Dear Malaysians of Indian descent
I write this on behalf of the people who want to see my community prosper and live their lives with pride and dignity. But first, let me share with you a story of how I saw Malaysia’s Indian upon returning to my homeland after a year abroad.
A month ago, after landing in KLIA, I witnessed a scene. I saw an old Indian cleaning lady by the immigration clearance area, dropping her broom on the floor. Another Indian guy in his late 30’s who traveled with me (I’m assuming a corporate man based on his looks and dressing) stopped, turned around, helped her pick up her things and placed it back in her trolley. She thanked him, he nodded and walked away. Why I’m telling you this is because at that small act of kindness, I saw hope over our differences. Disparity in our community has been one of our greatest battles throughout time.
The state of the average Malaysians of Indian descent
We live in a community where one of the richest man in Malaysia is an Indian. On the other end, we are of the weakest ethnic in various sectors (education, economy, you name it..) being an Indian too. I admit there will be a factor of disparity in any kind of society but the problem with the Indian community is that the elite class are growing substantially stronger but they fail to empower the people of the lower grounds. Indians being one of the most ethnically patriotic people I know have the habit to live on the glory of others. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to celebrate the accomplishments of another Indian, however it’s more important to use this achievements to further empower ourselves.
Watch how Carlin rubbishes ‘Proud to be (insert race)
So, the question remains; how do we drive ourselves forward? How do we enhance our living as a whole.? A whole bunch of government transformation programs, new economic models, new economic policies have been introduced but how much has our community benefited from them? I would not want to talk more on our policies; I’ll leave that to our politicians to debate it but the main point here is ‘education’. The only way to raise standards of living, to bring a paradigm change in our generations to come is by educating ourselves and our children.
We can’t afford to live in our comfort zone and have a defeatist, blaming everyone else attitude. It is now time to push forward. We need a shift in mentality and we need urgently. Education is our arsenal to drive ourselves and to bridge the gap of disparity. We need higher order and critical thinking in our future generations. As of right now, our biggest obstacle is ourselves, our mentality. I’ll quote an example; we are the people who express our disheartened feelings every year when we see cows being slaughtered during the Hari Raya Korban festivals in our housing areas and schools, but we’re also the same society that sacrifices other animals in the name of God and religion at temples. We claim drinking and smoking to be injurious and bad habits, but we place cigars and beers in front of deities. So, how are we different from the others?
What do Malaysians of Indian descent need to change?
Our priorities are not aligned, we rage with anger against a singer for his views by making videos on social medias, but we don’t question our leaders on the advancement of our society. We spend millions to build massive temples but neglect the plight of our Tamil schools. Thus, dear Indian youths of Malaysia, I urge all of you to pursue education, to acquire wisdom. Dear parents, educate your children at all cost. We are the future generation of this country, we are the leaders of this society. Keep learning, grow, explore, ask questions, redefine your life. It’s time we alter the general perception about our society. We have an average of 6-7% population but crime statistics rate us at the highest. Why is that so? I can assure you, a significant majority of the Indians suffering in Malaysia lack education. Reality is that we’re not an ethnic with special privileges but bear in mind, we could exploit what we already have entitled to us, the freedom to acquire knowledge, the freedom to educate our younger generations.
Some Indians (especially parents in this matter) fail to realise the importance of education for their children. We have parents who are financially stable but have different priorities. To this people, I say to you, please use your resources wisely, use your money to get your daughter a degree instead of buying gold for dowry reasons, use your money to send you sons to higher institutions rather than getting him a motorcycle, invest and save money for your life instead of spending your savings on a lavish wedding. Thiruvalluvar wrote thirukural, stressing on the importance of education. He cited that whatever wealth you may acquire in this life is perishable except one; “education”.
Hence, stay united, acquire wisdom and help each other grow.‘Potti irukulam, porammai iruka kudathe’, my mum used to say. We are never a small community. We are a population of more than a billion people, including the population of India. From 6 to 7 person on this planet, one is Indian. We have an illustrious history. There is much to learn from India. India is not only Rajinikanth, Vijay and Kollywood. There is more than meets the eye. Read up and watch videos on other aspects of India, both the good and bad, for example, Chhavi Rajawat and the opposed pole of female infanticide. Do not limit your knowledge seeking. Go beyond planet earth. Suck up info like a sponge. Master English. Be multilingual. Cultivate a broad mind. Be proactive. Stop divisive mentality along the lines of sub race, caste, gang affiliation and the latest Vijay fan, Ajith fan, Surya fan division. Introspect on who we are and know that we owe it to ourselves, our children on the sustainability and growth of our community. Education will lay a firm foundation for us and our development. Education will lift us from being the dregs of society.
Indian endru sollittu, thalai nimmirnthu nikketherukku bathila mathavanggale nammale thale nimurnthu paaka vekkenum. Americans think Indian people are smart, whether they’re in India or an Indian diaspora like us. Believe that we are smart and don’t rely on the validation of others. We are just as capable as any human on this planet. Build that confidence and we will win. Nammale naamala korechi edai poda kudathu. Whatever you do, my dear fellow Malaysians of Indian descent, never give up on education!
Written by: Eswaren Ravi