By S. Sivathasan –
Jiddu Krishnamurthy said in arresting words “Everyone is good at making morals for others”. Yes we Tamils are best at it. That’s our forte. Do we ask for a moment are we so impeccable as to cast the first stone? So innocent as to ward off the guillotine if it comes to our neck? Is it not time to realize that we have unlocked horns for now and earned a respite to search for fresh pastures? Instead we engage in levity. With no thought we use the same brush on everyone.
Imperatives of Power
Handling the state apparatus is serious business. Plekhanov said some 90 years ago, we talk of revolution but our hands shiver at the thought of touching power. He said this complimenting Lenin for his success. A revolution was not a tea party for Mao. It was so for the peaceful revolution in Ceylon and Tamils faced ’56 and ’58. With Sihanouk’s tolerance a third of Cambodia perished. Taking a lesson, Premadasa and Ranjan Wijeratne saved SL polity from a Pol Pot in 1989.
Patel, Deputy PM and in charge of Home Ministry stumbled across Manekshaw in Calcutta in 1947. After a brief discussion he asked M how many should he shoot to bring the situation under control. Answer was 1000. Order was shoot 2000 and bring the situation under control. Result was 6 were injured. Rajaji would have said, ”conquer with love” as he said for Goa in 1948 or so. Lee Quan Yew with communist unrest internally in the mid-sixties and threat of infiltration from Malaysia and Indonesia insulated Singapore with an iron hand. Not everybody had that wisdom.
The above is the stuff of which governance is made. A strange amalgam of resolve and sagacity. It is difficult to think of Deng’s reforms and today’s China without the showdown at Tien An Men Square. An accused at Nuremberg said in defense that he did what he did “To prevent worse things happening”. Being wise in retrospect is the most facile recourse. Chandrika never had the option of inaction and wise crack or subsequent gloat or remorse.
TGTE and Chandrika
Now with precipitate action by a Tamil body, the one and only Head of State in the world, a daughter of Prime Ministerial parentage is being arraigned before global view. The Tamils I talked to are simply wild with rage at this action of their compatriots. The deed is done and there is neither retrieval nor damage control. Many are not with us, the most prominent being Rajiv Gandhi. Quite a few had the lamp of life extinguished with a wave of the Tamil hand. The President of the country being one among them. Collective retribution has visited us and the grip shows no signs of loosening. Are there efforts at mitigation? Not in sight at least to me. Assassination is heinous. No less when aimed at character. It is here that we have to rise to the last individual in disavowal of TGTE action already done.
What I am privy to I seldom or never make public. Yet if doing so can absolve a personage of a possible slur, it becomes necessary. About ten years ago President Chandrika told me that, whatever the harm done to her and the loss of one eye, she bears no ill will towards those who did it. May be that I have grown spiritually, never to mind it. I shall strive to do my best towards amity. On another occasion she recalled the events of Tiger Friday, July 1983. Kumarathunga and she were on Galle Road, Kollupitiya laboring to rescue Tamils caught up in the throes of death, between fire and dagger. Some miscreants asked them aggressively are you honda Sinhala (good Sinhalese). She answered api honda Sinhala (we are good Sinhalese) and continued with their operations. Why should both of them have braved a difficult situation? I can assert without a shadow of doubt that she was totally above ethnic limitations. Dudley and she were a category apart. In both of them, it is true performance did not always match intentions and professions.
We Tamils are constantly beaten into submission, continuously remain submerged and rarely raise our heads above water. When the last one happens, members of the same kind push the head down. When Provincial Council elections were announced, PC became useless and a cry for boycott arose as a category of political wisdom. The nomination of CV Wigneswaran brought forth venomous criticism from a somnolent diaspora. In the process TNA leader too was not spared. The prospect of victory at Geneva prompted a Tamil team to be in place to oppose the authentic spokesmen of the Tamils. Our miserable history is, when butter churns, the pot crumbles.
At this point of time a favourable political climate is developing in India with the ruling party getting a decisive majority. It has the basis to act with strength and resolution. The NPC in tune with the pulse of the people is already in place. TNA the accepted leadership of the Tamils has the mandate to negotiate. What is discordant for political progress and ethnic peace is the current regime. That too is on the threshold of change. A winnable common candidate to garner votes from unlikely quarters is Chandrika. What is said is not a discovery but a commonplace. TGTE disturbing this equation is unfortunate. Is it with due thought that Chandrika’s name is being befouled? Do the Tamil segments with votes endorse this step? Definitely not. When the Tamil polity is ready for fruitful talks with India let not our side spoil the atmosphere by antagonizing our likely benefactor.