Thank you Mr. Jayaweera. I have responded in red in the body of your email
Dear Ms Param
Having read your below article, I decided to make the following two comments.
Thank you and I appreciate it very much. To me that is part of the Reconciliation process. The same object is viewed differently by your mind – a mind of Sinhalese origin and mine a mind of Tamil origin. I believe that if you are able to accept why I wrote as I did and I am able to accept why you have responded as you have done, and the two essentially lead to removing differences due to lack of knowing the other’s ‘system’ – we have reconciled and hence have contributed to greater harmony in Sri Lanka and as Sri Lankans. I bow my head to Air Lanka / Sri Lankan Airlines for the opportunity to reconcile.
Firstly, Air Lanka’s logo as found above, was not a Peacock as stated by you. According to the artist who designed it, the logo represented the ‘Dandu Monera Yanthraya’. The three fins on the head represented the Triple Gem and the five tail fins, the five percepts of Buddhism. I came across this information during my 4 year stint in the Marketing Communications Dept. of Air Lanka, two of which was in the capacity as Marketing Communications Manager for Advertising & Promotions, in the early 1990s. Uniforms of Flight Stewardesses and Ground Hostesses contained a peacock feather as a part of a design and not as a reflection of the logo.
Mr. Jayaweera, our son Pradeepkumar Paramasivam paints beautifully and he said to me once when I asked him about his painting – that we get the value we read from it. In other words – a work of art should not be technically limited to a particular definition of the maker. If it were – it would be grounded and would not rise high to spread itself. In this instance you reveal that your interpretation is NOT the interpretation of the original artist but the information received as Marketing Communications Manager for Advertising & Promotions. During my time – Mr. Dissanayake held that position and when he left to join Hotel Intercontinental - Mr. Shanmuganathan won that position. Later it was held by Mr. Susantha Peiris. The duty - of Sinhalese origin once shared an interesting experience with us. He said that when he was in Maldives a Sikh had approached him and asked him ‘Are you from Motherland?’ . This smart young mate said he responded by asking ‘Whose motherland – yours or mine?’
Likewise – the interpretation of the logo of our common workplace would and should bring different messages to us – each as per their role. Mine was Agency & Interline Manager. Even there – I did not have the ‘freedom’ to interpret an Agent applying for General Sales Agency (GSA) – as per my own assessment. I had to make my own recommendations and the final appointment was by those above me in position. In this instance my work is the parallel of the Artist who drew the Air Lanka logo. I highlighted this pathway when responding to Mr. Weliamuna’s criticism of some GSA appointments. I was protecting my own heritage shared with my successors in that position. My successors are likely to make different looking decisions in relation to that job. But to the extent they carried the heritage developed by those before them in that position – they would be rooted to the fundamentals and we would not have much to reconcile.
It is my understanding that Monara in Sinhalese means peacock. As per my understanding of Singapore Airlines Managers who trained us – the logo of Airlanka was Peacock.
Emirates Management replaced the logo of straight lines with curved lines (and colors) in the process of rebranding from Air Lanka to SriLankan Airlines commencing 1998 as did many companies who rebranded during the run up to the new millennia i.e. Cathey Pacific to Cathey.
According to regional mythology, the Dandu Monera Yantraya was the flying machine used by King Ravana to abduct Princess Sita, spouse of Prince Rama. Peacock feathers are kept only in Temples and Kovils and not in homes as the Peacock is considered an unlucky bird. I cannot vouch for that theory but it is the reason we took great pains to distance ourselves from the logo being identified with the Peacock despite public perception of the logo being a Peacock.
As per the following website, the meaning of Monara is peacock.:
This place is known as Gurulupotha. In Valmiki’s depiction King Ravana’s Vimana resembled a huge peacock. The Vimana in Sinhala language means Dhandu Monara which is known as ‘flying peacock’
By distancing yourselves from the Peacock interpretation, you distanced yourself from the founders of Air Lanka which included the rich Corporate Wisdom of Singapore Airlines minds, shared with us Sri Lankans. I note that you do not dispute that King Ravana abducted Princess Sita. Taking that as the Common interpretation – I ask you whether you make a connection between that abduction and those to whom King Ravana is leader – taking what is not theirs? – even by their own cultural rules? Those are inherited mind-orders that would get carried forward through blind following. Such following would be better in some environments and worse in others.
As for peacock being an unlucky bird – and your confession that my interpretation is the ‘common’ interpretation of the Sri Lankan Public – who are the first owners of Air Lanka – I conclude that at some point there was conscious effort to move away from the Public. Given that I lack ‘insider knowledge of Air Lanka at that time – I am using the following by Wikipedia as the base:
[On 28 March 1980, Air Lanka signed a purchase agreement for two brand new Lockheed L1011-500 Tristars, the most advanced wide-body aircraft in the world at that time. The first Lockheed L1011-500 (4R-ULA) was accepted on 26 August 1982, at Palmdale, California. It was flown to Amsterdam as UL flight 566P. On 28 August 4R-ULA "City Of Colombo" left for its inaugural flight from Amsterdam to Colombo as UL566. It reached Colombo on 29 August. This was followed by second Lockheed L1011-500, 4R-ULB, "City Of Jayawardanapura". On 8 June 1984 the airline received its first Boeing 747-200B "King Vijaya" and the second joined later. The aircraft were used on flights to Europe and a few flights to southeast Asia.]
I left Airlanka in May 1982 to work in Papua New Guinea. I have often thought as to why I left Sri Lanka before the 1983 pogrom in Colombo which also is my home city. Usually the response was that I had had enough difficulties to not deserve being there to directly experience fear and anxiety of attack purely because I was a Tamil. But your above response has led to another connection – that Air Lanka was being ‘grounded’ by using Sinhalese names and was fast becoming a ‘government department’ using highly subjective influence.
As revealed repeatedly, to me Airlanka job came through Divine intervention – of Lord Muruga. A sage from Thiruketheeswaram said to me before I was recruited – that like Murugan, I was going to ‘fly’ on the peacock. I therefore connected the logo to Peacock to keep thanking Lord Muruga and that Thiruketheeswaram Sage – for the blessing that Airlanka has been to me. My Airlanka experience deepened my global experience. To my mind Lord Muruga is the Lord of Democracy. Lord Muruga – even though a second child – won the race to go around the world physically – but the prize was already awarded to his elder brother Ganesh who went around His parents who were His whole world. That was the intellectual pathway of Academics. Lord Muruga renounced his inheritance and started from zero base – with Palani as His first Capital. My interpretation of this is that one has to renounce inherited wealth to become truly democratic. Hence Zero Base Budgeting.
Without being conscious of this reasoning I did just that in Australia – at the University of NSW which was highly subjective. I renounced my earned benefits and opportunities to ‘free’ myself from the subjective powers that were grounding Australia through institutions such as the University of NSW. I was specifically recruited towards democratizing the Financial Management system – but operationally Academic Administrators – even the best of them – were like Ganesh – going around their heritage as their world. It was painful alright – but the ‘freedom’ is fresh and beautiful. The rewards are topped by the ‘right to separation’ by remaining Equal Opposition. That is my recommendation to any minority feeling Sri Lankan. They need to ‘show’ physically that they have become global. They must complete the multicultural journey of becoming the whole and being seen as the ‘whole’.
I feel that this is the greatest challenge not only for President Sirisena but also for Tamils like Mr. Wigneswaran who as per my assessment is also attached to the past. This morning a leading member of the Sri Lankan Diaspora forwarded to me the following link regarding a meeting of ‘intellectuals’: http://epaper.dailynews.lk//art.asp?id=2016/11/19/pg07_0&pt=p&h=
As per this report:
‘The meeting held at the BMICH to mark 30th Anniversary of the Ravaya Newspaper with the participations of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader R Sambanthan, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem and JVP leadr Anura Kumara Dissanayake became a people’s intellectual assembly, a new addition to the democratic revolution, still spreading in the country. Both leaders, answering the opposition criticism explained that changes are taking place steadily and continuously against the reactionary opposition. May be the process is slow compared to the aspirations of the people. It is necessary to defeat racist chauvinist conspiracies and appealed all to join the struggle. This public mass assembly is accepted by all, as a new feature where activist faced the leaders of the country. After the meeting both leaders were available during the refreshments to continue the discussions in small groups. ]
To my mind, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers, even those within the Government need to take Equal Opposition whenever the subjective pathway is used by a Sinhalese with leadership status. There can be no true democracy until that subjective element is eliminated. If they join their minds to the leaders’ they become traitors to those who died for Independence from racism. Active Opposition needs to be shown to subjective decisions by those who are ‘seen’ as Sinhala-Buddhists. The need is for us to move towards business basis – which means the producer produces and leaves it to the customer to purchase it as per her/his own assessment of whether the product is valuable to her/him as per the stated price. At the moment they are doing what you have done in terms of the peacock logo – saying there is only One interpretation – yours. When it is belief based – like in the case of Lord Ganesh – we would travel in different pathways to the same destination.
Swami Ramakrishna – is known to have actually practiced many religions at the physical level – and it is reported that he claimed that they all led to the same Destination. Those performing at the physical level – need those other religious leaders – to complete that picture – of the whole during the current time. To a large degree Mr. Ranil Wicremesinghe is doing that – except in the Constitution restructure. Not so – Mr. Sirisena. Hence he would produce the likes of Mr. Wigneswaran as his opposition where at least one Sri Lankan has earned the system of Democratic Government.
I myself am faced with such challenges here in Vaddukoddai – not only from older folks strongly driven by the caste system but also young ones who try to please me at individual level and then expect ‘concessions’ in return. I have stated to them firmly that I am committed to ‘Business basis’ which means they have to take their place like any other customer and make their own assessments as to the value of the products/services. Taken merely at money level – I make losses. But the return for me is the open practice of Democracy in those who are sending their children to study in prestigious schools such as Jaffna College. On the other hand at the village of Thunaivi – where the folks are largely illiterate – I limit my interactions to the temple where our ownership has now been clearly established. Those who show respect in their conduct are given preference over those who are disrespectful of my interpretation of the rules pertaining to the temple. One priest for example used Vibhoothi / Holy ash – to cure those who seek faith-healing. In that process the Holy Ash is thrown on the patient. To me, the spilling of holy ash on the ground is disrespectful as Vibhoothi represents wisdom – by burning ignorance. Our temple during my regime is a place for meditation and realization of Divinity within. The Vibhoothi confirms such realization. Hence both practices cannot belong to that temple during the same period.
Likewise mythology and legend. Ramayana is a legend to me with Rama in my heart. When it comes to Democracy that heart-force fills my mind with Murugan form.
Secondly, you refer to the 50:50 representation by the ‘brilliant minded GG’ (Ponnambalam). He first made this demand during a speech in the State Council on 15 March 1939 demanding 50% of seats in the State Council for minorities who totaled 35% of the population, based on Equal Opportunity. The demand was rejected by the Soulbury Commission. It need be borne in mind GG’s concept of Equal Opportunity (besides other principles such as Human Rights, Fundamental Rights etc.) was not a universally accepted theory, as is the case today. Hence, from the 1939 – 1948 prism of the world, GG’s demand for 50 50 representation was a non-starter. It did not exist even in the biggest democracies such as USA in relation to minority Negros, in UK in relation to minority coloreds in UK and majority colored all over the empire etc. Your adopted homeland Australia did not permit any migrants unless they were of Caucasian descent. Had you applied to migrate to Australia any time prior to late 1960s, I believe your application would have been rejected (assuming you have no Caucasian blood). The Sinhala mindset at the time was no different.
GG Ponnambalam is the only Sri Lankan of his generation, known to me who was able to produce an intellectual representation of Democracy – the essential of which is in Equality at the base/start. GG Ponnambalam was in effect presenting Lord Muruga with 6 Equal faces – rendering global view. It’s like 6 religious leaders practicing their diverse religions at the same time – without time based advantage. The essential requirements are (1) Equal status at the apparent level and (2) Diversity.
A Sinhalese who relies on Mahavamsa to claim first ownership would be disadvantaged in terms of democracy.
One cannot exist physically with the other at the same time, except by as the unseen ‘other side’ of the whole. Even in the case of electorates, Diversity is needed to have Equal status with lesser numbers. The more diverse we become – the more complex the winning formula becomes – as we observed through the recent American Presidential elections also. Without cultural diversity – electorates must have equal numbers to enjoy Equal status in Parliament. Our respective interpretations of Airlanka logo for example show diversity. Hence – we must be listed as Equals in relation to that issue and one who tries to ‘influence’ the other loses status in the system of Democracy. In terms of apparent status – the opposition cannot entitle itself to higher status than the official Executive – who represents the perfect half of the whole. Be it JVP or LTTE – they failed by elevating themselves above such leaders in their respective electorates. The gap between the real and their own assumed status is confirmation of their mental disorder/hallucination. Administratively – even the President has no power over a minister. When they do exercise such powers they deviate from the system of Democracy and the position goes into Natural system and shrinks in the world of Truth / Dharma. Those driven by Dharma need to recognize only the shrunken role and not the apparent role.
The system of Democracy is the child of the system of Autocracy. My understanding of the Hindu version of this that Lord Shiva is the Lord of the Mind and His son Lord Muruga who completed the physical journey without any inherited advantage is the Equal alternate leader to such a parent and His heir – the intellectual child. The lay translation is that an Academic is equal to a practitioner as per her/his stated position. In Hinduism they say that Lord Shiva listened to Lord Muruga – and the place where this happened is called Swami Malai/Hill. In the context of the current government – it is like the President taking advice from the Prime Minister.
I wonder if you are aware, GG led Ceylon’s delegations to the annual UN General Assembly during period 1967-69, indeed an extraordinary fete for a member of a marginalized community.
No – I had no knowledge of this but am not surprised. This then confirms that the Soulbury Commission did not have the insight into Democracy that GG Ponnambalam had. As confirmed by your own above account – the speech happened on 15 March – the Ides of March – the end of the Subjective era. Had the Soulbury Commission headed by the Hon D.S.Senanayake accepted the democratic base of that proposal – Sri Lanka would have been saved the JVP and LTTE uprisings.
That said, GG, was a high class Tamil Hindu and did little to improve the lot of the low caste Tamil Hindus in the North, especially in the context of Equal Opportunities. I recollect my uncle who was Government Agent in Jaffna from 1963 narrating to me a conversation with prominent Tamil leader Chellappah Suntheralingam (first class Mathematics tripos from Oxford, Ceylon Civil Service, MP, Minister, Principle of Ananda College and hailed from a distinguished family. He had four eminent brothers: C. Nagalingam, a Supreme Court judge, was acting Governor-General of Ceylon in 1954; C. Panchalingam was a medical doctor; C. Amirthalingam was Director of Fisheries; and C. Thiagalingam, a leading lawyer) in relation to my uncle’s attempts to have Kovils exclusively designated for high class Vellalar tamils opened to low caste Tamils. Suntharalingam had advised my uncle, he could try and implement Sinhala language in Jaffna if he wished to which may be acceptable but to refrain from trying to change centuries old traditions of the Vellalar caste and their Kovils which will never be accepted.
GG Ponnambalam was very clever. He did not himself eliminate caste-based hierarchy which was very much part of the Hindu environment he operated in. But that was right until we had the alternate Equal Opportunity system – starting at the National level. Even today, if case based discrimination is indiscriminately eliminated – without the system of Democracy in place – reverse discrimination would happen in multi-caste regions like Vaddukoddai for example. Job based caste discrimination is our heritage. We should not activate to the physical level but to lose it is to lose our inheritance. One day the system of Democracy also would be abused to deprive specialists of their earned status. That does not mean that we throw away Democracy with the bath.
As explained above – the practice of Hindu religion varied between classes of Hindu Community. At our temple here in Thunaivi – a toddy tapper village – when I asked a local / native to wash the temple altar he started doing some of the work allocated to the Priest. At technical level – these may seem like simple tasks. But the Priest learnt the mantras with discipline and brings with him the faith in his ancestry. To match that this toddy tapper cum gardener would need to renounce toddy tapping and gardening and do the priest’s work full time and be seen to be doing just that. That is the maximum one can do to show ownership at the physical level. Hence the equal status to the traditional priest. But none of the lower caste are ready to do that.
The older generation carry mentally that hierarchy and complete their jobs to the satisfaction of their employers. But the younger generation which did not have such connections due to early ‘freedom’ – often fail to complete their jobs and also fail to demonstrate good order. They switch allegiance as per their estimates of quid pro quos. It is because of the caste based system that I am able to identify with the reason why. My father objected to toddy tapper caste using the temple well. I argued with my father. Now that I am managing it – I realize that there are health hazards associated with low standards of hygiene relative to the higher castes. This eventually led us to installing a tube well for the purpose of the temple and for our own use. The toddy tapper community has inherited values in terms of hygiene. They are immune to the aspects that the higher caste would consider to be health risks. It is also relative to the level of intellectual height that influences our minds. Some young ones pee in the well when they are excited as well as when they want to annoy the higher castes. Hence the tube well alternative.
There is a distinct mismatch between the demand by Tamil leaders for Equal Opportunities for minorities and silence by the same leaders for Equal Opportunities for low caste Tamil Hindus – their own brethren. The Sinhala caste system was little better.
The LTTE is credited with eliminating the caste system. They just changed the form of hierarchy eligibility to the Common criterion – weapons of physical power. This also resulted in our positive values through caste based hierarchy – except in those of lower caste who continue to show higher respect for the higher caste – to preserve their own investment in that subjective system.. In turn I call them Aiyah / Sir and Ammah / Madam when they complete the jobs undertaken by them. Otherwise I use their names.
I am able to implement the system of democracy in areas where children interact in common – i.e. – schools.
My personal opinion is that Sinhala Only for the whole island was a grave mistake which marginalized the Sri Lankan Tamils. Parity for Tamils and Muslims would have saved the nation much grief. A more pragmatic solution would have been to permit Tamil as the state language in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and Sinhala language elsewhere with English as a mandatory language. The Indian model based on administrative units divided on linguistic basis would have been preferable (all this in the context of the world during period 1931 – 1958).
To my mind, English represents our Colonial heritage and to the extent we continue to use the English Law – English is an Equal Common Language to Tamil and Sinhalese. Had we continued to use English – we would have been saved the Disgrace through the UN Resolution.
Thank you Mr. Jayaweera. I have responded in red in the body of your email