By S. Sivathasan –
Both content and speed of action taken are heartening to the Tamil psyche. The news item of 15 January, given below connotes much.
Land to legitimate Owners
“President Maithripala Sirisena has advised armed forces chiefs to act fast to release private lands that have no security concerns in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Secretary Defence, B.M.U.D. Basnayake disclosed this yesterday.
Basnayake informed that the tri-forces Commanders had already appointed a committee in that regard and work was underway to ascertain the legitimate owners of lands in those areas.
He further said, President Sirisena had advised him and the three Commanders that apart from sensitive and vulnerable areas and lands that had a direct relevance to the three forces, remaining plots should be returned to the rightful owners.”
“Release private lands that have no security concerns”, is the advice. What time horizon is encompassed? Is it July 1977 to present day in 2015? Quite correctly is it said that the devil is in the details. Definition and elaboration will be helpful to those affected to set their bearings right. If the widest coverage is envisaged by the government or expected by the people, de-freezing of High Security Zones is a part. Consultation with the two Provincial Councils will clarify issues. The citizens will deem transparency a right. Let the Forces Chiefs present, a fresh citizen-friendly image as a harbinger of the healing process, in both approach and action.
What the Decision Conveys
The President inducted for long in politics at local and national levels, understands well what deprivation of land means to owners. The sense of hurt becomes all too grievous when a particular community is singled out for harsh treatment. Yet more when it follows war defeat and the land is used for military occupation. Action delayed or denied would be a travesty of justice. President has cut the Gordian Knot and got away from many an entanglement.
High speed means a great deal. President and the higher bureaucracy including in the armed forces, seem to mean business. It is now for them to match delivery against decision. To the Tamils and also the Muslims in the North East, restitution of land rights is higher than concepts of sovereign rights and their inalienability. Their value is certainly not lost on the President. Still more important is the consciousness of both the TNA and the President, of the immense trust that the people have reposed in them. Also very crucial is to dam the despotic herd trying its foray into sacred terrain. Let action on land be the first of many.
One Step Forward Evokes Two in Response
Boycott philosophy, plaintively advanced found a rebuff among the Tamils. TNA went to where power lies to get the land issue resolved. They sought justice for an act of vulgar usurpation. The previous government had punished the powerless because the powerful had flexed its muscle. The President’s proactive approach is a great beginning. The scope will widen with success scored and confidence restored.
People’s power of the Tamils was not fully used. Around 68% cast their vote for the benefit of the community. Dissipation of their power went thoughtlessly into floating mode. It was about 15% or 175,000. Mobilising them to garner more votes and additional seats will give the TNA greater power. It will enable the NDF to exercise greater authority in governance and in the House. By extension, it will make the voice of TNA more audible in the coalition collective.
North and South have no reason to work at cross purposes. One will not subvert the other. When both grow apace, benevolence from the international community will be shared by all. A rosy picture does not become real so easily. Only 90 more days remain. Lord Mountbatten in July, August 1947, had an exclusively printed, spiral bound daily calendar. A 100day calendar for steadfast observance should be on the table of the President and the Prime Minister.
Let not Tamils prepare a long list for the short term. It has only archival relevance.
The previous government had executed road, rail and power projects which are absolutely commendable. In scale and excellence they are unprecedented. Appreciable results are yet to flow therefrom. Taking them as the very foundation and attraction for investment, two regional institutions are indispensable for the North. To be located therein are; Branch Offices of the Board of Investment and the Urban Development Authority. Their very establishment will convey the bona fides of the New Government in moving northern society away from stagnation.
To maximize the benefits of the billions invested in the North, what is mentioned above is the commencement point.
To Think Large
Insularity is clamped on the war weary Tamils with hoops of steel. Battered by pogroms, constrained by the state, denied educational travel and chaperoned by the military they cannot be otherwise. In one big lurch their imagination has to take flight. To enable it, the newly elected government has a contribution to make. In thinking large, Tamil Nadu shows a way.
Image below, is reputed to be Asia’s largest IT complex, located at Siruseri 25 km from Chennai city. Built by TCS to accommodate a staff of 30,000.
Another image to do Tamil Nadu proud is an IT and Industrial Complex, 50 km from Chennai and near the Ford car complex. It is the 1500 acre Mahindra World City, Chennai which has Infosys and BMW among several other MNCs and Indian companies. It is home to 25,000 plus employees and professionals.
Knowing full well that we are light years away, these two are cited to crack our mental constriction. It is thought that precedes plan and action. Policy planning and economic development are in experienced hands, the Prime Minister. Resumption of normalcy was swift in 2002 after the Peace Accord. So was economic growth. Physical infrastructure was in shambles in the North East then. It is fit for takeoff now in the nation. If the concocted divides get eroded, better times can be experienced a quarter century from now.
A relevant quote: “Go thou like the rhinoceros, not turning at the rustling of leaves”.