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Karunanidhi: The leader who remained steadfast to his principles and views

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MK

Karunanidhi, a towering political leader from the last generation with a political career spanning 75 years started as a teenager prior to Independence with Periyar’s social justice movement and continued as a mascot for Annadurai, a lieutenant of Periyar who opted for electoral politics. He was himself CM for 19 years over 5 terms and the party president of DMK for 50 years.

Professionally a dialogue writer for Tamil films he gained more prominence than the actors who delivered his dialogues. All his life he remained steadfast in his views expressed through his dialogues and prolific writing.

He was a secular opposing religion in civic affairs and rabid in his anti-Brahmanism. An advocate of social equality, he was a pioneer of affirmative action for social upliftment of the Dalits who had hitherto been excluded from political power. Avoiding populist measures as CM, he focused on developing schools and healthcare facilities to bring the underprivileged into the mainstream.

He never aspired for national politics and remained a Tamilian leader throughout his career. He was a great admirer of the Tamil language and culture and was instrumental in the development of federal polity in India as opposed to the Unitarian political culture of the Congress. At times his advocacy of Tamil rights bordered on Tamil separatism.

The only blot in his political career was his corruption because of which his one time deputy, MGR parted company to form the AIADMK. He was also criticised for his dynastic politics of later years when he tried to give charge to his daughter in the Centre, southern districts to his elder son based in Madurai while selecting his younger son Stalin as his successor. But then, a father has the responsibility to settle his children.

India was consciously divided into linguistic lines with each state having its own literature, culture, dress, food, festivals etc. The Union has by and large promoted uniformity by suppressing diversity. The federal ethos celebrates diversity and, in India especially, in my view, we have had an attempt of an excessive uniformity imposed that has been detrimental to our rich regional cultural heritages.

In that sense MK was a man advocating pride in Tamil culture. More than the relative merits of centre-state choice is the existence of the dialectic of pulls and pressures from both sides to attain a dynamic balance that keeps pace with the changing times. His anti North and anti Hindi agitations, widely criticised, must be seen in the context of promoting regional pride.

Of course, MK is very unpopular among Tamil Brahmins. But then the local Brahmins had a disproportionate hold on social and cultural power in TN for centuries. Breaking their hegemony was necessary for a social change towards greater egalitarianism. With them being pushed back, the knowledge and skills that they were custodians of, also suffered.

But then I am speaking in the capacity of a neutral bystander. Interested parties would rejoice or suffer the pangs of socio political change a lot more acutely.

His legacy is important to understand the implications of equality, secularism, federation and social change – issues that are in focus in our political discourse right now.

If only the conversation can move beyond his obvious corruption.

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India-Pakistan need to work for terror free South Asia: PM Modi writes to Imran Khan

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New Delhi | PM Modi on Monday wrote to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan and congratulated him for being elected as new Prime Minister of the Islamic democracy.

PM Modi in his letter wrote that “India is currently looking for good neighbourly relations with Pakistan. Both countries  should look for constructive and meaningful engagement towards this.” PM Modi also stressed for the “need to work for terror-free South Asia.”

Cricketer-turned-politician  Imran Khan on Saturday took oath as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan after his party Pakistan Tehrrek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the single largest party in the general election of Pakistan.

Responding to the letter by PM Modi, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs minister SM Qureshi said,” There is a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue with India. We are neighbours. We have long-standing issues, both of us know these problems. But we have no other option but to engage in dialogue. We cannot afford adventurism.”

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Kasturirangan says pressure on land resources could be the reason behind rain fury

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Hyderabad  |  Pressure on Kerala’s limited land resources due to the growing population, denudation of the Western Ghats and climate change could be the reasons behind the floods that have ravaged the state, eminent scientist K Kasturirangan has said.

The former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) noted that the state’s population had increased in the last century and it “has its own pressures on the environment and resources”.

“So, together there has been an impact on the environment … The population has increased, there is more demand on resources, which includes land, agriculture and many other activities,” he told PTI.

Kasturirangan, who was a member of the now-defunct Planning Commission and hails from Kerala, said that heavy rains have in the past been “well managed” by nature through an exceptionally thick vegetation and other kinds of natural endowment that the state has, including the backwaters”.

But the size of the backwaters has shrunk to 50-60 per cent of what it was in the 1940s, he said.

Kasturirangan said the Western Ghats have denuded at many places, “and agricultural practices have been pursued there… population pressure has caused this”.

Climate change could also be a reason behind the heavy rains, according to him.

“There are multiple factors. One has to really analyse it,” he said.

He called for “proper planning” to minimize damage due to heavy rains.

Kasturirangan said steps should be taken to enable sustainable livelihood for Keralites, “make them happy and contented”.

The fierce monsoon rains in Kerala have claimed 210 lives since August 8 and displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes.

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Kerala requires technical assistance rather than food and clothing, claims Union Minister KJ Alphons

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Thiruvananthapuram | Union Minister and Kerala native KJ Alphons on Monday said that the state of Kerala who is currently suffering the worst floods since 1924 and it no more needs assistance in form of ‘food and clothing’.

Speaking to media, KJ Alphons said, “Help has been pouring in from all over the world, but the state doesn’t need food and clothes. What the state desperately needs is technical assistance to rebuild and recreate”. There will be no electricity in homes. Carpentry, plumbing would be gone. We need hundreds of thousands of electricians, plumbers, carpenters to rush to Kerala. We don’t need clothes/food. People with technical capabilities are required to put life back into Kerala,” added the Union Minister.

Speaking on the relief funds sanctioned by the Union Government, the Minister said,”The prime minister visited Kerala and took stock of the situation. He has promised assistance and whatever it takes to rebuild the state. He announced an immediate assistance of Rs. 500 crore. Before that Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Kiren Rijiju had sanctioned Rs. 100 crore and Rs. 80 crore, respectively. So money isn’t a problem.”

The state of Kerala has already suffered a loss of 21,000 crores with more than 7 lakh people have been forced to stay in relief camps due to constant rains and flood like situation in the state. Various state governments including Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh offered a contribution worth Rs.10 crores for the relief work. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also offered Rs. 15 crores from the Uttar Pradesh Relief Fund.

Informing about the relief work, the Union Minister further added, “Things are running very well and all central forces are providing amazing services. Fishermen have turned out to be the biggest heroes. We thank the people of India and other countries for sending help and showing compassion, but we need technical help when the water level goes down. There is no electricity or mobile connectivity. The homes are gone so we need thousands of electricians, carpenters and plumbers to rush to Kerala. The biggest challenge right now is to rebuild. We need people with technical skills to put life back on track.”

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