Hindraf is just not about the Indian dilemma

25th November 2007 will go down as the greatest demonstration of the expression of a state of hopelessness of the Malaysian Indians living in independent Malaysia. It was a day of showing outwardly years of displacement and marginalization by selective policies, their actual state of mind. It was a culmination of a long journey of neglect that has made many Indians more disadvantaged than others.

By Malini Dass

The irony is the bulk of Tamils who came to Malaysia under the indentured labour system of the British were from the lowest caste stratification of the Indian society. Post independence, India evolved an affirmative action program that has moved this lot up mainstream society, by educational support and government programs.

Those who came to Malaysia lost out on this post Independent Indian program and faced further discrimination and hardship with the UMNO government. With India’s emerging economic growth and the political conviction to create an equitable society, India has become a land of opportunity thus proving the decision of the forefathers’ decision to get on that ship to Penang wrong.

The tear gas canisters that were indiscriminately fired on 25th Nov. 2007 was a classic reminder by the government of the day that it has no human compulsion or moral responsibility to those who were thrust upon them by the British colonial masters.

Thus the initiative by Hindaf Chairperson Waythamoorthy to submit a memorandum to the British government on that day was a symbol, to show the world that there is an historical distortion of responsibilities between pre independent Malaya and post independent Malaysia governments.

Today we are still struggling to realize that the issue is not peculiar to Indian causes alone,  just because Hindraf has presented an Indian case. If the government (both BN/PR) does not realize its failure to create an equitable society based on pure economic parameters, it will eventually lead to multi-faceted social consequences which will be more difficult and costly in terms of remedy in years to come.

Hindraf is just a forerunner of similar marginal community support groups and they need to succeed because the ramifications will be great as  Hindraf’s  success will pave the way for other minorities groups who are in a similar plight to seek representation and attention for their cause.

Hindraf is the catalyst for the expression of those who need attention, who need support, who need affirmative programs. Such groups need not be limited to race or religion, it could be the disabled, the single mothers, the homeless, the urban squatters and so forth. Hindaf actions could well be equated with that of the civil rights movement in the 60’s. Once the Civil Rights Bill was endorsed by congress, other marginalized communities were also able to raise their plights and problems too.

It is therefore very pertinent that all level minded, civic conscious true Malaysians look at Hindraf as an expression of the disadvantaged than to look at it from a racial prism. It will be for the nation’s good if movements like Hindraf succeed in the democratic space to bring about changes in the socio-economic landscape of this nation of ours. It will set the pace for others to follow and will enable the evolution of an empathetic and caring Malaysian generation.

We should also look at the Hindraf rallies as a real cry for freedom. Their success will endorse greater democracy in the country and will turn the page of old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. We will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, religion against religion.