Thursday January 18, 2018
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Indians in Malaysia should use three canons: Indian scholar

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Photo: http://www.daytodaygk.com

by Rama Ramanathan

Malaysia: I’ve lost count of the number of Tamil newspapers in Malaysia. Occasionally I buy a Tamil paper. I seldom buy the same masthead twice in a row. This allows me to get a sense of what each masthead reports, the tone it uses, and its depth of coverage.

They cover socio-economic developments in Tamil Nadu, and in the rest of India. They also report news about Indian movie stars and singers.

The Tamil papers are valued by many Indian businessmen in Malaysia, both Hindus and Muslims. The death notices are also valued by readers.

Since there are so many Tamil papers, each one has limited circulation and, therefore, limited resources. Their reporters are concentrated in the big cities; they depend on stringers, so there is little first-hand Malaysia news.

When I’m in India, I often read the newspapers. Every day there is some mention of caste. On my last trip to New Delhi, I read about the Jat caste in Haryana state – they rioted and destroyed property to press their claims for more seats in institutions of higher learning and in government – called “reservations” in Indian English.

In Malaysian Tamil papers, I do not recall reading reports or discussions of caste. It seems Malaysian Tamils have overcome a still-common feature of society in India.

Professor R K Jain – whom I mentioned in my previous article – says Malaysian Tamils offer “a message for India: in [the] caste war the tables are turned through socio-economic and political mobility of the traditionally downtrodden without . . . caste enhancing . . . political bait of Reservations for the Dalits [the ‘untouchables’].”

After seeing my previous article, Jain sent me his most recent analysis of the Malaysian Indian over-representation in the catalogues of misery. His analysis is structured around three key words: ascription, aspiration and achievement.

Ascription” means attributing something to a cause.

Jain draws on social and anthropological studies of Indians in Malaysia, including his own work. He says the evidence says the cause of income and wealth inequality amongst Hindu Indians in Malaysia is not the Hindu caste system (as in India with its riots and reservations), but in class. Kudos to Malaysian Indians!

Aspiration” means ambition, the hope of achieving something.

The aspiration of Malaysian Indians is to reduce the incidence of gangsterism, chronic disease, slum-dwelling, etc. Jain warns Malaysian Indians not to think like a persecuted ethnic group or minority (often based on gossip and perceptions). He urges them instead to look for and latch onto chances for betterment, for instance in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

Achievement” doesn’t need definition.

Jain notes that Malaysian Indians have contributed beyond their numerical strength to Malaysia’s present success. He adds that though they have succeeded in defining themselves as “Malaysian,” they are still Indian. He urges them to network inter-ethnically with Malaysia-based and India-based businessmen to conduct business.

Jain, ever the scholar and sociologist, suggests a framework for analysis.

After noting that Malaysian Indians have “creatively destroyed” the stifling caste features inherited from their Hindu ancestry, he urges them to use “the canons of social scientific comparison and contextualization” to chart the way forward.

He recommends a three-component framework of analysis attributed to Max Weber (1864-1920), a renowned sociologist and political economist:

Market forces (for life chances or opportunities in the economy).
Status considerations (the choices of life-styles, in other words, consumption and culture), and
The play of power (as in the negotiations of political processes).
I find the framework attractive because it is neither overtly religious nor political.

It takes account of market forces, just as business and government policies do. It acknowledges personal responsibility for life-style choices which may hamper or hurry the process of rising from the ashes. It recognizes the need to leverage power.

Those who are active in working to reduce income inequality in Malaysia can learn from Jain: are you using the cannons of provocation? If yes, Stop! Are you using canons of sociology? If no, Begin!

The next time I read a Tamil newspaper, I’ll evaluate it using the Weberian canons.

(The article was first published in hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)

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Top 10 must watch Tamil movies of 2017

Kollywood produced some of the best movies in 2017. The Tamil movies produced this year varied in genres from beautiful love stories to suspense thrillers. 

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Baahubali 2 was one Tamil movie which achieved success all over the world. Wikimedia Commons
Baahubali 2 was one Tamil movie which achieved success all over the world. Wikimedia Commons
  • Kollywood is growing each year and is giving us more and more movies to ponder over.
  •  In 2017, some Tamil movies left us awe-struck with their amazing stories and performances.
  • Movies like Vikram Vedha, Aruvi, Maanagaram, etc. definitely proved to be some of the best films of 2017.

Kollywood produced some of the best movies in 2017. The Tamil movies produced this year varied in genres from beautiful love stories to suspense thrillers.

In 2017, many new fresh faces were introduced on the and behind the screen. There were several movies which pushed the conventional limits of cinema, and became memorable. Here is the list of 10 must watch Tamil Movies of 2017 :

Vikram Vedha

This movie is not exactly a ‘masala’ entertainment film. With a tight script, great technicalities and amazing cast performances, this Tamil movie became a huge box office hit. Movie may seem cliche at first, however, once Vedha enters the screen the whole dynamics of the movie changes and it takes audience on a roller-coaster ride. This one is a must watch. Have a look at the trailer here :

Pa Paandi

Pa Paandi is a Tamil comedy-drama film written and directed by Dhanush. This movie also marked Dhanush’s directorial debut. It has Rajkiran in the lead role. This movie shows, that as we run towards different things in life, we tend to forget about our elders who wander behind with agendas of their own. This film makes one feel fuzzy and it’s impossible to dislike anyone in the film. Check the trailer out here :

Maanagaram

This one is a simple yet entertaining film, which will keep you glued to your seat. One of the year’s biggest hits, this film has made all its viewers, critics and producers happy. With a brilliant and pacy screenplay, and brilliant performances, this Tamil movie is a must watch. Check the trailer out here :

Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion

This one is quite obvious. Great visual effects, amazing performances and the foreshadow of the success of its predecessor, and SS Rajamouli’s direction, all have made this movie an international blockbuster. Not only this one solved the famous ‘Why Kattapa killed Baahubali’ question, but also, it is a great entertainer. This one is a must watch and it won’t disappoint you. Check the trailer here :

Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu

Suresh Sangaiah’s drama movie, deserves a medal just for its name, which translates to ‘mercy petition of a scapegoat’ in English. It is a beautiful ‘slice of life’ movie which is really heart-warming. The film shows a village which encounters a strange situation as they travel to a distant temple to slaughter a goat for the lord. this movie delivers its story brilliantly. Check the trailer here :

Kurangu Bommai

This tamil movie came as pleasant surprise this year with a new face behind it. Kurangu Bommai is another film that familiarised us with hyperlink cinema. The film is well crafted and its beauty lies in how the story is told more than it is told. Check the trailer here :

8 Thottakal

8 Thottakal is a long film but its good qualities make up for it. There was much to like in this crime-thriller flick, but MS Bhaskar’s role and his performance were excellent. The conflict and layers in the characters will make you think and glued to your seat. Check the trailer here :

Aval

This one is for a fan of horror movies. Debutante director Milind Rau’s Aval is definitely a memorable film. This technically sound horror film, has some clever writing and a mature relationship to be seen on the screen. Milind made an impressive debut with fresh content. The movie might not be very scary but it can definitely keep you hooked.

Aruvi

Aruvi is one film that threw all stereotypes out of the box.  Arun Prabhu Purushothaman’s writing’s authenticity will make you forget everything else and will make you wanna indulge in this film more and more. Aruvi is also a great example of the fact that good content can be commercially successful if marketed properly. This Tamil film brings in a new perspective which you will definitely enjoy.

Theeran: Adhigaram Ondru

This one might not have a perfect scrip but the research done to bring the real incidents on the screen is really worth applauding. The second part of movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. The natural portrayal of hardships faced by police while resolving a cases is another USP for this Tamil movie. This thriller definitely deserves to be on your must-watch list.