4 December, 2020

Blog

Detour Made At Nugegoda: A Mongrel Nationalism

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

A terminal response

As long as I breathe I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness.” – Leon Trotsky

‘Inaccuracy and irrelevance’ should not be dismissed as minor irritants in any public discussion. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka couples this erudite disdain to an assertion that my rejoinder to his redefinition of national identity was a ‘misplaced personalized critique.’ Dr. Jayatilleka is a politician and a political scientist. His indignation at my labeling him as ‘Mark Antony of Nugegoda’ is understandable. It was a grievous error on my part. Mark Antony eulogized the Conqueror of Gaul and dictator of Rome. He declared that he had come to bury him and not to praise him.

At Nugegoda Dr. Jayatilleka exhumed the fallen dictator, breathed life in to him, praised him and then urged that he be restored to the Senate. A reasonably impressive coalition of patricians and plebeians cheered and urged him on. It was in fact a great turning point. His rebuttal and explanation is explicit. The Nationalist Turn: A necessary detour? (Colombo Telegraph 9th March)

Necessary for whom?

Dr.DJ contends that in this case ‘the larger matter is the political dynamics of this island’.

How do we explain the political dynamics of this island? In order to avoid adversarial positioning on this complex and delicate subject it is best that we rely on Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka the political scientist and diplomat. “It is usually the case that the period after a war is one of profound ferment and productivity in the intellectual, artistic and policy realms. From WWII Europe to post Vietnam America, this has been so. Sri Lanka seems a sad exception. We have almost ceased to analyse and think. [Preface -Long War, Cold Peace 2013]

Dayan Nalin Podi AppuhamiThe nation has awoken at Nugegoda. It has begun to think! It has discovered new analytical skills! Dr. DJ himself has summoned his extraordinary powers of recall. He has discovered the expansionist Tamil aspirations of Tamilakam, the Tamil Land expressed by Ponnambalam Arunachalam in 1922 – the year that the League of Nations granted Britain the Palestine mandate.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka learnt of the brutal murder of Neelan Thiruchelvam while in a three wheeler heading towards the ICES for a weekly meeting with him to discuss the production of a multi volume collection of writings by his father.

Dr. Dayan J has regularly and repeatedly voiced his firm conviction that Lakshman Kadirgamar epitomized the true Tamil patriot.

Post Nugegoda he has shelved Neelan and Lakshman and brought out the bust of Ponnabalam Arunachalam from the Sinhala attic of antiquity. As Einstein suggests why bother to remember facts available in a directory. I shall therefore cite Kalana Senaratne from his review of Long War, Cold Piece. Jayatilleka correctly acknowledges that Sri Lanka “is the only homeland that the Sinhalese as a collective, have” (p. 365). But he also points out: “What we must prevent is the breakup of the country based on monopolistic ethnic ownership of the North-east… we cannot deny the Tamils right to co-ownership, and such recognition is the only means to prevent separate ownership” (p. 263). It is necessary to have a Sri Lanka “which remains unitary but contains an irreducible autonomous political space for the Tamil people of the North and East” (p. 265).

“While we belong to our particular ethno-national ones” (p. 23). The inability to build a truly Sri Lankan identity, Jayatilleka believes, is “the key, the most crucial problem” confronting Sri Lanka today (p. 429); with the “only pathway to build a successful Sri Lankan identity” being “equality of citizenship” – “the idea that Sri Lanka belongs equally to all of its citizens” (p. 432).

Now we come to the ‘Socratic-Hegelian’ dialectics of a thesis, an antithesis that could yield a synthesis. What is the thesis, the pre-existing starting point? It is the failure of Ivor Jennings who dismissed the Indian constitution as a document drafted by lawyers for lawyers.

Asanga Welikala in his “The Failure of Jennings’ Constitutional Experiment in Ceylon: How ‘Procedural Entrenchment’ led to Constitutional Revolution” describes the ‘Thesis – the starting point’ with a brilliance yet unmatched in contemporary constitutional discourse. He describes the now forgotten ‘Ministers draft constitution’ submitted to the British government before the arrival of the Soulbury committee.

“The Ministers’ Draft Constitution prepared on the basis of these principles was submitted to the British government in February 1944. It was in form an essentially Westminster-type scheme, but with certain limitations on legislative power. In respect of the minorities, the Ministers’ Draft envisaged two major devices. The first was a scheme of weighted representation for Tamil majority areas whereby in addition to the allocation of parliamentary seats on the basis of population, the Northern and Eastern Provinces would be allocated an additional number of seats in appreciation of their required representation and taking into account that the two provinces were sparsely populated. Secondly, the Ministers’ Draft envisaged a general limitation on the legislative power of the future Parliament whereby a constitutional prohibition against discriminatory legislation (by ordinary legislative procedure) would be emplaced against any attempted majoritarian excess.”

What was the Anti-thesis? Asanga Welikala again comes to my rescue.

“With the prospect of some form of more or less independent status under a democratic constitutional scheme modelled on Westminster rapidly becoming a possibility, Mr Ponnambalam was forceful in the articulation of the fears of the minorities that they would soon become swamped under a permanent domination of the Sinhala-Buddhist majority. His main constitutional proposal, known as the ‘fifty-fifty’ scheme, providing for ‘balanced representation,’ was based on an analytical understanding of the socio-political structure of the country that was fundamentally different from the ‘mononational’ or ‘Ceylonese’ conception of national identity underpinning both the Ministers’ Draft as well as the Soulbury Commission’s recommendations. It was argued that political representation should be based on the communal heterogeneity of Ceylon’s society, and the notion that the people of Ceylon were a single entity was firmly resisted. In substance, Ponnambalam’s protoconsociational scheme would ensure one half of legislative membership for the minorities (and commensurate representation in the political executive), thereby preventing an in-built institutional majority for the Sinhalese community”.

The Soulbury Commission summed up the thesis and the anti-thesis. “…the relations of the minorities – the Ceylon Tamils, the Indian Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and Europeans – with the Sinhalese majority present the most difficult of the many problems involved in the reform of the Constitution of Ceylon.”

What is the synthesis? My revered editor and Dayan’s father defined this synthesis in 1981 two years before the July Holocaust.

“Perhaps in the absence of a truly national and unifying pre-independence movement, Ceylonese nationalism, denied a natural birth, acquired mongrel features with the departure of the foreign ruler.

Inasmuch as it was against foreign domination and foreign symbols, this nationalism historically speaking, was normal. But when it focused on the Tamil minority, a community identified as the favoured child of colonial policies, it was racist.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 2
    6

    maybe mongrel nationalism but not ugly as tamil racism…….

    Those who keep silent on tamil racism cannot speak a word against sinhala nationalism

  • 6
    2

    Sarath De Alwis,

    Brilliantly written and eloquently exposed Dayan’s racism towards the Tamils! What would his father say about his Nazi leaning son?

    • 0
      2

      wow mara briliant ne, [Edited out]

      • 1
        2

        such,

        Are you feeling alright?

        • 0
          0

          Believe me more than you do..;)

    • 1
      0

      His father would have disowned him a long time ago!

      • 0
        0

        [Edited out]

  • 4
    1

    Nice one, Sarath. DJ must be summoning all his cunning to get out of this conundrum!

  • 4
    1

    Dayan’s father summed up well.
    Racism against tamils is the cause of dreadful pogroms against them beginning soon after independence.
    Tamils merely wish to live as equals, in every sense of the word.
    But because they asked for this they were taught forcefully and dreadfully, never to ask for equality.

  • 0
    0

    NOT OFTEN BUT ON THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE DAYAN JATILLEKE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, IFONE VIEWS DISPASSIONATELY WITHOUT HOLDING ROTTEN POOJA TO A NATIONAL MINORITY.WHY CANT ANY IDIOT WORTH HIS SALT UNDERSTAND THAT THIS TINY SRI LANKA IS THE ONLY STEPPING STONE THE TRULY INDIGENOUS POPULATION HAS TO BE IN THE PROCESS OF BEING CONCEIVED,PREGNANT,BORN DIED OR KLLED ND BURIED.TAMILS HAVE THE MASSIVE TAMIL NADU,
    THE MUSLIMS THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST AND THE BURGERS THE EUROPE.FOR ANY COMMUNITY OTHER THAN SINHALESE TO CLAIM AN INCH HERE IS A HEINOUS CRIME THAT HAS TO BE HANDLED “APPROPRIATELY”. THOSE WHO THINK OTHERWISW ARE ANTI SRILANKAN UNPATGRIOT PARAYARS.

  • 0
    0

    WE SINHALA BUDDHIST POPULATION HAS NOW ADEQUATELY RECOGNIZED THE “PARAVADI” ANTI SRILANKANS WHO CRY FOR THE TAMIL TIGER RUMP FOR A LUCRATIVE FINANCIAL CONSIDERATION FUNDED BY THE RICH DIASPORA. MAY THEY BE CURSED FOR HAVING EXPLOITED SRILANKAN RESOURCES AND IS NOW QUALIFIED TO SPIT ON IT..WE SOLICIT, BEG AND EARNESTLY PLEAD WITH THE PATRIOTIC TRUE SRI LANKANS LIKE DAYAN JAYATILLE, LHD MAHINDAPALA, CHANDRAPREMA AND SIMILAR AND THE OTHER TRUE PATRIOTS TO BE ON THE FOREFRONT IN THE NOBLE CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT THE HEREDITARY INBORN RIGHTS OF THE “BHUMIPUTHRAS” DISREGARDING THE IDIOTIC CRITICISMS OF THOSE ANTI SRI LANKANS, AS YOU WILL BRUSH AWAY WITH LOATH, A DIEASE CARYING FLY ON YOUR COAT. SOME TAMILS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN OUR ADVERSAIRES EVEN AT TIME OF KING RAVANA.

  • 0
    0

    Why Sri lanka’s left-wing of Trotskyists is fighting for Tamils Rights?
    Tamil Nadu is one of largest population in Indian Republic?
    This is hipcoracy of self-determination for Tamils?
    So-called left-wing of Trotskyist, NGOs, self-appointment Mao and Tamil leftwing has no struggle for majority Sinhalese people, who are fighting for their survival?

    All in all Tamils and so-called leftwing want to divided that UK agenda of ‘divided and rule’ policy between two races.

    Tamils are Not that like Jews, they( Jew) had no land before they established Israel 1948. Tamil having own land in center part of Indian soil.

    Tamils are minority in Sri lanka is fact, but in the region Tamils majority and having large homeland they own and cover six times population than Sinhalese people.

    Rights of survival of Sinhalese race is struggle for democracy and major part of national struggle. They have every right fight for their language, culture, religion believes, customs, habits and 2600 years civilization is fundamental rights of Sinhalese people in Sri lanka. This is national rights of Sinhalese people and right of their self-determination their own land over 2600 years.

    Small nation and Race like Sinhalese had been bully and dominated by Western nation and their Christians culture 425 years by Portges Dutch and British Empire.
    Westerns seek and want to be re-colonization in new form our land divided while again dominated after 200 years of 1815 by British White Man Rule.

    Currently they used Tamil rights as tool to divided land that
    so-called “homeland for Tamil Eealm” rough state in Sri lanka.

    Indeed this is complex and crucial political issue before Majority Sinhalese nation challenge by Tamils minority in Sri lanka ,back by White Man UK and USA.

    New form of Neo-colonization of white man has come to our door step which challenging our nation sovereignty, Territorial Integrity and National salvation of majority Sinhalese nation survival..
    Fight or struggle for Sinhalese people salvation is not chauvinism of Sinhala.
    That is also part and parcel struggle for national democracy of majority people of Island.

    Trotskyists version of politics did not understand simple truth of small races survival and their era of democracy.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.