Recently, Kesari Weekly and Prajna Pravah came together to organise a full-day conclave called Bridging South. What was the intent behind this? And how should we see the entire debate? Organiser Editor Prafulla Ketkar in conversation with J Nandakumar, National Convener, Prajna Pravah on the North-South Divide
In recent days, there have been many discussions about, the southern part of Bharat, whether it is different from the northern part, politically, economically and otherwise. And though the discussion is not new, it has got a new twist post-elections. Just before that, there was a conference in Kerala called “Cutting South” and with the support of some Canadian institutions there, since then, there has been a discussion about the United States of South India and how the South is different from the North.
It’s actually when we are talking about bridging south, I would like to translate it in a different way that it is to say Setu Himachal itself means bridging the north to south. From time immemorial Bharat is described as the country that lies north of the ocean, and south of the snowy mountains, for there dwelt the descendants of Bharat. From Himalaya to Hindu Maha Sagar. That is Bharat’s two boundaries and it has not been told only by someone who is living in the northern part of Bharat, but the whole part, especially from the South. This description is in ancient scriptures of Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada everywhere.
But we are also aware of those colonial masters, especially the English people who ruled us and how they tried to divide, tried to make a divide between North and South. They always believed in divide and then rule and that notorious and divisive poisonous action taken by English people is shamelessly replicated by Bharatiya Governments or the political parties who do not believe in the cultural unity and integrity of Bharat. This is also being followed by many of the congress leaders. Earlier Mahatma Gandhiji, Lokmanya Tilak and Baba Saheb Ambedkar, all firmly believed that Bharat was one. Baba Saheb Ambedkar presented a wonderful statement on the integrity of Bharat at Columbia University in 1916. He said that Bharat was not a geographical unity alone. It’s an indisputable cultural unity from end to end. And about Bhagwan Ram’s effort to bridge the North and South; Sri Krishna’s efforts to connect the East to the West and how Bhagwan Shiva is in every grain of Bharat. We had political unity too as seen in the Chola Dynasty, and Maurya Dynasty, under the rules of Asoka and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. But the ultimate thing was always cultural unity. But the congress governments and congress leaders, who are against the Gandhian principles or those of Tilak and Lal Shastri don’t believe in this cultural unity.
Another group of people who have succumbed to the divisive policy are leftists. They started this type of narrative and recently its ugly face has come to the fore. That’s what happened in this conference that you mentioned. The strange part is it was inaugurated by the chief minister and the chief guest of the keynote was given by the opposition leader.
“From Himalaya to Hindu Maha Sagar. That is Bharat’s two boundaries and it has not been told only by someone who is living in the northern part of Bharat, but the whole part, especially from the South”
Both of them come together to prove that the southern part of Bharat was never a part of Bharat and it is something different. And along with that, they have put forward so many fake narratives regarding the central neglecting South, and how most of the revenue is collected from the South and no development is not going on there.
But now because of this fake narrative forcefully pushed it is our duty or national duty that we must come together and tell the world how Bharat is one, how the South is connected to Bharat, how the greatest personalities like Shankaracharya and all tried for the unity of Bharat.
That’s why Prajna Pravah, Kesari Daily and others decided to put together this conclave titled Bridging South or Setu Himachal.
Initially when it started during the colonial period, as you mentioned, it was mainly around linguistic differentiation between Dravidian languages and Indo-Aryan languages. And we have seen a strong linguistic nationalism in Tamil Nadu. But what we see now, like in the 1960s sixties, sentiments being raised for political ends. Of course, fortunately, they didn’t get much traction among common people and we managed to maintain our unity and integrity. But what we are seeing now is much more poisonous because we know all for sure that there will be you know, census followed by delimitation, and GST-related issues. So, the discussion is being raised around this idea of cooperating federalism. So how should we see all this?
See our diversity was not made of opposing factors, but mutually complementary ones. So what we are seeing in this great land of thousands and thousands of years of history is a multi-layered culture. This is not a multicultural, it is a multi-layered culture. That is the speciality of Bharat. Those who believe in Western material thought or ideology, could not comprehend this multi-layered nature of Bharat or Bharat’s culture. They are just saying this, this is multicultural and see, for example, there are different languages. How can Bharat’s language be so different? Because it is a language continuum, the whole Bharat. From the Kanya Kumari to Kashmir. All languages are part of one single family through linguistic basic definitions, if you go through the science of language. For example, when you are constructing a sentence, there is a subject-object and a verb. This is the same pattern, common to all Bhartiya languages. Also, the words from Malayalam to what you say Hindi or Kashmiri or any other language have similarities in words.
I would like to say one is the languages we are using for our interview is English and another one is Urdu. This is in one way or another, the purity of our languages has been adulterated or intervened by these two language influences. This type was created by the colonial masters, right from the beginning, when they wanted to create that division, they wanted some basis and they started saying that this language families are different on that basis.
They created the Aryan-Dravidian division and to support they want more divisions so that they have through their census.
And today we are seeing just the repeating of those divisive measures created by the colonial British Masters, by the parties or the ideologies which do not believe in Bharat’s ancient nature, cultural unity, and cultural integrity. They want to divide, as they know that a United Bharat cannot be ruled by them, they cannot comprehend it as a whole. So, they want to create this division and they are thinking that if “Nagaland Mange Azadi”, “Kerala Mange Azadi”, “Kerala is different from Nagaland” and the so-called mainland of Bharat, they can rule it forever and they can become the Chakravortis of that land but they are in a fool’s paradise.
Recently, they have started a new game –this census issue and all and I’m not a political expert but one thing is for sure, the recent five assembly elections have given a thrashing to these narratives. But we have heard how Martin Luther King Jr also said that it is not because of the bad people’s number, they are they are in the minority, that they make more noise, but because the good people remain silent.
See this integrationist view of Bharat as a counter to the divisive view that has been there even during the freedom Struggle and in the last 75 years. But if we see the present generation, the youth who are educated in the present system, and not much connected to our roots in day-to-day life, they see this reality that there is a lot of migration from the northern part to the south. How should we explain reality related to economics and migration development, so-called development parameters and then engage with the youth from the integration point of view?
See it’s a fact that from the north, especially from Bihar and the eastern part of Bharat, many job seekers are coming to the south, especially to Kerala. But the same thing is true of many metros of Bharat –Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad—they are full of people from the South.
Or go to Gulf countries, the maximum number of people who are doing so many ordinary jobs are from Kerala. So, it is a fact this type of mutual migration is there and because of the trade union aspects and the hike of the day-to-day salary, Kerala attracts a lot more labour. That’s why you know that this type of trade unionism in agriculture and industry has badly affected Kerala. If you analyse it economically, there is no new industry in Kerala. The staple food of rice is not being cultivated in Kerala. The Keralites depend on the rice cultivated by the Andhra people. Kerala people are celebrating at the expense of Tamils who are cultivating flowers. Why is it happening? So because of this militant trade unionism put forward by or led by these communist people and shamelessly followed by the Kerala trade unionists because they want to fight with them. So, they also demanded much more. And because of that one thing, one thing happened there in
Kerala, new industry is not coming. Agriculture has been destroyed.
One factory is there the remaining industry or the construction works for the construction work and all the daily labour charges or the salary is high. Bihari people or Bengal people, are seeing that Kerala is their girl because they are getting more salary. But the mentality of the ordinary people who are living there in Kerala is not ready to do this type of work. They do the very same work in the Gulf, they do the very same work in Gujarat. So another thing, the so-called analysts or the so-called great, what do you say of the North or the other area or the leftist? They are just to pick and choose.
Only when just after this election, I came across one of the great leftist journalist’s analyses about the per capita income of Kerala and the per capita income of Bihar. I am just asking why don’t you compare it with Haryana or Gujarat? The correct picture has to be put in front of the youth.
And there has been a history to it because compared to the north the southern states didn’t experience that kind of Islamic invasion for such a long period. The Southern part experienced the European invasion in an earlier phase, but compared to that the eastern part has seen the British rule for a longer period. So all these factors have contributed to post-independent India’s development scenario.
But another aspect is the involvement of the academia, all of sudden certain maps are coming out, certain theories coming out, and certain people even sitting in European academia working on the idea of the so-called United States of South India. So it is not just about programs. It is the strong academia and media that support this kind of narrative which leads to this kind of divide.
So, is there any plan to take up research, and academic work from this integration point of view, on how we have been culturally the same?
That’s also needed. It’s the need of the hour. I would like to say one thing just to analyse after one election because some result came out against some particular party, we can’t come to just any conclusion. It is a knee-jerk reaction. A knee-jerk reaction from the parties who are against this unity of Bharat. That’s why they are trying to create such fake narratives. Another aspect is that a United Bharat, especially for the last 9-10 years, which is progressing like anything in the economic field and even the cultural aspect through Shri Ram Janmbhoomi etc. is making people nervous.
“Many nations are considering Bharat as their potential leader. the so-called developed nations including China are very much afraid of this type of progress and development happening in Bharat and they want to divide Bharat and make it weak”
Prajna Pravah is taking it seriously, not only inside Bharat, we are now trying to create an atmosphere all over the world, at universities also in the coming times. A huge outreach program has also been planned after making a proper study. Also, the Bharatiya knowledge system aspect is being given much importance. We have to have more such programs along with proper rigorous research, content generation and outreach programs.
Now there seems to be another dimension which is very critical politically that has been added to this entire discourse that sees South India as free of Hindutva and anti-Sanatan.
This is very interesting because most of the Sanatan traditions, temples, and temple architecture are all in the south of India. Besides this of course the political arguments over it – how BJP has some vote share or whether RSS has any presence in Tamil Nadu or not.
See just to go through the history of Bharat. In the southern part of Bharat, of course, the colonial invasion happened first in the South, but in the later period, the South never faced such a great onslaught as the eastern part of the Bharata faced. Of course, the Islamic invasion also happened in the North, especially the Northwest area, especially later on a whole part of the North.
I think my conclusion regarding this religious belief as far as you have mentioned is a Dharma concept, I would like to say the religious aspect of Hindutva is very strong in Bharat and the South personally. That’s why in Sabarimala or Tirupati, lots of people are converging together. But maybe my inference or conclusion is that the North because of these continuous attacks, developed the nationalist aspect of Hindutva strongly in the North.
Also looking back, we never supported dictatorship, but it happened in Bharat from 1975 to 77. But against that politically, everyone fought, but, Kerala, which is being posed as the most illiterate politically aware and liberal society, voted maximum to that dictator after an emergency.
My point is that yes, Dharma at the personal level or the religious framework, is very strong in the south, but as far as the nationalist spirit is concerned, in the north of India one can see it more.
So again, during the Ram Janambhoomi agitation, even though it had a religious fervour the North also saw Rama as a nationalist leader and the agitation as a Rama versus Babur –an evil foreign invader thing. Also, one can’t say that the North is becoming more saffron and the South is less. That aspect is also not correct. That all keeps changing.
And change is happening…the people of the South are also understanding the comprehensive meaning of Hindutva.