18 May, 2024

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India’s Gift To The People Of Jaffna: Taken Over By the Sinhalese State

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Newswire reported on March 28, 2022 that the India-funded Jaffna Cultural Centre was inaugurated that day. Recently (6 Jan. 2023) I attended India’s Republic Day Celebrations at the Centre, followed by a stupendous dinner. 

Newswire goes on to say “The India-funded Jaffna Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province was inaugurated today (March 28, 2022).

“Visiting Indian Foreign Minister Dr S. Jaishankar and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa virtually declared open the Centre nearly two years after its construction.

“The structure, with 11 floors and facilities, including an auditorium that can seat 600 persons, a conference hall, an amphitheatre and a digital library, was completed in early 2020.

“Built with an Indian grant of US$11 million, the centre was envisaged as a public space to “promote, preserve and foster the cultural heritage of Jaffna”, and serve as “a hub of cultural activities” in Sri Lanka.

“As per the agreement, the Government of India was to hand over the facility to the Government of Sri Lanka which would, in turn, hand it over to the Jaffna Municipal Council, which was given the responsibility of managing its recurring expenses and maintenance.”

Rather mysteriously, even comically – indeed more likely it is because of elections scheduled for 10 March, 2023 when southern polticians cheat on election laws with even the Election Commission helping coverup –  the centre is being re-inaugurated with fanfare tomorrow, 11 Feb. 2023 at 9:00 AM. And India is participating in the hocus pocus.

According to JVP News (09 Feb. 2023) Douglas Devananda made plans for the function at the District Secretariat and according to those plans Mayor of Jaffna, Emmanuel Arnold, had not even being invited.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President, is already here at Tilco Hotel, my trishaw driver told me. Wondering what is going on, I made inquiries. Emmanuel Arnold is frothing wild. He is the mayor to whom the centre is to  be handed over, but he had not even been invited nor given a seat on the stage. He was with the Indian diplomats ready to sit down to dinner when I tried to contact him. He promised to meet me tomorrow 11 Feb. after the function and tell me the terrible things being done to his office in a ceremony where he and the people were being honored by India. As first citizen, he had no role to play. Instead, Sinhalese politicians have taken over the ceremony.

This was the work of Douglas Devanada working with the Minister of Buddhasasana, Vidura Wickremanayake, alleged a Member of the Municipal Council or MMC working hard to force Douglas Devananda to ensure that the Mayor is not insulted and that the People of Jaffna too are spared a public slap on the face. 

Some progress is being made. He said the tablet to be unveiled tomorrow did not have the mayor’s name and this had been corrected on the President’s instruction. A chair had been given to the Mayor on the stage after angry complaints were received. If that turns out to be false, a boycott of the function is promised by the MMC.

It is said by a reporter for Kalaikathir that the Mayor has been denied a speaking opportunity on the grounds that we are in an election period. But critics point out that both the President and Douglas Devananda whose parties are contesting will be making speeches and that what is prohibited under election law is making speeches in favour of candidates (not speeches per se) particularly using state assets like the Prime Minister’s and Minister Devananda’ transport to come to Jaffna to make speeches during elections.

Friends of India in Jaffna say that India did the Tamil people a good turn – a very good turn – in persuading JR Jayewardene to enact the 13th Amendment. The Sri Lankan state did but cheated by failing to implement key provisions – land and police powers which mean so much to us as we struggle to be free of Sinhalese hegemony. 

We could go to court to restore Mayor Arnold’s rights given the original signed agreement to hand over the centre to Jaffna Municipal Council. However, such things do not seem to occur to us. Instead of going to court to implement the 13th Amendment, we Tamils argued among ourselves saying India cheated us. Putting the blame on everyone instead of accepting responsibility seems an intrinsic Tamil characteristic. When standardization raised its ugly head in 1970, instead of going to court under Article 29(2) of the Donoughmore Constitution – which was still in force until Colvin R. de Silva disappeared it just the way the Sinhalese state has now learnt to disappear Tamil people – we preferred street demonstrations because they presumably get more votes.

Now again, according to multiple reports, Douglas Devananda is trying to cheat in running the cultural centre and its opening, instead of Mayor Emmanuel whose right and privilege it is do so. That certainly is not India’s fault, although by now India should know from experience that when the Si Lankan state promises something, it must be taken with a pinch of salt. For example, Ranil Wickremesinghe promised full implementation of the 13th Amendment and then tongue in cheek he has said any private member can move a motion to cancel it. In his speech on the 8th, I think he forgot to mention full implementation as he had promised (If he did mention it, I did not see it anywhere). A leopard does not change its spots. Is the leopard in Ranil Wickremesinghe playing the same game with regard to loans with India and the IMF? India and the IMF need to beware.

India has to wake up. It has been lied to so many times by the Sinhalese state that India can no longer claim to have been cheated. India’s diplomatic and administrative service personnel are recruited after rigorous testing, and I believe are among the best in the world. If they are cheated, it is because they knowingly allowed themselves to be seemingly cheated – as in abstaining at UNHCR on Sri Lankan resolutions knowing that Sri Lanka deserves utter condemnation for its cruelties to Tamils. Did India not expect that its simple gift of the cultural centre would also be taken over by the acquisitive Sinhalese state? In contrast to IAS testing, testing for the SLAS has been demonstrated to have occurred several times through leaked exam papers. How does the corrupt, politically pliant SLAS best the eminent IAS so easily? Is it that Sri Lanka’s SLAS cunning foxes do better than India’s academic, exam-cramming IAS theorizers?

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    After the time of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, when some bold actions were taken, all Indian leaders, foreign policy mandarins and administrators have shown themselves to be lame ducks at negotiating with their Sri Lankan counterparts in the matter of finding solutions to even one of the multifarious problems faced by the island’s Tamils.

    • 5
      4

      This is clear proof of the fact that unless a Federal Tamil State is established with irreversible powers, gifts given not only by India but even by every other country will be taken over by the central government. This is a good political lesson for India. Not that they don’t already know it. India will not hurt Srilanka either by words or actions as long as China is knocking at our door.

    • 0
      0

      CM
      Lame ducks?
      They know which side of the slice is buttered.

  • 8
    3

    Not surprising Prof; Ratnajeevan. The President of Srilanka is an INTERLOPER. In more ways than one………….
    As for Douglas Devananda he is fundamentally a Hoodlum………A Poacher turned game-keeper…………

  • 2
    0

    “Friends of India in Jaffna say that India did the Tamil people a good turn – a very good turn – in persuading JR Jayewardene to enact the 13th Amendment. The Sri Lankan state did but cheated by failing to implement key provisions – land and police powers which mean so much to us as we struggle to be free of Sinhalese hegemony. “
    The creation of 8 PCs instead of the proposed two was itself a swindle.
    India got what it wanted through the much undeclared parts of the Indo–Sri Lanka pact, at the time in its rivalry with the US at the time.
    The Tamil leaders, TULF especially, as in the past made monkeys of themselves with little help even from India.

  • 2
    0

    “In contrast to IAS testing, testing for the SLAS has been demonstrated to have occurred several times through leaked exam papers. How does the corrupt, politically pliant SLAS best the eminent IAS so easily? Is it that Sri Lanka’s SLAS cunning foxes do better than India’s academic, exam-cramming IAS theorizers?” Inefficient corrupted system of Sri Lanka Administrative Service is below par the system followed in any other countries. Proof of the pudding is in the eating which we are experiencing it in our day to day life.

  • 2
    2

    “India’s diplomatic and administrative service personnel are recruited after rigorous testing, and I believe are among the best in the world.

    If they are cheated, it is because they knowingly allowed themselves to be seemingly cheated – as in abstaining at UNHCR on Sri Lankan resolutions knowing that Sri Lanka deserves utter condemnation for its cruelties to Tamils. “

    I think you are tired of waiting and finally hit the nail on the head.

    This is indeed Hindia’s (all diplomats including the most senior) intentional conduct, pretending as though they are the utmost foolish of the fools. Then, Hina’s retired diplomats go on praising sori Sinhalam’s diplomatic finesse.

    However, the real motive is to aide and abet in any way possible by buying time and space for Singhalese to complete the structural genocide of Tamils because of utmost racial hate Hindia possesses against Tamils.

    I have been repeatedly commenting about Hindia’s need and penchant for the completion of structural genocide of Tamils by Sinhalese then and there in these columns.

    Very few have taken notice.

    However, slowly, someone who has public face is now coming close.

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