Kaliangar Karunanidhi would have turned 96 today. A man of remarkable wit and a literary icon, Karunanidhi was one of the most successful political personality of India. If the Bahujan movement in north India can learn a few things about the Dravidian politics, I am sure, it would help them positively.
The Dravidian legacy of legendary Periyar today rules Tamilnadu where whether the ruling party or its opponent, both hail from the same ideological pursuit though, it can be said with authority that AIDMK under J Jayalalitha diluted the Periyarist legacy a lot and inducted the Brahmanical practices and interest inside the movement. Yet, in terms of pro people policies, both parties gave Tamilnadu a solid economic base. Karunanidhi was much senior to not only Jayalalitha but also her mentor M G Ramachandran. A close associate of another legend Anna Durrai, Karunanidhi never compromised on his personal beliefs just for the sake of ‘votes’. He remained a staunch atheist all his life, like his leader Anna and Periyar.
Unfortunately, the Bahujan politics in the north particularly those claiming to be the family of either Jaya Prakash or Lohia remained entrenched in religiosity and religious symbolism. Rather than critiquing Brahmanism and fighting against caste hierarchy, the north Indian parties actually ‘welcomed’ those brahmins who joined them without leaving their ‘caste’ interest or idea of caste supremacy.
I have always advocated the idea of understand Periyar and his hugely successful socio-political movement for the north Indian Bahujan parties but then they failed to protect even Periyar due to savarna protest in Uttar Pradesh. it is not that the Periyarist movement or Dravidian parties do not have drawn backs and like any other party, Karunanidhi was also blamed for having a political family but it is also a fact that DMK cadres were deeply motivated towards Karunanidhi and if M K Stalin follow his father’s trait then it is certain that he is going to run the state for a longer term.
The father of the Dravidian movement, Periyar was an iconoclast, an amazing personality of reason, a thorough rationalist and an absolute nightmare for Brahmanical elite. I am using nightmare in logical sense and not in terms of any violent methods but purely argumentative ways. They launched the self-respect movement and language was an important part of it, related to Dravidian identity. At the time, when the government is trying to impose Hindi on people who do not have Hindi as their main language, it is important to understand why Tamilnadu opposed it and why Nehru respected that sentiment. We respect the rights of the non-Hindi speaking people to speak against imposition of Hindi. While, it is a growing fact that Hindi has been used by a huge number of people and with active state sponsorship and commercial venture, it has reached to wider sections of people across South Asia, it is equally important that Hindi or the values in the name of Hindi or north India are not imposed on people. Every state has its own language and some of these languages including Tamil, Bangla, Marathi have much more powerful literature than Hindi could ever have.
An argument is being given that people should learn more languages but why the argument is for non-Hindi speaking people. Why not for the Hindi speaking people. The importance of English language or that of Europe is a well-known factor as far as internationalism is concern and therefore most of the people want to learn them. People don’t want to learn Hindi for the sake of learning something and that is the irony. Language represent our values, our identity too and therefore, it is essential for Indian state to respect the sentiments of the people, accept the diversity of India both linguistically and culturally as making it a unified one nation, one religion, one language idea would only create crisis and will never be accepted by people.
Idea of India is enshrined in its constitution where it celebrates the vast linguistic and cultural diversity. Let the north Indians also learn some new languages of India. We can’t develop hatred towards people in the name of languages and cultures. Urdu paid a price of it when linked with Muslim identity and religion rather than a language which was born in India and enriched our culture. Similarly, all Indian languages strengthen our cultural value system and idea of India. The fact is that Despite so much of variety the idea of India unite us and that idea is that we all are Indians despite diverse faiths and different languages and cultural traits, all have equal rights hence all attempt to impose one language, one culture, one religion value system on vast majority of people must be discarded in greater public interest and in the interest of our national unity.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat