Disclaimer – This is an angry post. It might not be coherent. It will not be coherent.
Although the idea for this post has been brewing in my mind for a few days now, I really didn’t want to write this post. Then, the universe has conspired to make me write this down.
First it was my neighbor. They are from Bombay. They are real nice people. They help us a lot. Even an hour ago, they flagged us about some safety issue we inadvertently missed out. But, just like everyone else (hint – me), they have their own biases. A couple of weeks ago, they had come to our place for tea. We were casually talking about so many things when ‘languages’ became the topic of discussion. She asked me, ‘Is it true that people from Chennai say that Hindi is not the national language?’ I calmly said, ‘yes’. When I saw the smile in her face, I continued.. ‘that’s because Hindi is not our national language!’ She protested. ‘No.. Hindi is in fact our national language.’ The ‘in fact’ provoked me. (On an aside, I was PMSing!) ‘India has no national language. On a national level, there are two official languages. Hindi and English. At state level, there are twenty two official languages.’ I rattled on like Gaptun in Ramana. Perks of being on Twitter, I suppose. She didn’t pursue the argument further.
I have absolutely nothing against Hindi. It’s one more language that is used for communication. Just like Tamil. One is not is better than the other. If you like to communicate in Hindi, good for you. I like to communicate in Tamil. As simple as that. There was a time when a lot of us thought not knowing Hindi is a practical problem. But in today’s world, the probability of a Tamil person relocating to a place outside India is much much higher than moving to Hindi heartland. Even if someone not knowing Hindi is forced to move to a Hindi speaking state, then they can learn it, no?
This incident was the first one. Then, came a comment (from someone called S) on GB’s blog generalizing Tamil people as those who ‘go berserk more than anyone else’. The commenter started with ‘no offence meant’ and ended with ‘I mean other states too have people like that but they are bit scared of doing something and will think twice before trying. But tamilians!’
From what I gather from his/her comment, he/she has made the observations based on two trips through Madras in an airplane. Shall we do some simple math to validate his/her comment? Let’s assume he/she traveled by an international flight because larger capacity. Let’s assume that the average number of people in the flight that he/she traveled by is 850. Let me give him/her the benefit of the doubt by assuming the entire flight except him/her were people from Tamil Nadu. Again, benefit of the doubt to him/her – let’s assume ‘all of them’ were behaving badly. So, his/her total sample size based on two trips is 849+849=1698 (I am excluding the commenter because I just assume he/she didn’t go ‘berserk’ as Tamilians do!)
Which means, he/she has based his/her observations based on 1698 people. Tamil Nadu has a population of 77.88 million (census data in 2016). Which means he/she has based his/her observation of ‘tamilians!’ on .002 percent of the total Tamil people. Do I even need to elaborate this absurdity further?
The last straw came yesterday when a dear girl I know of was rejected for the third time in her Airforce interview because she was Tamil. It made me angry. It made sad. Because, that girl has been doing nothing but giving her hundred percent to make it to this for the last two years. The last time she took the tests and attended GDs and seminars, she kind of figured out they were sidelining her because she was not speaking Hindi. So she quit her day job, took to learning Hindi and prepared herself thoroughly for this interview. Even, the day before when called home, she’d said that she did really well and will get through this time. But, we can’t stand someone who is different from us, can we?
There’s so much talk about a ‘dangerous precedent’ that the students of Tamil Nadu are setting for democracy. What are they doing? Protesting peacefully giving way to ambulances in less than ten seconds. Women are sitting and sleeping in the midst of hundreds of men but not one complaint of harassment. A mother is feeding dozens of college students. Not one politician is allowed near the protesting areas. None of the so-called celebrities dare come near the Marina. IT parks are filled with placards and slogans. So are colleges. Policemen are helping bring food and water. Public life goes on as usual. But, they are setting a dangerous precedent.
‘But but.. they are protesting for jallikattu. It’s cruelty against animals. Tomorrow, someone else might protest against the ban on child marriage?’ The whataboutery on Twitter for the last two days has been killing me. I can even get on board with the whataboutery but the sheer lack of logic and research even from people I used to respect earlier makes me sad.
(Digression – While on whataboutery, I have to apologize to Tharani for doing the exact same thing that I detest while arguing about this jallikattu issue. I am sorry, Tharani. I am still feeling bad for drawing analogies about non-vegetarian food that I shouldn’t have done. I guess I got carried away in the heat of the argument, but that is no justification for what I said!)
You might think the protest is for the jallikattu issue but it’s far beyond that. It’s about sand mafia. It’s about NEET exams. It’s about a state not obeying the Cauvery ruling of the Supreme Court. It’s about farmer suicides. It’s about the MNCs drawing up water from our villages. It’s about inaction on the worst drought that is going to hit TN. It’s about the lack of governance in TN. It’s about the apathy of the Centre. It’s about the prejudice that Tamils are subjected to just because they chose to not fall in line with the others. Yes, it’s also about the money and politics behind the jallikattu ban.
Can we learn about things a little more before we cry hoarse on Social Media? Hah.. Of course not! Of what good is research when we can easily resort to rhetoric and call these protests as emotional outbursts?
OK then.. Let it be that Tamilians are emotional people. Yes, we speak Tamil only. We protest peacefully. We eat idlis. We get out on the streets to help people in need. We clean our own trash. We adore Rajnikanth. What to do? We are like this only!