EXCHANGE OF VIEWS:
Can Tamil Nadu be freed from Indian Rule?
TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 1998 (ID. 1998-07-01)
Click here for MAIN INDEX to archived articles (main page)
DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Hindians: People whose mother tongue is Hindi (similar to Tamil speakers are sometimes referred as Tamilans or Tamilians).
(EDITORS NOTE: In his two-part article "Karnataka Massacres"
(TAMIL TRIBUNE, February and March 1998), Thanjai Nalankilli expressed the view
that Tamil Nadu should free itself from Indian rule and become an independent
nation. The editor received an e-mail from Mr. R. Damodaran expressing his view
that it may be impossible to obtain freedom for Tamil Nadu. We sent this e-mail
to the author Thanjai Nalankilli and received a response. We publish here both
Damodaran's e-mail and Nalankilli's response.)
R. Damodaran's e-mail:
First, I should tell you that I am a Tamil. The article "Karnataka
Massacres" and especially its conclusion are very controversial. The author
wants the Tamil population of Tamil Nadu to fight for independence from India!
There are a lot of impediments in the way. How many Tamil people WANT Tamil Nadu
to separate from India?
Let us suppose that the people want to get freedom from India, Tamil Nadu does
NOT have the resources to fight an independence war.
I understand your arguments in favor of getting independence, but is it really
Thanjai Nalankilli's Response:
First, let me thank Mr. Damodaran for agreeing with me in principle the need for
independence (He writes: "I understand your arguments in favor of getting
independence".) Once that bridge is crossed, that is, once the need for
independence is accepted, the next logical step is to explore how independence
may be achieved. Obviously, Mr. Damodaran has thought in those directions and,
in that process, had some doubts as to whether independence is possible at all.
The questions he raises are reasonable and I will do my best to address them in
a logical manner.
Mr. Damodaran has two questions: (1) How many Tamils want independence for Tamil
Nadu? (2) Is it possible to achieve independence? Let me address these questions
one by one.
1. How many Tamils want independence for Tamil Nadu?
How many people want independence for Tamil Nadu from Indian rule? I do not
know. No one knows! Only way to know is to conduct a plebiscite (a vote) in
Tamil Nadu with two choices: (a) I want Tamil Nadu to continue as a state of the
Indian Union. (b) I want Tamil Nadu to be an independent country.
The Indian government would never allow such a plebiscite (a vote) voluntarily
because they suspect that the outcome would be for an independent Tamil Nadu.
Otherwise, they would have conducted such a vote and shut the few "loud
voices of independence" once and for all. Given the choice between
statehood within India and independence from India, and the future benefits to
Tamil Nadu under statehood and independence explained by the pro-statehood and
pro-independence leaders in public meetings, newspaper articles and
radio-television debates, I believe that the people of Tamil Nadu would vote
overwhelmingly for independence. I can never be sure but the only
way to know for sure is through a plebiscite.
I have spoken in scores of meetings in Tamil Nadu about the need for
independence for Tamil Nadu. It was always received enthusiastically not only by
the younger generation but also by men and women in their fifties and sixties.
Is this proof that a majority of the people of Tamil Nadu are for independence?
I am not sure but the only way to ascertain it is through a plebiscite (a vote)
and the Indian government refuses to conduct such a plebiscite.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is undoubtedly a dominant political party in
Tamil Nadu. DMK's original political platform was the establishment of an
independent Tamil Nadu. It ran on this "freedom
platform" (or, as the Indian Government would call it, the
"separatist platform") in the 1962 general election and emerged as the
second largest party winning 50 seats in the Tamil Nadu legislative
assembly. In 1962, Congress was a powerful united party in Tamil Nadu under the
leadership of the very popular and totally un-corrupt Kamaraj. DMK won fifty seats even against this powerful Congress Party on the "freedom
platform". This scared the Indian government.
What if DMK were to win a majority in the next election under the "freedom
platform"? Within a year, the Indian government (under the pretense of
national security against foreign threats) enacted a law prohibiting any party
or person contesting elections on a "separatist platform". That is, no
individual or no party can contest an election in Tamil Nadu (or, any other part
of India) on a "freedom for Tamil Nadu" platform. Thus the Tamil
people now have no way of expressing their view about whether they want Tamil
Nadu to be a state in the Indian Union or want Tamil Nadu to be an independent
country. Let the people of Tamil Nadu decide their future. Who gave that
decision-making power to the Indian government controlled by Hindi speaking
I challenge the Indian government to conduct a poll in Tamil Nadu about
independence for Tamil Nadu. Let both sides, those for independence and those
against independence, go around Tamil Nadu and canvass for their position. Let
there be debates on radio and television. Then let the people vote. If the
majority of the people of Tamil Nadu vote to stay with India, the current status
will continue. If the majority vote for independence, Indians
should pack up and leave as the British did in 1947.
[While at it, I suggest that the Indian government conduct such plebiscites in
Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and every
nationality that seek independence from Indian rule also. Let the people decide
whether they want to be part of India or want independence from India. Let the
people decide instead of sending the Indian army to terrorize them. Let the
people voice their opinion in a secret ballot instead of sending the army to
brutalize the peace loving, freedom loving peoples of these nations.]
Now let us turn to Mr. Damodaran's second question.
2. Is it possible to achieve independence?
Yes, it is possible. None of the Tamil Nationalists, including myself, is under
any illusion that the liberation of Tamil Nadu from Indian rule (Hindian rule,
actually) will be easy or quick. Under certain geo-political situations it could
be easy and quick but the development of such a situation is beyond anyone's
control. Such geo-political situations emerge through unforeseen random events.
Even for Tamil Nadu to get its freedom under such a fortune circumstance, there
must be an "independence movement" ("freedom movement")
alive and in place. Let me give an example.
Minority Slovak people in the former Czechoslovakia
got such a fortunate geo-political situation in the early 1990s when the Berlin
wall came down and Russian troops left Czechoslovakia and the rest of Eastern
Europe. Seizing the opportunity, the Slovak Independence Movement was able to
divide Czechoslovakia into Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. Had there been no
Slovak Independence Movement alive and in place at the time the Russian troops
left Czechoslovakia, Slovak people would still be a minority in Czechoslovakia
without a country of their own.
Look at Armenia. Armenians were an ancient
people; they once had a great kingdom with mighty emperors. Then they were
subjugated by Turks and Russians and were a people without a country for over a
thousand years. But their desire for an Armenian nation never died. Flames of
freedom were kept alive wherever Armenians lived. Then, seizing the occasion of
a failed military coup in the Soviet Union and the ensuing "disorder"
there in the early 1990s, Armenian Independence Movement declared an independent
Armenian Republic and now they are a free people with their own country. Had
there been no desire for independence in Armenian hearts, had there been no
independence movement in Armenia, there would have been no independent Armenia
today; it would have become a province of one of the other nations that emerged
out of the Soviet Union. So an independence movement is necessary and the
thirst for freedom should be kept alive in Tamil Nadu also.
Barring such fortunate geo-political circumstances, as it happened to the Slovak
people and the Armenian people, can Tamil Nadu achieve independence from Indian
(Hindian) rule? Yes, we need not wait for things to happen, we should make
things happen. There is an old saying "The baby that cries gets the
milk". It is for us to raise the independence slogans. It is for us to
fight for independence. A small independence movement already exists in Tamil
Nadu. I was fortunate enough to know some Tamil Nationalist in my younger years
and they instilled in me a thirst for freedom for my country, Tamil Nadu. I know
of Tamil Nationalists in the Indian Air Force and in the Indian Foreign Service.
There are lawyers, movie actors/actresses, students, school teachers and
professors; I would say that there are Tamils in virtually every walk of life
who yearn for a free Tamil Nadu.
Once the Tamil Nadu independence struggle gathers momentum, we may get support
and help from unexpected quarters. How did America
get its freedom from Britain? It all started with a small army of dedicated
volunteers. Who would have thought that it would soon send the mighty British
army go home packing? Once the American independence struggle gained momentum,
help came from an unexpected quarter; from across the ocean, thousands of miles
away, from France. Soon American independence became a reality. Had they never
started that independence struggle, there would never have been the French help
and America would have been a British colony for many more decades at the least.
How did Afghanistan get rid of Soviet occupation? (Soviet Union was at that time
a true superpower and was just next door to Afghanistan.) Once the Afghan
freedom struggle intensified, help came in the form of sophisticated weapons and
training from a far off land, the United States of America because the
liberation of Afghanistan suited its geo-political interests. Had the Afghans
never started their liberation struggle, thinking that they had no chance
fighting the mighty Soviet Union, there would have been no American help and no
So, let us not get into a defeatist mentality. Let our cry for independence be
loud and clear, we may get outside help from sources we may not even think of
Also, people of Tamil Nadu could expect cooperation and collaboration from other
nationalities in the Indian subcontinent itself. Sikhs, Assamese, Tripurans,
Kashmiris, Nagas, Mizos- all have disgruntlement about India with respect to the
siphoning off of their central government taxes to the benefit of Hindi
heartland and imposing Hindian-Aryan culture on them. Cooperation with these
groups and a coordinated action plan would be a mighty force against the Hindian
dominated Indian Government. We, the people of Tamil Nadu, should not wait
expecting their help. We should make our demand for freedom heard loud and
clear, and intensify our struggle for independence now. In due course we
will get cooperation and collaboration from the other nationalities seeking
independence from India too. Once all the disgruntled nationalities cooperate
and put forth a coordinated fight against Indian rule (instead of each waging
their struggle on their own), the Indian Union will not last for long. Let us
light the flames of freedom, now.
We, the people of Tamil Nadu, should let go the "can't do" mentality
and get into the "can do" mentality. Yes, we can free Tamil Nadu from
Indian rule. Where is the Soviet Union now? How long will the Indian union last
if Tamils and other discriminated nationalities form a coordinated force and
fight for our freedom? We cannot speak for others; let us speak for Tamil Nadu;
let us speak for our freedom! Other discriminated nationalities in India may
cooperate with us, may collaborate with us. Outside help may come from
unexpected sources. I am NOT saying that we should sit idle quietly waiting for
other nationalities within India and other countries to come and liberate Tamil
Nadu. No, not at all. We should continue with our independence movement and help
will come in due course. But it is for us to start and continue with the
independence movement. If we do not start the struggle, if we do not carry on
with the struggle, no outsider will come to help us. Road to freedom may neither
be short nor straight. There will be turns and dips and rises. But it is worth
the effort. Freedom is sweet, rewards are great.
I will end this response with an anecdote. Some years ago, circus was in town. I
took the children to the area where circus animals are kept. There were the
circus elephants. One leg of each elephant was tied by a piece of iron chain to
a little wooden peg driven into ground. These were very small pegs; elephants
could easily pull them off and walk away, but these elephants did not. I asked
about it to one of the men tending the animals. He told us about the mental
conditioning of these elephants. When an elephant is captured, it is tied
securely to the trunk of a large tree by iron chain. The elephant will try its
best to get away but will be unable to do so. It will try day after day for
several days in vain. Finally it will give up trying. Once the elephant stops
trying, from then on it is simply tied to a little wooden peg by a piece of iron
chain. The elephant is already mentally conditioned to think that it cannot
escape. It will not try to pull off the peg and walk away.
Many Tamils and other discriminated nationalities in India are also conditioned
to think that we cannot liberate our nations (yes, Tamil Nadu is a nation by any
objective criteria) from Indian rule. Let us shake off that "can't do"
A free independent Tamil Nadu is our birthright!
Let us ask for it!
Let us fight for it!
We will achieve it!!
(Freedom) for Tamil Nadu from Indian Rule? (by Thanjai
Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 1999
and Independence for Tamil Nadu (by Thanjai Nalankilli),
TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 1999
More articles about
Who Rules India? (Part
I) (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, November 2000