Sunday 30 November 2014

Heroes and Pariahs in  Democracy

What is the value of my vote in the Sri Lankan elections or for that matter in any elections? As an individual do I celebrate the win or mourn the  defeat of the person I voted for ?  If that is the only outcome I identify with – then I am a primary level voter who is dependent on the person I voted for – to fulfill my expectations from wider world.  A governor on the other hand would comfortably restructure her/his work to tailor the new leadership to become her/his medium to produce outcomes.  To such a person – the elected leader is a ‘facility’.  When majority use leadership as facility the nation is Sovereign. On the other hand, a nation could claim to be Sovereign through its Leadership’s commitment to upholding principles and values that would lead to enjoyment of  Sovereignty by any practitioner in the group, of such principles and values. This need not be majority. It could be minority community/group or individuals. Excessive physical level claim of right to such Sovereignty often strongly indicates attachment to physical freedom that juniors often seek.  To my mind, JVP and LTTE claims were more of this kind and hence the separatism that Sri Lanka has been experiencing.

When asked a few months back – the question ‘When you see the future of India do you see a India that is purely Hindu or do you see a place for ‘Muslims’ in India ?’, the Indian Prime Minister the Hon Narendra Modi is reported to have stated ‘This question is a problem faced by people who do not have a proper understanding of what Hindu or Hindutva means and never grasp it. Hinduism always says (quoting Sankrit hymn) ‘ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti’ which means the Truth is one but there are many paths to understand and get to it.’ 

Realizing Self-Governance  could also be through various paths but the Experience of Nationalism is One. A leader who is a common  facility to  those various paths would demonstrate Equal respect for the belief  of those who use different paths. Sometimes the majority may be following in one path – for example Hindus in India and Buddhists in Sri Lanka – but some minority group in that area  may have greater value due to following in the traditional path. Once we realize Sovereignty through a particular issue or path – we have the moral authority to express our Sovereignty within those borders.   A Sovereign person would not consciously or otherwise damage others’ investment in Sovereignty through that path and/or in that area. It is towards this that Separation of Powers is required – be it between the Judiciary and the Executive or between different Religions or between different cultures.

Where by law Equal status is allocated to a particular cultural group -  which is minority in terms of numbers  – then Separation of Powers is an entitlement flowing from such Equal status. All religions in Sri Lanka and all minority cultures in Sri Lanka were entitled to this separation through Article 14 (1) (e )  and (f) provided for this separation as follows:
 Every citizen is entitled to -
(e) the freedom, either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching;
(f) the freedom by himself or in association with others to enjoy and promote his own culture and to use his own language;

The above is the parallel of Article 5 of the UN Convention of the Elimination of  all forms of Racial Discrimination.

The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution went further to specifically state render Equal status to Tamil. Those who read the Constitution genuinely would appreciate that the separation is already there.  It was there at least from 1978 and it has been specifically stated as a rule through the 13th Amendment. India is often associated with this 13th Amendment. If that is the case – India must be credited for helping the then President JR Jayawardene diffuse his negative karma:

(1)   The 1977 Elections confirmed that it was possible for Tamils to become Equal Opposition under the Westminster system of Government Structure.
(2)   In 1978, The Constitution was changed to restructure to create Executive Presidency.
(3)   The Executive Presidency had the effect of  drastically reducing the opportunity for a Tamil to share leadership as opposition – as happened in 1977 under the Westminster system. This was in effect an evolution of the Sinhala Only language policy in terms of Tamils and its parallel for the rural Sinhalese including the Sinhalese rebel group JVP
(4)   In 1987, through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution Tamil language was rendered Equal status to Sinhala language. It happened due to the effects of the separation by physical forces on both sides which started manifesting strongly from 1983.

Many sections of the Sinhalese community recommend the abolition of  Amendment 13. They need to be cautious not to unleash the Natural Forces that have been balanced through this Amendment. To my mind, the above Amendment offsets at the Constitutional level – the negative karma accumulated by the Government of Sri Lanka since independence from Britain – worsened through the 1978 Constitution.  To the extent elected individuals used subjective powers to legislate suppression of Equal rights to practice Sovereignty – they acquire negative karma as individuals.  The 13th Amendment mitigated such sin in accumulated by the then President JR Jayawardene.

In his Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Is There Anything Called Luck’ , Victor Cherubim asks:

 ‘Luck, in my opinion, happens to everyone, every living being. A leader like Nelson Mandela, a social reformer like Mahatma Gandhi, an eminent theologian like Thomas Aquinas or to come closer home, even to a pop group like, “One Direction,” the difference between them and an ordinary citizen, is that they did not depend on luck to “turn them on”. Was it a leap of faith into the unknown that made them change their life plans, that challenged the time, the place and the circumstance, into which they were born, lived and even endured pain and/or pleasure?

Last night,  prior to reading the above article,  during discussions with a group of expatriate Sri Lankans on the declaration by   Mr James Watson, the world-famous biologist who was shunned by the scientific community after linking intelligence to race said he is selling his Nobel Prize because he is short of money after being made a pariah,
 I wrote :

‘Whether it be Black Africans or Pariah caste – they ARE NOT less than us nor the Brahmin / Academic or White Americans superior to us.  Like in a family – the levels of intelligence and other talents are different. No one has the right to think higher or lower of another – except through a common structure and/or through common belief.   Belief makes us One.  Until we have the experience – it is difficult to appreciate how we could be Equal when the seen and the known say otherwise.   The gap is the divinity that is common to both. One with higher divinity – includes the one with lower divinity – as Jesus did.’

Mention of Jesus above applies equally to all leaders who ‘include’ the junior through deeper faith in the whole. ‘The leap into faith’ as described by Victor Cherubim – happens when we go beyond the structure applicable to the position taken by us into the world of Truth. Such souls  are all Governors of that structure.  Sir Anthony Mason and Dr. John Yu – Chancellors of my time at the University of New South Wales – recognized such qualities in my work – because they were themselves governors. But in Australia – Chancellors are not valued as highly as Vice Chancellors and Governors as highly as Prime Minister. Under the Monarchical structure – this was an active position – including under Hindu kings who honored Rishis in their Courts.   We Australians carry the negative karma of Sir John Kerr who interfered with the Executive path to dismiss the Prime Minister.  The Governor needs to be driven by Truth and not knowledge. If there is not enough Truth to make a decision – the Governor needs to be an observer and communicate through her/his belief in the whole.   Like with God – the Governor should not move directly to participate in the administrative activities of that structure.   Truth does the work for us.  Some of us call it luck.

The Constitution is like the Bible.  Once it is made law – all those who are yet to go past the final human boundary into the area of Truth – have the responsibility to not act in breach of the law. When we do – whether we get punished or not – we accumulate negative karma which slows down our progress to that boundary between conscious intelligence and Truth. This happens through our own conscience as the witness. The discovery by Mr. James Watson should have been kept within the boundaries of the scientific world and not recognized for social purposes.  By awarding the Nobel Prize to him – the group that did so lost its own creditworthiness  to award Nobel Peace Prize.  Not only did the Nobel Prize make a Pariah of Mr. Watson – but of  itself – by failing to adhere to the separation needed between science and arts.

Like in the Caste system – if we do not have functional hierarchy – but continue to take higher position above another subjectively – including due to majority power through race or religion – we accumulate negative karma. This is so because we are all children of God. The Governor needs to be such a power who would give refuge to all those who have come past the human boundaries in their environments.  Like with caste when it was actively connected to work performed – separation is needed so we do not slow down our own progress towards this ultimate goal.  As we become more and more global – the commitment to Equal status until known otherwise,  needs to be more and more consciously practiced if we are to not become Pariahs of  Democracy. By including Buddhism in the Constitution – Sri Lankan Government  reduced the status of  God as the real Governor.  The Executive Presidency confirmed the removal of Governor who represented that Silent Power.

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 30  November 2014

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