20 January, 2022


Eelam Bid, Gota’s Bid And Scotland’s Brush With Death

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Separatism anywhere in the world is closely watched in Lanka for obvious reasons; past madness, future prospects and international trends. Though opinion polls up to the last day said the race was neck-and-neck Ladbrokes was offering odds of 3 to 1 against a Yes-vote (pro-separation) but only 0.25 to 1 against the No’s. That is you could bet Rs1 on No, and if you won, you got only 25 cents plus your Rs1 back, but you forfeited your rupee if you lost. You could pocket three bucks (if you won) by putting your rupee on Yes. The bookies applied impeccable logic to conclude that the No’s were ahead, despite opinion polls calling it a dead-heat. It is the ‘shy voter’ they said. The Yes camp was on tartan steroids and sniffing Hail Caledonia poppies. The bucket-shops explained that the 15% so-called undecided voters in the middle were ‘shy voters’ who didn’t want their neighbours to know that they are cautious, conservative, playing safe, and most in the end would vote No.

We Lankans get the point in a jiffy; which politician in the South dares say “Give the Tamils devolution, or investigate military and regime leaders for war crimes”, despite what they know in private? Not the Left, nor the Right, nor the Liberals in the middle; only a reckless handful of Nimalkas! I am straying from my topic which is that the No vote is likely to prevail but only by a small margin; and that’s my question. Why a small margin when the case against separation is stark? Such circumstances are of relevance to Lanka, albeit tangentially, and what I say in this essay is of even greater import if the Yes camp prevails.

The death wish

Former British Prime Minister James Callaghan said “Scots voting for independence is like a Turkey voting for Christmas”. On every material count an independent Scotland will be the loser, but what about the emotional high that comes from sniffing the heady rush of nationalism? Aye there’s when reason is banished and the rarefied air of identity politics starves the mind of the sober oxygen of calculation. We Lankans have seen this nation drain its cup of hemlock to the dregs and Lethe-wards sink. There are moments in history when identity can give a people strength and resolve, but worldwide, for decades it has invariably been an irrational force unhinging the mind. The tragedy is that were genuine causes which if fixed in time would have circumvented the madness. For proof think Tigers, think ISIL, or the Palestinians driven to mutiny and rage by predatory Israel.

None of this justifies the excessive nationalism of Scottish independence because Scotland is a beneficiary of the Union. Yes, Scottish pride is a cup that justifiably runneth over; Robert Burns and Walter Scott, David Livingstone and Alexander Selkirk, Adam Smith and David Hume, James Clerk Maxwell and Alexander Fleming, Macbeth and Robert Bruce, James Connolly and Ramsay MacDonald, the marvellous list goes on and on. Nearer home, Thomas Maitland of Lovina Aponsu notoriety and Thomas Lipton the trader who put Ceylon tea on the map were Scotsmen. But facts, like condoms, are boring; the thrill is in direct action the colourful Yes-camp effuses. Here are the facts:-

Basics: Population, area and GDP of Scotland are; 5.3 million (64 million), 78,000 sq km (244,000 sq km) and $250 billion ($2.85trillion), respectively. In brackets are the whole UK, that is Great Britain and Northern Ireland numbers. Scotland’s population is 8.3% of the UK’s and its GDP is 8.8%, but its land area is 32% of the terrain of the present UK. Since 2010 Scotland has had its own parliament Holyrood with powers enough to make Wigneswaran drool. Though the Act of Union of 1707 unified the English and Scottish Parliaments, de facto Britain was unified in 1603 (Union of the Crowns) when James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth as James I of England.

Currency:There is no way sterling can remain the currency of an independent Scotland. Monetary policy and interest rates will be set by the Bank of England; Scotland’s influence will be nought. Scotland runs a big fiscal deficit; England will rightly refuse to finance it any longer. Will it join the Euro? No it will not be accepted pronto. Will it issue its own currency? Yes, it may have to – the Caledonian Shackle (pun intended). It is impossible for a Caledonian shekel to mimic recognition of the Hong Kong or Singapore dollars, backed as they are by mountains of global currency and gold reserves. Or like bankrupt Zimbabwe, Scotland may have to use the dollar (or the Euro) passively.

Economic transfers: The UK Exchequer spends about 1300 pounds more per person in Scotland than in England. The Scottish fiscal deficit is 13% while the UK as a whole is 7%.  It is morally justified that the Central Government spends on social services and development in less developed parts of a country. The Lankan Government transfers resources, over and above what the region generates, to support the people of Bintenne. If Bintenne breaks away and becomes a separate state, that will stop. An independent Scotland’s loss in fiscal grants and capital transfers from state and business will be very large. Even if 90% of North Sea oil revenue is allocated to Scotland it will not bring the deficit below 9%.

North Sea Oil:This is the Midas-Touch which Yes campaigners imagine will settle Scotland’s woes. It is an illusion; oil revenues are long past their peak. It is estimated that potential North Sea oil revenues will decline from $12 billion in 2013 to $4.5 billion by 2018. The reason oil revenues will fall is two fold; (a) depletion of these oil fields and (b) falling global oil prices as American shale, other sources of oil supply, and alternative primary energy sources come on line. Declining oil revenues have to be shared between Scotland and the rest of the UK; hence this will not, by a long chalk, be the magic bullet to overcome Scotland’s economic impasse. Manufacturing, cash crop agriculture, financial services and of course the export of mega litres of the Golden Water of Life will have to underpin the economy.

Scottish capitalism on the ropes: Scotland will be a small bourgeois state with a strong working class tradition adrift on European seas. Right now the Labour Party has 41 seats and the Tories just one in Scotland. It is as much the home of British working class politics as England’s industrial regions. A peculiar reasoning that energises the Yes campaign is “No more Troy rule”, meaning Scotland has rejected bloody-minded Tories time and again, but the English majority elects these sons of bachelors in hordes and the Scots have to suffer them in Westminster, the seat of power. The parallel with Sri Lanka is stark. The Tamils abhor the Sinhala State which holds them in thrall, come Gotabaya it is more menacing they say. As long as they remain in Lanka there is no escape from Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony some Tamils reckon. There is validity in this reasoning but inadequate to justify an Eelam bid. This approach was tried and proved futile; there are more productive strategies.

For the Scots too the devil is in the details. What is it specifically that Scots abhor? They are not victims of military occupation and humiliation; or systematic sabotage of Holyrood; or ubiquitous repression by a corrupt, debased and authoritarian regime. But there are two justified concerns in Scotland. Will the Tories, the dying embers of Thatcherite neo-liberalism, dismantle the National Health Service (NHS) that they have already damaged so much and will they do away with free university education in Scotland? Secondly, will the Tories pull the UK out of the European Union (EU) in the referendum Cameron has promised if he is returned to office for another term? These are valid and substantial concerns. But by leaving the Union Scotland will not be better placed to protect NHS and in all likelihood will lose it more quickly because it will be fiscally poorer. It is true that a Scotland in the Union may be dragged out of the EU by an alliance of traditional classes in England and the far-right UKIP (UK Independence Party). But it is better to stay and fight, as securing EU membership for an Independent Scotland will be a negotiating grind with no prospect of success before the end of 2025.

The civilised way

Above all, the processes and ethics of this Referendum have been exemplary. The conduct of the public and politicians of all shades has been a lesson in adult behaviour for politically and racially less civilised nations. They did not send tanks and jackboots up North declaring Scots wanted to divide the country; well, pretty much 50% of them do! All the big guns and party leaders went north, talking, listening, persuading, arguing and cross-fertilising; they promised much. Imagine any of our leaders interacting at depth with the masses of the “other” community! (Mrs B never once visited Jaffna as prime minister I have been told; is that a measure of her contempt?) Why dammit, we cannot hold a potty provincial election in a remote region without murder and mayhem! The campaign in Scotland is a model of democracy in action. Don’t dismiss it as bourgeoisie democracy; it is a case study for socialist democracy which its apostles seek one day.

Whatever the outcome the next stage must be as mature and flawless as it has been up to now.

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!

Ae fareweel, alas, forever!

Deep in heart-warming tears I pledge thee,

Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!

Robert Burns is Scotland’s much loved ‘national poet’; but I detect menacing ambiguity in the final line if the Ayes have it. Is there concealed therein a frightful premonition of things to come, two hundred and eighteen years after his death? Hail Caledonia! May you not Wail!

*This piece had to be completed on Thursday during voting time. Subsequently the results have vindicated the standpoint of the analysis. I will return to the theme again next week.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    “brush with death”? why would the author assume that the separation is death? Does he know the referendums that led to peaceful separation permanently solving issues? This kind of ignorance will not help anyone!

  • 2

    What is most impressive is not the result, but the extremely civilised manner in which the referendum was conducted. There was no spilling of emotions in the form of riots, no violence, no threats and not even any blood curdling speeches!

    It is not a case of which side that won. The ultimate result is the promise of greater devolution not only for Scotland, but other territories as well! The promise has been made in unison by the leaders of all the three major parties in England.

    We should simply contrast this with the struggle that the Chief Minister of NPC is having not only with the Governor but also with his Chief Secretary to exercise even the meagre powers vested on the PC by the constitution!

    All the above is happening in spite of the UK not having a federal constitution, but an unwritten unitary constitution!

    When will our people wake up?

    Sengodan. M

  • 2

    The BBC and media videos (online) showed the Scottish Referendum campaigns by both sides,and the voting and counting process.
    What a beautiful peaceful orderly process it was..
    When will we ever come to implement elections similarly?
    Not in the near future,I think.

    What Cameron promised in the run up to the referendum will be democratically debated and implemented.
    This will make the four nation union of Great Britain stronger than ever.
    This is why Great Briton is a civilised nation.

  • 1

    Kumar David –

    RE: Eelam Bid, Gota’s Bid And Scotland’s Brush With Death

    Scotland 2014. 5.3 Million people, Said Yes to UK Union, 54% to 46%

    Norway 1974, in 4.0 Million people, now 5.0 Million people, Said NO to UK EU, 54% to 46%. Norway avoided EU problems.

    Looks like both Norway and Scotland made wise decisions.

    North Sea Oil:This is the Midas-Touch which Yes campaigners imagine will settle Scotland’s woes. It is an illusion; oil revenues are long past their peak. It is estimated that potential North Sea oil revenues will decline from $12 billion in 2013 to $4.5 billion by 2018. The reason oil revenues will fall is two fold; (a) depletion of these oil fields and (b) falling global oil prices as American shale, other sources of oil supply, and alternative primary energy sources come on line. Declining oil revenues have to be shared between Scotland and the rest of the UK; hence this will not, by a long chalk, be the magic bullet to overcome Scotland’s economic impasse. Manufacturing, cash crop agriculture, financial services and of course the export of mega litres of the Golden Water of Life will have to underpin the economy.

  • 1

    “Above all, the processes and ethics of this Referendum have been exemplary. The conduct of the public and politicians of all shades has been a lesson in adult behaviour for politically and racially less civilised nations. They did not send tanks and jackboots up North declaring Scots wanted to divide the country; well, pretty much 50% of them do! All the big guns and party leaders went north, talking, listening, persuading, arguing and cross-fertilising; they promised much. Imagine any of our leaders interacting at depth with the masses of the “other” community!”

    Most of the article’s usefulness has been reversed by this small paragraph. The truth, not any fruit will borne by talking in any way with either party because if Sinhalese leader talk to Tamils, he/she will be doomed. The paragraph failed to recognize the hard core truth on that issue. Story of the war hero Fonseka’s election result eloquently advertises this. (It is not that because of this, every politician in south like to take advantage of this situation for their political growth. Some honest lefts like Vickramabahu really want to establish a genuine socialistic country, hand in hand with Tamils. – But it is only a dream- In Lanka they never can become a Lenin! That is the political nature in Lanka).On the other side, Tamils not just signed two packs with Lanka, even India signed one for them. What was the result? The Chief Minister of N-E ran to India. After so many cover ups the CJ (for whatever her reason could it is) who tried to uphold the 13A was fired with UNP’s approval. 13A’s three main parts The Police, The Land and The North-East Merger is never possible at all. This is not the situation only with the rule of King. That was the situation with JR, Premadasa, and Chandrika as presidents and Ranil as prime minister. There is nothing can bridge the problems between these two races existed from the time the false religious book Mahavamsa was written.(In my opinion the Mahavamsa or other historical literature of Sinhala nation are not true when they attempt to cite Dutugemeu as their symbol of anti-Tamil efforts. He fought with father, brother and King Ellala too. He appears to be a power hungry King. He had devotion towards Hindu deities. In India, Buddhism and Hinduism did not take separation for long ling time. Manu Neethi’s and Shibi’s stories are claimed by both religions as theirs. Even Valluvar is claimed by both religions as theirs. Until thervaaram literature appeared in Tamilnadu, there was no indication that Buddhist, Hindus and Jains were in log-head with each other. It is said Navukarasar’s Bakthimarkam dislodged Buddhism out of India, even though he personally took up with Jains only. It appears the common crowd freely married each other and getting well along, though some went to Jainism had problems if they wanted to return back. It could be the situation in Lanka too. Dutugemu’s time, it was not the religious fight that earned him the name Dutugemu. In Lanka, the religious fight started around the time of Mahawamsa, the time it started in Tamilnadu too. The historical evidences suggests long before all these, when Buddhist messengers went out of India to all the part of the world -up to Greece- went as good friends, teachers and consultants, not as described in Mahavamsa- Buddha himself landed in Lanka as a bully to the natives lived in Lanka -just like a character duplications of Mahavamsa hero Vijeya, the son of lion.)

    So Scotland’s referendum is an example to Lanka and not too. It is an example the way Sampanathan suggested. Share the authority to Tamils. Treat them to feel good. Conduct the referendum and bring out the proof that they want to exist in a Union. On the other hand it is not. Lanka racial problem is a time limit passed wound. If the cancer has spread all over the body and it is in advanced stage, don’t operate the patient. That will be too much to Sinhalese to swallow. They can take an operation of sharing authority. Keep giving them the Morphine as pain killer. They will be at ease until the death. Keep telling them some more story like “the modern Dutugemu had put the Tamils under control, UN has been branded as international Tiger and has been put on the electric chair” like doping things to the mass. This will keep Sinhalese cool until separation. So the referendum helped England to keep Scotland with it, under democratic norms. But that will not work Sinhalese. If Sinhalese conduct an honest referendum, Tamils will vote 100% yes for it. For Tamils, a referendum held by Sinhalese government will be another LLRC or Missing Person Commission (MPCS). So, it is better the Royal Government continues to give the mass opium until international community finishes the inquiries and bring a solution through the Security Council( That two countries, one island).

  • 4

    Tamil Elam losers must be howling again.

    Had Scotland got freedom those losers must be jubilant.

    Not anymore.

  • 4

    According to the 2011 census only 1.1% of Scots still speak the Scottish language – Scottish Gaelic. There has been a decrease in number of people speaking Scottish Gaelic in the last 10 years. Gaelic is not an official language of the European Union or the United Kingdom.

  • 1

    A minor correction. The Scottish Parliament first sat in 1999 not 2010.

  • 0

    T minor correction; the Scottish Parliament first sat in 1999 not 2010.

  • 4

    Aye! Aye! David. Quoting the Grand Panjandrum of Electrical Engineering:
    “Above all, the processes and ethics of this Referendum have been exemplary.” —–and ——- “The campaign in Scotland is a model of democracy in action.”

    Pooh! That is what it has to appear on the surface.

    Oh! David! must be realistic. The facts are stubborn. UK will not at any cost let off Scotland, despite being a liability. When the Alex Salmond requested for a referendum it was readily agreed. Why? Does it respect certain principles of self determination, democracy and fair play? It was done with a view to crush Alex Salmond and the point of view of separatism and that is what has exactly happened now.

    • 1

      “Pooh! That is what it has to appear on the surface.”

      That is ok man. Just let, for the time being, Prof. Kumar to keep beating his drum, like the way he is doing. Yes, there are something underneath of England’ acting as it is the leader in democracy while keeping the royals too. But don’t peel it. Because if Prof.Kumar start to peel it equally for Lanka and England,in his article too, things might get complicated and too hard to understand what is going in Lanka. You and me know, not ready to allow the separation, England played a game in allowing the referendum, just like our King is going conduct the next presidential election without ready too leave the comfortable, bottom heated electric chair. On that election and referendum, England will match Lanka, so you can peel England on that. But Prof.Kumar cannot peel Lanka on royal part, because queen is just a headless royal Barbie Doll, then no talk of anything underneath there, but our Gemunu Royals are with a lot of bags and baggage underneath, an International Kudu Wholesale Trading Company with the name of a democratic government, Know? If he start to touch that side of Lanka’s royal underneath, you know!, ……. no point of …. telling how rotten is that will ….

      Don’t throw dung of others face when yours is full of…..

  • 3

    I do not envy Tamils in the north really. Here we have, a bunch of people trained to a superior standard by the British stuck in a 3rd world Sinhala majority administration. What can one possibly do? Well, before we get there we need to understand how you got here.

    The British reneged on the Kandy treaty of 1815. The Uva Wellasa mass revolt ensued. The British ordered the slaughter of every Sinhala man above 18 years.

    The British needed to build civil infrastructure although the natives were uncooperative. Everything I say here is based on British colonial records.

    I refer to a piece of work as the Colebrooke Cameron Reforms. For those who are interested the the document is still available at the British National Archives, Kew.

    It conducts a survey of the entire island divides into 9 provinces. In the 1824 population census of the northern province counts 15,000 people the British refer to as “slaves”.

    Faced with an uncooperative local population and a need to build roads and coffee plantations south Indian labour is imported. Cameron reforms suggest an “Exclusive Malabar” region in the Jaffna district to keep the Malabars. Thus began the enclave of the “Jaffna Tamil”. The Birith GA of Jaffna, W.C. Twynam describes these Malabars as follows.

    Miserable gangs of coolies….with one or two women to 50 to 100 men , strangers in a strange land , ill-fed, ill-clothed, eating any garbage they came across(more however from necessity than choice), travelling over jungle paths, sometimes with scarcely a drop of water to be found near them for miles, and others knee-deep the greater part of the way in water, with the country all round a swamp; working on estates just reclaimed from jungle , or on jungle about to be converted into estates, badly housed, and little understood by their employers.(CO 54/475)

    By 1881, the Jaffna Malabar population has ballooned to 265,000. Most thought the Jaffna Tamils were a Dutch legacy but not so. The Tamils dissipated from Jaffna as soon as the Dutch vacated. Although Dutch imported Battocloa population remained largely intact.

    It appears historically migrant fishing communities from India would camp in Jaffna at certain times of the year. Although after fishing season ends they go back. The reason Tamils did not stay I suspect is because the civil infrastructure was missing. This changed after the Brits arrived.

    Anyone find odd why American Missionaries would descend of Jaffna and build schools? Well it would have been commissioned by the British. They setup an exclusive Malabar enclave and trained a workforce for their entire public administration. By 1945 almost 90% of the civil administration were Tamils.

    As the British left these Tamils behind they would naturally face a dilemma. The natives would soon take over the civil administration. Thus began the “Tamil Struggle”.

    Now, from this vantage point everything that Tamils can possibly try have been tried. It must be hard to change master when you know your training of your former master was far superior. Although common sense suggests they do nevertheless. Perhaps a pact to re-integrate Tamils back into the civil service is an idea. That is my humble suggestion and I say without malice.

    My source – http://jaffnahistory.com/

  • 3

    LTTE rump is hailing the way sottish election was conducted.

    Read some of the other news too


    Alex Salmond accuses UK party leaders of tricking Scotland into No vote
    Outgoing first minister says row between Cameron and Miliband shows devolution ‘vow’ was desperate bid to avert independence

    Other reports talk about how corruptions in voting. Some votes had been used when the voter comes to vote.

  • 2

    To all Sinhalese brothers and sisters in SriLanka,
    Mr.Vigneshawaran took his oath as the chief minister of North before His Excellency Mr.Mahidna Rajapaksa in good faith. Mr.V has never spell the words division of the country or Ealam at any time since then. Even today or in the future Mr.V and the majority of Notherners wish to live with the Majority community of this country in harmony.
    The problem lies with hard liners of the country. The srilankan Govt. rulers criticised Mr.V and painted a ghost picture of Mr.V in the hearts and minds of the Sinhalese. Unfortunately 95% of the Sinhalese believe of what Gota,Mahinda and the other senior ministers say about Mr.V.
    What is the wrong in reducing the Army personnel from the North? The armies are interfering into the day to day life of evey Tamil who lives in the North. The funniest part of the armies are that they interfere into all the activities of the tamil ladies of the North.
    * The tamil ladies cannot have any Women association meetings in any part of the North. In every Women association meeting at least 4 to 7 army (men) personnel forcefully sitting with the guns. This is absolutely true.

    * The armies interfere into the “Preschool Children”‘s education in the North. They (Army) recruit Pre-School teachers in their own without consulting the Education department and paid them Rs.20,000.00 per month as salaries, forcing the teachers to work all seven days. These teachers have no time even to prepare annd teach or guide the preschool babies from the age from 3 to 5 and the education of these babies are badly affected. The armies or thir employer the GoVt. don’t care the damn. They are very happy to spoil the education of the pre-school children.

    * No hindu temple can con conduct any poojas of festivals. The tamil devotees have to first worship the bloody aries and then oonly they can carry of their duties ti the temple.

    * The armies have their camps for every 300 hundred yards in every village of the Northern province. In addition to these green uniformed armies there are plain clothes and white and white clothed CIDs flocking in cycles and motor cycles. Some of the so called CIDs work as Three wheeler drivers and commuting passengers and listen their stories. These white clothed drivers wear viboothi, red kungumam pottu annd sandalwood pottu and hanging the tamil fil actresses’ pictures such as Tammanah,Anuska, Sneha and so on. How the heck tamils can breath freely in the North?

    * The armies guard every one mile in all mail roads in the North. They stop vans and if any foreigners travel in the van the army personnel asked lot of irrelevant questions and researched the passport for more than 45 minites. They took noes of the passport for 45 bloody minutes. Will all my sinhala brthers know the difficulties of your army guys give us daily in the North.

    * Do any sinhala brothers know that Your Govt. keeps ONE ARMY personnel to 10 of your tamil borthers and sisters in the North? The total population in the North is 1.5 million and thee are 150,000 army personnel guading us.

    In which part of the Srilankan provinces these things happening? The tamils are living in fear of the armies. They are damn scared of hearing the sound of your guns.

    The Govt, Gota, JVP and all other unscrupulous hardliners can paint any picture to the majority Sinhalese that Tamils are happy, they enjoy new roads and so forth.

    Strictly speaking 99% of the tamils living in internal fear in Srilanka and they do think anything can happen to them at any time. They do live in constant fear.

    Further Every tamil particularly in Northern province does hate the armies. They treat them as dirts. They fear that the armies are worse than the poisnous snakes or murderous animals.


    So how can we in the North trust you Majority Sinhalese and your Govt. that you are doing good things to us and we have to vote for your Govt.

    I tell you, even every former tiger members who are nowenjoying all the benefits with Gota and Mahida are not happy at all. They know very well one day they will be treated as scoundrils and be shot by thir sinhala masters once all their wealth are acquired by Rajapaksa family.

    This the truthful situation of all the Tamil ministers such as Deva or Murali.

    Can the majority sinhalese win the hearts of the Northerners without criticising Mr.Vigneshwaran. If that miracle happens we will live happily in harmony with you all.

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