08 December 2021
Left, Right & Caste
"Thiruchandran had carried out
field research in Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya to understand the post-war
dynamics of caste. She unsparingly records the many acts of discrimination in
employment and education that have been conveyed to her" – A
Review of ‘Caste and its Multiple Manifestations: A Study of the Caste System
in Northern Sri Lanka’ by Selvy Thiruchandran, Bay Owl Press 2021. – review by
Dr Ahilan Kadirgamar
The pictures above were taken during Thai
Pongal festival in 2015. More than six years later, we have achieved stronger
cohesion through Caste based Equality, while the idle minds continue to capitalise
on the caste issue through imaginary ideas.
A member of the Jaffna Hindu College alumni
wrote as follows:
review by Ahilan’s Kathirgamar about the book published by Selvy
Thiruchandran, daughter of reformist and social thinker, Handy
Very disappointed as none
of the members responded so far. Are they also consciously silent party of
Jaffna community, the way our ancestors, political leaders and
Tamil elite behaved over 100 years?. Instead of talking about lynching in
Pakistan, some actions by LTTE, achievements by self, unrelated less
important stories about west, I will appreciate if members could voice
their opinion, genuine or hypocritical , so that we all can debate this major
issue in our society, a real curse. I am very interested to know the stance
taken by every member including Sunthar. I will post my comments soon.
Sunthar the book must be
an excellent one, could you please let me know how to get one, hard copy
by post or an online publication. I wish to do some research on the issue. I
gather Selvy is an author of several books, this being her latest one.]
I responded as follows:
wish to do some research on the issue. I gather Selvy is an author of several
books, this being her latest one]
I stated as follows:
[But Selvi has not
contributed to this forum. I have. My Tamil book about Thesawalamai law which
included the right way of practising caste, has been published online also.
That is based on gender equality which is also on the same basis of caste
Selvi and I were
recruited to Air Lanka around the same time. Selvi was Reservations executive.
I was Agency & Interline Executive. Selvi was asked to resign and as per
Selvi’s own words – she did not know why. Selvi said that as per the Commercial
Manager ( Mr Colin Martinus seconded by Singapore Airlines) it was like a
marriage divorce. I was not aware back then that of positive or negative merit
based reason. But each time I was sidelined I spoke out and demanded to know
why – so much so that Mr Martinus asked why the men were silent while I the
female member , was speaking out? – a bit like this forum. Mr Martinus
allocated the responsibility for Colombo Stopover package to me. He also
refused to transfer me to Finance where Mr Kulasegaram the GM wanted me to
come. Once when Mr Martinus pulled me up for sending memos to Bently who
succeeded Selvi I asked Mr Martinus why he was not pulling Bently up? He
said that he had separately. That was his divide and rule policy. In
action Mr Martinus confirmed that he valued me – especially for my courage.
That was my experience based measure to understand the reason why Selvi’s
services were terminated.
I met Selvi at a meeting of Friday Forum and realised that she was well
respected. Selvi seemed to have the respect of Karthigesan master’s daughter
Sumathi. I guess along the way I worked out that Selvi’s separation happened
also due to her being a communist. Air Lanka needed to be commercial and Selvi
as a Leftist would have had difficulty adjusting to this structure. With all
this in my mind I gave the review a miss. Those who read it or want to read it
without having read mine – become my opposition]
explained above, to my mind the reason was structural. President J R
Jayawardene’s mind structure is presented by Wikipedia as follows:
[In contrast with his predecessor, Sirimavo Bandaranaike,
Jayewardena's foreign policy was aligned with American policies (earning him
the nickname 'Yankie Dickie') much to the chagrin of India. Before
Jayewardena's ascendency into the presidency, Sri Lanka had doors widely open
to neighboring India. Jayewardena's tenure in the office restricted the doors
to India a number of times; once an American company tender was granted over an
Indian company tender.]
Also is confirmed the role of Communism in
the Black July massacre that is largely attributed to racism. But was it? Let’s
look at the following:
Aug. 3, 1983
SRI LANKA ROUNDING UP COMMUNISTS
[The Sri Lanka Government, which
accused an unnamed foreign power of instigating ethnic riots last week,
has arrested the leaders of the outlawed pro-Moscow Communist Party.
A Government spokesman, Douglas
Liyanage, announcing the arrests, said the leaders of two other banned leftist
parties wanted by the security forces had gone into hiding.
President J. R. Jayewardene banned
the Communist Party, the extreme-left People's Liberation Front and the New
Socialist Party on Saturday.
charged the parties with direct involvement in last week's rioting, which
claimed more than 215 lives and destroyed hundreds of houses, shops and
factories. Arrest Orders for 31 including the leaders of the banned parties. Up to noon today 18
had been detained.
included the Communist Party's general secretary, K. P. Silva; the editor of
the party's daily newspaper, and at least one other member of its Politburo.
Mr. Liyanage said orders had been given
to arrest 31 people, including the leaders of the banned parties. Up to noon
today 18 had been detained.
arrested included the Communist Party's general secretary, K. P. Silva; the editor of the party's daily
newspaper, and at least one other member of its Politburo.
Mr. Liyanage told reporters that security
was being restored after the clashes between the island's Sinhalese majority
and Tamil minority.
reported one death and 11 cases of arson on Sunday, and 7 minor incidents, like
robbery and looting, on Monday, he said.
Bustling crowds streamed
past the blackened shells of burnt-out buildings today as a semblance of normal
life returned to the capital for the first time in a week. Curfew Lifted
A night curfew was
reimposed throughout the country today after being lifted briefly this morning.
People lined up for food, and offices reopened as security forces patroled the
streets during the few hours in which the curfew was lifted.
Food is not being
rationed, but shopkeepers are limiting the purchases of each family to prevent
The Sri Lanka
Parliament is due to debate a bill on Thursday to ban parties that advocate
separatism. This would affect the Tamil United Liberation Front, which is
leading a political campaign for a separate Tamil state.
The front denies any
connection with an outlawed guerrilla movement fighting to establish a Tamil
state in the northern Jaffna district.
A guerrilla attack in
which 13 soldiers died on July 23 touched off the violence, which flared first
in Colombo early last week and then spread to other parts of the country.
Today the Government
tightened press censorship, restricted the movement of journalists during
curfew hours and expelled a foreign correspondent.
Mr. Liyanage said
Stewart Slavin of United Press International had been asked to leave the
country for transmitting through unofficial channels material turned down by
He said hotels in which foreign correspondents were
staying had been ordered not to accept news dispatches for transmission.
Correspondents can telex reports through the Information Department, he said.
A Pro-Tamil Strike in
MADRAS, India, Aug. 2
(Reuters) - A 14-hour general strike protesting ethnic violence in Sri Lanka
crippled businesses, schools and government offices and halted transportation
in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu today, a government spokesman told
In Madras, the Tamil Nadu state capital, demonstrators
burned effigies of the Sri Lanka President on street corners, and shouted
slogans protesting violence against Sri Lanka's Tamil minority.]
per the above, the, in the mind of the Pro-American president – the cause was Communists
first and Tamils next. This is because the President himself was of Sinhalese
origin and it would have been easier to read a Sinhala mind than a Tamil one. The
parallel caste based reading happened in the junior castes amongst Sinhalese
who used emotions to attack their enemies – who were seen as South Indians who
did rule Northern Sri Lanka. There was no common cause due to the Sinhalese
community being already divided especially through JVP whose leader was
indoctrinated in Russia.
links through socialism happened in the UK also:
[Whilst at Cambridge Kandiah met leftist students from Ceylon
including Pieter Keuneman, S. A. Wickramasinghe and A. Vaidialingam. He came under the
influence of communism and Marxism. Kandiah, Keuneman and Vaidialingam were members
of the Communist Party of Great
Britain. After returning to Ceylon Kandiah and the
other young leftists founded the United Socialist Party in 1941 and its
successor the Communist Party of Ceylon (CPC) in 1943. Kandiah was the CPC's candidate
in Point Pedro at the 1947 and 1952 parliamentary elections but on each occasion was
defeated by the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) candidate T. Ramalingam. He however won the 1956 parliamentary election and entered Parliament. A delimitation commission in the late 1950s
created a new electoral district for Udupiddy from parts of Point Pedro. Kandiah stood as the CPC
candidate in the new electoral district at the March 1960 parliamentary
election but was defeated by the ACTC candidate M. Sivasithamparam] Wikipedia
In his Island article ‘A strategy for
leftists and nationalists’ Mr Uditha Devapriya, confirms
this by quoting as follows:
is not the time… for despair and anger for the Tamil people, but one for
sustained opposition to injustice and sustained effort for the formation of a
Government of justice. In no case must Tamil people think in terms of division;
instead they must think of building the closest unity with the Sinhalese
people… It is very curious but true that there are only two nationalist parties
in the country, namely, the LSSP and the Communist Party, and that all other
parties have given up their national character, having become sectional
political parties.” (P. Kandiah, Debate on the Official Language Act No.33,
Mrs Bandaranaike’s SLFP’s
heritage in Jaffna continues to be carried not only by the University of Jaffna
but also by her own party in Udupiddy where in the 2020 Elections - Mr Angajan
Ramanathan gained highest preferential votes followed by Mr CV Wigneswaran’s group
strongly influenced by Communists in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nationalist party - ITAK
came third and Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s party – the Tamil Congress came next.
In Udupiddy Tamil Congress defeated the Communist Party in the 50’s which has
been inverted by reverse Nationalism due to revenge actions by the LTTE of that
area as well as dilution of Nationalism by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s and his
father’s alliance with the LTTE which was driven by Marxism and not
The Communist Party of
India published the following – at https://cpim.org/content/developments-sri-lanka
Volume: 03, No. 2
in Sri Lanka
was only in 1956, when both the major political parties the United National
Party (UNP) and the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP), opted for the Sinhala-only
language legislation that the Tamils finally turned towards federation
federalism. Even then, every Tamil candidate who campaigned for separation lost
his security deposit. After the riots of 1956 and 1958, the university
admissions crisis of the early 1970s and the adoption of the first republican
Constitution in 1972, which eliminated the guarantees given to the minorities,
the Tamils still rejected separation. Finally, in 1975, separatism was accepted
by the major Tamil political parties, which formed the Tamil United Liberation
Front (TULF). Even then, at the 1977 elections, a majority of Tamils voted for
candidates who rejected separation. Most of those who voted for the TULF voted
for a party that championed Tamil rights and not for separation in itself. The
demand for separation was then seen as a bargaining chip.
his broadcast speech after the violence began, President Jayewardene charged
the Left parties with being in league with the “extremists” of the TULF, and
his Government banned the communist party of Sri Lanka and two other Left
parties and arrested their leaders and activists. The ban was later lifted, and
the arrested persons were released.]
How is one to know the
difference between Nationalism and Communism?
In Sri Lanka, the Sri
Lankan Nationalists were in fact Communists. Likewise, many Tamil Communist
leaders like Mr Kathigesan had overridden caste consciousness. This naturally separated
them from Tamil Nationalists who were not only caste conscious but were also
Capitalistic in their mind-structure. This separation has been taken by Tamils to
their new nations. In the UK the London Assembly adopted the following :
“London’s Tamil community, originating from Sri
Lanka, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and elsewhere, makes a
strong contribution to the life of our city.
There are an estimated 15,000 Tamils working
for NHS England as doctors, nurses and front-line health professionals,
thousands of Tamils serving as teachers and teaching assistants in our schools.
Over a hundred adult social care facilities are operated by Tamils in and around
London, caring for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Tamils have made significant contributions to
the social, economic, cultural and political fabric of the UK; from serving in
the Royal Air Force during the Second World War to Tamil scientists working on
the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
This incredible work takes place against the
backdrop of persecution and abuse abroad, deeply affecting the wellbeing of the
family and friends of Tamils in the UK.
The London Assembly thanks the Tamil community
for their invaluable contribution to our city. We are profoundly grateful for
the work that they do.
The Assembly notes that January marks Tamil Heritage Month and
that Pongal – the Harvest Festival – commences on 14th January. We call on the
Mayor of London and the London boroughs to ensure these occasions are marked
and that our much-valued Tamil community is supported across the city.”
This London Resolution, while mentioning Sri Lankan Tamils first, includes also Tamils from India,
Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa. That was/is also the case with Sri Lankan leaders who
carried the British heritage. This commonness is easier with intellectuals and
is rare with manual workers. The manual workers need belief based commonness
which is often developed through self-imposed isolation as in parts such as Thunaivi
shown above and Valvettithurai – the local area of the LTTE leader. Being
physically driven – they would lack the ability to use the higher thinking of
the brain but are more comfortable with the use of inherited skills.
If we therefore make it equal at the lower common factor, which
is physical, there is some loss of higher intellectual abilities. That is
democracy. If majority of this category – then the leadership has no need for
the high level thinking. Where the policy is to give preference to intellectual
leadership – the gap is filled by subjective leadership – through loyalty to
Tamils who were attracted by immediate results as shown by armed
militants lost the value of intellectually driven leadership. Hence the strong
criticism of the likes of Mr Sumanthiran and Mr Shanakiya by LTTE supporters in
USA and the UK.
The solution is in recognition of Equality of Caste through
conscious recognition of the diversity by one group about the other. With caste
out of the way – political reasons would be more clearly identified with – in all