Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On a downward spiral

It is extremely difficult for a sensitive Tamil to be “objective” and “dispassionate” about recent happenings in Sri Lanka. At the end of the Fourth Eelam War, when the war against the Tigers degenerated into a war against Tamil civilians, many of us were demanding that the government of Tamil Nadu should impress upon the government of India to immediately mobilise international opinion and work out a mechanism, acceptable to both Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), to rescue Tamil civilians from the war zones and escort them to “safe havens” manned by UN organisations. During this worst period in Tamil history, India did not come to the rescue of the Tamils trapped and subjected to savage bombing by the Sri Lankan Air Force. On the question of the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced People, herded like cattle in the Manik Farm, without proper food, medicine and water and denied the basic right of freedom of movement in their own country, our plea for speedy rehabilitation has fallen on deaf ears. Tamils in Tamil Nadu are helpless and we feel let down that the self-proclaimed champions of overseas Tamils have developed feet of clay.

The degeneration of Sri Lanka from one of the torchbearers of social and human development into one of the most notorious killing fields of the world is a direct offshoot of the failure of nation building. The Mahatma once said the greatness of a nation depends upon how well it treats its minorities. The attempt to build the nation on the basis of the language and religion of the majority Sinhalese community, excluding all just claims of the minority groups, led to gradual parting of ways. The violence of the militants was met by the savage counter-violence of the state. Fanned by intolerance and self-righteousness, political assassinations became common.

When the ethnic conflict started in 1983, many of us justified the violence of the Tigers as a natural response of a victim against an oppressor. But gradually the civilian population became victims of savage acts of terrorism; the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 created a big divide between Velupillai Prabhakaran and what should have been his support base in India. Other dastardly assassinations followed – Amirtalingam, Neelan Truchelvam, Lakshman Kadiragamar, Ketheeswaran – which created a sense of revulsion among one-time supporters of the Tigers.

If one takes an overview of Sri Lankan history, the victims of assassination were not merely Tamils, but also Sinhalese leaders. And among the heads of government who were assassinated in Sri Lanka, two are extremely important – Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike and President Premadasa – because both represent two distinct turning points in modern Sri Lankan history.

Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike was the first Sinhala leader to transform elite politics into mass politics. This Oxford-educated scholar gave up his western dress and Christian religion and championed the cause of the vernacular elite, traditional Buddhism, Sinhala language and literature.

For Complete IIPM Article, Click on IIPM Article

Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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