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In search of Leadership Excellence among Tamils

We have leadership vacuum here on both sides and also leadership vacuum everywhere in the world. Among Tamils we have been lacking leaders and leadership for at least two generations. We need a leader who has the charisma and courage to reach out to both sides and tell them all the good things so that we have the mandate for a unified country. At this time that fertile will is not on either side, let us build that. We can have separate states not separated people, we are all connected.
by Subramaniam Masilamany

(February 18, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A true leader may be defined as a product of nature, who has the inner capacity to capture the universal energy that can attract, connect and hold people together. Or a leader may also be a person who can create emotional intelligence among people and direct them in desirable direction. How many Tamils are there who can fit these definitions. Why are Tamil such a fierce competitors and poor co-operators? I have been struggling for the last 50 years trying to find one leader among Tamils whom I could follow and there was none. Why is it we are unable to produce at least one good leader? Therefore let us begin to send our kids to leadership training so that we can produce a few excellent leaders.

The Singhalese proclaim that they won the war with Tamils, but then why do the Singhalese behave like the vindicated second class subjects? They want to talk with us but who among us are to talk with? None of them have the courage to say lets talk. The Tamils must behave like world-class citizens having the courage and greatness to sit and negotiate as equal partners. But we lack self esteem, self respect, self determination and dignity. They are in chains everywhere; every morning when they wake up they put on chain of slavery and servitude themselves. There is an unknown fear in their faces. Why? That fear and the second class mindset is the cause of lack of leadership among Tamils. Some people want to negotiate with Singhalese out of fear. That is not the right thing to do.

My position is, instead of asking what the Singhalese can give us; I will ask the Singhalese what is that we Tamils have to do to live with them. I do not want to negotiate out of fear but I will never fear to negotiate. This is something Tamil have to learn. Stop being second-class citizens or the vindicated. We are not second class citizens any more. There was never a war to lose. Killing 40,000 innocent people is not a war, it is the lowest act of barbarism, and it is genocide. During the massacre 180000 artillery shells were fired and none hit the civilians according to Shavendra Silva, deputy permanent representative to the UN, who has advanced the art of deception and pulling wool over the eyes of the world. 20 million against 2 million is not a match; it is a walk over. Tamils are not mules, they are horses, the Europeans call them “Teflon Tamils”; try to unite them, and they know how to survive as lone wolves. As the great Russian weight lifter Yuri Vasilov said, they work and work to reach a stage in that process they become self propelling rockets. They want to enjoy the moment again and again. We say 40,000 was killed, UN says 7000 was killed, Mahinda Rajapaksa says none was killed. Did your troops carry the bible in one hand and bread in the other hand when they went to war? If your military was unarmed then comes Tigers didn’t kill them. There is a limit to ignorance beyond which it is evolution.

If this Teflon Tamils are the race of people we are trying to lead, then the leader be a real one. We Tamils need a leader who has the conviction, courage and confidence to tell the Tamils and ask the Singhalese what is the right thing to do. We must ask the Singhalese what should or what can the Tamils do to live in Sri Lanka with Dignity, Freedom and Justice. Our next step will depend on what they say. One day, some say they and us have to live side by side. We are ready? Are they ready? Let us show them that it is in their self interest live in peace. If they agree then let us bring in the United Nations to oversee and help us to formulate a social contract and present it to the parliament and give it the legal assent. This contract will give us the mechanism to deal with minor issues. If the Singhalese as majority do not agree then we have a moral reason to ask for separation. I think, in my opinion we have not done this. I am very certain we can work something out because as individuals we get along very well within Sri Lanka and out side, but as a social group we are arch enemies. Something is not right here. I think the people are willing but the leaders are not genuine.

We have leadership vacuum here on both sides and also leadership vacuum everywhere in the world. Among Tamils we have been lacking leaders and leadership for at least two generations. We need a leader who has the charisma and courage to reach out to both sides and tell them all the good things so that we have the mandate for a unified country. At this time that fertile will is not on either side, let us build that. We can have separate states not separated people, we are all connected.

Let me quote from John W.Gardner from his book “No easy Victories”

Leaders have a significant role in creating the state of mind of the society. They can serve as symbols of a moral unity of the society. They can express the values that hold the society together. Most important, they can conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and carry them above the conflicts that tear a society apart, and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.

If we ask among our Tamil population and among our presumed leaders, who is in charge? The answer is nobody home. There are people, who want to be leaders, but most of them are what is in it for me people, some of them even don’t know what makes people and society. To know what the society needs and to articulate the intelligence of the people to achieve those goals is said to be the quality of divine leaders. In my life time I did not see one or hear of one. They do not have the moral stamina to take the podium and listen to people. They are not ready to listen, learn and lead. People are willing, leaders are missing.

Why is that we could not produce even a single leader? Where have all the leaders gone? Or have the field of leadership soil had gone sterile. It is the people who produce the leadership, we had S.J.V. Selvanayagam, who represented the psyche of the people of the post independence era, and then we produced Prabaharan the man needed to fend of Singhalese aggression, now we need a leader who can guide us to the next stage. The Tamils are no more people of Sri Lankan mentality, they are all over the world and their understanding in the last 30 years have been tremendously improved. To identify the values that will bring and hold them together is vital to the next leader.

We have identified at least four groups that are trying to lead the community, but are these so call groups understand the needs and the mindset of the Modern Diaspora Tamils? When we are producing university graduates at a rate or 15,000 per year, it is not an easy community to convince. The leader has to be a Doctor of Science, so to say, so that there is some edge in him or her worth looking up to. Since 1960s the intelligence quotients of Tamils have multiplied several times in Sri Lanka and around the world among the Diaspora, since exodus. To have the exposure to some of the modern civilization is the blessing we got out of the Sri Lankan misery.

How does this modern Tamil community communicate? The days of political meetings, radio, television, and news paper are all gone. This is how an investor put it, one day I went home and my little granddaughter stood on top of the 4 inch thick telephone directory and tried to use the key board on the computer. Next day I sold all my stocks in telephone directory company. If you do not get the idea and the trend then you cannot lead people. A leader must know where the society is, what it wants and at least where it wants to be in the next 10 years.

How does one reach people today? They do so via Social net working, youtube, face book, twitter and very many. Now let me ask the four groups that are trying to lead the Tamil community how many of you reach out and touch your people? Look I am not a 16 years old boy, I am retired, and I use computers extensively. It is a new society. Tamil are not Pannam Koddais and Dosais, that is what some leaders think. Why is that we don’t see our leaders, because they are not there where we are. Where are the leaders? Who is charge? I was mentioned four people as potential leaders, but we don’t hear from them, they want to lead us by being in the dark, they are scared to come out in the lime light. I took on this task because I was fed up with our leaders from SJV up to now. Why are they scared to talk? I have never seen or heard Rudrakumarn, Emmanual, Ethiriveersingham and Sampanthan listening to people talking. When Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks only racial venom comes out of his teeth. When Shavendra Silva speaks, his body language speaks so loud we cannot hear his mouth speaking. Please some one conveys this message to him. Let me give a simple advice to my Tamil leaders, dress appropriately, it is your attire, your facial expression, your body language are seen, heard and felt louder than your voice. Please cut your hair clean, shave and put on a suit. Tell the audiance that we belong to a group of civilized people..

Lets talk more about our leaders. We knocked at several doors, nobody home. In the modern terms our emails neither returned nor replied. Why? Our leaders are living about 10,000 years behind, when the world functions on nano-seconds these people are living in the dinosaurs era. In 10 years people will ask what is a telephone? Today the telephone is a mobile information centre and a weapon of mass destruction. I can, at my low level of cyber knowledge reach 4000 people in one second. Early bird gets the worm. Right? A man with a computer, a key board, a solar panel and a wireless internet connection is going to penetrate the impenetrable empires.


Our leaders must understand that the concept of Government, National borders, Immigration, and Sovereign nation are outdated ideas. Look behind and you see, United Tamil Nation, a nation without borders. We are not stupid to call it borderless nation. Let me give you an example in the year of 2009 month of May, the Singhalese won the war over the Tamils, so they say, I am not interested in dinner table talk. It was a war between Tamils and Singhalese and they claim they won, but then they behave like losers. Why are they behaving like the vindicated? They are asking us come, lets live as one nation one people. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, you are trying to sell an out dated idea. Your fanaticism is gone, your heritage is gone, your intimidation is gone and you have to even beg to come out of your country. Your own people are going to come and get you, get ready for it. You can neither go out nor stay in. what a pathetic situation you are in. that is your problem. You are the master of your own destiny.

So if the Tamil community is freedom loving democratic people who know their rights and freedoms and also know their rules and regulation, what kind of person can lead them? This pulling wool over their eyes will not work. Sometimes I smell rat is some leaders or smell chicken in others, neither has place in the modern Tamil society. I hope our self proclaimed leaders get this one right.

I had a discussion with a friend in England, he said lets us all get together and go as one unified people and ask Mahinda Rajapaksa and see what he can give us. In the first place he has nothing to give us and there is nothing for us to get from them. Unfortunately we live in that naïve world without understanding the human nature. Man is an animal with a mind. As long as Sri Lanka is a poor country, the law of the jungle will prevail, there is not enough to share hence stealing is the right, the right of the might is the law. It is the law in any uncreative and unproductive society. Neither the Tamil leaders nor the Singhalese leaders ever paid any attention to the economy.

There is only one thing we Tamils can do, invest heavily and help the Singhalese to “have” something worth living for. Once they have a home, food, healthcare etc they will become modern people who want to protect their new found comfort. They will not go to war, a man goes to war as a last resort, and 18 million people do not have enough that is why they are in the Middle East toiling. The Tamil leadership must understand that. We must understand them before they understand us. Let us give them the head start. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt, let us behave like world-class Tamils, we are magnanimous and magnificent people. They through their inability destroyed a beautiful country. Now they want to pollute it with tourism. Tourism is not the way to build a just and decent society, but it the easiest way out. We Tamils always thought we were at the receiving end, but you have not seen the life of ordinary Singhalese in the villages, he is being fleeced, skinned and skimmed by their own people.

Therefore the Tamil leadership must reach out to the Singhalese people and offer our greatness despite their leader’s misguidance. That is the value that will bring the community together. We have to offer our greatness to the Singhalese people. God has for some strange reason put some extra gray matter in our heads, warm blood in our hearts, ability to persevere and a cornucopia in our minds. Tell you the truth some days I hate the cash in my pocket, a nuisance in my pocket. Give me a man and I will turn him into magic money machine. Why did God give us the fountain of never ending wealth? In Toronto I live there are three important languages English, Chinese and Tamil. Mahinda Rajapaksa did you hear that? You and your people are missing a lot, because there are too many Mahathanamukthas among you.

So who is going to be the next Tamil leader? In my opinion the one who can reach out to the Singhalese and say let us all live as one people. Let us show you the money magic. Let us show you how to create an economic to suit your country. There are some resources that are unique to Sri Lanka, but you need people with the knack for ingenuity and creativity. A leader who will not negotiate out of fear but without fear, a leader who can stand on firm moral high ground and say we are all people. Let us look for the internal diversity of intellect than the external complexes of language, religion and class, these are acquired characters and can be changed, today Singhalese tomorrow Tamil or something else. You can force the Tamil to be Singhalese, Hindu to a Buddhist etc, but you cannot change who we are inside, the true human, that is what Tamils are. You cannot move the light house, the ship has to move.

But the way Sri Lanka is progressing; it will be a fun paradise for the others, that is what is being created by The Singhalese, India and china; a place to relax after a good days work. Sri Lankan men do the foot massaging and women do the room service. That is not the culture we Tamils are willing to venture into, we have a rich cultural heritage which other communities are fast adopting around the world, we are not willing to compromise it at any cost. It is time tested elegance; there is nothing to improve upon.

The world has become and becoming uncontrollable, freedom has seeped into the minds defying borders and armies. Even the armies are vulnerable to freedom. Why should a poor village boy sitting with military uniform and gun in his hand hoping to kill an enemy who is not really his enemy, but of the establishment? We are only protecting the rich not the people for people are all gone; there are no more people to govern. A revolution has taken place, about 4 -5 people changed the world. There are no more people to manage and no nation to call a sovereign. People are learning to manage themselves and they understand that in their own selfish interest they respect the neighbour’s interest. We are on our way to Utopia. Governments have become a liability and clumsy disorganized, divided organization.
To tell the truth governments are the source trouble than a source of relief for people.

Leadership is about listening and learning. I function with one assumption that every one is intelligent and well informed in their own way. When I assume like that, I become a great student, I become a listener; I do not guide people, I do not teach them , but they learn on their own. All I display is a wider, greater and larger vision of what my community should be in the next 1000 years for the next 1000 years. I provide the nourishing media and people do their job so well. They day you stop listening to people you are done with. Do you think Barack Obama can do the work of 300 million Americans? No, all he can do is to provide the charisma that people are looking for, the social energy, that mesmerizing look, that look of all positive qualities in his eyes. That ability to look straight into peoples eyes and we got a life to live, lets live it up. People will do the rest, rest assured.

Let us listen to Plato for a minute or two, “Until philosophers are kings, and the princes of this world have sprit and power of philosophy, and when the greatness and political wisdom meet in one, (cities will never cease from ill, nor the human race, as I believe and ) then only will our states have a possibility of life, and see the light of the day. The truth is, that the state in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is the best and most quietly governed, and a state which they are willing govern is the worst”

If Plato gave life to leadership, Marcus Aurelius lived it. He is the standard against whom others are measured. One of the kings who passed Plato’s test is Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. All other leaders are evaluated on his scale of 100. If Marcus Aurelius is 100, where will Mahinda rajapksa be? Minus 10?! How about among Tamils, there is none to evaluate. Why are the Tamils struggling; because there is no one to show them the values of belonging and social virtues that create a prosperous community? There is nothing to be gained or to be bargained being in this Tamil community so they drift like a ship without a captain, a sail and a rudder What we are doing here is stimulating the community to much higher plateau, trying to show them a highly enriched living. Will we be the future leaders? May be, we don’t know only time and people will tell us, but rest assured we are in the right direction. We have to build trust and become high trust society.

Ultimately what sustain a society of people is freedom and Justice. The freedom to associate or not to. Justice is absolute, you cannot tamper with. Man is born with a moral foundation and moral compass. So we all know what is right and wrong. Mahinda Rajapaksa says one leader, one people, and one nation. I think G.L.Peries must have given that line to him. No it we are the leaders, we are the people and we are the nation. That will work. When you sit in Hambantota and look either you see the jungle or the sea, you cannot see the world.

I want make my contribution to my people; It is my passion to see people succeed. I come to work everyday to see my young associates have a place they can come and be creative in their own way. When a new recruit ask me what to do, I tell them go find your own niche and find your own vocation and find your own quest and answer that call. Our enterprise will never fail.

I hope I have said something useful today. As I always say.

All Tamils worldwide unite, stay together, work hard and never ever give up, the best is yet to come and we are winning.

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