Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan on Saturday, 17 September, inaugurated the South First website and its logo by lighting a lamp.
A news website that narrates the other half of the India story, the South First launch was part of the first edition of its ‘Dakshin Dialogues’ — a thought platform for political, legal and civil society voices from South India.
The key focus of the event was federalism and a stellar panel of political leaders, judicial experts and civil society members debated and discussed various aspects of India’s federal structure.
In her valedictory speech, Dr Soundararajan expressed happiness at being invited to launch South First and appreciated the efforts of the team to project stories from the southern part of the country.
“Despite having a busy schedule today, I was particular that I wanted to inaugurate South First because many times, the southern part of India, particularly the political changes that take place here, and the leaders, when they are projected across India, there is less prominence and less focus. I have always felt this,” the Governor said.
Narrating a personal experience to explain her point, Dr Soundararajan recalled how an IAS officer in Uttar Pradesh failed to recognise her as the Governor of Telangana during a Governors’ conference.
“One of the IAS officers was posted there to receive all the Governors. I was standing there, but she walked past me and received the other Governors. Then she said only the Telangana Governor has not arrived. My ADC told her that I was standing right there, to which she said: ‘I didn’t notice or I didn’t know that you were a Governor.'” She was imagining the Governor in a different way. An IAS officer was not aware that a person like me is present in the political scenario of this nation. This is the fate of some of the leaders of southern India.”
The Telangana Governor went on to quote Prime Minister Narendra Modi on what federalism meant: “Programmes can be different. Progress can be different. Working styles can be different. But the dreams for the country must not be different, it must be the same. That is federalism.”
Civility in politics
She spoke about how civility in politics among rivals has “vanished” and how it has become all about “vendetta” and “enmity”.
“Let us have different ideologies. Let us have different platforms. Let us come from different political parties. Let us occupy any position. But let’s not forget that we live together despite our different ideologies.”
Dr Soundararajan, it may be noted, is engaged in a bitter tussle with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. The TRS government in the state has been accusing the Governor of exceeding her powers and allegedly undermining a democratically-elected government.
South First’s vision
At the event, South First founder Vasu Gandikota spelt out the vision of the online platform.
“South First — as the name suggests — will aim to provide accurate and non-partisan news from the southern states; and, more importantly, create a platform for informed analysis of politics and policy in the region,” Vasu stated.
He added: “No aspect of our lives is unaffected by politics — be it economy, social welfare, public health, or even cinema. Hence the focus on politics and policy.”
The event was also attended by bigwigs such as Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy, Congress MP from Kerala Shashi Tharoor, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Jasti Chelameswar, president of AIMIM and Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi, former finance minister of Kerala Dr Thomas Isaac, former vice-chancellor of the National Law School of India Prof G Mohan Gopal, and activists Brinda Adige and Meera Sanghamitra.