The Tamil “problem”: How can Sri Lanka solve a problem that does not exist?
Ask the majority of so-called Tamil leaders & they will claim Tamils have problems. They will quote problems that is not exclusive to them & examples that do not even exist. Ask them to name present problems exclusive to Tamils, they will get stuck, so everyone asking the problem are careful not to put them on the spot, while they make sure no one dares ask them what they cannot answer. Put the same question to Tamil Nadu, LTTE Diaspora, the foreigners supporting LTTE Diaspora including foreign MPs or even India, they too would wriggle out with some irrelevant koheda yanne, malle pol answer. Such is the situation, Sri Lanka is faced & no wonder we are running around the mulberry bush trying to find solutions to problems that do not exist or solutions to problems that are not exclusive to Tamils.
Claim of Homeland
What Tamil politicians initially & terrorists thereafter are claiming is a piece of land that was demarcated by colonial Britain in 1833, but of a period of rule that is centuries old & of areas that had been under rule of others before them & thereafter. If someone is claiming as homeland a period during X century, if that area had been ruled for centuries of years thereafter by others & even before that by others – how valid is this claim, when for centuries different communities had been living in this area & continue to do so, while following South Indian invasions and European invasions, people had been imported & settled in these areas too.
This is like a used doll given to a child & then held by other children over the years.
Can the child claim that used doll as only hers!
Given that we accept the out of Africa theory, with man drifting to different corners where depending on the location, environment their traits, habits, physique changed & they began evolving themselves into different ethnic groups based on the language they spoke etc, the question arises where did Tamils evolve originally – is it in Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka. With 72m Tamils already living in Tamil Nadu it is without a doubt that Tamils evolved in Tamil Nadu as evidence from colonial records show that all 3 colonial invaders transported large numbers of Tamils from South India to Sri Lanka to work as coolies/indentured labor.
Did the ethnic group known as Tamils evolve/emerge & spread from Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka?
Discriminations & Aspirations
Discriminations has a history & began with colonial rule where divide & policy meant segregating people as blacks/browns/whites, separating people according to ethnicities, religion & dividing people as minorities & majority. The psyche of division was embedded into minds of people by colonials. The most horrendous discriminations, human rights violations, crimes against humanity, war crimes & genocide were committed by colonials & modern day crimes cannot match what colonials did over 500 years. Ironically, these perpetrators present themselves as beacons of virtue & upholders of human rights without atoning for their crimes upon millions of people across all nations around the globe.
Colonials gave minorities education & position depriving same for majority. They found it easier to rule controlling smaller groups. This was discrimination but it was acceptable to the minorities & at post-independence, minorities deemed it their right to rule over the majority. To continue the divide & benefit from the division, colonials who had given privileges to minorities turned the tables to hand power to the majority, so that they could pretend to be safeguarding the minorities & continue to interfere in nations using minorities to back them. Did the minorities want to take over from colonials to rule over the majority? Was this not discriminating the majority?
There is frequent reference to Tamil aspiration. Is a govt bound to only deliver to the aspirations of one community disregarding aspirations of other communities? That too only the aspirations of one group within one community. The supposed aspiration for a Tamil Eelam is to satisfy just a handful of Tamils while the rest are happy to live with other communities. How many Tamils are going to live in supposed Tamil Eelam, how many Tamils are living outside this Tamil Eelam & how many who don’t even live in Sri Lanka are asking for Tamil Eelam? By now you should be able to realize that this whole issue has nothing to do with discrimination or aspirations.
Language issue / Social Disabilities Act / Standardization /Riots
Was Tamil an official language before 1505 or after 1505 to claim grievance? Why did Tamils not object when English was used as official language & not Tamil? Is their animosity only with the Sinhalese language?
During colonial rule – best of education & automatically best of jobs went to minorities & the Sinhalese who converted to Christianity & studied in English. This group constituted the elite & they were very happy to enjoy privileges knowing the suffering of the rest of the masses. Only this elite gained admission to universities, obtained scholarships & enjoyed the best of jobs.
2 incidents shook those enjoying unfair privileges
- The 1957 Prevention of Social Disabilities Act which allowed low caste Tamils to gain school education & enter kovils that was denied to them. This resulted in uproar by high caste Tamils against their own. So much for wanting to have a separate state for them own!
- Standardization in University Admissions – this allowed non-elite amongst Tamils & Sinhalese to enter universities & gain higher education. This narrative is also being unfairly promoted by many who belonged to the elite class & did not like nonelites to gain university admissions as their quotas were taken by non-elite Tamils & Sinhalese.
The same incidents of riots is being repeated as an argument to claim Eelam. These are all in the past and every incident has its own story & there is no smoke without a fire. However, what needs to be said is that inspite of scores of killings by LTTE, no riots took place against Tamils as people knew that while all LTTE were Tamils – all Tamils were not LTTE. In fact, there have been more caste related riots amongst Tamils than the handful of incidents repeatedly quoted. There has been no riots for over 40 years.
With the economic crisis aggravated after the covid-19, all communities in Sri Lanka are suffering some form of hardship. Just because Sinhalese are the majority, they do not enjoy any special privileges at all. In fact, they are the most marginalized community when looking at the ownership of wholesale/retail & other segment business units/industries across Sri Lanka. Those in the majority & in important roles are made to flag “reconciliation” & together” mottos while the minorities are claiming separate lands, separate privileges, separate this that & the other. No one is taking these demands & looking at the merit of the demands & the validity of the demands. All are using the demands for political gain & personal agendas.
The bottom line is – how can Sri Lanka solve or provide solutions to a problem that does not exist & why should Sri Lanka provide political solutions advantageous only to politicians & not the people. Solutions must be to problems that exist in the present & solutions must be advantageous to the people not to politicians.
Shenali D Waduge