Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings - C Kumarabharathy > The concept of togetherness

Selected Writings by C.Kumarabharathy

& the concept of togetherness

21 December 1998

I browsed your website after several months and I am glad it has been updated with new contents. I am writing this from one of the cyber booths proliferating the city (Chennai). It is humid and hot here. The other booths are crowded with boys (school uniform). As I write sounds emanate from the adjoining booths - four students per booth are trying out some hot site!

This would be an appropriate point of time to sum up the contribution of your website (TN) and its potential. TN is a one man crusade essentially. This website effort is directed to achieve "a growing togetherness" among millions of Tamils scattered all over the globe, spanning the seven seas and continents.

The important contribution at this formative stages being the creation of the concept (of togetherness) itself - the concept of togetherness in a diverse environment. "Togetherness" is not a static state. It is a continuously evolving concept that has to be consciously nurtured. The website should be a medium for communicating experiences that are mutually satisfying . Thus it has to include the intellectual emotional and spiritual aspirations of a large body of participants.

These participants exist (and thrive/suffer) in diverse universes.The backdrop is of diverse social and economic environment. Moreover, they come with an "extra luggage" of experiences. Needless to say,  the "back home" experiences of Sri Lankan Tamils (SLT) have been traumatic. We do not like to makeup these horror stories. But they happen to our kith and kin and these come uninvited and prowl in our consciousness. This fact should be recognised.

But we have to live and dream. Hence the need to express ourselves. The common factor we have is called "Tamil". The word "Tamil" can be expanded to cover a whole matrix of things.

For a people to express themselves, a common platform which prompts them is necessary. I think your website has achieved this status. It is not important that we should agree, but it is important we should communicate in a civilised and dignified way. This is a rare feature among Sri Lanka Tamil (SLT) web efforts. I think the project "One Hundred Tamils" is notable in bringing people together. Unlike the political outpourings, which have become a second nature - a conditioned reflex, this forum requires people to think deeper into future and past issues.

A society which is informed on various aspects of the human condition, is better equipped to meet the challenges, for whatever purpose they may be directed to. This might even appear to be unrelated to our immediate needs or might even appear to be contradictory to our popular consciousness but truth has a way of finding its target more accurately than our conditioned reflexes and thought processes. In certain instances we have to take a step back and see the ground. My observation is that TN should attract more Indian Tamil (IT)expatriates.This kind of interaction might result in creative dialogues.

While both groups ( SLT & IT) suffer similar alienation problems, the IT perception is that they have a culture back home to go back to.

I am amazed at the number of Websites dedicated to cinema stars done by IT expats. The energies of people skilled in high tech are being poured into these ventures.

We do not ask deeper questions and are foot loose in a consumer society. As a people who belong to a linguistic and cultural background with lot in common, there is a need to interact - interact not only on social one to one level, which we anyhow do, but 'institutionally'.

As for SLTamils, politics aside, Tamil Nadu has become an important destination. It is not only the cinema,spice & silk route, but also it is a sort of surrogate mother land. Increasingly we are depending on Tamil Nadu for cultural & spiritual support - be it at the profound level of say, Carnatic music or at the banal level of film world. Our cultural life is dominated by videos and audios of Chennai, not withstanding the political love-hate relationships.

There has been no discernible separate SLT identity ( not that I am promoting one), other than successfully keeping out IT from our sangams and Tamil societies. I grant that the style of operation of Tamil societies have a strong Jaffna flavour.

I said earlier about having to ask deep questions. The sources of  culture in Tamil Nadu is drying out. The scene in both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu are dismal in their own ways. After four decades of Dravidian parties' rule, at last we have arrived. A peculiar Dravidian brand of irrationality ( this is a subset of verbal Rationalism) and superstition has been permanently enthroned. This is deep rooted and is reflected in the style of governance and  internal party rivalries. These are feudal to the core.

The words and terms used in the governing process are not only pre colonial semantically but by repeated process of party rituals(Perani, Mahanadu),and by the public behaviour of leaders and followers, these words have acquired a meaning. The meaning is unambiguously feudal. These have been re-enacted and elaborated publicly to give substance to the style of the governing process. This goes far beyond the use of Tamil as an official language- which is understandable.

It is difficult to distinguish between political machinery and state bureaucratic machinery. It is seamless. The IPS IAS are now fully integrated into the governing system. The only hope is that not only middle class but traditional vote banks (poor) now watch helplessly (instead of enthusiastic participation of golden years)as the parties make the entire Tamil Nadu a playground to enact their party rituals ( Thoranam Valaivu, Perani). The time has come for us to think on our 'own'. Seeing what is happening in Tamil Nadu, my perception of Tamil culture has changed. The situation makes one to 'unbelieve' everything we think of as sublime in Tamil culture.


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