Wednesday 29 October 2014

Thunaivi - Toddy Tapper Village

Sinhalese Fearing Tamils

I write in response to the article ‘Will Tamils be satisfied even if Eelam is given?
 by Ms Shenali Waduge.

The question confirms lack of depth of understanding of the issue of self-governance by Ms Waduge. Independence, Truth, Love is not ‘given’. It is earned and realized. No one has the authority to handover Eelam to anyone. At the same time, where one enjoys real freedom as an Eelam Tamil – no one has the authority to deny or damage that enjoyment.

Ms Waduge argues:
Caste Factors – An Eelam where High Caste/class Tamils can’t stand to live with low caste Tamils

Caste based order of thought – is the right order of thought for some parts of the Tamil community – for the same reason why Ms Waduge is using a male name as family name. Relatively speaking it is quite common now in Sri Lanka as well as in India for young Tamil ladies to use their given names as their surnames.  Does this mean that Ms Waduge is less than those ladies in terms of gender equality?

Ms Waduge states:
With the caste differentiation factor remaining a strong divider among and between Tamil society whether in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu or Tamils living in foreign climes the question is how integrated can an eelam be in the context of people divided along caste lines?

Due to weak knowledge of  Tamil culture even as it is today, leave alone traditionally, Ms Waduge is imagining a picture that does not exist. Whilst it is true that some parts of the Tamil Community continue discriminate on the basis of caste or even on the basis of territory within  Sri Lanka – Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticalao or Hill country – in that descending order - taken as a whole – there are enough of us to produce a net positive value to be eligible to claim membership in the system of Equal Opportunity through Democratic structures. That is what common life is all about.  Until therefore the net value is seen and/or known to be negative – an outsider lacks the authority to criticize the whole. On this basis, it is better for Sinhalese to include Tamils to get credits with Democratic societies.

One is however entitled to criticize an individual and the group led by that individual.  Hence at the moment – if Mr. Douglas Devananda is seen by Sinhalese as the leader of Tamils – then the charges are against him and the Sri Lankan government itself.  If it is Mr. Wigneswaran – then it does apply to Jaffna Tamils. I have no knowledge of Mr. Wigneswaran practicing caste based discrimination.   If he had – the Sri Lankan Government was wrong in promoting him to the position of Judge of the Supreme Court. If he was right back then – he is right now – until known otherwise.

Ms Waduge states:

Caste factor is so strong there are parents who have died without speaking a word to their daughters simply because she married a Tamil man belonging to a lower caste, there are grandparents who have not and will not touch their grandchild because one of the parents is low caste, there are high castes who still keep different cups and saucers for the low caste Tamils to drink from, there are still homes where low castes are not welcome and there are even places of religious worship that will not accept low castes. Should we be surprised when these outcasts become easy prey for religions that builds its army from people indoctrinated and converted?

Work and sacrifice of earned benefits are the core bases of such systems.  The above mentioned picture is not known in Jaffna or Vattukottai area as a net value.  My husband and I have been alienated by his siblings on the apparent basis it is a second marriage for me – which is quite lawful as per Thesawalamai Law.  The  real basis was attachment to the money wealth left behind by my husband’s brother. Until this issue – taken as a net picture - they were living in harmony with us. Sisters took advantage of brothers having greater responsibility as per Thesawalamai principles.  But later they tried to take over leadership – to have quick access to the estate of one of the brothers. In terms of money – it is something we – my husband and I - do not have to have. We have done enough for the sister for their children to earn and support their branches of the family. But in terms of status – as shown through Thesawalamai structure – we need to complete the picture by taking responsibility for the Administration of the Estate. That status is a higher value than money for the work done.  This does not mean that we live as per male superiority.  It means that we need to complete the cycle to the extent we contributed to male leadership which supported the females to develop a secure structure for themselves through their marriages. If we do not complete that picture – we would be breaking the system.

Likewise in terms of caste.  Once the cycle is completed – we are free of those systems.  That’s when we would naturally help others.  During my recent stay in Vattukottai – I did counsel a young guy who was seeking to ‘donate’ money towards his younger sister’s dowry. That younger sister is earning her own money.  When I asked him – why he had to donate – the guy said ‘it’s my duty’.    I asked him – how it could be his duty?  As per Thesawalamai – daughters are entitled to a share in the dowry from the mother.  The rest is left to the parents. In addition, when this son got married he was training as a tailor and not as a mason that his father was/is.  It was after getting married and after joining our group that he has been able to earn and save to even think about such a proposal.  Hence logically speaking he did not have such a duty. The guy after our discussion,  declared that he would not volunteer but if there was a need to fill the gap – he would do so.   I promised to provide the support needed if that were the case.

This is not uncommon with the Tamil community at various levels.  We do have the duty to complete the cycle for those who are owed under the old system. To break away from it before we complete the cycle – would be to abandon those very lower caste groups that have little knowledge of higher social duties.   Like with my marriage if some parts accuse and demote us – we accept that also as part of the service to our community – so we would not be indebted to our ancestors, due to those who used the higher structures and walked away without paying their dues. Some minds cannot cope with second marriages for women even though they may be living in countries like Australia where even de facto marriages are culturally accepted. We make allowances for them also – so that the net value is positive.

LTTE are labelled as Terrorists and to the extent there are Tamils who have greater positive status in this regard – the whole community has earned net positive status.  To divide on the basis of caste and armed rebellion – confirms selfishness.  As some Tamils point out – today, due to the LTTE -  the common Sinhalese is more aware of  what could go wrong if s/he went against a Tamil without objectively measurable proof of wrong doing.   Some of us may not need that protection – but the average Tamil living in Sri Lanka does.   To that extent LTTE has changed the order of thought of the Sinhalese at their parallel level.  This has been followed by the Tamil Diaspora through their influence over UN and other Global Governments.  Talking about our internal problems would not help restore that lost status for the Sinhalese.

Systems are developed through sacrifice of earned benefits.  Even though we may not be conscious of it – when we sacrifice earned benefits – we naturally develop systems that would support us during our times of need.  We need to use the best known local system in the case of  folks who are not exposed to wider principles and laws.  We cannot jump from primary school to university in terms of democracy – just because the Sinhalese pretend to be authorities in democracy. Due to the war – the Tamil resident in Sri Lanka needs to be allowed more time and money resources than the Sinhalese resident towards catching up on democracy.  Using caste to demote our  status confirms that the intention is for the Sinhalese to take up superior positions.

Ms Waduge states:
In such a scenario it is curious to know how the Tamils propose to live together in harmony with these differentiations playing a key role in their day to day lives.

All one needs is to do is look at the global status Tamils have earned as migrants, relative to Sinhalese in democratic societies. That confirms the picture that we do live in harmony in democratic societies, while pursuing our own progress as a community.  Tamils are working and sacrificing to uphold and strengthen their earned status as an independent community.  If Sinhalese are also doing so – they have no reason to fear Tamils.

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 29 October 2014

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Monday 27 October 2014

Education - Linking You 

From Vattukottai to Australia & New Zealand

Contact - Shanthi Joseph - 94 77 3186022

About Separation Of Powers In Northern Sri Lanka

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( October 26, 2014, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) Recently, I received reports of Mr M K Sivajilingam former member of Parliament representing Jaffna Tamils, accusing Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran on the basis of latter’s expression of difficulty in working with groups that used armed power. Listening to the speech by Mr. Sivajilingam, I concluded that Jaffna Administration was being suffocated by those who came to power by using the gun. We are accusing the Sri Lankan Government of injustice based on our own thinking. Relative to Mr. Sivajilingam, the Hon C V Wigneswaran’s investment in multiculturalism and justice through common forms is much greater. Any Tamil who uses Educational power before armed power to establish justice would feel hurt by this judgment delivered by Mr. Sivajilingam against the Hon Wigneswaran, the Chief Minister of Northern Province.

Mr. Sivajilingam stated that Mr. Wigneswaran was standing on the shoulders of militants and is criticizing them. In comparison, many examples of former leaders were stated as examples of good leadership. This included the support provided to the LTTE by the Hon Appapillai Amirthalingam – duly elected leader of Vaddukoddai – the Tamil District that led the claim for Independent Tamil State. On hearing this my mind said to Mr. Wigneswaran to not make the same mistake that Mr. Amirthalingam made. Mr. Amirthalingam was killed by the very same LTTE. The death of any person in the line of duty is a sacrificial death – and one who killed such a person is a criminal – be it the Sri Lankan Government or the Tamil Militant leader.

To my mind the work and sacrifices of the armed groups have been taken to the global level by educated Tamils through many paths – including investments in higher global administration.

The Tamil community as a whole claims credit at the global level – through its investment in Higher Education. Mr. Wigneswaran fits that position far better than Mr. Sivajilingam. As per my observations in Vaddukoddai and Jaffna – investment in Education is happening at a far higher rate than investment in politics. Mr. Wigneswaran has the duty to the Tamil Community as a Whole – to structure a system that would serve not only residents of Northern Sri Lanka but all Tamils of Sri Lankan origin who have invested in Tamil self-governance.

This self-governance could be achieved as follows:

1. As individuals
2. As part of an ethnic culture
3. As part of common culture recognized by the rest of the world.

So long as we have had little or no exposure to the world outside our land area – pathway 2 above would lead seekers to self-governance – with or without gun-power. That is the political path. But where the majority power of an ethnic group is based on global living – that path needs to be lost consciousness of. Devolution would then be used purely to prevent other ethnic groups – in this instance the Sinhala only politicians – from interfering in our path to self-governance. The people of Jaffna elected Mr. Wigneswaran for this job - knowing very well that he would promote Education and Higher thinking above armed leadership and at times even political leadership – as seen through the recent boycotting of the ceremonies around the President’s visit.

In his, Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Sri Lanka: Executive Vs. Judiciary,
Mr. Basil Fernando – Director Policy and Programme Development Asian Human Rights Commission, has raised this very issue in terms of the Sri Lankan Presidency. One of the statements that registered strongly with me is:

‘The opportunity came when one person considered by all to represent the epitome of reactionary ideas J.R. Jayawardena obtained 5/6th of the seats in the 1977 parliamentary election.’

It was through the 1977 parliamentary elections that the Vaddukoddai Resolution was confirmed by the system of Natural Justice. The position of Tamil leadership was then held by the Hon Appapillai Amirthalingam and not by any leader of armed groups. The legitimate heir to that position is an Educated Tamil and not one who believed in armed struggle. Mr. Wigneswaran fits that Heirship more than any leader of armed group – past or present.

Back then - armed groups climbed on the shoulders of TNA politicians to pursue their own ambitions and then killed those very positions through those persons. A Vaddukoddai widow said to me that her husband was taken into custody as ‘Thesa Throki’ / Traitor of the Nation - for preventing his younger brother from joining the LTTE. That is quite a common label as per LTTE’s system of Justice. But the common Tamil would not be able to identify with this through an independent mind. It was so only because Prabhakaran said so. A community with such leadership would not use education for life. The Tamil community is stronger for the leadership of Mr. Wigneswaran and it would be very damaging to try to bring him down the lower level of political leadership of armed groups. Those groups need to respect the independence of the People who elected Mr. Wigneswaran and therefore his power in justice through educated thinking. Jaffna Tamils did not ever elect any armed leader as their representative. If they did – they would automatically downgrade the value of their own investment in higher education and therefore entitlement to live in other nations using common measures to uphold law and order.

A deep insight into the forces leading to the 1977 outcomes would help us become independent of dictatorships in both leading communities in Sri Lanka. Tamils lost the political leadership to armed leadership and Sinhalese lost their opportunity to enjoy the fruits of democracy to autocracy. The root cause is the same – Political leadership being used beyond local borders.

A strong example that illustrates the value of the Doctrine of Separation of powers is apparent at family level. Most of us are driven by family bondage / attachment and until marriage this is to our parents and siblings. Marriage structures are human structures and strong marriage structures help us become independent of biological attachments. This is necessary for us to override the animal tendencies in us. Hence the human brain has the ability to think at the higher level – to distinguish between right and wrong and prevent damages to own life and our ambitions to be ‘free’.

Those who fail to complete their primary level relationships – with parents and siblings would bring open ledgers into their marriage. Where that marriage is governed by an extension of one side of that marriage partnership – it would not be excessively damaging and in some instances progressive. But where it is not – one needs a new common structure with equal status to both. Likewise in multiculturalism. Likewise in Judiciary.

Where Tamil Politics submits itself to Sinhala politics – as in the above mentioned extended family system – there would be little need for common measures – as in the partnership between the EPDP (Eelam People’s Democratic Party ) led by Mr. Douglas Devananda and the UPFA (United People’s Freedom Alliance) led by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. That is an extension of the subjective system and hence suits a Presidential structure with little separation between Politics and Administration and therefore the Executive and the Judiciary. Tamils could still realize self-governance through their support for National politicians – especially those who demonstrate acceptance of other cultures – as Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa has been doing. Mr. Wignesawaran who is likely to have reached a high level of self-governance through the Judicial path – has chosen to add his strength to the Tamil Political path and that needs to be respected by the likes of Mr. Sivajilingam whose path even if successful would not have facilitated global opportunities for Tamils. The value of armed struggle has been made common not by the wins by armed groups but by the deaths that happened due to the expression of such cause being recognized at the global level.

Politics – like family affection is subjective and is one sided at that time at that place. Faith fills the other side to make it wholesome. Without that faith – that position has only half the power of Administration through Common principles and laws through which both sides could be known at the same time. Facts are manifestations of Truth – and it is common knowledge that there is no gain/pleasure without pain. Judiciary is strong in this balanced thinking and hence needs to rely least on faith through biological connections. Hence the need for Doctrine of Separation of Powers.

A community that argues for such separation of powers – needs to also recognize that need for separation between their culture and other ethnic cultures. Failure to do so – would result in our needs becoming theirs. Hence the 1978 Constitution and the Executive President without strong Democratic Administration. The promise by President Rajapaksa that he would give up that structure if Tamils gave up their claim for separation confirms his understanding that the two are linked.

Where the military is strongly active – one does need Presidential Powers. This is the case with the USA whose army is strongly active outside USA. Sri Lanka needs it within. Hence it needs the Executive Presidency. Tamils as a community may lead Sri Lanka into Democracy – through Public Administration under the leadership of Higher minds.

Friday 17 October 2014

Serving Thunaivi

Transformation of Thunaivi
Development of the Thunaivi Village in Northern Sri Lanka primarily throughEducational Activities– by becoming part of the Thunaivi Community which considered itself to be a disenfranchised part of Northern Sri Lanka. Thunaivi is a small village within the District of Vattukottai in Northern Sri Lanka – made up largely of descendants of those by tradition were toddy-tappers. Today, many young ones of Thunaivi have put themselves through formal education and are seeking higher standards of living.

Our Services

  1. Development of the Thunaivi Village in Northern Sri Lanka – by becoming part of the Thunaivi Community which considered itself to be a disenfranchised part of Northern Sri Lanka
  2. Development of School of Human Values
  3. Development of regular training in English and Computers
  4. Development of self-employment facilities for women – especially those more seriously affected by war
  5. Sharing in the pain of  war victims in Sri Lanka and in Australia
  6. Supporting anyone seeking to lead an independent life and towards this identifying with their ‘home’ environment
  7. Supporting orphans  and widows  in Batticaloa
  8. Providing Tsunami Reconstruction services – especially in the village of Mankerni