30 July 2017
Sri Lanka and Gandhi
Independent India’s first Prime Minister Nehru has
been quoted in the Daily Mirror article ‘Stooping to win’ , as
“Ceylon is too small a political and economic unit to stand by itself” Nehru
Relative to Nehru, Gandhi was also small, in body and status. The above statement distances the speaker from Gandhi. Each one of us would relate to a country through the folks we meet at our levels. These days it is not unusual for me to come across Indian Tamils liberally using the Jaffna-Colombo intercity express trains. Yesterday, there was a young Jaffna Tamil female seated next to me and she was on the phone to someone in Colombo, for about 2 hours. Across the aisle on the other side were two men in their mid thirties and their accent when one of them spoke to his wife in India confirmed to me that they were visitors from India. I went to the canteen and took my time over the Nescafe which I like to have on board that train. When I returned about half an hour later – one of the guys from across was occupying my seat and was in active conversation with the young Jaffna lady. The guy got up when I went back. A little later I went to the toilet and when I came back this guy was back in my seat. I noticed that the two seats in front were free – so I said I would sit in front. I could hear them discuss general matters – about Chennai – as if the guy was educating the girl. According to her conversation on the phone she was an IT graduate. When we came to Anuradhapura those who had booked the seat I was occupying boarded the train and I went back to my allocated seat. Their conversation continued and when we got close to Colombo the guy was asking about accommodation in Colombo and where the girl stayed etc. The girl got details from someone and gave them some names of hotels. The girl asked me and I said Sai Sea City Hotel which was close to Wellawatte Railway station. In my mind I said to the guys that they ought to have booked their own accommodation before leaving Jaffna. I felt that if the girl had her own accommodation – they would have ended up at her place. Nothing wrong – but then those are NOT the Jaffna Community values which we upheld when we were that girl’s age. The other Indian guy said to me that they had come previously and gone to Kandy but were not allowed to go to certain places due to security reasons. I was concerned that guys like them were having a field day with girls like the one next to me – who obviously did not ‘protect’ herself from getting lured by strangers. With rape and murder cases like Vithya’s which have been drawing much of our judicial resources one would expect young girls from Jaffna to be more cautious of whom they make friends with. As an Accounting student travelling from Colombo to Jaffna – I also provided my phone and address details in Colombo to a Colombo guy – a Burgher. Later that guy called me and said he was going to visit me at the hostel. I promptly asked my friend Rene Don Bernard at Satchithananda Schokman Wijeratne & Co (now Price Waterhouse Coopers), to do something about this ‘extension of the rail interaction’. Rene asked me for the time and came over to my hostel to wait for this guy. When the guy came – Rene said to him that I was his cousin and that the guy was not to visit me at the hostel nor bother me otherwise. I saw no more of that guy. It was the Common discipline at Satchithananda Schokman Wijeratne & Co, that helped us relate to each other as if we were relatives of a wide group rather than stand-alone casuals. I was pulled up many times by my seniors there and not always for mistakes by me. But by accepting their discipline I believe I invested in that professional relationship.
That is not today’s Jaffna which has strong militant ‘freedom’ attitude and hence the higher level of risk of rape and murder than was the case during the time was a student. I carried with me the protective ways of my family and educational institutions with me. The investment I made of my own free will – always protects me during my time of need – including when I went to the camps in 2009.
I therefore fully believe that a small country can protect itself from those who try to lure its people away from its own protection. Many of our problems have been due to unregulated relationships with Indian Tamils who were getting restless in their own country. Nehru’s own grandson was killed due to this kind of ‘funding’ during his daughter’s rule. Those driven by money would neglect root relationships that lead to Sovereignty. When we are bound at the root level – we make the travel along Independence pathway together – sharing in each other’s ups and downs. One who has the Experience makes this root connection. One who knows the other and includes the other as part of her/him/itself – has the Common experience. Nehru did not have this in the case of India’s Tamil Nadu. The role played by Kamaraj – in National Politics is presented as follows:
[After Nehru's death in 1964, Kamaraj successfully navigated the party through turbulent times. As president of the INC, he refused to become the next prime minister himself and was instrumental in bringing to power two Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 and Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi in 1966. For this role, he was widely acclaimed as the "kingmaker" during the 1960s.] - Wikipedia
The Commonness between Gandhi and Kamaraj is their spirit of self-sacrifice. Kamaraj started working before he completed his schooling, due to family circumstances. But the wisdom he gained through his Experiences and belief in the likes of Gandhi led to him being a wise man – so much so that he passed away naturally on Gandhi’s birthday.
Any Indian leader who relates to Sri Lanka as a ‘small’ country – is showing signs desire for invasion. If India wants to protect its leaders from getting murdered – they need to strengthen their relationship with Sri Lankans at various levels and not take their ‘freedom’ to grab our resources for granted. One who truly fought for Independence from the British would not make that mistake of ‘invasion’. Privately Mr. Nehru may have felt that Ceylon was part of the family. But when making Public Statements he had the responsibility to demonstrate respect for Sri Lanka to make its own declarations about itself. India is NOT Sri Lanka’s Big Brother. The current deals may give some that impression. But even One independent Sri Lankan who has had the Experience of Independence in Sri Lanka is enough to return India’s karma to itself. That is the way the system of Natural Justice harnesses Natural Powers in support so that Gandhi of small body became the mighty being who had the power to expel the British foreigners from ruling India.
Politics in India and Sri Lanka has become like a child with disabilities. If most of the family’s attention is diverted to this child – then others are deprived of their share of ‘normal’ life.