Monday 20 February 2017

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
19 February 2017

Heritage Value of University of Jaffna

As per my experience in Australia, if one is true to the core purpose of a University – the University system  becomes the medium through which one’s Truth is manifested. The system may not even officially carry the name of University. But all those who participated in the process are that University.

It’s recruitment time again for the position of Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna. The outgoing Vice Chancellor – who to my knowledge failed to demonstrate cleverness in Administration,  was able to go along with the political forces during this period of transition from autocracy to democracy. This includes the autocratic forces of the students. The common challenge faced by Northern Sri Lanka is to manage this transition without losing value. The most difficult values to remember are the ones that those before us and those far away from us invested in through that institution/place.

Recently my attention was drawn to a program in London where rebels objected to being labeled as ‘former combatants’. Whether it is right or wrong depends on the public position taken by the presenter and the receiver and the benefits they draw from the presentation on merit basis as per the measures applicable at that place at that time. To have the strength of our past we need to have Common faith – which in this instance is in Higher Education. Combatants who took up arms – to balance the ethnic equation by taking an eye for an eye – confirm that they did not have the support of educated Tamils who sought higher level solutions including Political solution.  Those rebels who stayed away from schools and universities to pursue their targets – are free of any curse from our ancestors who invested in higher pathways. But those who used students for lesser purposes – have the duty to stay away from the development of the higher pathways to self-governance, at least until they have made amends. Separating themselves as ‘former combatants’ is one way of doing this. They owe this duty to our ancestors.

The position of  Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, is a strong  medium through which an independent observer would identify with the quality of the community that the University represents. It would confirm whether or not our community – through our representatives in the Governing Council - carry the core purposes of the University of Jaffna which include the carriage of its  heritage value. The best fit for the position of Vice Chancellor would demonstrate not only academic achievement but also the ability to invoke the support of the minds that render the institution its heritage value.  

The manifestations within a University happen due to diverse Energies. In some ways the freedom enjoyed by the University  is similar to Media Freedom. Where one takes a position, one has to satisfy the rules of the University system and have the discipline not to express the Truth until one’s duty as per the position is completed. Anyone can speak the Truth as per their belief but one who takes up official position needs to complete her/his duty before expressing her/his belief.
As per the Island Editorial headed - Noyahr, Lasantha, Thajudeen et al, the one who gives the orders is more responsible than the person/s acting as per those orders:

[Yesterday’s news that investigators have taken three serving military intelligence personnel over the 2008 abduction and torture of Keith Noyahr, Deputy Editor of the Nation newspaper, is most welcome. Earlier similar arrests were made over the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, Editor of the Sunday Leader and the killing of ruggerite Wasim Thajudeen. While the arrest of those actually responsible for these heinous crimes is well and good, it is more important to find out who assigned them the task of doing the dirty. Obviously the men now in custody had no motive to savagely attack their victims. But their bosses up in the hierarchy were serving the agendas of VVIPs. It is these persons rather than the actual perpetrators that must be apprehended and brought to book. While those responsible for the physical acts cannot be excused on the grounds that they were mere minions carrying our orders, those who issued the orders must be held accountable. That is imperative.]

The deeper one analyses, the greater the discovery of the Causal forces of an action/manifestation. In a subjective system is it fair to blame/punish one who acts as per orders more than the one who makes those orders from behind the scenes? Such forces are the parallels of heritage value mentioned above.  Is it fair to expect the average officer to risk his life by refusing to carry out orders?  The parallel for Rebels is whether they murdered those who were killed by their groups, as per the orders of Rebel leaders?  The subjective brain is structured to take orders from the Master. If one blames Rebel Leaders such as Velupillai Prabakaran – what about the Politicians who gave them the intelligence through Vaddukkoddai Resolution? Are they not guilty of  being blind to the consequence of their Declaration? The University of Jaffna was very much involved in this conflict and hence the Vice Chancellor needs to be a deep thinker than one who ‘shows’ clever thinking on current merit basis.

University of Jaffna carries the unique heritage of self-governance through higher education by the folks of Northern Sri Lanka.

As per Colombo Telegraph article – ‘Electing A VC At Jaffna University: A Window Into Erosion Of Quality In Sri Lankan University System’ in relation to the recruitment of a Vice Chancellor:

[The VC then reported that an absent council member Miss. Abimannasingham PC communicated another bit of legal advice over the phone that the late application ‘cannot be accepted’ because the advertisement says that the application should reach the registrar’s office by a certain date and time. But most lawyers would tell you that the advertisement does not create a rigid law barring the institution from considering a late application as Miss. Abimannasingham apparently suggested. The VC then recorded that the other five applications be sent to council members. Thiagalingam was thus excluded by a sleight of hand without actually saying so. The council members are themselves vague about what had happened.]
Jaffna lawyers as per my experience – are way behind global standards in terms of Legal Administration. Miss. Abimannasingham is well known for her commitment to Due Process. It is therefore understandable that she would use the rule to deliver judgment just as she said to me when I went to her for advice regarding our Testamentary case in which documents were withheld by our opposition – that we were entitled to Equal share. When I cited Section 7  of Thesawalamai law, the lady said words to the effect  ‘unless the unmarried son had consolidated his wealth with the parents’. One who was committed to the Legal heritage value of Thesawalamai – would have not needed my mind to bring that out. Hence the above ruling is likely to be different when asked by one who is committed to the heritage value of the University of Jaffna which confirms not only the investment made by those who studied there but more importantly all of us who successfully achieved the highest level of education within Sri Lanka despite the discriminatory Quota system. It’s that courage and determination that needs to be included in the primary duties of the Vice Chancellor.  There are many tests that would confirm the ability of an applicant to develop a structure that would confirm this heritage of Jaffna.

In the above Testamentary matter – my husband’s brother Mr. Subramaniam Yoganathan of Vaddukkoddai died a bachelor and all his sisters were given dowry. Direct application of Section 7 of Thesawalamai law confirms that  his property is the heritage of his brothers. Daughters who received dowry do not get share in the wealth  of father and sons. As per the laws of Thesawalamai – daughters could legitimately claim the dowry from their mother’s side. But they used the general basis of Equal distribution and declared that what they received was donation and not dowry. Thus they disowned their heritage value carried through the law of Thesawalamai. If even one person of this generation genuinely practiced the principles of Thesawalamai – then Thesawalamai will invoke Itself to deliver its own judgment. Many such confirmations were observed in the participants of the above matter. A law needs to show the connection between cause and effect.

The question that one needs to ask in the case of recruitment of Vice Chancellor for University of Jaffna  is why  Professor Thiagalingam did not foresee this possibility of late arrival – especially in the case of University of Jaffna where practice of  order is an important process through which premature freedom is expressed by students before they discover the Truth.   This kind of freedom is a menace that Jaffna suffers from largely due to armed rebellion overriding intellectual expressions – including within the University.

A Chef from this village in Vaddukkoddai said recently that when he was asked to teach young ones how to prepare some special dishes he had refused because those young ones were already behaving as if they were heroes and if he taught them the secrets – they would eliminate him as the ‘Boys’ eliminated their political rivals.

Did Professor Thiagalingam fail to include this weakness in determining the time of his application? Why did Professor Thiagalingam not send it by courier – as I do in the case of my Financial Reports to the authorities concerned. In the above Testamentary matter I had effectively 6 days in which to file our Appeal documents. That was due to the lack of commitment by our lawyer to obtain the Order of the primary court – dismissing our Objections to Equal Distribution. In the process our lawyer and another whom we thought of appointing for the Appeal, said that that decision was interlocutory and not final. Both wanted way above our budget to do the work. So, I prepared the Leave to Appeal documents as per Australian format known to me – organized a local representative to act as our General Attorney and couriered all papers which were filed one day before the deadline set by the legal system. Most of the work was done when I was in our lawyer daughter’s home in Melbourne where I went to honor my family’s contribution to Catholic education system. I felt strongly that I was supported by my daughter’s commitment to Due Process which she uses as current measure but to me it was my own investment in her becoming a lawyer that supported me to deliver on time. I thus bridged the gap between Jaffna system and Australian system through our Common Value. Hence I am able to identify with lack of commitment by Professor Thiagalingam to ensure that his application reached University of Jaffna within the stipulated time.

One who identifies with the needs of Jaffna would recognize the dangers in excusing the failure to satisfy this administrative requirement which could  be easily comprehended by the average officials and students. More importantly – I recognize the work of Divine Forces within University of Jaffna which was established to balance the ethnic inequality generated by the Sinhala Only, followed by the Quota system of entry to Universities doing Its own work to eliminate the applicant. Most entrants from rural areas of Northern Sri Lanka where the more educated teachers would prefer to stay away from, are now able to project on the basis of  placement, provided they achieve grades at least through the subjects that are particular to this area – for example Tamil Literature & Hindu Culture. Jaffna is not yet ready to be on Equal footing as Colombo University or Boston University, on academic merit basis – just as much as Deakin University which recently awarded an honorary doctorate to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, is not measured at equal level as Sydney University.  The  danger with those of us who come with expectations to continue as per our ‘foreign’ records is this ‘gap’ which can only be filled by drawing on our own heritage where one is not ready to submit to higher foreign standards. The mistake that Nationalists often make is to relate prematurely to claim equality – by including the past as current achievements and worse  without due respect for the past. Both side leaders to this ethnic war failed due to this indiscriminate mix of heritage with current merit to claim equality or superiority.

As per Colombo Telegraph report:

[Prof. Thiagalingam, whose application was posted in the US on 27th December and received on 17th January, a day after the deadline, is an eminent scholar in Biomedical Sciences. An alumnus of the University of Jaffna, he is currently teaching in the School of Medicine in Boston University, USA]

The question is whether Professor Thiagalingam as alumnus of the University of Jaffna has identified with the Truth of Equal Opportunity practices at Boston University – to be able to identify with the Truth of University of Jaffna in  this regard. Only one who has, would be supported by Natural Forces of this particular University. Others who are clever may easily become influenced by the negative forces that dictate rather than facilitate intellectual freedom towards the Common investment in Higher Education. The test is not only for the candidates but also for the recruiters.

University of Jaffna is not yet free from the habit of expressing premature freedom, due to attachment to local benefits. Until at  least one recruiter has proven record of research into the University’s own makeup – the common rule needs to be followed and needs to be seen to be followed.   The late arrival might save Professor Thiagalingam from losing his status earned through other institutions. Divine Powers manifest in various forms to uphold the Truth where there is at least one seeker through the institution concerned. An academically outstanding Vice Chancellor would need the Equal partnership of an Administrator with Experience in Democracy to lead University of Jaffna to be free of its own ignorance due to strong attachment to local benefits of the past. The value of that past needs to be treated as heritage and respected to complete the experience so the value gets promoted to the higher Spiritual level. One who is capable of doing this has earned her/his doctorate. Others have merely copied the real ones’ outputs.

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