By V. M. Pillai
No doubt, Western historians made an effort to reduce the importance of Tamils when they tried to show that they were driven south by the invading forces from the North-West. Recent discoveries have proved the contrary. A social research conducted around half a century earlier showed that Tamils moved from the South along river valleys. Their interests in shipping and trade brought them to countries throughout the world. In fact, Rev. Fr. Heras SJ calls himself a Dravidian from Southern Italy. Recent discoveries after the tsunami close to Mahabalipuram, under the sea has proved the thesis. Archaeological finds close to Kerala confirm this.
What is more important is the fact that the South has become a significant factor in national politics in India. It is not so much as providing stability in the South as it is in maintaining stability at the centre, depending, entirely on the South. The radical and revolutionary leader, Subas Chandra Bose, once, defeated the unforgettable universal figure Mahathma Gandhi at the elections to the Congress. It was the South which turned against his policies and restored Mahatma Gandhi. That proved beyond doubt the unity and solidarity in the Indian subcontinent.
M. Karunanithi no doubt commenced his career against Northern domination, but, soon joined the mainstream in national polities along with the progressives. That is only a part of the course taken by all political leaders who enter the scene, when the country’s politics reaches some form of maturity, no doubt by terms dictated by Western education. But they tone down as time passes and mellow with power.
In our own country, Junius Richard Jayewardene, who joined the Ceylon National Congress to rid the body of all communal forces, surprised everyone by introducing the most extreme form of Sinhala Only in 1944 when he became a State Councillor. It was however, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, criminally accused of being the communalist, who stood up on that occasion to save national unity. J. R. Jayewardene did it again at the Kelaniya Sessions of the UNP, after which he lost his own constituency by a large majority, compelling him to move to Colombo and depend on Tamil votes for survival. In 1977, the Tamils brought him back to power with an unprecedented majority.
His return catalysed into the genocide of Black July of 1983 against innocent Tamils, blamed on the Sinhala chauvinists, although no sincere effort was made to bring the culprits behind this shameless episode to jsutice..
The Tamil leaders who live and work in the South and but lead the North – East, perenially raising touchy issues like universal franchise, discrimination, language rights, federal government and Tamil Eelam, were taught a lesson by their own lieutenants after 1983, but today, whether the North – East votes or not, the entire country wants national unity, peace and progress. It is no different from what has taken place in the sub-continent.
It is not necessary to express an opinion about the need to invite M. Karunanithi. But it is sufficient to note that any approach to India depends on him.
Truth is unpalatable to those who harbour chauvinism on both sides of the communal divide. But reality should be recognised for progress to be made.
In this regard it is worthwhile to note that the entire South in the sub-continent stands in sympathy with the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil community in the island.