Wednesday 9 October 2019

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

09 October  2019


 As I started writing my next book for those who understand a subject matter better in Tamil than in English – the words of appreciation by Mr Egon Kalotay – my husband’s boss at that time came to mind. Mr Egon said that I was like the sun of the family and that the other members of the family were like the planets that revolved around the sun.  This was said at Prince Henry hospital in 1989 when my husband and daughter were seriously injured in an accident. From time to time, I recall those words of appreciation which sustained me during moments when I had gave up on myself. They confirmed  Mr Egon’s deep insight into my need as well as capacity to meet that need.
My current book is about understanding the rights as per Vaddukoddai Declaration and how it influenced the manifestation of the true rights of Tamils in the 1977 elections. Those who did not recognize entitlements at ‘rights’ level tended to fight for the custody of the place – as if it were a substance – which is habitual in disenfranchised communities in Vaddukoddai. The more we recognize ‘rights’ the less we see the substance. To me a strong purpose of  higher education is to lift the recognition from substance level to rights level.. The way the Academics of the University of Jaffna have demonstrated interpretation  of  the University’s role in Jaffna society therefore is disappointing.
The Daily Mirror report headed ‘A tale of two VCs’ presents the following picture in regards to the termination of Vice Chancellor of the University of Visual and Performing Arts:
[..former VC of the University of Visual and Performing Arts (UVPA) Prof. Sarath Chandrajeewa was removed amid disputes over the aptitude test and internal staff tensions. Prof. Chandrajeewa wrote to the President’s secretary protesting his removal on 19 September on grounds that it violated his fundamental rights and undermined natural justice. “Even for an employee in a lower grade, the reasons for removal are given and a charge sheet produced or the removal is done following an inquiry. I have not been given a chance to reply to any of the charges,” he charged. He also demanded reasons for his removal, and has filed an FR case in the SC seeking redress.
The sacked VC said that he was appointed in 2017 according to UGC procedure based on his qualifications and experience. He argued that though appointed through a proper selection process, his dismissal was both unprincipled and unethical. He faulted the UGC for denying him the right to be heard, and accused it of misleading the President. “I highly believe that the UGC has taken an arbitrary decision and has misled the President to make this decision,” he said. Prof. Chandrajeewa added that his removal violated election laws. “The new appointment of VC or CA will be a politicized appointment,” he asserted
. ]
The Sri Lankan Judiciary recently upheld that such terminations were in order when done by the Executive head. In the above case the UGC is the parallel of the Executive President. Hence, Sri Lankans are morally entitled to the rule of law endorsed by the top officials in the Judiciary and no more. THAT is what truth of democracy says. We often tend to forget that we elected the government that strongly influences the judiciary.
An independent Judiciary’s truth would sustain those within its ambit, to be self-sufficient. If the University of Visual and Performing Arts has contributed to the Judiciary – then they have the moral authority to expect return through judicial process. Likewise, the University of Jaffna.
On the other hand if the University was true to its core purpose – its ethical standards would be high and it would naturally mind-merge with other Universities – including those beyond national borders. That is the power of truth. That was how my book ‘Naan Australian’ found its way to Australian National Library – confirming the beauty of the invisible power of un-manifested truth.
I happen to know through personal experience with the University of Jaffna – that it seriously lacks that power of the Sun to energize those within its ambit. As per the above report:
[The removal of former Jaffna University (JU) Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof. R. Vigneswaran came amid disputes regarding the unveiling of the ‘Pongu Tamil’ monument, the holding of the ‘Tamil Amutham’ cultural event and the construction of the Mullivaikal memorial inside the campus.
An affidavit by UGC Chairman Prof. Mohan de Silva stated that in September 2018 military intelligence had raised national security concerns regarding pro-LTTE student activity in the JU. This reportedly included the ‘Pongu Tamil’ monument and the ‘Tamil Amutham’ event. Another concern was the Mullivaikal memorial. The Army Commander also reported the matter to the UGC. However these reports were not shared with Prof. Vigneswaran, citing confidentiality and national security.
The ‘Pongu Tamil’ monument bears Tamil nationalist inscriptions in all three languages. It reads: “The aspirations of the Tamils, namely right of self-determination, traditional homeland, Tamil as a distinct nationality, should be recognized.” Speaking to Daily Mirror, Prof. Vigneswaran said this was identical to a board displayed in the university for several years. He had allowed it to remain as it contained nothing illegal. In fact the plaque still remains, and his replacement, Competent Authority (CA) Prof. Kandasamy Kathirgamanthan, has permitted holding the ‘Tamil Amutham’ event this year as well.
If Prof. Kandasamy Kathirgamanthan was an obedient servant of the University Council  more than Professor Vigneswaran was - then he would be protected by the Council until they see no more use from Prof. Kandasamy Kathirgamanthan. The Vice Chancellor is a pawn in the politics of the University of Jaffna – just as the Minister for Home Affairs was to the then President,  in the relation to the 2005 Citizenship issue. In Democracy, we are entitled to Democratic  governance only to the extent we believe in Democracy and/or invested in the practice of Democracy.
The message in the above mentioned monument “The aspirations of the Tamils, namely right of self-determination, traditional homeland, Tamil as a distinct nationality, should be recognized.”
cannot be possessed by the University of Jaffna. If Academics of the University of Jaffna discovered the above – then they had the duty to go through the due academic process of publishing it as a Research discovery. That discovery ought to have then been part of the teaching in the appropriate faculties – including the faculty of law. To manifest in the stated manner was primitive and an insult to the University itself.
This kind of ‘show’ is not unique to the University of Jaffna. It is confirmed by idle buildings out of development funding. These idle buildings confirm lack of participation by the People in an area in that development work. There is no ownership but whoever is in charge demonstrates ‘possessiveness’ as if the asset is their private property.
Prof. R. Vigneswaran was the Vice Chancellor during the time the inquiry of Dr Dharshanan – an academic who was dismissed. Prof. R. Vigneswaran did not participate in the inquiry but his successor who is in the position did. Below are some of the questions that were prepared to be put to Professor Kandasamy :

1.    [As per the letter dated 15 October 2015, from the Vice Chancellor your mandate is defined as follows:
‘to investigate into the complaints and submit your report clearly indicating whether there exists prima facie case in order to frame charges against Dr. S.Dharshanan.’
On page 60 of your report you have stated :
‘Based on the statements of witnesses / victims and/or by Dr. S.Dharshanan, we find that Dr. Dharshanan is guilty of the following:’

Do you agree that the phrase ‘we find that Dr. Dharshanan is guilty’ confirms that you acted without authority to act as if you were an inquiry panel and not an investigating team? As per page 1 of  your own report you were ‘requested’ by the University Council to   carry out preliminary investigations into the allegations against Dr. Dharshanan.

2.    I draw your attention to Section 8.1.1 of the Universities Establishment Code which includes:
‘A preliminary investigation is purely a fact finding process…..and is not an inquiry…’

Do you agree that to initiate an inquiry, the Council of the University needed to establish as per Section 8.2 of the Universities Establishment Code, that it was satisfied that there existed a prima facie case as discovered by the investigating team?

3.    Do you agree that in the case of Academic work – under Section B on page 2, your recordings without reference to the requirements of the Subject’s framework – are highly speculative and that if they came from the juniors who did not follow Due Process as and when an incident happened – amount to vexatious reverse Administration, based on which the allegations qualify to be dismissed?
4.    Are you aware of any reason as to why the seniors of the accused in this particular subject matter of teaching Music – for example the Dean of Arts or the immediate predecessor of Dr. Dharshanan as Head of Music did not undertake an investigation into this part of the allegations?
5.    Would you confirm or deny that the person listed as witness 2 is Ms Thamilini Mayuran – the 2nd Complainant-Witness who gave evidence on 18 November 2017?
6.    Would you confirm that Witness 2 – as per the summary of evidence provided was the institutional junior of the Accused and therefore lacks the authority to ‘find fault’ with her purely  in terms of policy ?
7.    Do you agree that a junior has to ‘submit’ and not ‘tell’? a senior directly or through Due Institutional Processes?]

If the above mentioned Due Processes had been followed – Dr Dharshanan’s dismissal would have been proven to be without the authority of the law. One is entitled to therefore conclude that somewhere in the above process – Truth manifested the other side – as per the law and hence returned the unlawful verdict to the one who manifested it. I have witnessed this many times here in Australia as well as in Sri Lanka in instances where I do not react at the level of the offender but keep responding to my true opposition. This completes the experience at that level and it becomes the natural policy of that relationship. That true status is the limit that is inherited by others. The more we show others – the less our rights.

Why should a Tamil Nation make its declaration in English and Sinhalese as well? It would only if it is asking for an immediate reaction. That is surely not a belief based declaration. Professor Vigneswaran erred on the basis of ethics of the University. Even if he wins as per the law – he would become a burden at that level – the level of Vice Chancellor. This is why one needs to say NO to handouts.

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