My Intellect – Whose Property is it?

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( August 24, 2012, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘‘MahindaChinthana’ and the University Crisis’by Professor Laksiri Fernando.

Professor Laksiri Fernando’s opening paragraph is - ‘21 August 2012 will go into the history of Sri Lanka as a Black Day for the whole education system. The most stubborn Minister of Higher Education, SB Dissanayake, has decided to close down all universities, except medical faculties, exposing the government’s complete inability to resolve, clearly a straight forward salary issue and a policy dispute with the academic community.’

Recently, a Senior Sri Lankan Administrator said about the ‘brain trade’ between Australia and Sri Lanka – that Australia really ‘owed’ Sri Lanka due to the educated contributing to Australian economy. As an individual I ensured that I upheld at all times that the higher value of my education was Sri Lankan. I upheld that to me, my Sri Lankan qualifications were the highest. I stated thisPublicly including in Courts. But as per my experience, this has not been endorsed by the Sri Lankan Government in any way – not even in Northern Sri Lanka. Nor has it been upheld by the Tamil Community leadership. At the individual level – Mr. SamyPasupati our Professional elder did show valuation expressly – especially when we met to celebrate Yoga Swami’s value for us and our community. Likewise, I am valued in Northern Sri Lanka, by some young individuals – like Mr. Sam Hensman and Mr. MahindanVelliambalam who manages the Jaffna Branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. Not so the Management of the University of Jaffna. No Government therefore could take credit for my Higher knowledge. I am Free to add my credits to any side that I chose to. Hence through me Australia could owe Sri Lanka or v.v.

I am not surprised that the Minister chose to speak the language of the Sri Lankan academics. Here in Australia academics who think they have power do it all the time – by denying access to meetings to punish those who speak against them. If Sri Lankan academics made as much money as Australian Academics – their behavior would also be subdued and stylish as the Australian ones.

The two national level insurgencies in Sri Lanka, had their seeds in the Universities. We reap as per the system we invest in. That is how the system of karma works. University Managements were not strong enough to prevent such insurgencies developing in the areas within their management. To that extent academics vacated their seats as intellectuals and handed over the real powers to militants. Likewise, here in Australia where they called the Police to arrest me for Peaceful Assembly. I am an example of Australia’s Debt to Sri Lanka because I did not retaliate at the physical level. The Sri Lankan graduate working and living here in Australia to please Australians in power including by showing their qualifications as the ‘Australian’ due to the latest ‘additions’ have already ‘sold’ their qualifications to Australia and therefore have no credit left for Sri Lankan Government to take. These graduates are likely to have not settled their dues to family and community. To that extent – they are no different to the Refugees who ‘sell’ their Sri Lankan citizenship by pretending to have suffered. Without those who have actually suffered - including due to lesser intellectual opportunities in Australia, compared to Sri Lanka –these refugees would fall from frying pan into the fire – except that they would realize it only in their old age. One who stays at ‘home’ in her/his mind or body, naturally pays off the debt. Others who leave ‘home’ need to make the conscious effort to settle their debts to family and community from which they drew. They are their social governments. Staying at ‘home’ means – bringing those who motivated us into ourselves through our minds into our hearts. These elders could no longer be living on this earth in the form known to us – or they could be those younger to us from whom we ‘learn’. Our physical presence/membership facilitates others to include us in their groups. This, like a project has a beginning and an end. But the former continues as a program to bring together our minds. If a country fails in the latter – then its academics have failed to free their minds of the debt they owe their communities and societies.

The Sri Lankan government that introduced the quota system damaged the national connection that we felt through our Education. Sri Lanka – as Ceylon – already had a strong system that gave us access to other parts of the world. By introducing the quota system – the Government effectively devolved power to the respective ethnicities. Those who accepted this without question – disconnected themselves from the minds of those who established the system under which they graduated. To my mind, this led to young ones feeling ‘free’ prematurely through their new status – which due to its ethnic connections would have come with the ‘separation’ ingredient. Devolution without the maturity to govern – would result in separation. Hence the two insurgencies strongly influenced by students. This premature devolution through the quota system also resulted in us losing/diluting the mind connection as academics. Effectively – those of us who failed to maintain that wider connection became ‘locals’ and hence the separation.

Professor Laksiri Fernando states ‘It is not long time ago that overwhelming majority of the academics decided to support the present government at the last national elections in 2010, presidential and parliamentary, considering the circumstances, and believing that the government would deliver the promises that it gave in the MahindaChinthana, the election manifesto of the current President. I vividly recollect the mammoth meeting of academics attended by over 3,000 at the Temple Trees makeshift meeting hall in January 2010 prior to the presidential elections.’

The LTTE were defeated through military power and not through intellectual power of the government. The Tamil community was in mourning during this period due to overwhelming loss of lives and our people were still suffering in the camps. If academics were able to function and pursue their own business as usual – then they certainly were acting for their own local communities and not for the whole of Sri Lankan society and its long-term health. When we lose family – we mourn to honor the loss. At such a time, one who cares and feels Sri Lankan, would not able to think of normal business. Academics who participated in the above – to pursue their own interests – are not Sri Lankans but Sinhalese who evicted those who ‘showed’ that very separation in the way known to them. Now karma says - ‘you cheated yourself of higher global opportunities by recognizing military victory’. Military says – “you asked and rewarded me through Presidential elections 2010 and here I am in your universities”

There is no greater power that Truth.