From Thalainagaram to Thala
Saturday, 7th February 2015
I did not go to the Capital nor could I follow the happenings fully owing to my Hindi handicap. Still I had kept track of the Delhi polls very studiously by all possible ways. Apart from the professional call, the interest was also propelled by an earnest eagerness to understand how our electoral democracy is evolving.
For one, rapid urbanisation is the most natural fallout of economic growth and the process is only gathering pace in a competitive mileu. Our capital ranks among the top metros of not just the nation but the world itself. The issues that rage here have global as well as pan Indian relevance. The Delhi campaign is an advance template of what is to come as polls successively hit other parts of a growing nation. The intensive and intricate debates about civic, environment, social and safety related problems are very educative and enlightening precedents. They are a welcome shift from the mere political rhetoric of the past.
Delhi set an example as a catalyst for change. For decades, Delhi under Cong rule and as a Nehru family fiefdom (not very different from Mughal dynasty and British raj) achieved great notoriety for power politics. The outward calm of Lutyen’s Delhi was a facade for well entrenched vested interests and their vicious intrigues that however impacted the entire country. And that turned the undoing too: Anna & Co, having rolled and roiled in the dust and grime of ‘other India’, finally and quite rightly stormed Delhi’s hotspots to draw the people’s attention, which was already ripe for the picking. The nation’s ugly underside, soiled by corruption and cronyism, was laid bare at its very core -- the Capital. The Delhi spark set off a widespread fire-alarm and the old order was promptly overhauled.
Delhi has also emerged as a lab for political experiments. Anna has since left, but his successors have made Delhi a wholly different playground. Today’s Cong-less polity is only a side story. Cong, with its sordid baggage, was easy game for both AAP and BJP. But the battle between active politicians and activist politicians has risen to a new level with the latter two locked head on. The BJP directing all its firepower on only AAP is the latter’s biggest victory in Delhi. That even national parties, Mamta and her Leftist bete noires included, are now backing Kejriwal makes Modi the undisputed central figure of national politics. A BJP win will be another feather in his cap. If, however, Kejri runs away with the Delhi broom even as Modi aims for a complete Swach of Bharath, it will be a small setback, forgotten soon. But a big boost for the fresh kid on the block, no doubt.
Delhi experiences has spawned a new thinking across parties and public persons. An ideology driven, traditional party like BJP however has seen the pluses of ideas and has promptly reinvented itself. Modi’s mantra to the ambitious middle classes and the long suffering poor is inclusive growth, not ‘exclusivist communalism’ as his critics would want it. That the BJP could so swiftly lure and launch a rank outsider like Kiran Bedi at once displays the party’s daredevilry .... or desperation, if you wish. And that the self-righteous, dharna-happy and ‘reluctant politico’ Kejri is now game for any compromise just for an encore is another proof. But whatever his claims, credentials and capabilities, his decision is still good. Also, past performance notwithstanding, ruling politicos face perennial pressure. Pompous personalities may still be on parade, but cannot prevail for long before an impatient populace.
Delhi therefore is an encouragement and must be emulated elsewhere too. The expansion of political space beyond the pale of the usual suspects is surely on the cards. With old mental political constructs crumbling the time is indeed gradually getting conducive for those aspiring for service through politics. Loyalty, money, and personal beliefs will still count, but one can clearly discern an aggressive and even professional ‘talent hunt’ by political parties. The only dampener to sincere but sensitive candidates will be the kind of mud they will have to face, much less from opponents as from the stinging media. But who said it will all be easy?
In sharp contrast to the Delhi din is the Srirangam silence, at our own backyard. The by-poll slated for Friday, the 13th of Feb seems ominous for democracy even otherwise. Don’t we know the result already? So, TN will remain blissfully exempt from all the good tidings listed above for Lord Ranga knows how long.
By the way, how is Ajithkumar’s latest one doing?
About ColumnistA chartered accountant and a cost accountant by qualification and a person of friendly disposition but someone who values his and others privacy, T R Jawahar was not cut out for journalism. But how Jawahar has ended up as one of the most prominent journalists in Chennai and the creator of some important big news brands at such a young age is the stuff of destiny and the dint of hard work.
Born to that doyen of journalism and a legend in these parts, T R Ramaswamy, well known by the affectionate acronym TRR, Jawahar no doubted has inherited his analytical and writing skills from that great man. Apart from this, the father and son duo share another important quality that define their entire world-view, which is humanism. A warm empathy for all beings in the world is the core of their beings.
After the passing away of TRR in the late 80s, T R Jawahar took over the helm of the Chennai’s most popular English eveninger, News Today, and seen it grow through both good and bad times. Through the unceasing publication of News Today, Jawahar is continuing the legacy of his father who founded the paper as a social commitment as well as an entrepreneurial venture.
Jawahar further perpetuated the journalistic memory of his father by founding the popular Tamil eveninger Maalai Sudar. The two papers have carved a unique niche for themselves through an adroit mix of news and views, which help the readers to retain their Indian cultural identity.
Apart from this, the biggest and the most path-breaking journalistic venture from Jawahar is Talk Media, that publication stable that has now become the talking point in the city with a slew of neighbourhood weeklies covering the length and breadth of Chennai. His Point Blank column in the Talk Media is hugely popular for its most forthright views conveyed in cheeky and witty manner.
To discuss Jawahar just in journalistic terms would, however, amount to doing a huge disservice to his rounded personality. Endowed with a sunny sense of humour, Jawahar is a connoisseur of movies both in Tamil and English. He is a virtual treasure house of knowledge on Tamil film music and Tamil poetry. He is a history buff and a keen reader of English and Tamil works, which is counter-pointed by his fetish for modern gadgets. A willing traveller, he has brought to bear those varied experiences in his trips in India and abroad on his writings.
Despite his professional achievements and his focussed administration of a company which employs over 500 people, Jawahar remains essentially a family man, a caring husband and a doting father. He derives his strength from his wife and daughter, and his home and office forever remain his temples.