03 March 2008

"South India"

If there's one thing that gets my goat, it is the terms "South India" and "South Indians". Many people think there is one place/region called "South India" and one set of people called "South Indians". WRONG! There are four states: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu – each with its own language and culture. There is no such thing as "South India". Similarly there are Kannadigas, Telugus, Malayalis and Tamilians. There is no such thing as a "South Indian".

It is true that there are some commonalities among the people who live south of the Vindhyas, which distinguish them from the rest of the country. For example, the four languages, though distinct from one another, belong to the Dravidian family – as against the rest of the country, which speaks the Aryan languages. Some food habits are also common – the famous idlis and dosas come to mind here. But these broad commonalities do not justify putting the four states and their people into one box and calling it/them "South India"/"South Indians". People in the rest of the country are blissfully unaware of the vast diversity and differences among these four states.

When I was in Delhi, a guy from MP asked me, "You South Indians worship Ayyappa Swamy, right?" Somehow he had heard about the temple of Ayyappa in "South India", and assumed that all "South Indians" worship this deity! Statements beginning with "You South Indians...", "Tum South ke log...", "In South India...", "South mein...", etc are very common – and very irritating. This malady will not end till we actively try to put a stop to it. Therefore I appeal to all my fellow Kandus and also Gults, Mallus and Tams to correct people whenever they make this mistake. Don't worry about offending others. Don't worry about creating a scene. Don't worry about what other will think of you. Just do it. It is important to speak the truth and dispel people's ignorance.

3 comments:

Assman said...

Things get much uglier when people use the term "madraasi" instead. Its ridiculous because even madraas is not called madras anymore. And there are not one but 4 different states and about 7 different languages that are spoken here. But the uneducated unpolished junta will blindly stick to the nomenclature of many decades ago.

Vivek said...

south indian = madrasi = tamil = telugu = kannada = malayalee = very intelligent = (educated = coconut seller????)

Indian said...

I'm not sure exactly what Vivek is trying to say...