Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 26 May 2016
Common Culture & Common Governance
I was forwarded the reference to a recent speech by Justice Ilanchelian who has been vested with the responsibility of managing Law and Order in Jaffna – through Court Administration, after the damage by the Public over raping of a school girl. Even as I listened, I was joined by others at our Vaddukoddai shopping mall. They expressed appreciation for the good work being done by Justice Ilanchelian.
I was listening to the above speech after students from Jaffna College graced our ‘Opportunity Shop’ selling mostly Australian products. The kids are a joy to be with. Some of them bring their parents later and we make the connection to the parents through the kids. Justice Ilanchelian emphasized in his speech the importance of parents guiding their kids in law and order. I find that there is a big gap in the culture of parents of Mr. Ilanchelian’s time and today’s parents of Jaffna. There is also a gap between the culture around Jaffna College on the one hand and the People of Thunaivi determined the date of an opening ceremony as per the availability of the Chief Minister. That is like deciding on a wedding date on the basis of the convenience of the dignitary. When questioned, one guy said that importance was given to such personalities so that they would allocate more resources to them.
The Chief Minister by his status as former Judge of the Supreme Court and due to his age – is like Mr. Ilanchelian’s father. There are young lawyers who through their public speeches kindle the emotions of youth – including in Vaddukoddai area where the first declaration of Political independence was made in 1976. They are like Judge Ilanchelian’s students. If Mr. Ilanchelian is able to make the connection between the professional order demonstrated by Mr. Wigneswaranand the young lawyers who make emotional speeches - that is the maximum level at which he is entitled to expect leadership from parents of school and university students. The rest if it happens is bonus. Our professions are our families. We need to have good governance order within our family for us to deserve good social order. Where the two are not structured to be interconnected – we need to rely on Truth which is the Universal connector.
When the mind is still, every one of us makes the connection at our true level. Until recently, I was more focused on the ‘Opportunity selling’ in Thunaivi. To my mind, Opportunity shops help raise the lifestyle standards of the less affluent. The Service attitude of the persons managing the Opportunity shops makes the products independent of the energies of the original owners/possessors of the goods who often buy goods for the pleasure of shopping. The condition for the buyer is that s/he must pay the stated price and nothing comes free. Given that majority donors are of Sri Lankan origin and would havestayed on in Sri Lanka – if not for the war – that Opportunity shop represents that generation that made that cultural gap that the likes of Mr. Ilanchelian are trying to fill. In Thunaivi – try as much as I could – the level of connection was low. They could not project beyond a certain point and therefore they could not develop expectations from themselves beyond that point. Relatively speaking the students of Jaffna College demonstrated greater order and enthusiasm. The connection through the Opportunity shop in Vaddukoddai is much stronger than in Thunaivi where I continue to care more for the folks than they give recognition for.
The speech by Judge Ilanchelian would have been of very little intellectual value to the folks of Thunaivi. But knowing that he is high up in the Sri Lankan hierarchy would help them ‘show’ Equal status to other communities. Towards this
To my mind, it is easier to accept the realistic structure as of current times and use that as the base than to expect as per our times which is largely theory to the younger generation that has developed through the pain and loss of war. Quick dumping of theories and funds by over-enthusiastic donors - leads to high level of consumption without the appropriate structures that would connect income to expenses.Law & Order is recognized at the individual and family levels – the balancing of funds within the control of the individual and parents.
In many ways – the ‘Opportunity shop’ is a small model of ‘service-projects’ needed by Jaffna and funded by the global community. The Housing project in war affected areas which is under scrutiny, confirms that the connection between the beneficiaries and the service providers is weak. As the Hon. Sumanthiran highlighted during a recent interview –the quality confirms that they are more temporary than long term confirmations of our war-heritage. The lessons we really learnt from the war ought to be represented by those housing projects. Given that the war happened due to ‘rights’ and the Tamil community was defeated – the post-war recovery needs to be ‘experience’ based. The best way to have the experience in current Jaffna is through ‘Business’ approach. The Opportunity shops help raise the consumption standards of customers who are yet to be exposed to the outside world. Charity to the poor who lack the inner vision to raise themselves to the higher order of thought must have a ceiling. Beyond the optimum level needed to support them maintain their level of earned consumption - comes with the high risk of excessive consumption – including in electronic goods and pleasure drugs.
Yesterday, I had the need to get the charger of my mobile phone tested and after being urged by my husband to buy a smart phone for myself – I made inquiries at the Samsung phone shop in Jaffna town. While I was waiting for the testing to complete – I inquired about smart phones – their features and their prices. Where they are not way above my expectations – I prefer to spend the money in Jaffna where I was born and have a responsibility to develop heritage values. One of the local ladies who was seated there waiting for her service to be completed – asked whether they had the J7 ??? This lady, to my mind, was deriving some satisfaction from demonstrating her knowledge of smart-phones that I was lacking in. Later after that lady left, I learnt that the most appropriate one would cost me around Rs.20,000/-. (AU$200).I said I would think about it and left. Then at the ladies’ salon I noticed the staff using smart phones and asked them about how much theirs cost? They said nothing much – about Rs.18,000/-!!!!How does one reconcile between the two cultures? Back in Australia, our grandchildren also use smart-phones – often bought out of the monies they have earned from their parents and/or collected as presents. To that extent I do allow margin for ‘generation-gap’. But anything beyond that, to my mind, is due to weak structuring of ‘systems’ demonstrating lack of planning and budgeting.
With this in mind, I ask the question as to our own deservedness as a Community to get compensation at a higher level than we have earned.
One example that comes to mind in this regard is the experience at the Opportunity shop – which is also a Coffee shop. Two boys of about 10 years of age came. One guy bought one jelly and one drink. The other guy did not buy anything. I thought they would share. I noticed that the first boy consumed both items. They back for seconds of the two items. On the way the paying customer threw at the entrance - the plastic cup in which the jelly was served. I asked him to use the dustbin kept for that purpose. He kept walking towards the counter. After serving the guy who paid me I asked the other boy whether he wanted anything? He said he would have water. I gave him some chilled water. I wanted to give him something but could not because that would have been bad business-order. About a minute later - the two left and I reminded the paying-customer to pick up the garbage he threw and place it in the bin. He promptly asked the other guy to do that. I asked him whether they were brothers. Then the paying-customer said ‘no we are friends’. I then said ‘why should he pick up your rubbish – you need to do it yourself’. In the meantime – the other guy was about to pick up the rubbish. I called him over to the counter and the paying-guy also helped me in this regard. I handed over a jelly to the meek guy and said it was for helping to keep our yard clean.
The rich guy represents the members of the Diaspora who come back to Sri Lanka and spend high. The other guy is the local who goes around with those returnees and do their bidding to get something in return. Where the returnees are ‘simple’ in their attitudes – the smart locals try to ‘collect’ more from the returnees for ‘local’ services.
This has been my experience with lawyers. In the Testamentary case relating to my Brother-in-law of Vaddukoddai –the eldest of the living sisters of the Deceased claimed to Barclay’s Wealth in the U.K. - that she was representative of the heirs. If there was no Thesawalamai Law and thereforebrothers and sisters were Administered and managed under one set of principles – one could claim that the sister had the right as the older person. But in this case there also there was a living brother older than this sister. My husband refused to accept this arrangement and hence we objected to the issue of Certificates of Heirship without Administration. To agree to such an arrangement would have denied us the value as per the laws of Theswalamai – which was practiced by us. That sister and her family were sponsored to Australia by us. But like the above boy with money-power those children hired expensive lawyers from Colombo to confirm their claim. We hired local lawyers and suffered their lack of expertise that they demonstrated in presenting the case as per OUR EXPERIENCE. The ruling was unfavorable to us in the language of the Court and we have escalated the matter to Appeal level – again demonstrating our belief and our duty to Thesawalamai – the Common Law of Northern Sri Lankans.
The law of Nature however did not wait for the Higher Court outcome. The husband of the above sister passed away in Australia earlier this month. The son of the other sister who colluded with the above sister is now in Vaddukoddai – participating in Public events and representing that side of the family. A family elder to whom he delivered the invitation for the 31st day ceremony highlighted to me that there was NO MENTION of the wife of the Deceased – Mr. TharmaratnamSabanathan. The names of all three children has been printed in the front page. The mother has been forgotten!!! Working through my understanding of the laws of Truth – this lady claimed status above the siblings – on the basis that she had been their mother after their mother passed away. When she therefore took the place of the mother against someone who had actually played the parental role (myself primarily) – she naturally forewent he right to motherhood credit. The judgment was carried out by her own children who left her out of the memorial invitation of her husband. This lady and her sister used our marriage – which is second marriage for me – to help their lawyer claim in Court that I was after ‘other-people’s’ monies. But here in Vaddukoddai I am recognized by the older folks as the daughter-in-law of Maniyathaar – as my father-in-law was known. Society ultimately delivers the right outcome provided we escalate the matter to the highest common level of society. The level that we have earned is the level upto which we ourselves have invested in – directly and/or by paying tribute to our elders. Those who raised realized wisdom during their lifetime – become the Common Energy that all of who believe in that area/culture/ family. Those who hastily use power – get their earned outcomes, once they release themselves from the true owners of leadership positions. There are many parallels of the above – starting with the LTTE which also ‘took-over’ that leadership position by force and also with the Government led by Sinhala-Only leaders who failed to recognize Diversity as being entitlement to Equal status.
Tamils who seek Devolution must confirm their Diversity including between man and woman – as facilitated by the laws of Thesawalamai. Where one side continuously refuses to take instructions from the other – Diversity is confirmed and Equality is necessary to keep the apart and attracted to each other. That I believe is the best solution for our ethnic problem.