Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy or EV Ramasamy (17 September 1879 – 24 December 1973), who is known as ‘Periyar’, and commonly referred to as ‘Thanthai Periyar’, was a social activist and a politician of India by whom the Self-Respect Movement and Dravidar Kazhagam started.
EV Ramasamy is known as the ‘Father of the Dravidian Movement’. His well-known and notable work against Brahminical dominance, gender and caste inequality in Tamil Nadu still has a significant impact in the politics of the state. Some analysts claim that he used the social evils which were then prevalent/perceived, as a capital for his propaganda. They also label him neither a rationalist nor a humanist as many controversies are surrounding him despite his well-crafted personality.
EV Ramasamy’s Political Career
It was in the year 1919 that EV Ramasamy joined the Indian National Congress (INC), but resigned in the year 1925 when he felt that the party was only catering to the interests of Brahmins. He raised the burning question of the growing subjugation of non-Brahmin Dravidians as Brahmins continued to enjoy donations and gifts from non-Brahmins but discriminated and opposed against non-Brahmins in matters of culture and religion.
Maria Misra, a professor of Global History at Keble College compares him to philosophers, “His contemptuous attitude to the baleful influence of Hinduism in Indian public life is strikingly akin to the anti-Catholic diatribes of the enlightenment philosophers.”
Periyar’s take on religion was unique and indiscriminatory according to many of his followers and historians around the world. He was seen and is till date regarded as a ‘messiah’ in South India.
In 1924, EV Ramasamy participated in non-violent agitation (satyagraha) in Vaikom, Travancore. From 1929 to 1932 EV Ramasamy made a tour of British Malaya, Europe, and the Soviet Union which acted as an influence to him.
EV Ramasamy upheld the principles of rationalism, self-respect, women’s rights and elimination of caste. He opposed the exploitation and marginalization of the non-Brahmin Dravidian communities of South India and the imposition of what he considered Indo-Aryan India.
According to MD Gopalakrishnan, “Periyar and his movement achieved a better status for women in Tamil society. Periyar held that, in matters of education and employment, there should be no difference between men and women.” Gopalakrishnan states that “Periyar’s influence in the State departments and even the Center made it possible for women to join police departments and the army. Periyar also spoke out against child marriage.”
In 1937, when Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari became the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency, he presented Hindi as a mandatory language to study in schools, along these lines lighting a progression of anti-Hindi agitations.
Tamil patriots, the Justice Party under Sir AT Panneerselvam, and EV Ramasamy coordinated anti-Hindi protests in 1938 which finished with various captures by the Rajaji government. He contemplated that the compulsion of Hindi would make Tamils subordinate to the Hindi-speaking North Indians.
EV Ramasamy asserted that Hindi would end the advancement of Tamilians, however would likewise totally crush their way of life and invalidate the reformist thoughts that had been effectively instilled through Tamil over many years.
As the Justice Party weakened in the absence of mass support, EV Ramasamy took over the leadership of the party after being imprisoned for opposing Hindi in 1939. Under his charge the party advanced, but the party’s conservative members, most of whom were affluent and educated, withdrew from active participation.
Cutting across party lines, South Indian politicians rallied together in their opposition to Hindi, with recurrent anti-Hindi agitations in 1948, 1952 and 1965.
Formation of Justice Party:
South Indian Libertarian Federation (regularly called as Justice Party) was established in 1916, mainly to contradict the financial and political intensity of the Brahmin groups. The party’s objective was to deliver social equity to the non-Brahmin groups.
To pick up the help of the majority, non-Brahmin legislators started proliferating a philosophy of fairness among non-Brahmin ranks. Brahmanical ministry and Sanskritic social class-value hierarchy were accused for the presence of imbalances among non-Brahmin caste groups.
At a rally in 1944, EVR, in his ability as the head of the Justice Party, pronounced that the party would consequently be known as the Dravidar Kazhagam, or “Dravidian Association”. However, few people who couldn’t help contradicting Periyar, marking the beginning of a splinter group, professing to be the first Justice Party. This party was driven by veteran Justice Party pioneer PT Rajan and survived until 1957.
His statements and approach in politics surrounded him with many controversies. Periyar has been alleged for being selective towards his anti-Brahmanism to such extent he led on to become an anti-Hindu. Here’s a list of controversies that are talked about EV Ramasamy.
Controversies About Periyar:
- Ramasamy looked up to Nazi-style anti-Brahminism
Many believe that Ramasamy had never advised racial hatred against Brahmins. However, he was explicit in his plan. In the magazine he edited, published articles it was clear that he praised the ascendancy of Adolf Hitler and he vehemently warned Brahmins in Tamil Nadu that they should learn from the situation of Jews in Nazi Germany and adopt for course correction.
Even after the defeat of the Nazi regime in Germany, the approach of Ramasamy, mainly when he addressed his cadre, was the same.
“Parpanan (a traditional term in Tamizh honouring the twice-born, which was later changed into a derogatory term by Dravidianists) should be driven away from this land,” Ramasamy wrote on 29 January 1954. Adding further, he said, “However much a rationalist or atheist, if a person is a Brahmin, he should not be allowed in our organizations.”
- EVR’s lesser involvement in women rights and liberation movement
While EVR is hailed as a liberator of women, there is scarcely any proof of him partaking in the most vital women’s right movements of his time – the struggle for Sarda Act. Welcomed by Hindutvaite Har Bilas Sarda, the Act was upheld by both BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. It at last abolished child marriage a colossal leap in the struggle for women’s rights.
Numerous women from Tamil Nadu excessively struggled for this Act to happen as intended; however, EV Ramasamy had no association with the struggle.
Indeed, even his hagiographers allegedly acknowledge that he was a feudal playboy (called ‘minor’) who used to visit local brothels. In fact, a hagiographer addresses the following incident as a great rationalist strategy:
“When the first wife of EVR Nagammai wanted to go to temple, EVR could not win over her by his arguments. So he secretly went to some of his ‘minor’ friends and showed them his first wife and told them that she was a new Dasi in the town asking them to make her consent to their desires. Consequently, they started teasing and stalking her from the temple. Traumatized by this, his wife stopped attending the temple. Later she came to know that this was a trick played by her rationalist husband.”
- Against Scheduled Communities (SC):
EV Ramasamy would blatantly differentiate between SC non-Brahmins and non-SC non-Brahmins. He also made it evident that he identified himself with the welfare of non-SC non-Brahmins.
In 1950 he stated that: “Today in the society there are three major divisions: Brahmins, Shudras and Panchamas. In this, the Brahmins because they are upper castes, are getting the concessions they need. The Panchamas because they are low castes are getting the concessions they need. It is the Shudras who are in the middle, who are suffering from lack of concessions.”
- Periyar tried to create Dravidstan by the help of Britishers and Jinnah:
It is known that EVRamasamy and his movement were pro-British, and they also supported the Muslim League in its pro-Pakistan mindset. In an interview for a Tamil magazine, Ananda Vikatan, in 1965, EVR expressed how he had wished that, given the pro-British stance of their movement, the British would hand over the authority to the Justice Party.
He stated, “I went and told the British that it was not British honesty to hand over the power to them while we are the ones who have always supported you. The British smiled and said that they now knew only Hindu-Muslim difference and not Brahmin non-Brahmin difference. Then I went and saw Jinnah and asked for his help. He said that your bed (plan) looks good, but it lacks the legs to stand on. And he told me that only I had to look after my problem.”
‘The economist’ EV Ramasamy had said that prices of clothes increased because SC women had started wearing jackets.
SC leaders in Tamil Nadu have for long challenged EVR of saying, contemptuously, in a meeting that the cloth prices had rose because the ‘Pariah’ caste women started wearing jackets. In 1963, many Ambedkarite magazines in Tamil Nadu had reported this speech.
Anbu Ponnoviam, a venerated historian who had meticulously documented the lives of SC leaders and spiritual personalities, wrote: that as a keen observer of EVR from 1939, he was one of those who was shocked when he heard EVR offering Pariah women wearing jackets and Pariah men becoming literate as reasons for the rise in cloth prices and unemployment (Nasthikam, 2 March 1963).
Sometimes the idols of many could be engulfed with flaws that go unnoticed. The controversies around EV Ramasamy went totally in other direction as he had made claims and showed the faux image of him being a social activist which sets a false sense of expectations. Whereas deep down the lane when dug in it is seen that all the political involvement, labels attached to him were just for show and for popularity amongst the masses.
All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021
On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.
Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)
With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.
Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.
The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.
लोकसभा में आज, राष्ट्रीय खाद्य प्रौद्योगिकी, उद्यमिता और प्रबंध संस्थान विधेयक, 2021 (निफ्टेम विधेयक, 2021) को पारित किया गया।
इस विधेयक के पारित होने पर इससे जुड़े हर व्यक्ति को बधाई देता हूँ और साथ ही खाद्य प्रसंस्करण से जुड़े छात्रों को भी बधाई देता हूँ। @MOFPI_GOI
— Pashupati Kumar Paras (@PashupatiParas) July 26, 2021
Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained
Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.
The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.
Pegasus Spyware and India
According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.
This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.
Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.
According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.
The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’
This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.
Pegasus Spyware and World.
In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.
At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden. After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.
If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.
Modi Cabinet 2.0: Young and Dynamic Leadership or Otherwise
On the 7th of July, the union government announced the biggest cabinet expansion in the 7 years of NDA rule. The recent expansion increased the size of the Council of Ministers from 53 to 77. About 43 new ministers were sworn in, 15 of which were Cabinet Ministers and 28 Ministers of State (MoS). This is the first cabinet overhaul in the second term of NDA governance.
Experts however claim that the new cabinet expansion is a pre-emptive measure to balance electoral formulae in different states ahead of the 2022 State Assembly elections. It is also conjectured that the reshuffle comes as rectification of prolonged criticism about BJP’s governance in the past 2 years, including the Healthcare management during the Pandemic.
The Performance Paradox
This recent cabinet expansion is a report card of the BJP government’s performance in the last 2 years. Major ministerial changes, such as the resignation and replacement of Dr. Harshvardhan as the Health Minister indicate a confession of their mismanagement of the pandemic.
He has been replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya, a 2 time Rajya Sabha MP who has also been awarded by the UN for initiatives in Women’s healthcare in the past. His appointment as the Health Minister is one of hope for BJP, to change and streamline (a.) the COVID-19 Pandemic response and (b.) BJP’s image in the name of healthcare management.
On the contrary, Anurag Thakur’s promotion from MoS Finance to a Cabinet Minister defies all logical explanations for awarding performance. Not only has India’s economic condition worsened under his management, his controversial statements like “Desh ke Gadaaro ko…” do not present a strong case for him. His appointment is a political investment by BJP in Himachal Pradesh’s state elections next year which happens to be Thakur’s home state.
Similarly, Sitharaman’s finance ministry has remained untouched, after historical mismanagement of our Finance capabilities. All of this reflects a selective approach adopted by BJP, which is one of political hesitation and hyperopic ignorance.
BJP’s Political Calculator
Apart from the ‘punishment’ narrative, the new cabinet expansion has also given an insight into BJP’s political planning. This expansion has incorporated key leaders from several states that go to elections next year. Moreover, it has also been carefully planned to cover the losses BJP has incurred in the past two years.
As a reward for dismantling the elected Madhya Pradesh government and tipping scales in BJP’s favor, Jyotiraditya Scindia was appointed as the Cabinet Minister for Civil Aviation (a post held by his father as well in ’91) almost after 3 years.
On the contrary, Pashupati Kumar Paras got an early reward for breaking down Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) representation in Lok Sabha. He was appointed as the Union Minister for Food Processing, after the attempted coup on Chirag Paswan’s leadership.
Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sharma as the Chief Minister of Assam after the fresh elections, was also awarded a berth in the Cabinet. It is conjectured that this development was in talks ever since Himanta Biswa Sharma was chosen as the CM.
As the Uttar Pradesh elections near, BJP also made sure to improve representation from the state. Major appointments such as Niranjan Jyoti (MoS Food Processing), Anupriya Patel (Mos Commerce and Industry), and Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma (MoS MSME) were made majorly because of their heavy support base in UP.
Following the same lead, Ajay Bhatt from Uttarakhand was appointed as MoS Defence and Tourism. As seen earlier, BJP has made major organizational changes in Uttarakhand which goes to elections next year.
In the mirage of calculated placements and image reconstruction, BJP has hit a few rights with this organizational change. The new cabinet includes a maximum number of women to have ever served in a Union Cabinet, a first in a nation with largely patriarchal tendencies.
The cabinet has also tried to focus on bringing people with commendable background experience and education on board. Ashwini Vaishnav, former IAS and an alumnus of Wharton School have been given major ministries such as Railways, Communications, and IT. Similarly, Anupriya Patel who has been given the Commerce and Industry as an MoS has also served as an educator at Amity University.
Moreover, the diffused reliance on regional strength has become the overarching theme in this cabinet reshuffle. Even though the ruling party intends to balance the voter dynamics, this regional unity has become something to watch out for.
Yet, the big story remains the ouster of major politicians who have served loyally and faithfully to this government. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Jaavedkar, and Dr. Harshvardhan are major losers in this dynamic reshuffle. While the current government has tried to modernize the leaders of this nation, it has set a new precedent that loyalty is not the most critical virtue anymore; Election Commission’s schedule is.
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