Saturday, November 21, 2015

Killing of the Old and the Aged in Tamil Nadu: Talaikuthal, a savage tradition

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Tamil Nadu is generally regarded as a progressive state with an "empowered" population, thanks to the Dravidian Movement. It is customary in Tamil Nadu to credit the Dravidian Movement for all progressive measures such as nationalization of Temple property, abolition of hereditary priesthood in Hindu Temples, stranglehold of the dominant agrarian castes over the political structure of the state, and the use of Tamil as the official language. Few people, especially the so called liberals and the progressives, do not realize that the Dravidian Movement brought in a highly intolerant society which was anti Hindu and anti Brahmin, in much the same way as the Nazi movement in Germany was ant Semitic. The exclusion of Brahmins from the civil society and cultural life of Tamil Nadu has resulted in a debasement of the very fabric of Tamil society. Today anti Dalit atrocities are particularly rampant in Tamil Nadu and the landed agrarian castes which are essentially the dominant backward castes are seldom punished for the human rights violations that they carry out. Indeed, human rights hardly exists in Tamil Nadu given the preponderance of political and administrative power enjoyed by the backward castes. This weeks nnews magazine called The Week (Nov 22, 2015) has exposed an ugly social practice that prevails in Tamil Nadu and it is time that the Central Government took note of this custom and instituted steps to prevent it. I have always wondered why there are no old people in Tamil Nadu. The c=state is no country for the Old and the infirm. The Week has exposed a horrible practice of talaikutal which prevails in Tami Nadu. According to the news magazine,the old are put to death in Tamil Nadu by the members of their immediate family, especially if they do not have independent means of financial support. A leisurely bath is administered and after that some poison is given in milk or tea and the old person is killed. This practice of talaikuthal seems to have social sacntion as there are no investigations if an old person dies. The magazine highlighted the case of a 92 year old woman from the village of Reddiapatti who was put to death by administering a lethal injection after the more traditional methods failed. Nowadays, pesticides and sleeping pills are used to kill the aged and the infirm. It has been reported that the village quacks willingly participate in such socially accepted and sanctioned senicide. When the English East India Company was battling the scourge of female infanticide in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, they empowered the Collectors to imprison anyone suspected of being involved in the killing of female babies, As a step to contain and discourage the practice of female infanticide the East India Company officers were required to register the pregnancy of women in their jurisdiction and monitor the birth of the child and if the child happened to be a girl child ensure its survival. In a similar manner the old must be regitered in Tamil Naduand if the death happens to be suspicious police invstigation must be launched. Tamil Nadu is fast losing its reputation of being a progressive state.

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