Pardon my parochialism (or is it realism?) but I do feel that north and south are different and never the twain shall meet. It is the Aryan concepts that make things complicated. See what Manusmriti (2nd century BCE?) says: “From the eastern sea to the western sea, the area in between the two mountains [presumably the Himalayas and the Vindhyas] is what wise men call the land of the Aryas... Beyond it is the country of the barbarians.”
The view that those who are not Aryans are barbarians, is barbarian. It is that view that sustains the idea of northern superiority. In fact, in cultural and intellectual terms, the Dravidians have a maturity that enables them to benefit from it, without flaunting it to claim superiority over others. Yes, the north is north and the south is south.
New light is shed on this old topic by Early Indians. Author Tony Joseph uses new data made available by advances of DNA analysis technology. The “new hypothesis” validates the old hypothesis but in a different way. According to the new data, there was no large-scale migration to India during the last 40,000 years or so. Rather “there were two very ancient populations, one located in north India and the other in south India. All of today’s populations descended from the mixing of these two groups, technically given the tags Ancestral North Indian and Ancestral South Indian.” ANI has Caucasian roots while ASI, in all likelihood, migrated from Africa via the southern route 50,000 years ago.
History sustains the north-south divide. Indus valley/Harappan civilisation was Dravidian and it moved south following the Aryan invasion. The phrase “Aryan invasion” is anathema to the politicians of the north. They want us to believe that Aryans came from Thoothukudi and thereabouts. What is the use of history if it does not serve politicians?
The Vedas are projected as the foundations of Indian civilisation. Anything that points to the possibility of a civilisation before the Vedas would therefore be a body blow to Hindutva theories of India. Ironically, Rigveda itself describes how the Aryans clashed with the Dasyus to get control of the land. Who were the Dasyus who were in control of the land before the Aryans came? Tony Joseph’s chapter “The First Indians” begins with the explanation: “How a bunch of out of Africa migrants found their way to India, dealt with their evolutionary cousins ... made this land their own and became the largest human population on earth.” He has an Appendix that explains how migration from Eurasian Steppes changed the demography in a region extending from Europe to South Asia. And yet, “there are some who insist that the story of the Aryan invasion is a vast conspiracy.”
Actually this whole thing is tied to, and sustained by, the north-south dichotomy that governs life in India. The BJP is perceived as a north Indian party. (Its foothold in Karnataka is seen as an aberration.) Its cultural essence is Hindi. To that extent, its appeal to the Dravidian, non-Hindi south will remain limited.
How can the alienation disappear when even our epics appear in variations that suit linguistic differences? The north’s favourite Ramayana Tulsidas’ Ramacharitmanas doesn’t do well anywhere in the south. It is Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil Nadu, Dwipad Ramayanam in Telugu desam, Torava Ramayana in Kannada desa and Adhyatma Ramayanam in Malayala bhasha. Poor Valmiki is drowned in his variations.
How do we react to a sentence like: “The Aryan race flourished in India as agriculturists and as conquerors of the aboriginal races.” Or, “the civilised race conquered the whole country from the barbarians.” Or, even the claim that the Aryan conquerors went west, settled down in Iran and composed the Zend Avesta. These were theories propounded even by renowned scholars like Romesh Dutt. But they make no sense when they ignore the inherent preconceptions in terms like barbarians.
E V Ramasamy developed a whole philosophy on Ramayana being a vehicle for northern cultural domination. That notion is unlikely to change as long as Ayodhya is central to the Rama story. And, don’t forget, Ravana is seen as a southerner and as a hero. This could be a game that no one wins in the end. In fact, it can be a game in which there are only losers. Strong enough reason to pay special attention to Tony Joseph’s exhortation: “We are all Indians. And we are all migrants.”