A cartoon by RK Lakshman made nearly 50 years ago on the anti-Hindi agitation by the DMK under the direction of Anna durai and participated by Karunanidhi has become a bone of contention after it became known that it was included in the NCERT text book of Political science for class XII. The cartoon was not exactly an imagined one, but was an illustration of the true incidents that happened when the agitators belonging to the DMK party went around with tar-tins and brushes to paint black the Hindi names in the sign boards in railway stations and post offices. Emotionally whipped up by the DMK leaders such as Anna durai and Karunanidhi, they did so, as a show of their love for Tamil and preservation of Tamil but ended up blackening all letters – including Tamil and English as they could not differentiate between Hindi and English and not even recognize Tamil owing to their illiteracy! This was depicted in that cartoon by RK Lakshman.
This agitation shows the kind of followers that DMK had. The DMK believed in whipping up raw emotions and a vent to express destructive power. It had blind followers who had no brains of their own. If they have had, they would have compared Hindi with English and assessed whether any damage happened to Tamil by the use of English which was in use for more than two centuries of British rule in the Madras Presidency. They would have wondered how Hindi could mean rule of the North over the South while the use of English for over two centuries did not pave way for the permanent rule of the British in India. Ironically it is the leaders of the DMK who wanted the British to continue to rule India even after India got Independence. If they could accept the British, why could they not accept the North Indians?
The only strategy that Karunanidhi and DMK knew then and now also – is to promote a hate-culture. Create a fear in the minds of the people about someone or something and make them hate; that would get them votes to make them enjoy power. For the DMK, Hindi, Sanskrit, Brahmins and North Indians all meant one thing – that is, Aryans! In this way, Jayalalithaa is an Aryan (Arya-Brahmin – Arya paappaatthi – ஆரியப் பாப்பாத்தி) who deserves to be hated and done away with, but an Italian Sonia is not. In their zeal for holding on to a hate culture based on Dravidian identity, they opposed Hindi as a link language.
Politics of Karunanidhi and DMK is such that the day is not far off when political science would have a chapter on his way of politics and a discussion on its demerits because, every ill of the Indian society of today can be traced to the DMK's way of thinking and action in those days. The language chauvinism, doing politics of division on the basis of language, caste and religion, encouraging hooliganism as a means of agitation and corruption are some of the trademarks of DMK which have slowly spread throughout India. However I want to concentrate on a different issue in this article.
While the anti-Hindi agitation was seen as an important milestone in the history of Dravidian politics with the aim of achieving 'Dravida naadu' through separation from the Indian Union, Time had shown what happened to those trends in due course. For a student of Political history, this is an important and interesting event because when seen fifty years after that agitation, there is assurance that only nationalism – not separatism can win or had won. This is a lesson for political thinkers of the current times also because we have separatist elements still moving around us threatening the unity of the Nation.
The judgement of History seen after 50 years of the anti-Hindi agitation had been recorded in the NCERT text book on Political science for class XII as - "Initially seen as a threat to Indian nationalism, regional politics in Tamilnadu is a good example of the compatibility of regionalism and nationalism." The clamour for Dravida naadu was given up. Though learning Hindi was successfully thwarted by the DMK, people have started feeling the pinch of ignoring Hindi. The denial of learning Hindi had caused seclusion for Tamils - the best example being Alagiri, the son of Karunanidhi himself whose travails as minister in Delhi will also be remembered even after 50 years in the history of Tamils in Central ministry!
By demanding removal of this cartoon, the Dravidian cadres are once again doing what the agitator in RK Lakshman's cartoon is seen doing – of blindly following what the leaders were telling and not using their own brains to see the good from bad and right from wrong! Karunanidhi and the Dravidian politicians of Tamilnadu want blind followers whom they want to use to build an empire for themselves. They create an artificial enemy for the people and make the people believe that such an enemy exits and pose themselves as the protector from that enemy. In the process, the gullible followers are not seen to show any sign of thinking and maturity and they start eulogising the corrupt and the wrong ones as great ones. As an example, look at the way A Raja was received by the DMK supporters after he was released on bail.
He was given a welcome of a hero by a crowd that was mostly paid for doing that or having some stakes for being there. While receiving him, the crowd shouted slogans such as 'Tiharai vendra theerane' (brave-heart who conquered Tihar) and 'Tamizhinathin maravane' (soldier of the Tamil race) – as though he had won a war. There was no shame for being tried for a corrupt activity and no regret for being there to praise these persons. Such is the level of value-system, ethics and morality that politicians having allegiance to Dravidian ethos have developed in themselves and in the people around them.
A similar trend was witnessed when Kanimozhi came out on bail. It was as though she was in Tihar for a nationalistic cause and had finally won her case and come out. This sentiment was expressed by the leaders of DMK and was expressed in posters put up by the followers of Karunanidhi.
This poster put up when she was released on bail calls her as the 'sacrifice (tyag) for the Dravidian movement'. Why didn't any follower of Karunanidhi think what sacrifice she did for the movement or the party in her role in 2G scam? Why couldn't the people who conceived this idea of the poster think in those lines? Are they not the same as the mob shown in RK Lakshman's cartoon?
By calling for the removal of the cartoon, the Dravidian leaders think that they are erasing 'wrong' interpretation of their agitation. The reality is that whatever they may think of the agitation and about themselves, History would not record them as they want it to be. This is what is made out in the lesson on anti-Hindi movement recorded in the text book. Karunanidhi might consider that agitation as a feather in the cap of his party. He might think that he has safe guarded Tamil by that agitation. But history will see in the way that the cartoon has depicted – as a mobocracy let loose by the DMK. Karunanidhi may succeed in getting that cartoon removed from the text book now, but he cannot stop future writers of history from recording the futility of an agitation of that kind because none of the aims of that agitation was achieved. Separatism was not achieved and successive generations could not be stopped from learning Hindi or any other language. Even in his own times, Karunanidhi could not stop or did nothing to stop a poster greeting his son Stalin in Hindi on his birthday. It was put up in Chennai recently.