Thursday 25 August 2016

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
25 August   2016

Northern Development Projects

There is a saying in Tamil that we must not forget the pathway through which we are at our current destination. This is needed for relativity. On that basis – what does Northern Sri Lanka need?

As per the New Indian Express article ‘North Sri Lankan Chief Minister sets goals and parameters for development projects’ the Chief Minister has stated that ‘any plans for the economic development of his province will have to be discussed with first with his administration and should be based on a scientific survey of the province’s resources and felt-needs.

The lady officer representing the Local Government said at Thunaivi the other day that feelings were more important than knowledge. Like Mr. Wigneswaran – she was theoretically right. But when it came to herself – she was effectively promoting stealing another’s work and savings. As mentioned before – some folks of Thunaivi – a village within Vaddukoddai District – built a cultural hall on land that did not belong to them. The president of the People’s Association – who confessed to not being able to read or write – referred to the Prime Minister as Ranil. He was the one who invited the Chief Minister to the opening function back in June. Given that there was ‘no scientific basis’ through which the Chief Minister shared his status with those folks – he now stands guilty of having blessed the stealing of others’ property in the name of the Public. The guy who extended the invitation is known more for his brawn power than his good conduct.

Stealing Land is common in this part of Northern Province where possession is ownership. Scientifically speaking – knowing that most folks  of this village are illiterate – shouldn’t the Chief Minister have verified the outcome as per the Science of Land ownership? The local officer was coolly stating that the Land would mean nothing to the legal owners who are now overseas! I protested and said I represented that group – and therefore considered it to be wrong assessment of the Diaspora to whom such land represents their ancestry. It must therefore go down to the heirs of those original owners. I myself am fighting against an illiterate  Sinhalese occupant of my Colombo land towards preserving my family heritage in that part of Sri Lanka. The lady officer said also that if the Chief Minister learnt about the problem he would commit suicide out of shame!  I have not received even an acknowledgment for my sharing from the Chief Minister. Hence I could not picture the above outcome.

The more local the management gets – the greater the intuition needed in making decisions. One needs to be humble enough to seek the leadership of those who have wisdom – even if such persons have no official portfolios. The Chief Minister failed the test of humility and hence is limited to knowledge based management of projects and not feelings based management of programs. One with feelings would have been humble enough to seek the blessings of the wiser person in this regard – as Radha Aiyar did.( Buddhist Government v Buddhist Opposition -

As per the above report the Chief Minister ‘ observed that due to the 30 year war, officials in the provincial administration have acquired the habit of following the diktats and decisions of the Central government without bothering to give their own inputs based on local experience. It is time they learnt to operate in an era of democracy in which there is an elected government in the province’.

Those officers are also voters of Northern Province. What has the Chief Minister done to improve their experience based wisdom? The example that comes to mind is that of the Village Head – Grama Sevagar – of this area. We donated land on the promise made by the officers of both governments – that their offices would be moved to the new building on that land. This move did not happen. The building is largely idle. To me it is a lesson learnt about the reality of ‘hoarding’ in this area. The then Grama Sevagar who is part of the Central Government – came over to inspect and order that we stop building. The excuse was that our toilet pit was too close to the well. The toilet next door was even closer – but he turned a deaf ear when I pointed to the ‘local experience’ – confirming the above observation by the Chief Minister. I shifted the toilet pit a few feet – to accommodate the 40ft requirement. Had the Local Government advised me when the plan was submitted – then I would have been saved this additional cost and the pain of having been roughly disciplined by that officer.   As is my way I wrote many letters explaining to him the right pathway. There was no apology but he was more cordial.

A few years later – when the Government was giving away bicycles to families with students and one of our mothers with two sons did not get any – the Grama Sevaka (GS) had his return karma. Like the GS was relative to me,  that lady is less respectful of the law than the GS and more a local than the GS.  She demanded her share and as per the recorded report – that lady complained of Eve Teasing against the GS to the Vaddukoddai Police. As per the local report – the GS was kept in custody for a day! To my mind, through my common faith in Mother Kali – I identified with the return karma for the GS who failed to value that I had come here and was staying in that area alone without the protection of my immediate family – to share my strengths to offset the weaknesses of these folks who have very little knowledge of law and order.  I did that in Vanni to help the Tamil Tiger Administration and later in Mankerni, Batticaloa – a place with which I had no direct physical  connection until then. I reported to the UNDP in the former role and the Sri Lankan Central Government in the latter project – because they were the donors of resources as far as those positions could relate to. Here in Thunaivi – I report to Mother Kali at policy level and to my own past at structural level.

The 30 year war has also empowered the physically stronger younger folks prematurely. Hence without the threat of Central Government reporting – Jaffna would be limited to local administration – which is the parallel of the Sri Lankan Government with Global Monitors  prior to the 2015 Parliamentary elections – especially in relation to management of multicultural human resources. If Mr. Wigneswaran, like me had been born in Jaffna – he would have the natural feeling for the place he represents. Since he was not – he needs to seek and find someone of his background and generation – born in Jaffna – to give form to the heritage our generation would share with other generations to whom Jaffna has been and / or would be Home.

As per the above report:

[The Chief Minister pointed out that officials even manipulate surveys to suit the wishes of the Central government. In a survey of war widows, officials told the widows not to say that their husbands had died due to the war but of some natural cause]

The officials tend to manipulate to get the money – the same way the war card is played to get funds from foreign agencies. The donor agencies need to first study the situation and have firm relationships with the local agencies to make the projects global. As per the above mentioned report:
[The Chief Minister made it very clear that the provincial administration would not welcome large, capital intensive, projects in which the locals will only be hewers of wood and drawers of water.” We will not allow outsiders to rule over us and will not allow our resources to be looted,” he said.]

When the Jaffna man is driven neither by Truth nor Common Order – he would plunder his own – as demonstrated in Thunaivi-Vaddukoddai. With the exodus in the name of war – Jaffna does not have enough local Administrators. They reject Diaspora assistance. As a senior academic of the University of Jaffna said in 2010 – ‘you give us the money and we will give your name to our vehicles and buildings.’ That was exactly the case with that cultural hall that the Chief Minister inaugurated at Thunaivi. This would certainly disconnect Jaffna with its ancestors. Preserving the property value of true ownership is important not because of its economic value but because of its true value which resides as Energy in that area. Our family property for example – reflects the common values that our family has contributed to over the years. This includes Education. When the Common Building was officially opened by the Government Agent – on 11 September 2008 – to me it was my uncle Sri Khanta who is part of the ancestry of that position, declaring it open. The outer form was Mr. Ganesh. That building needs to show the consolidated values of all those who have invested in that area through Common faith.

Mr. Wigneswaran for example is listed as being the relative of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam. One of their heirs Professor Henry Sathananthan contacted me during the 2009 encampment towards planning the Health Services his group could provide. Professor Sathananthan who passed away recently - generously shared his status with those  in need of status. As per internal grapevine – Mr. Wigneswaran is also related to us – through our Vaddukoddai family connections. But this is not published nor is it used to help the folks of Vaddukoddai who were specifically targeted during the war due to the Vaddukoddai Resolution from which the Tamil Tigers drew their strength. Neither has Mr. Wigneswaran followed in the footsteps of Professor Sathananthan to enlist my support in developing democratic structures. I do my little bit through the avenues available to me – including through legal proceedings, the management training  and the Coffee shop business through which to share my wisdom in small businesses of global standards. A couple of Sinhalese Police Officers have enlisted themselves as our students. Not so any Tamil officers.

Being hewers of wood and drawers of water – initially is necessary in self-employment and through such in self-governance. It generates humility – so we would respect others’ work and not steal their property when they are not looking. Some health service women workers approached the Provincial Government late last year / early this year – in relation to confirming them in those positions. The Provincial Government failed to really grasp their problem. The workers took it upon themselves to go to Colombo to meet the Health Minister. The group did not even know where to go – but they were ready. I had returned to Colombo the previous day and was getting  ready to go back to Australia. When I heard about the plight of this group – I went with them to the Health Ministry – presented their case and now many of them are working in substantive positions. I was able to invoke the Common Administrator in Colombo to derive the results. This helps me identify more with Colombo Health Administration than with Jaffna Health Administration which lacks confidence in Common Public Administration.

 Many migrants to the West are hewers of wood and drawers of water at least at the initial stages. I myself worked as nursing aid and my husband worked at a car wash and at restaurants to maintain himself  financially as a student. Hence our heirs in Jaffna and Vaddukoddai – have to keep the tradition going by working as hewers of wood and drawers of water in projects funded by the nations that facilitated our globalization. Taking shortcuts leads to premature death due to excessive enjoyment of pleasures. 

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