By G K Nathan –
The Island at the Southern tip of Indian subcontinent is known by different names: Sri Lanka, Ceylon, Eelam etc., where Sinhala and Tamil people have lived for many millennia, having many things in common. Unfortunately, post-independent era politics have brought about conflict between both Nations and followed economic downfall, compared to pre-independence days. Looking back, Indian subcontinent, Australia and Sri Lanka were part of the Lemuria continent in the Indian and Pacific Oceans; it is also called Kumari Kandam in Tamil. The Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 revealed, along Tamil Nadu coast, part of archaeological remains that were swallowed by the rising ocean in the p, many thousands of years ago. Also emerging recent archaeological evidence of old Tamil civilization in the West coast of Indian Sub-continent and in current Tamil Nadu at Keeladi, prove the antiquity of Tamil Nation and Language. Beyond any doubt, it is comparable to Mohenjo-Daro Indus Valley civilization. The links given here are sufficient evidence to prove the ancient heritage of Tamils and their language. The Tamils have become a global community that has been widely recognized. Initially, brought about by large scale migration of Tamils to Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Mauritius and South Africa, mostly from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, during the British colonial era. In post-Independent Sri Lanka, the discriminatory policies practised by successive governments and repeated pogroms, forced Tamil Nation to follow a migratory route to distant lands, like many other Nations in the world. The most successful group that comes to mind is Jews, in many ways there are some similarities, after many hundreds of years, the Jews established their homeland in Israel following the end of 2nd World War. Discriminatory policy of successive governments of Sri Lanka against Tamils has indirectly strengthened the Tamil Diaspora and helped the Diaspora to expound and strengthen our language and culture, worldwide. Also, Tamil Diaspora has become economically strong, following the footsteps of forbearers who achieved economic success in their new homelands during colonial era. Tamil Diaspora is duty bound, like the Jewish Diaspora, to assist the people in their former homeland, to become economically independent followed by recognition of political rights. Tamil Diaspora’s political contacts in their new homelands can be made use for economic advancement and to promote political resolution in our old homeland in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has been under occupation at different periods for about two thousand years, initially it was under the Tamil kings of Pandya and Chola dynasty of South India at various periods throughout the history. Also, occupied by European colonial powers for about half a century, from the beginning of 16th century. At that time, there were three Kingdoms in different parts of Sri Lanka. One in the South and the other in Central Sri Lanka both were Sinhala Kingdoms, the third one was a Tamil Kingdom in the North. The Central Sri Lanka Kingdom finally had Tamil Kings because of marital links between South Indian Royals. Southern part of the Island came under the occupation of Portugal and later expanded to include Northern Sri Lanka after the conquest of Tamil Kingdom that had contact with Tamils of India via common heritage. Holland took over from Portugal and finally ended up with Great Britain. British unified the Island when the Kandyan Kingdom in the Central part of the Island came under their control and the surrender document was signed in Tamil by the last King. Island of Sri Lanka that has been a divided land most of the time, became united country and part of British empire that ruled the Island for about 140 years. On the 4th of February 1948, Sri Lanka became an independent country, at the time of Independence there were different nationalities, Sinhalese, Tamils (Ceylon and Indian), Muslims (mostly Tamil speaking) and Eurasians (Burghers) etc. The proclaimed constitution did not fully protect the rights of different groups made up of multilingual (Sinhala, Tamil, English), multiethnic (Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burghers etc.) and multireligious (Buddhism, Hindus, Christians, Islam) people. Sri Lanka was a success story at the beginning of post-colonial era in the field of education, economic activities etc. First Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew of the small Island of Singapore that was too a multilingual, multiethnic and multireligious country like Sri Lanka; Mr Lee wanted to emulate Sri Lanka’s success story. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka’s communal and short sighted policy of domination of minorities by subsequent governments took Sri Lanka, backward to the bottom of the heap of countries that became independent after colonial occupation. Today Sri Lanka is standing with a begging bowl. In contrast, Singapore recognizing everyone’s rights became a success story and a fully developed country in the world. Sri Lanka can learn a lesson from Singapore to put the country in the right path to regain the past glory.
Faltered History of Post Independent Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s adversarial politics between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Tamil Hindus dominated the post independent era. Both the majority and the minority communities who were only used to monarchist rule could not make the necessary adjustment to a democratic rule, where majority power is exercised with the consent and/or accommodating the minorities rights and wishes. The political parties of the Sinhala majority community to capture power against their opponents in the Parliament, promised more to the Sinhala population at the expense of rights of minority communities that led to peaceful protests followed by repeated communal violence and pogroms. This is contrary to the understanding between different communities prior to granting of Independence to Sri Lanka under a unitary constitution by the British colonial power. To prevent the discriminatory laws being enacted against the minorities, Soulbury commission provided a safeguard which became Section 29(2) of the Soulbury Constitution. At the time of first Parliamentary election, Sinhala community had 63.3% of the parliamentary representation, thus denying them two third majority to make amendments that would be adversarial to minority communities. Following adversarial acts passed by the Parliament and actions taken by majority Sinhala Buddhist governments, it gained almost 80 percent of parliamentary representation. The domination of parliamentary representation resulted in proclamation of a new constitution and further denial of rights to minorities. Major acts of unilateral declaration by the Sinhala majority led to the following:
1. Disenfranchisement of large sections of Tamils who were brought as indentured labour from India by the British to work in the plantation industry, they provided an economic backbone to Sri Lanka;
2. The large scale deportation of Tamils to India helped Sinhala majority to reach two third majority in the parliament, removal of section 29(2) and imposition of a constitution unwelcomed by Tamils;
3. State aided colonisation of traditional Tamil homeland with Sinhala people from other parts of Sri Lana, denied the land rights to people who have been inhabiting the lands from time immemorial;
4. Contrary to understanding, prior to Independence, both languages Sinhala and Tamil will remain the official languages, “Sinhala Only” bill was passed in 1956, thus began the peaceful protests and followed by thuggery against Tamils;
5. Deprivation of higher educational opportunities to Tamil youth in 1973 with the introduction of standardization of university entrance examination results, contrary to universal practice; led to beginning of Tamil youth armed militancy against the State;
6. Tamils on mass uprising against the denial of their legitimate rights followed by youth militancy resulted in number of pogroms against Tamils in 1956, 1958, 1977-1978 and 1983; led to successive wave of migration to foreign countries, worldwide;
7. Historical Vaddukottai resolution of 1976 called for Independent Tamil Eelam homeland, failure to find an amicable devolution of power resulted in military conflict between the Sri Lanka armed forces and Tamil youth militants.
8. International intervention and support for the victims began following the worst pogrom against Tamils in July 1983, many hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees moved to South India. Failure of the Government of Sri Lanka to resolve the differences between two major communities and continuing military conflict led to direct intervention by India, resulted in Indo-Sri Lanka accord that was signed between Sri Lanka President JR Jayewardene and Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi to devolve power to Provinces in Sri Lanka on 29th July 1987.
9. Failure of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord led to increased military conflict that ended on 18 May 2009, with deaths of many thousands of innocent people, destruction of infrastructure and deprival of economic activities to sustain life in war affected areas. Another large scale migration of Tamils to Western countries ensued.
10. A number of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions were passed to bring justice to the victims of the conflict, often opposed by Government of Sri Lanka and a few countries that supported Sri Lanka. On the 15th March 2017 UNHRC Resolution was passed unanimously that was supported by Government of Sri Lanka. Giving hope that progress is possible, but there is opposition from a section that will be a challenge to current leaders of Sri Lanka.
The coming together of the two major Sinhala parties, the United National Party and Sri Lanka Freedom Party and forming a united government and with Tamil National Alliance taking the role of opposition party in the current Sri Lanka parliament, has given hopes to the people for a better future, to regain past glory as one of the old civilization in the world. The UNHRC resolution unanimously passed on Sri Lanka, remains unfulfilled. The Joint Parliamentary committee attempt to draw a new constitution that will bring people together has already getting opposition from various sections of Sinhala community. Recent, denouncement of the “proposed new constitution” from Mahanayaha Theras of the three Nikayas, is it the death knell to the new constitutional process or will wisdom prevail for a better tomorrow? President Maithripala Sirisena says no new constitution without the approval of Mahanayaha Theras and this position has been endorsed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Will the political leaders of Sri Lanka take the initiative to convince the people who oppose the peaceful process? Tamils’ struggle can continue, but political resolution in Sri Lanka looks only a distant possibility for the present. After many decades of struggle and deprivation, should the Tamil Diaspora’s focus be on bringing economic certainty to suffering people in our old homeland, either individually or collectively? This would bring economic strength and happiness to our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka to safeguard Tamils’ ancient heritage, forever. Knowing that “history repeat itself”; there is fresh hope from the International community that Tamils in Sri Lanka will regain their lost rights. Thereafter, Tamil and Sinhala Nations, working together can regain the lost position as the most progressive and developed country during the pre-independence era in the Asian region; that position that has been currently occupied by the Republic of Singapore with unity among all, where everyone rights are recognized. Will the people of Sri Lanka meet the challenges and make it happen?
Patriotic Citizen / August 5, 2017
[Edited out] …… The Die-Es -Poras Deleting The Great History Of The Island Nation Of Sinhale……Hello! Please Tell Us From Where Was Your Doctorate Given……….Surely May Be From The EElamist Hub……..You Do Not Have To Give Facts And Figures Of Our History As Everything Is In Records Of Actual Events With Archaeological Proof………Isn’t It Great To Live In this 21st Century Where Deleting History Has Become More Important Than Making It! …………..But Remember One Thing As This Country Had Been Called Lankapura Or Lanka during King Ravana times and Afterwards From 2500 years of King Abhaya times its been called ” Sinhale” upto Year 1815 until The Kandyan Convention Was Signed.It Would Have Been The Duty Of The Politicians Who Took This Country Back From The British To Take It Back As Sinhale and Not As Ceylon The Name Given By The British………….It Is High Time Now To Correct This Blunder To Take Back The Original Name Of Our Country “Sinhale”………For All People Of This Country To Live In Peace
K A Sumanasekera / August 5, 2017
Interesting article………..Diaspora apparently is so Rich and Strong and they can make Srilanka a Singapore………How cool……..But the Mmahanayakas are in the way………Pretty bad……..He concludes that Tamil and Sinhala nations can make Srilanka great……..Fantastic………My worry is , Diaspora hasn’t sent in much investments, despite their mate and Agent Minister Mangalan promising that Suren Surendran and Co has USD 4 Billion lined up . ready and waiting………….And Mangalana promising our inhabitants that he is going to hold a Carnivale in Colombo to display his plans………. But all we have from the Diaspora so far is Dr Mahendran from Singapore, And SIL , Aloysious, Swiss Kumar and the Mopad Gangs………As far as Development is concerned, it is only the UNP IGP’s comment that the ex LTTE cadres are attacking the Police and the Attacks are on the rise……… But Dr Mahendran and SIL have helped a few of Minister Mangalan’s buddies. like Penthouse Ravi, Poodle Club baby Minister, and Ajith Perera with some fancy cool Apartments in Colombo………… .BTW……the writer doesn’t mention anything about the Muslims or where there is any room for them for a Nation………………..
soma / August 5, 2017
There is one and only one problem though. Sinhalese will not agree for a Tamil homeland AND the right to live anyehere which means those Tamils(Tamil speaking people) who live outside the envisaged Vadukkodai Homeland risks disenfranchesment as happened once in history.
Pacs / August 5, 2017
The Tamils actually not different from Sinhalese and vice versa. That is the DNA study says. But who are these racists? Sinhalese racists are recent past Tamil converts to Singhala Buddhism. I do not need to quote any examples . Most politicians come into this category. The Singhala masses should realise the motive of these people who capitalise the fear factor of the humans through racism and hate speech. These politicians are with selfish sinister motive. Singhales as well as Tamils should realise and aware of it. SL hasn’t progressed enough under these politicians so far. They sell there people and land to foreigners and become superbest rich and powerful. The Tamil cowards also go hand in hand with them. The peace wishing , good wishing people should strive for good and have good leaders to lead them. Unlike Piraba’s war the future wars will cause collective and total destruction irrespective of precision weapons.
Pacs / August 5, 2017
The Tamils actually not different from Sinhalese and vice versa. That is the DNA study says. But who are these racists? Sinhalese racists are recent past Tamil converts to Singhala Buddhism. I do not need to quote any examples . Most politicians come into this category. The Singhala masses should realise the motive of these people who capitalise the fear factor of the humans through racism and hate speech. These politicians are with selfish sinister motive. Singhales as well as Tamils should realise and aware of it. SL hasn’t progressed enough under these politicians so far. They sell their people and land to foreigners and become superbest rich and powerful. The Tamil cowards also go hand in hand with them. The peace wishing , good wishing people should strive for good and have good leaders to lead them. Unlike Piraba’s war the future wars will cause collective and total destruction irrespective of precision weapons.
Non PhD / August 5, 2017
I do not think the SL Tamil diaspora can do much to help their brethern both politically and economically.
Few of my main reasons are the Sinhalese diaspora is incresing at a faster rate for quite some years now.
The strength of Sinhalese diaspora both politically and economically is much stronger that that of the Tamil diaspora. Particularly SD is more powerful in the US, Italy Australia, Japan, South Korea & China.
Rich ex-armed forces personnel, families of Gothapaya, Palitha Kohona, Vasudeva, Basil, Rambukwella, Bogollagama, Dayan, HLDM and the likes are powerful in the US & Australia.
They have more infulence with past US Presidents, and the current president Trump and the Australian SD with the Chinese President.
SD is more united when it comes to denying Tamils their rights.
Shenal / August 5, 2017
The most intriguing thing is that Tamils cry fowl over deportation of Indian coolies but in the same time oppose the so called “colonization of the North by Sinhalese”.
Isn’t the importation of Tamil coolies a colonization act done against the will of the natives on the island? Don’t the Sinhalese have the right to object against it? Only Tamils have the divine right to do so? Isn’t it the hypocrisy?
As a matter of fact, it seems that Tamils are upset that their political leverage was weakened due to the deportation of the Coolies. It has boiled down to just a number game rather than a genuine empathy towards the plight of the Coolie people.
An Old Friend / August 5, 2017
The following claim exposes the major flaw in Dr. Nathan’s argument “At the time of first Parliamentary election, Sinhala community had 63.3% of the parliamentary representation, thus denying them two third majority to make amendments that would be adversarial to minority communities. Following adversarial acts passed by the Parliament and actions taken by majority Sinhala Buddhist governments, it gained almost 80 percent of parliamentary representation.”
The piece posits a cast-iron barrier between the majority community and the rest, so as to place the plight of the minorities beyond hope. Take the Citizenship Bill which passed 53 for and 35 against. Of the 53, 5 were appointed MPs (4 Englishmen and a Burgher). 4 were Ceylon Tamils (including C. Suntheralingam, the father of Eylom), 5 were Muslims; only 39 were Sinhalese. G.G. Ponnambalam, whose grandson has now taken over the Eelam baton, absconded from the vote after making a deal to clinch a portfolio. His entire party, the Tamil Congress, voted with the government in the next two anti-Indian bills.
On the other hand 20 Sinhalese voted against the Citizenship Bill. This does not suggest a monolithic Sinhalese menace intent on crushing the minorities. The minorities too must be blamed for the polarization we find today and their plight after selling the Indian Tamils.
SJ / August 5, 2017
“His entire party, the Tamil Congress, voted with the government in the next two anti-Indian bills.”
Not very accurate.
The party split over the issue in 1949 and the dissenters voted against the bills, which superficially had nothing against those who were disenfranchised but in practice only strengthened the first bill.
An Old Friend / August 6, 2017
Chelvanayakam and Vanniasingham fully opposed the Citizenship Bill in the debate and in committee, contrary to the lukewarm attitude of the party leadership. This is an indication that they had given notice and were on the way out of the Tamil Congress. Ponnambalam, although it was his turn to speak, spoke nothing in the debate and apparently developed a coughing fit and was absent for the vote. Some of the rest from the TC voted against the Citizenship Bill, but came around to support the next two bills. Ponnambalam, who was to become a minister within two weeks, by 3rd September 1948, did speak in committee, not however in support of the Indian Tamils, to whose cause he was pledged in writing, but asked rather citizenship concessions for Ceylon Tamils resident in Malaya.
Chelvanayakam and Vanniasingham, with Dr. Naganathan from the Senate became the core of the Federal Party, which emerged formally in 1949.
SJ / August 7, 2017
“Ponnambalam, who was to become a minister within two weeks, by 3rd September 1948, did speak in committee, not however in support of the Indian Tamils, to whose cause he was pledged in writing, but asked rather citizenship concessions for Ceylon Tamils resident in Malaya.”
Not that I am approving of GGP’s conduct, but is there evidence to support this story?
An Old Friend / August 7, 2017
Dear Professor, does one need to answer this inane question? You know that the Hansard is a public document. Asking for evidence that is easily found seems to be your general ploy to cast doubt on those who challenge misleading impressions you try to communicate.
John / August 6, 2017
your article is full of lies.
-Island of Sinhale (Sri Lanka) is never known as Eelam.
-LTTE terrorist invaders are/were all ‘Kallathonies’. So called Tamils are actually ‘Malabaris’. It was Sinhalese who gave these orphans the Tamil identity. Tamil people haven’t lived in Sri Lanka for millennia, unfortunate proximity of Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka have kept maintaining ‘TamilNess’ from time to time. 99% Tamils can’t trace their ancestry back at least 2 or 3 generations, and these Tamils are not the direct descendants of early immigrants.
– The UNHRC resolution was written by retarded Eelamist diaspora, their ‘donkey’ work is evident and all idiotic prince Hussein did was put his signature on the UNHRC resolution crap .
Jim softy / August 6, 2017
Dr. Nathan: I say, academically you are a Fraud. YOu have forwarded a full theory. Wikipedia says, that Lemuria theory is crap because, there is no geological evidence to prove it. When you have a doctorate, unless it was given for money as it happens in the west, you know, you have to provide evidence. When not, it becomes your findings. they you have to explain how yu found it. If you are can not do it, you beomce just loonatinc and a liar. ————So, where did Tamils have – village-dagoba, reservoir type culture. Why Tamils now only looking for water to yapanaya if they lived there since time immemorial. Why did not build tanks there. YOur theory is simply good for stupid Tamils. I don’t know in what subject you have your PhD, IS it Economics or politics. both are useless subjects.