By V Kanthaiya –
During the year 2005, my grandma came to Colombo from Jaffna, to stay with us. She was 85 years old at that time. There were lots of visitors from the neighbourhoods to see my grandma, who made visits as a courtesy. My grandma was quite happy and talked a lot about her family, about her nine children, about the vast stretches of lands belonged to her dad etc. The problem started the next week. There were not many people to talk to her, to ask about her family, her children and how they lived the life in those good old days.
At this time, I was at home on school holidays. Of course, I sometimes felt bored with computer games and started to talk to grandma. It seemed grandma forgot that the year was 2005. Deep in her mind, she always lived in the1950s. She would often tell me about my great grandparents who had died long before I was born. At first I was quite interested to know about my ancestors and about their life style. But tell me honestly, how many times you would be ready to hear the same stories, again and again? She was always repeating the stories she had already told me. She wouldn’t bother whether I was watching TV or playing computer games or even studying. The moment she spotted me she would start telling her stories and she didn’t really bother whether I listened to her at all.
The problem with grandma was that she was not ready to accept that the times had changed, and in other words her time was gone. It was the time of her next generation. She was not able to adopt herself to the new lifestyle and she must have felt lonely and wanted someone to talk to her and listen to her. So the only option I had was to teach my grandma to play computer games, just to keep her occupied with something.
The first time she was quite interested to see the computer and the graphics, but instead of learning to play the game, she started to relate a story about how she used to play with her cousins when she was a young girl, and I don’t need to tell you that most of her cousins were in heaven at that time. The problem my grandma had is a perfect example how people react when they feel that they are excluded from modern society.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of going through Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka‘s (D J) prophecy ‘The Writing is on the Wall: How Sri Lanka is to be dismantled‘. The moment I finished reading this, his magnum opus, I felt sorry for him. I just wanted to talk to his family members and his close friends, because when I went through his writings I realized he is suffering from the same psychological issues my grandma had back in 2005.
This is a typical phenomenon among people who feel they are being excluded from society. It seems D J has got a terrible fear our entire society is ignoring him and don’t like to read his writings and that’s why he is on a writing frenzy where he writes at least two articles per day and sends them to all the political forums, where people would read them and bash him with their comments in return.
His aim is not that people should read his writings and engage in a constructive discussion about the society we live in, his aim is that people should understand that Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka is still alive. This is exactly the issue my grandma had. She didn’t bother whether I was listening to her stories about those good old days; her aim was that she needed someone beside her so that she can keep on talking whether it meant anything to that person at all.
I feel that, like my grandma, D J needs some attention. He needs love and care, especially from the Colombo Telegraph readers to whom he keeps on writing. I also request the close friends of D J to take him often outside for a walk or invite him to talk in any forum regarding political science. He would be quite happy about it. And the permanent solution for his psychological issue would be offering him the post of Ambassador in a Sri Lankan foreign mission, in a European country. I believe that will really work.
DJ’s claim that devolving more power to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) would eventually lead to an independent state, can be considered the joke of the year (up to now, at least). Let’s analyse this and for this analysis you should not be a political scientist; because political science sees ethno political conflicts through ethno political theories. Political Science believes that these conflicts are complicated. In fact they are not. Ethnic conflicts are the culmination the common man’s problems. So what we need to analyse is the common sense of a common man.
The major complaint by the elected representatives of the Tamil people and by their self proclaimed guardians is that Tamils in Sri Lanka are refused their rights as legitimate citizens of this country. They are not given the due recognition for their unique culture. And they are being oppressed. Alright! How this can be solved?
The solution is simple. Give the autonomy that the Tamils ask for. DJ’s problem is that giving such power to the NPC would lead to the proclamation of an independent state by C.V. Wigneswaran. Suppose DJs argument is correct, then India wouldn’t be a country, instead there would be 35 countries. There will not be a country the United States of America; instead there would be 50 countries at that geographical location. There would not be a country called Australia, instead there would be countries called Northern Territory, Western Australia, Southern Australia, Victoria, Queens Land, New South Wales and Tasmania.
The more the Sinhala Buddhist central government denies devolving power, the more the claims of the Tamil political parties would become credible. The more the central government is hostile against the NPC, the more harm NPC would do to the central government in the international arena. This is something equivalent to Newton’s third law; for every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.
The best example of how hostile relationships adopted by ethno-majoritarian governments towards ethnic minorities leads to chaos in the country, is none other than the former Yugoslavia. The numerically superior ethnic Serbs tried to cut down the powers given to the constituent republics, which led to the independent proclamation of those states. The Yugoslav People’s Army sought to preserve the unity of the country by crushing the secessionist forces of ethnic minorities. However, the Serbian nationalist government led by Slobodan Milosevic couldn’t stop the eventual breakup of the country, purely due to its Serbian national rhetoric. The international community supported the breakup of the country as it saw the crushing of the secessionist forces as a part of the campaign for greater Serbia, not an attempt for a united Yugoslavia. The former Yugoslavia is the best example of how only a meaningful devolution of power would preserve the unity of the country, not brutal military force. The latter may be effective in the short term, but not in the long term.
The question we have regarding Sri Lanka is whether the Sinhala Buddhist ethno-majoritarian government is trying to crush the leaderships of the minority communities in an attempt to create a “Sinhala Country”, or for a united Sri Lanka. DJ’s argument for cutting down the powers of NPC would be considered by the international community as an attempt towards a “Sinhala Country”, rather than for a United Sri Lanka, and the consequences would be severe.
It is quite strange that DJ, being a political scientist has failed to learn anything from the history of Yugoslavia. Perhaps he may call the break up as a plot by the capitalist west and the neo Zionists, not due to the meaningless Serbian national rhetoric.
I, as a Tamil from the north want the central government to devolve more powers to the NPC, not to have any more “rights” but to see the unlimited ‘entertainment’ to be given by the so called democratically elected Tamil leaders in the country and the self proclaimed Tamil guardians from overseas. Any attempt to block the power devolution would mean denial of the Tamil People’s right to have “’from those elected to entertain them. I state this in my own style, the common man’s style; “NPC doesn’t like the central government screwing it. It wants the power devolved to it, so that it can prove to the world that it is capable of screwing itself”.
I believe it would be grand entertainment to see the dog fight for power between the parties in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) once the power is devolved to NPC. I am sure each would bray that they are the sole representatives of the Tamils while the Tamil patriots in Europe and Canada call these parties ‘traitors’. It’s going to be an incredible comedy. Mark my words. This is a prophecy.
I personally guarantee that the central government doesn’t need to fear the possible secession of NPC from the country, no such thing will ever happen. The present Tamil youth in the country are more willing to fight on ‘Facebook’ with their comments, rather than in jungles with semi-automatic rifles. The new generation is more concerned with integrating with the global community, rather than fighting in the name of race and religion, which have become irrelevant concepts in our present life dominated by information communication technology.