The Detroit mayoral election is over. And it was probably one of the most unexpected election wins you had ever witnessed. Kwame just whizzed past Freedman when every pollster thought that the latter was going to win by at least 10 points. I personally do not think that there was any foul play even though that was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the results the following day in my Chicago hotel room because as of 2 AM, Kwame was trailing by more than 6-7%. As the Detroiters have proved, Known evil is better than an unknown one. I bet this is good news for the Super Bowl organizers as they can expect to have some wild parties thrown around the city for the next few weeks aiming to boost city’s economy all within the boundaries of law and mayoral code of conduct – of course it may pinch the tax payers’ pockets a little bit and may even frustrate them!
A frustrating news event in the past week was the Suhasini episode. I do not have an answer to people who ask me where Tamil Nadu is heading to. Is it over indulgence of the self proclaimed culture police? Or is it just another case of the hundreds of caste/region based political outfits and their leaders trying to take political advantage of anything and everything that can put them in front pages? May be it is both. Probably the latter inducing the former. Whatever it is, the state that is the richest in the country in terms of arts and culture is going towards a path of self destruction, all because of misunderstood and misinterpreted self-pride.
When Dravida Kazhagam led the Hindi agitation movement in the 1960s, even though it felt like they were trying to isolate themselves from the rest of the country, there was a rationale behind the movement and the cause was justified. The whole Dravidian social reform movement was a major chapter in the history of Tamil Nadu politics and anyone who grew up in Tamil Nadu at that time (or in the next decade like me), have a deep hang-over of what it meant to the people of the state at that time. What we witness today in the form of Thirumavalavan, PMK, etc. are rotten leftovers from that period who neither were there to have mustered any courage to rest their heads on rail tracks not knowing if the moving train would actually stop a few feet away or not, nor are here, to have to muster more courage & exhibit intelligence in understanding and working for real issues facing the people, like water, food and housing. They think they have to shoulder the palanquin of Tamil culture to future but what they don’t want to admit is that the palanquin will not fit into the tunnel that leads to the future and it needs some mending. They are marching because there are some thousands who are ready to listen to them and follow them no matter what their case in point is, notwithstanding the fact that they are being led to a dark age. If there is anyone who cries foul at these so called leaders and tells them that they are doped & two centuries behind, they are ready to yell back, file lawsuits and even drive donkeys to their front yard to burn their effigies. Bottom line, they just want to win some votes and this cheap gimmick is working well in their short term aspirations but hurting the state in her long term aspiration of growing.
I am not upset at all because it was Suhasini, someone who I respect not just for her acting skills but also because of her stature in the field as an outspoken, intelligent and a smart woman. Just look at the amount of law suits that are being filed against Kushboo, Suhasini and everyone in the tamil movie field in general. Don’t we have any other pressing issue to worry about other than taking a “well voiced personal opinion” on an issue that is threatening the human race (AIDS) entirely out of context and quoting it in an entirely different context, trying to draw meaning out of it and using the media to blow it out of proportion so that the person who originally voiced the opinion comes across as someone who has worked against Tamil culture and Tamil women all her life? And the chief minister of the state who herself is an educated woman, could not even come out in open and pat the above person on her back because if she did so, she has to worry about her next re-election bid. Instead she throws more brickbats at the person and abets the growing lawsuits that are being filed in every district court and session’s court you can think of. If a well-learned woman chief minister cannot address an issue that is so woman centric and that is a critical one for the state that ranks in the top 5 AIDS list in the country, who else can?
This was the best opportunity for Jayalalitha to have shown her assurance on the Women’s Rights issues & Independence and her support for the exploited women. But she chooses to ignore the activists because they do not count as much in terms of votes compared to the “exploited women” who can still be exploited to come and vote for her plus those who exploit them, the all egoistic male voters. I just hope the legal system in the state does not get carried away and takes a balanced view at these before putting all the loud mouthed politicians and lawyers in their respective places. I know that would be too late – too much would have happened to spoil the state’s reputation by then. But even if Suhasini manages to throw a legal slap in the face of Sarath Kumar, who has his own political agenda and seems to have suddenly jumped from the skies to rescue Tamilians & their culture just in time for the elections, I would be happy. That would mean that we still have a glimmer of hope and the state will do well, after all.