Sunday 3 November 2019

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

03 November  2019


As parents/seniors  grow older and children / juniors develop their own structures some parents tend to include themselves in the structures of their children while others become facilitators of the children. Those of us who are ‘attached’ to our investment in our children / juniors would tend to feel hurt when the children treat us as juniors – often due to their enthusiasm to prove themselves to wider community. Today, our grandnephew who was born in Australia gets married in Northern Sri Lanka. Since he acted as our junior and sought our blessings – we blessed him. But we decided not to attend in person because our nephew acted as if he were our senior. Structures confirm ownership. The discipline of the leader confirms the civilization and therefore the reliability of that group. Given that our grandnephew is a doctor, marrying a doctor – it is important that we ‘show’ this disciplinary action – so that they would be ethical in their professional life.
The communication headed ‘Call to Step Down With Dignityfrom Professor Asoka N.I.Ekanayaka, Ph.D(Lond), DDPH.RCS(Eng.), BDS, to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe caused  friction with the above value that I carry. To my mind, it was a ‘use and discard’ attitude unbecoming of a person with high academic status. That status is relative to others in Sovereign Sri Lanka and should not be used as if it were a possession by an individual.

When we see the other person through a relationship – we respect the structure that the relationship is a part of. But the more we see the other person as an individual the more likely we are to limit ourselves to the visible and/or known outcomes in our interactions with that person. As Prime Minister – Mr Ranil Wicremesighe is senior by position to all other Sri Lankans – except the President. Professor Ekanayaka writing for academic purposes – would be senior to Mr Ranil Wicremesighe in the academic world. The two structures when mixed indiscriminately – are like mixing Islam and Christianity. That happens when the common pathway become weak.

On 15 March 2007, the Daily News published excerpts of the speech by Dr. Hilary Cooray at the induction ceremony of the 26th President of the Organisation of Professional Associations. It included the following:

[Professor Ekanayake said, the international community seems to be observing Sri Lanka’s human rights record with great anxiety. There is the seeming, unprecedented public anxiety about the credibility, integrity and independence of the Judiciary.
Neither should be expected that our universities would be the last bastion of reason, rationality and enlightenment in these dark days. In many parts of our universities, ragging which is an euphemism for campus torture, perpetuates a degraded, mass undergraduate culture, that is the very antithesis of the liberal values that define a university.]

The above communication to the Prime Minister was signed under the status ‘Emeritus Professor (University of Peradeniya)
Does it indicate ‘enlightenment or darkness’?  In this current environment of militancy becoming terrorism at global level – it is important for us to examine ourselves through every angle that causes friction in the global mind.
Professor Ekanayake  states in his opening paragraph of the communication to Prime Minister:
[It now looks as if spurred on by a tidal wave of popular sentiment Sajith Premadasa might well sweep to power at the forthcoming presidential election. His charismatic  personality and  fresh vision have dramatically revived a dull drooping dispirited UNP,  generating a spirit of hope, eager expectation, and passionate enthusiasm amongst millions of supporters reminiscent of JR Jayawardena’s campaign in 1977.]

As per the above , one ought to then expect a Constitutional change towards a stronger Executive Presidency – as the parallel of the 1978 Constitution through which Mr Jayawardene elevated his position to unilateral royalty. The support that  Sajith Premadasa rendered during last year’s Constitutional Crisis – to the rule of law is eliminated by the structure projected as per Professor Ekanayake’s mind. In 1977 as well as in 2015 – Tamils who were truly Sri Lankan were supported and promoted by Natural Powers to become Equal Opposition in National Parliament. But on both occasions the elected leaders ignored this -  and thereby disconnected from the true heritage which is expressed as fundamental rights in a reliable  constitution. During last year’s crisis – Mr Ranil Wickremesighe demonstrated quiet and reliable leadership by becoming the medium of rule of law. To the extent Mr Ranil Wickremesighe is respected  as the leader – this power to quietly resist the excessive excitement is likely to be lost to the UNP and also to the Parliament. By so expressing Professor Ekanayake  is carrying over his disappointments from University to Public life through Politics. What a mess!

Professor Ekanayake  states also as follows:

[Otherwise the numerous reasons for your unpopularity are the stuff of which future biographers might write about !

They include unfortunate personality traits  where ordinary people might perceive you as detached disconnected and distracted, lacking in natural warmth sincerity and tenderness. Pretentious gestures and posturing to the contrary  look contrived and cannot quite dissipate the impression that in heart and mind  you have never really got out of the cultural straight jacket of the spoilt upper crust Colombo educated social classes in whose company you are more in your element

‘I hold as friends many who would seem ‘upper crust Colombo educated social classes’.  To the extent I take up leading positions – I need to respect those who developed and maintained such a ‘class’ – including through separation of powers on the basis of work based caste system. This would motivate others to aim higher and think higher.  So long as they do not ‘abuse’ that status for immediate benefits such class grouping is healthy. It is unhealthy to artificially eliminate it – as LTTE also did. As per Hindu legends Lord Vishnu took Vamana (short)  Brahmin Avataram / Incarnation to highlight that a good person in Asura creed  / low class – was also divine through surrender and v.v. That is when one becomes a true governor. Emperor Mahabali (Great Sacrifice) – also known as Bali - submitted his intellectual powers to Lord Vishnu who came in the form of Vamana (dwarf). In Kerala Onam festival is celebrated in honor of Emperor Bali who was extraordinarily generous. To my mind, the moral of the legend is that when one who is victorious to become apparent owner of lands develops ego. To enjoy exponentially – one has to renounce physical ownership which automatically raises the mind to Common ownership.

Unlike JR who lost the power to control hooligans who rioted in 1983 – Mr Ranil Wickremesighe became a quiet medium of democracy and rule of law at his level. This facilitated the investors in democracy to submit their work through the path of democracy. Sajith would need to respect Mr Ranil Wickremesighe  and through Mr Ranil Wickremesighe all those who have quietly become the leaders of their own home groups through democracy. Leadership of UNP is up to the members of the UNP. Currently UNP under Mr Ranil Wickremesighe represents Democracy and Rule of Law.  It is be shameful that  Mr Ranil Wickremesighe is being  asked to step down,  by someone who holds the position of ‘Emeritus Professor’.  That in itself confirms militancy.

Mr Ranil Wickremesighe who is a Natural Governor does not need such an apparent title to govern. Professor Ekanayake  has disrespected the Separation of Powers needed between Academic world which is required to Research and Teach those who qualify for higher education  - and Government which is required to represent and lead the whole nation actively.  

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