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Sunday, January 29, 2017

MIC has no clue what needs to be done for Indians

MIC leaders should know better than to suggest chilli planting and murukku marketing as the only solutions to the fundamental problems afflicting the Indian community.
By P Ramasamy
The MIC, the sole Indian political representative in the federal government, has probably reached a point of no return in politics.
Statements issued by these leaders show the party has no clue of what needs to done for the community and how to address the serious problems that have emerged.
As everyone knows, the only reason the party has survived until the present day is the resuscitation provided by Umno. Without Umno’s support, the MIC is a gone case.
Recently, MIC president and Health Minister S Subramanian suggested that Indian youth venture into the field of information technology to market murukku, a traditional Indian snack, to avoid getting entrapped in social problems.
In the face of the many challenges and problems this community faces, it was rather inappropriate for a senior leader to make such a frivolous suggestion. For this, Subramaniam has not only been ridiculed but taken to task for ignoring some of the fundamental problems the Indian community is facing.
Subramaniam is not the first leader to make such a ridiculous suggestion as there have been others. Some years back, MIC vice-president M Saravanan, the current deputy youth and sports minister formed an organisation called NAAM to attract Indian youths into chilli planting.
It was an aggressive move on his part and initially received much attention, not only within government circles but also from opposition members. However, the initial enthusiasm for the NAAM chilli planting project, incorrectly termed as an affirmative action programme, tapered off due to the leader’s political motive in establishing this outfit.
When G Palanivel was the MIC president, he once urged Indian youths to return to the estates to take up jobs held by foreigners in an effort to reduce the country’s dependency on foreign workers to some extent.
Palanivel’s message to Indians youths was dismissed as impractical and not in line with the thinking of Indians because plantations in the country were once identified as the breeding grounds of poverty and illiteracy.
Murukku-making/marketing, chilli planting and occupations in the agricultural sector are important and cannot be dismissed. Even without the advice of the MIC leaders, Indians have done well in these activities in the past.
Indians are constrained not because they have failed in these activities but simply because they have been discriminated against and their rights violated in a political atmosphere that has increasingly taken on a pro-Malay hegemonic dominance.
The recent remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, that the government was unwilling to be flexible in the issue of stateless Indians applying for identity papers, can be construed as arrogant and rude. But then, MIC leaders themselves lack the guts to deal effectively with Umno leaders simply because the Indian party is so dependent on them.
Given this “slave-like” attitude on the part of MIC leaders, how can Umno have respect for them? As the general election is fast approaching, present MIC leaders are more keen about preserving their positions rather than articulating the larger and more fundamental concerns of Indians.
So much so, in a recent Ponggal (harvest festival) gathering, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that MIC leaders should be addressing the needs of the community they represent rather than seeking to buttress their respective government positions.
The MIC might be the oldest Indian party in the country but, unfortunately, the lack of effective, brave and honest leaders have alienated the party from the pressing needs of the rank and file. The party’s subservience to Umno remains the root cause of the present problems faced by Indians.
P Ramasamy is deputy chief minister II of Penang. -FMT

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