By K R Sudhaman
Contrary to the Dravida Model of sidelining Brahmins in Tamil Nadu as part of the caste politics under the garb of so-called social justice, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu led by Chief Minister M K Stalin has decided to honour father of India’s green revolution late M S Swaminathan by naming the Thanjavur-based The Agricultural College and Research Institute after the iconic agricultural scientist.
Announcing this, Stalin decided recently to institute an award in Swaminathan’s name to honour toppers in plant propagation and genetics in the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
This is a welcome development in the state, which has so far avoided naming any university, institute or college in the name of three noble laureate-scientists from the state, C V Raman, S Chandrasekhar and Venki Ramakrishnan. One of the reasons is believed to be that all three belonged to Brahmin community.
Stalin’s announcement in the assembly to honour Swaminathan, recipient of a number of national and international recognitions including Padma Vibushan and Magsaysay Award, came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a long bylined article in several newspapers in praise of the scientist for making India a food grain surplus country from acute shortage in the early period of independence, which was preceded by 1943 Bengal famine during the British rule leading to millions of starvation deaths in the country.
The fact that most of the noble laureates from India are from Bengal or Tamil Nadu speaks volumes of quality of education in these two states but it is also a fact that caste and communal politics perpetuated by Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu have ensured these achievers do not act as role models to enable the students draw inspiration from them. That’s one of the reasons that the Tamil Nadu economy, which has done reasonably well since 1991 reforms is yet to grow to its potential as politics coming in the way of development. This is one of the reasons that Gujarat and Karnataka are able to attract more foreign direct investment as caste politics is less oppressive.
The anti-Brahmin politics is less pronounced in Tamil Nadu now even though it raises its ugly head intermittently. Of course, Stalin like his father do have Brahmin advisers as there is a love-hate relationship. Stalin’s five-member economic advisory council has three Tamil Brahmins as its members — former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, former Chief economic advisor, Arvind Subramaniam and former finance secretary S Narayanan. The other two members are not from the state. This change of heart is welcome as it is in the interest of the state and its people.
The Dravidian politics is not devoid of hypocrisy. Stalin’s son Udayanidhi Stalin, who is a minister in Tamil Nadu cabinet attacked Sanatan Dharma, saying it needed to be eradicated like Corona, Dengue and Malaria. This sparked of a major controversy with Hindutva and non Hindutva politicians gunning for each other. Soon after this episode, Udhayanidhi’s mother Durga, wife of M K Stalin, visited the famous Guruvayoor Temple, where the main deity is Lord Krishna, and presented golden crown weighing 32 sovereign and estimated to cost Rs 14 lakh. While Stalin and Udayanidhi are critical of Sanatan Dharma, Durga is an ardent devotee and regularly visits various temples to perform puja.
Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi earned the respect of the majority of the people because he practiced what he preached. Gandhi was a practicing Hindu and religious person yet he advocated secularism, tolerance and non-violence. Whereas Mohammed Ali Jinnah, an irreligious person, advocated two-nation theory and supported formation of theocratic state on the basis of Islam. Now there are fresh evidences to suggest that pork-eating anglicised Jinnah was not well versed in Islam, smacking of hypocrisy. Carving out an Islamic country out of India without a vision has cost the country Pakistan dearly and has pushed the economy to a virtual bankruptcy.
So any attempt to move away from divisive politics needed to be applauded and Stalin’s decision to name after Swaminathan the Agriculture college and research institute needed to be lauded. Hope this is a beginning and more such institutes of learning are named after luminaries like C V Raman, S Chandrasekhar, Venki Ramkrishnan, former President Abdul Kalam, former ISRO Chairman K Sivan, Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam and many more from the state.
It is time that political parties give up caste and communal politics and work for common good of all. . Meritorious people and achievers in various spheres and not just politicians, needed to be recognised. (IPA Service)