By S.Sivathasan –
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, …. when the soul of a nation, long suppressed finds utterance”. So said Nehru in his historic address to the nation, ushering in independence. In our own little context, the soul of the Tamil Nation striving to find utterance has found it. Nehru proceeded further and posed the question “Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp the opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?” The occasion is now for the Tamils and the whole nation to test the mettle of the new triumvirate that is called upon to acquit itself in the most trying times. It has stood the first test admirably. It is now for the community to extend the fullest strength through an unreserved mandate.
Justice Wigneswaran, coming forward as the unanimous pick is poised for an unprecedented endorsement. With all the goodwill already showered upon him and the high expectations openly expressed, a vertical take-off is what is looked forward to. Turbulent weather is sure to be encountered, but the leadership is adequately steeled to face it.
The immediate tasks are enormous. The people’s mandate needs to be solicited for a well-crafted and precisely worded Manifesto against which the electors will match the achievements of the elected. After three decades of travail, the assessment is not going to be periodic but continuous and exacting. As for discernment, even the less educated have appreciable native intelligence to take mature political decisions. This is not unknown to the astute leadership that has now evolved. Mr Sampandan’s engagement with the rough and tumble of politics for more than four decades equips him fully. Mr. Sumanthiran has gone through a wide spectrum intensely in a short while. Justice Wigneswaran has the advantage of knowing the widest cross section from the judicial arena. His grounding in Tamil literature exposes him to the best in Tamilian traditions.
Now to terra firma. The Tamil community remains fractured in many ways. Politically our ideas are still inchoate and unclear. There is little perception of our strengths and still less of our weaknesses. We are yet to know who our friends are and where our enemies lurk. All Tamils in the country are of a single ethnicity and they have to be welded into the same political entity. As binding as ethnicity is linguistic affinity. This factor should bring Tamils and Muslims into an abiding relationship. The diaspora has to realize that Tamil power lies in the country only. Those in the country too have to know fully that diaspora support is indispensable in a multitude of ways. The unity to be brought about and to be built on should absolutely be around principles and values composing an attractive political philosophy. The leadership has to reach for all the splinters beyond the heads of transient personages. The aforesaid would show that the Manifesto would have heavy political overtones.
The Northern Province is economically devastated. The people are being relentlessly driven to the pastoral age. Six decades back Jaffna was called derisively a ‘Postal Order Economy’. For a decade or more now, it is in reality a ’Remittance Economy’. A solid foundation is needed for a new economic order. While recognizing the government’s infrastructure contribution, the Provincial Council with its own sensitive appraisal of felt inadequacies should seek finances for complementary work. This will bring to the forefront the supreme need for a ‘Marshal Plan’, Reparations and an Economic Programme
encompassing a Redevelopment component. It is thereby that a foundation can be laid for regeneration. The Council and the Chief Minister have a heavy labour ahead. The Council soon after the election, but the prospective Chief Minister from today to secure the election.
To the eternal credit of Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe and his government and HE the President Chandrika, is the Aid Programme under Tokyo Pledge of 2003. Also having our plaudits are Asian Development Bank and World Bank and their respective Resident Heads. One/tenth of the pledge flowed in. Nine/tenths is yet to flow. A revised replay is of paramount importance. The Chief Minister’s first visit may have to be to those institutions. It is with these funds that the refugees and the displaced can be resettled and rehabilitated. This is a condition precedent to economic growth.
The tasks may seem daunting. But to those with muscles of iron and nerves of steel, nothing can be difficult. In time sequence the first to be done is the Manifesto. It has to encompass issues; Political, Economic and Social. At election time political consciousness heightens and receptivity to ideas increases. That is the time the contents of the Manifesto register best. So let it be a model initiating a sea change in our political thinking. Let it not be a catalogue of wishes or a list of lanes and culverts. Let the thoughts be on devolution of policy making authority, eg. Higher Education Policy and finances for multi billion rupee Universities.
Justice Wigneswaran comes forward sparking immense hopes. He has the intellect to give a lead to be a lodestar to the Council. He is eloquent enough and has trilingual capability. Thiruvalluvar says:
One who is eloquent, possessed of unflagging zeal and is fearless
Cannot be defeated by others