god. Infact his second wife took the blessings of ‘Sai Baba’ when the godman visited karunanidhi’s official residence. He however refused to take the finger-ring that the godman volunteered to produce from thin air. That is some rationalism for the front-benches of the DMK.
No one has dared to question the yellow shawl that Karunanidhi is seen wearing 24/7 clutching it almost like a security blanket. The charter of rationalism in Tamilnadu was updated with a new entry – Gifting Yellow Shawls included as a rationalist act.
This is not to suggest that Karunanidhi will be pleased with the construction of a temple in his name. He has every reason to be displeased not because it is irrational but he must be sore that the scale and grandeur of the temple in construction may not suit his image of “Tamizh Ina Thalaivar” i.e Leader of Tamil race.
The construction of the temple is a clear signal that Dravida rationalism is just as bogus as the secularism of congress. Though overtly no one would approve the construction of the temple, the lackeys of the party must clearly be worried that this is one thondar (partyman) who has managed to steal his thalaivar’s (leader’s) thunder.