Surrounded by a lot of Tamil nostalgia and rapacity for history I finally decided to write out an article to tribute both. Special thanks to Bangalore for making me more culture conscious!
Tamil Nadu is a historic community, both demographically and geographically. Origins trace to contemporize some of the oldest civilizations in the world. Since then science and ethnicity has flourished with holistic and broad minded approaches. However that is not the point of this post. The post mainly intends to point out the un-patented, un-exaggerated, un-marketed Tamil practices that are now patented, exaggerated as life saving modern science and marketed as western practices.
The British has always claimed that the India would not have been a part of the Industrialization bus if they hadn’t governed India. I’d like to chip a bit of the British shoulder by contradicting most of the sentence, if not its entirety. Because we missed the bus to industrialization, because you threw us under its wheels!
Lets go back, in time, to where we actually belong!
Importance of villages:
Not till recently did I switch from my condescending view of villages. Before the British rule, villages in Tamil Nadu were not separate, isolated entities. In fact they were socially connected entities and had a complex and sophisticated trade system that essentially powered and contributed to the GDP of the kingdom.
Villages housed a lot innovation and culmination of medical advancements and theories. In current Britain, people move to the countryside to a content life after slogging and slaving to mint money. It was the same case in early Tamil Nadu. Soldiers, tradesmen, relished their ripe old age in villages than in capitals of kingdoms. It wasn’t until the British came to India did this scenario change.
The simple, quiet villages became places to demand obedience and labor. The British fundamentally destroyed the traditional and agriculture practices of the countryside and instilled an inferiority complex in the people. They installed tax collectors to squeeze the pockets as well as the blood of the people in villages just like their system in the west. Well if you wonder why a Robin Hood existed in Britain and not anywhere in the east , then this is why reason.
There was constant negotiation between the ruled and ruler in old Tamil Nadu. In old Tamil Nadu the rulers knew that they had to come out to the streets at one point of time and the ruled knew the same. The British’s governance happened behind closed doors where neither the ruled and the ruler knew what was in each other’s minds. It was all paper work and whatever was in paper was the law. The British, with only commercial interests in mind, had no cognizance of the society they were ruling. They looted an already civilized, socially dynamic & culturally vibrant community, of it’s pride, superiority and managed to instill an inferiority complex and called it uncivilized!
If the British and pro-British rule people claim democracy exists in India because of the British, well, rethink! Democracy already existed at the panchayat level during the Chola( no need to exaggerate with adjectives) period. Raja Raja Cholan was elected as the people’s leader and did not ascend to the throne just because of lineage.
Nevertheless, you cannot maim, torture, slice, slaughter people for two hundred years and celebrate democracy at the end of it.
It is time we take credit for the democracy we had in a multicultural, ethnic society that was not present in the west. The west speak highly of the Greek and Athenian democracy and take pride that they invented democracy. The west also say with vanity that they promoted diversity, secularism and abolished slavery.
British please! You destroyed entire, full-fledged races in Australia and America and replaced them with your progeny. Celebrate proliferating democracy! My foot!
Tamil Nadu has been the model sleepy town of India. It was easy prey for the Sultanates of the Deccan and Karnataka to conquer vast tracts of the region in the aftermath of Vijayanagara’s apocalyptic downfall. It was fairly easy for Portuguese and French evangelists to establish churches all over the region and convert large numbers of Tamils to Christianity. And then came the time of the British wherein Tamil Nadu was a model British colonial holding – a place that never ever rebelled large scale. The Tamils had grown soft to the extent of gullible in the aftermath of the Chola Empire itself. There were absolutely no good British intentions although there were a few good British people in India. It continued to worsen with the British rule.
It is time we reclaim the integrity of villages. Our moral practices are becoming more relevant with different names and can overwhelm any religion in future. We, the people, have had a sophisticated political system where the balance of power was not tilted in anyone’s favor. It is time to believe int he fact that we are inherently advanced people.