23 September, 2019

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The Story Of A Societal Purpose

By Mahesan Niranjan

Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

We met after a gap of several weeks in the famous Bridgetown pub for our regular drink. My partner, the Sri Lankan Tamil fellow Sivapuranam Thevaram, has been travelling, visiting the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, a place he has never been before. “My colleague and I were there, teaching an intense course machan (buddy), a whole semester worth of material packed in two weeks,” Thevaram said to me over our first round of Peroni. My friend is from the club of Artificial Intelligentsia, a necessary path of salvation for those who lack the real thing, as I often tease him.

Thevaram knew nothing of Kazakhstan before, other than the packaged media image of a large ex-Soviet Union country whose sole purpose was to serve as the launching pad for Russian satellites — just the same way the United Kingdom serves as the largest aircraft carrier of the United States of America. As he planned his journey, his colleagues at work wished upon him zero probability of getting kidnapped by horse-riding warriors who were direct descendants of the powerful Genghis Khan.

Amazing how rapidly such prior images shatter when you actually visit a place and mix with people there! Back in the Bridgetown pub Thevaram reported having had a lovely time packed with work, friendship, fun and food. In the flight back he read some work by Abai Quananbaiuli, a Kazakh philosopher and poet, acknowledged widely as a reformer and nationalist, from a book his class had presented him earlier that day. Now, Thevaram, having lived through the rise of Sinhala and Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka, and observing how it manifested into a deadly war, culminating in the massacre of thousands thirty years later, usually has no time for nationalist sentiments. He dismisses them because they are usually built on fiction, glorifying some past about a two thousand year old civilization, or on who might have arrived on the island first.

Abai’s Words, however, had a very different flavour which appealed much to Thevaram. It had paragraph after paragraph of societal self-criticism and reflection: “Where lies the cause of the estrangement amongst the Kazakhs, of their hostility and ill will towards one another? Why are they insincere in their speech, so lazy, and possessed by a lust for power?

And he writes during times of Russian occupation of his land: “One should learn to read and write Russian. It is the key to spiritual riches and knowledge, the arts and many other treasures. If we wish to avoid the vices of the Russians while adopting their achievements, we should learn their language and study their scholarship and science […]  Thevaram spent the whole seven hours of flight reading and admiring this fascinating approach.

Nationalism built on reflection than on manufactured myth! The message to study the language of the invading oppressor! Wow!!

“Now has anyone tried that in our context?” he asked himself, knowing full well the answer might be the label “traitor” in early days of our nationalism, and a body found in close proximity to a lamp post during more later stages.

Yet, no scholarly writing can match what you learn by visiting a place and carrying out your own observational social science research.

On the previous evening Thevaram and his colleague were treated to a fantastic dinner at a Georgian restaurant — a long evening of food and discussions which went on till mid night. They then had to go back to their hotel and one of their hosts – Kiliyoparada (not her real name), a young lady of exceptional beauty — accompanied them to make sure they don’t get lost.

While walking back, Thevaram’s colleague asked her: “is it not late for you, won’t your parents be looking for you?”

“Oh no,” Kiliyoparada replied in a confident voice, “my parents, … how to say,…, they trust me.”

After dropping the guests at the hotel, she had to find her way back home.

“I will take a taxi,” she said.

Now in Kazakhstan, taking a taxi is not the same as in any other place you might be used to. A very informal arrangement seems to operate across the haves and have-nots of cars. One in need of transport simply waves from the roadside and a random car will stop. The would be customer states what their destination is, and the driver will either accept or decline the possibility of instantly converting to a taxi service. A figure will be quoted and agreed and the customer gets a ride, money is handed over at the end of the journey and the taxi turns into an ordinary vehicle again.

So, in the middle of the night, the young lady Kiliyoparada, carrying an expensive-looking handbag, is able to wave down a strange vehicle, with no idea who the driver might be, and confidently reach home safely!

“That wouldn’t happen in Bridgetown,” Thevaram and his colleague agreed.

Some who glorify a particular period of Sri Lankan Tamil past would be quick to take the opportunity and claim, “when they [the striped ones] were here, it was safe for our women also, no!” Oh no Sir, it is not the same. The societal equilibrium Thevaram reported to me was not being maintained at gun-point.

As he dozed off under the influence of his second glass of gin and tonic, reflecting on Abai’s work and his own observations, Thevaram travelled in space and time.

Sometime in the early Eighties, Thevaram and his school friend Bendingmoment (not his real name) were regulars at the Jaffna public library. The teenagers would cycle there every afternoon, spend hours reading, and then taking a walk along the Pannai bridge, discussing science, philosophy, politics and chess.

One afternoon Bendingmoment messaged Thevaram to cancel the afternoon walk saying “machan (buddy) I can’t join today, my cousin Mookkuththi (not her real name) has tuition class at six PM, I have to accompany her because it will be late.”

“But you are a lean little fellow, you have no practice at karate or boxing, what sort of security are you going to provide cousin Mookkuththi?” Thevaram teased Bendingmomemt.

“My purpose is not the provision of security, machan,” said Bendingmoment and after a brief reflective pause continued:

“It is to serve as witness.”

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    Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

    RE: The Story Of A Societal Purpose

    “My purpose is not the provision of security, machan,” said Bendingmoment and after a brief reflective pause continued:

    “It is to serve as witness.”

    Thanks.

    Then the witness will be bumped off in the 2,500 year old civilization.

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    There must have been many clones of Bendingmoments who must have lived through the War which made our motherland famous, and thought their survival worthwhile because they could at least testify to what happened – like in that Wilfred Owen poem, “Strange Meeting”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slcsx5NVvww

    I didn’t realise that the reading would be so moving. NOT read by the poet; he was killed a week before the First World War ended. I wonder whether Bendingmoments was more fortunate.

    But here, in ‘SINHALE’ there will be no proper trials; not for War crimes, not for Meethotamulla, not for cheating at VC elections – but “never say we did that”. That was home and home. We shall go our merry way.

    And wasn’t there a reference to a tigress in that poem I led you to? Jim softie hasn’t got a comment in yet; will he label me a “Demala”? So, Niranjan thinks that we must learn each others language. Salute you for having done it; I won’t.

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      SM
      “cheating at VC elections ”

      Surely, you know better English than many here. What do you mean by ‘cheating’?
      Bending the rule to accommodate a disqualified person would comprise cheating.

      Every loser of an election accuses the winner of cheating.
      Join the club.

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    Sri Lanka has the shape it mentality, what ever the crime. There will be someone whos knows some one who knows the police who knows the politica, this has caused justice to be delayed and denied.

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    “Sometime in the early Eighties, Thevaram and his school friend Bendingmoment (not his real name) were regulars at the Jaffna public library. The teenagers would….”

    This must be a slip; Thevaram was already at Peradeniya in the early 1980’s, and couldn’t have been a teenager. Maybe Seventies.

    Anyway, the kind of thing you mentioned happens indirectly via Uber all the time in many cities in the US; probably UK as well. Of course, trust in Uber having done some background checks on their drivers is a major factor. Still abuse happens from time to time, and there is always some fear, especially for ladies.

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      Agnos

      “This must be a slip; Thevaram was already at Peradeniya in the early 1980’s, and couldn’t have been a teenager. Maybe Seventies.”

      Please note the Jaffna Library was set on fire on June 1, 1981 by Dutta Gamani and his colleague.

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    “One afternoon Bendingmoment messaged Thevaram to cancel the afternoon”.
    I did not know that outfits like Mobitel and Dialog were operating in Jaffna in the early 1980’s or that school kids carried mobile phones.
    Or, was the message sent via slightly more traditional techniques like for example in Tamil and Hindi movies?

    More seriously:
    Russian occupation was under the Tsars. Abai Quananbaiul lived in that period.
    Some of his utterances resemble the beliefs of our elite about English education (Under colonial rule and even now)
    The October revolution liberated Kazagstan and other nations from Tsarist oppression recognized as nations with the right to self determination and united with Russia as a Union of Republics.
    Many of our nationalists do not know who proposed the concept of self determination as an inalienable right of a nation.
    It may have helped to hint that it was pre-revolution Kazagstan so that our anti-communist Tamil nationalist brigade will not use the words of Abai against the USSR. after all May day is not far away.

    [Sent pending approval from the “Comments Tsar” (I do not mean this CT) who is monitoring my every utterance.]

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      “The graceful looking horse moved out to allow the annoying donkey sat on that Chair. Tsar left and Stalin occupied. “

      Thanks for CIA; kept beating the donkey until it too moved out of the Chair.

      Now the parrots can fly freely. But what the Khans and Sultans brought to India and Pakistan is different. Soon in Indian, Pakistani roads, women may not just cover up to eye, but even have clothes stuck in their mouths. Recently, when a Indonesian arche province’ university girl was publicly flogged for walking along with a male student in the university, she fell down on the stage painting by pain.

      Is the humanity can be infused into by preaching. Then why Buddha Jesus, Gandhi failed? Or is that a monopoly to Kazakhs.

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        Malli
        So it was Stalin that got rid of dear old Tsar Nicholos II (how the poor Russians loved their Tsar!).

        Psst, do not tell this to a Trotskyite: your life will be in grave danger.

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          SJ,

          “Psst, do not tell this to a Trotskyite: your life will be in grave danger. “

          More than being near or around CT after telling something about UOJ? If not, then I am safe!

          So it was Stalin that got rid of dear old Tsar Nicholos II. Well don’t act too much like a child and you know nothing. Don’t you know what happened in the October Revolution? Stalin was standing outside near the window and guarding. Lenin got onto his shoulder and jumped into Nicolas room and kidnap him. You don’t know even this so far? don’t write me back that you never heard of this. That will be really silly.

          (how the poor Russians loved their Tsar!) Sorry man(I am not a Valthu kuraincha left), so you know the story better than me; Would you rate it not as much as they liked Stalin?

          You are really very comical SJ! Is there a PhD for that too in UOJ?

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            Luckily I am not your history tutor.

            You have fantastic ideas:
            “Stalin was standing outside near the window and guarding. Lenin got onto his shoulder and jumped into Nicolas room and kidnap him.”
            Can you get anywhere near Kollywood? There is great future for you there.
            They will have real hits with a series on the Tsar with a title like “Tsarbali”. If your story line is written somewhere, you may face copyright issues. But then it is Kollywood. They can get round the problem.

            Remember me when you get rich. I do not want any money, but just the thought will do— perhaps my name on the credits list.

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    SJ: //Some of his utterances resemble the beliefs of our elite about English education (Under colonial rule and even now)//

    But if you look at the state of the institution in the North of Sri Lanka (hint: that one where you hold membership of its senior-most body of governance) wouldn’t you say a greater emphasis on English and Sinhala education would be beneficial? Should someone suggest so, would you just dismiss it as being elitist?

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      Jaymass
      Thanks.
      We cannot look at universities in isolation from school education and society.
      The main problem with our education is what has been done to it at school.

      Schools (+ tutories) make cramming machines of children, who have no time for anything but preparing for examinations. Competition is everything.

      I am for English as a second language at school, and it has been badly neglected. There has been little development of modern knowledge in our two native languages. (The enthusiasm of mid 1950’s to early or mid-1970’s for developing higher learning in Sinhala or Tamil is gone. (At least in popular science writing etc. Sinhala is a little ahead.)

      The Course Unit system is a disaster imposed on the Universities.
      The need for English is strong as an access route to much of modern knowledge. I accept that.
      I like people to have a working knowledge in S,T &E, with basic education in the mother tongue.

      But the statement that
      “One should learn to read and write Russian. It is the key to spiritual riches and knowledge, the arts and many other treasures. If we wish to avoid the vices of the Russians while adopting their achievements, we should learn their language and study their scholarship and science.”
      suggests a “colonial subject” attitude. That is what I reject.

      To many educators we are not producing graduates to develop the country but to earn money abroad. That is where policies are flawed.

      I fear that we are still a Western colony in our collective mindset. It shows in the political approach too.

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    As usual, when get enlightened by his tonic, the holy Somapana, Thevaram naturally transcend from his version of prayers of “Kaathalaahi Kashinhthu Kanneer Malhi “(shedding tears by being molten and descending into love – a line from 5th century Thevaram) to his ideal philosophy of “Ithil Thaai Enna Mananatha Thaaram Enna”(what there of a difference is of my mother or of my married wife in this feeble life- a line in a philosophical Tamil a movie song of a drunkard). When his philosophical question of “Sinhala and Tamil nationalism” is stemming out in the ever ending horizon of equality of the human beings in their right and wrong, his external wisdom starts to tear off the masquerading sari, the creator of barriers and levels of rights. Whoever it is, where ever it is, his intellectualism’s answer to it is, “Sari is a Sari is a Sari…….”.

    One time nine goats went on a jungle path. Eight of them fell into a pit on the path. Ninth one passed it stepping on the heads of the fallen eight and tuned back to them to question them, “ Idiots, don’t you watch your path while you on the road?” One more time, nine pigeons were flying on the sky over a corn field. Eight of them descended to land on the field to have a peck on the corn. The leader, the 9th one said “it is trap”. Yet, others got trapped. Seeing them in the trap, leader got down to the net and got him trapped too. Then he guided the rest to pull off the net and flied away with them. In the foresighted, three Kaala (past –present- future) vision of Thevaram, he is not envisaging any distance dawn to neither LTTE nor to Tamils to avoid their fate.

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    Whether the Tamils like it or not, the only prayer Thevaram can gracefully offer for Tamils to their resurrection is “Buddham Sharanam Gachami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachami, Sangham Sharanam Gachami………..”. Otherwise, his verdict to those who refuses to chant his mantra, following his phase is, “Saahiravan Marunthu Kudiyaan”. (The patient who is going to die would not corporate to take medicine”- a word of wisdom from medical profession).

    As long as it a “Seelai,” protecting, the thing of a weak one, he is ready and there to tear it off, a wised up – noble deed, in his perception. In other words, it is a job of teaching civilization, i.e. not using the gunpoint, to the baric Eelam’s 72 virgins’ seekers. That is his “The Story of A Societal Purpose” .

    Oh no Sir, it is not the same. The societal equilibrium …. was not being maintained at gun-point I wonder if Thevaram was too old or to young to have heard the stories of an Aava Kuzhu Captain named DIG Suntharalingam, those days, at Gunpoint, murdering and raping Tamils to earn the name of “Best SP in the Island” year after year. That time Northerners were in constant fear, closely cuddling together, when in times if he released them off his leash. In those days, I too, like a root of Banyan tree hangs from improper place out of its branch, but not joining others under the trunk and hides its head beneath sand, Jump on to my lodal, lodal Raleigh, enjoying the jerks sent to my back by the gravel road pebbles, and aesthetically whistle one of favorite song “Kathaikatta oruvvan Piranthuviddaal Kanagi Vazhvilum Kalangam Unddu”- (If one born to artistically frame stories, there are sleazier times in the life of Kannagi too.)

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    Thevarm wants it like the paradise of Genghis’s land, where the parents believe to allow Cleopatra parrots flying in the midnight, freely , but not as “It is to serve as witness “ -(Similar procedure to Sharia, irrelevant of who is morally and Physically fit to protect whom, a male accompanies a female). It is not done by the Genghis Land’s version of 32 virgin seekers. Oh no……… no no……… that is not what happened in Kazakhstan. That is not the story of Thevaram’s “ A Societal Purpose”. It was done with “Magic Band” of Abai Quananbaiuli. So, let’s try to understand of what Thevaram witnessed by tearing “Sinhala and Tamil nationalism”.
    My puny brain used to travels on narrow gravels, unlike in the broad Avenues that Thevaram bicycling with Bendingmoment. Help me! Is that possible he is saying if the Tamils had studied Sinhala Mahavamsa, obeying the order of SWRD’s Sinhala Only, the parrots on this land too could have flied freely without pointing the gun at the hunters? Or is that his point if had the Eelam’s 32 virgin seekers allowed freely roam around the Sinhala Rapist army, then the need to protect the Black Tamil Cleopatra Beauties in the midnight wouldn’t needed? (Then, either the beauties wouldn’t have been there or their beauty wouldn’t have been there). Isn’t if the bull had grazed the land to complete flat, then there wouldn’t a need to fence it?

    “What is this loud Cry, suddenly? Well, some disturbances; something is wrong down here, I am having problem in hearing Abai Quananbaiuli or Thevarm’s preaching because President Reagan is shouting too loud “ Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall”. Please, can somebody help me, by repeating what Thevaram wants to say, by shouting louder than President Reagan? Somebody… Anybody…. Please…… Help!

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    Prof Niranjan
    Can you please produce an edited version for the sub-normal mind?

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      Can you please produce an edited version for the sub-normal mind

      The DOWN FALL OF THE TAMILS WAS DUE TO THIS SUPERIORITY COMPLEX.

      There is nothing called SUPERIORITY COMPLEX. It is an euphemism for STUPID ARROGANCE.

      There is the saying “kuttak kuttak kunikiravanum mataiyan” and vice versa.

      Part of the above going is from your filthy, big mouth, SJ.
      There you were wagging your tail behind a strong comment of Analyst, with your lousy sarcastic quips.

      Your arrogance is that high you so knock on your head yourself instead others do it for you. Thank you for services.

      I asked earlier if you use a dictionary before you words like “Promptly”. Can you get into details of what this quip means?
      Some of his utterances resemble the beliefs of our elite about English education (Under colonial rule and even now) Are you naively laughing at Thevaram that is nota Valathu kurancha Leftist like you?

      Could you tell me what kind of minds utters thing? If yours is super –normal and not uttering in CT, then is it done by minds even above than yours? Then how did you uplift Thevaram to Super-Normal and asked rewrite it for me? One time a bat happened to be out in the day time. It looked at the crow on the same tree branch and asked “why is that man you, tree and others are standing upside down?” UOJ’s rating of under 7000 is explaining your super normal minds’ STUPID ARROGANCE.

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      Prof Niranjan
      Urgent, please.

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        What happened SJ? Did you step on dog poop?

        Call Pygmalion, SJ. You broke your pledge to Pygmalion. But, still he sounded like of you line; he may come to your help. Imperialist or elite of colonial period minded Prof.Niranjan is not likely to come to the aid of a Valathu Kuraincha left.

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          Malla
          Do you think that your stuff is D** ****?
          It is not stinking that badly.

          You may have missed that I made exception for bull****.

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    Prof Niranjan
    Although I accept the concept,I disagree with the context not different from the story of Nakkeeran, my ancestor, who was immolated by Siva’s fury. Kazakh philosopher recognises the riches of the Russian language and advises his nation to learn Russian. Am I to learn Mahavamsa just to stay alive? Sinhala language originated from three classic languages Sanskrit,Pali & Tamil. It will be meaningful if I study these languages that are enriched in spiritual wisdom,knowledge,culture and aged old wisdom. The versus from kaniyan (mathematician) Poonkunranar, my ancestor, ‘Yaathum Oore; Yaavarum Kelir -To us all towns are one, all men our kin, & valluvar’s “Position of power is good to occupy, when one practices impartiality, unfailingly, towards all sections.” (Chapter – Neutrality”)
    “Who sees the pleasure kindly speech affords,
    Why makes he use of harsh, repellant words?” (Chapter-Nobleness) are testimony for this. Now tell me am I right or not? Please enlighten me!!!

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    Prof Niranjan
    I would have loved to make this comment add up to my earlier one if not for the word limit. Please read in conjunction.
    Sinhala language is spoken only by 15 million people in a small Island that lies down under the mighty sub-continent India. The origin of the language is from three classical languages, one of the language Tamil is spoken by 80 million people in a near-by state Tamilnadu which is the second largest economy in India according to Reserve Bank of India. The Island nation has had close trade & cultural ties with the State from time immemorial. The most revered goddess Pathini Theiyo of Sinhala people,the deification of Kannagi, who is the central character of the Tamil epic Silapadhikaram of Ilango Adigal, written in India after the 2nd Century CE. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for the Sinhala nation to study Tamil to further the business interests and to avoid the vices of the Tamils while adopting their achievements, they should learn Tamil language and study their scholarship and science?” As for me I would rather learn Sanskrit, the Devapasha, to gain more knowledge in aged-old wisdom and to understand what the priests are chanting on my name in the temples rather than being a dumb by-stander incurring the vices of the divinities. I am certain my ancestor Kaniyan Poonkunranar, the mathematician and the philosopher would agree with my logic. Probably Thevaram, the doctorate in artificial(borrowed) intelligence will surmise as well!

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    Thevaram might not have read the below, but we did!
    A Sub-Normal mind: ” UoJ badly needs some external blood. They need to redo the election.

    A Normal Mind: ” Let’s hope that this is settled in some such way: a properly conducted re-election with Sam Thiagalingam and Mahesh Niranjan (I haven’t met either of them) is something that would shame us, Sinhalese. Please try to ensure that, and none of us will complain if they both lose. Unlikely, of course!”
    A Super Normal STUPID ARROGANCE : We should let CT nominate the UoJ Council, the VC and even the UGC if it comes in the way?

    Is you effort in this thread is an invitation to treat Prof Niranjan for VC at UOJ. So are you confirming that it is completely done with the Boston Prof:Thiyagalingam?

    Please don’t show others excessiveness of your Jaffna PhD rowdy-ism. Please learn to use decent words. Learn to use dictionary.

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      Prof. Niranjan tries to pretend as accommodating, wide thinking person. That is the result of refusing to think, widly. If one exceeds in breadth of their thinking, one may come with Buddha’s talk: “Greed is the reason for our problem, if we had let go what we were holding, we would not have faced the Mullivaaikkaal 2009”.
      But can someone tell South Koreans to lean the riches of the North Korean’s languages so they can have their problem easily sorted out with North Korean? Did Singapore learn Malay & isalm only? Can Thevaram tell Meethotamulla refugees to learn the Sinhala political rulers’ language’s riches so they wouldn’t need the garbage removed away?

      Prof.Niranjan is misunderstanding the circumstances for wide thinking. He misunderstands the philosopher’s general ideas of perspectives. One time a guru taught to his disciples that the God is everywhere, on everything….. Some argued, some questioned that wisdom. One child earnestly accepted it. They left home… long path…. An elephant…. a mahout… Children were walking on the road. Mahout shouted to them to get off the road as elephant was coming. The all did. But the Child who accepted the teaching earlier in the day went down in front of the elephant and prayed “Krishna”. The elephant lifted and threw him. Other children brought him to the guru. After treating Guru asked him did he pray the elephant? He replied “Isn’t it a god Sir?” The guru said, yes, but what made you to think the mahout was not a god? Why did you disobey him?

      I wonder if Abai Quananbaiuli is also might be reading Thevaram from upstairs and think I never told this guy to give diarrhea patient stomach pain medicine, just because it was stomach medicine.
      Thevaram is walking on the other goats heads and preaching.

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    SJ:
    You accept English as a route to modern knowledge in our context, but you reject Abai Q’s suggestion to his nomadic people to educate themselves via the Russian language as having a colonial subject attitude similar to elitists approach to English.

    It seems to me the poet is simply putting the betterment of his people ahead of the medium. From Thevaram’s report, we see the guy seems to have achieved it, and is widely respected for it — the report hints at a successful and confident society, no longer riding horses, kidnapping women and shooting arrows at each other.

    May I please ask what do the elitists you see among us — those to whom you attribute a colonial subject mindset– say or do that you yourself don’t (in accepting and using English as a path to modern knowledge)? Do they go a little overboard by “sipping tea and doing the Morrison dancing”?

    (You have touched on many important topics — schools, tuition and the 50’s-70’s effort at Swabhasha education; I will return to these in a separate piece)

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      Jaymass
      If you reject that there is no Anglophile elite among us, I will not debate the matter further.
      If they are not Morrison Dancers, it may be because the English gave up on it a while ago.

      There has been misguided belief among South Asian community elite that English (at times French) is the path to salvation. (For subject nations of Tsarist Russia, it was Russian.)
      The attitude persists in many ways. The theory that giving up English-medium teaching was the cause of the rot in our education syste is still upheld by quite a few.
      [Total neglect of English was foolish. But that is not the case for imposing Queen’s English on all of us. What went wrong has to do with other social factors. I cannot go into those here at length.]

      I will sum up my thinking:
      No foreign language is the means to salvation. (The Japanese took from Europe but delivered in Japanese.)
      Tamil and Sinhala are among the most scientific languages with great potential to modernize fast. But we are caught between extremes of worshipers of everything Western and arch traditionalists.

      For colonial mindset, look at the way that we look at the world around us, the values we use to judge things as good or bad and right or wrong. The list is pretty long.

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      SJ: It would be very useful to be precise, before moving onto the rest of the points you raised. May I please repeat the question?

      “What do the elitists you see among us — those to whom you attribute a colonial subject mindset – say or do that you yourself don’t?”

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        Do not take it personally.
        I refer to a certain mindset characteristic of a class or sub-class, emerging out of prolonged colonial rule.
        There was once a strong tendency at one time to ape the west which subdued in the face of the nationalist wave. The tendency to look up to the West (in terms of values and expectations) has revived since the return of colonialism as neo-colonialism.

        I mean no offence: I cannot go on with a Q&A session endlessly.
        If we disagree on basics, it will be good to state our respective positions and leave it at that.

        My original point concerned a growing tendency to overemphasize English. My complaint was that Prof. N’s quote reflected it very strongly.
        Other matters came up because you suggested that the problem of education in the UoJ would be better handled with E/S learning. I only sought to say that the problem is a little more complex.

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    SJ:
    I am not taking it personally and you are under no obligation to engage in a Q&A mode. Here and on other threads in this forum I can remember you have saying “I can’t go into it in detail”, “I am not ready to offer a tutorial” and “I have no time” etc. It is my humble view that someone who has no time should just go away, than spend time persuading the world that they have no time! You will see on this page that you started this thread with a strong dismissal of Abai’s quote and comparing it to what you claimed to be a colonial subject mind-set among us (Sri Lankans).

    I am still curious to know what you see as aspects of this mind-set and who you identify as being in procession of it. Phrases like “characteristic of a class”, “sub-class”, “strong tendency” and “at one time” are too vague to understand the issue.

    Read again the quote from Abai that you had problem with:
    “One should learn to read and write Russian. It is the key to spiritual riches and knowledge, the arts and many other treasures. If we wish to avoid the vices of the Russians while adopting their achievements, we should learn their language and study their scholarship and science […]”

    He urges his people to study the language as a means of benefiting from the riches of knowledge, arts and other resources. They do not have access to those riches. This is no different from those of us who got access to such treasures by learning English. [Abai does not use the word “salvation” (that is your word). “it is the key” does not mean the same as “salvation”, it simply emphasises the practicality]

    In the second sentence quoted, Abai is very clear about avoiding the vices of the imperialist (Russians) and adopting their achievements – just the same way many of us (including your good self) learnt modern scientific methodology and communication through English, but didn’t show much interest in Morrison dancing.

    Where then, in Abai’s quote did you see the colonial subject mind-set?

    (I will return to Swabasha education and English in universities later)

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    Jaymass
    Thanks.
    I did not mean offence but my plea was because, in this patch, too many bring in personal factors.

    The terms class & sub-class are not hard to understand if you accept that our society is layered class wise (and caste and gender wise too).
    I cannot go on defining and explaining each term I use here. It may sound like jargon if you do not accept that we comprise a complex hierarchical social system.

    I fear that you are equating incomparable contexts.
    If the statement of Abai was for a community that was backward, there is perhaps a case. (But I may have disagreed with Abai on some points were I his contemporary, but that is subject to my knowing the context. Today, there are highly contrasting views on development, far more than a few decades ago.)

    We have two South Asian communities that had reached their cultural peaks and retained much of their learning despite prolonged slump under colonial rule; and recovered to reassert themselves.

    I will not attribute all of my modest attainments in communication and scientific method to English medium education. My languages skills are rooted in the Tamil I learned up to Grade 8. I still count and do mental arithmetic in Tamil. Scientific method is fundamental to methodology. My scientific method grew out of the basic mathematics I learned at school. My English was mediocre when I joined a good school in Colombo, but that did not hurt my general performance.

    I do not know Prof. N’s purpose in quoting Abai.
    Coming at a time when a section of the elite are pushing hard for teaching in the English medium and view the purpose of education as a means for a career abroad, the quotation seems inappropriate to me.
    Have you wondered why the American missionary Dr Samuel Fisk Green decided to teach medicine in Tamil.

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      >
      > If the statement of Abai was for a community that was backward, there is
      > perhaps a case. (But I may have disagreed with Abai on some points were I his > contemporary, but that is subject to my knowing the context.
      >

      With the qualifier above and the admission of not having full knowledge of the context, do you still think your blanket rejection of Abai’s quote as having a “colonial subject mindset” was correct?

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      If the statement of Abai was for a community that was backward, there is perhaps a case.

      That is a funny notion. Then why is there anything wrong when America sees somebody as stuck in backwardness and goes there and changes their governments? Do you expect America to take the list from you, not to construct on its own? How your rating of “Tamils and Sinhalese were advanced societies” should change the British, American or Russian perception of Tamils and Sinhalese?

      When English people captured Ceylon, did the Ceylon have freedom? Did Ceylon was free from Arabian traders’ over ruling when Portuguese came to Ceylon. Do you suggest Sinhala Tamil Kings’ ruling in the 14th century was the whole civilization or development the world had at that time?

      You are tied up in your supernormal thinking. You are struggling to explain if that is about English, Prof. Niranjan is wrong, but if it’s about Sinhala, Prof. Niranjan is correct. None of others questions can provoke any additional thinking in your perception. You attempt teach that Stalin’s and Lenin’s talks are good if they had talked it in Sinhala only, otherwise, if they are in Russian or English you don’t want to benefit out of them. How much of Japanese you have learned yourself and gained knowledge of their world superior technology?

      UN, UNESCO,UNHRC…..are the solution for the exchanges between the developed and underdeveloped.

      I don’t want to crystalize, but poet may be correct in Philosophical sense. But the advanced world need better mechanism to the practical purpose. Niranjan, a professor, should know that he cannot play a village Wiseman role. He scientifically analyses the specific case with data and provide solution. He should stay out superimposing the Kazakh philosopher Abai thought over Tamils.

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      Professor Niranjan has to change in himself instead of preaching.

      How many of the bosses’ languages Tamils can keep learning? How long do they sift through those chaffs for their solution?

      He should stop walking on the heads of the fallen goats. He should work with the pigeons got trapped to pull off the net.

      Unless Tamils have pushed their case through UNHRC to UN Security Council, the best they make is another Banda-Chelva pact or another one of Sampanthar’s secret solution of the end of the year, 2016. Any Tamil politicians talk will easily float away in the air.

      Professor Niranjan has to change in himself instead of preaching. He has to work with UNHRC, with facts and figures, until it passes Tamils case to UN.

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    SJ: On University.

    Here is what I asked: // But if you look at the state of the institution in the North of Sri Lanka […] wouldn’t you say a greater emphasis on English and Sinhala education would be beneficial? //

    You said in response that schools, tuition classes and the Course Unit system are the problem.

    I am not for a moment suggesting English education as a solution (“salvation”?) to all problems in universities. Mine is a very specific question – “would greater emphasis be beneficial?” Surely, conditioned on all other parameters being the same, greater fluency in English within the University community would give them access to more knowledge, is it not? Even if that benefit is marginal, it would still be non-zero, would it not?

    Now of this Northern university, could you do a small experiment please. Go into twenty lectures at random, sit quietly in the back, observe what is happening and write down what could improve. Ask yourself what is the process by which the lectures may be made a tiny bit better next year? What is the incentive to the lecturer to do a better job next time? Is there any room for improvement or are they, in your honest view, at maximum attainable quality?

    Ask yourself if the quality of English (where the medium of instruction is English) is a factor? Is there room for improvement there? And what steps are being taken to improve the learning experience of the students? Do your lecturers have any incentive to teach better, speak more fluently next time they teach the course than what you observed?

    If nothing is being done to make it better, why not? Are you simply waiting for school education to improve, cramming to stop, tuition classes to disappear, the Course Unit system to be replaced by something else and global warming to reverse?

    It is very easy to blame everything on others and problems elsewhere (and be dismissive: “colonial mind-set elitist”), without facing up to the parameters we actually have control over and the improvements we can achieve, working one step at a time. Your university community deserves better. They should not be asked to wait for the school system to improve (and global warming to reverse).

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      I do not think that I can go on with this Q&A thing.
      You asked a question. I answered to the best of my understanding. You can award me a an F- if you like.
      That will be the second F that I get after in the English paper in a Colombo school way back in 1958.

      I am not a teacher in the university concerned, or a curriculum developer there. Sorry, I cannot do your experiment as I do not live in Jaffna.

      I work in another place where we work on repairing the damage suffered by the education system. It is a team job and I do my bit.

      To draw attention to problems is not to blame others.
      If my views are incorrect, be pleased to ignore them and get on with your plans.

      I wish you luck.

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        Question: “If in the current state of the Northern Uni, someone were to recommend that a higher level of English is beneficial, would you dismiss it is elitist?”

        Answer: “The problem is in schools, in cramming, in tuition classes, in the modular system”

        Grade: F :-)

        I am done.

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          If that is how the answer was read, I have little regret about the grade, dear great master.
          Thanks very much.

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    Jaymass
    I said “But I may have disagreed with Abai on some points were I his contemporary, but that is subject to my knowing the context.”
    If saying ‘there is perhaps a case’ is “blanket rejection” so be it.

    I used the phrase “colonial subject” attitude, for the context was Russian colonial occupation.
    The colonial mindset in our context is the lingering craving for things associated with colonial rule from which one is unable to free his/her thinking.
    (I will not elaborate on this to avert the risk of this discussion going at a tangent.)

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      Jeymass
      I saw the following on a recent page of CT
      (https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/swrd-myth-and-reality/#comments)

      The pre-SWRD B era aped the west – in dress, horse riding/racing, media etc. He ushered in the “Ape Anduwa” era. Suits, tie and hat were discouraged. There was marked improvement in film industry (some world standard), music/stage talent etc. Western dress is back with a vengeance – in the hot weather! AC offices. Norachcholai to run the office AC system. SWRD B wanted rural sector development. But today it Colombo, Colombo and Colombo. The lopsided development is being funded with remittances by the “rural folks” slaving in Mid-East.

      K.Pillai
      April 26, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      (There seem to be some answers to one of your questions.)

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        SJ
        This irrelevant to poet words posted. Poet has not advocated a cultural change, as per Prof.Niranjan’s posting. He apparently meant knowledge exchange, art, science, even the advanced religious studies – He is not touching anything about culture.

        Cinema is not anything other than imported from the invention of an American scientist. It came by learning English. Unless somebody had learned that technology by learning English, they would not have produced the prize winning movies. The poet Abai had not advocated to look at Russian and wear the hat. He never insisted you to wear Dhoti or pants, it is you “Theru koothu Manam” copied to wear pants instead of Dhoti.”

        SWRD sowed Sinhala Mahayana extremism. This wiped the Tamils dominated movie industry in Wattala for in favour of Sinhala domination. In turn,That supports Leader Pirapaharan. That is, Sinhalese deserves to manage their film industry. Tamils has to come back to North East and develop their film industry and should not pretend by doing some casual coolie jobs to Sinhalese they are preserving their culture.

        I don’t think K.Pillai is suitable to be trained to adopt to preach your Stalinism.

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