Status of Tamils Living in India after Tamilnadu Independence
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 2006 (ID. 2006-08-02)
1. Examples of the Former States of the Soviet Union
What happens to the tens of thousands of Tamils in other Indian states after Tamil Nadu becomes an independent country? Will they not be thrown out of those states and become refugees?
Just because tens of thousands of Tamils live in other states of India, it does not mean that Tamil Nadu should forever be under the subjugation of Hindian-dominated Indian government (Hindians - People whose mother tongue is Hindi). Ukraine, Armenia, Slovakia, Montenegro and other newly emerged countries would never have become independent had their people thought like that.
1. Examples of the Former States of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union broke up into over a dozen states in 1991. The countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan were born (15 countries were born). Let us look at just one example from these new countries. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians lived in the other states of Soviet Union including Russia. People of Ukraine did not say, "We do not want independence because thousands and thousands of fellow Ukrainians are living outside of Ukraine". Instead they declared independence at the very first opportunity. What happened to the Ukrainians who lived outside Ukraine? Some of them came back voluntarily to live in the independent Ukraine. But many chose to live where they have been living for decades or even centuries. There was no violence against these people; there were no forced evictions of these people. The above scenario was true of all the new countries that came out of Soviet Union.
2. Czech Republic and Slovak Republic
In 1992, people of Slovakia voted to split from the former Czechoslovakia and form the Slovak Republic. The Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (Slovakia) were born in 1993. Although thousand of Czechs live in Slovakia and Slovakians in Czech, there was no violence or forced evictions.
3. Pakistan and Bangladesh
The erstwhile East Pakistan gained independence and became Bangladesh in 1971. Prior to the liberation of Bangladesh by Indian army, Pakistani army unleashed large-scale violence against the Bengalis living in their homeland East Pakistan. Thousands of Bengalis were living in West Pakistan at the very same time and there was no violence against them. So there is no need for us to presume that Tamils living outside of Tamil Nadu would be harmed if Tamil Nadu sought independence.
4. India-Pakistan Partition
Opponents of Tamilnadu independence may point to the large-scale violence and millions of refugees during the partition of the Indian Subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947. The situation and scenario there were entirely different and has no semblance to the Tamil Nadu situation.
There was no established or traditional boundary between India and Pakistan. After its hasty decision to partition its Indian empire into India and Pakistan, British government set out to demarcate a boundary in an urgent basis on the basis of Hindu-Muslim demography in the border areas. Since there was no established boundary, Muslims chased out the Hindus in border villages where they were strong in order to influence where the new boundary would be drawn. Hindus chased out the Muslims in border villages where they were strong for the same reason. This resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and a monumental refugee crisis.
Situation in Tamil Nadu is different. We have an established boundary with neighboring states. This boundary was carefully drawn in the mid 1950s on the basis of population data in the border areas. Although there was some discontent at that time in a few pockets, the boundary is well established with no problem during the past half a century. Tamil speakers living near the border on the other side of the boundary could be counted in the thousands, not in the millions, as was the case between India and Pakistan at the time of partition. Most of the Tamils living in the other states are living farther away from the border in cities. It should be remembered that even during large-scale violence between Hindus and Muslims in the border areas during partition, Muslims living farther away from the border in the south were not subject to attack or forced evictions.
5. Will there be Violence against Tamils Living outside of Tamil Nadu?
We have cited the examples of 18 countries that seceded from a larger unit over the last half a century (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Czech, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan). There was no violence or forced evictions of people living outside of their homelands in any of these cases. Even during the liberation of Bangladesh, there was no violence against Bengalis living in West Pakistan even as the Pakistani army was unleashing violence on Bengalis living in Bangladesh. We had also explained that the scenario during India-Pakistan partition was entirely different from Tamil Nadu. Thus we can conclude that Tamils living in other states of India will not be harmed or forcibly evicted, with the possible exemption of Karnataka state. We discuss the situation of Karnataka Tamils in Section 6.
6. The Case of Karnataka Tamils
I do have concern about Tamils living in Karnataka. A few groups and politicians in Karnataka have a dislike for Tamils living there and incite and participate in violence against Tamils whenever they have an opportunity. (Vast majority of Kannadigas do not fall in this category.) This has nothing to do with Tamil Nadu independence. There were times in the past some Kannadiga organizations demonstrated against Tamil movies shown in Karnataka that lead to destruction of some Tamil businesses and some pockets of violence against Tamils. In 2006, a very popular Kannada movie star, Mr. Rajkumar, died of natural causes at a ripe age. Some hooligans burned a few cars and damaged street signs. Some anti-Tamil groups took the opportunity to target Tamil-owned businesses for looting and arson. Major violence against Tamils erupted in 1991 after the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal instructed Karnataka to release 205 TMC feet of water to Tamilnadu. Indian Government refused to send the army to restore law and order in spite of repeated pleas from Tamilnadu chief minister. Violence continued for days. It was estimated that about 50 Tamils were murdered and more beaten, stabbed, tortured or raped. This has nothing to do with Tamil Nadu independence. As a state in India, if we press hard for Cauvery water again, there could be similar violence again. The Tamil Association in Bangalore wanted to install Poet Thiruvalluvar statue in Bangalore and in fact have the statue ready. Karnataka government would not allow the installation because this could provoke violence against Tamils there. So Karnataka is a unique case with some built-in hatred for anything Tamil among a small, small segment of Kannadigas. Tamil Nadu cannot forever be under the subjugation of Hindian-dominated Indian government because of this, because these anti-Tamil groups unleash violence against Karnataka Tamils even when Tamil Nadu is a state in India.
Since we are a state in India, whenever there is violence against Tamils in Karnataka, all that Tamil Nadu state government could do is plead with the Indian government to stop the violence. Past events clearly show that Indian government would not help. If Tamilnadu were an independent country, we could raise the issue in international forums. We are under no illusion that United Nations or other countries would send military to help. But they would raise their concern and put pressure on India. India wants the "respect" of the international community and so might give some protection to Karnataka Tamils. So independence for Tamil Nadu does not put Karnataka Tamils under additional harm. If anything, independence may help them a little.
7. Future of Tamils Living outside of Tamil Nadu
We concluded in the previous sections that there would not be violence or forced eviction of Tamils living in other states. Some Tamils, especially those who went for work and had always intended to come back to Tamilnadu, would voluntarily return to Tamil Nadu. Others, especially those who have settled there and were not planning to return, might stay wherever they were living. Will they forget Tamil language and Tamil culture? The situation may not be much different from what it is today. Today Tamils in other states have organized various Tamil literary and cultural societies. This would continue although as decades pass by attendance may dwindle. Today Tamils in many areas run their own private Tamil schools to teach their children Tamil. This also would continue although number of children attending these schools may decline over the decades. A few centuries from now they may be similar to the Tamils living in Mauritius, Fiji or South Africa. Although they would assimilate with the larger society (that is true whether Tamil Nadu is independent or not), they would still keep some type of a Tamil identity. Because of the reach of satellite television, Tamils would have access to a broad range of Tamil programmes and movies and many would enjoy it. The geographical proximity of Tamil Nadu would also make it easier for them have better ties with Tamil culture than the Tamils of South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, etc.
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