Friday 16 July 2021


Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

16 July   2021



Essential - Milk or Gucci?


There is a saying in Tamil – that the pain of a child who cries because there isn’t sugar in his milk is the same as that of one who cries because there is not enough salt in his kanji (rice soup). In practice one would not know the other.  That came to my mind, when I read the ABC article ‘Luxury brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton are 'essential' under NSW COVID restrictions. It is difficult to define ‘essentials’ in a multicultural society. Having grown up in a middleclass family in Sri Lanka, dog food would not be an essential to me. But it is to my children and grandchildren. These are cultural differences due to different environments that shaped us. Gucci environment would be as soothing to one as Coogee beach is to another. The University of NSW was claimed to be Private Property by their Security officers as well as the Police who found fault with me. I insisted that it was Public. They rejected my claim and their ignorance manifested itself when they listed me as Sri Lankan – even after I insisted that by law I was Australian. Since then I have become dual citizen and hence by law they would be correct.

This issue came up through my article – ‘Port City Konghou instead of Jaffna Yarl?’ in relation to  two Sri Lankan High Commissioners to Australia.  A well groomed educated Sri Lankan responded as follows:


[I am afraid I do not agree with you. 

I was happy when Skandakumar was made the Sri Lankan Commissioner. That was an eye opener to the Australian Political Leaders to feel that racial discrimination is not the ideal. 

Equally, for the Sinhalese who think they are above the Tamils to realize, that it is not the best for Sri Lanka. At every function during his tenure he was rational, in that there was no racial or religious discrimination. Having been the head of a Unilever owned private company, I know how important it is to be impartial. Giving equal rights and opportunities to everybody, for the common goal of reaching the top. He proved his worth as Chairman George Steuart and he proved his worth as the Sri Lankan High Commissioner. If tomorrow he becomes the President of Sri Lanka, like Lee Kuan Yew did for his country, Hon. Skandakumar is bound to take our country to great heights. We need such leaders.]

I appreciated very much – this generous spirit of an educated Sri Lankan. Thank god for a few who protect that commonness. My response was as follows:

[Thank you for your caring response. There are others who also would genuinely disagree with me. One Tamil medical professional wrote to a Tamil only group:


[I myself knew Thisara while in SL, a good person, but certainly not fit to be a diplomat. When it came to Skandakumar all hell broke lose. Why? Because he is smart and intelligent and was able to assess the person and the motive, and thus politely cut himself off and that is diplomacy. He can’t perform his duty accommodating every Tom, Dick and Harry. That led to this outburst and mudslinging. He is bad because no front seat given to Gaja madam]


The above professional is relating the two through the position of High Commissioner. But the reality is that they came through two different systems and hence cannot be measured directly. Interestingly, in the clip you shared with me also, Professor Malik Peiris refers to Memory within the system – in the case of antibodies that fight viruses. Mr Thisara had those antibodies that Mr Skandakumar lacked. The latter became a victim during the Central Bank bombing by LTTE. But unlike Mr Thisara – he did not fight against LTTE – body to body to develop his own antibodies. His achievements and the company he kept by choice – limited his experience to the official circles. He failed to develop a link language between the two sections of Sri Lankan community – which is more or less permanent in our generation. That divide is between those who have high level Sri Lankan positions and those who do not despite apparent merit.

Colombo Port City is being promoted by the former. If you hear the voice of Tamil only groups – the have-nots would combine to oust this group as they did with the IPKF.

I do appreciate that within his group Mr Skandakumar would have actively used merit basis. But as HC  - he represented all of us. Through affirmative action he needed to connect to the groups that rebelled against the government. Speaking as he did at the Colombo Port City Rotary club – he confirmed that he did not have the antibodies to Prevent another such attack. I am sure he will be happy that you appreciate him. I in turn appreciate your disagreement which gives the issue firm grounding. ]


The problem with many of us Sri Lankans was that when we started drinking milk instead of kanji, we could no longer relate to kanji-drinking folks. Mr SWRD Bandaranaike for example was well educated and started drinking milk. But his desire for majority vote, led him to declare that Sinhala would be the only National Language. This ultimately mutated into Buddhism foremost clause during his wife’s tenure as Prime Minister. They both pretended to be kanji folks. The political gain would automatically produce its equal opposite. That is the law of Nature. Hence Equal Opposition in National Parliament.


Like our relatives who elevate themselves once they come to Australia and get  their own money, including through welfare – the Sinhala Buddhist monks elevated themselves to PM level and eliminated SWRD. The Sinhala Buddhists in politics then began regrouping as ‘milk’ group while the rest became ‘kanji’ group. Equal Opposition in primitive cultures is expressed through brawn power and hence SWRD was killed by that very Opposition he created through Sinhala-only.


The higher our thinking – the safer we are from other side Energy of our manifested desires. There is a Tamil saying ‘kalavum katru mara’ / Learn also to steal ; and then forget. The learning is recommended so we would know how the mind of the thief works. But if we remember it – our mind would stagnate at that level and we will continue to steal. The advice to ‘forget’ – when taken – would remove the desire for the outcome but would keep the mind connection. The governance parallel is ‘learn to steal votes and then forget the votes. Politicians often forget to forget votes and hence fail to become governors. Hence their own karma returns as their eliminator. The higher the mind structure, the easier it is to forget the visible outcome.


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