Wednesday, 10 December 2014

MIC & Caste Politics - How Truth is Twisted by Media

Each year, we will see at least one article that talks about MIC and "caste system". Those who write about "caste system" in Malaysia fail to elaborate what this system is all about. How does the system even work?  

What existed in the past is the Varna system which is a Class system. The class system also exist in every country. Human society is divided into ruling class and commoners. 

What exist among the present day Indian castes in Malaysia is kinship ties based on clans. It is not Varna system. Different clans occupied different territories in Tamil Nadu. They have different customs and traditions. 

This year, I came across this particular article by The Rakyat Post. Please click below to read it.

"“Ever since Samy Vellu took helm of MIC, the party then was controlled by the supposedly ‘Thevar’ caste of which Samy Vellu comes from. Throughout the years, he had pitted himself against the late Tan Sri M.G. Pandithan and former deputy president Tan Sri S.S Subramaniam, mainly over personality differences as well as spurred by caste, and he eventually topped.”

Firstly, Thevar is not even a caste. Only in 1995 did the government of Tamil Nadu decided to call it a community. 

Thevar is actually a hereditary surname used by certain families from the Kallar, Maravar and Agamudayar clans. 

The clans are collectively called the Mukkulathor community which means "people of the three clans".  Hereditary surnames are passed down from father to son just like what Tengku is for the Malays or Wong is for the Chinese. 

Samy Vellu may be from the Mukkulathor community but he is not a Thevar. Tun Sambanthan was the first and last Thevar president of MIC.

As a Thevar myself, I can say for a fact that most of us are not even in MIC. The Thevars are more aligned towards Socialist parties. 

In fact, many Thevars were involved in the Malayan trade union movement even during the colonial days. Even back in Tamil Nadu, most Thevars were aligned to Netaji's Forward Bloc, a Socialist party. 

How come the media never talks about this larger group of Thevars? There seem to be a hidden agenda to always link us Thevars with any mess in MIC.

"The source said that while the main agenda was to topple Palanivel over his poor leadership of the party, caste politics was expected to play a certain role in the upcoming party re-elections.
This is because Palanivel is believed to be from the supposedly “Gounder” caste, the same caste as S.S Subramaniam, whom Samy Vellu had pitted against for many years."

It is true that Palanivel is not performing as expected by all Malaysians who voted him. You don't have to be an MIC member to know it. Just take a look at how the people reacted for the recent issue in Cameron Highlands. Even non-Indians would know it.

This has got nothing to do with caste and media should not turn it into a caste issue. 

Secondly, Palanivel is not even a Gounder as mentioned in the article here. Why did The Rakyat Post purposely label him as a Gounder when he is not one? 

Palanivel belongs to the largest Tamil caste known as the Vellalar community. His clan is known as the Kaikkolar. The surname used by them is Mudaliar. They are related to the Mukkulathor community and both communities are in good terms.

I wonder if The Rakyat Post knows all these.

Unlike what the media said, Gounder is not even a caste. Gounder (ka-vun-dar) is a hereditary surname used by landlords and chieftains in the western region of Tamil Nadu known as the Kongu region. 

Two person with the same Gounder surname are not necessarily from the same caste. They can be of different origins. Gounder surname is used by those from the Vellalar, Vokkaligar, Vanniar (Palli) and Vettuvar castes who lived in Kongu.

The “Gounder” caste is known as the “trader” caste under the same system.

There were many feudal lords and warriors in the Kongu region who used the Gounder surname. It does not necessarily have to be a trader caste. Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder was not a trader. He was a chieftain and a freedom fighter who fought the British. Many Gounders also practice the traditional martial art of Silambam.

The media often try to make it look like Thevars and Gounders are enemies in Malaysia. We are not enemies. They use the issues in MIC as an excuse for this false portrayal. Someone probably gains something if Thevars and Gounders fight each other.

Get the facts right. Stop spinning stories in media for the sake of making it a sensational news. Stop making it look like Thevar vs Gounder. 

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