Elites in South India less rooted than their North Indian counterparts: Jairam Ramesh

The elite in North India are far more rooted and entrenched to their motherland when compared with their counterparts from South India.

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, speaking at the India Today Conclave on Monday, spoke at length on the great North and South India divide. Ramesh said he preferred North India as people in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are more tolerant, cosmopolitan and accepting than those in South India. In conversation with veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Ramesh jumped in and stopped him from making it a big deal. "Don't reduce my statement to a soundbite," Ramesh said, as Rajdeep noted that it was quite a sensational statement.

Ramesh said he prefers living in North India, to which former Central Bureau of Investigation director R Raghvan said that while the minister has a point, there's a greater diversity in cities like Chennai. "I have been living in South India for 15 years since my retirement. People in Chennai are equally respecting. There is no hostility towards outsiders," Raghavan said and extended an invitation to Ramesh to come and "settle down in Chennai."

Ramesh hails from Karnataka's Chikmagalur and represents Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress leader was in discussion with the India Today consulting editor on 'South and the Rest: The New Powerhouse' at the Conclave. Elaborating on his previous point, Ramesh went on to add that elites in South India are more "comfortable" in places like Berkeley, Stanford, Germany, France etc. Comparatively, the elite of North India are rooted in India more than anywhere else in the world. Ramesh's statement met with some mild criticism from the audience, but since the conclave was an informal forum, nobody made a big deal about Ramesh's statement.

However, Ramesh spoke about him preferring North to South when the discussion was drawing to a close.

In the beginning of the discussion, Ramesh reaffirmed the uniqueness of states in South India and lauded their style of governance. "Tamil Nadu's mode of governance is more efficient than the Gujarat model. The Tamil Nadu model has delivered both social development and strong economic growth. The Gujarat model delivered only economic growth while the Kerala model brought only social development," Ramesh said. The Congress MP added that South India became a powerhouse because of the "public investment made in the states during 1950 and 1960".

"(The) South moved ahead of (the) North in the 1980s, there is a history. Service economics, ports, coastline went in favour of the South," he said, adding that South India runs as per a system and follows set guidelines.

"(The)systems were in place in South India which divides the region from other parts of the country." "Social revolution and the zamindari system helped the South to progress rather than the rest of India," he added.

On the corruption front, South Indian politics reflect what happens in the rest of India, Ramesh added. "The system of administration is better in South India than in North. Parties come and go in the government, but system has delivered goods for the people of south Indian states."

Updated Date: Jan 10, 2017 12:47:11 IST