| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( October 25, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankans have paid much attention to Devolution demands by Tamils. What is not apparent is that Sinhala Nationalists already enjoy Devolution through their power over the resources that belong to the whole but used largely for their own group. The higher resource here is the human resource which includes the ‘position’ the country enjoys from wider world. I appreciate very much the system of Thesawalamai which underpins the Customary Laws applicable to Jaffna Tamils. Once we have such Customary Laws we are already an independent group equal to the Central Government. But we must feel that through the positions inherited from our ancestors who gave us Thesawalamai. It’s a vertical connection compared to the lateral connection of multiculturalism.
When we connect to our contemporary generation, we do so on cost-benefit basis. When we include our parents in our thinking – we include structures. When we include grandparents and above in our thinking – we include ancestral Energies naturally in our thinking and decision-making.
The lateral parallel of this is our immediate territory at local level, country level, Regional and beyond respectively. At global level we include Energies of the culture remotest to us.
As per the system of Thesawalamai – the Customary law applicable to Jaffna Tamils, Equal Opportunity is practiced between sons and daughters by giving daughters dowry at an early age and separating them physically from the parents so they would develop a new unit to support their husbands without being distracted by what they could have had from their parents and siblings. Sons naturally shared in carrying the father’s position and when the parents died they inherited the balance money wealth which usually was less than the dowry given to the daughters. It’s the position wealth that made the distribution equal. Since the daughters have to use their husbands to develop that position status – they were given more dowry so they would not expect position related concessions.
The parallel of this is early devolution in national governance. Those who stay with the Central Administration inherit the status. This is important in Sri Lankan Governance. Important to both – Sinhalese Nationalists as well as Tamil Nationalists. Those who prematurely declare their right to self-governance naturally lose their right to governing the whole. Sinhalese who win governance positions through majority vote but act as Sinhalese Nationalists - are also confirming devolution. So long as they use their Customary Laws – in their local territories – they are well within their rights. But when they give preference to the language, religion or other physical aspects of their culture at the national level including through the Constitution – they naturally lose the right to use those Customary Laws – for example the Kandyan Law. Customary Laws suit those driven more by faith than by discriminative intellectual thinking through Common principles. It’s like using more case law than direct application of the legislation.
The moment Buddhism and Sinhala language were given first place in the Constitution – the architects lost their right to use Customary Laws particular to their group. Likewise Tamils who demand self-governance on the basis of land territory – lose their right to use Thesawalamai. The loss happens naturally through our own thoughts. From then on we need to include the main principles of Thesawalamai in our Tamil Eelam Constitution. This includes separation of rights between sons and daughters. We would then have to do much work to reconcile between the Common lateral system of Equal Opportunity and our own time based vertical system of Equal Opportunity.
Given that majority Tamils have invested in wider system beyond Sri Lanka, we have greater natural Energies to work the Sri Lankan Government than do Sinhalese Nationalists or Tamil Nationalists – who like the daughters have already mentally left the parental home. Why lose the position we have already earned for lower immediate benefits?