Sunday 31 January 2021


Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

31 January   2021





England had a ‘double set’ of institutions – the dignified ones ‘impress the many’ while the efficient ones ‘govern the many’. The dignified or ‘theatrical’ parts of the system played the essential role of winning and sustaining the loyalty and confidence of the mass of ordinary people whose political capacities were minimal or non-existent; they helped the state to gain authority and legitimacy, which the efficient institutions could then use.” Walter Bagehot in the book ‘The English Constitution’


In Hindu culture – dignity was recognised as Goodness and efficiency as cleverness. In the epic Ramayanam – Lankan king Ravana was recognized as being clever, while Divine incarnation Rama was good and clever.


In current Sri Lanka UNP was seen as Good Government and the Rajapaksa government was ‘Clever Government’. Since they are in different formations we continue to alternate between the two, more and more frequently.


Given that Ceylon / Sri Lanka was under British rule, it would be natural for those who value the positives in British rule, to identify with this. This is likely to be valuable to know which part of government we identify with more – the dignified one or the efficient one.  As per my experience, one who is disciplined develops dignity, through which s/he identifies with the dignified part of official government.


As per Sunday Times report ‘Northern farmers unable to shed ‘tax’ imposed by separatists’:


[For farmers in the north, the virus pandemic made it worse in addition to a decades-long practice introduced by the LTTE during wartime in markets where a portion of their produce had to be discounted mandatorily, as a tax.

A northern farmer who wants to sell 100 kilos of cabbage, would be paid for only 90 kilos by either a retailer, or broker. The rest — 10 kilos — is considered as a mandatory discount.

Velayutham Kathirkamanathan, a farmer from Atchuvely would go from Jaffna to the Kodikamam public market to sell bananas.

The banana bunch weighs over 60 kilos, but he would be paid only for 50 kilos by the buyer, who he says, had been buying the produce for a longtime and expects a discount.

“We cannot demand, or fix a good price, without agreeing to the mandatory discount. If we raise the issue, there would be no one left to buy,” Mr Kathirkamanathan said, noting this is the norm.

With the recent closure of public markets for weeks following coronavirus infections, farmers could not get a fair price, he added.

This mandatory 10 percent ‘discount’ began during wartime when the then Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declared it as a ‘tax’ from trading at public markets. Today, nearly a decade after the defeat of the separatist movement, the practice continues.

Over the years, northern farmer federations took up the issue at every district coordinating committee meeting, but it remains.]

In the meantime, the Efficient Tamil Diaspora is taking its work to wider world – largely by ‘finding fault’ with the Sri Lankan government but without recognizing the need for good governance by Tamils, of Tamils who were dominated by clever administration.

To my mind, this is because Cleverness was way above goodness – as proven by the killing of Rajiv Gandhi who was part of Indian Royalty.

The more cleverness we ‘show’ beyond the level needed by us, the stronger the confirmation that we are lacking in Dignity which usually happens when we fail to value our elders and ancestors.  Hence the shift to past where only our side seems to have ruled. Tamils shifted to Ellalan and Sinhalese to Duttugemunu.


 In his FT article ‘How sound is Sri Lanka’s collective consciousness?’ Mr Harsha Gunasena highlights:


[Bandaranaike created a false patriotism by nationalising privately held assets and businesses. This patriotism was reduced to providing employment in these businesses to the political supporters of the successive political parties. Eventually the government budget had to finance these loss-making institutions. Still, this false patriotism is powerful enough to create a public opinion that we should continue with the State ownership of those entities. 
It is beneficial to the rulers, therefore they promote this false patriotism by misleading the collective consciousness of the people. Then the people request the continuation of the entities with state ownership although they themselves are at the receiving end of this whole game. No one is requesting the government or forcing it by demonstrations to run those institutions profitably


That which was worse was that Bandaranaike promoted Buddhist Sangha whose role it was to uphold the Dignity of the Nation through Buddhism. Instead it sought the executive role to show ‘Efficiency’  - greater cleverness than the Political leader. In their eyes, the political leaders became ‘juniors’ in Buddhist affairs and when they were disobedient – they had to be eliminated.


The LTTE likewise did this to Tamil elected leaders. Hindu extremists did that to Mahatma Gandhi. All due to lack of Dignity needed to govern.


When we are lacking in Dignity, we need the Equal and Opposite manifestation. Hence Opposition in Parliament. Both sides then compete to produce cleverness but within half the space. It’s like two sides in sports – say cricket – so no single side bats all the time.


Currently, the Tamil side assisted by the Diaspora is batting. The Sinhalese side might ‘declare’ as per the local victory where they were the umpires. Even if the former wins through the International Criminal Court –local Resident Tamils will have to find their own solutions – beginning with becoming independent of the Diaspora. The northern farmers parallels  are Tamil migrants who are influenced to pay ‘taxes’ so they would think they are included in the Global group. The LTTE legacy continues in a softer form.


Thus far there has been no indication from the UN that the inquiry would include the Tamil perpetrators. Many seniors in the Tamil Diaspora ‘dream’/ ‘hallucinate’ so they could ‘forget’ that their dignity was ‘lost. I felt that this was the case with members of  Ontario Senior Tamils Benevolent Association’ to  whom Dr. Senthuran Gunaratnam, Psychiatrist, delivered a talk on  seniors' mental health issues. -

 The response was very poor and the questions raised indicated to me that they were trying to show off their own new knowledge – i.e. they were batting. The reason to my mind is Dr. Senthuran Gunaratnam’s age. Dr. Senthuran Gunaratnam failed to bowl – like the Rajapaksas, probably due to his sense of importance to Dignity in delivering his medical services.


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