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Tamil Chauvinism

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( May 6, 2014, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Lanka Guardian article ‘Are Tamils a minority?’ by Professor Uyangoda, republished by Sri Lanka Guardian.

The article confirmed to me yet again that some Sinhalese have demonstrated that the claim of sovereignty would be legitimate only when we facilitate preservation of sovereignty of others who are a part of our system along the time based vertical line of hierarchy or along the lateral line of democracy through which we take the other as our equal opposition – so that the picture of our sovereignty is incomplete without the other. The latter is not easy when the ‘other’ side is seen to be far less than 50% of the whole. Tamils cannot claim nationhood without respecting Sinhalese as the ‘other side’ with Equal level of sovereignty as themselves. For better or for worse – we are in this together.

Professor Uyangoda is reported to have stated on 15 March 1979 :

[Mr. A. Jayaweera, in his polemic against Drs. S. C. Fernando and Carlo Fonseka states, in parenthesis, that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are not an oppressed national minority, but an oppressed nation (Lanka Guardian - January 15th). I entirely agree with him on this point. It is a matter of regret that almost all the leftist political parties and groups in this country have been committing the fundamental error of considering the Tamil people in Sri Lanka only as a national minority.]

One needs to view this in the consciousness of the author and his background. The Tamil activist as per the Sri Lanka Guardian states:

[“His article condemning the Sinhala Left’s failure to grasp the National question in the island is remarkably applicable in the present context of protracted genocide and military occupation, and displays the resilience of Sinhala chauvinism which is endemic to the Sri Lankan left. With the due exception of those courageous Sinhala comrades, many who are exiled, who have risked their lives due to the principled solidarity displayed towards the Tamil people and their struggle, most of the Sri Lankan left displays the cognition and rationality which Uyangoda rightly criticizes as non-Marxist and chauvinistic three decades ago,” the Tamil activist says.]

An independent Tamil National would match the recognition by Professor Udagama and would have confirmed the existence of Sinhala Nation instead of Sinhala Chauvinism which would be interpreted by the common reader as consciousness of majority force coupled with the advantage of forming government through the system of democracy. If the power of the likes of Professor Udagama is not strong enough to cover the whole of Sinhala community – then there is no Sinhala Nation. Tamil Nation could therefore not be recognized by such a person nor the Tamil activist who demonstrates that s/he is seriously affected by Sinhala chauvinism. Tamil Nationalism would not be dependent on Sinhala Chauvinism.

To my mind, the best Natural measure of Tamil Equality was demonstrated not by the armed rebellion led by the Tamil Tigers but by the status in Sri Lankan parliament after the 1977 Elections, with Tamils as Equal Opposition to the Government representing largely majority Sinhalese. This was facilitated by the dramatic fall of Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by Mrs. Bandaranayake whose husband was the architect of the Sinhala Only legislation. Then we spoilt it all through Tamil only reaction. To my mind, Natural forces worked to confirm the Equal status of Tamil Community led by Independent Tamils – i.e. Tamils independent of Sinhalese leaders. Under those circumstances, both nations would operate independent of the other where they are culturally diverse and in common where there is no established diversity. Where we need each other as our opposition – we form One Sri Lankan Nation.

Most communities have large components driven by the seen and the heard. They need the power of those who have realized Independence, to legitimately claim sovereign status. Showing wins through clever use of weapons does not confirm Independence. Preservation / Restoration of Independent status is confirmed through weapons only when they are used after all other higher avenues have been exhausted and this is confirmed by the most Independent member of that community. That leader was Lord Krishna in the Gurushetra war. Neither the Tamil nor the Sinhala leadership carry this credit of forbearance.

We all carry positive and negative Energies. Ascetics meditate in privacy and accumulate strong positive Energy which could be accessed by the needy. It is for this reason that CEOs and other Chiefs have special privacy arrangements. A community limited by subjective power tends to be local and this privacy power at the leadership level is more important to such a community than to one that is democratic and transparent. It is more effective for such communities to be led by the vertical system of autocracy than using democracy. Tamils led by the Tamil Tigers – and their ‘victory’ through use of weapons – are the parallels of a University that shows money / business power above the power of Intellectual Independence.

Most countries are in the transitional stage – from autocracy to democracy. The system that is most appropriate for a group that seeks to demonstrate harmony – is the system actually practiced by majority in their everyday lives. Just because parents are older than children does not mean that they are more powerful than the children. By the same token when children start earning money and status – they are not more powerful than the parents. Real status needs to be as per the Experience on behalf of the whole. I tended to stay within and show respect for the seniors in my group – at family, workplace and social levels. But after my repeated failures in these communities crowned by the legal losses – at National level here in Australia – I decided that to continue to contribute to that subjective system even after knowing the Truth in terms of our Common purpose – would be to lose my own hard-earned independence. At first I started leaving / separating myself from that institution / group. But later I consciously took the position of ordinary member – so that I did not expect recognition at a higher level.

Under the vertical hierarchical system – the experience is made common by the junior allocating status to the senior. Where this matches reality - the relationship is not only seen to be harmonious but is also really harmonious. But where the senior fails to appreciate the independence of the junior once the junior starts performing at a higher level than the senior – the senior would tend to become dictatorial. A person of apparently junior status – continuing to add her/his status to such a senior – would be accumulating negative energy. A relationship needs to merge with the whole Unit – which needs to merge with society once the relationship is completed. Those that are driven by Truth / Love would become naturally common and merge naturally.

Tamils who are conscious of LTTE wins – are handicapped in realizing independence. In a ‘free’ environment – where wins and losses have equal status - they are likely to become dictatorial like the LTTE leadership. If they rely on their own Experience during that time – they would carry its value into this next stage of using global systems to achieve self-governance. Likewise, Sinhalese conscious of army wins would need to consciously renounce those wins and take only their experience into the next phase of governance. The competition needs to be as to who gets there first and not who reduces the other’s status more.