"Sinhalese are moving into Tamil areas"
- TNA tells India !
| by Gam Vaesiya Ontario, Canada
( October 12, Ontario, Sri Lanka Guardian) A news report published in the Zeenews of India states that three prominent TNA members have gone to Big brother India to complain that the "Sinhalese are moving into Tamil areas". Let us examine this sentiment in some detail.
Racially exclusive territorial separateness (apartheid)?
When the LTTE enforced the Tamil speaking people of the Vanni to go with them all the way to Aluthmattala (Puthumatalan), one would have expected these TNA representatives of the people to be with them. However, all of them (with perhaps the exception of one TNA MP) were living in Colombo? What were they doing there?
Tamilization of the South?
When the LTTE-enforced migration of people from everywhere in the Vanni began with the advance of the government forces, it seemed that a large number of wealthy, upper class Tamil speaking individuals got special permission to NOT go with the retreating LTTE, but go south. If enough money could be paid, Tamils could leave the "exclusive homeland"? Was this a move to Tamilize the South?
|There would be Sinhala hoodlums who will come forward to intensify the battle, and opposition politicians could go on marches against the Tamils.|
The North and the East were declared the 'exclusive homelands of the Tamils', in the Maradana resolution (1949) of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK), and also in the Vaddukkoddai (Batakotte) resolution of 1976. So, all Tamils who accept this, especially those living in the South, should have moved to the North and the East, during the so-called "de Facto" Eelam regime that the "gallant boys" of the TULF established for some thirty years. However, the Tamil speaking population moved South, leaving behind mostly the lower-caste less-privileged Tamils. Neither the TNA, nor the TULF complained to India that the "demographics' of the "Tamil areas" are being disrupted and denuded by these movements of the Tamils.
Was it not state-forced? Forced by the circumstances prevailing under the "de-facto Eelam' government?
The TNA apologists will say, "Oh, no, they were all voluntary migrations to the south, while we are complaining about state-sponsored migration. We call it colonization". Surely, given a population of 75% Sinhala speakers, the TNA wants a demographic barrier based on the so-called "Eelam region" consisting of 1/3 the land area exclusively restricted to some 5% Tamil population that lives there, while the Tamils of the South (7%), Tamils of the hill country (5%), the Sinhalese (75%) , the Muslims etc., all have to remain strictly within the quarantined area outside this "Eelam" that the TNA has in mind? Are they out of their mind?
| " The TNA members of Parliament|
are fossils of history who do
not understand the inexorable
dynamics of demographics,
and the impossibility of
racially exclusive territorial
The demographic explosion of eastern USA led to the movement of people to the West, funded by state-sponsored rail-roads, land grants, ranches etc. They occupied the "traditional Hispanic homelands" in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California. Should the Hispanics of California have demanded that no English speaking people would come to California, as it is the "Traditional homeland of the Hispanics"? In fact, today the Hispanics, and the Spanish language do not have any official status, and there is no devolution of power to the Hispanics (or any other group) in the USA.
The TNA members of Parliament are fossils of history who do not understand the inexorable dynamics of demographics, and the impossibility of racially exclusive territorial separateness .The Afrikaner regimes named it Apartheid and proposed it as a "solution" to its problems. This too was based on the Indian Model of 1947 adapted to the case of skin colour. In 1949 Mr. S. J. V. Chelvanayagam may have thought this to be also the solution to the "Tamil question" when G. G. Ponnambalam's 50-50 stratagey failed in the face of Soulbury's rejection of Ponnambalam's attempt to "turn democracy on its head". The Tamil apartheid policy, now sugar-coated as devolution, but correctly stated as the "Indian model", was clearly discussed as such by Neville Laduwahetty in the Island Newspaper recently.
The Tamil Apartheid concept was very attractive to the Upper-caste Tamil leaders who wanted to preserve the caste hierarchy and free-services from the lower castes that were an integral part of their cherished way of life. In fact, writers like Thomas Johnpulle (Read) and Sebastian Rasalingam (Read) have cogently argued that the basis of the Tamil Arasu Kadchi- and the TULF politics was nothing but opposition to the social changes that Colombo was prepared to legislate in the North, diminishing the control of the upper castes over the general Tamil population. The agitation over language was the convenient modus operandai of an elite class plotting to maintain its hegemony. Indeed, even in a recent discussion of Caste in these columns, a writer named Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam (Read) concludes that the caste system and internal hierarchies have their positive attributes, showing that the upper castes would never give up their advantages, and would be bold enough to openly assert that caste discrimination is a "positive" entity even in the 21st century. This is so mind-boggling for me that I am prepared to believe that I have not understood her.
There are other aspects to this whole issue. Recently we saw how Ann Abesekera, an ageing Colombo socialite with no knowledge of Tamil or Sinhala being used as the cat's paw to protest about the place-name "Omanda" being at last correctly written down in Sinhala, while the Tamil form Omanthai was also correctly written in Tamil, in just one name board in the whole city. Nevertheless, Ann Abesekera was exploited to protest that this was "Sinhalization" that ignores Tamil sensitivities! It turns out that she was speaking of the minuscule percentage of English-speaking Tamils (less than 0.5%) who wanted to see the new English name board at the railway station transliterated as in Tamil, irrespective of the sensitivities of the English-speaking Sinhalese (4%) who should no doubt wish to see it written as Omantha. All this was nicely explained by a writer named Bodhi Dhanapala (Read) who discussed Sinhala sensitivities vis a vis Tamil sensitivities.
The vast majority of place-names in the North and East are of Sinhala origin as discussed in Prof. Karthigesu Indrapala's Ph. D thesis submitted to the University of London. The Sinhalese should be able to use the form congenial to them, while the Tamil speakers should use the Tamil form convenient to them.
TNA is playing with fire.
Meanwhile, we also find that it is the TNA that engaged an NGO in Mauritius to hire lawyers to "try" Gen. Shavendra de Silva, the nation's UN representative. So, is the TNA working for national reconciliation, or attempting to infuritate the Sinhalese and re-create ethnic antagonism? The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi also fanned ethnic polarization by its campaigns of tarring the letter Sri on car registration plates, tarring Sinhala street names, and then issuing Tamil stamps, holding "non-violent" Sathyagrahas where wooden pistols were distributed etc., while their Tamil critics were called 'traitors'.
Of course, there would be Sinhala hoodlums who will come forward to intensify the battle, and opposition politicians could go on marches against the Tamils. Fortunately, the Sinhalese speaking-people, and many Tamils are united behind the present government and so there is no real opposition to muck rake and create the mayhem that was possible when the UNP and the SLFP had to battle for votes, by pandering to the worst sentiments of the street.
However, the situation is different within the Tamil-speaking sector. Playing to the gallery is one way of getting votes. Once again the old guard of the Upper castes, retained in the TNA are playing with fire as this is their standard politics. It is the politics practised from the time they opposed Universal Franchise in 1929, when they explicitly said that they oppose universal franchise because it would 'erode the caste system, empower women, and convert the Tamils to a minority'. However, this is the 21st century. We can only hope that younger political leaders, with better senses, and more well grounded in the Sri Lankan grass roots (and not in the Diaspora of Australia, Canada, or India) would come forward to lead the Tamils.
Unfortunately, the "chattering classes" of the Tamil writers are exclusively dominated by the upper castes, and there is only a rare case like Sebastian Rasalingam who has truly come from the depressed castes. Fortunately, the province-based university entrance system, much maligned by the TULF and the LTTE propagandists, has given a chance to the lower-caste Tamils to enter the university, and play a role in the country's affairs. Furthermore, Tamils living in the South would be free of caste oppression, as Sabastian Rasalingam noted to be the case even in the 1950s, when he moved south.
We already hear the voice of Tambiumuttu from Madakalapuwa (Batticaloa), and writers like Johnpulle and Rasalingam writing from where ever they are. Only a few years ago they would have been assassinated for voicing their opinions, and the TNA would have concurred. Kasi Ananadan would have written blood curdling "poetry" against 'traitors'. Some would celebrate, as they did with the assassinations of Doraiappah, Thiruchelvam or Kadirgamar. That is the tragedy of the Tamil people that all Sri Lankans must overcome.
As Rasalingam, JohnPulle and others have written, ethnic enclaves must be replaced by a richer tapestry of a multiplicity of co-existing cultures, and reject the outdated, undemocratic Tamil Apatheids, Indian Models etc., touted by the TNA.