It was a hot sultry evening in Tamil Nadu. A youthful crowd was seen at the venue. The speaker on stage was an upcoming political leader. His speech was fiery and oozing with emotion. His raised fist, fiery words and roaring voice echoed around the place. His audience listened in attention.
The leader spoke about the proud heritage and brave leaders of the Tamil race. He then spoke about how people from Tamil Nadu’s neighbouring regions have migrated and settled here. Their language, culture and practises have evolved and changed to become similar to the native Tamil culture.
His speech reaches a peak when he calls on the youth to identify migrant races to ensure they do not become leaders. His proclaims his motto as “Migrants should live as migrants. They are not permitted to become leaders of the natives.”
This leader is Mr. Seeman, co-coordinator of the Naam Tamilar Katchi.
His ideology has caught the fancy of many young people in search of a proud identity. It has also invited criticism from many. There are many others who question if this ideology is practically sensible.
For starters, who is a native Tamil? The many castes in Tamil Nadu are too old and ancient to trace back their original roots. The language itself is an ancient classical language. It’s culture, language and people have evolved and changed in tune to social conditions since centuries.
Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and a host of other tribal languages in South India are closely related to Tamil. Ancient version of Tamil is considered to be the mother of all Dravidian languages. Genetically and linguistically, present day South Indians belong to a group called ASI (Ancestral South Indians). They differ from the present day North Indians who belong to the ANI group. People from all South Indian races have, at various times in history, migrated back to Tamil Nadu. They have settled down in Tamil Nadu and identify themselves as Tamils. They have merged with this culture and have even become great reformers and leaders. They have proved their love for the language and the race.
On the other side of the coin, history says that Tamil kings were sea-faring leaders who built gigantic ships. They visited, traded and conquered other kingdoms along the Indian Ocean. Since then, people from Tamil Nadu have migrated and settled down in many countries along the Indian Ocean. Descendants of these tamil migrants have fared well in their respective countries. They have evolved to form indigenous Tamil ethnic races in their respective countries. Many have risen to become political leaders and even heads of state, notably in Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
The Tamil race is like a huge Banyan tree with its branches and roots spreading out across states in South India and other international countries. The Tamil culture and language has survived mainly due to its ability to embrace other cultures and upgrade itself constantly. Tamil people all over the world are proud of their welcoming attitude and open-mindedness.
Mr. Seeman’s ideas of “Migrants cannot rule over natives” does not fit this progressive and civilized global Tamil race. His ideas of glorifying few castes as the ancient rulers of Tamil Nadu who deserve to rule forever is against the spirit of democracy. His fiery speeches are not inspirational. Instead, it has a provocative tone, with an abundant dose of jealousy and hatred.
Many of his critics point out that he selectively applies his ideas to migrants in Tamil Nadu, but not to Tamil migrants in other countries. Does he question political leaders of Tamil origin in Singapore, Sri Lanka or the USA ? Going back in history, Chola kings from Tamil Nadu have conquered and ruled over present day Sri Lanka, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Does Mr. Seeman condemn this… Descendants of Tamil origin living in these countries might have political aspirations and can become political leaders of their respective countries. Similarly, other Dravidian migrants living in Tamil Nadu can harbour political aspirations and become leaders here.
Mr. Seeman’s ideology has been evolving and sometimes contradicting since the last few years. Initially, he took on a strong anti religious stance. This has changed now to a pro hindu Dravidian stand. He calls hindu gods as his ancestors, particularly Lord Muruga. Lord Shiva and the Goddess Shakti too have become his relatives.
Mr. Seeman announced his plans for an economically self-sustained Tamil Nadu about 2 years back. His economic model focussed on enrolling farmers and shepherds as government employees. He spoke of a Tamil Nadu where farming would be the main occupation. This model was criticised and ridiculed. Tamil Nadu boasts of a high number of Engineering and Medical colleges. Law as a profession is considered highly attractive here. Every farmer here would have high educational aspirations for his children. It was no wonder that this farmer centered economic model did not appeal to the public. Mr. Seeman and his followers hardly refer to this model now.
Mr. Seeman glorifies leaders belonging to the Mukkulathor (Thevar) caste. Thevar community is one of Tamil nadu’s predominant castes with a strong caste affinity. But, there is no proof that Mr. Seeman belongs to this Thevar caste. The reason behind his lavish praises and references to leaders from an other caste is the big question…. Targeting the youth from this large community will be an easy way to increase the party’s membership count. It will also keep critics at a distance as they will hesitate to hurt the sentiments of a politically strong caste.
A contradicting feature of Mr. Seeman’s ideology is his affinity towards people of the dalit community. In Tamil Nadu, especially among the northern and western districts, many groups of Dalits are Telugu speaking migrants. Yet, Seeman conveniently ignores their language. He addresses them as ancient Tamils, instead of migrants. This again is seen as a political move to attract Dalit votes. His motto of migrants vs natives is conveniently hidden in this case.
There is no doubt that Mr. Seeman is a fiery orator. Fiery speeches have been the mark of many great leaders in history. Message conveyed through fiery speeches have brought about drastic changes in world politics. It is not to be forgotten that dictators have spread hate and racism using their fiery speeches. Noble leaders have also used it to spread sensible ideologies. What differentiates a democratic leader from an aristocratic dictator is the ideology itself.
Will Mr. Seeman’s ideas evolve into a progressive positive approach guiding his youthful followers to a create a progressive society. Or, will it make them insecure and jealous of migrants? We wait to see what his followers do, and how the Tamil society reacts to his evolving ideologies. Hope good sense prevails and democracy upholds.