Tamil Nadu separatist movement

A Debate

Independence for Tamil Nadu from Indian Rule

MPR: "It is senile fanaticism"

Thanjai Nalankilli: "It is our birthright"

TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 1998 (ID. 1998-10-02)
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ABBREVIATIONS

AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

 (EDITORS NOTE: The following feedback on "An Exchange of Views: Can Tamil Nadu be Freed from Indian Rule?" [Reference 1] was received from MPR. He/she had indicated in a recent Newsgroup posting that she/he is not a Tamil. As always, we welcome feedbacks as well as original articles from Tamils and non-Tamils alike. We strive to present all points of view to our readers. MPR's feedback is followed by Thanjai Nalankilli's response)

MPR's Feedback

TO: Mr. Thanjai Nalankilli.

I think that this is the height of fanaticism. When the whole world is moving towards the twenty-first century with the realization that the world of tomorrow will be based on economic prosperity and not territorial acquisitions and also realize that the wars of tomorrow will be fought on stock exchanges and board rooms, we here have a senile man talking about breaking the federal structure of the union of states in India.

Please come to your senses. The whole argument lacks any sense of logic and in no way justifies the formation of separate nations. If you argue against the imposition of Hindi and for more powers to the states, that makes more sense.

Thanjai Nalankilli's Response

Let me address the issues raised by MPR point by point.

1. A Prosperous Tamil Nadu in the twenty-first century

MPR writes, "When the whole world is moving towards the twenty-first century with the realization that the world of tomorrow will be based on economic prosperity and not territorial acquisitions and also realize that the wars of tomorrow will be fought on stock exchanges and board rooms, we here have a senile man talking about breaking the federal structure of the union of states in India".

I agree with MPR that the whole world is moving towards the twenty-first century with economic prosperity as the primary goal. In fact, economic prosperity for Tamil Nadu is one of the basic reasons for the Tamil Nadu Freedom Movement. As a state in India, TamilNadu (as well as some other non-Hindi states) are economically discriminated by the Hindi-politicians-dominated Indian government. Indian government gives disproportionately large sums funds to Hindi heartland in the form of central government grants and aids. At the same time disproportionately smaller sums of grants and aid are given to many non-Hindi states [Reference 2].

This is economic discrimination. Our sweat and labor as well as our natural resources are steadily taken away to benefit the Hindi heartland. Every Tamilnadu chief minister during the past three decades has complained about this economic discrimination. Chief ministers of West Bengal, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have also complained of this. So, Mr./Ms. MPR, an underlying reason for the liberation of Tamil Nadu from (H)indian rule is economic prosperity for Tamil Nadu in the twenty-first century. A free Tamil Nadu has the brainpower, technical skills and basic resources to be successful in international marketplace like Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. As for MPR's comments on "territorial acquisition", we are not acquiring anyone's territory, we simply want to liberate our territory - our Tamil Nadu - from the clutches of Hindian-dominated Indian government.

I see Tamil Nadu entering the twenty-first century as a slave nation discriminated and steadily impoverished by the Indian government. I also see Tamil Nadu breaking the chains of servitude, emerging as a free, independent nation and growing prosperous under self-rule during the twenty-first century.

2. Why not just stop Hindi imposition and also get more powers to state governments?

MPR writes, "The whole argument lacks any sense of logic and in no way justifies the formation of separate nations. If you argue against the imposition of Hindi and for more powers to the states, that makes more sense".

This argument is made by people opposed to freedom for Tamil Nadu. When they are cornered by truth that Hindi is imposed on the unwilling people of Tamil Nadu, they would, as a final resort, say "Alright, then oppose Hindi imposition. Don't ask for independence for Tamil Nadu".

When they are cornered by facts that Hindi heartland is favored and many of the non-Hindi states [Reference 2], including Tamilnadu, are economically discriminated, they would sheepishly say, "May be you should ask for a truly federal structure for India. May be you should ask for more powers to the states. But do not ask for independence for Tamil Nadu." 

These people either do not know the political history of Tamil Nadu or are simply trying to divert the people of Tamil Nadu from their legitimate right of self-determination and independence.

2.1 Let us first take opposition to Hindi Imposition.

Tamil Nadu opposed the imposition of Hindi starting from as early as 1938. These are all peaceful demonstrations in the form of public meetings, rallies, general strikes, hunger strikes, black flag demonstrations, etc. Tens of thousands went to prison for participating in these agitations. Thousands were injured, some maimed for life. Some were killed in police and army shootings. The first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru called the anti-Hindi protests in Tamil Nadu a "nonsense" and insulted the sentimentalities of the people of Tamil Nadu.

Anti-Hindi sentiments came to a boil in January 1965. Black flags, instead of the tricolor Indian national flag, were raised in many places in Tamil Nadu on the Indian Republic Day (January 26) to show Tamil Nadu's displeasure and opposition to Hindi imposition. Tamil Nadu students, who are affected the most by Hindi imposition, spearheaded the Anti-Hindi Agitation of 1965. It was not an agitation by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) or any other political party. It is true that anti-Hindi agitation during the 1960's until January 25, 1965 were carried out mostly by DMK but from January 25 through the next few weeks it was no longer a DMK affair. Anyone reading newspaper accounts of those few weeks would know that it was a mass public opposition of the people of Tamil Nadu against Hindi imposition, spearheaded by students. It was a people's agitation crossing party lines, crossing religious lines, crossing caste lines and crossing rich-poor divide. The Indian government saw Tamil Nadu united in its opposition to Hindi imposition. Seeing Tamil unity against Hindi imposition and Hindian domination, the Central Government of India, through its proxy state government headed by the Congress Party, came down with an iron fist against the unarmed anti-Hindi protestors in Tamil Nadu. Realizing that most Tamil Nadu police may not shoot at their "own sons and daughters" (the mostly student protestors), the Indian government rushed in the central reserve police and army from north to put down the anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu. For a few weeks, Tamil Nadu was like a country under military occupation. Alien looking central reserve policemen and soldiers went around wielding machine guns and rifles. By mid-February several dozen (by some estimates a fe hundred) Tamils were shot and killed and many more maimed and wounded. The intention was to kill and terrorize the Tamil people never again to challenge Hindi imposition and Hindian domination over Tamil Nadu. (The exact number of Tamils killed between January 25 and February 15, 1965 will never be known because the government destroyed all files relating to the shootings.)

Then came the 1967 election. Voters of Tamil Nadu decisively defeated the Congress Party, which was and is associated with Hindi imposition and Hindian domination. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which, at that time, was the symbol of opposition to Hindi imposition and Hindian domination, won the election with overwhelming majority. Voters of Tamil Nadu, in no unambiguous terms, have shown their opposition to Hindi imposition. That was democracy in action. After 1967, DMK or AIADMK (it broke off from DMK in the early 1970's) have won every election in Tamil Nadu. Both parties continue to oppose Hindi imposition vehemently in their election manifestos. Thus the voters of Tamil Nadu have expressed their opposition to Hindi imposition in a democratic way. But Hindi imposition continues, continues, and continues...The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (which represents the voice of the democratically elected representatives of Tamil Nadu) has passed unanimous resolutions against Hindi imposition. Thus the elected representatives of Tamil Nadu have spoken in a democratic way against Hindi imposition. But Hindi imposition continues, continues, and continues. See Reference 3 for more information on Hindi imposition and opposition to Hindi imposition.

Either accept Hindi imposition or seek independence for Tamil Nadu. As long as Tamilnadu is part of India, Hindi will be imposed on Tamil Nadu.

2.2 Let us now look at the demand for devolution of more powers to states governments.

MPR suggests that we should ask for more powers to the states instead of fighting for an independent Tamil Nadu. The people and the state government of Tamil Nadu have done that for over three decades. Let me give a brief chronology.

The 1967 election manifesto of DMK included the demand for increasing the powers of state governments. The party won a landslide victory and formed the state government. Every election manifesto of DMK and AIADMK (which broke of from DMK in the early 1970's) included the demand for devolution of more powers to the states. One or other of these two parties has won every election since 1967.

Tamil Nadu state government under the DMK Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi set out to establish some clear guidelines for devolution of powers, and appointed a "Committee on Center-State Relations" under the noted constitutional scholar Dr. Rajamannar on September 22, 1969. The Rajamannar Committee submitted its report to the Tamil Nadu state government on May 27, 1971. The DMK again won the 1971 election. (Its 1971 election manifesto also included a demand for more powers to states.) The lower house of the Tamil Nadu State Assembly passed a resolution asking for more powers to the states on April 20, 1974 and the upper house did the same on April 27, 1974.

Thus we, the people of Tamil Nadu, have done everything democratically possible to ask for devolution of more powers to the states. We have waited for quarter of a century. Nothing has happened. So the alternative is for Tamil Nadu to separate from India so that we can run our own affairs. Call it separatism or separatist movement, this is the only way to end Hindian hegemony.

3. The Only Solution

The people and the state government of Tamil Nadu have done everything democratically possible within the constitution of India against the imposition of Hindi and for devolution of more powers to the state governments for several decades now. Nothing has happened. Hindi imposition continues. There is no devolution of power to states either. There is a limit to the patience of the Tamil people. We have reached that limit. Because we could not get our legitimate rights by democratic means within the Indian constitution, we have reached the conclusion that an independent Tamil Nadu is the only solution to end Hindian domination over Tamil Nadu. MPR characterized independence for Tamil Nadu as a senile man's fanaticism. No, independent Tamil Nadu is our birthright!

We will ask for it!
We will fight for it!
We will achieve it!!

REFERENCES

1. AN EXCHANGE OF VIEWS: Can Tamil Nadu be freed from Indian Rule? (NO: R. Damodaran, YES: Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 1998.

2. Economic Discrimination of Tamilnadu (compilation of articles)

3. Hindi Imposition and Opposition (compilation of articles)

REFERENCES

More Articles on Tamil Nadu Independence

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