27 May 2020
Imaginary Majority Power
As I read the Times of India headlines ‘Arumugam Thondaman, Sri Lankan Tamil minister, dies’ I stood up despite my shock and paid my respects to Mr Thondaman who was hero to Hill Country Tamils of Sri Lanka. I was shocked because Mr Thondaman was younger than I. A great loss to Sri Lanka which is very weak in multiculturalism.
My attention then turned to Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Beyond the 13th; Frozen Politics in Sri Lanka’ by Harsha Senanayake. This 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, is deeply connected to Hill Country Tamils. As per Wikipedia report:
[The Sirima-Shastri Pact of 1964 and Indira-Sirimavo supplementary agreement of 1974 paved the way for the repatriation of 600,000 persons of Indian origin to India. Another 375,000 persons were accepted as citizens of Sri Lanka, which made them enter the polity. These repatriation agreements were the harbingers of the destruction of this community, which had evolved into a composite group with a distinct culture of its own. In the 1950s and 1960s this community was clamouring for education and recognition of its distinctive culture. This brought in the emergence of a community consciousness and the artisan of a distinct community]
Today, Australian Tamils of Sri Lankan origin are fighting for the rights of war-victims to be settled in Australia as per Australia’s global commitments. But back then, we – the descendants of Jaffna Kingdom failed to strongly protest against the above mentioned repatriation of Tamils. Even if there was no prospect of effecting a direct change in the government’s decision – true belief based objections accumulate as reserve energies.
The Thirteenth amendment was strongly influenced by India which absorbed the pain of repatriation. Today, the Tribune reports – ‘Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has requested India to provide a special $1.1 billion currency swap facility to boost country’s draining foreign exchange reserves in view of the economic slowdown due to the pandemic.’ The above confirms that India is ‘giving’ and Sri Lanka is ‘taking’. Included in the giving - are the taxes paid by the above group and their descendants. Human Resources are higher in value than money. Common policy resources are exponential in value. The Sri Lankan government repatriating the above group and naming LTTE as enemies is a reversal of policies. Likewise, using articles after article 9 of the constitution which confirms Buddhist superiority is a reversal of policy. Hence the exponential deterioration of Buddhist values as well as Democratic values. The latter has led to problems in holding elections! Where Buddhist clergy are the driving power – Democracy goes into hibernation. Now we have autocratic rule again in Sri Lanka.
Senanayake states ‘The post-Anti-Tamil riots in 1983 phase saw the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment which mandated the state to create provincial councils as a measure to accommodate the political aspirations of Tamil people. Post-2009, Sri Lanka has assured the promulgation of a new constitution as per the mandate that the present government headed by Maithripala Sirisena received in 2015. The new constitution is currently being drafted and it is well past its schedule which is causing much concern in political and academic circles.’
Constitutions that are not challenged nor actively used – are of no value. The example is the above stated Buddhist article in the constitution which is usually ignored by most parliamentarians. But they are fodder for intellectuals and media - as confirmed by ‘Face the Nation’ program of 25 May 2020.
Even one citizen who abides by or opposes an article in the Constitution on the basis of belief – invokes its power of the constitution as if s/he were the Constitution. That is how Absolute power works. Those who rely on majority power weaken themselves with time and eventually start hallucinating. A believer never hallucinates. Hence in opposition the true believer in minority side becomes Equal Opposition. That is the weapon that the Sri Lankan Tamil believer has to defeat unfair, unjust discrimination due to being Tamil.
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