Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Much more to Indian woes than Chennai visit

Adopting a right mindset to work and life

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s historical to Chennai, makes him the first Malaysian prime minister to make an official visit to the capital of Tamil Nadu state in India. While he may have his own reasons for visiting Chennai but what he did was indeed a right move as about 80% of the Indians in Malaysia are Tamils who have close cultural, education and religious ties with the land of their ancestors.

It was right that he made the visit to understand better the complex behaviour and passions of the Tamils in the country, their demands and problems that were highlighted by the Hindraf rally 2 years ago. Many were deeply touched by Najib’s gesture and in particular the trouble he took to call on the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, who is revered by Tamils all over for his contributions to their culture and language.

Now the Prime Minister is to make an historic visit to Batu Caves on the eve of Thaipusam this year to grace the occasion that will bring nearly a million Hindu devotees for the annual celebrations. This again is hailed by the Indian community who are beginning to place their faith in him to deliver them out of their impoverished and marginalised state.

Najib must realise by now that the Indian problem is far too complex and deep seated to be solved by some social visits to their heartland and temples. What is needed is a comprehensive aid policy centred on improving their standard of education and providing more opportunities in education and jobs without discrimination. What the Indians need is to be treated fairly as rightful citizen like they used to be in the fifties, sixties and even the seventies. The Indians hope that these visits may nevertheless be the beginning of such an indiscriminative 1Malaysia policy that Najib has pledged.

Najib’s visits to Chennai and Batu Caves come at a time when the Indians in the country are deeply divided and many not happy with the BN government. The MIC that used to be the main party that represented them has collapsed and there are no signs that it can ever regain its past glory as the undisputed champion of the Indian community. The exceptionally large numbers of Indian political parties that have cropped up of late indicate the greatly divided, weakened and directionless Indian community.

The Indian share of the economy has markedly dropped and continues to decline. Educational and job opportunities are also declining which have resulted in the high unemployment and crime rates among them. Today the Indian community in particular the Tamil community is economically impoverished and socially handicapped to compete with the other races in the country. They need assistance which is far from coming either from the government or private sector which operate along racial lines.

It is time for the Tamil community to take stock of its position today and work to be integrated with the other races in fighting for their needs and rights as Malaysians. Fighting along racial lines as it done for the past 52years has clearly failed to produce the desired results, not only for the Indians but for large section of the Malays as well who continue to live in poverty even in urban areas. Such a racial policy is not going to help the Indian community who from just 8% of the population and with no economic or political power to change things.

What is needed is for the Indian community to adopt a new mindset in keeping with the rapidly changing competitive scenario in a global world where only the best succeed. They must strive to be the best by casting aside their out-dated believes and practises and acquire the new advances in science, technology and commerce. There is no place for complacency, laziness and over-dependence on fate or divine help in this modern era of scientific and technological sophistication.

To master these new skills and techniques they must become competent in English like their predecessors of the sixties and seventies. Unfortunately today English is being neglected as it is seen as a threat to their mother tongue and Tamil culture. Returning to their own culture and language is not wrong but should they do it at the expense of English which is so vital for progress today?

The political landscape in the country has changed where race-based politics is becoming obsolete. The Indians being a minority will always be marginalised if they continue to strive along such racial lines. They must adopt a mindset to consider themselves as Malaysians to fight along with the other races without ethnic distinction. Only such a multiracial platform will guarantee a better future for their future generation.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Chennai and Batu caves may be a boost to the morale of the Indians but there is much more to be done by them if they want to become equal to the other races in this nation of opportunities. Unless they, in particular the Tamils, buck up and change their work ethics and attitude to life, no amount of aid from the government or other parties is going to elevate the socio-economic status to be in par with other communities.


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