The Candid Eye

March 2, 2010

In Kalaignar honour, DMK takes sycophancy to new heights

Filed under: Indian Politics,Tamil Nadu — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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A cartoon on the latest cover of the anti-DMK weekly magazine, Tughlak, pokes fun at Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi’s craze for felicitation functions in his own honour.

The witty DMK chief may not appreciate the humour when the joke is on him. But his backing for such functions has unleashed a culture of competitive parattu vizhas or felicitation programmes in Tamil Nadu that has seen sycophancy climb new heights.

Karunanidhi & his family

The joke goes that the meteoric rise of S Jagathrakshakan, the Union minister of state for information and broadcasting, a small-time Vanniar community leader who joined the DMK on the eve of the 2009 Parliamentary elections is thanks to his zealous organisation of one parattu vizha a month for the CM.

Community groups and professional bodies now vie with one another to hold these vizhas structured around the theme of heaping praise on Mr Karunanidhi. The content is tailored for TV and broadcast exclusively on the Kalaignar or Sun networks owned by Mr Karunanidhi and his family members.

A typical example would be the thanksgiving function organised by the film industry to express gratitude to the CM for giving plots of land to film artists. Pasa Thalaivannuku Parattu Vizha(felicitation for our loving leader) was telecast on Kalaignar TV in three hour slots this weekend.

The mix of live film music and dance, along with the unabashed serenading of the chief minister by film personalities including superstars Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan, earns the networks anything between two to three crore for a six hour package, according to an industry insider. The functions are also often accompanied by ‘pattimandrams’ or debating competitions that discuss Mr Karunanidhi’s merits as a politician and as a literary figure.

The Opposition AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, already in election mode apprehending the advancement of the May 2011 state elections, has mocked Mr Karunanidhi as someone who enjoys everyone showering praises on him.

Mr Karunanidhi in his characteristic style quipped back at a recent vizha held by the Sanga Tamil Peravai that he saw these functions “as a call to remind me to put in more effort and strive vigorously for the development of the people”.

He added for good measure that “of course there are some people who cannot not digest anyone praising me”. But the real question is whether the voters will digest this ‘cultural phenomenon’?

According to AR Venkatachalapathy, professor of social and cultural history at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, DMK rode back to power in the 1996 state elections on the anti-Jayalalithaa wave generated, among other things, by an all-pervasive culture of sycophancy during her regime.

“But DMK lost power in 2001 to Ms Jayalalithaa. The real tragedy for Tamil Nadu was that 1996-2001 was a period of unparalleled development work in the state. When DMK was voted out, the conclusion was that development does not sell,” he says.

He characterises Mr Karunanidhi as a political ruler who sees himself as coming in the tradition of pre-modern monarchs, hailing as he does from the Chola lands in Thanjavur. “He has no family pedigree in politics or formation education – though he is the most educated among the chief ministers in the country – therefore he wants to draw his legitimacy from all kinds of artistes,” Mr Venkatachalapathy says.

Tughlak editor and political commentator Cho Ramaswamy is less kind. “What kinds of rationalists are they (DMK)? They have brought down idols of gods and supplanted themselves in their place,” he says.

The AIADMK’s literary wing secretary Pazha Karuppiah berates Mr Karunanidhi for casting Rajnikanth, arguably the most popular actor in Tamil cinema after MG Ramachandran, in the likeness of All India Radio’s staff violinist, a fixture at the Station, catering to its specific needs. “There has been all-round cultural degeneration in the 40-years or so that Karunanidhi has been in politics.

Even the Madras University vice chancellor’s post is being contracted out for money like the chappal safekeeping contract at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. It is no wonder that the vice chancellor has introduced a new MA course in Karunanidhi Thoughts in order to please the CM,” he says.

The stakes have become very high for DMK after being in power at the Centre almost continuously since 1996, except for a short break in 1998-1999. “The fragmentation of the Indian polity has meant that power is now accessible to a regional player like DMK…It has had the resources of the Central government within its reach,” Mr Venkatachalapathy says. He adds that the scope for expression of dissent has shrunk considerably in Tamil Nadu.

“There is no platform for expressing dissent in Tamil Nadu — least of all at these functions. This can be traced back to MG Ramachandran’s time. In 1977, he completely muscled student organisations,” he says.

The vizha culture has spawned a group of me-toos within DMK and percolated to other fields too. For over a month, Salem, a city in western Tamil Nadu, wore a festive look with festoons, posters and flexiboards celebrating 50 years of state agriculture minister Veerapandi Arumugam’s contribution to public life.

Large photographs of him sitting in the front row and enjoying a felicitation function organised for him came up after the event. If imitation is the best form of flattery, then Mr Karunanidhi could not have been more pleased.

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January 20, 2010

Coconut ban in Meenakshi Temple Yet another DMK assault on Hindu faith

Filed under: Hinduism,India — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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THE Tamil Nadu government is contemplating a ban on coconuts inside the world famous Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. Police attribute ‘security reasons’ for this decision; they claim the temple has always been on the terror radar and that central intelligence agencies have frequently received threats of a jihadi attack.

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Though the police have increased security on the advice of the central intelligence agencies, they are wary of jihadis using coconuts as bomb planting instruments. They say it is very difficult for them to screen puja materials brought in from outside by thousands of devotees everyday, and that is why they recommended a ban on coconuts inside the temple. The temple’s Executive Officer Rajanayagam, in a show of rare “intelligence”, suggested that devotees could use flowers instead of coconuts! The archagas of the temple are dead against this outrageous idea.

Temple: Centre of community development and livelihood

Temples are a symbol of Bharat’s centuries-old divine heritage. A temple is a centre of activity, not only for the devotees and the archagas, but also a great livelihood for the traders of flowers, coconuts, fruits, herbs and leaves, bamboo sticks, brass and earthen lamps, puja materials, etc. Bamboo sticks were used to make plates and baskets for carrying materials for worship and now the plastic bags have replaced them and bamboo merchants around temples are now extinct. Plastics are posing a grave threat to the environment and to the lives of elephants and cows reared by the temple, and other cattle and dogs which roam near the temple depending on the food and eatables given by devotees and vendors. In one stroke, a poor community is made extinct and a danger to environment and animal lives is welcomed.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Puranic significance of coconut

There is an interesting Puranic history behind the sanctity of the coconut. While Bhagwan Shiva was on his mission of “Tripura Samhaaram”, the pivotal piece (Achaani in Tamil) of his chariot broke at a place in Tamil Nadu— Achirupaakkam (Achchu – pivotal piece; Itra – broke; paakkam – town and hence Achirupaakkam). Bhagwan Ganesha arrived and reminded Shiva that He was the one who told the world to start any ritual or function or even any act only after invoking the blessings of Ganesha, and since Shiva himself had failed to do so, his chariot was stranded. Shiva asked for a prayaschita; Ganesha said, “Since you failed to start with Ganesh Puja out of ahankaar (Karvam in Tamil, meaning head-weight), you have to sacrifice your head.” Later Parvati came to the rescue of Shiva and asked Ganesha to suggest a remedy as world will be ruined if Shiva’s head is removed from His body. Ganesha creates a coconut with three eyes and a tuft (Kudumi in Tamil) and breaks it. Hence the Tamil practice of addressing Shiva as Kudumi Thevar.

Devotees of Swami Ayyappan going to Sabarimala on pilgrimage carry ghee inside a coconut and break it at the temple in order to use the ghee for Abishekam. Normally butter and ghee are used mostly in Vishnu temples, as the name ‘Navaneethan’ indicates, and carrying ghee inside a coconut by Ayyappa devotees is to signify the birth of Swami Ayyappan out of the unison of Shiva and Vishnu. Coconut is an integral part of Hinduism, culture and tradition; there is no worship, custom or ritual sans coconut. Any coconut merchant would vouch for the fact that temples are at the top of his clientele list, rarely next only to hotels. The state govern-ment’s proposal seems to be yet another anti-Hindu act with an intention of giving a huge blow to religious tradition and culture. It will certainly hit the livelihood of coconut vendors, merchants and farmers.

Failure of the law enforcing department

The police citing ‘security reasons’ for the proposed ban on coconuts is outrageous and plain stupid. The Meenakshi Amman Temple has been under threat ever since Muslim fundamentalists started observing the anniversary of the so-called Babri demolition (which they actually ignored this year, with two senior clerics, Shia and Sunni respectively, organising family wedding festivities on that date, and arguing against observing the Babri anniversary). Yet in Tamil Nadu, a big drama is unfolded every year! A bomb blast occurred in the temple on May 18, 1996 within a year of the formation of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK). But TN police failed to check the growth of jihadi organisations, which resulted in the serial blasts in Coimbatore in February 1998.

Hostile environment: Government’s own creation

It is pertinent to understand the environment around the famous temple. Successive DMK governments have leased out the lands, shops and buildings around the temple for paltry sums. Most lessees are Muslims and the hundreds of shops (including meat shops) surrounding the temple are owned by Muslims; many are Kashmiri Muslims. Most shops mislead the public by having Hindu names! There is a rule by the Corporation that no structure should be built with a height of more than nine metres in a radius of one kilometre from the temple. But many buildings have come up, including a few churches and mosques. This rule holds good for other temples also, as it finds a place in HR & CE’s Rule Book itself. Regarding Meenakshi temple, it is difficult to have darshan of the temple towers even within half a kilometre! Instead of correcting this, the police talk of a ban on coconuts!

Source: Organiser

July 6, 2009

DMK Minister A Raja is set to influence the Judiciary system!!

Filed under: India,Indian Politics — thecandideye @ 6:29 AM
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The ruling DMK goverment in TN,is well known for its highhandedness and soft approach towards rowdism,is now attempting to influence the country’s judiciary system.Though their effort in influencing the judiciary will not bring any results,it is highly condemnable and the minister involved in this activity must be inquired.

The Madras High Court judge’s claim that a Union Minister tried to influence him is fast growing into a political controversy that is set to rock Parliament as it begins its Budget session tomorrow.
The ruling Congress has maintained silence with party sources saying that until the judge names the Minister or writes to the Chief Justice of India identifying him, the party can do little. But the opposition BJP and the AIADMK are determined to raise the heat amid speculation that the Minister could be from the DMK. The Bar Council of India has demanded action against the Minister under the Contempt of Courts Act.
IT and Telecommunications Minister A Raja today denied having made any calls to the judge but his close aides admitted that the Minister knew the accused Dr Krishnamurthy and his son Kiruba Sridhar since they hail from his district.

The Madras High Court judge’s claim that a Union Minister tried to influence him is fast growing into a political controversy that is set to rock Parliament as it begins its Budget session tomorrow.

The ruling Congress has maintained silence with party sources saying that until the judge names the Minister or writes to the Chief Justice of India identifying him, the party can do little. But the opposition BJP and the AIADMK are determined to raise the heat amid speculation that the Minister could be from the DMK. The Bar Council of India has demanded action against the Minister under the Contempt of Courts Act.

IT and Telecommunications Minister A Raja today denied having made any calls to the judge but his close aides admitted that the Minister knew the accused Dr Krishnamurthy and his son Kiruba Sridhar since they hail from his district.

It was during a hearing of their anticipatory bail plea that Justice R Reghupathy made the controversial claim.“I have not made any calls. I don’t know anything about it,” Raja told The Indian Express.

AIADMK leader V Maitreyan said the party has given separate notices in both Houses for discussion on this issue. The AIADMK wants the UPA government to name the Minister and sack him, said Maitreyan. “The Law Ministry should seek a report from Madras High Court. Besides a case should be filed against the minister involved under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” he demanded.

Said Bar Council of India Chairman S N P Sinha: “By trying to influence the judge, the minister has committed contempt of court. Even if the judge pardons him, the Government should initiate action against him as this is a very serious matter. And there is also a need to probe the larger issue of the powerful trying to browbeat the judiciary.” Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily declined to comment.

June 17, 2009

Political parties match their symbols …

I stumbled onto this interesting piece of information about political parties in India by Hemant Sharma.

Q: Why is the Samajwadi Party’s symbol ‘Cycle’?
A: Because after a ban on English and use of computers, that’s all we’ll be able to afford
Q: Why is the Congress party’s symbol ‘Hand’?
A: To remind Indians that our fate is forever in the hand of one family
Q: Why is BJP Symbol ‘Lotus’?
A: Lotus is the symbol of Sarawasti and learning. BJP will educate us through the wisdom of Varun Gandhi and Pravin Togadia.
Q: Why is Mayawati’s symbol ‘Elephant’?
A: It’s a self portrait.
Q: Why is Jayalalitha’ s symbol ‘Two leaves’?
A: Because that’s what remained after Amma ate up all the fruit
Q: Why is DMK’s symbol ‘Sun’?
A: So that Karunanidhi can justify wearing shades indoors
Q: Why is Lalu’s symbol ‘Lantern’?
A: Because there’s no electricity in Bihar
Q: Why is CPM’s symbol ‘Hammer and Sickle’?
A: Because that’s what you will be using if they come to power
Q: Why is Sharad Pawar’s symbol ‘Clock’?
A: Because his time never seems to come

Q: Why is the Samajwadi Party’s symbol ‘Cycle’?

A: Because after a ban on English and use of computers, that’s all we’ll be able to afford.

Q: Why is the Congress party’s symbol ‘Hand’?

A: To remind Indians that our fate is forever in the hand of one family.

Q: Why is BJP Symbol ‘Lotus’?

A: Lotus is the symbol of Sarawasti and learning. BJP will educate us through the wisdom of Varun Gandhi and Pravin Togadia.

Q: Why is Mayawati’s symbol ‘Elephant’?

A: It’s a self portrait.

Q: Why is Jayalalitha’ s symbol ‘Two leaves’?

A: Because that’s what remained after Amma ate up all the fruit .

Q: Why is DMK’s symbol ‘Sun’?

A: So that Karunanidhi can justify wearing shades indoors.

Q: Why is Lalu’s symbol ‘Lantern’?

A: Because there’s no electricity in Bihar.

Q: Why is CPM’s symbol ‘Hammer and Sickle’?

A: Because that’s what you will be using if they come to power.

Q: Why is Sharad Pawar’s symbol ‘Clock’?

A: Because his time never seems to come.

PS: I will be on travel for next one week and I will not be having access to Internet.Hence,I will not be able to respond to your comments if any.

May 22, 2009

Origins of the Srilankan Civil War

Filed under: Sri Lanka — thecandideye @ 3:00 AM
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The agony and suffering of Srilankan Tamils due to war have caused so much agitation and in some places violence in TN.Periyar Dravida Kazhagam even attacked the convoy of Army trucks in Coimbatore some days ago.See the video here. This act of PDK against Indian Army definitely needs to be punished.Whatever be the cause, this cannot be justifiied.Even the election compaigns had seen so many twists and turns from all the parties on the Srilankan Tamils.Jayalalitha, the AIADMK supremo also joined those people who demanded Independent Tamil Eelam in Srilanka.Each party tried to make use of this Sri Lankan Tamil issue to its advantage in the elections.

It is also worth to know about the Srilankan Civil War.Information in Wikipedia says that the government of D.S. Senanayake passed legislation stripping the estate Tamils of their citizenship in 1949, leaving them stateless.

The effect was to tilt the island’s political balance away from the Tamils. In 1948, at independence, the Tamils had 33% of the voting power in Parliament. Upon the disenfranchisement of the estate Tamils, however, this proportion dropped to 20%. The Sinhalese could and did obtain more than a 2/3 majority in Parliament, making it impossible for Tamils to exercise an effective opposition to Sinhalese policies affecting them. The main reason for the imbalance was that several multi-member constituencies elected a Tamil member of Parliament in a majority Sinhala electorate. The idea in having multi-member constituencies was to prevent domination of minorities by a future nationalist government.

The SLFP government led by Solomon Bandaranaike was sworn into office on a platform that of helping the growing population of unemployed youth who despite general educational achievement were disenfranchised by the ‘Sinhala Only’ language policy. A majority of civil servants under colonial rule were Tamil whose positions benefited from free English-medium missionary schools in the north and east of the island. When Sinhala became the official state language, many Tamil workers in government employment who were not fluent in Sinhala lost their jobs. The Tamil Federal Party led a group of Tamil volunteers and staged a sit-down satyagraha (peaceful protest). This protest was broken up by alleged hardline Sinhalese nationalist gangs.

Importing Tamil language films, books, magazines, journals, etc. from the cultural hub of Tamil NaduIndia was banned. Sri Lanka also banned groups such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and the Tamil Youth League. Culturally, Tamil Sri Lankans were cut off from Tamil Nadu. Foreign exchange for the long established practice of Tamil students going to India for university education was stopped. Equally, examinations for external degrees from the University of London were abolished. The government insisted this was a part of a general program of economic self-sufficiency, part of its socialist agenda, however most of the Tamil population did not accept nor believe this.

During the 1970s university admissions were standardized. This initiative took place to rectify disparities created in university enrollment during colonial rule.Under the British, English was the state language and consequently greatly benefited English speakers. However, the majority of the Sri Lankan populace lived outside urban areas and did not belong to the social elite, and therefore did not enjoy the benefits of English-medium education. The issue was compounded further by the fact that in northern and eastern regions of the island, where a largely Tamil speaking populace resided, students had access to English-medium education through missionary schools regardless of their socio-economic status. This created a situation where the large proportion of students enrolled in universities were English speaking Tamils, particularly in professional courses such as medicine and engineering.

The government policy of standardization in essence was an affirmative action scheme to assist geographically disadvantaged students to gain tertiary education. The benefits enjoyed by Sinhalese students also meant a significant fall in the number of Tamil students within the university population.At first, Tamil politicians pushed for a federal system through the Federal Party. This was met with suspicion and resistance from many Sinhalese.

In the 1960s, the government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike proceeded to nationalize most missionary schools in the country, secularizing them and changing the language of instruction from English to Sinhala only. After this, it became rare for Sinhalese and Tamil children to attend school together. Unable to speak Sinhalese, it became increasingly difficult for Tamil youth to gain access to civil service jobs or attend univerisities, and unemployment rose.

A mob went on rampage on the nights of May 31 to June 2 burning the market area of Jaffna, the office of the Tamil Newspaper, the home of the member of Parliament for Jaffna, the Jaffna Public Library and killing four people.The destruction of the Jaffna Public Library was the incident which appeared to cause the most distress to the people of Jaffna. The 95,000 volumes of the Public Library destroyed by the fire included numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts. Witnesses reported the presence of uniformed police officers in the mob and their involvement in the deaths of four individuals.

The concept of a separate nation, Tamil Eelam, was proposed by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976 . TULF was a coalition of parties who went on to campaign in the 1977 elections for an independent state for Tamils in Sri Lanka. They won most of the Tamil seats, but the government later banned them from Parliament for advocating an independent state.

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