Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why this kolaveri di?

The stand off between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mulaperiyar dam issue is continuing unabated. Both sides are not willing to stand down. Kerala is concerned over the safety of the dam and the risk it poses to thousands of the people inhabiting the area close to the dam and those who could come under the impact of the water in the event of something happening to the dam. On the other side we have Tamil Nadu which gets water for its farmers from this dam and therefore gets its food security taken care of to a great extend by the dam holding the water. It is also interesting that Kerala gets vegetables and other food items from Tamil Nadu!

The issue has been getting headlines on and off with both sides not willing to budge an inch. Tamil Nadu has made sure that it is well represented and that its concerns are taken up in the appropriate tribunals. The allegation that the politicians in Kerala are soft pedalling on this issue could be public emotion more than actual facts.

The release of a movie Dam 999 has also provided lots of fodder for controversy. The images of what could happen if such a dam broke are likely to affect the minds of people to great lengths. A specific documentary on Mullaperiyar has also been doing the rounds.

Youngsters in Kerala are circulating and posting different versions of Armageddon (read Mullaperiyar) and what could happen if a new dam is not constructed. Some of it is fact and some jumping the gun for Indian standards. All religious communities are also joining the protest because this is going violent in its own terms and there is no scope for the sanity of sitting and talking about what this really is.

Classic examples of protests and struggles don’t just involve bringing a lot of people together but brings to the fore the timing of such struggles. Could this not be a way of deflecting interest from real issues and bring all the people together in the name of a dam? The same goes with Tamil Nadu. Water politics can never fail. Could it then be possible to sit at the table and discuss this important issue rather than staging a protest which is funded and motivated by a few?

The other problem lies with the need for a Union (National) government. If we have to decide things based on our local divisions and pay taxes in each and every state and fight each other based on our local identities, what is the need for a national identity? Is it only for the purpose of showing a passport stating that “I am an Indian” while travelling to another country? If we are going to be in constant conflict with one another, why should we call ourselves Indians? The Mullaperiyar standoff is already creating problems on the road. People will be attacked when any sign to identify them will be on show. Vehicles on the road will come under attack based on the registration number and regional identification in terms of language will also be asked for.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have several similarities in language, culture and food. But I will be damned if a dam is going to make us fight on the roads. Why this Kolaveri di is a song sung by Tamil star Dhanush and is a Tanglish version of the conversation between a boy and a girl, the boy heart broken at being left in the cold. The “why did you do this to me, why you dumped me?” could be translated in the dam context as “why did you dam(n) me?” Why this kolaveri di(a)?

13 comments:

Sammie said...

I personally feel this kolaveri will wane only when both Kerala and Tamil Nadu come together for a cause with keeping the interests of the people who are going to get benefited or affected out of it. There are some people who start thinking only when the pressure is on! Leaders like those if they start thinking seriously on this as of now, the problem can be solved. Violence on both the sides owing to this issue is needless. To those people who promote violence at a time like this "do not play the fiddle, when something's gonna let loose! Damm it!!!

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Thanks for commenting. Two points that you have brought out can't be ignored. One, people are important and two, violence in all forms is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Viji Varghese Eapen, facebook, 8-12-2011- It is an irony that the DIVISION is over a dam that is built at the UNION (confluence) of two rivers...Mullayar and Periyar.

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

So true.

Anonymous said...

Basil Joseph, facebook, 9-12-2011- Acha, What's your solution to this issue ?

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

More than a solution I have certain concerns. 1. Can't we go beyond our usual categories of Keralite, Tamilian and bring about a more human approach to things? 2. Is violence towards our neighbours the answer to a problem which is decades old. 3. What about people like us who live outside Kerala? Should we not also side with people here and understand their side of the story? If not, what are we doing here in the first place could be a question which is asked. 4. There is no problem with preserving one's culture, tradition and language. But should we use it to belittle and hurt others?
‎5. Water is a human right and meant for all. Life is also a human right. If the two states have not been able to iron out their differences, there may be a reason for that. That should be probed instead of taking this to the streets. 6. Who should the church support? The church (almost all) has churches in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Won't ruffians start attacking churches and other religious places for taking a stand? 7. The media has what it hoped for in this case. Conflict fits well into the inverted pyramid of how news should be covered. So the situation gets worse.
‎8. How will I preach the Christ who died and rose for me? He sacrificed and what am I doing? 9. We are moving towards a border less world. In this case the people who are closest to the issue should come together and talk. It is primarily their issue because they inhabit the place. 10. One should refrain from making fun of our neighbours. What does it mean when messages go around saying "If Tamilians start taking bath, the water in the dam will be over and no one has to worry?" Is this justified? Are we humans and true Christians?

Anonymous said...

Father I grew up in Mettur where there is a big dam. There was always this fear that the Dam would suddenly burst and drown us all even though we were safe and far away. Fear of Dam is universal. It is doubtful that the Civil Engineers in TN PWD are anti Malayalee. The Engineers in TN are not anti Malayalee.For all we know some of them could even be Malayalees. Kallanai in Tanjore is 1000 years old. Mysore's huge KRS across Cauvery has 200+ Engineers manning it day and night. The new dam is being sought to be built lower down and also the control will pass totally to Kerala's hands. The Idukki Dam is 7 times bigger and poses a greater risk in the event of earthquake. India has thousands of 100 year old dams. Also even the new DAM is still a DAM I will not want to live near it, just as I feared Mettur Dam. I would blame present scenario on Manmohan Singh. He is so weak. Politicians on both sides are rotten they whip up passions.

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Thanks for commenting. I guess the emotions being expressed are unwarranted. The governments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala should be able to discuss this issue and settle it reasonably. It is not a good sign that this is spilling on to the streets and people are taking the law into their hands. Tamilians and Keralites are natural neighbours and we need each other to survive. I suppose we keep forgetting that and therefore also forget the call to "do to your neighbour as you would want your neighbour to do to you." Hope more sane voices will calm the storm. Thanks again.

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