Monday 14 November 2016

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
14 November    2016

Jaffna’s Independence Heritage

The young lady next to me in the Inter-City train to Jaffna spoke to someone in Sinhalese and I thought the lady was Sinhalese. Later, I noticed the young lady reading a Tamil Newspaper. I felt hopeful that the net contribution by my generation Sri Lankans to preserve our independence heritage has been positive to produce such a lady. We did not speak to each other but there was a sense camaraderie  which I liked very much. The young lady got off at Vavuniya and based on my observation, I concluded that she was an undergraduate of the Vavuniya branch of the University of Jaffna.

Does this mean that we – Tamils and Sinhalese, have reconciled ? I do not know. Are we insiders or outsiders to each other?  As per ‘The Hindu’ interview with the Sri Lankan President under the subject heading - Solving problems of Tamils is my obligation: Sirisena – the Lankan President stated:

[The international community is so satisfied with my performance that they have completely changed their impression of the country. Now there is no threat of international courts, now we don’t have to talk about electric chairs, there is no problem [of foreign judges investigating alleged violation of human rights]; I have told the international community that I cannot accept any proposal that allows foreign judges to probe our domestic matters. This is another great victory I was able to achieve in this time.]  

That reminded me of my own stand at the University of NSW  - against the Finance Director who wanted to ‘get it right’ for the Auditors. I stated that we ought to do right and fear no auditor. Eventually I established through public communication that the Auditor General was lacking in wisdom in relation to use of  Performance Indicators and that his suggestions were in breach of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers between Management and Auditor.

When we become independent of someone, we either make ‘insiders’ of them or we become external ‘observers’. It is obvious that to the President of Sri Lanka, the International Community are Outsiders. The greater worry is the ‘I’ factor instead of ‘we’ the Common Government. To my mind, the ‘I’ factor was the strongest reason for the fall of the previous regime which the current President was part of and seems to be an heir of.

As an ‘insider’ of the International Community, my conclusion is that the International Community led by the UN, found fault with the Sri Lankan Constitution – through ‘Buddhism Foremost’ clause, confirming the influence of Tamils with the International Community.

The  New Indian Express reports as follows, about Tamil Political Conclusion in relation to the other half of the current Sri Lankan Political leadership :

[TNA MP and spokesman M.A.Sumanthiran told Express on Saturday, that the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to have consulted the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), but did not consult the TNA]
My thoughts were that we the People have to become the ‘facility’ through which Government would be strengthened – so the Youth who have disconnected with the roots of this land would not take control into their hands. In terms of the Budget – it was the duty of TNA as the leading opposition in National Parliament to put forward its assessment of the earnings of the People – all Sri Lankans and not just Tamils, as per current needs -  to be included in the Budget. It must have been this true deservedness that led me to  the Jaffna Youth Conference in 1931 – under the leadership of Mr. Handy Perinbanayagam. Mr. Santasilan Kadirgamar wrote as follows in this regard:

I myself once engaged Handy Perinbanayagam in a discussion on his religious views and found it enlightening. Without going into further details we would do well to recall what three men who knew him best, Orator Subramaniam, A. S. Kanagaratnam and N. Sabaratnam said on behalf of the Handy Perinbanayagam Commemoration Society. 
He was born of Christian parents and as he went through college and adult life he took great interest in the Student Christian Movement. As a thinker he could not agree with the orthodox Christian churches and in time drifted away from them towards the religion of his forefathers. To the end he held that the tenets of Christianity and Saiva Siddhanta were close enough to be regarded as one.

Today, 14 November 2016,  is Poya (Full Moon) Day – a religious day for Buddhists and hence a holiday in Sri Lanka. It is interesting to note that a Christian group has also organized a Youth meeting in Jaffna on this Super-moon day

The above confirms that consciously or otherwise – the ‘Buddhism foremost’ provision is being balanced to show Religious Equality at a place that embraces all religions. To me personally, it is significant that Jaffna is Multicultural.

As per Wikipedia, Gandhi is reported to have stated during his visit to Ceylon :

I am certain that the children of the nation that receive instructions in a tongue other than their own commit suicide. It robs them of their birthright. A foreign medium means an undue strain upon the youngsters, it robs them of all originality."

Given that our work life is an extension of our school life – as per Gandhi’s above message – the 1956 Law – which defined ‘Sinhala only’ as the official language had the effect of robbing non-Sinhalese of their originality. We do learn and use at work place, other languages when we migrate. But we should not be required by law to learn and work in a language other than our own – by birth or adoption.

Before coming to Vaddukoddai – I stayed with Rani Ratnadevi Sinnathamby - the daughter of  one of the founding members of the Communist Party - Mr. Murugupillai Karthigesan of Vaddukoddai – a close Associate of Mr. Pieter Keuneman. They become ‘common insiders of Jaffna’ through the Communist Party. The above report by Mr. Kadirgamar  states:

[At the height of the language debate in 1956 when it was becoming fashionable for Sinhalese spokesmen to attack the Tamils as reactionary and as opposed to the national struggle for independence it was Pieter Keuneman who on behalf of the Communist Party of Ceylon put the record straight in parliament. He recalled the role that the Jaffna Youth Congress had played and denied the allegation that was made that the boycott took place because the new constitution granted political power to the Sinhalese. "It was" he said "the weakness of the movement in the South that was responsible to a very great extent for the breakdown of the developing national movement in the North." ]

Then I read the following about Daily News which did publish my response to Justice Weeramantry’s speech about Gandhi – on 01 November 2004 - the day an Australian medical expert said that I was following in the footsteps of Gandhi:
[The Daily News, all along a supporter of the Youth Congress and a strong critic of the Donoughmore Reforms welcomed the boycott in Jaffna. Having criticised the candidates in the rest of the country for lack of political principles, the editorial on nomination day commented that the "one relieving feature in this soporific performance is contained in the news from Jaffna … Public opinion in Jaffna" said the editor, "is a potent thing. Those who defy it do so at their peril. Ever the home of virile politics, Jaffna is determined to see that the public spirit of her citizens is equal to any crisis." (Ceylon Daily News, 4 May 1931) The historians who have misrepresented the above boycott failed to grasp the strength of public opinion in Jaffna as understood by the Daily News, which at this juncture brief though it may have been was staunchly behind the Youth Congress. ]

To my mind, TNA becoming the Official Opposition Leader in National Parliament  is due to this Northern Heritage – which all those to whom Jaffna is home will access Naturally. To the extent they are also Independent, Self-Governing persons they would continue to empower manifestations confirming this earned Equal Opportunity status by all to whom Jaffna is truly home. Those with weak connections to the heritage of  this land – are not likely to ‘see’ this in their mind’s eye. Hence they would tend to keep ‘asking’ and wait until they are ‘given’.

The Budget is the most visible but the least powerful representation of our Resources. Unless the Budget is prepared by those close to the electorate, the resources to maintain the heritage of that electorate – especially when it is the electorate of the opposition – is not likely to be included in the Budgets prepared by the Government. TNA failed in this regard.

 Those connected to the nucleus of Jaffna will be naturally self-governing. Politicians who are yet to realize self-governance have the opportunity  to learn from such folks. They say in Tamil that money separates. The core purpose of Reconciliation is for the People to come together. Mr. Sumanthiran is reported to have stated in regards to the National Budget:

[In this respect, the present regime seems no different from the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, which launched the Vaddakkin Vasantham (Blooming of the North) project in the Northern Province without considering the needs of a people who had just the emerged battered from a 30-year war. Roads and buildings were built, but virtually nothing was done for livelihood and housing, barring the India-funded and executed 50,000 houses project for war-affected families.]

TNA has the opportunity to look to the International Community as ‘insiders’ of the Global Community. But by effectively taking its place as allocated by the Joint Opposition – led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa – TNA is confirming its weak connection with the Roots of Jaffna – Our Common National Heritage. LTTE failed due to its disconnection with the nuclear force of our ancestors / seniors. Once the focus is on money – separation follows – as night follows day. The system of Natural Justice will continue to guide those who are insiders to the system of Truth. To them it is Tat Tvam Asi / Thou Art That  or to use the language of Christians – Knock and It shall open. What we need is Political Independence. The Reconciliation needed towards this is between the Government’s interpretation of the law and the experienced citizen’s genuine interpretation of the same law. That is the Common Need of Sri Lankans.

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