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Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION

Last updated
29/10/07

Savitri Satyavan - 10 October 2000
Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham, USA - 5 October 2000
Dr.V.N.Viswanathan, Chennai, - Rejoinder -  30 September 2000 together with our comments
Dr.V.N.Viswanathan, Reader in Political Science, Presidency College, Chennai  24 September 2000 together with our comments
V. Thangavelu, Canada 5 June 2000
Bhagawan, US 18 May 2000 together with our response
Anonymous USA, 22 January 2000 together with our response 
 

Forum on...
Tamil Eelam?

From: Savitri Satyavan, UK  10 October 2000

Dr. Viswanathan says that in 1983, he took evening classes for the 'boys' of Tamil Eelam near the foot hills of Kholi Malai, Salem District. He does not mention who the 'boys' were, but I imagine that such evening classes would not have escaped the watchful eyes of the Research Analysis Wing of India. Dr.Viswanathan says:

"To Eelam as an ideology, we as Tamil people certainly extend our support but to Eelam as an aggressive and militant strategy we are within our rights to express our reservations and to offer alternative opinions."

But what does Dr.Viswanathan  mean when he says 'Eelam as an ideology'? He must know that 'Eelam' refers to the whole island that was named Sri Lanka by the Sinhala Buddhist dominated Constituent Assembly in 1971. Ofcourse, Varadaraja Perumal's EPRLF is the 'Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Front'. Is that the Eelam ideology that Dr.Viswanathan supports?

On the other hand, if Dr.Viswanathan really meant to say 'Tamil Eelam as an ideology', what  'ideology' is he talking about? He says that 'to Eelam as an ideology, we as Tamil people certainly extend our support'. Does he (as a Tamil)  support the struggle for Tamil Eelam? Does he (as a Tamil) support the struggle for an independent Tamil state?  Does he agree that it is only two independent peoples who can associate with each other in equality? Does he agree that true inter dependence can only come with independence.

If he does, how does he square the circle when he also says that he has always emphasised the need for a 'federal set up'? Does he mean a 'confederal' setup? Or is it that his  'Eelam ideology'  is one that is content to accept a 'federal set up' where a Sinhala Buddhist dominant centre will rule? Is   his so called 'Eelam ideology' a brew of President Kumaratunga's 'devolution package', the views of Varadaraja Perumal's EPRLF and the views of sections of the Research Analysis Wing of India - directed to perpetuate alien Sinhala Buddhist rule of the Tamil homeland?

From: Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham, US, 5 October 2000

Vanakkam. The questions that Dr. Viswanathan posed as his justification for dissuading Tamils from seeking a separate nationhood, are similar to the propaganda that so called Sinhala and Tamil moderates, including academics of the same vein, in Sri Lanka use in their attempt to change the mind of  Tamil professionals, especially Tamil teachers. It is a part of a concerted effort of the PA government.

tamilnation's response to Dr. Viswanathan, is accurate, thorough, rational, and expressed and argued with evidence and precedent. The tone and colour of tamilnation's response to an emotional subject where death, destruction and other inhuman acts are committed by the enemy with impunity, is worthy of  emulation by its readers. The respect you have showed to Dr. Viswanathan and to the subject, the time and effort you took to respond to a letter that questions the validity of the struggle of the Tamil people, is appreciated by your readers.

Though Dr. Viswanathan tried to frame the questions as if he was a neutral inquirer, seeking genuine answers, it is apparent that his intent was to engage the reader, and to change the reader to his stance on the issue. tamilnation has proved that it is a formidable force, armed with truth, to counter those who glibly repeat derogatory propaganda slogans, and desecrate the motives of those who are making the ultimate sacrifice to regain and safeguard the decency and the rights of our people. I like to thank tamilnation for its response, on behalf of its readers and the Tamil people in general, to questions that challenge the rights of the Tamil people to self determination, nationhood, and equality.


From: Dr.V.N.Viswanathan, Chennai, 30 September 2000

....I believe that players - read cultural nationalists -  are quite often annoyed or become critical when they find alternative opinions expressed. The issue is an extremely sensitive one; one that is close to the hearts and emotions of the people involved. It is for this reason alone that I really hesitated over a very long period of time to express my opinion on this emotionally charged issue in tamilnation.org.

But I seriously argued for recalling the IPKF from Sri Lanka since it was abetting the genocide program of the Sinhalese army - India Quarterly, Vol.23, Dec-Jan 1989. Besides in July 1983 when the mass murder of Tamils took place in Colombo, I took part in government sponsored protest movements, donated money to my capacity, and took evening classes for the 'boys' of Tamil Eelam - I remember it was near the foot hills of Kholi Malai, Salem District.

In many of my letters to the Hindu, the Indian Express and Washington Post, I always emphasized the need for a federal set up, as a solution to the ongoing ethnic strife in Sri Lanka and thus put to an end further human loss. It is estimated that at least 65,000 people died since the escalation of the armed conflict in 1983. This is a great sacrifice unparalleled in recent national self-determination movements. 

Comment: The tremendous sacrifices that have been made by the people of Tamil Eelam, should compel us to confront the question as to why the 'need for a federal set up'  has not been recognised and acted upon by Sri Lanka governments during the past several decades. To continue to repeat the mantra   'federal set up',  'federal set up', as the solution to the conflict,  is to call upon the people of Tamil Eelam to follow in the footsteps of  the mice who, in their wisdom, concluded that the solution to their conflict with the cat, was to bell the cat. The mice were then left  with the problem of who was to bell the cat  - and how? The story is silent as to what eventually happened to the mice. The armed resistance of the Tamil people did not just happen and the views of Ana Pararajasingham merit attention:-

"....While it was the years of discriminatory administrative and legislative measures that drove the Tamils people into staking a political claim for a federal form of government ...  the main impetus for the armed struggle  (was)... the state assisted/orchestrated pogroms during the first twenty-five years of Sinhala rule... The war is the result of the Sri Lankan political establishment's policy of seeking to beat the Tamil people into submission..."

Dr.Viswanathan may also want to recognise the force of reason in the views expressed by  LTTE's  political adviser, Anton Balasingham  in Politics of Duplicity: -

"... (Those) who are genuinely concerned about restoring peace and ethnic harmony to the island, should not ignore the threat posed by Sinhala-Buddhist racism to the peace processes aimed at ethnic reconciliation. This racism, well entrenched and widely institutionalised in the religious and political structures of the Sinhala social formation has been the real impediment for peace and for the negotiated resolution of the Tamil ethnic conflict. The tragic political history of the Tamils, that spans more than half a century, with instances of deceits, double crosses and treacherous betrayals, illustrates the salient truth that Sinhala-Buddhist racism has been the real culprit behind all ill-fated attempts at resolving the Tamil ethnic conflict.

It is not the so called 'Tamil terrorism' that stands in the way of a negotiated political settlement but Sinhala-Buddhist racism that remains the stumbling block for peace. What is characterised as 'Tamil terrorism' is a bogey created by Sinhala-Buddhist racist forces to demean and discredit the armed struggle of the Tamil people and to justify an unjust war against the Tamil nation. Those who have taken up arms as the last resort to defend their people against racist oppression and tyranny are not terrorists. The real terrorists are those who preach the satanic doctrine of pure race and pristine religion and call for war, violence and bloodbath against the Tamil people..."

'...We will seek the views of the Mahanayaka Theras on each and every paragraph, clause and line of the draft Constitution so that they could correct us, where we have gone wrong...'' Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake,  and President Kumaratunga loyalist, 14 August 2000

At any point of time in the future, do you think that the Sri Lankan Tamils will accept the leadership of people from Tamil Nadu in the grand project of Eelam? In the context of mushrooming caste oriented party politics in Tamil Nadu, even the erstwhile Tamil leaders will find it difficult in holding their support base. Political consciousness and development has made everybody to think on their own - thanks to the spread of political education and the communication revolution. As a student of political science and as a participant of Tamil Nadu politics I am sure that the Tamils in India will not accept the leadership from Jaffna.

Comment : Yes, caste orientated party politics will not further Tamil togetherness. Yes, 'political consciousness and development has made everybody to think on their own - thanks to the spread of political education and the communication revolution'. But as the recent Fifth State Conference of the Tamizhar Desiya Iyakkam demonstrates, Tamil togetherness will continue to grow despite the anxiety displayed by sections of the Brahmin establishment and despite the efforts to paint Tamil togetherness as 'chauvinism' and as a 'bogey'.

In the end, the question of leadership is a question not so much about 'leading' but 'serving'. A story is related about Mahatma Gandhi. He was asked whether he sought power. He replied 'No, I seek to serve'  and then added truthfully, ' I recognise that when I serve, power will accrue to me.' Leadership is not an end in itself. As Tamil togetherness grows, and as more and more Tamils, who seek to serve the Tamil people as a whole, emerge,  they will find an answering response from the people to whom they belong.

"...What if we considered ‘leadership’ to be the capacity of a community to create a new future? What if we saw leadership as inverting a new reality and creating new possibilities? From that perspective, leadership has nothing to do with hierarchies or distribution of decision making authority. Instead, if a community is successful at creating its future and influencing its destiny, then it has good leadership. And if it isn’t, it doesn’t."  (Peter M Senge Author of "The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization")

People in Tamil Nadu today, well understand the hollowness of Dravidian ideology. In fact the Dalit movement in Tamil Nadu can be seen as an opposing force to Dravidian bargaining power at the national level. To the surprise of all of us, today, Dravidian ideology has been confined to the Tamil speaking people of Tamil Nadu and its significance was not so high in north-east part of Sri Lanka in the beginning, because of the absence of Brahmin community in the social structure.

Comment : Admittedly, questions concerning the limitations of the 'Dravidian ideology' will need to be examined. Shan Ranjit has raised some of the issues in his article 'The Decaying of the Dravidian Movement'. Yes, the Dalit movement may be seen as an opposing force to 'Dravidian bargaining power at the national level'. But, few will deny that the leaders of the Dravidian movement, from Periyar E.V.Ramaswamy to C.N.Annadurai, M.Karunanithi and M.G.Ramachandran have made important contributions to the growing togetherness of the Tamil people.

"...the term Dravida, like Arya, had no ethnic significance. There was nothing in ancient tradition or literature to show that the terms stood for different races. But there were two distinct cultures, Tamil culture and Vedic culture... racial characteristics of skin and colour were due to climatic and geographic influences.... the Dravidians were those who spoke Dravidian languages... There is a consensus of opinion among anthropologists that the application of the terms 'Aryan' and 'Dravidian' to signify racial categories should no longer muddle... thinking..."The Dravidian Problem - Dr.D.M. Rasanagaiam

"...Among the Tamils, Tamil language is the emblem of Tamil ethnic identity. ...although language constitutes the single most characteristic feature of a separate ethnic identity... ethnicity is frequently related more to the symbol of a separate language than to its actual use by all members of a group. Tamil language functions as the emblem of Tamil identity because of the existence of the various symbols of boundaries in Tamil culture. (Jacob Pandian - Caste, nationalism, and ethnicity : an interpretation of Tamil cultural history and social order )

International market forces will encourage crystallization of ethnic groups on a broad 'ethnic factor' with a large number of members between states in India and across nations.

Comment : International market forces do act across state territorial boundaries. However, the words of Hans Kohn in the 1940s continue to be relevant:

"It is a fact often commented upon that this growth of nationalism and of national sectionalisms happened at the very same time when international relations, trade, and communications were developing as never before; that local languages were raised to the dignity of literary and cultural languages just at the time when it seemed most desirable to efface all differences of language by the spread of world languages. This view overlooks the fact that that very growth of nationalism all over the earth, with its awakening of the masses to participation in political and cultural life, prepared the way for the closer cultural contacts of all the civilisations of mankind, at the same time separating and uniting them." (Hans Kohn: *Idea of Nationalism -  A Study of its Origins and Background, 1944)

I believe that 'Hinduata' is in indirect support of the Eelam cause not because of cultural affinity (Tamil language) but because of the religious (Hindu) connection - note the gradual growing popularity of BJP in Tamil Nadu and how the Dravidian parties alternatively make alliance with the Hindu rightist BJP. This political game plan has certainly neutralized the benefits of the Dravidian movement and in consolidating Tamils of the world under one banner.

Comment : The Tamil people are linked with the peoples of the Indian subcontinent not only through religion, but also through a shared heritage and the shared concerns of the majority world (the so called third world).  We are Tamils. We are also Indians. But we are Indians because we are Tamils. - and if we were not Tamils, we would not be Indians. In the end, the national freedom of any people can only be secured by a voluntary pooling of sovereignties, in a regional and ultimately in a world context.  Sumantra Bose had something to say about this in States, Nations, Sovereignty - Sri Lanka, India and the Tamil Eelam Movement, 1994 -

"...The poetical and philosophical vision that is required today has been eloquently articulated, ironically enough, by radical Tamil nationalists ('chauvinists' and 'separatist terrorists', according to the official wisdom), in l985:

'We know that in the end, national freedom can only be secured by a voluntary pooling of sovereignties, in a regional and ultimately in a world context. And we recognise that our future lies with the peoples of the Indian region, and that the path of a greater and larger union is the (eventual) direction of that future. It is a union that will reflect the compelling and inevitable need for a common market and a common defence and foreign policy, and which will be rooted in the common heritage that we share with our brothers and sisters not only of Tamil Nadu but also of India as a whole. It is a shared heritage that  we freely acknowledge and it is a shared heritage from which we derive strength -and we know that we too, as a people, can....contribute to that strength.' ( The Thimpu Declaration, Satyendra in N.Seevaratnam ed., The Tamil National Question and the Indo Sri Lanka Accord, Konark Publishers, New Delhi, pp142-43) (emphasis added). "

Today the grand plan of Tamil Eelam has been derived from the visions of  intellectuals belonging to mainstream Tamil Eelam politics. Self-determination movements have their  inspiration from Karl Marx, the greatest intellectual of the 19th century.

Comment : The Tamil Eelam struggle has grown from the ground - it was not a 'top-down' phenomenon.   And, here it may be useful to reflect on the words of  Velupillai Pirabaharan as to how he became a freedom fighter : "...Perform your duty without regard to the fruits of action', says the Bhagavad Gita. I grasped this profound truth when I read the Mahabharata. When I read the great didactic works, they impressed on me the need to lead a good, disciplined life and roused in me the desire to be of service to the community.  Above all, Subhash Chandra Bose's life was a beacon to me, lighting up the path I should follow. His disciplined life and his total commitment and dedication to the cause of his country's freedom deeply impressed me and served as my guiding light."

As for Karl Marx, Tom Nairn was right when he said that the theory of Nationalism was Marxism's great historical failure. "Nationalism has proved an uncomfortable anomaly for Marxist theory and precisely for that reason, has been largely elided, rather than confronted. How else to account for the use, for over a century of the concept of the 'national bourgeoisie' without any serious attempt to justify theoretically the relevance of the adjective? Why is this segmentation of the bourgeoisie - a world class in so far as it is defined in terms of the relations of productions - theoretically significant? (*Benedict Anderson -Imagined Communities : Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism )

To Eelam as an ideology, we as Tamil people certainly extend our support but to Eelam as an aggressive and militant strategy we are within our rights to express our reservations and to offer alternative opinions.

Comment  : "...the political and the military are not separate, but form one organic whole... guerrilla warfare is essentially political, and ... for this reason the political cannot be counterposed to the military... ....The people's war is considered (by some) to be a technique, practised in the countryside and subordinated to the political line, which is conceived of as a super-technique, 'purely' theoretical, 'purely' political. Heaven governs the earth, the soul governs the body, the head governs the hand. The Word precedes the Act. The secular substitutes for the Word - talk, palaver, chatter -precede and regulate military activity, from the heavens above... First, one cannot see how a political leadership... can remain aloof from technical problems of war; it is equally inconceivable that there can be political cadres who are not simultaneously military cadres. It is the situation itself, present and future, that requires this: 'the cadres' of the mass armed struggle will be those who participate in it and who, in the field, prove their ability as its leaders..." (Revolution in the Revolution? - Regis Debray, 1967)

Any ideology close to people's emotions almost always loses reason and moves away from the basic premise on which it grew.

Comment : Admittedly, a mindless emotion will sooner, rather than later, lead to the dead end of frustrated endeavour. At the same time, a mind divorced from the heart, by denying that emotion is an integral part of cognition, also loses rationality. The truth is that we need both mind and heart - reason and emotion, together, constitute a whole - a whole which is not simply the sum of the separate parts.

"....While accepting that uncontrolled emotion can be a source of irrational behaviour... reduction in emotionality may constitute an equally important source of irrational behaviour, as the data from prefrontal damage illustrate ...emotion is an integral part of what we call cognition. If there is an impairment in emotion, there is no rationality..." (S. Anandalakshmy in 'Thinking with the Heart - and Pillai Thamizh' - Fifth National Lecture in Child Development, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi, March 1, 1997)

"...Man is of less terrestrial mould than some would have him to be. He has an element of the divine which the politician ignores. The practical politician looks to the position at the moment and imagines that he has taken everything into consideration. He has indeed studied the surface and the immediate surroundings, but he has missed what lies beyond material vision. He has left out of account the divine, the incalculable in man, that element which upsets the calculations of the schemer and disconcerts the wisdom of the diplomat..." (Sri Aurobindo, Political Writings 1907)

Most of the arguments put forward by tamilnation.org are untenable and unconvincing. I am quite amused by their comparisons to my points of argument. Asserting that my arguments are a mere academic exercise, they are not prepared to develop a vision for their own project, where I am more concerned with real political issues. But I must acknowledge the painstaking efforts of my fellow Tamils in drawing resources from all kinds of critical thinking.

Comment: Dr.Viswanathan is, ofcourse, entitled to hold and express the views that he does. Again, to each, his own amusement  - though, it may have been helpful if Dr.Viswanathan  had specified which of the 'arguments' put forward by tamilnation were 'untenable and unconvincing' - and, also his reasons for saying so.  Be that as it may, tamilnation does not take the view that 'academic research' is irrelevant. It is relevant. However, if Dr.Viswanathan is seeking to help in 'developing a vision' for the struggle for Tamil Eelam and is 'concerned with real political issues', he may want to attend to the words of *Blaine Lee in The Power Principle : Influence With Honor:

"...When you get on the platform, the first thing anyone wants to know is why they should listen to you. What have you done? What have you accomplished? What are you accomplishing now? What do you radiate that confirms or negates your words? How much congruence is there between your behaviour and your words? That's what credibility is all about.  It is the example of your life that is the foundation for trust. Trust comes when others perceive the match between your words and your actions.

Have you actually done what you are inviting others to do? Have you been there, in the trenches, where they live and breathe struggle? Are you doing so now, under the same circumstances and in the same situations in which they must act? Have you earned the right to be listened to? Why should they believe you?...  Credibility is not about looking good... It is always the life of the leader that gives credibility to the vision.... 'Walking your talk' is so obvious, it is common sense. But what is commonsense is seldom common practice... In critical situations, when you should speak up to stand for something, the words you don't speak may out weigh all the words you have ever deliberately spoken..."

To repeat yet again, Gramsci's words, 'The error of the intellectual consists in believing that it is possible to know without understanding and especially without feeling and passion ...without this emotional bond between intellectuals and the people-nation ...the relations between intellectuals and the people-nation are reduced to contacts of a purely bureacratic, formal kind; the intellectuals become a caste or a priesthood...' 

One  of those intellectuals who retained the emotional bond with his people was LTTE leader Sathasivam Krishnakumar, who paid with his life so that the struggle may live. He belonged not to the pseudo intelligentsia which reads books that other people write, to find ideas which they can then expound or worse still, pass off as their own. He belonged not to the pseudo intelligentsia which writes and thinks in English and has little understanding of that which is felt and thought by the Tamil people.  Sathasivam Krishnakumar, abstracted and conceptualised his own life experience, read widely, sought to integrate that which he read with his life and then set about influencing a people to action. To him, theory was a very practical thing - and all of us may have something to learn from his life.


From: Dr.V.N.Viswanathan, Reader in Political Science, Presidency College, Chennai-600 005, 24 September 2000

Dear Readers,

History has taught us that there are no prescriptive means of achieving nationhood or securing the success of ethnicity based movement for national self determination. Anyone who is familiar with Sri Lankan history would definitely appreciate the long Tamil struggle against the Sinhalese government since 1948. The role of moderates and radicals towards Tamil Eelam is well known.

Comment : "The  'moderation' of the so called 'moderate Tamil leaders'  lay in betraying that which they had solemnly promised the people of Tamil Eelam to do - and that, too, after having been given a mandate to deliver on their promises ..." (Mr.Martin Collacott is Appalled .. 23 June 2000.)

However project Eelam has some inherited deficiencies such as the place and the political future of Indian Tamil in Sri Lanka and the Muslims in north-east area of an independent Eelam. I invite comments in building up arguments in favor of Eelam formation and non-formation.

The idea of a separate Tamil state came into being with the passage of the Vaddukodai Resolution in 1976 by the Tamil United Liberation Front. Eelam is the ancient Tamil name for Ceylon; it was adopted to liberate Tamils from the oppressive Sinhalese rule based on a holy trinity - Land (Sri Lanka), Race (Sinhalese) and Faith (Buddhism).

It was believed that an independent Tamil state would fulfil the aspirations of Sri Lankan Tamils.

Comment: The struggle for an independent Tamil state addresses not only the aspirations of the Tamils of Eelam. It  has also found an answering  resonance in the hearts of more than 70 million Tamil people living in many lands and across distant seas - and that response is growing, year by year.

Thamilan Illatha Nadu Illai...

"...I do not doubt that there are many young people among the Jewish community in the United States who would do exactly what our young people are doing in Palestine. We are not a better breed; we are not the best Jews of the Jewish people. It so happened that we are there and you are here. I am certain that if you were in Palestine and we were in the United States, you would be doing what we are doing there, and you would ask us here to do what you will have to do." (Golda Meir to the Council of Jewish Federations in Chicago, 1948)

Impatient Tamil youth have resorted to violent means to achieve Eelam since the late 1970s.

Comment : It was not  'impatience' but the felt need to survive as a people that led to the lawful armed resistance of the people of Tamil Eelam. Dr.Viswanathan may want to reflect on the record set out in Indictment against Sri Lanka, and also on the words of  Paul Sieghart, International Commission of Jurists in March 1984

  "Communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit."

and ask himself the question, which the Czech President Vaclaw Havel asked of himself:

"...Throughout my life I have held in high regard all those who joined internal resistance movements during the Second World War and defied Nazi power. I have always asked myself: were I confronted with the same situation, would I be able to do what they did - to risk my life every day for the values I believe in. To me, resistance fighters have always personified the highest standards of moral strength, courage, and fidelity to oneself, standards that have offered to me a permanent challenge...."

The conflict between the Tamil militants and Sri Lankan Army has been continuing since then.

Comment : The conflict is an an armed conflict.  But it is also more. The documented record proves that it is also a genocidal war waged by Sri Lanka against the people of Tamil Eelam - and Jean Paul Sartre's Statement 'On Genocide' at the Second Session of the Bertrand Russel International War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam, held in Denmark in November 1967, helps us understand  the reasons for the actions of the alien Sinhala ruler:

"Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the harassment which demoralizes them .... This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children..."

What will be the future of an independent Tamil state? Will Tamil Eelam be able to survive in the long run? What will be the problems faced by it?

Firstly, the territorial contiguity of Eelam will pose severe problems. It constitutes as demanded by the Tigers, the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, which is roughly 40 percent of its land area and 60 per cent of the sea coast. The Muslims in the Amparai district have ruled out joining a separate Tamil state.

Comment: The Muslims in the East are Tamil speaking. However, admittedly, the historical memories of a people and their heritage are  important determining factors in the creation of their group   identity. Tamil political parties in the 1950s and later failed to pay due regard to this separate Muslim identity. It was one thing to count Muslims as 'Tamil speaking' for action against the Sinhala Only law - it was another thing to insist that Muslims were Tamils. It was this different group/ethnic identity that was exploited by the Sinhala government during the 1980s and later in the East. It was Sri Lanka's deliberate policy (assisted by Mossad) to use Muslim Home Guards. The notorious Special Task Force worked hand in hand with these Home Guards. Again, the very fact that the Sri Lankan armed forces did not attack Muslim villages in the East, but only Tamil villages sowed further seeds of dissension. The Sinhala army used this tactic to build up support amongst Muslims. But, in the longer term, the Tamil speaking Muslims in the East, may well find a closer affinity with their Tamil bretheren than with Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism.

Eelam has large Sinhalese majority areas.

Comment: Here, it may be helpful  to secure an understanding as to how this has come about. The words of Robert Kilroy-Silk, M.P. and Roger Sims, M.P United Kingdom Parliamentary Human Rights Group Report, February 1985 are particularly relevant:

"Witnesses also confirmed allegations made to us that whole villages have been emptied and neighbourhoods have been driven by the army from their homes and occupations and turned into refugees dependent on the government for dry rations... The human rights transgressed in such a course of action do not need to be detailed here... More important is that rightly or wrongly it tends to lend credibility to the view so frequently put to us that it is the Government's objective either to drive the Tamils out of the north and east in sufficient numbers so as to reduce their majority in the north and in the east, a process that would be aided by the Government's announced policy of settling armed Sinhalese people in former Tamil areas... or to drive the Tamils out altogether. We cannot make a judgement on this issue. We can say, without doubt, that the Government is driving Tamils from their homes and does intend to settle Sinhalese people in these areas. This, at least, lends support to the more extreme version believed by most Tamils."

It is also doubtful whether over 40 per cent of the Sri Lankan Tamils, settled in the south will migrate to the Jaffna peninsula. Even if they do, they will have to start life afresh, for which opportunities are very limited.

Comment: At the time of India's independence more than 40% of  Muslims lived outside Pakistan, but this did not prevent the demand for Pakistan gaining an irresistable momentum. Again, more Jews live outside Israel than within its boundaries. A national liberation struggle is no afternoon tea party. It is the pain and suffering of a people that cements their togetherness. Distress binds them together and reinforces their determination to resist alien rule. It is participation and involvement in that resistance, and in shared goals, that has forged unity.

".. to have suffered, worked, hoped together; that is worth more than common taxes and frontiers conforming to ideas of strategy... I have said 'having suffered together'; indeed, common suffering is greater than happiness. In fact, national sorrows are more significant than triumphs because they impose obligations and demand a common effort. .. A nation is a grand solidarity constituted by the sentiment of sacrifices which one has made and those that one is disposed to make again. " (Ernest Renan: Que'est-ce qu'une Nation? Paris 1882)

Secondly, there is fear that Eelam will be ruled by the LTTE in a fascist and authoritarian manner. There are also possibilities of a civil war breaking out over power sharing, considering the bitter rivalries between various Tamil groups.

Comment : "...when the Tamil Eelam struggle triumphs, I would like to believe that a people purified by pain and suffering will find, in freedom, a new strength and energy to build anew. There are thousands of young Tamils who have proven their integrity and their capacity to serve - and who will be able to give leadership to the people to whom they belong, so long as they continue to remain mindful that means and ends are always inseparable. That is not to say that political differences will not exist within the framework of an independent Tamil state. But such differences will take as given, the existence of an independent Tamil Eelam, and will not be directed to its destruction....  " Nadesan Satyendra in When Pirabaharan Triumphs, 22 October 1998

Jaffna Tamils and Batticaloa Tamils differ in social organisation, economic activity and cultural practices. There are Hindus and Christians. There are serious caste cleavages. Though there have never been any clashes, relations between the upper caste Vellalas and lower caste Karaiyars and Mukkuvars have never been cordial.

Comment: The differences that exist among the people of Tamil Eelam pales in comparison with the differences in caste, religion and language that existed within India, but such differences did not prevent either  Mahatma Gandhi or Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from committing his life to India's struggle for freedom from alien British rule, in the same way as the people of Tamil Eelam are today committed to securing freedom from alien Sinhala Buddhist rule..

"A nation is an imagined political community... because regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep horizontal comradeship. Ultimately, it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die...." (*Benedict Anderson -Imagined Communities : Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism )

Thirdly, the economic viability of the future Eelam is not encouraging. The major area comprising the Tamil homeland falls under the arid zone. It was for this reason that many Tamils moved south in the past.

Comment : The Tamils moved South because under British rule and under  Sinhala Buddhist rule, economic development of Tamil Eelam was neglected.

"To say that a state cannot pursue its aims because there is no money, is like saying that an engineer cannot build roads, because there are no kilometres."  Ezra Pound quoted by Prof. Giacinto Auriti

One can argue that the future Tamil State could survive on funds that Tigers get from expatriates and through narcotic smuggling. Can Tamil Eelam become another apex of the 'Golden Triangle'?

Comment : Many visitors  will find this remark from an academic, (a Reader in Political Science, Presidency College, Chennai ) a revealing one. The fact is that uptodate, not even the avowed enemies of the struggle for Tamil Eelam have been able to produce any evidence to show that the liberation struggle has engaged in narcotic smuggling. In the absence of such evidence, Dr.Viswanathan should not be surprised if many Tamils  conclude that his remarks, in this regard, are simply a smear, directed to support an anti Tamil Eelam agenda, and do not reflect the disinterested pursuit of  an academic engaged in furthering understanding and knowledge.

Fourthly, what will be the nature of relations between Tamil Eelam and partitioned Sri Lanka? It is possible that the two entities will slip back over the ages, when the Tamil and the Sinhalese kingdoms were at war seeking supremacy over each other. Before the integration of the island by the British into a single administrative unit in 1833, no king was content to rule only a part of the island, as it was considered a single contiguous territory by both ethnic groups. In addition to this historical legacy, the deep-rooted Indo-phobia will in come to play. An independent Tamil state will be considered a satellite of India.

Comment:"....The question is whether the two peoples sitting together as equals cannot agree upon political structures which protects each of their interests. If Germany and France were able to put in place such 'associate' structures despite the suspicions and confrontations of two world wars, it should not be beyond the capacity of Tamil Eelam and  Sri Lanka to work out structures, within which each independent state may remain free and prosper, but at the same time pool sovereignty in certain agreed areas. Sovereignty is not virginity..." Sri Lanka - Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes

Fifthly, international recognition is important for a modern state to survive in an increasingly interdependent world. The international community does not like any further proliferation of new states. The US was categorical when it asserted that Tamil Eelam would be a dead planet  without any acknowledgement from the world community. Can a new state afford to take such a risk?

Comment :"... During the 19th century too, the states of the then 'international community'  regarded themselves as  'the arbiters of who becomes states and who doesn't become states'. It was against this dictat of the then 'international community' (read 'then colonial rulers') that the freedom struggles of the colonial peoples gathered momentum in the 20th century. Then, as now, existing states found common cause in resisting the struggles of peoples to free themselves from alien rule. India's struggle for freedom did not have the acceptance of the international community. Neither did Indonesia's struggle for freedom. But eventually, the 'international community' weakened by two world wars, found that they were no longer able to bear the cost of imposing their dictat on struggles for freedom..." ( Mr.Collacott is appalled..)

Alternative thinking is very much essential in the globalised world today. It is only on this premise that I want to collect the opinions of others who are interested in the same line of thinking. Thanks.

Comment : Yes, alternative thinking is very essential.  However, the attempt to secure stability by maintaining the status quo is only a beguiling temptation. The reasoning is not dissimilar to that which was urged a hundred years ago against granting universal franchise. It was said that to empower every citizen with a vote was to threaten the stability of existing state structures and the ruling establishment. But the truth was that it was the refusal to grant universal franchise which threatened stability.

Self determination is not a de stabilising concept and it is the refusal to recognise the right of a people to free themselves from alien rule that  promotes instability. Self determination and democracy go hand in hand. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the principle of self determination secures that no one people may rule another - and herein lies its enduring appeal.

And, in the end, Dr.Viswanathan may want to remind himself that academic research is not an end in itself. The oft quoted words of Gramsci bear repetition, yet again:

'The error of the intellectual consists in believing that it is possible to know without understanding and especially without feeling and passion... that the intellectual can be an intellectual if he is distinct and detached from the people-nation, without feeling the elemental passions of the people, understanding them and thus explaining them in a particular historical situation, connecting them dialectically to the laws of history, to a superior conception of the world... History and politics cannot be made without passion, without this emotional bond between intellectuals and the people-nation. In the absence of such a bond the relations between intellectuals and the people-nation are reduced to contacts of a purely bureacratic, formal kind; the intellectuals become a caste or a priesthood...' 


From: V. Thangavelu Canada 5 June 2000

I find Bhagawan’s response to my piece very interesting. My first impulse was to ignore it ... but then I realise dissent is an integral part of freedom of thought!

The national liberation struggle, both non-violent and violent of the Tamil people, is now five decades old. Thus far we have paid a very high price for our freedom - thousands of lost lives and billions worth of property destroyed. There are more than 18,000 Tamil war widows in the Northeast according to government sources.

I find Bhagawan has only a superficial knowledge about Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam history and politics. This is revealed by his very first opening sentence when he says "Tamils in Sri Lanka are faced with no choice and are caught in between a ‘no win’ war" which sounds extremely patronising. In the first place the armed struggle for national liberation is a struggle waged by the entire Tamil Nation, barring a few Tamil Quislings.

The LTTE is the vanguard force and it is supported by the Tamil people. In other words this is a peoples’ liberation war and no such war can be fought without shedding blood and sacrificing lives, especially when you are confronted with a ruthless enemy bent on genocide. So to lament that "It is my worry for the cause of the war, which is very obvious. It is the effect of the war I am concerned" is like saying one wishes to make an omelette without breaking the egg.

Bhagawan says "I am beginning to wonder at the capacity of the LTTE supporters in Diaspora to be diplomatic. Definitely these supporters are not Tigers, if so, what are they doing here?" The short answer is ... the Tamil Diaspora are not Tigers, they are only supporters. The national liberation struggle have to be fought at many fronts, apart from the main battlefront, there are other fronts. Since the Tamil Diaspora cannot make it to the battle front, they are lending support from other fronts. Their role is exactly like the role American Jews played in the creation of state of Israel.

Bhagawan wants to know whether I am a Tamil Nadu Tamil or not. Why he is anxious to practice apartheid when we are struggling to bring a "growing togetherness of more than seventy million Tamil people living in many lands and across distant seas", I simply don’t understand.

Madras Rally 1983In the past Chief Minister Karunanidhi himself has lent crucial support and played an active part in the struggle for Tamil Eelam. As far back as in 1986, he organised a successful conference under the auspices TESO at Madurai. The present Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, late N.T. Rama Rao then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, George Fernandez, the present Defence Minister of India were some of the prominent politicians who attended that conference. Later in 1989 Karunanidhi resigned his MLA post as a protest against MGR’s government indifference towards the plight of the Eelam Tamils.

So his present ambivalent stand is incompatible with his earlier position...  As tamilnation responded "many Tamils, whether from Eelam or elsewhere, may have wished that at this critical juncture in the struggle for Tamil Eelam, Karunanidhi, had fearlessly articulated the justice of the cause of an independent state for the Tamil people - and if that was not possible, TO HAVE REMAINED SILENT "(emphasis mine). I repeat that if he cannot lend his support at this point of history for any reason imagined or perceived, he should at least hold his peace. I would have been very severe on him, but I am exercising restraint out of respect I still have for him as one time follower who looked upon him as demi-god.

My concern is he should not go down in history... like a modern day Nero who fiddled while Tamil Eelam was burning. If he calls himself the leader of the Tamil Nation (Thamizh Enath Thalaivar) he should live upto it...   my criticism ... is well intentioned. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has again dramatically shifted his stand on Tamil Eelam. This time it is positive and I hope he will stick to it. In the meantime Bhagawan must take the time to read the wealth of material available in the tamilnation web site to grasp the dialectics of the Tamil Eelam liberation movement. That will help him to direct his criticism elsewhere.


From: Bhagawan, US 18 May 2000

Response to Thangavelu:  Tamils in Sri Lanka are faced with no choice and are caught in between a ‘no  win’ war. It is not my worry for the cause of the war, which is very obvious. It is the effect of the war I am concerned. A well-organised fighting force such as the LTTE has so far proved to be a formidable entity inside Sri Lanka. Their formidable tactics carry with it the element of surprise and the necessary knowledge to protect them, barring any surprise presented to them by the Sri Lanka forces. But the civilians are most vulnerable in the event of a confrontation or competition for supremacy. 

I am beginning to wonder at the capacity of the LTTE supporters in the Diaspora to be diplomatic. Definitely these supporters are not Tigers, because if that was so, what are they doing here? I follow events in Sri Lanka, particularly writings of the exiles. I found distinct differences between "Thangavelu’s" writing and that of   "Shanmugalingam’s" .... Thangavelu in his ‘Karunanidhi villain or saviour’, a reply to Ramalingam Shanmugalingam  agrees on matters positive and harmless. However Thangavelu’s split reference to Karunanidhi as a likeable Tamil scholar and devilish politician is uncalled for. I wonder if Thangavelu is a Tamil Nadu Tamil. If so, he has every right to downgrade or elevate his leaders, but if he is a Eelavar, it is not in good taste and definitely not diplomatic to anger a recognised leader, who is part of the current BJP Coalition Government in India. The BJP Coalition is a Hindu  dominated party and Hinduism, rightly or wrongly is Brahmin controlled. So what is Thangavelu trying to do?  I hope Tamils ... will learn quickly (to refrain from such) propaganda and try to reduce Tamil enemies, if they cannot win friends.

Response by tamilnation: It is right that not much is gained by a slanging match - and intemperate language persuades nobody. The stand taken by M.Karunanithi may have to be understood in the context of the importance that he attached to the DMK's 'parliamentary' political role. Karunanidhi and the DMK are not part of a guerrilla movement and it would be wrong to require them to act outside the laws of India. They are ill prepared to do that.   Having said that, many Tamils, whether from Eelam or elsewhere, may have wished that at this critical juncture in the struggle for Tamil Eelam, Karunanithi, had fearlessly articulated the justice of the cause of an independent state for the Tamil people - and if that was not possible, to have remained silent. The words of Tamil Eelam leader, Velupillai Pirabaharan, to the people of Tamil Nadu in December 1995, may help to focus our minds and our hearts.

It is true that the question of Brahminism has bedevilled the growth of Tamil national consciousness for several decades. In the 1920s, it was Periyar E.V.Ramasamy who extended his attack on casteism and Brahminism to an attack on Hinduism - and indeed to all religions as well. E.V.R threw out the Hindu child with the Brahmin bath water. One consequence of EVR’s atheism was that spirituality in Tamil Nadu came to be exploited as the special preserve of those who were opposed to the growth of Tamil nationalism. Today, there may be a need to learn from E.V.R. - and not simply repeat that which he said or did. Hinduism and Brahminism are not the same.


From: Anonymous USA, 22 January 2000

I applaud the contribution made by the tamilnation website in disseminating factual information regarding the plight of Tamil (NOT Tamilians nor Demalas!!!) people of Ceylon. These heroic people have paid dearly like no other in the history of mankind. The battle that is being fought is a fight unto death. It is a fight for the survival of the Tamils in Ceylon. It is fight for the preservation of the Tamil culture in Ceylon. It is a fight for the heart and soul of those brave people who lost their lives and those Tamils bravely withstanding the genocidal war waged by Sinhala chauvinism. It is a fight for the very survival of our heritage in the seat of Tamil culture in Ceylon -Jaffna.

Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that we have the unconditional support of the Indians, especially the Indians of Tamil Nadu. In many a conversation I have had with Indians of Tamil Nadu, I sense no empathy, not even a fleeting concern for their neighbours in Northern Ceylon. On more than one occasion, I had been asked "Has Pirabaharan been captured and executed" by these Indians of Tamil Nadu! My point is that the Tamils of Ceylon are in this alone and we need to understand this.

The Sinhalese PA Government, controlled and manipulated by the perniciously racist Kandyan Sinhalese (viz: the Bandaranayake clan) is engaged in a systematic and well orchestrated effort to decimate the Tamil intellectuals and Tamil political leadership while its military is conducting the holocaust of the Tamil populace in North and North-East Ceylon. I implore the Tamil leadership to tighten up its security. A leaderless organisation is an aimless organisation. Let's pray to Marudathipillayar that we do have the depth of leadership, the tactical military shrewdness of Pirabaharan and his associates and the will to fight until an Independent Tamil Eelam is established in Ceylon.

Response by tamilnation:

Whilst it is true that the struggle for Tamil Eelam may not, today, have the unconditional support of the people of Tamil Nadu, there may be a need to recognise the contributions   made by Tamil Nadu leaders such as M.G.Ramachandran,   V.Gopalasamy, P.Nedumaran, S.Ramadoss - and even M.Karunanithi. We may need to recognise that the limited nature of the support extended by them, may have something to do with their chosen role in 'parliamentary politics'. They were (and are) not members of a 'guerrilla movement'. At the sametime, we may also need to recognise the deep underlying roots that tie the Tamil people together. The  tamilnation believes that this togetherness of the Tamil people is a growing togetherness. It will grow year by year - as, indeed, it has grown, year by year, during the past several decades, sometimes slowly and at other times more rapidly. And this particular river is not about to flow backwards. The words of Tamil Eelam leader, Velupillai Pirabaharan, to the people of Tamil Nadu in December 1995, may help to focus our minds and our hearts:

"On behalf of our people, I wish to express my affection and gratitude to the people and leaders of Tamil Nadu for voicing passionately their support for the Tamils of Eelam who are struggling for their liberation against the genocidal oppression of the Sinhala regime. The waves of sympathy that sweeps across Tamil Nadu whenever  Eelam Tamils are repressed has always been a deterrent to our ruthless enemy and a great source of hope and relief to our aggrieved people. It also impresses upon the world that the Eelam Tamils are not alone and not without support...

We are united and determined by the passion for freedom. We are confidant that the setbacks of today will turnLTTE Logoout to be the victories of tomorrow. We are firmly convinced that our land which bleeds today will become a free land one day. Though our enemy has been adopting devious methods to alienate us from the outside world, from the world Tamil community and from Tamil Nadu where our deep roots are embedded, the support and sympathy generating from Tamil Nadu have given us moral inspiration and determination..."

 

 

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