Friday, 31 May 2013

Empowering The Tamil Dalits

Dalits are the most marginalized community in India

The total population of India is 1,210,569,573. According to the Indian census of 2011, 16.6% of Indians are Dalits. The total number of Dalits in India is 200,954,549.

7.2% of the Dalits in India live in Tamil Nadu. Their population in Tamil Nadu is 14,468,727. Total population of Tamil Nadu is 72,138,958. That means only 20% of Tamil Nadu people are Dalits. This includes Dalits of non-Tamil origin who live in that state.

Dalits cannot be empowered by simply demanding the other castes to drop their surnames or identity. Because these non-Dalit communities form 80% of Tamil population.

Why would the 80% give up on their identities when they have already established themselves? Logically speaking, they will not do it.

Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Instead of asking the 80% of the population to discard their identities, it is probably better for the Dalits of Tamil Nadu to merge as a single community with their own unique surnames.

They need to setup cooperative units and business chambers to empower the community.

This is what the Nadars did. They were known as Shanar in the past. They re-branded themselves as Nadars in the early 20th century.

They then created business cooperative units and formed the Nadar Bank in 1921. It is today known as the Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited. The Nadars who were mostly toddy tappers in ancient times have become a respected business community today.

If the Tamil Dalits do this, they too can become a force to be reckoned with. This is my personal opinion on how the Tamil Dalits can be empowered.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Boomerang of Tamilakam

An Australian Aborigine and his boomerang
Boomerangs from Australia
We usually think of Australia and their aboriginal people whenever the word Boomerang is mentioned. Not many are aware that the Tamil people used boomerangs too. The Tamil boomerang is known as Valari or Valai Tadi.
Dr. A.V Jayachandran holding a Valari. This weapon was excavated near the ancient port of Thondi. It was under the rule of the ancient Pandyas. Source: Dr. S.Jayabarathi (student of Dr. A.V Jayachandran)
Tamil boomerangs were used for hunting. Most of it were not meant to return. These boomerangs were also used in warfare to decapitate the enemies.

I was introduced to Tamil boomerangs by Dr.S.Jayabarathi (DrJaybee). It was his writings which inspired me to learn more about our origins. Furthermore, both our ancestors came from Sivagangai, a district known for its martial culture during ancient times.

My ancestors used the boomerang not just to hunt deers but also to kill their enemies during war. It was a common weapon. In those days, our ancestors would even use these boomerangs as a ceremonial weapon during weddings.

The famous rulers of Sivagangai, Periya Marudu Servai and Chinna Marudu Servai, and the Thondaiman kings of Pudukottai were experts in the art of throwing the boomerang.

I will conclude this post with some important notes from two books. Enjoy!

.....and the Tamulian Kallar and Marawar (of Madura) who use it in deer-hunting, term it 'Valai Tadi' (bent stick). The Pudukota Rajah always kept a stock in arsenal.

Sir Richard F Burton
page 38-39, The Book Of The Sword (published in 1884)

Page 555-559 taken from Ethnographic Notes in Southen India (1906) by Edgar Thurston.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Kongu Vellalar

Dheeran Chinnamalai Kavundar. A chieftain and freedom fighter from Kongu Nadu.

I have given a list of clans that fall under the Vellalar community banner. There are 150 of them. You can view the full list here.

Among the Vellalars, the Vellalars of Kongu Nadu are probably the most numerous. Kongu Nadu is a region in western Tamil Nadu. It used to be part of the ancient Chera Kingdom.
This region is made of Palani, Dharapuram, Karur, Nammakkal, Thiruchengodu, Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri, Satyamangalam, Nilgiris, Avinashi, Coimbatore, Pollachi and Udumalpet.

Sri Lanka's cricket bowler, Muralitharan.

The Vellalars of Kongu Nadu are also known as Kavundar as this is the most common title used by them. It is believed that they were from Thanjavur, the capital of Chola Kingdom, and migrated into the Kongu region. Over there, they fought wars with the Vettuvar tribe and emerged as the victor.

Actor Sivakumar (born Palanisamy Kavundar) and sons, actors Surya and Karthi.

The Kongu Vellalar community is known as a hardworking community. They also have a strong presence in business and agricultural industry.

Kongu Vellalars are divided into various family branches known to them as kootam. People of the same kootam are treated as parallel cousins, therefore, they do not marry someone from the same kootam. Each kootam has its own history. 

The family branches of Kongu Vellalars.
The Tamil spoken by these people is known as Kongu Tamil or Coimbatore Baashai. The accent is quite heavy with a strong pronunciation of  ''R'' in the words. For example en magan (my son) is pronounced as endre magan.

Besides the accent, the wedding of Kongu Vellalars is also quite unique. They are the only Tamil community which sings the Mangala Vaalthu during wedding.

Like the Chettiars of Karaikudi (part of Chetty Nadu in Sivagangai) who have their own Chetty Nadu Cuisine, the Kongu Vellalars along with other clans of Kongu origin are also known for their Kongu Nadu Cuisine. More information can be obtained from Kongufood.

Vegetarian Kongu set meal. Cabbage poriyal, puli kulambu, rasam, uppu paruppu, curd and rice

Today, the Kongu Vellalars are spread all over the world including Malaysia. They are quite numerous in  Cameron Highlands. The Kongu Vellalars in Malaysia still follow many of their ancient traditions including the Mangala Vaalthu during wedding.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Dobermann

*Pictures taken randomly from Google
I love dogs. They are the most loyal creature a man can have. Our ancestors domesticated dogs and this is definitely one of the best things they did for us.

There are many dog breeds. Some are pure breed while others are mixed breeds. I had a Rottweiler for almost 12 years. His name was Max. We still talk about Max although he died 5 years ago.

We never had another dog after Max but I am sure to get one someday. Perhaps another male Rottweiler. There is another breed which I will consider. It is the Dobermann.

Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann
Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann was a tax collector and he used to travel to places infested with criminals to collect tax. It was a dangerous job. He required a guard dog which was intelligent, fast, agile, loyal and also ferocious. Karl decided to create a dog breed which suits the criteria he looked for.

It was created by crossbreeding the Beauceron, German Pinscher, Manchester Terrier, Greyhound and of course, the Rottweiler.

Beauceron of Northern France. The Beauceron is also known as Berger de Beauce (sheepdog from Beauce) or Bas Rouge (red-stockings).

The German Pinscher. They are either Reddish Brown or Tan & Black.

The Manchester Terrier. This breed was used to hunt rats and rabbits in England.

The Greyhound. One of the ancient breeds from Europe. It is a sight hound (uses sight to hunt). The Greyhound is also popular in dog racing because of its speed.
The Rottweiler. One of the oldest dog breeds. Used as a guard dogs in Roman prisons and to pull butcher carts.

Karl created the dog breed he wanted. He died in 1894 and the Germans named the breed as Dobermann in honour of Karl. The following is the result of Karl's cross breeding. Enjoy the pictures.

Male stud. Tail not docked. Ears not cropped.

Male stud. Tail docked and ears cropped.

As guard dogs
Having their ears cropped

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Hereditary Malay Titles

Hereditary titles are used by various ethnics. The Tamils have their caste titles which can be used as paternal family names or titular clan surnames.

These are hereditary and should only be used by those who belong to that particular family. For example, a person with the Udayar title cannot call himself a Desigar and vice versa.

Like the Tamils, the Malay people too have their own hereditary titles. However, unlike the Tamils who use it as their last name, the Malay titles are used as the first name, right before the given name.

Let's take a look at some of it.

Pengiran and Tengku
Pengiran is much more common in Borneo (esp Brunei) than in Peninsular Malaysia. It is equivalent to the Tengku title used in peninsular.

One of Brunei’s recognized literary artist is Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran (Dr.) Haji Mohd Yusof Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim. He is also known as Yura Halim.

Tengku Razaleigh bin Tengku Mohd Hamzah, former Finance Minister of Malaysia

This title varies depending on the lineage. It is also common among Bugis royalties.

Raja Petra bin Raja Kamarudin is a Malaysian editor known for running the Malaysia Today website.

Used by the members of the Johor royal house. I was told that it is also used by the maternal descendants of a ruler in some states.

Former Vice-Chancellor of University of Malaya (1968-1988), Profesor Diraja Ungku Abdul Aziz bin Ungku Abdul Hamid

Used in the several Malay Sultanate in Kalimantan and it is believed to be of Javanese origin.

Raden Kartini, daughter of Raden Sosroningrat, was a pioneer women's rights activist in Indonesia.

Abang & Dayang
This title is particularly found in Sarawak. Its origin can be traced to the appointments of Datuk Patinggi, Datuk Temenggung, Datuk Bandar and Datuk Imam in Sarawak before the British era. The children of these state dignitaries carry the title Abang (male) and Dayang (female). Dayang is also used as Dayangku.

When an Abang marries a Dayang or a commoner, the issue will get to keep the title. The issue of a Dayang does not carry a title if he/she has a non-Abang father.

However, if a Dayang marries a male aristocrat bearing a different title than hers, her issue will be named according to the husband's given title.

Dayang Noor Camelia, daughter of Abang Khalid.

Awang is the term used for addressing men in Brunei and it is equivalent to Encik (Mr). However, Awangku is hereditary, of which they may later claim the title Pengiran since they are also related to the Brunei Sultanate.

This, however can only be done after he gets the approval of the elders and is considered as matured enough to carry the title. The change is only eligible for those who inherit the name Awang from their family line.

Awangku Fakharazzi is a footballer from Brunei.

Syed, Sharifah and Meor
Many believe that this title is inherited by male descendants, through the male line, from the Prophet Muhammad via his grandsons Hassan and Hussein.

Female descendants are known as Syarifah or Sharifah. However, Syed has also been used as a common name by many parents.

Syed is actualy used as Sayyid and it is very popular in India. The Indian Muslim Sayyids migrated to Malaysia and intermarried with the locals. They then passed this title to their descendants here.

This is how the title became popular in Malaysia.

Owners of the Syed Group of Companies. A chain of restaurant outlets famous for their Bukhara Briyani.

Sharifah Zohra Jabeen. You know who :)

Meor is a title inherited by the male issue of a Syarifah and non-Syed father.

Meor Aziddin Yusoff, is an independent Malay language folk singer-songwriter from Malaysia.

Megat, Puteri and Tun
A Megat is a descendant of the Pagaruyung Prince, Megat Terawis who was also the first bendahara of Perak. Megats along with Puteris and Tuns are typically found in Perak. Megat is also styled by a half blood royal male descendant of a female royal of Pahang. 

Megat Junid Megat Ayub, former Malaysian Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

Puteri is a title inherited by the female descendant of a Megat.

Puteri Sarah Liyana Megat Kamaruddin, actress and model.

Tun is a title inherited by the issue of a Puteri and a commoner father, in turn inheritable through the male line.

In Pahang it is the title of a male or female descendant of a Sultan through the distant line.

Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah, Chief Police Officer of Selangor.

This title inherited by the issue of a male Wan. Typically found in Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu. In Kedah, Wan is the title used by descendants of certain former chief ministers of the state, e.g. the descendants of Wan Mohd Saman. Wan can also be used as the title for a girl's name.

A Wan may later claim the title Tuanku. This, however can only be done after he gets the approval of the elders and is considered as matured enough to carry the title. The change is only eligible for those who inherit the name Wan from their family line.

A female issue of Wan carries the title Sharifah. The issue of a Sharifah does not carry a title if he/she has a non-Wan father.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

This title is inherited by the issue of a male Nik. It is typically found in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pattani (South Thailand).

The first recognised Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad I, was also known as Nik Muhammadiah.

Some historians believe that the Niks are the descendants of Nik Ali, who was an important official under the rulers of Pattani. Nik Ali was also known as Fakih Ali Malbari and studied Islam in India.

It is also customary in Kelantan and Pattani that when a princess marries a common man, their children will bear the Nik title. 

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia and the former Chief Minister of Kelantan.

This is a title inherited by the issue of a male Che descendants and were also used by some Malay nobles in ancient times. The Che title can also be passed down from a descendant of a female Nik and non-Nik male. 

Keep in mind that the Malay title Che has got nothing to do with Che Guevara. So don't get confused.

I would have probably missed out some titles.

The National Registration Department (NRD) of Malaysia has set some strict rules in using these titles. Only those in the bloodline can use it.

You cannot simply name your son as a Tengku if you are not a Tengku!

Monday, 13 May 2013

BN Indians vs PR Indians

It has been a week since elections (GE13) ended. It is probably the most controversial elections in our nation's history. When I started this blog, I told myself to avoid writing about politics. But I can't help it. I decided to start writing whatever that I feel as necessary.

Alot of Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters particularly those from Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) believe that Malaysians of Indian origin can only be represented by BN at both state and federal level. They have played the race cards for too long.

I decided to do some calculation to check on this matter.

During the elections, we will select candidates for 2 different seats. One is for the state level, the other is for the federal level.

The state seats are known as Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) in Malaysia. A person who wins a DUN is known as Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN). Federal seats are referred to as Parliament seats. A person who wins the Parliament seat is referred to as Member of Parliament (MP).

Let's take a look at the statistics if what BN-MIC says is true.

Indian reps in federal and state level after GE13.

Barisan Nasional fielded a total of 33 candidates of Indian origin. Of these 33 candidates, 4 won the parliament seats and 5 won the state seats. The majority lost in the elections.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) fielded a total of 42 candidates of Indian origin. Of these 42 candidates, 10 won the parliament seats and 19 won the state seats. The majority won in the elections.

79% of Indian ADUNs are from Pakatan Rakyat. Only 21% of Indian ADUNs are from Barisan Nasional.
71% of Indian MPs are from Pakatan Rakyat. Only 29% of Indian MPs are from Barisan Nasional.

We need to keep in mind that MIC is an all Indian party. Yet, they did not win as many seats as the Indians of PR who are mainly from the multiracial parties of Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

Take a look below for the list of candidates, their constituencies and total votes. The winners have been highlighted. You can also compare the difference of votes gained. Click to download it.

Indian candidate performance for parliament.
The picture above is for the parliament seats. 

Both BN and PR fielded 13 Indians each for parliament seats. 7 of them met head to head. PR won 5 out of the 7 meets. The remaining candidates competed with candidates from other ethnics. 

Of those 6 non-Indian meets, BN only won 2 but PR won 5. These shows that at the parliament level, the Malaysian voters preferred PR candidates more than the BN candidates.

BN gained a total of 321,528 votes and PR gained a total of 538,568 votes. On average, a BN candidate gets 24,733 votes but a PR candidate gets 41,428 votes.

Here are the details for the state level.

Indian candidates performance for state
BN fielded 20 Indian candidates and PR fielded 29 Indian candidates. 

13 of them met head to head. PR won 10 out of the 13 meets. The remaining candidates competed with candidates from other ethnics. 

Of those 7 non-Indian meets, BN won only 2. 
Of those 16 non-Indian meets, PR won 9. 

BN gained a total of 181,065 votes and PR gained a total of 333.877 votes. On average, a BN candidate gets 9,053 votes but a PR candidate gets 11,513 votes.  

Once again, the Malaysian voters have shown that the majority of them preferred Indians candidates from PR, and not Indian candidates from BN.

This clearly shows that the major representation of the ethnic Indian community actually comes from Pakatan Rakyat and not Barisan Nasional.