In the 1970’s ,Mr.C.N .Annadurai ,popularly known as’Arignar Anna'(Erudite Anna )the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, remarked in his unique oratorical style Tamil “Vadaku valarkirathu,therkku theikirathu”வடக்கு வளர்கிறது !தெற்கு தேய்கிறது !. Roughly translated into English,it means “North is growing tall and the South is declining low”.He was not expressing his personal view but echoing the sentiments of Tamil people ,that they were not given due share in the national scene.He was also referring to the lower economic growth/income in Tamil Nadu vis-à-vis North India.Forty five years later,in 2015,the same feeling of being ignored still remains in the hearts of the South Indians.They do feel that they do not get the attention they deserve in the national main stream,its economics and the spectacular growth story of India.
The opening up of India in 1991 to globalization ,did lead to explosive growth in industries,service and export fronts.Now India boasts of a foreign exchange reserves of US$ 352 billion (Nov 2015) and a GDP of US$ 2066 billion in 2014 .Forbes list of Billionaires of the world boasts of record 90 Indians! The total passenger cars on roads in India has risen to the level of 50 million as on December 2014.The per capita income of India has jumped to PPP$ 5350.Growth all around !
One of the respondents to this question had pointed out to the phenomenal growth of Chennai as an automobile hub of India and Bangalore as a globally recognised IT out-sourcing centre. True. In fact Chennai is called as the Detroit of India and has emerged as a major global player in the field.Bangalore is the most talked about start-up centre in India.But the point that is raised in the question is not about geographic growth.In fact India’s growth story is not complete without including the southern cities of Bangalore ,Chennai and Hyderabad in it.Their combined economic output is significant in many areas especially IT exports.
But the question that lingers in the mind of South Indians is whether they have benefited from this growth as much as the North Indians.Are they getting their due share ?
The answer to the above question is unfortunately a big “No”.Though I am not armed with the supporting statistics which is not readily available,certain visible indicators do point out to the measly share of South Indians in the national growth story.Out of the top 10 wealthiest Indians lone 1 is from South India Mr.Shiv Nadar .Rest 90% are from North India.Forbes list of top 100 Billionaires has just 11 South Indians only.Out of the CEO’s of top Private Sector /Public Sector/Banking companies / MNCs of India ,only a handful are from South India.All South based companies including Sun TV have CEO s belonging to other areas.’The Hindu’has a north Indian as Chief for national news.
Let us take national media .In the national media like NDTV,India today etc. not a single South Indian name is ever even heard of. BBC seems to give better representation to South India with a few South Indians appearing on their shows often.Even in programs relating to South India in our national media,South Indians are not seen anchoring or participating .
In the recent Chennai flood coverage there were reporters from North India who didn’t know Tamil and looking for Hindi speakers to discuss the problem in Hindi in Chennai and then reporting from here.The entire national media does not reflect the rich diversity of India and is filled by only North Indians and a few Bengalis. Their presence is to such an extent that even Tamil TV advertisement dialogues are spoken by North Indians, speaking in irritating Tamil.The very style they use and the visuals used, itself proves that they don’t know Tamil or its culture at all.Similar is the feeling with Kannada,Telugu,Malayalam and Odisha speakers.
As North Indians do not want Bond Daniel Kraig to appear in Hindi advertisements and speak in funny Hindi,Malayalees do not want Amitabh to appear in Malayalam advertisements and speak Malayalam like Hindi. Mohan Lal would definitely do the job better !It is not just about cultural hegemony alone.The point to be noted is that whatever area that generates income is promptly appropriated by others denying South Indians ,their due share.In Tamil media ,it is becoming difficult to spot a local at all.
When it comes to reporting,any small news in North India is blown out of proportion as ‘Headlines’and shown in all the national TV round the clock.However even the most happening events in down South are not highlighted at all by the national media at all .Government Of India does not seem to have South Indian representation in their visual media activities.Even their Awareness Programmes like Clean India Campaign carries repulsive Hindi titles and North Indians speaking strange Malayalam or Kannada,telling something which native speakers never understand.
I am of the view that considering the national unity and balanced growth ,it is imperative that due share be given to the South Indians, by affirmative action, in all the areas of the Indian growth story.The national media should take note of this South Indian sentiments and recruit talent from South India in their back-office as well as visible crew. South Indians can launch national media doing justice to Southern news.All units located in South should have priority in employment of locals over others ,for proper social harmony.
What is the point in having a foreign manufacturing unit located in India,unless Indians are employed there ?Similarly what is the point of having a unit in Chennai unless local Tamils are employed there ? Recently Integral Coach Factory of the Indian Railways in Chennai is reported to have recruited 4000 North Indians alone ignoring the share of South Indians.This does not augur well for the national harmony.Priority in recruitment of locals surely would instill a feeling of inclusiveness among the South Indians.Hope Government takes note of this sentiments in the national interests.