by Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor, C.V. Balakrishnan, Mukesh, P.T. Usha, Kochouseph Chittilappally and Neena Prasad.
Kozhikode: No festival can touch a Malayali the way Onam does. What better occasion than this to do some soul-searching! What are the things that make you proud as a Malayali, and that do not?
This question was posed to Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, writer C.V. Balakrishnan, actor Mukesh, athlete P.T. Usha, dancer Neena Prasad and entrepreneur Kochouseph Chittilappally. Their answers prove there is plenty to be proud about being a Malayali. But there is room for improvement too.
I am proud about our pluralism, our history of openness and co-existence, our creativity, literacy and our willingness to go anywhere and do anything to succeed.
But I am not proud about our over-politicisation, our emphasis on rights rather than responsibilities and our unwillingness to work in Kerala the way we work in the Gulf.
I am proud about the long distance Malayalam literature has travelled in so short a time — no language can boast of writers like O.V. Vijayan, Madhavikutty and VKN. Our Kathakali actors too deserve accolades. Their talents are second to none. I am also proud of a past when the Malayali was so selflessly committed to his political ideology. But, Malayali’s refusal to cherish his culture, language and literature is painful. I am not proud about the reality shows on our television channels that do more harm than good to music. And Malayali’s newly found love for violence is certainly not something to take pride in.
I feel proud as a Malayali when I find there is always another Malayali in a foreign country. We have the drive to make it big anywhere. I am also proud of the immensely talented actors and technicians Malayalam cinema has produced. But our gullibility and greed, when it comes to money (we continue to invest in fraudulent schemes), is appalling. So is our willingness to pay Rs.100 to get a prize of Rs.1. Malayalis watch English, Hindi and Tamil movies and expect similar opulence in Malayalam films too, forgetting the fact our films are made at Rs.1 crore, while a Bollywood film has a budget of Rs.100 crore.
As a Malayali, I feel particularly proud when I travel abroad, or in other parts of the country. I have met Malayalis in every corner of the world and have been impressed by the way they have adapted themselves. I think we are truly unique in this regard. I also take pride in the way we could assimilate different cultures, religions, food habits and costumes into our own. As a sportswoman, I am particularly proud that we have given the country so many outstanding female athletes.
I am not so proud about the Malayali’s tendency to oppose development. And we do not have to over-politicise or communalise every issue.
I like the fact that the Malayali is intelligent, educated and has very clean habits. I feel we are better than anybody else in India in these regard. But yes, we need to extend this adherence to cleanliness beyond our homes. I am not proud about that the fact Malayalis are not as much aware about their duties as their rights. And I would like to see in a Malayali more appetite for taking risks so that there will be more entrepreneurs like me.
I am proud about the sheer diversity of our culture. There is no equivalent to art forms like Kathakali and Koodiyattom. And Malayalis form the most discerning audience. I am not proud about the hypocrisy of Malayalis. We are very stingy with praise or and are hesitant about acknowledging our own achievers. Mohanlal is the best actor in India, but Malayalis would rather rave about Nasiruddin Shah or Kamal Hasan.
Name of source: The Hindu