Tamil Nadu: Bad 10! (Part 1 of 2)
I know you are growing impatient. It's always interesting to hear from the horse's mouth, right?! Especially when he talks about his own problems! So, I don't want to bore you with any more introductions. Here you go... These are the top 10 things that make me feel so ashamed of being a Tamilian:
1. Our Politics:
We have produced the worst lot of politicians in the last 40+ years. I am sure no other state in India has been so consistent for so long in producing so many third-rate politicians. Some of you may have strong statistics to prove that your state has produced even more horrible politicians. But, that would just be a 'one-off' or 'two-off' case. When it comes to consistency, we are the undisputed leaders. In the last 40+ years, we could never see a ray of hope. There was... and, there is... no light at the end of the tunnel. We don't even know if our tunnel has an end. Or, let me put it this way, we don't even know if what we are stuck in is a tunnel or we have got buried alive under ground.
We don't pick our leaders from grassroots. We don't pick them from our premier education institutions. We pick them from our movie studios and drama theaters. Then what can you expect from them?! No other state in this country is so obsessed with its politicians as Tamil Nadu is. No other state in India would have witnessed so many suicides and deaths following a politician's death as Tamil Nadu has (Andhra Pradesh might come a close second with YSR's death and the things that followed it reminding almost what happened when MGR died!). No other state would have seen so many political self-immolations as Tamil Nadu has!
It is Tamil Nadu that has made "cash for vote" such a successful election formula at this scale. No other state would have seen so much of cash-flow in elections as Tamil Nadu did in 2009 General Elections and 2011 assembly election. Ours is the first democracy in the world history to have voted for freebies like Television keeping everything else at bay (As a developed society, Entertainment is more important for us than Education and Healthcare, you see!). I should put it this way if it wouldn't hurt my fellow idiots: We are the only idiots in the world to have voted for the idiot boxes!
Though the standard of politics has hit the rock-bottom throughout the country, it's our politicians who have been the pioneers in all sorts of corruption. Always! The biggest corruption in the history of the nation has been committed by our own fellows (at least in what has been caught so far!). It's only in this godforsaken place, people openly justify corruption. It's the same old theory of leaders being as good as their people. Our leaders haven't changed because we never wanted change or we never wanted them to change. We love to be ruled by rogues because otherwise we can't remain rogues ourselves. So, the simple conclusion is, yes, you are right - We don't deserve good leaders!
As long as the murder and rape happen in the neighbor's house we support it and find weirdest of weird reasons to justify it. We don't call a spade a spade - a wrong a wrong! The world says, "Innocent until proven guilty". In this part of the world, you can walk around freely calling yourself an innocent even if you are caught red-handed provided you are generous enough to share with us a fraction of what you looted. In fact, you would have die-hard supporters to argue for you, fight for you and justify what you did.
No other state has so much nepotism in its veins. Again, you may feel offended for having taken away the credit for what is actually the birth right of all Indians and not just Tamilians. But, please listen to me patiently and try to understand my point of view fully. With all fairness and due respect to all my fellow countrymen, I would like to remind you all that it was we who taught nepotism to all of you. You are just followers. We were the pioneers.
Having said all that, I seriously wonder at times, 'How can a society be so foolish for so long - being so indifferent about its own well-being? Even the most illiterate and ignorant people lose patience at some point in time and start revolting. How can a society that claims to be one of the most intelligent ones on earth be so numb and dumb for so long?' Long story short: "Are we basically a society with no values?"! An honest answer to this question would perhaps answer all the other questions as well.
The previous point and this one are related in a way. It's good that we celebrate an art form. But, the amount of undue importance and attention given to our movie stars is way too much - maniac. There is too much of nonsense that is going on in the name of "respect for talent": naming the children after movie stars, cutting a finger to show one's love for his favorite actor, getting into fatal fights with the fans of other heroes, building temple for an actress, all the madness that happen in the name of fan club, wasting all the hard-earned money in setting up cutouts for movie stars, deciding whom to vote based on movie actors' advice, addressing actors and actresses as the future chief minister even while wishing for their birthdays... the list is too long. Sometimes I really go mad looking at all this madness. Where else can you see this kind of madness in this country? Again, Andhra Pradesh might come a close second - but not first! Even there, it's not this much!
What is all the more disgusting is the insanity of mixing up politics and movies. We have been ruled only by people who are related to the film industry in some way or the other in the last forty years though they are no way related to each other. Can you show me one other state that is so mad about movies in this country? You may ask an intelligent question - "Are they (the movie stars) not part of the system?". Who said that they are not? Nobody said that they shouldn't come into politics. But, it shouldn't be only them who become our leaders. Most of them don't even know how to speak. They manage the show with their movie dialogues and lyrics. Nobody understands that their real life characters are different from their reel life characters. Our extraordinary people truly believe that they are all powerful supermen who can solve all our problems within two and a half hours like how they do in their movies.
We were at the peak of mindlessness fifteen years back. It's okay now. But, those in Kodambakkam should realize that Kodambakkam is far away from St George Fort (Those of you who wonder what Kodambakkam and St George Fort are: Kodambakkam is the place known for movie studios in Chennai; And, St George Fort is the place where our Chief Minister's office is!). If they would continue to think that they are near to each other or the shortcut to St. George Fort is through Kodambakkam, that's a bad news for the state that has had enough.
Next, have you ever heard of any other place on earth where people built temple for an actress? It happened here. Have you seen people performing milk abhishekam on an actor's cutout like the way it's done for gods? It happens here. On one side there are people who argue that doing it to gods themselves is wrong. On another side there are people who do this to normal human beings. I used to think in my childhood that it was only the uneducated youth who were mad about movies and stars and the educated lot was not that bad. It was only after seeing more of educated people did I realize that this madness had got nothing to do with education. There have been incidents of arguments on movie stars leading to attempted murders in college campuses. What I saw in the corporate world later was all the more surprising. Even there, I could see plenty of mad followers of movie stars. I just couldn't believe that our people were 'so' mad about movies and movie stars.
3. Hero Worship:
The common aspect in both the above problems is the madness of hero-worship in excess. Not only in politics and movies, you could see the extreme level of hero-worship even on the wall posters of local associations and trade unions. If you get me a meal or a bottle of liquor, I would praise you in whatever way you want - calling you anything - comparing you with anyone. This culture of meaningless flattery is not just spoiling the people; it would end up spoiling the language as well. Words would lose their meaning when people are meaninglessly praised, right!
Nobody likes or hates a political party based on its ideology It's all individual-based. In fact, I have been trying to figure out the difference between the ideologies of DMK and ADMK from the day I came across these acronyms. I am not successful yet. Most of us do not like or hate a movie based on any of its other aspects like story, screen play, direction or music. Mere appearance of a star can decide that. Appreciating the talent is different from worshiping an individual who possesses it, right?! Unfortunately, most of our people don't understand this.
There are two types of hero-worshipers. The first lot blindly follows their hero with no conscious reason for being so forever and waste their valuable lives running behind their heroes. This kind of followers is more for movie stars and less for political leaders (still sizable!). The second is a better lot. They follow their leaders with a vested interest. They give what their leaders want in order for them to take everything that they want from their leaders. What their leaders want? Mad followers! These people would be that. What these people want? Something in return! In return, their leaders would allow these people to loot as much as they want and enjoy. That something would be mostly public money (in the form of contracts, commission, profit-sharing, etc.), in some cases favors from government or any of its organs such as police, in some cases good government or party position to be safe from all legal troubles. They would follow their leaders only until there is some use in doing so. They would abscond as soon as the leader is dumped. This type of hero-worship is more in politics.
It's this hero-worship that is the root cause of all the dynasty politics that the country is witnessing today. It's because of this even those with extraordinary talent are watching all these silently without taking part in the game themselves. It's this hero-worship that is not allowing our leaders to become better. This is what makes them so self-centered. It's this hero-worship that makes some of our stars spend more time doing all the politics around becoming bigger instead of becoming better as artistes.
Just look at the stands that we take on every political issue. That would explain how selfish we are. The war in Sri Lanka was at its peak. Innocent people were being killed in thousands. On the other side, 2G spectrum scam was making news every day and a new refreshed number was getting published every next day. It was very clear that Congress and its bedfellow DMK were responsible for both the problems, the genocide and the scam, one anti-human and another anti-national. We could have saved thousands of lives in Sri Lanka and brought the guilty to book in 2G by voting out the anti-human and anti-national duo. What did we do? We sold our votes to Congress and DMK for just 150 rupees per vote. Would the same thing have happened if it was Kerala or Karnataka? I don't think so!
Leave all that. Let's look at some of the simple things that happen in the lives of common men like us. Look at the way people travel in General compartments in train or Government buses in Tamil Nadu. In my last 13 years of stay in Karnataka, I have not seen the kind of uncivilized behavior that I have seen in Tamil Nadu. I have heard that this is nothing compared to what happens in some parts of North India. But, if I just compare with the other South Indian states, I think, Tamil Nadu for sure would be the worst. Everywhere else, the attitude is, "My comfort is more important than yours!". But here, it is, "Only my comfort is important and let others go to hell!". What is it called? Is there any other name than selfishness for this? This is just one simple example. There are too many such experiences to prove this point.
First time, when I went to Chennai, looking for a job, I used to spend all my days trying to meet some relative - relative's relative - friend - friend's friend - relative's friend - friend's relative, etc. One of my friends who was born and brought up in Chennai asked me, "Why is it that all of you who come from other parts of Tamil Nadu always look for someone to help you get a job? Why don't you use this valuable time to hone your skills so that you become more employable or visit some companies to inquire about openings, etc.?" It hurt me first. But, when I sat back and thought about it, it hurt all the more. Because, I realized that there was some problem with the way we approach life. Thanked Chennai for enlightening me with that feedback. Later, few years down the line, after coming to Bangalore, a colleague who came from Chennai asked me on the very first day, "Who are the big shots in this company? Who all do I have to impress or please if I want to become big in this company?". I introduced them to him. From the very next day, he stopped coming out with me and started going out with them for tea. This looked worse. Some people look for shortcut to get a job and others do it even after getting one! That's the only difference. Otherwise, the attitude is the same. It's the problem with our genes! And, thanked Chennai again for this enlightenment. :)
OK. How about this? Even if the Government changes thousand times in Tamil Nadu... Even if the world ends and gets recreated... Do you think the auto drivers would charge the right fare or even use the fare meter in Chennai? Have you seen any other city on this planet where auto drivers are so dishonest and greedy? Ask them about it. They would explain why it is difficult to be not greedy in Tamil Nadu. When I came to Bangalore in late 90s, the auto drivers wouldn't speak a word. I would just get in and tell the place. They would drop me in the place and take the amount as shown on the meter and give back the change even if it was 50 paise. Then, at some point in time, the guests from Tamil Nadu started asking, "How much?" as soon as they spot an auto. From then on, no looking back. The drivers here also have got corrupt. Now they argue and explain us - "Why don't you see how bad the auto drivers in Chennai are? We are far better!"
Last one - a north Indian laborer who came to do some minor plumbing work in our house was trying to cheat us by asking for some huge unreasonable amount. The local big shot who passed by intervened to solve the problem. He asked the north Indian friend, "Man... Do you know who you are trying to cheat? These guys are Tamilians. They cheat the entire country. You are trying to cheat them?! Very bad!". How would you feel? Proud? Ashamed? I felt ashamed! Some of my friends felt very happy about the mention. It may be a bad stereotype. But, someone somewhere has done something to make some people believe so. Otherwise, what smoke with no fire?!