Feelers &Thinkers

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(December 21, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I read with interest, your letter to the Government Agent-Jaffna.

I noted with interest that you are brother of Dr. Rajasingham Narendran for whom I have high regard.

On 09 December 2010, your brother did share with us his response to the 'Waterloo' article on Mahinda's visit to London (transcurrents.com)’. This is appended to your open letter to the Government Agent-Jaffna. I myself responded as follows to your brother’s response:

Article continued below;

“----- Original Message -----

From: Gaja_Param
To: rajasingham narendran
Cc: Tamil Diaspora
Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:32 AM
Subject: True Sri Lankans

Thank you Dr. Narendran for sharing this most touching experience with us. I identify with what you have said and have also lost close family (not as close as yours) to both sides. A true Sri Lankan would accept that reality in Sri Lanka and do what s/he can to make it better for the next generation Sri Lankans.

Those who feel Tamil more than Sri Lankan are entitled to make their contributions through the narrower path of Sri Lankan Tamils only and it is valid. To be equal to the contribution by others including Sri Lankans first - their contributions need to be deeper - much deeper. To the extent they need to criticize fellow Tamils who feel Sri Lankan, they dilute their own contribution. Likewise Sinhalese.

Work of similar objective value, performed by a Lankan is far more worthy than when performed by a Tamil or a Sinhalese. That is the law of Natural Justice. You are a global minded Sri Lankan.

May God Bless you and your loved ones.


In response, I did receive communications of appreciation as well as ‘rejection’ – the latter from Melbourne LTTE supporters. I have learnt over the years that when I am neutral about the outcomes, the outcomes that happen confirm the inner feelings and/or natural attitudes of other participants – especially those with vested interests – looking for opportunities to express their opposition to the substance I write. I often conclude that they lack depth to write as per the substance and hence use ‘process’ to reject. They are as undemocratic as the Sri Lankan Government that they criticize, often through its processes.

I now believe that if we are able to take our work to the highest level earned – as per the quality of the work, - that is real victory. Thereafter, it matters not whether judges fail us or pass us. This also fits well with my understanding of Lord Krishna’s message through the Bhagavath Geetha – that we must work without worrying about the fruits of our work. To me, in the environment of Public Administration and Service, this means working on program basis where project based approach is likely to deliver defeat. A program focuses more on maintaining standards and Due Processes and less on objectively measurable outcomes – especially cash outcomes, which are most temporary of all. Program strengthen People Power through one-minded thinking. Status benefit is less temporary than cash benefit.

This is a challenge that most Public Administrations that move from Program based management towards Business Unit approach, face. Jaffna Kachcheri seems to be struggling due to this change over that is ‘happening’, to cope with which they do not have appropriate systems in place.

You have stated “Though my brother believes in reconciliation, development and responsible political leadership from the Tamils to deal with issues sensibly, I take an ardent stand that political resolution is the utmost priority before we embroil in other issues.”

I believe that with reconciliation and development, responsible political leadership will evolve. This is likely to place lesser importance on politics than previously. Those who have spent excessive energies in politics as a ‘stand alone project’ are likely to obstruct this path. It has been suggested by some Tamils that we should not invest in Tamil areas because it was likely that the Government would get the credit for it. My response to them has been ‘the first reconciliation we the Tamil Diaspora need is with the resident Tamils’.

If indeed, political resolution is of utmost priority to you, it is essential that you are transparent about your approach – so others know how not to get in your way and point out to you that you are obstructing the development of democracy through international resource management practices, when you obstruct their / our path.

I notice that the picture under which your letter has been published by the Sri Lanka Guardian, is Nallur Murugan temple. As you may know, there is a famous legend about Lord Muruga and the Divine mango. Essentially it is about conflict between the two systems of management and governance. Sons of Shiva and Shakthi had the opportunity to win the prize mango depicting ticket to Moksha (Heaven), by being the first to go around the world . Elder Brother Lord Ganesh, (parallel of Government of Sri Lanka) wins the prize mango by going around His parents, on the basis that they were His world. Younger Brother Lord Muruga (parallel of 2nd class Tamil minorities) who went around the world on His peacock, (like Tamil Diaspora on Sri Lankan Airways with peacock logo) got cross with His parents and established His own kingdom on top of Palani Hill. They were both winners – one through belief in local elders and the other through independent objective outcomes to benefit global investors.

This is also the conflict between President Rajapakse and the Tamil Diaspora. We can both be winners – believers in elders locally at Home and those who have 360 degree view through economic development using global standards. Conflict often arises when we fail to respect each other’s path. Inner conflict happens when we mix the two indiscriminately through mere theoretical knowledge.

You state to the Government Agent – Jaffna, “I consider your comments are part of your contractual or employment safeguarding obligation to satisfy your master’s agenda to be in his payroll”

Recently, I had the opportunity to share with a young Australian of Sri Lankan origin, the experience of a senior migrant executive complaining of ‘management’ not including her in decision making. I said in response that juniors/minorities were entitled to such privilege only to the extent of their ownership contribution and not through work in return for material benefits of money and status. This ownership contribution includes ‘respect’ for the elder. Highly qualified young ones often expect to be paid for their academic achievements rather than actual participation in the institution’s difficulties, which require a sense of belonging. The young Australian said to me he disagreed with me that one had to work to benefit the supervisor and said that he ‘worked to satisfy the job requirements’. I then said to him to accept his children calling their ‘home’ their dad rather than him!

Both are right as per the respective environments. Likewise, the Government Agent – Jaffna working to deliver as per the expectations of the President who has the responsibility to show the world the work of his government at its best and you as part of the Tamil Diaspora ‘working to satisfy yourself as an independent contributor’. Imelda must not be judged in your environment and you in Imelda’s environment. You may judge each other only to the extent of your actual contribution to the Common Pool of Standards – which are yet to be developed by today’s Sri Lankans for tomorrow’s children of Sri Lanka. Until then we need to limit ourselves to Global level outcomes measured through Global standards.

I often say that Mothers are feelers and Fathers are thinkers. Those who experience pain before pleasure are Feelers and those who experience pleasure before pain are Fathers. Feelers correct from within and hence need belief. Thinkers need to include all investors and ensure that pleasures and pain equal each other at the total level. President Rajapakse took the path of feelers when he defeated the LTTE and hence his elimination of ‘foreigners’. Then he desired the acceptance of the ‘outside’ world through Oxford Union but without 360 degree thinking and hence his fall.

All those who worked genuinely for freedom would now say ‘we are even’. The rest are carrying on as per their personal desires. Dharma answers to our needs and not to our desires. I note that Norwegians are calling for development of faith through religion in Sri Lanka. Public Service needs to be the first religion of the Government and its agencies.

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