Will the Vanni Vellalars be next?
| by Sebastian Rasalingam
( May 30, 2014, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) India obtained Independence after a protracted struggle led by the British-educated brown sahibs of the Kshatriya and Brahamin castes. Ever since, their kith and kin ruled India. A few, like Dr. Ambedkar, a Dalit Buddhist, was the exception allowed by the Indian plutocracy as a sign of their “open-mindedness”. Laws were passed designating “scheduled castes”, “other backward castes (OBC) etc. An implicit Manu Dharma was there by cemented into the Indian constitution. It is no secret that Indian Universities are restricted to the upper castes, (de facto if not de jure), while a small stratum of the lower castes are allowed if they are wealthy enough.
Thus, the upper-caste plutocracy ruled India till Nardendra Modi broke the crust, nearly seven decades after the Indian Independence. Modi claims to be a tea-cart pusher form an OBC caste. In fact, he is from the “oil-pressing” caste, i.e., a “cekkati”. In Tamil usage, a “cekkati-mundan” is a “strong but senseless man, fit only to work an oil-press” (i.e., a “sekkuva” in Sinhalese) !
Normally, in Indian and Sri Lankan elections, being “lower caste” is a disqualification, especially among the Hindus, and to a lesser extent among the Buddhists and Jains. Indeed, at the turn of the 20th century, Arunachalam Ramanathan's win over E. W. Perera was based on Ramanathan being considered “more aupper-caste” even by the Sinhalese gentry (who alone had the vote), ruling out their own co-ethnic Perera. Ramanathan himself wanted the caste system inscribed in the Ceylon constitution, and was dumbfounded by the Donoughmore reforms.
Just as the elite Indian plutocracy ruled India for nearly seven decades, the Vellalar Tamils ruled the Ceylonese (both Tamil and Sinhala) as British proxies, at least up to the days of the State council. Donoughmore, and free-education transferred the proxy power to the “low-country” Sinhalese, although the Vellalar Tamils continued to dominate the public service, the University and the professions. Even the Tamil journalists and Tamil Marxists are from the Tamil upper castes. The Tamil Marxists (with Shanmugathasan an exception) did not want to discuss caste, and the rank discrimination of Tamils by Tamils. There are hardly any low-caste Tamil journalists to argue their case.
The caste grip of the landed upper-caste Tamils (living in Karuvakkaddu – Cinnamon gardens) over the “lower caste” Tamils ensured that the same families continued to come to power in “elections”. They mounted anti-Sinhala Tamil nationalism against the Donoughmore reforms. After independence, they pushed separatism to counter the Sinhala-language act . The boiling point of this madness was the Vaddukkodai resolution to do battle against a majority ten times bigger than them.
The Sinhalese extremist answer was the 1983 pogrom, supported by J.R. Jayawardene and tacitly also by Prabhakaran who wanted a final break in the “co-habitation” of Colombo Tamils with the Sinhalese. The militant “boys” assassinated the Vellalar leaders, hijacked Tamil nationalism and spawned a terrorist movement against the brutality of the State. This was in turn hijacked by the Vellalar leaders who controlled the diaspora and the dollars. They talked to Western governments and ran the NGOs.
So, the Eelam wars did not change the leadership. The Northern Provincial elections of 2013 saw the re-election of the kith and kin of the same old families that ruled the Tamils of Ceylon in 1930. The situation was identical in India. The rise of a low-caste Narendra Modi to the top was not expected even an year ago. At best, he was to be a puppet of Jayalalitha and other chief ministers! However, the “cekkati-mundan” has prevailed. Modi is a determined oil-presser ready to squeeze the oil. India is at last moving to what Donoughmore (and the British Fabians) wanted to achieve in 1930-Ceylon!
Tamil society, subject to the Nallur Orthodoxy of Wigneswaran and Sampanthan, will not change until the Vellalars, the upper-caste Jaffna-University Guru-Sisyan, and the Diaspora puppet-masters are overthrown. That is a tall order. But Narendra Modi carried through an even more tall order.
Narendra Modi is said to have egged Mahinda Rajapaksa to implement the 13th amendment “in full”. So, will Nardendra Modi expand on article 370 giving truly special status to Kashmir? What about Nagaland and other s who demand 370? Or is 370 an aberration to roll back? Modi's anti-caste “unitary-India” will irritate Tamil Nadu so used to flexing muscles against the center. Tamil Nadu will perhaps show Modi that the 13th amendment is Rajiv's folly. Why should Modi strengthen Tamil Nadu by installing a Jaffna-based, Prabhakaranist Eelamist chief minster?
And why would sober Vanni Tamils want the 13th amendment to legitimize upper-caste local Rajahs from the old land-owning Karuvakaddu aristocracy ? They were brutal enough to put Tamils in harm's way in a horrific war against a numerically superior, equally brutal state sector. What guarantees that the next set of local “chief ministers” of Jaffna would not become Sankilis, Prabhakarans, or Tamil versions of Mr. Mervin de Silva, a claimed “descendant of Dutugamunu”!