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Why #IndiaBetraysTamilnadu is trending on social media after Cauvery dispute and sterlite protest

Anyone who has at the best even been just a passive follower of social media would agree that #IndiaBetraysTamilnadu is the latest to take the cake among hashtags that trend or are seen as a show of solidarity. In what is seen as a manifestation of a longstanding neglect of the demands of people from Tamil Nadu by the central government; such a sentiment probably saw its rise in a magnificent way, during the protests against the ban on Jallikattu in January 2017. The pattern of showing dissent on social media was further fuelled by the Centre’s refusal to give an exemption to Tamil Nadu from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).


Historically the people of Tamil Nadu are fed with a sense of protest mainly against the Centre on several occasions in about 50 years’ rule of Dravidian parties. The taste of success their protests yielded and the feeling of oneness they felt despite belonging to different castes and religions persuaded them to stick to protests when their lives are threatened, and rights infringed upon. The sentiment ingrained against the Centre can be predominantly traced to the protests against the imposition of Hindi in 1937 and 1965. But, the sentiment had died down for the past decade.


However, the recent spate of events that led to the revival of such sentiments include the pro-Jallikattu protests, protests against NEET before and after the suicide of medical aspirant S Anitha from Ariyalur and attempts to bring Navodaya schools to the state. Further, the latest to join the list, the BJP-led NDA government’s failure to constitute the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) even after the Supreme Court’s order mandating the formation within six weeks enraged the people of the state. Tamil Nadu political parties and activists allege that the BJP government is delaying the formation of CMB keeping the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections in mind.


The people’s outrage over the issue can be understood given how crucially their lives depend on the river. Cauvery river is not just a lifeline for the delta farmers, but has direct bearing on the cultural heritage of Tamil people. Already reeling under severe water scarcity and groundwater depletion, the agriculture in the area inevitably depends on the Cauvery river water. Due to these concerns, people believe the central government has betrayed them by not constituting the Board even after the deadline by the apex court expired.


Adding fuel to the people’s disappointment with the Centre, the recent proposal for expansion of the copper plant in Tuticorin came as a shocker. Activists and locals in the area have been protesting against Sterlite Industries to close the plant and stop the expansion activities. They allege that the chemicals emitted from the plant lead to serious environmental degradation and health hazards. Their protests continue for the 50th day (April 2).


Students play a prominent role in the protests as they spearhead campaigns on social media. They grow and create awareness through various social media platforms such as Twitter. A tech-savvy nature aids them to easily pass information and gather at a place. The hashtag campaigns can be understood from this context. Particularly, the hashtag #IndiaBetraysTamilnadu is the result of their perception that the ‘Bharat Mata’ considers Tamil Nadu as a step-child due to the multiple events that led to such a belief.

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