Constitutional Reform, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Reconciliation

Sri Lankan Tamil Destiny is Inextricably Grounded Within Sri Lanka: A Response to D.B.S Jeyaraj

Picture courtesy anjanaOn

 

This is a belated response to D.B.S. Jeyaraj’s article titled Tamil Destiny is inextricably intertwined with that of the Sinhalese,” which I noticed only a few days ago. I not only endorse every point he makes but also go further and include the other communities comprising Sri Lanka, especially the Muslims (Moors and Malays) and the Indian Tamils (as they are incorrectly designated in the national census. I also point out that the Tamil leadership had firmly and consistently upheld this position till at least the mid 1970s. Those interested in exploring the historical and ideological background could refer to a wealth of literature on the subject including my monograph titled “Tamil Nationalism” (Marga Monograph Series, 2001). Perhaps I should start with a reference in that monograph to the Jaffna Youth Congress (JYC), which was the dominant voice in the North during the 1920s and 30s.

The Jaffna Youth Congress

Jaffna, widely identified as a centre of Sri Lankan Tamil consciousness all through the twentieth century, also produced the earliest and most militant all-island oriented nationalist movement. The JYC, which peaked in the early thirties, campaigned against the caste system, opposed federalism (for unstated reasons – perhaps this option was not seriously explored), demanded quick independence for a united Sri Lanka, and rejected the Donoughmore reforms as too litt1e too late (Kadirgamar,1980). Their allies across the Palk Straight were the Indian National Congress led by Gandhi and Nehru and not the Dravidian movement of Tamil Nadu; their closest partners within Sri Lanka were the radical nationalist leaders of the South including Kannangara, Kularatne and Mettananda and the Marxist leaders rather than the anglicised ‘moderate’ leaders of the Ceylon National Congress and the United National Party (UNP). The JYC was totally alienated both from Dravidian sectarianism in India and from local Tamil sectarianism sponsored by those who, in the mid-thirties, formed the Tamil Congress.

The ideology of the JYC is reflected in several documents including the following extract from a 1945 publication titled the “Mother Tongue in Education” of one of its leading activists:

Ceylon has a recorded history reaching back to at least the famous sixth century-before Christ. But the two main streams of tradition that have irrigated her historical development go further back and derive their source from India, and are in fact drawn from the same great cultural reservoir from which the Eastern half of the world yet draws its inspiration. Of these two streams of tradition the one owes its birth to Siddharta Gautama Buddha, India’s great spiritual genius and one of the world’s greatest sons. The other tradition is older still and represents Hindu Culture as developed in the schools of Southern India. Each of these traditions developed a distinctive individuality in Ceylon; and in fact the Buddhist tradition attained to such perfection here, both in its philosophy and its practice, that when Buddhism disappeared as a separate faith from the land of its birth, Ceylon came to be regarded by all Buddhist lands as the spiritual home of the religion of the Middle Way .

.. . Sinhalese literature entered upon its golden age in the fifteenth century in the spacious times of King Parakrama Bahu VI. Princes, priests, and peasants contributed towards this renaissance but pride of place belongs to the author of the immortal Kavyasekharaya, Sri Rahula of Totagamuwa ..

The Hindu tradition was no doubt connected both with early Buddhism and the early history of the Sinhalese, but its characteristic development in Ceylon, as in South India, was in the Saiva Religion and the Tamil language. This language is one of the earliest of the known speeches of man and the vehicle of a literature that is among the highest literary achievements of the human race … The fifteenth century witnessed not only the greatest epoch of Sinhalese poetry but also the most flourishing period of Tamil poetry in Ceylon, of which Arasa Kesari’ s epic translation of Raghuvamsam was the greatest work (Nesiah, 1945: 1,2).

To make anything of the future we must possess the confidence that can only be born of a consciousness of our priceless inheritance. . .. a willingness to enter into harmonious relationship with members of all communities as is shown by the fact that Sinhalese and Tamils, Moors and Burghers, live side by side and show a toleration for one another that is hardly equaled in many other parts of the world (Nesiah, 1945: 6,7).

The JYC sought to overcome the limitations of its peninsular base by incorporating or establishing links with those outside. National leaders associated with the JYC included D.B. Dhanapala (involved in the founding), P. de S. Kularatne (elected President at the 1925 Annual Sessions), Swamy Vipulananda (elected President at the 1928 Annual Sessions), G.K.W. Perera, A.E. Goonasinghe, George E. de Silva, E.W. Perera (elected President at the 1929 Annual Sessions), Peri Sundaram, D.B. Jayatilleke, T.B. Jayah, C.E .Corea, Francis de Zoysa, S.W. Dassanaike, S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake, N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Colvin R.de Silva, Leslie Gunawardena, S.A.Wickremasinghe, W. Dahanayake, J.R. layawardena, D.S. Senanayake and Selina Perera (who was charged for sedition on account of a speech that she delivered at the 1941 Annual Sessions) (Kadirgamar, 1980).

The emergence of Tamil Nationalism

Up to the time of Independence, the Tamil leadership was virtually unanimously and uncompromisingly in favour of a unitary Sri Lankan state. Even the Tamil Congress, which effectively marginalised the JYC and was promoting Tamil consciousness did not favour federalism. Perhaps they were not far sighted and only feared that federalism would limit their professional opportunities. The concept of federalism was introduced to the community only after independence and was resoundingly rejected, even in Jaffna, in the 1952 general elections. It was with the Sinhala only movement of 1956 that the Sri Lankan Tamil population opted for federalism. In due course, the political factors that united the Sri Lankan Tamil population gradually gained ascendancy (in the political field) over caste and other prejudices that had kept the population divided. Eventually this nationalism acquired a separatist component but this component remained peripheral up to the mid-70s; every candidate advocating secession suffered demoralising defeat at every election to every parliamentary seat.

The Sri Lankan Tamil sectarianism communalism that surfaced with the Tamil Congress in the thirties was stridently narrow and ideologically primitive – vide agendas such as the 50-50 proposal – but not separatist. The Federal Party too was Tamil nationalist but not separatist. Despite the progressive defection of the non-Marxist parties, followed by the Marxist parties, into Sinhala only, Tamil separatism received no electoral backing till the mid-70s. As late as 1970, when an ex-Federal Party MP, Navaratnam, voiced his advocacy of separatism (ie, secession), the FP challenged him by nominating K.P. Ratnam to contest him. Navaratnam campaigned vigorously on a secessionist platform and Ratnam on a federalist platform; Ratnam won handsomely.

Even as late as 1972, in the wake of the traumas of Standardization of University admissions and the blatantly majoritarian 1972 Constitution in the drafting of which the Tamil leaders were effectively excluded, a group of community leaders of Jaffna published the following document expressing the sentiments yet upheld by a very significant section of the Tamil population:

Granville Austin in his book in his book on The Indian Constitution ascribes the secret of that “successful constitution” to the fact that the fathers of the Constitution first turned the Constituent Assembly into an “India in microcosm” ensuring that even the small minorities were well represented, and then applied with great effectiveness the characteristic Indian concepts of consensus and accommodation.

We too in Lanka have inherited the self-same values. If Lanka is to be true to herself, those who are charged with the solemn duty of writing her Constitution should pay heed to our heritage both in the approach to constitution making and in what they write into it. Our children and our children’s children should be able to say, with one voice-Lanka is our great motherland, and we are one people from shore to shore; we speak two noble languages, but with one voice; and this Constitution which our fathers fashioned together in times of yore shall serve as the nation’s charter for the years to be (Nesiah, 1981:152).

The statement of S.J.V Chelvanayakam on winning the Kankesanthurai by-election in February 1975, marks a fateful turning point:

We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon … It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people … I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free.

That statement and the Vaddukoddai resolution of 1976 in favour of separation must be seen in the context of many painful and humiliating reverses including the adoption of the scheme of “Standardisation” of University admissions and the 1972 Constitution. In the context in which it was adopted in 1971, many Sinhalese leaders may have seen “Standardization” of university admissions as a politically compelling measure. They failed to understand (or were indifferent to) the traumatic impact it would have on the Sri Lankan Tamil community. In turn, the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders failed to understand (or were indifferent to) the political pressures on the Sinhalese leaders on account of the growing ethnic imbalance in university admissions. Negotiations between the political leaders of the different ethnic groups on this issue may have led to an acceptable solution – but such dialogue has not been part of Sri Lanka’s political tradition. Similarly, the drafting of the 1972 Constitution was widely seen by the minorities, especially the Sri Lankan Tamils, as an exercise undertaken by the Sinhalese leaders with little heed to the concerns of the minorities.

The alienation of the Tamil leaders (and, in consequence, the Tamil people) arising from the lack of any attempt to accommodate or even consider their views in the framing of the constitution was a major contributory factor to the emergence of the Vaddukoddai resolution of 1976. Even at that stage it appears that many who voted for that resolution or refrained from publicly opposing it saw it as a token of protest against oppression or a strategic bargaining position rather than an expression of their aspiration. But they miscalculated the impact of that resolution. On the one hand the youth at that assembly took it seriously and embarked on a separatist struggle that, within a decade, developed into a civil war. On the other, it provided explosive ammunition to those of the Sinhalese leaders who organized the anti-Tamil violence of 1977, 1979 and 1981, and the island-wide pogrom of 1983.

Despite Chelvanayakam’s statement of February 1975 quoted above and the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976 arguing for secession, it was clear that the top leaders of the Tamils were not seriously interested in it. They were pushed in to it by the Tamil militants who were rapidly growing in strength and were committed to secession. The political leaders were willing to settle in 1981 for District Development Councils (DDCs) that had virtually no element of devolution, and the Thirteenth Amendment of 1987 that had some elements of devolution but far short of Federalism. In fact the Tamil militants recognized this contradiction and consistently opposed the Thirteenth Amendment and the functioning of the Northeast Provincial Council created under the Thirteenth Amendment. They went on to assassinate some of the Tamil leaders who had accepted the Thirteenth Amendment and were working on drafting a Federal Constitution under the direction of President Chandrika Kumaranatunga in the 1990s. Those assassinated included Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran and Neelan Tiruchelvam. Sivasithamparam and President Chandrika were among those who survived assassination attempts.

In my opinion secession was never seriously promoted by the Tamil leadership nor accepted by the majority of the Tamil population. Moreover its attainment was never feasible and, even if it was attained, it was clearly unsustainable. It was a project opposed by every other country. I know of no example of any successful secession that did not have the backing of both the vast majority of the local population as well as at least one powerful country in the neighbourhood. The Eelam project was a non-starter, and was recognized as such by the Tamil political leadership, though it is possible that some of the more naïve among the Diaspora may have thought otherwise. Today there are no Tigers within Sri Lanka, and even in the Diaspora, the band of true believers is shrinking towards extinction.

Finally, D.B.S. Jeyaraj is careful to balance his call for unity and integrity of Sri Lanka and her population with highlighting the imperative to strive constantly for justice equality, peace and amity. These features are conspicuously lacking in Sri Lanka today. Also lacking are significant initiatives to achieve these goals. The State seems to be indifferent; Civil Society seems to be resigned to be impotent. But do we need to remain impotent? Indeed we cannot remain indifferent or impotent but need to mobilize locally and globally for greater awareness, concern and effective corrective action. We need a new political dispensation based on a new constitution reflecting the concerns of our diverse population. Should we not as quoted earlier work towards a situation in which “our children and children’s children should be able to say with one voice – Lanka is our great motherland. We are one people from shore to shore; we speak two noble languages with one voice; and this constitution which our fathers fashioned in times of yore shall serve as our nation’s charter for the years to be?”

  • The Owl of Minerva

    This an excellent analysis by Nesiah.It is good to hear the voice of another Nesiah!
    He says:

    “The Eelam project was a non-starter, and was recognized as such by the Tamil political leadership, though it is possible that some of the more naïve among the Diaspora may have thought otherwise”

    ‘naive’ is too mild a word with which to describe the mind
    set of the dominant militant segment of the Tamil disapora. I would have said ignorant and demented!

  • Ravana

    I would add that the so-called Sinhalas and Tamils of Sri Lanka should not be considered distinctly separate.

    Firstly Taymoli and Siyabasa (sihalabaasa) are both languages of the country and are probably closely related (i would challenge lazy academics to compare Elu and Tamil devoid of Sanskrit to establish this connection instead of continuing to drum the line of Indo-European, Dravidian distinction which IMHO has very poor credibility.

    Secondly, if you were to apply modern genetic methods, I am willing to bet bottom-dollar, that the “Tamils” and “Sinhalas” are more closely related to each other than their cousins in India.

    Thirdly, challenging for the seat of the emperor has a long tradition in Sri Lanka. Most of the ancient kings came from Rajarata. As the dominance of Rajarata fell, there was increasing challenge from other regions. Ruhuna in particular has produced a number of feudal lords who became emperor. I would guess that “Jaffna” did not have to assume to be a seat of power until the middle ages when the seat of power shifted more to the south. It is then that we see the King of Jaffna challenging for the title of emperor. I would submit that the King of Jaffna simply did not have long enough as a power-base to issue a successful challenge. It should be noted though according to Protuguese chronicles of the island, when the chiefs from various districts gathered under the emperor of Senkadagala, it was only the king of Jaffna who was arrogant enough to send an emissary rather than coming himself. Lankans have also very readily accepted emperors who were born in nearby India. The distinction of “northerners” as being of foreign origin is a neo-racist project of Sinhala-Chauvinists. It is laughable to consider that as many as 50% of “Tamils” of Sri Lanka probably spoke “sihalabaasa” as their main language only a few centuries ago whilst many of the so-called sinhalas today had ancestors who would have spoken Taymoli or Kerala-baasa within the past 8 centuries.

    The very idea of the two chauvinist projects (that of Sinhala in Sri Lanka and Tamil in South India) are fraught with a great deal of mythologising.

    I hope that some of the “tamil” leaders have finally realised the futility of maintaining such distinction, especially in the face of a significant chauvinist movement among those who label themselves “Sinhalas”. By accepting the evident hegemony (which is all in their minds any way) of the sinhalas what the Tamil leaders of Sri Lanka can do is to provide space for Tamil-speakers to better the sinhala-speakers in their own culture. That is, without letting go of the importance of “Tamil” language and the common cultural heritage of predating Buddhism in the island which belongs to both groups of language-speakers. Even if the sinhalas will not learn Tamil, it is to the advantage of every Tamil to speak Sinhala whilst keeping alive the knowledge of ancient heritage going back beyond Mutasiva to the iron age and even the megalithic era. Let the “sinhala” die a natural death.

    • Velu Balendran

      Dear Ravana,

      Here is a link that may interest you

      http://www.sangam.org/2011/08/Aryan_Theory.php?uid=4446

      In essence it argues that the place names in SL can not be explained without Tamil!

      • Ravana

        Velu,
        Thanks for the link. I will read further details when I can. Just a preliminary impression. The author appears to also buy into the Aryan, Dravidian distinction which is nothing but a figment of Caldecott’s imagination.

        I would think that the etymological roots of Dravida are Sanskrit Drav- Fluid and ida- “by the side?”. In other words Dravida is merely a geographic distinction given to people living on the Peninsula and Sri Lanka. Caldecott turned it in to a race-theory. The reason I say that author is buying into it is not because I think he believes that “Tamil” and “Sinhala” are distinct races or widely separated cultures (he clearly asserts the common origin) but the use of the alien term given to us by others. Further it stinks of historical distinction which sought to separate us as distinct entities.

        Whilst I want to acknowledge the obvious connection we have with South Indians, it would be useful for the Sri Lankans to refer to themselves as having ancestors in Ruhuna, Jaffna etc when describing their Geographic origins within the island whilst acknowledging linguistic heritage as either Taymoli/Tam-mil (self-speech) or Siyabasa/Sihala-basa (my language. island language). This is purely for academic reasons of discovering the exquisite interweaving of culture, language and genetics that the island’s people have experienced.

        Modern reality dictates that it is best that the people of the island identify themselves as Sri Lankans who own it whole, together including it’s great hydraulic civilisation. This is an important psychological perspective to take if the people of the island are to have a semblance of sanity.

        The Aryan label makes me nauseous. Especially as its meaning is “noble one” was originally assigned to Monks (nothing to do with race- I suspect that the European race-theorists merely stole it. Hitler’s use of a symmetric-dual of the Buddhist Swastika was the crazy culmination of this).
        I can still remember the epiphanic experience I had as a child when I read a sinhala translation of Nehru’s letters to Indira written from prison. In one of these he states how it is their duty rule over the dark and less civilised Dravidians of South India and Ceylon. I have had a disdain for the Gandhi family since then, especially given their subsequent behaviour. I suggest that the Dravidian label should be discarded with the Aryan label.

        I have a lot to say about Buddhism and Jainism which pervaded South India spanning the common era, how Saivism may in fact have been greatly influenced by the first two spiritual movements (especially Mahayana) and Tamilakam/Damilagam has nothing whatsoever to do with “Tamil” but is a Buddhist epithet for Saivists (or possibly by theravadins to the heretical mahayanists). This Mahavamsa term (Dam-Dhamma, ila-absent; clearly etymologically elu, thus another link between Sihala and Taymoli) has been expropriated to further bolster the distinction between “Sinhala” and “Tamil”. I will not delve further on this.

        I have a problem with Sangham sites, attempting to relabel emergence of Sihala dvipa identity as of “Tamil” origin when the “Tamil” identity is really a recently concocted one based on misidentification by those such as Caldecott. What we really need to examine is the historically realistic identities such as Sihala, Chera, Pandya, Chola who spoke gradually diverging languages (actually modern “Tamil” appears to be the common language of the Pandyas and Cholas) coming from a fairly common origin form the ancient Pandya empire which may have spanned Southern India and Sri Lanka. Of most interest is the fact the Anuradhapura was a major centre even at 800 BC when the closest major centre was in west central India.

        I have a theory (more a fantasy) about this. The last mini ice age ended dramatically around 11000 years ago when many of the maritime civilisation which may have existed suddenly vanished. As I understand there is evidence of an underwater city in the Western Seaside of India and some scientists have proposed the remnant of the so-called ancient Sarasvati river can be traced directed to this site itself. It is interesting that highly developed civilisations of Egypt and Mohandejaro-Harappa emerge around 3000-6000 years later only to suddenly vanish again before the recorded history of the India and the Mediterranean emerge in the pre-iron age. Let us imagine that there was a maritime culture centred around the Southern part of the Subcontinent as well. There would not have been an island 11000 years ago. It would have been one land mass. The deluge ending the ice-age would have had a devastating effect on such a civilisation. It is of significant interest to note that “pre-historic” Sri Lanka is replete with evidence of cereal cultivation and trade between the inland and the shore in a contemporary period to the Mohandejaro site (although no evidence of City culture- yet). However, iron based industry and city culture appears to have emerged rapidly around 3000 years ago. (Please note a previous assertion of mine that the Historical Buddha existed 3000 years ago contrary to Mhavamsa. He was the first to assert and develop theory challenging the idea of a creator which was an idea extant both among the followers of Vedas and the devolving Egyptians (Abrahamic religions were no doubt influenced by these ideas of creator and subsequent Christianity and Mecca-Islam by the Buddhist principles leading to the assertion of Metta/Compassion (Christian), Nirvana/Peace (Islam))).

        I would predict that if this theory of an Ultra-Prehistoric civilisation centred around Sri Lanka is correct that there is bound to be an ancient underwater city circa 9000 BC to be discovered in the waters of Palk Strait.

      • wijayapala

        Velu Balendran, thank you for sharing that link. I have two questions:

        1) Has Samuel Livingstone read the part in Manimekalai where Nagas are described as having a different language than Tamil?

        2) Aren’t you or Mr Sri Kantha turned off by Livingstone’s use of the Mahavamsa to decipher Tamil history?

      • Velu Balendran

        Wijayapala & Ravana

        Thanks for your comments.

        When it comes to anthropology, I generally take a back seat as I have no expertise in that field; more so when it is Sri Lankan anthropology (a politicised minefield since Mahavamsa times from where one cannot escape without getting hurt).

        The genome project is making significant inroads into this subject and I hope will one day silence a lot of charlatans muddying the waters with false claims. I only hope that people taking up this difficult subject do so with utmost sincerity for the benefit of mankind.

        BTW Ravana may be refering to the lost continent known as Lemuria.

  • Post DjBS Scenario

    Deva,

    If a referendum was held at any point in time post ’76 the Tamils would opt for secession. After nearly 30 years over failed negotiation, we realized the majority of the majority do not support meaningful power sharing with Tamils or any other ethnic group.

    This still holds true today.

    The Singhalese murdered 40,000 Tamil civilians in the last phase of the war alone. Thankfully, you will not witness the ultimate fate that likely awaits us.

    But before you go, a question. Who else (other than David) should we be watching for “leadership”? Thought or otherwise.

    • Neville Perera

      1. 40,000?

      Those who were on the ground unable to get up and tugging at the clothes and feet of those who were able to scramble out of the warzone – UN and ICRC weren’t allowed. The numerous earthmovers the scramblers saw on the way out certainly buries them alive and half-alive(so wounded). That tallies with the number unaccounted for as lamented by Bishop of Mannar.

      2. ”failed” attempts on the rise:

      http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/14080-psc-after-2012-budget.html
      PSC after 2012 Budget, 13 October 2011:
      The proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) with new terms of reference to make recommendations for the resolution of the North-East question will be appointed after the 2012 Budget, the Daily Mirror reliably understands. ….. ‘’

      3. The international community cannot imagine the ”creativeness” of the Sri Lankan rulers post-independence.
      The champion is Mahinda Rajapakse for what we saw as ” negotiations/pacts/conciliation in 50s/60s is rolled up in the last six years.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Dr. Nesiah, thank you for sharing your insights. I have a question:

    Up to the time of Independence, the Tamil leadership was virtually unanimously and uncompromisingly in favour of a unitary Sri Lankan state. Even the Tamil Congress, which effectively marginalised the JYC and was promoting Tamil consciousness did not favour federalism. Perhaps they were not far sighted and only feared that federalism would limit their professional opportunities. The concept of federalism was introduced to the community only after independence and was resoundingly rejected, even in Jaffna, in the 1952 general elections. It was with the Sinhala only movement of 1956 that the Sri Lankan Tamil population opted for federalism.

    You have raised such a crucial point that I do not understand why you have glossed over it. How come the Tamils before 1956 did not embrace federalism? Is it possible that instead of being “not farsighted,” that the only value of federalism was protection against Sinhala majoritarianism? Is it possible that if such majoritarianism is removed, federalism has no intrinsic value?

    • kadphises

      Wijeyapala,

      The million dollar question is how will you remove this majoritarianism from the minds of 16 million people? Can you simply expunge it from their minds? What concrete and measurable steps would you suggest to remove this majoritarianism? Your inability to accept the Tamil desire to manage their own affairs within a framework of equality somewhat suggests that you subscribe to this majoritarianism yourself.

      • wijayapala

        Dear kadphises

        The million dollar question is how will you remove this majoritarianism from the minds of 16 million people?

        I believe that the only real solution to Sinhala chauvinism is for Sinhalese to learn more about the Tamils and their culture. Devolution most certainly will not educate Sinhalese at all about the Tamils.

        Ignorance of the Tamils has led to many false ideas. For example, it is a common notion among both Sinhala racists and “liberals” that if the Tamils do not get devolution, they will strap bombs on themselves and go on a murdering rampage. The underlying assumption is that the Tamils are essentially a bloodthirsty and hegemonic people. I can understand why ignorant racists hold such beliefs but am baffled why the so-called “liberals” who claim to be pro-Tamil also promote these ideas.

        Now kadphises it is time to look at the mirror and ask yourself, “Self, how much do I really know about the Tamils for me to self-righteously self-identify as their advocate?” If one has not even made the effort to learn the Tamil language, is one part of the solution or part of the problem?

        Your inability to accept the Tamil desire to manage their own affairs within a framework of equality somewhat suggests that you subscribe to this majoritarianism yourself.

        Thank you for such a incisive yet comprehensive psychoanalysis of my character, but if you bothered to actually read my message to Dr. Nesiah you would see that I zeroed in on his observation that the Tamils did not always have this “desire to manage their own affairs,” an observation unsurprisingly missed by Sinhala “liberals” such as yourself. If theoretically there were conditions in the past that produced a society where ethnic divides more or less violence did not exist, does it not behoove pseudo-intellectuals such as ourselves to investigate these conditions?

      • kadphises

        Wijeyapala,

        “I believe that the only real solution to Sinhala chauvinism is for Sinhalese to learn more about the Tamils and their culture.”

        Thats really very generous of you! But how long will that take if it is at all acheivable? Even if it is achievable what makes you think they will start seeing the Tamils as anything but as the “other”? Guess the Tamils in the meantime will have to be governed by diktat by the Army or from Colombo by a Sinhalese who even if knowledgable of their culture and language did not really care about their welfare beyond “National Security”.

        “For example, it is a common notion among both Sinhala racists and “liberals” that if the Tamils do not get devolution, they will strap bombs on themselves and go on a murdering rampage.”

        No! No! No! You’ve got it all wrong and try to make out that being liberal is as bad as being racist. The reason for saying that it is better for someone elected by the Tamils to decide over the day to day running of affairs in Jaffna and Batticaloa is because it is fairer, more equitable and more democratic. Not because we are scared of bombs.

        “..Now kadphises it is time to look at the mirror and ask yourself, “Self, how much do I really know about the Tamils for me to self-righteously self-identify as their advocate?”If one has not even made the effort to learn the Tamil language, is one part of the solution or part of the problem?…”

        Not at all. I hardly know any Tamil but that has never been a big problem as I am able to communicate with Tamil friends in English or even Sinhala. I still dont think they will appoint me as their advocate. They have appointed the TNA as their advocates. And for all your knowledge of Tamil you dont appear to have understood what the Tamils have almost unanimously said through their advocates the TNA. But I have. And I scratch my head and wonder which of these demands are reasonable and which of these demands I as a Sinhalese can accede to while maintaining my own rights as an equal citizen of Sri Lanka.

        However your response when the Tamils demand
        “Give us devolution!”
        is to say
        “Alright, I’ll learn Tamil then..”

        Its a bit like “Koheda Yanne?” … “Malle Pol”

        “If theoretically there were conditions in the past that produced a society where ethnic divides more or less violence did not exist, does it not behoove pseudo-intellectuals such as ourselves to investigate these conditions?”

        Much has been written of the causes. They are well known. However the problem is that history cannot be reversed and the scarrs have formed. The solutions we find have to be built on top of all the mistakes of the past. The pogroms cant be reversed. Sinhala Only took just one day to pass in parliament but to reverse it we have to teach 20 million people 1 or 2 additional languages without the teachers or the funds to do so. The Sinhala only army will take decades to reconstitute with a more representative ethnic mix. Educated Tamils who have fled the land will not return to make the civil administration more representative of the ethnic mix. Finding every single contributory cause will not make a blind bit of difference if they cannot be reversed quickly and effectively.

        Its as if you are trying to buy the goods by paying the smallest, most derisory price. A bit like those Colombo mamas in their SUVs haggling over an orange with a bedraggled fruitseller saying “you give me orange. I let you stroke my shiny car”. I am saying, “No. we need to pay a fair price that is closer to the aksing price” And yes. Thats the view of a “self-riteous pseudo intellectual”

  • Dr. Devanesan Nesiah’s lofty statements are well substantiated. However the questions is, whether the hope for a new political dispensation based on a new constitution reflecting the concerns of our diverse population would ever materialize and eventually usher a situation in which “our children and children’s children should be able to say with one voice – Lanka is our great motherland” . It is just wishful thinking in the light of the strong chauvinistic mentality of the majority of the Sinhalese population in general and that of the Buddhist clergy in particular.
    The politicians beginning with S.W.R.D Bandaranaike used this effectively as a vehicle to ride to power and those who followed are using this vehicle to be in power. In the absence of far sighted leaders in the country today the hope for a united Sri Lanka will only be a dream. So long as chauvinism of the Sinhalese persists the minorities will never be able to live as citizens on par with the majority community. All the talk of Sri Lanka being a pluralistic society has gone with the wind. It is now loudly proclaimed to be the land of the Sinhalese in which the minorities would be allowed to live in, so long as they do not ask to be treated as equal citizens.
    As to whether a separation would solve the problems of the Tamils is debatable, especially in view of the large numbers living in the South and having vested interest there. The fact is that so long as successive governments continue to keep the minorities suppressed there will never be true peace in Sri Lanka. The sooner the Sinhala leaders of the country today realize this the better it is.

    • wijayapala

      Dear A Concerned Citizen

      However the questions is, whether the hope for a new political dispensation based on a new constitution reflecting the concerns of our diverse population would ever materialize and eventually usher a situation in which “our children and children’s children should be able to say with one voice – Lanka is our great motherland”.

      If you feel so strongly about this topic, then please share with us your vision of a new political dispensation and a new constitution. We don’t need to hear the end result of children speaking with one voice- we do need to hear HOW to get there!!

      It is now loudly proclaimed to be the land of the Sinhalese in which the minorities would be allowed to live in, so long as they do not ask to be treated as equal citizens.

      If I remember correctly, it was Sarath Fonseka who made that statement, and the TNA endorsed his presidential campaign. Could you please explain that?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Dr Devanesan Nesiah

    DBSJ wrote …”Whatever the Tamil hard-liners may say the reality on ground is that Tamils are living in Sri Lanka and that the bulk of Tamils have to continue living there. There is no other place to go”

    The above statement is a ground reality that is compounded by another ground reality, which is that although a part of the Tamil community has found places to go beyond Sri Lanka’s borders, the Sinhalese have absolutely no place to go and have to continue living in Lanka. The 65610 sq km (according to the US, which includes inland water ways) is all that the 21.3 million (US estimate) people inhabiting this Island have. With a near 1% growth rate, the pressure on land will continue to grow.

    The current per capita land availability is 121.75 perches. That will decrease with population increase or land erosion. The current Publicly held Land is about 55,110 sq km. The per capita Public Land holding is thus 102 perches.

    The ground reality that the Sinhalese have only this 102 perches per capita (that continues to reduce with time) for sustenance, will and has, created massive opposition, to all attempts at reducing it, under whatever guise, such attempts has and will be made now or in the future. It is probably the biggest hurdle that we as a nation has to face.

    How can this be overcome?

    • The Owl of Minerva

      Off-the-Cuff says:
      “The above statement is a ground reality that is compounded by another ground reality, which is that although a part of the Tamil community has found places to go beyond Sri Lanka’s borders, the Sinhalese have absolutely no place to go and have to continue living in Lanka.”

      WHY NOT?The Sinhalese can go to any place the Tamils can go too.I have not heard that Australia,the US or Canada or the EU states admit only the Tamils.The only place to which neither the Tamils nor the Sinhalese can migrate is India — except as refugees !!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Owl of Minerva,

        Blinded by daylight?

        Try getting a visit visa to any of the countries you mentioned as a Sinhalese.
        Compare the number of immigrants to any of the countries you mentioned between Sinhalese and Tamils for the past 3 decades. Are the numbers equal or disparate? Even without access to statistics anyone other than the physically or mentally blind, can see the difference.

        The main question raised by my post is the question of land.
        You have side stepped it.
        Why?

    • Rodger

      What about the large number of Sinhalese in many countries including Japan? Most of the Tamil diaspora fled the country. But most of the Sinhalese left the country though a small number fled the country.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Roger,

        Why are you shy of tackling the main issue raised in my post rather than nit picking?

        Whether the Tamils fled for fear of death or used a situation to enter affluent countries as economic opportunists can be seen from the fact that safety which was within an hours boat ride amongst a culturally, linguistically and genetically almost identical society was rejected in favour of a society that was disparate on all the above counts but was wealthy and half a world away.

        The affluent countries that loosened admittance requirements and opened their borders to which ethnicity of Lankans can be seen by the percentage of each ethnicity that have become resident in those states in the past 30 years.

        Now without nit picking in trying to prove the impossible, why don’t you address the main issue that I have raised in my post to which you replied, while side stepping the main issue.

      • Owl of Minerva

        I am glad that Off-the-Cuff is being faithful to his pseudonym.In stead of making wild speculations he should call up the various embassies and ask them whether they have put restrictions on Sinhala migrations to their respective countries and then report back to us.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Owl,

        Report back to you?
        When you can’t even count what can you do with it?

        How many Lankan Tamils have gone by Boat, Plane, Road transport and sneaked across borders to the West in the past 3 decades?
        Would a million be close enough?

        They still do take boat rides to Australia and Canada.

        You see there is nothing wild about it just refer to the referendum that you guys conducted on your own, for the numbers.

        Oh BTW I took your advise and called all the embassies over here. They say that if I were a Tamil and I applied before the end of the war they would have considered my application favourably. But now that the war is over, I need a sponsor who is an immediate family member, resident at the far end.

        Dr Devanesan Nesiah has yet failed to answer the Question about Land that I raised in my post below.
        Is the wise Owl or Roger able to do so?
        Hope your intellect is not limited to nit picking.

        http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-37705

  • Rodger

    ”Even at that stage it appears that many who voted for that resolution or refrained from publicly opposing it saw it as a token of protest against oppression or a strategic bargaining position rather than an expression of their aspiration”:

    Elmore Perera(Founder, Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance(CIMOGG) to LLRC, 10 November 2010:
    ”Many Tamils were driven to feel that it was “better to fight and die rather than live like slaves”, in the hope that, “at least they would get a free state where Tamils can live a life of dignity”….’’

    • The Owl of Minerva

      To Off the Cuff:
      What referendum did “you guys” voted for?What is this “YOU GUYS” locution? Are these “you guys” all alike,think alike?Do then all Tamils think alike? Oh dear…

      I don’t think you should complain about nit picking:If you put in nits — not to speak of non-sequitors — readers will indeed pick!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Owl,

        You post was hidden away under Roger’s post and I did not see it till now. It would be nice if replies are kept within the correct thread.

        Guys refer to the Tamil Diaspora of which you appear to be a member of.
        Referendum refers to the referendum conducted by that Diaspora. Are you denying that there was one?
        The relevance is that it provides, at least partially, the numbers that went to affluent countries. The numbers that you pretended that you did not know.

        Whether you think alike or look alike or what ever that is alike is irrelevant.

        You are adept only at nit picking and cannot address the main issue raised in the post, which is Land. Why don’t you enrich the discussion with your wisdom on that subject?

  • wijayapala

    Dear kadphises

    Thank you for your response.

    Even if it is achievable what makes you think they will start seeing the Tamils as anything but as the “other”?

    If Sinhalese can speak Tamil, then how will Tamils remain the “other?”

    Guess the Tamils in the meantime will have to be governed by diktat by the Army or from Colombo by a Sinhalese who even if knowledgable of their culture and language did not really care about their welfare beyond “National Security”.

    Although I agree that the current situation is less than ideal, would you at least consider it an improvement over the previous arrangement under Prabakaran and Pottu Amman?

    You’ve got it all wrong and try to make out that being liberal is as bad as being racist.

    I was arguing that Sinhalese liberals tend to be equally as ignorant as the racists, but in the end I suppose that you are correct in that it makes them equally bad.

    The reason for saying that it is better for someone elected by the Tamils to decide over the day to day running of affairs in Jaffna and Batticaloa is because it is fairer, more equitable and more democratic. Not because we are scared of bombs.

    Then why are people like Dr P. Saravanamuttu insisting that there would have been no conflict if there had been devolution???

    Jaffna and Batticaloa- don’t they have municipal councils?

    http://www.batticaloamc.com/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZN8pFc0E8U (I think they’re arguing over which one of them should have the privilege of tearing down Mahinda’s portrait grinning in the background and throwing it into the lagoon!)

    I hardly know any Tamil but that has never been a big problem as I am able to communicate with Tamil friends in English or even Sinhala.

    As I recall, SWRD and JRJ came from the finest English-speaking backgrounds one can find. Are you as minority-friendly as they were?

    And for all your knowledge of Tamil you dont appear to have understood what the Tamils have almost unanimously said through their advocates the TNA. But I have.

    Then please enlighten me: Dr Nesiah says that the Tamils not now, nor ever supported separatism, but Mr Post DjBS Scenario here is claiming that they always wanted a separate state. Which one of them is correct?

    Much has been written of the causes. They are well known.

    What are they?

    Finding every single contributory cause will not make a blind bit of difference if they cannot be reversed quickly and effectively.

    Unfortunately, devolution will not make a blind bit of difference either!

    Its as if you are trying to buy the goods by paying the smallest, most derisory price.

    What are these goods that you are referring to?

    • silva

      Wijayapala,
      Would you like to look up:
      http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=14340
      ”….A publication of the Institute for Constitutional Studies, Rajagiriya, the study titled, ‘Twenty Two Years of Devolution – An Evaluation of the Working of Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka’, was launched at the auditorium of the Post-graduate Institute of Management, Colombo 8, on Tuesday(21 December 2010). Presentations on the content of the study were made by the senior researchers of the project, Prof. Ranjith Amarasinghe, Asoka Gunawardena, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne P.C. and Prof. Navaratne Bandara. ….”

      Groundviews,
      There has been a large number of comments on this website why we should have devolution. Would you ask anyone to write on it please?

    • kadphises

      Wijeyapala,

      “Although I agree that the current situation is less than ideal, would you at least consider it an improvement over the previous arrangement under Prabakaran and Pottu Amman?”
      Its a definite improvement for you and me. But the Tamils say its not much of an improvement for them and thats the problem isnt it?

      “Then why are people like Dr P. Saravanamuttu insisting that there would have been no conflict if there had been devolution???”
      Because they believe devolution is what the Tamils wanted and started fighting when they didnt get it. If it was gieven they wouldnt have fought. Sounds like pretty simple logic to me. The question is can we give evertything they ask for? I think we can give some of their demands and they might be more content. You think we shouldnt give any of their demands and we should just learn the Tamil language instead. And thats where we differ.

      “Jaffna and Batticaloa- don’t they have municipal councils?”
      Yes. But can they decide on education policy. Can they appoint and regulate their own police force? Punish policemen guilty of brutality towards their constituents? Can they decide on whether to use that piece of land where their son or daughter is burried in as a memorial to the lives lost in the war rather than to buldoze it and erect barracks for the army?

      “As I recall, SWRD and JRJ came from the finest English-speaking backgrounds one can find. Are you as minority-friendly as they were?”
      In their personal lives I think they were minority friendly. JR welcomed his Tamil daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law with open arms which is quite rare for a Sri Lankan -Tamil or Sinhalese- of his vintage. Unfortunately there were not strong enough to stand up to Sinhalese Nationalism while in power and even exploited it to get into power. So I guess you could say they were somewhat unscrpulous and were prepared to sacrifice their principles to gain power.

      “What are these causes?”
      Sinhala only, pogroms, special place for buddhism only, land settlement policy, education policy, more pogroms. Havent you heard of these?

      “Unfortunately, devolution will not make a blind bit of difference either!”
      How do you know? If Tamils are saying that they will be happy with devolution why do you disbelieve them? It is better to argue about how much devolution to how much land in order to make the settlement fair by all.

      “What are these goods that you are referring to?”
      Reconcilliation. Contentment. Peace. GSP+. Restablisment of good relations with India and the West. Are these not worth anything to you?

      • wijayapala

        kadphises

        Its a definite improvement for you and me. But the Tamils say its not much of an improvement for them and thats the problem isnt it?

        Try asking someone who actually lived under LTTE rule, not your flag-waving friends who still believe that Prabakaran is alive.

        Because they believe devolution is what the Tamils wanted and started fighting when they didnt get it. If it was gieven they wouldnt have fought. Sounds like pretty simple logic to me.

        Your simple logic confirms what I earlier told you, “For example, it is a common notion among both Sinhala racists and “liberals” that if the Tamils do not get devolution, they will strap bombs on themselves and go on a murdering rampage.

        “Jaffna and Batticaloa- don’t they have municipal councils?”
        Yes. But can they decide on education policy. Can they appoint and regulate their own police force? Punish policemen guilty of brutality towards their constituents?

        Now that you agree that the municipal councils/pradeshiya sabhas are the appropriate unit of devolution, and not the province more or less merged NE Province, it should be much easier to convince the electorate to devolve power to those entities.

        Can they decide on whether to use that piece of land where their son or daughter is burried in as a memorial to the lives lost in the war rather than to buldoze it and erect barracks for the army?

        Sorry, but the LTTE cemeteries were not memorials to lost lives but monuments to violence. It makes sense for symbols of destruction to be destroyed.

        “As I recall, SWRD and JRJ came from the finest English-speaking backgrounds one can find. Are you as minority-friendly as they were?”
        In their personal lives I think they were minority friendly.

        I have to say, I find your whitewashing of the two most racist, anti-Tamil leaders in Sri Lankan history to be quite hypocritical. For JR, the man most singularly responsible for starting this war and all the death and suffering that followed, you could only heap praise on how he treated his ex-daughter-in-law. How typical of the Sinhala liberal to remain loyal to the Colombo club.

        “What are these causes?”
        Sinhala only, pogroms, special place for buddhism only, land settlement policy, education policy, more pogroms. Havent you heard of these?

        So in other words, the real solution to the problem is to nullify Sinhala only and pogroms, and devolution is just a distraction. Thank you again for agreeing with me.

        “Unfortunately, devolution will not make a blind bit of difference either!”
        How do you know? If Tamils are saying that they will be happy with devolution why do you disbelieve them?

        Because as I already pointed out to you, the Tamils are saying different things. Only a Sinhala liberal/racist believes that all the Tamils are the same and that they are after the same thing.

        Here’s a question: how come none of the Tamils whom you claim will be “happy” with devolution are participating in this conversation and refuting me? The only response came from PostDjBSScenario who clearly stated that the Tamils want a separate state, in opposition to Dr Nesiah. Thus your notion that all of the Tamils will be “happy” with devolution has been disproven.

        “What are these goods that you are referring to?”
        Reconcilliation. Contentment. Peace. GSP+. Restablisment of good relations with India and the West. Are these not worth anything to you?

        The problem is that you will get no reconciliation, peace, or contentment from devolution, and good relations with other countries are not worth the high price of devolution.

      • kadphises

        “Try asking someone who actually lived under LTTE rule, not your flag-waving friends who still believe that Prabakaran is alive.”

        Do you mean those who almost unanimously voted for the TNA? Why are they not voting for Rajapakse then? I dont understand!

        I have to say, I find your whitewashing of the two most racist, anti-Tamil leaders in Sri Lankan history to be quite hypocritical.

        How have I whitewashed them? I have merely shown some contradictions but you are correct they were more probably people just like you considering that the compromises they made to settle the ethnic conflict were virtually nil. But unlike you they were prepared to consider the Banda-Chelva pact and the 13th amendment as olive branches to the Tamils whereas you are only prepared to learn the Tamil language. So perhaps they were not as racist. You call them the two most racist anti Tamil leaders in Sri Lankan history. Where do you think Rajapakse and his cabinet of Weerawanse, Ranawaka and Gamanpila stands with respect to them?

        “Sorry, but the LTTE cemeteries were not memorials to lost lives but monuments to violence. It makes sense for symbols of destruction to be destroyed.”

        And whose decision would that be? Yours or the inhabitants’ of those areas? So you see these Municipal Councils you hold up as adequate “devolution” are really impotent in the face of Sinhalese nationalism.

        “Now that you agree that the municipal councils/pradeshiya sabhas are the appropriate unit of devolution, and not the province more or less merged NE Province, it should be much easier to convince the electorate to devolve power to those entities.”

        Where have I agreed? I think as equal citizens of Lanka they should have the devolution they demand but for a proportionate region of land. This would be closer in extent to a district rather than a municipal council or a pradeshiya sabha. Short of having their own Army, Navy, Airforce and border controls I think they should devolve every single power to those areas.

        “Your simple logic confirms what I earlier told you, “For example, it is a common notion among both Sinhala racists and “liberals” that if the Tamils do not get devolution, they will strap bombs on themselves and go on a murdering rampage.””

        Except I was using the past tense and we all know that that is what happened. It could happen in the future as your “racists” and “liberals” predict, but I dont know. I am not an oracle. What I know is Tamils are and will be unhappy and I would like to make some compromises so they are not. However some might say “So what? They cannot bomb us or murder us so why should we care?”

        “So in other words, the real solution to the problem is to nullify Sinhala only and pogroms, and devolution is just a distraction. Thank you again for agreeing with me.”

        Wouldnt it be great if it were? Unfortunately clocks cant be turned back. Scars have formed. Attitudes have hardened. Even if you believe the effects of Sinhala only can be removed overnight and we can rise out of bed the next day as if nothing ever happened.

        “Because as I already pointed out to you, the Tamils are saying different things. Only a Sinhala liberal/racist believes that all the Tamils are the same and that they are after the same thing.”

        A large majority of Tamils have endorsed the goals of the TNA. Havent you read the news?

        “The problem is that you will get no reconciliation, peace, or contentment from devolution, and good relations with other countries are not worth the high price of devolution.”

        Why do you feel devolution is too high a price?

  • luxmy

    1.”Then why are people like Dr P. Saravanamuttu insisting that there would have been no conflict if there had been devolution???”

    A lot of Sinhalese also went up to tell LLRC that there should be devolution of power to the periphery to resolve the conflict.

    2.”Jaffna and Batticaloa – don’t they have municipal councils?”

    This shows how our education system fails to teach children what devolution of power means.

    • wijayapala

      Dear luxmy/Buddhika

      This shows how our education system fails to teach children what devolution of power means.

      We don’t need an education system when we have intellectuals like yourself to explain. So what is “devolution of power?”

      • yapa

        Dear wijayapala;

        Many only know to parrot the popular terms/concepts to get the advantage of the might of them to the party they represent. They nevr know to use them in proper contexts.Everybody talks of devolution of power in Sri Lanka. But those who are demanding have no udea how to do it or the merits amd demerits of them over the present system of governance. Only their mouths and greeds are alive. Their neains are dead.Unending unsubstantiated demands. That is thier way of life. Diyaw, diyaw apata diyaw! Kanna diyaw, bonna diyaw, balaya diyaw, apata one okkoma diyaw!

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        Correction………

        “Their neains are dead.”

        should be

        “Their brains are dead.”

        Thanks!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Devanesan Nesiah writes:
    “In fact the Tamil militants recognized this contradiction and consistently opposed the Thirteenth Amendment and the functioning of the Northeast Provincial Council created under the Thirteenth Amendment. They went on to assassinate some of the Tamil leaders who had accepted the Thirteenth Amendment and were working on drafting a Federal Constitution under the direction of President Chandrika Kumaranatunga in the 1990s. Those assassinated included Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran and Neelan Tiruchelvam. Sivasithamparam and President Chandrika were among those who survived assassination attempts.”

    Now that is an insult to tens of thousands of Tamil militants. It also casts doubt on the highly moral and ethical tranformation the writer recommends for Sri Lanka, because it is a bad example. Why didn’t he simply say ‘the LTTE’ or ‘the Tigers’ or ‘Prabhakaran’? No other brand of ‘Tamil militants’ killed those who were for the 13th amendment or federalism! This paragraph is as honest as saying that ‘Sinhala militants’ ( rather than naming the JVP of Wijeweera)killed Vijaya Kumaratunga and those who supported devolution!

    It is this kind of moral evasiveness towards the LTTE, the refusal to settle accounts with it intellectually, politically and historically, the avoidance of making a clean break with it at least by NAMING the evil, that makes the vast majority of Sinhalese doubt the voices of the Tamil Diaspora and ‘civil society’ activists who strike moralistic postures.

    • silva

      1. LTTE’s physical violence is unpardonable. Much more unpardonable is the continuing state (structural) violence of the last 63 years.
      I cannot imagine the suffering of the people in the Northeast.

      2. http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/4684-the-road-north.html
      The road north: Journeys in post-war Sri Lanka, Charles Haviland(BBC), 30 September 2011:
      ”During the second week of September the government brought about 500 alleged former LTTE cadres to the deep south of the island on a tour conducted as part of their ‘rehabilitation’ process. Pictures of the large crowd of Tamil ‘visitors’ show them streaming through the streets of Matara, wearing yellow T-shirts.”

      Do we need education in humanities to know the immoral, unethical and plain wrong in this, esp after the decades of periodic pogroms, massacres in prison and rehabilitation centre, abduction sprees, grease devil sprees AND continuing impunity of the occupation armed forces ?

      What happens to our continual soaking in Buddhist precepts, pirith, atc ??????

      • wijayapala

        LTTE’s physical violence is unpardonable. Much more unpardonable is the continuing state (structural) violence of the last 63 years.

        Why?

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Silva,

        You wrote “Do we need education in humanities to know the immoral,…..”

        Apparently the Flag waving, Terror Funding, Tamil Diaspora do need such education.

        If they could judge immorality, would they have allowed 10 year old Tamil children of the Wanni to be used as cannon fodder by a Sadist Terrorist while they kept their own siblings in comfort and safety overseas?

    • Agnos

      DJ,

      You fail to recognize the pure evil in yourself when you support the murderous Rajapaksa regime. Do you think evil people like you have any standing to pontificate to others about morality?

    • Ravana

      Here we go again. DJ on his favourite subject. Spreading misinformation on the JVP. Take it from me, a bloke who used to hate the JVP but has realised the sort of propaganda spread by the likes of DJ.
      DJ projects a black and white picture of “good” and “evil” which is difficult to understand in the context of his proffered stance of being an intellectual (He called Jesus Christ one of heroes in a recent interview; I imagine Jesuah son of Joseph, King of Judea and exponent of the principle of compassion would turn in his grave if he knew the extent to which Abrahamic primitivism is being utilised in his name).

      In fact nothing is so clear in the real world. Even Gotabhaya Rajapaksa loves his children. As did Prabhakaran. Yes Prapha was responsible for heinous crimes against humanity. Does DJ then excuse the alleged manner in which Prabha was humiliated before being killed in cold blood? What father would not plead if the life of his little child is threatened? How would he die when he has just seen him being killed despite pleas?

      I guess DJ (as did in his recent interview) would justify such action by a backhanded slap against the West (an interesting tactic 🙂 ). After all were they not complicit in how Sadam and Osama died (We are yet to see convincing evidence of the latter) ?

      Whilst members of the JVP may have been responsible for atrocities in the past (as they have been responsible for attempted breakup of the party recently) it is very disingenuous of DJ to try and compare Rohana Wijeweera to Prabha. One clear difference is that Rohana loved the downtrodden masses of Sri Lanka (of all ethnicities) and died on their behalf. I can see how various accusations against him have been constructed when I compare them to how the “rebels” attempted to frame Somawansa recently. Such accusations have been successfully refuted by Amarasinghe and if Wijeweera was alive I am sure he would be able to do the same. I know this because I have had the privelege of reading his writing in Sinhala. (Despite the attempts by GoSL to destroy all copies- a good glimpse into the mentality of Sri Lankan rulers spanning a number of decades).

      Now, while (unlike Prabha) Wijeweera loved the people he fought for, he (like Prabha) would have also loved his wife and children. The fact that his family is languishing in an Army camp (basically under house arrest) would no doubt be enough torture for him if he was alive. Is this also the fate of the wifes of Tamil leaders who were paraded on the GoSL propaganda show recently?

      Would a man such as Sarath Fonseka permit ongoing restriction of freedom for such individuals. Would he be fearful of what Wijeweera’s daughter would have to say in public? Or would he have the courage to face her? What does Fonseka have to say about Kumara the JVP rebel? Would he confirm that Kumara was kept protected under the orders of Ranjan Wijeratne? These are questions that Sarath Fonseka would need to answer if he was free to do so.

      There is no doubt that Kumara is an agent of someone. It is unlikely that he is an agent of RAW given that he is responsible for deaths of IPKF members. But it seems to me that there is a high probability that he has been a high level CIA mole for reasons I have given in a previous post.

      What is of interest for me is who would be his handler?

      Another matter of interest is how DJ can rail against the West on one hand and have what appears to be irrational venom towards the JVP (unlike Dr. Kumar David who had the dignity to acknowledge their strength) on the other whilst extolling the virtues of Che Guevara. We just have to imagine the possible explanations for the moment.

      Reading DJ’s somewhat more measured article about the JVP (interesting angle on Amarasinghe- DJ has correctly assumed him to be an important source of strength- (remember, DJ uses “white-man speak”, at times a statement is intended to distract)), on Sri Lanka Guardian may be somewhat illuminating:

      http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/10/jvp-split-can-left-get-it-right-part-1.html

      • James Angleton

        Hey Ravana

        Since you are in this subject of moles and their handlers,what’d you say if a top US Economist during the height of the Cold War era acting as a Presidential Adviser and brought on board to diffuse a recession ,now arguing for a subtler form of redistribution of wealth ,saying such action would give more latitude to counter typical capitalist tag attributed to USA. But critics would point out if economist’s suggestions are implemented it would stifle entrepreneur spirit that made USA an economic powerhouse and indeed the Administration would shooting itself in foot by trying to counter Anti Americanism on these terms.
        Some ,and not all of them paranoid Republicans, would even accuse the economist of being a highly placed Soviet mole.
        Do you see where I’m driving at ? 🙂
        Let’s not name the names, but do you think that the economist is innocent or whether allegations are more than a figment of imagination.

  • I think shreelanka is having more number of tamils then india 🙂

  • Perinbanayagam

    In view of certain recent discussions in these pages.the two following scholarly articles may be of interest to your readers:
    R.L.Kirk
    Ancient chronicles relate the origin of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka to the arrival of Prince Vijaya from an area either in north-east or north-west India, and his subsequent affiliation with people from south India. Students of Indian history argue that the Vijayan legend should be interpreted to favor either one or the other of the northern origins, or a mixture of peoples from both areas. Genetic distance analysis however, despite the limitations imposed by the data, shows that modern Sinhalese populations are closer to the Tamils and Keralites of south India and the upper caste groups of Bengal than they are to populations in Gujarat or the Panjab.(Journal of Physical Anthropogy,(vol 45?(1)pages 91-98(1976
    N.Saha
    Abstract
    Serum protein (haptoglobin types; transferrin and group-specific component subtypes); haemoglobin and red cell enzymes (acid phosphatase, esterase D, glyoxalase I, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, adenylate kinase, and phosphoglucomutase (locus 1) (subtypes) were studied in the Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims of Sri Lanka. The allelic frequencies of all the polymorphic systems were similar in these populations without any significant differences. A close look at the present results and earlier investigations on 13 polymorphic loci controlled by 37 alleles did not reveal any genetic characteristics in the present-day Sinhalese population that are distinct from those in the Tamils of Sri Lanka. As such, genetic evidence linking the legendary origin of the Sinhalese population to East India (Prince Vijaya) is lacking.(American Journal of Physical Anthropology,Vol.76(2) pages 217—226)

    • Ravana

      Dear Peri,
      Thanks for substantiating one of my assertions above. I also have some articles which I will post shortly. It is frustrating for me that such articles need to be posted at all. However, let me relate an example of my own prejudice:

      Quite recently, I was walking out of an institution in my home city. A young couple which was clearly subcontinental in origin were walking out some distance in front of me. The woman was of average to above average height for one from the subcontinent. The man very tall; taller than me and I am above average in the home country of my residence. He was also well built and very dark in complexion. As I got closer I assumed that they were probably Tamil as I got snippets of vocalisation. But as I passed them I heard clear sinhala phrases! (I have also had the experience of asking my wife whether she can tell the difference between Sinhala and Tamil when “Surangani”was being sung in both languages. She had no idea whatsoever. Add to this the every day experience we have had in watching Sri Lankan cricket over the last decade. Could you say that Jayasuriya, Muaritharan and Arnold are anything but brothers (in looks not in behaviour- heh heh)?

      • There are black swans, so can you conclude that all swans are black?
        Ignorance is bliss.

        Thanks!

    • What nonsense Mr. Perinbanayagam, please read the latest!

      http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1956#comment-31285

      Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Yapa,

        Than you for that link.
        It is very enlightening.

        THE GENATIC TEST PROVED THAT SINHALA IS UNIC
        A large number of genetic studies has been carried out into the subject of genetic similarities and dissimilarities of Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka. A few older studies have shown a close affinity between the two groups of people and South Indians. However, many modern studies have shown the opposite. Obviously there have been interactions between these groups but that hasn’t eliminated the possibility of many dissimilarities.

        Latest and most comprehensive genetic studies have come up with remarkable findings. World’s most comprehensive genetic study findings were released in 2008 after decades of research. Based on these, maps have been drawn. The following map presented with credits to the owners (Martin Soave/University of Michigan), plots genetic similarities and dissimilarities of a part of the world.
        [A schematic of worldwide human genetic variation, with colors representing different genetic types. Illustration by Martin Soave/University of Michigan (http://ns.umich.edu/index.html?Releases/2008/Feb08/migrate)]
        The map was based on a pioneering scientific study. [Most Detailed Global Study of Genetic Variation Completed (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080220161704.htm)]

        Another interesting find is that Tamils in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka are genetically the same (not just similar) to Tamils in Tamil Nadu, South India. This is a fact that has been vehemently denied by Tamil separatists. They always argued contrary to obvious facts that they are genetically distinct from Tamils in Tamil Nadu although they use the same language, customs, traditions and religious practices as Tamils in Tamil Nadu. These arguments fall into pieces with scientific discovery.

        It gets even more interesting to note that there are two genetic variations of Tamils in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The orange coloured group of Tamils are in most parts of Tamil Nadu and most parts of Vanni, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. These areas are geographically closest to each other. It is absolutely no miracle. However, Jaffna has a unique Tamil group coloured in blue which is found directly north across the seas in Tamil Nadu which is the closest point to Jaffna. Even today the Jaffna Tamils consider themselves to be different to other Tamils! This remarkable scientific finding sheds light on the age old belief and confirms it. They are closely related to the same genetic pool in Tamil Nadu than to any Sri Lankan group.

        Another important find is the fact that Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka could not have arrived in Sri Lanka a very long time ago. Had they arrived a very long time ago, they would have different genetic structures than that of closest areas across the seas in South India. Secondly, had Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka arrived in the island a long time ago, they would be carrying a highly mixed genetic structure that is widely dissimilar to South India.

        More reading at the link Yapa provided.

    • kadphises

      Peri,

      I think these results could be quite misleading and even inconclusive. The main problem I see with genetic tests carried out by Americans is that they dont understand the formation of the Sinhala society.

      The number of samples examined are also way too low. They need at least a 1000 samples each from every regional and caste group among the Sinhalese because each would be found to have very different compositions. Certain caste groups such as the aristocracy and the coastal fishing communities would have benefitted greatly from recent South Indian migration. However rural, niche casts would be much “purer” and contain older Sri Lankan blood lines. Taking one or two samples from each of these constituent groups and assuming they are all homogenous Sinhalese will only give such a fuzzy result with so much genetic “noise” that the conclusion would almost be meaningless.

      What they need to compare are two niche casts in some interior village like Meemure and another in some remote area in the Nilgiris where there is a higher degree of certainty that there has not been much “contamination” from migrants in both directions. These could be classed as the “purest” South Indian and Sri Lankan types and we will all deviate from this “pure form” depending on our own personal ancestrys which without doubt are more hybrid. No doubt there will be similarities among the two “pure” forms too, but these would in all probabilty be due to ancient migrations (where Tamils and Sinhalese did not exist as separate groups) rather than more recent migrations.

      • Perinbanayagam

        Kadphises:
        You may well be right.The relevant point for me is not so much about the authenticity of the Vijayan story but that Sri Lankans are a hybrid people derived mostly from the same stock and therefore there is no basis for supremacist politics based on race or primacy of settlement or separatist politics on it either.

      • The Owl of Minerva

        Does anyone know whether the genetic tests done on the Sri Lankan population included a test for a lion gene?

  • [Even as late as 1972, in the wake of the traumas of Standardization of University admissions]

    Sorry, this is bullshit. There was NO standardization on ethnic lines. It was a district basis.

    • Ravana

      Quite right. It was very foolish of Tamil elite from Jaffna to follow this line of argument. This is the sort of thing that lost Tamils, the moderate Sinhala support. I was from Colombo and would have readily accepted these terms (although I did not have to face them having thankfully – for other reasons- left the country).

  • wijayapala

    Velu Balendran, if you do not claim to know about anthropology, then why are you talking about Lemuria?

    • Velu Balendran

      Looks like you have something to say about Lemuria 🙂 Go on wijayapala, we are all ears!

  • wijayapala

    How have I whitewashed them?

    You completely omitted mentioning the violence directed against Tamils during their times. You are probably unaware of the fact that ALL FOUR of the “pogroms” that you briefly mentioned took place under your friends SWRD and JRJ.

    I have merely shown some contradictions but you are correct they were more probably people just like you considering that the compromises they made to settle the ethnic conflict were virtually nil.

    So in other words, you are perfectly satisfied with the anti-Tamil violence that SWRD and JRJ unleashed, and your only criticism is that they made no political compromises. Again, your views are quite consistent with the typical Sinhala liberal hypocrite.

    But unlike you they were prepared to consider the Banda-Chelva pact and the 13th amendment as olive branches to the Tamils whereas you are only prepared to learn the Tamil language. So perhaps they were not as racist.

    I stand corrected: you can actually forgive SWRD for the hundreds of Tamils murdered in 1956 and 1958 because he offered a solution that he didn’t bother to build popular support for, and you can similarly whitewash JRJ for the thousands of dead Tamils in 1977 and 1983 because he allowed the Indians to force 13A at gunpoint. What will the Sinhala liberal mind conceive next?

    You call them the two most racist anti Tamil leaders in Sri Lankan history. Where do you think Rajapakse and his cabinet of Weerawanse, Ranawaka and Gamanpila stands with respect to them?

    Unlike you, I judge actions more than words. I’m sure you will become a Mahinda fan even if he massacres the entire Tamil population of Northern Province in cold blood, as long as he devolves police powers to that province! That is the Sinhala liberal logic.

    I think as equal citizens of Lanka they should have the devolution they demand but for a proportionate region of land. This would be closer in extent to a district rather than a municipal council or a pradeshiya sabha. Short of having their own Army, Navy, Airforce and border controls I think they should devolve every single power to those areas.

    Then you and grinning Mahinda are on the same page, as he had proposed the district as well when he first became president.

    Except I was using the past tense and we all know that that is what happened.

    Except, that actually is NOT what happened. The Tamils did not strap on bombs when your hero SWRD tore up the pact with Chelva, nor did they conduct massacres when Dudley nullified his pact in 1965. The myth that the absence of devolution led to the war is the greatest fabrication concocted by the devolutionistas that has helped fuel Sinhala misperceptions of the Tamils as a violently power-hungry people who cannot be trusted.

    It could happen in the future as your “racists” and “liberals” predict, but I dont know. I am not an oracle.

    Thank you for finally acknowledging your ignorance. To give you a short history lesson:

    1. The first Tamil militant groups materialised not in the late 1950s or 1960s, but in the early 1970s largely as the result of standardisation, a policy that had nothing at all to do with the devolution of power. Accordingly, these student militant groups were overwhelmingly concentrated in Jaffna, the district hit hardest by standardisation (along with Colombo), and virtually non-existent in the Wanni and Eastern Province where standardisation actually benefited the youth of those areas. However, even in Jaffna only a fringe element was actively involved in militancy, as the mainstream reaction to standardisation was for Jaffna youth to seek education in India or the West.

    2. The war actually started after Black July, when the total number of Tamil militants ballooned from a few hundred to tens of thousands by 1985. However alienated the Tamils felt from the unitary state, 1972 Constitution, and standardisation, it was indiscriminate violence directed against the Tamils as a community that pushed them to arms. Devolution would not have helped any of the Tamils butchered in Colombo or the upcountry. Whereas you depict the Tamils as a bloodthirsty lot, in my version they were trying to save themselves from annihilation. Tragically, the logic of the war that was dictated by the racist violence of 1983 ensured that the LTTE would eventually become the dominant militant group.

    What I know is Tamils are and will be unhappy and I would like to make some compromises so they are not.

    You share the same racist premise as Weerawansa and Ranawaka that the Tamils will shoot people because they’re “unhappy,” the only difference is that these two believe the Tamils will never be happy with whatever they’re given and therefore must be kept locked down by military occupation.

    However some might say “So what? They cannot bomb us or murder us so why should we care?”

    We should care because the demand for devolution in itself is an ominous sign of the divisions within the country, and not a “compromise” as you believe. The fact that this demand did not hold water pre-1956- a point raised by Dr Nesiah- demonstrates its unnatural nature. The Tamil notion that they are only safe in the N-E can only be defeated when they feel safe in ALL parts of the country. It is precisely this reality that devolution fails to address.

    Unfortunately clocks cant be turned back. Scars have formed. Attitudes have hardened. Even if you believe the effects of Sinhala only can be removed overnight and we can rise out of bed the next day as if nothing ever happened.

    I don’t believe that clocks can be turned back, or that wounds and attitudes will heal overnight. It is precisely because I acknowledge this reality that I distrust quick-fix gimmick solutions like devolution.

    “Because as I already pointed out to you, the Tamils are saying different things. Only a Sinhala liberal/racist believes that all the Tamils are the same and that they are after the same thing.”

    A large majority of Tamils have endorsed the goals of the TNA. Havent you read the news?

    Let us examine the recent results:

    Jaffna
    Proportion of TNA votes to total registered voters: 124967/374343 = 33%

    Batticaloa
    Proportion of TNA votes to total registered voters: 329(!)/60861 = .5%

    Trincomalee
    Proportion of TNA votes to total registered voters minus non-TNA parties (assuming all non-TNA votes were non-Tamil): 34016/132124 = 26%

    The low Tamil turnout brings chills to my spine. Either the govt is preventing the Tamils from voting, or the Tamils have no faith in the system that they do not want to participate, or both. Whatever the case, the TNA clearly does NOT have the overwhelming support of the Tamils.

    Why do you feel devolution is too high a price?

    Because it is an inherently inefficient system that accentuates regional inequalities. Nearly half of the economy and a quarter of the population are concentrated in Western Province. If we give full Indian-style devolution to war-devastated N-E, where will the Provincial Councils find the money to implement its powers?

  • kadphises

    “You completely omitted mentioning the violence directed against Tamils during their times. You are probably unaware of the fact that ALL FOUR of the “pogroms” that you briefly mentioned took place under your friends SWRD and JRJ.”

    So the pogroms took place under my “good friends” JR and Banda. They are certainly guilty of not stopping them early or holding the perpertrators to justice. However I dont think any one can claim they personally directed the hooligans who carried out the killing and burnings. Its a bit like accusing Cameron of the rioting in London. You somehow seem to make these men sound worse than what they really were while at the sametime defending Rajapakse who is fully in command of what is going on today. Let me ask you did more Tamils die under Banda, JR than did under Zero Casualty Rajapakse who in your opinion is a saintly figure compared to the vile JR and Banda? Perhaps we can give the Tamils a vote on who was worse. The INCUMBENTS during 1956 and 1883 or the ARCHITECT of Nandikadal and its aftermath.

    “Unlike you, I judge actions more than words. I’m sure you will become a Mahinda fan even if he massacres the entire Tamil population of Northern Province in cold blood, as long as he devolves police powers to that province! That is the Sinhala liberal logic.”

    Whoooah!!! Where did you pull that one out of? Which actions are we talking of. I think you are having a fantasy of what Mahinda might someday do.. So what are the great reconcilliatory ACTIONS of the Rajapakse, Weerawansa Gamanpila clan then?

    “Let us examine the recent results:….”

    But the TNA still won didnt they? Overwhelmingly. They certainly didnt vote for Rajapakse’s “Home grown solution” (or lack thereof). They lower number of votes cast is a completely separate issue. There were claims of intimidation. IDPs not being registered. Others living in places outside their electorates…

    • wijayapala

      kadphises,

      As I expected, you ducked out of answering my critique of devolution as an inefficient system that encourages, not discourages inequality. It is quite typical for the Sinhala liberals to avoid answering the tough questions and the crux of the issue, perhaps owing to intellectual shortcomings, in favor of obsessing over irrelevant details. Would it be too much to ask if you could kindly explain this strange mindset?

      They are certainly guilty of not stopping them early or holding the perpertrators to justice. However I dont think any one can claim they personally directed the hooligans who carried out the killing and burnings.

      Sigh.. ok kadphises, time to put on your thinking cap. How would you explain that all four riots against the Tamils took place under just these two leaders? Don’t you think that if communal violence of this scale was simply the result of grassroots Sinhala racism, as JR wanted to you believe, that there would have been regular episodes stretched out over the decades?

      How would you explain that under Mrs B, who was quite clearly a Sinhala chauvinist with little sympathy for the Tamils, there was not a single outbreak of this level of violence in the twelve years she was in power? Even with the rise of Tamil militancy in the 1970s, a scenario that SWRD did not face in the 1950s?

      It is true that neither SWRD nor JR personally participated or supervised this violence; they had plenty of minions to carry it out on their behalf. Perhaps you believe that Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust because he did not personally murder any Jews or supervised extermination at the camps??

      You somehow seem to make these men sound worse than what they really were

      And you are acting as their apologist, which makes you the racist not me. The most I will concede is that JR probably did not intend to massacre defenseless 3,000 Tamils in a week, but rather wanted to terrorize and “teach them a lesson” along the lines of 1977.

      Let me ask you did more Tamils die under Banda, JR than did under Zero Casualty Rajapakse who in your opinion is a saintly figure compared to the vile JR and Banda?

      As I told you before, the Tamils killed under SWRD and JR were not being held as human shields by the LTTE in a war zone and shot if they tried to escape. Are you holding Mahinda responsible for the Tamils that the LTTE killed?

      Whoooah!!! Where did you pull that one out of?

      The festering rear end of Sinhala liberalism. You praised JR and SWRD in spite of the Tamils they murdered, simply because they talked the talk. How else can one expose such foolish thinking?

      But the TNA still won didnt they?

      That is not originally what you said. You stated, “A large majority of Tamils have endorsed the goals of the TNA,” which I proved to be false. Kindly desist from shifting the goalpost when your arguments are unsubstantiated.

      They lower number of votes cast is a completely separate issue.

      Hardly, it directly relates to the original topic of what the Tamils want. Far from what you originally claim, the majority of Tamils did NOT endorse the TNA, and because many of them did not participate in the elections it is extremely difficult to determine what they exactly want. Do they support devolution like Dr Nesiah? Or are they separatists like Post DjBS Scenario? Since we cannot answer that question, we cannot prove that devolution will be a “solution” to anything.

      • kadphises

        “As I expected, you ducked out of answering my critique of devolution as an inefficient system that encourages, not discourages inequality. It is quite typical for the Sinhala liberals to avoid answering the tough questions and the crux of the issue, perhaps owing to intellectual shortcomings, in favor of obsessing over irrelevant details. Would it be too much to ask if you could kindly explain this strange mindset?”

        How was it a critique? You have not mentioned how or why devolution is an “inefficient system that encourages, not discourages inequality”. Just a sweeping statement with no reasons given. My response is.. -No its not and I disagree-. But I have given you reasons why not.

        “Don’t you think that if communal violence of this scale was simply the result of grassroots Sinhala racism, as JR wanted to you believe, that there would have been regular episodes stretched out over the decades?”

        Perhaps the grassroots dont feel they need to get involved if they think the government and the army are doing a good job of it like in Nandikadal. How do you know what JR wanted us to believe? Are you a mind reader as well?

        “How would you explain that under Mrs B, who was quite clearly a Sinhala chauvinist with little sympathy for the Tamils, there was not a single outbreak of this level of violence in the twelve years she was in power? Even with the rise of Tamil militancy in the 1970s, a scenario that SWRD did not face in the 1950s?”

        So is this your thesis then? That a clearly Sinhala chauvinist govt with little sympathy for Tamils like Sirima and Rajapakse is actually better for Tamils??

        “It is true that neither SWRD nor JR personally participated or supervised this violence; they had plenty of minions to carry it out on their behalf. Perhaps you believe that Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust because he did not personally murder any Jews or supervised extermination at the camps?? ”

        Sorry, I assumed you could read. Did I say “participated”? I used the word “directed” which means something quite different. Did Hitler participate? – NO. Did he direct? – YES. I said I did not think Banda and JR were personally racist because they welcomed Tamils into their families even though their policies in govt were detremental to Tamils. which you labeled as “white washing” and “praise”. I am at a loss as to how you came to that conclusion. In fact I was only comparing them with Rajapakse, Weerawansa and Gamanpila who I think are far worse.

        “And you are acting as their apologist, which makes you the racist not me.”

        Now now Wijeyapala.. steady on. Throwing the word “racist” at everyting you see doesnt always make you look good yourself.

        “The most I will concede is that JR probably did not intend to massacre defenseless 3,000 Tamils in a week, but rather wanted to terrorize and “teach them a lesson” along the lines of 1977.”

        You know what? I agree! I too believe JR was a right wing hardliner although I would be cautious about calling him a racist. You also seem to have caught the Tamil diaspora’s desease of casualty inflation. The newspapers of the day reported the number of dead as 550+ based on the number of corpses that turned up in the morgues. The Tamil lobby inflated this to 2000 to make their cause look better and now you have just raised it even further to3000. Compulsive exageration seems to be your stock in trade.

        “As I told you before, the Tamils killed under SWRD and JR were not being held as human shields by the LTTE in a war zone and shot if they tried to escape. Are you holding Mahinda responsible for the Tamils that the LTTE killed?”

        Are you claiming that all the Tamil civilians who died were killed by the LTTE? That there was no shelling and shooting from the Army. In fact I accept that the LTTE made sure that the only way the Army could win the war was by causing a massacre. However I hold Mahinda responsible for the insensitivity and lack of sympathy shown to the survivors. Choosing to throw parties for bollywood and staging parades and exhibitions while the civilians languished in detainment centres. And now forgetting his pledge for a fair “homegrown solution”.

        “The festering rear end of Sinhala liberalism. You praised JR and SWRD in spite of the Tamils they murdered, simply because they talked the talk. How else can one expose such foolish thinking?”

        “praised JR and SWRD”?? “inspite of the Tamils they murdered”?? Personally?? with their bare hands?? Friend, It is your exagerations and hyperbole that fester.

        “That is not originally what you said. You stated, “A large majority of Tamils have endorsed the goals of the TNA,” which I proved to be false. Kindly desist from shifting the goalpost when your arguments are unsubstantiated.”

        A majority of Tamils compared to those who voted for the no-devolution-Rajapakses. How can we say anything about those who did not vote except that they were either too scared, were living away from their electorates due to displacement or had basically given up on Sri Lankan democracy? Instead you are assuming that all Tamils who did not vote opposed devolution. What would you then say about the 1977 when the TULF swept to power on the demand of total secesion? Is Dr. Nesiah also a member of this “Tamil majority” who does not want devolution? I suspect not from his responses to you.

        Remember? It was you who claimed that the majority of Tamils did not want devolution -with absolutely no evidence to show for it. And I countered that the TNA winning the elections indicated otherwise..

      • wijayapala

        kadphises, thank you for finally discussing devolution, although I have to admit what you had to share was less than enlightening.

        Throwing the word “racist” at everyting you see doesnt always make you look good yourself.

        Very good kadphises, now take a deep breath, go to the mirror, and repeat what you just said.

        You have not mentioned how or why devolution is an “inefficient system that encourages, not discourages inequality”.

        I asked you how the war devastated N-E will get the funds to rebuild and exercise police and other powers. Haven’t seen an answer from you.

        My response is.. -No its not and I disagree-. But I have given you reasons why not.

        Where?

        How do you know what JR wanted us to believe?

        Because after the riots he blamed everything on the Sinhalese to escape culpability. His biographer and buddy K.M. de Silva assisted him by pinning everything on Mrs B, even though she had been out of power for 6 years by 1983. The fact that you today are singing praises about his treatment of his Tamil ex-daughter-in-law while ignoring Black July speaks volumes how well JR succeeded.

        So is this your thesis then? That a clearly Sinhala chauvinist govt with little sympathy for Tamils like Sirima and Rajapakse is actually better for Tamils??

        Given that you are asking this question, you are affirming that you prefer leaders like JR who murder Tamils without the help of the LTTE and do a better job covering it up.

        You know what? I agree!

        Thank you for finally admitting how foolish you were not to believe that SWRD and JR had nothing to do with the anti-Tamil riots and that they were just spontaneous violence.

        I too believe JR was a right wing hardliner although I would be cautious about calling him a racist.

        Oh right, killing 3,000 Tamils doesn’t make one a racist.

        You also seem to have caught the Tamil diaspora’s desease of casualty inflation.

        Are you suggesting that we should not trust what the Tamils tell us?

        The newspapers of the day reported the number of dead as 550+ based on the number of corpses that turned up in the morgues.

        Sigh.. didn’t I ask you to put on your thinking cap?

        1) Do you really believe that all the corpses made it to the morgue?

        2) Who controlled the newspapers? Did they follow the same editorial policy and journalistic standards as in the late 1990s when they were claiming that Chandrika was winning Jaya Sikurui?

        3) Even if only 500 Tamils were killed, is that not still a massacre? Earlier you were screaming about anti-Tamil pogroms, but now that we are examining one of them you are preaching that it was not so bad and that JR was not a racist for directing it!

        Compulsive exageration seems to be your stock in trade.

        And shameless denial combined with wilful ignorance appears to be yours.

        In fact I accept that the LTTE made sure that the only way the Army could win the war was by causing a massacre.

        Then why are you comparing those deaths to Black July??? Do you believe Black July was equally as justifiable?

        However I hold Mahinda responsible for the insensitivity and lack of sympathy shown to the survivors.

        Lack of sympathy does not equate to acts of murder, which is why your attempt to equate Mahinda with JR falls flat. Don’t you find yourself rather pathetic that when I corner you with your apologia for JR’s pogroms against the Tamils, the best you can bleat is, “what about Mahinda?” Why are we talking about Mahinda anyway, just for you to duck and weave your attempts to justify the earlier anti-Tamil pogroms?

        How can we say anything about those who did not vote except that they were either too scared, were living away from their electorates due to displacement or had basically given up on Sri Lankan democracy?

        You’re right, we can’t say anything for certain and therefore you can’t say that the Tamils for certain want devolution, and therefore you can’t say that devolution will certainly be a solution for anything.

        It was you who claimed that the majority of Tamils did not want devolution

        Where did I make this claim?

      • wijayapala

        Correction: Thank you for finally admitting how foolish you were to believe that SWRD and JR had nothing to do with the anti-Tamil riots and that they were just spontaneous violence.

  • Dr. Devanesan Nesiah

    @The Owl of Minerva

    Some of the diaspora went abroad as children and may know little of their mother land ; but some of the older leaders are indeed demented.

    @Ravana

    I think we should all strive to learn all three languages. This should start in school.

    @Post DJBS Scenario

    Whatever has happened in the past, secession was never a viable option. At times the prospects may look hopeless, but we should never give up.

    @Wijayapala

    Very small multi-ethnic countries like Switzerland have been greatly enriched by federalism; so too large multiethnic countries like India and Canada, as also countries that are predominantly mono-ethnic such as USA and Australia.

    @A Concerned Citizen

    My reply to post DJBS scenario applies; never give up hope. We need to have a clear vision of our future and work tirelessly towards it, but for the present we may be compelled to compromise by choosing the lesser evil. Easier said than done, but we have no other course of action.

    @Off the Cuff

    The Owl of Minerva is right but that is not all. The entire Island belongs to all of us whether the country is Unitary or Federal. Look at Federal India. Almost every State is becoming more plural with no barrier to migrating across state boundaries. This is the developing global pattern, even as more countries are devolving power to their regions. Having a state or region administered in your mother tongue may enhance your dignity but need not stop you from securing a job or building a home for your family in another state or region. Regarding statistical disparities regarding external migration there are push and pull factors. In recent decades Tamils have had more reasons to get out of Sri Lanka than Sinhalese. This must surely be regarded as a liability and not as an asset, even if a few individuals have gained from it. Whenever an ethnic community is subject to ethnic cleansing / genocide, there will be some among them who will use it as an economic opportunity. Is that wrong? When 75,000 Muslims were expelled from the North by the LTTE, it was a tragedy for the Northern Muslims, but a few individuals among them became rich in Puttalam, Colombo and elsewhere. Is that wrong? When millions of Jews were killed or fled Germany under Hitler, thousands of those who fled became millionaires in the countries in which they resettled. Is that wrong? Does the upward mobility of some individuals lessen the crime of those responsible for ethnic cleansing / genocide? The upward mobility of some individuals is no compensation for the tragedy endured by the majority of the Tamil victims of Sri Lanka, or the Muslims expelled from the North or the Jews of East Europe.

    @Wijayapala

    What have Municipal Councils got to do with devolution? As for Tamil support for secession, most of the leaders of the war period are dead – either killed or died of natural causes. Those who are yet alive could be asked if they were really for secession. I have no doubt that most of them, apart from the few who were with the LTTE , would reply that they were not.

    @Dayan Jayatilleka

    Unlike Dayan, I do not consider ant ethnic group to be inherently more or less racist than any other. Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran and Neelan were indeed killed by the LTTE, but Dayan is wrong in saying that no other brand of Tamil militants killed those who were for 13A or Federalism. Who killed Joseph Pararajasingham? Who killed Raviraj? Who killed Dharmalingam and Alalasundaram? The last two were killed post Thimpu but before 13A got into the constitution. But these four and very many others were killed for advocating Federalism or advanced devolution; and they were killed by Tamil militants other than the LTTE. Why is Dayan being evasive? Is it because these killings, and hundreds of others, were commissioned by his political partners? I have never dodged naming the LTTE or any other group in relation to assassinations or ethnic cleansing. For example the Human Rights Commission Report on Disappearances from Jaffna, including 30 Muslims who were abducted by the LTTE and then “disappeared”, covers these and many other assassinations. There is explicit mention of the role of the LTTE in the killings. I headed the Inquiry and signed that Report along with two others (one Muslim and one Sinhalese, both very eminent)a decade ago when the LTTE was at the height of its powers. Again, 75, 000 Northern Muslims were expelled from the North in October 1990. The Citizens Commission Report on that crime, signed by myself and my fellow Commissioners, is due to be released this month. Those interested may read both Reports. In contrast, has Dayan ever publicly acknowledged any assassination or ethnic cleansing or other crime not committed by the LTTE?

    @No Frames

    No frames appears to share the ignorance of many on this subject which successive governments, for a variety of reasons, have chosen to keep under covers. The first “Standardization” was not standardization at all but ethnic/linguistic quotas. To deflect charges of racism, changes were made in subsequent years. Eventually the State has settled on the current scheme of district quotas which contains many biases but is not as openly racist as the original 1971 scheme. I do think there could be a place for quotas or preferences but not on the basis of ethnicity. I have published (e.g. in Pravada-Polity), and presented papers on the subject (e.g. at a special session of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science) but I do not want to go in to it now as it will deflect from the theme of this discourse. Perhaps I may reopen that subject in ground views on a future date.

    • wijayapala

      Dr Nesiah, it was a pleasure to hear from you.

      Very small multi-ethnic countries like Switzerland have been greatly enriched by federalism;

      Can you explain exactly how federalism has enriched Switzerland? Is it not more accurate that Switzerland has always been a wealthy country and that only small countries with its level of wealth can afford the inefficiencies that come with federalism?

      so too large multiethnic countries like India and Canada,

      Can you explain why there isn’t a single federation of the same size and level of development as Sri Lanka? Why the only small federations are the rich European variety, while the developing federations like India all tend to be much larger than Sri Lanka?

      What have Municipal Councils got to do with devolution?

      Because kadphises here and his SInhala liberal ilk are spreading stories that devolution is all about bringing democracy to the people. If that is really true (and please don’t laugh!), then why not devolve power to the lowest and most local level of government closest to the people?

      You and I both know that devolution has absolutely nothing to do with democracy or governance, but solely to give some sense of security to the Tamils. The problem is that if it doesn’t work and devolution doesn’t make Tamils feel more secure, then they might seek an alternative- like separatism.

      As for Tamil support for secession, most of the leaders of the war period are dead – either killed or died of natural causes. Those who are yet alive could be asked if they were really for secession.

      That may be true, but it does not change the historical fact that a 25-year war had been fought over this issue with hundreds of thousands of deaths. If it had been Prabakaran who had triumphed with Mahinda’s half-naked bloated corpse featured in the news, then wouldn’t the Tamils living in the N-E all claim that they had supported secession all along? Any other human in their situation would do something along those lines.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Dr. Devanesan Nesiah,

      Thank you for your reply.

      You wrote “The entire Island belongs to all of us whether the country is Unitary or Federal. Look at Federal India. Almost every State is becoming more plural with no barrier to migrating across state boundaries. This is the developing global pattern, even as more countries are devolving power to their regions. Having a state or region administered in your mother tongue may enhance your dignity but need not stop you from securing a job or building a home for your family in another state or region “

      Exactly my view too.

      Please read the following post by me under your article and please follow the discussion and provide your valuable input.
      http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-38086

      You wrote “The Owl of Minerva is right but that is not all. ……..Regarding statistical disparities regarding external migration there are push and pull factors. In recent decades Tamils have had more reasons to get out of Sri Lanka than Sinhalese. This must surely be regarded as a liability and not as an asset, even if a few individuals have gained from it. Whenever an ethnic community is subject to ethnic cleansing / genocide, there will be some among them who will use it as an economic opportunity. Is that wrong? “

      I do not agree with you about the Owl. The criteria for admitting the different Ethnicities in to affluent West oriented states were not the same. A refugee fleeing from death will not travel thousands of miles to seek safety, if indeed safety was what they were seeking. Waiting for many months in “dangerous” Colombo, to process Visa applications to affluent Western States, when such safety was within easy reach, just a few hours boat ride away, across the Palk Straits is not human behaviour. A person running for fear of death would seek the closest refuge and that in this case was India, where a Culturally and Ethnically almost identical, 90 million Tamils lived, guaranteeing absolute safety.

      The ONLY place in Sri Lanka where Genocide and Ethnic cleansing was performed was in the LTTE Terrorist held North. Those who were Ethnically cleansed were Muslims and Sinhalese. These people were not given refuge by any Western State and they form the OLDEST IDP population in Sri Lanka. Most of them are still IDP’s and homeless for two decades.

      What is wrong is the beating of war drums and funding a war while seated in comfort in the West with their siblings safe from Prabhakaran’s grasp and robbing the childhood of helpless Wanni Tamil children as young as 7 years old. Don’t you consider that wrong? I consider it abominable and cowardly.

      You wrote “When 75,000 Muslims were expelled from the North by the LTTE, it was a tragedy for the Northern Muslims, but a few individuals among them became rich in Puttalam, Colombo and elsewhere. Is that wrong?”

      Of course it is not wrong. They did not run away from the country under false pretexts. They did not fund a Terrorist war. They did not sacrifice Tamil children or their own children in achieving their success. All that success was achieved in the Majority Sinhala South. That speaks volumes about the ordinary Sinhalese. Lest you forget All the Sinhalese who lived in the North were Ethnically cleansed too.

      You wrote “The upward mobility of some individuals is no compensation for the tragedy endured by the majority of the Tamil victims of Sri Lanka, or the Muslims expelled from the North”

      Whether there is upward mobility or not what happened to the Tamils and Muslims was a tragedy.

      You have forgotten the expelled Sinhalese or the butchered Sinhalese and Muslims. Tamil terrorists did not spare even unborn children or apprentice Monks (I believe some were not even 10 years old).

      It is futile to throw the ball from one court to another. SWRD did an injustice to the Tamils with his Language policy. JR was a barbarian to have allowed what happened in black July. Mrs B did an injustice with Media wise standardisation. The first and the third are no more. The second cannot be reversed but can be somewhat appeased by looking after the families of those affected. The role played by the Tamil intelligentsia who used the Tamil peasantry should not be forgotten either. For nearly 150 years some Tamils were instrumental in enforcing draconian British Laws on the Majority population. This will to rule did not end with independence and those who enjoyed power while the British were here, tried to perpetuate that power after the British left. They did not count on the reaction, that such attempts would generate, from a majority suppressed for 150 years.

      Without delving on the past, please come and join the discussion about the unit of devolution at the link I have provided above. Your input would be valuable.

  • @ Dr. Devanesan Nesiah

    I think you are trying to create a false belief. Vellar Tamils of Jaffna are / were against district quota system because more than Sinhalese getting it, it has paved the way for low caste Tamils of North, East and especially estate Tamils of Central provinces to get higher education, and they are bitter about it. 1971 scheme never took place, and what took place was the district quota system. And the exam fraud done by Tamils was well documented and paved the way for multiple choice question papers and then making writing the answer scripts in ink mandatory. Tamils have been distorting the facts for the last 30 years. Still today, Tamils have university admissions more than their respective percentage in population.

  • kadphises

    “I asked you how the war devastated N-E will get the funds to rebuild and exercise police and other powers. Haven’t seen an answer from you.”

    Lets leave that for the Tamils to answer that question themselves shall we? Thats what devolution is all about. They believe they can raise the funds themselves, from the diaspora, India, West. So who are we to say otherwise. Devolution means managing one’s own affairs without interference from well meaning souls like you who have nothing but the Tamil’s welfare in mind ;-).

    “Very good kadphises, now take a deep breath, go to the mirror, and repeat what you just said.”

    Thanks for that suggestion. So what do you want me to believe now?

    Pro devolution Saravanamuttu, Jehan Perera, myself – are racists.
    and
    Anti devolution Wijeyapala, Malinda Seneviratne, Nalin de Silva, Weerawanse, Gamanpila are genuinely concerned for and know whats best for the Tamils?

    Your logic has got so contorted I fear you may not be able to unknot yourself!

    “Oh right, (JR & SWRD) killing 3,000 Tamils doesn’t make one a racist.”

    Again, are you saying they ordered or carried out the killings themselves? Feel free to trash JR and SWRD all you like. I have no interest in defending them. Only wanted to point out that they didnt personally order these killings which you somehow seem to be sure of. This is another trait of yours when being pinned down on devolution. You create a side issue i.e. That JR and SWRD were the biggest racists (in a way that Mahinda is not?) and try to divert the debate onto a side track. Really, we can disagree about it but they are dead and gone and irelavant to whether we need devolution or not. To debate whether JR killed 3,000 or Mahinda killed 40,000 or if they were killed by the LTTE (as you assert) is to divert the debate to the grave yard.

    “The fact that you today are singing praises about his treatment of his Tamil ex-daughter-in-law while ignoring Black July speaks volumes how well JR succeeded.”

    You need to re-read what I said. What I said originally was that in their personal lives they were not racist and cited these examples but I said in public life their effect was to widen the ethnic devide due to their hunger to gain/remain in power. If you hadnt noticed.. this is not a positive comment on them however the man who hasnt said a word about Rajapakse scores in this respect sees it as “praise”, “white washing” , “singin praise” by and “apologist” inviting me to bite back and not talk about devolution or Rajapakse rule. This is classic Wijeyapala..

    “3) Even if only 500 Tamils were killed, is that not still a massacre? Earlier you were screaming about anti-Tamil pogroms, but now that we are examining one of them you are preaching that it was not so bad and that JR was not a racist for directing it!”

    Who said it wasnt a massacre or that it wasnt bad? I was only pointing out something you and the Tamil diaspora you so hate have in common i.e. to inflate numbers and apportion blame on your personal hate figures to bolster your own argument.

    “1) Do you really believe that all the corpses made it to the morgue?”

    What happened to the rest then? Did people bury them in their back yards or did they just blow away in the wind? What happened to the charred bodies on the streets if they did not end up in the morgue when they were cleaned up by the municipal council. Are you saying 6 times as many bodies dissapeared without a trace?

    “Then why are you comparing those deaths to Black July??? Do you believe Black July was equally as justifiable?”

    Who’s comparing what? Where? You can only compare numbers. Where did I say it was justifiable? Exageration again Wijeyapala..?

    “When I corner you with your apologia for JR’s pogroms against the Tamils, the best you can bleat is, “what about Mahinda?” Why are we talking about Mahinda anyway, just for you to duck and weave your attempts to justify the earlier anti-Tamil pogroms?”

    Isnt Mahinda more relavant today than the dead and maggoted JR and SWRD? Remember, the article is about devolution and not about if JR and SWRD.

    @Kadphises: “It was you who claimed that the majority of Tamils did not want devolution”

    @Wijeyapala: “Where did I make this claim?”

    Here you go then… from the horses mouth..

    @Wijeyapala: “..Whatever the case, the TNA clearly does NOT have the overwhelming support of the Tamils..”

    (Unless ofcourse you are asserting that the TNA does not want more devolution)

  • kadphises

    Wijeyapala, Dr. Nesiah,

    “What have Municipal Councils got to do with devolution?”

    Because kadphises here and his SInhala liberal ilk are spreading stories that devolution is all about bringing democracy to the people. If that is really true (and please don’t laugh!), then why not devolve power to the lowest and most local level of government closest to the people?

    Yes, why not devolve power to the Municipal councils with fiscal, land and police powers? Also make the municipal councils large enough to reflect the size of the populations within them so we all have a say over an equal extent of land. Then some Municipal councils could voluntarily merge with others and share resources to form more efficient entities. Would that be acceptable to you Wijeyapala?

    • wijayapala

      kadphises,

      Also make the municipal councils large enough to reflect the size of the populations within them so we all have a say over an equal extent of land.

      You have finally come up with a brilliant suggestion! Given how small Sri Lanka is, why not have just one municipal council for the whole country? Wouldn’t that be the only municipal council “large enough to reflect the size of the populations?”

      @Wijeyapala: “..Whatever the case, the TNA clearly does NOT have the overwhelming support of the Tamils..”

      How does the Tamils’ lack of support for TNA automatically equate to lack of support for devolution? Anandasangaree is not in the TNA, does that mean he does not support devolution????

      Since you insist that the TNA is the ultimate indicator of Tamil popular sentiment even though a majority of registered Tamil voters did not vote for it, how do you interpret the ceasefire years when the TNA endorsed the LTTE’s separatism? If the Tamils were hardcore separatists at that time, as your logic suggests, then what changed?

      Lets leave that for the Tamils to answer that question themselves shall we? Thats what devolution is all about.

      Since they are not answering the question (and neither are you), then you should have no surprise that devolution has not been implemented.

      Pro devolution Saravanamuttu, Jehan Perera, myself – are racists.

      Since you have exhausted your one good idea for this month and have degenerated this conversation to name association, why do you get Saravanamuttu while I get stuck with Weerawansa?? What about pro devolution SWRD, JR, and kadphises? Or Tamil self-rule Prabakaran, Pottu Amman, and kadphises?

      Feel free to trash JR and SWRD all you like. I have no interest in defending them. Only wanted to point out that they didnt personally order these killings which you somehow seem to be sure of.

      Then why are you defending them? The more you defend them, the easier it is for me to trash you!

      Sorry, but the fact that all of the pre-war communal violence took place under their watch shows that they ordered the Tamils to be taught a lesson.

      This is another trait of yours when being pinned down on devolution. You create a side issue i.e. That JR and SWRD were the biggest racists (in a way that Mahinda is not?) and try to divert the debate onto a side track.

      As your above posts show, JR and SWRD were brought into the discussion only after you diverted the debate into regaling us what a wonderful English-speaking humanist you are, and that just because you think that Tamil is a third-rate language not worth your time to learn does not make you less qualified to speak on behalf of the Tamils! 😉

      What I said originally was that in their personal lives they were not racist and cited these examples but I said in public life their effect was to widen the ethnic devide due to their hunger to gain/remain in power.

      There is no difference between one’s “personal” and “public” lives. It is a common tactic for apologists to claim that so-and-so was such a wonderful person in private, when you overlook the killings.

      the man who hasnt said a word about Rajapakse scores in this respect

      I am not talking about Rajapaksha because he has nothing to do with the discussion! You only brought him up in a bizarre attempt to prove that being insensitive to Tamils is a far worse crime than massacring them!

      I was only pointing out something you and the Tamil diaspora you so hate have in common i.e. to inflate numbers and apportion blame on your personal hate figures to bolster your own argument.

      What is your evidence that 3,000 was an inflated figure?

      Are you saying 6 times as many bodies dissapeared without a trace?

      Have you completely forgotten the 1987-89 JVP uprising?

      You can only compare numbers.

      So with this half-witted method of assessing atrocities, are you saying that the Allies in WWII committed genocide against the Germans by killing nearly 6 million of their soldiers?

      • kadphises

        Wijeyapala,

        “As your above posts show, JR and SWRD were brought into the discussion only after you diverted the debate into regaling us what a wonderful English-speaking humanist you are, and that just because you think that Tamil is a third-rate language not worth your time to learn does not make you less qualified to speak on behalf of the Tamils! ”

        I think this is going to be my last response to you as you are really beginning to wear me down with your inane arguments and wild claims. I am now quite tired of it. One needs to know who to pick arguments with and also what to argue about. And in this respect I seem to have failed.

        “You have finally come up with a brilliant suggestion! Given how small Sri Lanka is, why not have just one municipal council for the whole country? Wouldn’t that be the only municipal council “large enough to reflect the size of the populations?””

        But we will be back to the beginning then wont we Wijeyapala, where a Sinhala majority will be imposing their will over regional minorities. Isnt his is what we are trying to get away from ? You could make the municipal council even bigger to include Tamil Nadu but that won’t solve the problems of the Sinhalese then would it?

        “Since you insist that the TNA is the ultimate indicator of Tamil popular sentiment even though a majority of registered Tamil voters did not vote for it, how do you interpret the ceasefire years when the TNA endorsed the LTTE’s separatism? If the Tamils were hardcore separatists at that time, as your logic suggests, then what changed?”

        Not quite sure I understand your contorted logic here. The only thing we can deduce from the election is that more people voted for the TNA than against it. There can be many reasons for why people did not vote which I have listed earlier. But the one thing you cannot infer is that all those who did not vote did so because they were anti-devolution. If the govt is so sure that the majority of Tamils were anti-devolution why doesnt it offer them a referandum on devolution? Surely, by winning it the could silence their critics? The GTF, the US, India, Saravanamuttu, Jehan Perera… So do you count Dr. Nesiah also as among this “majority” of Tamils who according to you are anti devolution? Are there many other prominent Tamil figures who are anti-devolution or are they all invisible and too frightened to vote or form an anti-devolution Tamil political party? Surely if they were the majority someone would form an openly anti-devolution party and exploit this electorate? How many Tamils who post here are anti-devolution? It appears that you cannot even use your knowledge of English to gauge Tamil opinion leave alone your knowledge of Tamil!

        “I am not talking about Rajapaksha because he has nothing to do with the discussion!”

        Really?? So the dead JR and SWRD are more relavant than Rajapakse to this discussion on if there should or should not be devolution?

        “You only brought him up in a bizarre attempt to prove that being insensitive to Tamils is a far worse crime than massacring them!”

        Really?? Where?? You really should stop listening to those voices in your head!! It was you who brought them up with…

        Wijeyapala: “As I recall, SWRD and JRJ came from the finest English-speaking backgrounds one can find. Are you as minority-friendly as they were?”

        Kadphises: “In their personal lives I think they were minority friendly. JR welcomed his Tamil daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law with open arms which is quite rare for a Sri Lankan -Tamil or Sinhalese- of his vintage. Unfortunately they were not strong enough to stand up to Sinhalese Nationalism while in power and even exploited it to get into power. So I guess you could say they were somewhat unscrpulous and were prepared to sacrifice their principles to gain power.”

        You might note I have also called them “unscrupulous” and “prepared to sacrifice their principles to gain power”. You decided to interpret this as me “singing their praise” and “being an apologist for” the two people (my friends according to you) who you simply see as guilty of “murder” (and not even of “manslaughter”) without even mentioning Rajapakse, Weerawanse, Gamanpila who are a lot more relevant to what is happening today and who Tamils have a problem with today. You dont seem to have been able to use your purported knowledge of Tamil to speak to them and understand this.

        “What is your evidence that 3,000 was an inflated figure?”

        Surely, the onus is on you to prove your figure of 3000 which you pulled out of a hat rather than for me to prove otherwise? I have earlier cited the newspapers (The Island) for my figure. It would be good to know how your figure was computed or even where you got it from.

        “So with this half-witted method of assessing atrocities, are you saying that the Allies in WWII committed genocide against the Germans by killing nearly 6 million of their soldiers?”

        Am I SAYING?? No Wijeyapala, again it is those voices in your head that are SAYING… The same as Tamil voices in your head that are SAYING “Please dont give us devolution”!! You really need to see your therapist! I am clearly not qualified for this job!! 😉

      • kadphises

        Off the Cuff,
        “What would you suggest as the unit of devolution? What are the suggested boundaries of those units? I note that you have used the following proviso “we all have a say over an equal extent of land.” which is incompatible with the boundaries that the Eelamists publicised.”
        Thanks for shunting us back on track.
        Ofcourse the boundaries will be incompatible with those publicised by the Tamil Nationalists. There will be no resolution without both sides compromising on their respective hardened positions. I see Nationalism as a form of selfishness where one community tries to either monopolise or secure a disproportionate share of the national resources or decision making power for itself. The compromise will be somewhere between the two Nationalist positions where hopefully neither side could claim that the other got away with more.
        This is why I believe that land should be apportioned proportionately to the devolved authority. It can be reasonably claimed that the land around Jaffna is the traditional homeland of the Jaffna Tamils and the land around Batticaloa that of the Batticaloa Tamils. Now, take census figures of 1981 (The Last census prior to the mass displacement of Tamils), determine the number of Tamils in the Northern Province and Eastern Province and compute their proportions w.r.t to the entire population. Then divide the landmass in this ratio demarcating two separate semi autonomous regions around Jaffna and Batticaloa for the Northern and Eastern Tamils respectively. The two regions can then co-operate as they see fit with no interference from the Sinhalese.
        I also believe we should retain the main benefits of being part of a unitary state while devolving every other power to the three regions. These benefits in my opinion are.
        1. Freedom of travel. I.e. not having to answer to any border controls when crossing into the new Jaffna state or the Batticaloa State and vice versa for the residents of those states.
        2. No trade restrictions for cross border trade.
        3. Freedom of employment and settlement anywhere in the land for all citizens.

        If these are guaranteed I cannot see any means by which substantial devolution can adversely impinge on the lives of any Sri Lankan. I believe that every other power should be devolved to the new states including Police, Judiciary, Land and Fiscal controls to tax and spend on their populations.

        I dont feel there will be an apetite among the residents of the new states to secede completely. This is a real prospect only if the North and East are merged within their current borders where the combined region guarantees almost 4 times as much land per capita for the Tamils as what the Sinhalese and Moslems will be left with. The temptation to secede will be very high if devolution could be achieved on such a unfairly favourable basis. However once brought down to earth and told “look here, you dont have any more claim to this land than the Sinhalese”, the Tamil nationalist will quickly realise that seceding with just 12% of the land in two non-contiguous enclaves will in fact be to his disadvantage.

        What do you think?

      • Off the Cuff
    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Kadphises,

      What would you suggest as the unit of devolution?
      What are the suggested boundaries of those units?

      I note that you have used the following proviso “we all have a say over an equal extent of land.” which is incompatible with the boundaries that the Eelamists publicised.

      • wijayapala

        What would you suggest as the unit of devolution?

        He mentioned the district, even though that has always been rejected by the Tamil nationalists.

      • yapa

        “He mentioned the district”.

        Power devolution unit in Sri Lanka should be the district, I think this is a proposal brought up,in respect to the existence of several ethnic communities.

        Most of the states in India are bigger than Sri Lanka in extent and many ethnic groups live in most of those states. If the power devolution should go down to the level/size of a district in Sri Lanka in mixed ethnic states, in the same argument each and every state of India will have to be divided into over 20 units.

        Why anybody is not interested to pass the good idea over to India for their information and necessary and appropriate arrangements?

        Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Kadphises, Yapa, Wijayapala and Dr Devanesan Nesaiah.

        Unit of Devolution

        While thanking the three of you who responded I have addressed this to Dr Nesaiah too as his views would be valuable.

        I believe devolution is necessary but only under equitable conditions.

        16 % of Land in Lanka is Privately owned, it will remain private and would fall under the devolved unit depending on where it is situated. 84% of land is publicly owned (includes inland water bodies) and I believe this Land should be equally owned by all citizens of Lanka. This means each of us have an equal per capita ownership of Public Land.

        I would add a third area to that identified by Kadphises, which is Kalmunai, the only Muslim majority Municipality. I believe that the boundaries of these three areas should be re-demarcated,
        if necessary by expansion, to reflect the National per capita land holding of 121.75 perches.

        This could be done as follows. If x is the private land in the area and y is the total resident population, x/y would give the private land holding per capita of that area. To this, an amount of land from the public Land holding, is added, to bring it on par to the National per capita Land holding of 121.75 perches. Mathematically the added Land = y(121.75 – x/y).

        I have not looked at the old administrative units such as Districts and Provinces (which are arbitrary demarcations) but like Kadphises, only at population centres around which the new devolution unit is built.

        As Kadphises suggests, the 1981 census can be used as a base but an appropriate adjustment need to be made to exclude non citizens (irrespective of ethnicity). This will ensure that the landless will have land and the devolved unit will have an equitable land resource for use in development. I think allocating land on an ethnic basis would be unwise and unfair as Jaffna had Muslims and Sinhalese within it and so did Batticoloa and Kalmunai. If ethnic based exclusion is carried out the devolved unit would be unfairly smaller.

        If such an arrangement is accepted there could be no objection in devolving ALL powers including Land, Police, Judiciary etc to the devolved unit but excluding areas that impinge on the Island as a whole (Maritime boundaries, National Security, foreign Relations etc)

        The Fundamental rights in the Constitution would ensure that all citizens irrespective of Ethnicity would be able to live in dignity and be employed anywhere within Lanka as the devolved unit would not be able to circumvent these rights by enacting any law designed to bypass them.

        I also believe that before any devolution is attempted, the fresh water problem of Jaffna should be solved by the Central govt, by implementing the excellent development plan Engineer S Arumugam proposed in 1954.

        It is relevant to note that the 13A recognises the per capita distribution of Land in one clause though it negates it in another.

        I do not believe that achieving the above is easy. As Wijayapala has pointed out District level devolution has already been rejected but without addressing the vexed Land issue, no amount of talking about injustice by either party will bring about a resolution. Solving the Land issue is the Key to reconciliation.

      • kadphises

        Off the Cuff,

        I think the simplest possible formula should be used when demarcating the borders so it is easily understandable to all. Personally, I dont think we need to worry too much about whether the land is privately or publicly owned. For example a Tamil from Jaffna should be able to own a tea estate in the South and A Sinhalese businessmen should be able to own a hotel in the N-E without any challenges to their ownership. However these properties will come under the administration of the province/state they are located in. If there is a larger percentage of private land in an enclave they will have to implement some land reform to secure land for schools, hospitals and nature reserves.

        It also becomes more complicated to try and account for all the people who have left the country and revoked their Sri Lankan citizenship as this could have happened under desparate conditions where some people had no option but to leave the country. The right to return is for example one of the principle stumbling blocks in the Israeli – Palastinian impasse.

        I agree with your suggestion that the Moslems should also be granted the same option.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Kadphises, (this is relevant to Dr Devanesan Nesaiah too),

        I agree with you that the formula should be simple.
        Here is an example.

        The population of the area centred around Kalmunai covers 13 Divisional Secretariats including, Attalaichenai, Akkaraipattu, Alayadivembu, Erakkamam, Kalmunai, Karaithivu, Navithanvely, Nindavur, Pottuvil, Samanthurai, Saindamarudu and Thirukovil. They consist of 373 Grama Niladhari Divisions and has a total population of 383,923 (Human Rights Commission of Lanka)

        The population distribution is immaterial but is as follows
        Sinhalese 4093, Muslim – 268058, Tamil – 110856, Indian Tamil – 19 and others – 897.

        The National per capita land holding is 121.75 perches

        Hence the Unit of devolution for Kalmunai should be 383923×121.75 = 46,742,626 perches
        1182.25 Sq kilo meters

        Currently the land covered by the above areas is 1234.4 square kilo meters which is marginally higher than the actual entitlement (by 52 sq km).

        The above result is identical to that derived by the method I suggested earlier, which was based on how Public resources should be shared. However this is much simpler, direct and easily understood.

        This Kalmunai State would have elected members in her Legislature and would administer that state according to the wishes of the population. It will have all powers to deal with land within it amongst others. The main thing to note is that this is not Ethnic based devolution but it addresses the need of the minorities to administer themselves

        You wrote “For example a Tamil from Jaffna should be able to own a tea estate in the South and A Sinhalese businessmen should be able to own a hotel in the N-E without any challenges to their ownership”

        This is my view too and that is the reason I stated the following.

        “The Fundamental rights in the Constitution would ensure that all citizens irrespective of Ethnicity would be able to live in dignity and be employed anywhere within Lanka as the devolved unit would not be able to circumvent these rights by enacting any law designed to bypass them.”

        Naturally anyone living or doing business within a state would be governed by the laws of that State and the Lankan Constitution.

        You wrote “It also becomes more complicated to try and account for all the people who have left the country and revoked their Sri Lankan citizenship as this could have happened under desparate conditions where some people had no option but to leave the country. “

        Yes I agree with you about the complication which of course would not exist if the current population is used (by doing a new census) instead of basing it on the 1981 census. The numbers that have ceased to be Lankan is large (about a million) and hence some form of adjustment should take place.

        The willingness of those who left, to return back to lanka could be probed by inviting all who want to do so to make an application (within a reasonable time frame) via our diplomatic missions abroad after giving wide publicity in those countries. I believe anyone who wants to return should be allowed to do so within a reasonable time frame.

        That said, a person who really wishes to return would still be holding on to Sri Lankan Citizenship instead of giving it up and taking the host country’s citizenship. A Refugee is not required to give up Lankan Citizenship in order to live and work in the country of refuge. Anyone who relinquishes Lankan citizenship does so willingly, with full knowledge of the what s/he does. By doing so they lose any right of return.

  • kadphises

    Off the Cuff,

    I responded to your question. But it has appeared above your comment rather than in this thread..

  • wijayapala

    Dear kadphises

    I see Nationalism as a form of selfishness where one community tries to either monopolise or secure a disproportionate share of the national resources or decision making power for itself.

    Good observation, but you neglected to address the fact that Nationalism, even a defensive form of it, is the driving force behind the Tamil demand for devolution. The Tamils will feel safe only within their own “nation” where they form the majority. Hence, your notion of a halfway compromise is a non-starter that will leave both Sinhalese and Tamils unsatisfied and unhappy.

    It can be reasonably claimed that the land around Jaffna is the traditional homeland of the Jaffna Tamils and the land around Batticaloa that of the Batticaloa Tamils.

    You do realise that simply using the term “traditional homeland” is an endorsement of Nationalism?

    Then divide the landmass in this ratio demarcating two separate semi autonomous regions around Jaffna and Batticaloa for the Northern and Eastern Tamils respectively.

    The problem with this idea is that it does not factor in the low population density of the Wanni areas. Excluding these areas from “devolution” will lead the Tamils to accuse you of grabbing their homelands.

    Not quite sure I understand your contorted logic here.

    Sigh, ok I’ll try to make it as simple as I can:

    2004: Tamils vote for TNA which had a platform of following the LTTE (separatism)

    Did that make those Tamils hardcore separatists? If so, why did they vote again for TNA in 2010 when it rejected separatism?

    But the one thing you cannot infer is that all those who did not vote did so because they were anti-devolution.

    And similarly, you cannot infer that they are pro-devolution. It is certainly possible that they could be anti-devolution if they are pro-separation. Hence, your argument that the majority of Tamils endorse devolution is proven false.

    If the govt is so sure that the majority of Tamils were anti-devolution why doesnt it offer them a referandum on devolution?

    And what if only 30% of Tamils participate in this referendum? Would that definitely prove that the result represents what the majority wants?

    So the dead JR and SWRD are more relavant than Rajapakse to this discussion on if there should or should not be devolution?

    No, but they most certainly are relevant to shattering your empty argument that knowing English qualifies you as being pro-Tamil or is a solution against anti-Tamil racism.

    “You only brought him up in a bizarre attempt to prove that being insensitive to Tamils is a far worse crime than massacring them!”
    Wijeyapala: “As I recall, SWRD and JRJ came from the finest English-speaking backgrounds one can find. Are you as minority-friendly as they were?”

    What is the contradiction? You are the one who brought up Rajapaksha (“him”), not me!

    “So with this half-witted method of assessing atrocities, are you saying that the Allies in WWII committed genocide against the Germans by killing nearly 6 million of their soldiers?”
    Am I SAYING?? No Wijeyapala, again it is those voices in your head that are SAYING…

    Then what are you saying?

    The same as Tamil voices in your head that are SAYING “Please dont give us devolution”!!

    The Tamils are not saying “don’t give us devolution.” The problem is that the majority are not saying anything at all, at least through the ballot box. That is why I am very skeptical that they will embrace devolution.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Wijayapala,

      You wrote “The problem with this idea is that it does not factor in the low population density of the Wanni areas. Excluding these areas from “devolution” will lead the Tamils to accuse you of grabbing their homelands”

      I refer you to my post of October 27, 2011 • 2:22 pm

      Devolution addresses the minority disaffection with democratically elected governments, which if Lanka is taken as a whole will always have a Sinhala majority.

      The Minorities have expressed a desire to administer themselves. Under democracy based elections this will not happen at a national level but can be done within a specified boundary by converting them to a majority within it. Then a democratic election within that boundary will yield a govt controlled by a National Minority, who now is a majority within that boundary.

      These changes require compromise and recognition of what is just. As detailed in my post above equality would mean equality of per capita land ownership as well. It cannot be argued that the per capita land holding of the Sinhalese should be more than that of any other ethnic minority by stating that the Sinhalese came to Lanka before the Tamils. Likewise it is not rational or just to claim that Tamils should have more per capita land than any other ethnic entity in Lanka by stating that they came to some area before the others. The per capita land holding should be identical irrespective of ethnicity. This should be inviolate.

      If the Tamils in the Wanni want to live only within a Tamil administered area they should join the Tamil administered regional state taking with them the per capita land entitlement. Taking the example of Kalmunai in my previous post, there are 110,875 Tamils within it. If they do not want to stay in Kalmunai and be administered by the Muslims then they could opt to join the Tamil majority state taking with them the per capita land entitlement. This will make Kalmunai smaller by 101875 x 121.75 perches and the Tamil state larger by the same amount. In the same way, any Tamil presently living anywhere in Lanka and not happy to continue to live there could move to the Tamil state at the time of devolution without losing their per capita land share. This of course could happen only once and that is at the time the boundaries are demarcated. Similar movement occurred when India and Pakistan were partitioned.

  • wijayapala

    OTC

    I believe devolution is necessary

    Why? And why divide the country along ethnic lines?

    • C’mon, Wijayapala, how many times do we have to go through this “is devolution good or bad” debate? You might as well ask if a screwdriver is good or bad. The question is whether it’s necessary.

      If ethnicity is no longer a contentious issue politically and constitutionally, it won’t matter whether devolution is along ethnic lines or not (eg: Canada), because everyone would treat each other as Sri Lankans. Plus, no one’s asking for just the Northern Province to be devolved; all provinces could decide for themselves.

    • Burning_Issue

      Dear Wijayapala,

      “Why? And why divide the country along ethnic lines?”

      Isn’t the country already divided along the ethnic lines? Why empowering regions amounts to ethnic divisions? How else you propose to empower the minorities? How do you propose to turn the tide of majority aggression? Sri Lanka cannot implement the Tamil Language provision nation-wide sincerely; it cannot deal with blatant racism; it turns blind eye to willful land grab; it occupies vast residential areas under the guise of HSZs. What can a Tamil do to feel wanted? How do you propose to rectify a form dignity for the Minorities?

      • wijayapala

        Dear Burning_Issue

        Isn’t the country already divided along the ethnic lines?

        It is divided socially and to an extent politically, but it is not (yet) divided in terms of governance.

        Why empowering regions amounts to ethnic divisions?

        Kadphises was not talking about empowering regions. He was talking about devolving power to Tamil areas.

        How do you propose to turn the tide of majority aggression?

        The first step is to identify the cause of “majority aggression.” The devolutionistas have not.

      • Nihal Perera

        Burning Issue,

        How else you propose to empower the minorities?

        The nationalists have no interest in empowering the minorities. That is why they are vehemently opposed to any form of devolution. The power-wielding politicians will not, of course, go against the wishes of said nationalist constituency. But even more importantly, having all power concentrated at the Center is an extremely lucrative endeavor. By selling off prime land and “development projects” to the highest bidder, the Rajapakses can make a tidy sum. The motivations for opposing devolution from that end should be clear to any observer. The only lingering question is how the powers that be can continue to fund such a huge army. The enormous presence of the army in Tamil areas is absolutely essential: (1) it keeps the nationalists quiet, (2) it makes control over vital natural resources far easier, (3) it prevents the native (Tamil) inhabitants from rebelling.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Wijayapala,

      You queried “Why? And why divide the country along ethnic lines?”

      Your question is misplaced.

      Firstly, I did not advocate division of the Country as I indicated that the Lankan Constitution would be Supreme.

      Secondly, you probably have overlooked the following statement of mine.
      Quote
      The main thing to note is that this is not Ethnic based devolution but it addresses the need of the minorities to administer themselves.
      unquote

      http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-38135

      • wijayapala

        OTC,

        The Minorities have expressed a desire to administer themselves.

        When did the Muslims or upcountry Tamils express the desire to “administer themselves?”

        These changes require compromise and recognition of what is just.

        Who is the arbiter of what is “just?” The Tamils would argue that not having the right to govern themselves in Tamil-majority Vavuniya or Mullaitivu would be “unjust.”

        This of course could happen only once and that is at the time the boundaries are demarcated.

        Who will demarcate such boundaries?

        The main thing to note is that this is not Ethnic based devolution but it addresses the need of the minorities to administer themselves.

        How is this not ethnic based devolution when you are creating areas specifically to create ethnic group majorities?

        Similar movement occurred when India and Pakistan were partitioned.

        And how many people perished during this movement?????????

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_of_India

        “The struggle between the new dominions of India and Pakistan which resulted from the partition displaced up to 12.5 million people in the former British Indian Empire, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million. The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship to this day.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Wijayapala,

        You have queried “When did the Muslims or upcountry Tamils express the desire to “administer themselves?”

        No they have not asked.
        But any attempt at devolution to one community must anticipate the possibility that others would ask. Hence they can chose not to have their own administration if that is what they want

        “Who is the arbiter of what is “just?” The Tamils would argue that not having the right to govern themselves in Tamil-majority Vavuniya or Mullaitivu would be “unjust.”

        Currently the Courts of Lanka is the Arbiter.
        Yes the Tamils can argue that way. The following are possible solutions
        1. Accede to that request
        2. Ask them to join the Tamil-majority devolution unit
        These are just suggestions nothing is set in rock. However for devolution to be viable they will have to find their own resources to provide services and development. Funds from overseas would not be possible as that would be a function of the Centre. The smaller the unit the less viable it becomes. Hence a minimum population that qualify for devolution can be decided by discussion say 300,000.

        “Who will demarcate such boundaries? “

        A Delimitation authority (Commission, committee etc) appointed for the purpose.

        Since the Area has a mathematical relationship to the population no argument will arise as to the size of the devolved unit.

        It exists in India – Delimitation commission or Boundary commission of India is a Commission established by Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act. The main task of the commission is to redraw the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census. The representation from each state is not changed during this exercise. However, the number of SC and ST seats in a state are changed in accordance with the census.

        The Commission is a powerful body whose orders cannot be challenged in a court of law. The orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the respective State Legislative Assemblies. However, modifications are not permitted.

        “How is this not ethnic based devolution when you are creating areas specifically to create ethnic group majorities? “

        It is not ethnic based as the size of the unit does not depend on One ethnicity. It will mirror a multi cultural country. It will mirror Lanka on a smaller scale.

        “And how many people perished during this movement????????? “

        Yes I am aware of that.
        But in the absence of devolution we had a 30 year war and I certainly don’t relish the consequences of another in the future.

        I do not see any harm in giving the Tamils who are clamouring for self rule what they ask for, as long as that does not jeopardises or subverts the rights of the rest of the population. Whether within or without the devolved unit all citizens of Lanka should have an equal share of Public Resources.

        This discussion would be richer if we had the views of Dr Nesiah and the other Tamil gentleman and gentlewomen who write in to GV. Unfortunately, whenever there is a discussion about Land, most keep away from it.

  • Dr. Devanesan Nesiah

    Dear Wijayapala,

    By enriched I do not mean financially enriched but in terms of quality of life. Each Canton (mini-state) of Switzerland preserves its distinctive language and culture and travelling through Switzerland is an enriching experience from that perspective. Sri Lanka is larger than Switzerland but a very small country area-wise; but in terms of population, Federal Australia, Malaysia and Belgium are not that much larger, and Belgium is scrupulously bilingual.

    Devolution can extend down, symmetrically or asymmetrically to several levels. In the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are identified as separate nations for most purposes (excluding UN membership and participation in the Olympics) and enjoy very advanced asymmetric devolution. Scotland has its own parliament that controls a massive budget. Under these nations there are numerous counties all of which are pretty powerful in terms of control of education, health, police etc. India too has a network of asymmetric devolution at several levels, this network changes from time to time but invariably in favour of further devolution. For example, India was not federal at the time of independence but, on account of developments since then, the Indian Supreme Court ruled nearly two decades ago that it is now federal, with the implications that powers devolved cannot be retracted and State governments cannot be arbitrarily dissolved at the discretion of the central government.

    In my opinion there was never any possibility of Prabhakaran winning the war. However, since the LTTE is no more, Tamils feel free to speak their minds without fear.

    ###

    Dear No Frames,

    You are imputing to me caste prejudice and attempts to mislead and to Tamil examiners fraud in marking examination scripts. I will not bother to defend myself or Tamil examiners.

    I have always been an advocate of reverse discrimination. Disadvantages in examination performance arise from many factors, none of which are addressed, but some of these are reinforced by district quotas. Some disadvantages are inherently difficult to compensate for. For example, children of parents who are well educated and motivated to further the education of their children enjoy an advantage. This has nothing to do with the district in which you live. However, the school you attend can make a big difference and, if schools are correctly classified, it is possible to compensate children whose schooling is unsatisfactory on this account. Schools can be classified objectively on the basis of the average performance of the children (as measured by the number of the university admissions and other factors such as the availability of school laboratories, graduate teachers etc), say in to grades A, B, C and D. The district quota scheme, by lumping together schools like Trinity College and the estate schools in the same district, schools like Jaffna College and schools in remote Islands off Jaffna, Royal College and slum schools in Slave Island, district quotas cast further disadvantages on those already disadvantaged. On the other hand the boys of Trinity College and Royal College benefit from being situated in the same district as highly disadvantageous schools. If, in place of district quotas, schools are graded in terms of the criteria mentioned above, and those from disadvantaged schools are given extra marks in proportion to the degree of their disadvantage, e.g. ten marks extra for those in grade B, 20 extra for those in grade C and 30 extra for those in grade D. Such a scheme will address real disadvantages but will not serve the purpose of the rural elite, well represented among members of parliament, for whose benefit the district quota system has been devised. What I have proposed will therefore will be rejected by the political leaders.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Dr. Devanesan Nesiah,

      You have correctly identified a weakness in the District Quota System.

      The solution you propose is much better than what exists today as that eliminates disadvantaging the already disadvantaged as you pointed out. The classification of schools should be an annual process as conditions within schools can change within that time. It should also be a transparent process with well defined justiciable criteria in order to prevent misuse. In spite of your doubts, there would be many who will support you in reaching that goal. I would have no hesitation in doing so.

      However I could not understand the rationale behind your statement “….but will not serve the purpose of the rural elite, well represented among members of parliament, for whose benefit the district quota system has been devised.“

      I was under the impression that the district quota system evolved to replace the racially biased media wise standardisation.

      • kadphises

        I think what is quite apparent here is that affirmative action to compensate for disadvantage is desirable but very difficult to apply. Even within a school different children face different obstacles to achieve educational excellence. Is it fair for example to apply the same cut off mark to a kid with wealthy, educated and aspirational parents able to affoas to a kid from a poor, illeducated background, both attending the same school?

        One problem I see with school based standardisation is that it would remove the incentive for head masters and teachers to improve the quality of education in their schools. They would realise that any improvement in the quality of education is only going to attract a punitive increase in the cut off mark for students from that school. So the number of university places for a given school will remain constant regardless of any improvement in the standards.

        It is also important that the state apportions funds to schools in proportion to the number of kids enrolled and not according to the importance of the school and pay higher salaries to teachers willing to teach in remote areas if it sees it at all necessary to even out the standard of education in schools countrywide.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Kadphises,

        You wrote “I think what is quite apparent here is that affirmative action to compensate for disadvantage is desirable but very difficult to apply. Even within a school different children face different obstacles to achieve educational excellence. Is it fair for example to apply the same cut off mark to a kid with wealthy, educated and aspirational parents able to affoas to a kid from a poor, illeducated background, both attending the same school?”

        Any solution that is aimed at reducing the disadvantage is better than no solution. The District quota system mitigated the disadvantage between districts. Dr Nesaiah’s proposal aims at doing the same thing at a more refined (and more just) school level. In my view that is an improvement on the district level affirmative action. Provided that there is a transparent system of grading schools, I am with him all the way.

        It would become difficult only if you attempt such microscopic detail as you suggest. Even then the standard of education within a school is the same and both the rich and poor receive this same education. That in itself is quite an equaliser.

        You wrote “One problem I see with school based standardisation is that it would remove the incentive for head masters and teachers to improve the quality of education in their schools. They would realise that any improvement in the quality of education is only going to attract a punitive increase in the cut off mark for students from that school. So the number of university places for a given school will remain constant regardless of any improvement in the standards”

        I believe that you have misunderstood affirmative action. Standardisation in affirmative action does not completely nullify the advantage gained by improving educational standards. It only makes the advantage non linear while still maintaining and advantage.

        You wrote “It is also important that the state apportions funds to schools in proportion to the number of kids enrolled and not according to the importance of the school”

        Per capita distribution of resources is always fair. It ensures that each child has an equal advantage. Agree with you without reservation.

        You wrote “and pay higher salaries to teachers willing to teach in remote areas if it sees it at all necessary to even out the standard of education in schools countrywide”

        Agree with you here as well. There is currently an effort made to provide remote area schools the benefit of top level educators on specialised subjects via Technology. The “Nenasa” satellite based dissemination of knowledge to students in remote schools is intended to achieve just that.

        quote
        Nenasa TV, the satellite based television channel developed to bridge the education gap between urban and rural Sri Lanka is expanding its reach to connect another 1,000 schools into the programme with the aim of making education accessible to all.
        unquote
        http://www.ft.lk/2011/10/25/nenesa-tv-expands-coverage-to-bridge-education-gap/

        Before Nenasa, an effort was made to establish a Vsat based Educational Network to achieve the same objective.

        BTW glad to notice that you have not deserted this thread. Hope you will continue to provide your input to our previous discussion about the unit of devolution that is still ongoing on this thread.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Kadphises,

        I posted a reply to your post about 8 hours ago. Unfortunately it is missing. Hope this one will appear

        You wrote “I think what is quite apparent here is that affirmative action to compensate for disadvantage is desirable but very difficult to apply. Even within a school different children face different obstacles to achieve educational excellence. Is it fair for example to apply the same cut off mark to a kid with wealthy, educated and aspirational parents able to affoas to a kid from a poor, illeducated background, both attending the same school?”

        Any solution that is aimed at reducing the disadvantage is better than no solution. The District quota system mitigated the disadvantage between districts. Dr Nesaiah’s proposal aims at doing the same thing at a more refined (and more just) school level. In my view that is an improvement on the district level affirmative action. Provided that there is a transparent system of grading schools, I am with him all the way.

        It would become difficult only if you attempt such microscopic detail as you suggest. Even then the standard of education within a school is the same and both the rich and poor receive this same education. That in itself is quite an equaliser.

        You wrote “One problem I see with school based standardisation is that it would remove the incentive for head masters and teachers to improve the quality of education in their schools. They would realise that any improvement in the quality of education is only going to attract a punitive increase in the cut off mark for students from that school. So the number of university places for a given school will remain constant regardless of any improvement in the standards”

        I believe that you have misunderstood affirmative action. Standardisation in affirmative action does not completely nullify the advantage gained by improving educational standards. It only makes the advantage non linear while still maintaining and advantage.

        You wrote “It is also important that the state apportions funds to schools in proportion to the number of kids enrolled and not according to the importance of the school”

        Per capita distribution of resources is always fair. It ensures that each child has an equal advantage. Agree with you without reservation.

        You wrote “and pay higher salaries to teachers willing to teach in remote areas if it sees it at all necessary to even out the standard of education in schools countrywide”

        Agree with you here as well. There is currently an effort made to provide remote area schools the benefit of top level educators on specialised subjects via Technology. The “Nenasa” satellite based dissemination of knowledge to students in remote schools is intended to achieve just that.

        quote
        Nenasa TV, the satellite based television channel developed to bridge the education gap between urban and rural Sri Lanka is expanding its reach to connect another 1,000 schools into the programme with the aim of making education accessible to all.
        unquote
        http://www.ft.lk/2011/10/25/nenesa-tv-expands-coverage-to-bridge-education-gap/

        Before Nenasa, an effort was made to establish a Vsat based Educational Network to achieve the same objective.

        BTW glad to notice that you have not deserted this thread. Hope you will continue to provide your input to our previous discussion about the unit of devolution that is still ongoing on this thread.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Dr. Devanesan Nesiah,

      Like you, I too indicated that Citizenship is undivided. Hence there can be no border controls between devolved units. Trade restrictions has occurred even with a unitary state. The restrictions on transport of paddy, at one time, is a case in point. Hence there can be trade restrictions to protect goods produced within a region and imposition of taxes to achieve the same. I have also stated that the Constitution of the country will reign supreme which will ensure that the Constitutional Rights would remain uniform throughout every devolved region. Hence the rights of any citizen to seek employment, to carry out any trade, practice any religion and to settle down in any Region of his/her choice is ensured. Both Tamil and Sinhala are National Languages and though any region will be free to conduct business in the language of its choice the Constitutional right ensures that any citizen irrespective of the Region, will have the right to conduct business with the Regional govt with the Language of his/her choice. The proposed Region would remain Multi Ethnic, Multi Cultural and Multi Religious. It will not be Ethnic Devolution but Regional Devolution with Police, Judicial, Legislative (regional), Administrative, Fiscal, Education and Language powers ( I hope I have not missed any). The powers it will not have would relate to National security, Foreign Relations and Foreign funding.

      The unit of devolution proposed in my post of October 25, 2011 • 11:53 pm, October 27, 2011 • 2:22 pm and subsequent clarifications looks at how land, which is a scarce resource, can be shared equally between any devolved region. It ensures that the per capita land distribution remains an inviolate constant by making the Land administered by the devolved unit directly proportional to the permanent inhabitants within that region. My argument is not based on devolving down to Municipal Councils but only identifies a sizeable population that can form the core of the region. I believe you have not addressed that issue.

  • Dr. Devanesan Nesiah

    Off the Cuff, Wijayapala, Kadphises, Yapa et al

    “Devolving” down to Municipal Councils can only be in respect of the functions of those Councils, e.g; keeping the streets clean. Designing and managing policies and programs, concerning fiscal, health, education and other sectors that relate to a region cannot be done by a Municipal Council.

    There are widespread myths in Sri Lanka such as:
    1) There will be border controls when you cross from one state to another within the same country. This is not true because citizenship is undivided. This not a feature of federalism.
    2) There will be trade restrictions between states. This is generally not true but there could be exceptions, e.g; if alcohol or a particular item such as agro-chemical is banned in one state but not in others.
    This can happen even in a unitary administration and is not a feature of federalism.
    3) Any citizen is free to seek employment and to settle down in any of the country. Excluding those from other regions or from any ethnic group is not a feature of federalism but of ethnic conflict. The entire Muslim population of the North were expelled in October 1990 but that happened in unitary Sri Lanka on account of ethnic conflict. If the ethnic conflict had been resolved (through devolution?) that would not have happened.
    4) Devolution as proposed in Sri Lanka and as practised almost every where in the globe is to regions and not to ethnic groups, with citizenship undivided by region or ethnicity. .

    The Jaffna that I grew up in was multi-ethnic, as was every district in the island at that time. I hope that not only will we have a federal/ highly devolved Sri Lanka but that, every region will again be multi-ethnic with no ethnic group favoured over another in any region. The people everywhere will accept it. What they will object to state sponsored colonisation designed to change the ethnic composition of a region or the state awarding contracts or employing individuals on the basis of ethnicity.

    The unit of devolution will have to be negotiated by our leaders. These can be drawn up on the basis of recommendations of regional boundaries demarcated by a multi-ethnic national commission as was done in India in the mid 20th Century. That commission paved primary attention to language subject to the need for the territorial continuity of each region.
    There were no large scale transfers of population. .Most people preferred to stay where they were even if the language of the state was different to the official language of the state. Thus while every state had its dominant language as it official language, it remained multi–ethnic with special provision for the language used within pockets in which regional minorities were pre-dominant. This could be the pattern for Sri Lanka too.

    In Sri Lanka, special provision may be needed for bi-lingual regions to have two official languages (e.g;Amparai , Nuwara Eliya and Uva) and also special commission to accommodate large concentrations of Muslims( as in the South East).because Sri Lankan Muslims have a distinct religious as well as linguistic identity.

    We never had serious problems with electoral de-limitation controls of which we had many. The regional de-limitation commission will be more problematic but I do not think these problems will be overwhelming.
    Our people can be racist but they can also be understanding, flexible and generous. Recently and just now we seem to be in a racist phase, but, hopefully, this will change.

    Devanesan Nesiah

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear GV Moderator,

      By some error my reply to Dr Nesiah’s post of

      http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-38260

      Went in to the wrong thread at
      http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-38262

      Could you please delete the post in the wrong thread and allow this post which is in the correct thread to stand?

      Thank you in advance
      ——————————–

      Dear Dr. Devanesan Nesiah,

      Like you, I too indicated that Citizenship is undivided. Hence there can be no border controls between devolved units. Trade restrictions has occurred even with a unitary state. The restrictions on transport of paddy, at one time, is a case in point. Hence there can be trade restrictions to protect goods produced within a region and imposition of taxes to achieve the same. I have also stated that the Constitution of the country will reign supreme which will ensure that the Constitutional Rights would remain uniform throughout every devolved region. Hence the rights of any citizen to seek employment, to carry out any trade, practice any religion and to settle down in any Region of his/her choice is ensured. Both Tamil and Sinhala are National Languages and though any region will be free to conduct business in the language of its choice the Constitutional right ensures that any citizen irrespective of the Region, will have the right to conduct business with the Regional govt with the Language of his/her choice. The proposed Region would remain Multi Ethnic, Multi Cultural and Multi Religious. It will not be Ethnic Devolution but Regional Devolution with Police, Judicial, Legislative (regional), Administrative, Fiscal, Education and Language powers ( I hope I have not missed any). The powers it will not have would relate to National security, Foreign Relations and Foreign funding.

      The unit of devolution proposed in my post of October 25, 2011 • 11:53 pm, October 27, 2011 • 2:22 pm and subsequent clarifications looks at how land, which is a scarce resource, can be shared equally between any devolved region. It ensures that the per capita land distribution remains an inviolate constant by making the Land administered by the devolved unit directly proportional to the permanent inhabitants within that region. My argument is not based on devolving down to Municipal Councils but only identifies a sizeable population that can form the core of the region. I believe you have not addressed that issue.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Dr Nesiah,

      By enriched I do not mean financially enriched but in terms of quality of life. Each Canton (mini-state) of Switzerland preserves its distinctive language and culture and travelling through Switzerland is an enriching experience from that perspective.

      Be that as it may, you cannot have devolution if the individual units are too poor to afford it. Off the Cuff here is saying that each unit should pay for its own services. Do you believe that war-devastated Northern and Eastern Provinces have the resources to afford devolution??

      Switzerland has a nominal GDP of $512 billion. Divided by 26 cantons, that comes to an average of nearly $20 billion GDP for each canton. Sri Lanka as a whole has a GDP of $50 billion- in other words, only two and a half times more GDP than an average Swiss canton!

      in terms of population, Federal Australia, Malaysia and Belgium are not that much larger

      Australia and Belgium like Switzerland are far wealthier than Sri Lanka and can afford devolution. As for Malaysia, some scholars argue that it is not a real federation as the UMNO party is in power in all units.

      India too has a network of asymmetric devolution at several levels, this network changes from time to time but invariably in favour of further devolution.

      Isn’t it conceivable then that this ongoing devolution will eventually lead to separation?

      The entire Muslim population of the North were expelled in October 1990 but that happened in unitary Sri Lanka on account of ethnic conflict. If the ethnic conflict had been resolved (through devolution?) that would not have happened.

      Sorry, but I do not understand you at all. How would devolution have prevented the LTTE (which you did not name) from expelling the Muslims in 1990?

      The unit of devolution will have to be negotiated by our leaders. These can be drawn up on the basis of recommendations of regional boundaries demarcated by a multi-ethnic national commission as was done in India in the mid 20th Century.

      Who will appoint this commission?

    • Nihal Perera

      Dear Dr. Devanesan Nesiah:

      Historically speaking, there has only been one group that is opposed to federalism. This is the South, aka Low Country (Sinhalese). See below.

      The first proposal for a Federal System was presented before the Donoughmore Commission in 1929 by the Kandyan National Assembly. The claim was “strongly and skilfully supported with evidence” for the restoration of their independence and their cultural heritage — lost on 2nd March 1815, the darkest day in our history. The liberal promises made to protect the Kandyan traditions did not reach the people. The Kandyans submitted that —;

      (1) They were overrun politically, socially and economically by other groups

      (2) Non-Kandyans exploited the unsophisticated Kandyans Peasantry

      (3) Representation in governance was being increasingly appropriated by the Low-Country Sinhalese.

      http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2008/03/federalism-do-not-forget-kandyans.html

      What is fascinating is that (3) remains the central issue. Both the Tamils and the up-country Sinhalese did not want a united “Sri Lanka” (with all the power at the Center) at the time of Independence. For reasons which I am not aware of, the Kandyans did not pursue the issue further. The Tamils, however, were a different story. I presume the Tamils had more to lose, what with the prospect of colonization, standardisation, etc. Sadly, it seems that 82 years later, their fears are being confirmed.

      • wijayapala

        Contrary to what Nihal Perera imagines, the Tamil leaders in 1944 did not ask for federalism and did not support the Kandyans’ lukewarm appeal for it. GG Ponnambalam instead wanted “50-50” representation in Parliament, affirming that he supported centralised power in Colombo.

      • Nihal Perera

        Contrary to what Nihal Perera imagines, the Tamil leaders in 1944 did not ask for federalism and did not support the Kandyans’ lukewarm appeal for it. GG Ponnambalam instead wanted “50-50? representation in Parliament, affirming that he supported centralised power in Colombo.

        Wijayapala does not understand that 50-50 would have given the Tamils not only what federalism offered, but a lot more. Federalism would only give land and policing powers. 50-50 would have helped the Tamils to maintain their dominant positions in the civil service, given them land and policing powers, and in general, have a much greater say in the formation of public policy than is the case otherwise. The Tamils were never opposed to federalism for the Kandyans; in fact, when the Kandyans made their representation before the Donoughmore Commission in 1928, there was a Tamil representative as well. What is interesting, but not surprising, is that as soon as SB fundamentalism began kicking Tamils out of key civil service positions, the Tamils very quickly formed a federal party. Contrary to what Wijayapala believes, the Tamils were never in favor of a 99.9% SB government, that had only 0.5% Tamil representation.

      • Nihal Perera

        *Should read as 0.1%, not 0.5

  • wijayapala

    OTC

    But in the absence of devolution we had a 30 year war and I certainly don’t relish the consequences of another in the future.

    I have already debunked the myth that the absence of devolution led to Tamil militancy:

    http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-37859

    But any attempt at devolution to one community must anticipate the possibility that others would ask.

    So in other words, the “minorities” do not support devolution. It is essentially the demand of one community, and other communities will demand it to the extent that the former community will not be able to use devolution to oppress them.

    BTW there is nothing wrong with devolution in that it is demanded by only one community. There is a problem though when its supporters falsely claim that it is desired by all communities.

    Currently the Courts of Lanka is the Arbiter

    The courts only “arbite” current laws and their interpretation. They do NOT make laws or constitutional amendments. Therefore in this context, the courts are NOT the Arbiter.

    The smaller the unit the less viable it becomes.

    What a very revealing statement. Is it possible that Sri Lanka as a whole is too small to have viable devolution??

    Hence a minimum population that qualify for devolution can be decided by discussion say 300,000.

    How did you calculate that figure?

    A Delimitation authority (Commission, committee etc) appointed for the purpose.

    Who will appoint this authority, and how will it have legitimacy for the people whom its decisions will affect?

    It exists in India – Delimitation commission or Boundary commission of India is a Commission established by Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act. The main task of the commission is to redraw the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census.

    That is not the same thing as delimiting units of devolution.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Wijayapala,

      A grievance that is not addressed escalates and precipitates stronger action. In industry, it would mean strikes and the attendant strong arm tactics by parties to the conflict. In politics it can lead to Civil War.

      The British who subjugated the Sinhalese, violated their lands, their lively hood, their religion, their language and subjected them to a judicial system conducted in a language that was Greek to them. The result of 150 years of such rule created hatred against the British and those who helped the British. The majority who helped the British to administer the country came from the Tamil minority, specifically from the High Cast Vellala’s.

      SWRD understood the desire of the ordinary Sinhalese for justice and used it to climb to power with his promise of an Administration that dethroned English and enthroned Sinhalese in 24 hours. SWRD should have done the same thing with Tamil, in the areas where the Tamils were a majority, as the Tamil peasantry had the same problems that the Sinhalese peasantry had with English. If that was done, the Vellala’s in power could not have fanned racial hatred within the Tamil peasantry as the Vellala’s were hated by the Tamil peasantry as well.

      The 1956 Riots saw the emergence of Tamil Militancy. The cause ostensibly was the Language Act. But the Language Act was the result of a 150 year subjugation of the majority.

      You wrote “1. The first Tamil militant groups materialised not in the late 1950s or 1960s, but in the early 1970s”

      I believe that you are in error.

      Quote
      After 1956 riots, a group of Tamils organized and opened fire at the Sri Lankan army in Batticaloa. Two Sinhalese were killed when 11 Tamils, having between them seven rifles, fired at a convoy of Sinhalese civilians and government officials one night at a village near Kalmunai. There was another attack on army soldiers in Jaffna after Colombo stifled the Federal Party “satyagraha” in 1961, but no one was killed.

      Some of 20 men associated with the Federal Party thought Gandhisam had no place in such a separate state. Most of them were civil servants and had been influenced by Leion Uris Exodus. At a meeting in Colombo, they christened their group Pulip Padai (Army of Tigers). On August 12, 1961, the Pulip Padai members converged at the historic Koneswaran Temple in the eastern port of town of Trincomalee and, standing in its holy precincts facing the sea took a solemn oath to fight for a Tamil homeland.

      Pulip Padai immediately got into the act, putting out leaflets and pamphlets printed clandestinely, advocating militancy. A student wing called the Manavar Manram (student’s council) was set up in 1963. Two Federal Party leaders the Pulip Padai strongly backed were Amirthalingam and V.N. Navaratnam (chavakachcheri MP).

      The 1965 decision of the Federal Party to support the UNP government broke up the Pulip Padai and it eventually withered away. But many of its activists remained strongly committed to the concept of an independent nation. Two of them were A. Rajaratnam and Sivagnanasundaram. Rajaratnam died in 1975 in Madras of asthma. Sivagnanasundaram became the staunch supporter of the LTTE. He was killed in Jaffna in 1988 by the EPRLF.

      In 1969, Thangathurai and Kuttimani and a few friends gathered in Jaffna to form an informal group that the former wanted to name the Tamil Liberation Organization (TLO). A college professor’s house at Point Pedro, in Jaffna, was a regular meeting point for the group. It included among others Periya (big) Sothi, Chinna (small) Sothi, Chetti, Kannadi (a radio mechanic), Sri Sabaratnam (TELO leader) and V.Prabhakaran (LTTE supremo). One man who drifted by but broke away to chart an independent course was Ponnudorai Sivakumaran, who was to become one of the first martyrs to the Tamil cause.
      Unquote
      http://www.lankalibrary.com/pol/militancy_history.htm

      The main grievances listed by the Tamils are Language, Land and Education. They say that these will disappear in a land governed by them. I am all for devolution provided that the per capita entitlement to Public Resources are equal to all. This means that I am not for devious methods of stealing land by naming them as “Traditional Homelands” Equality means that all Publicly owned resources are shared equally without any reference to ethnicity.

      Jaffna has a problem of fresh water. In order for a devolution unit centred around Jaffna to be viable, this fresh water problem has to be solved. The Arumugam Plan of 1954 provides an ingenious solution to this. It was partly implemented long ago. I believe that the Lankan State should spend for and solve the fresh water problem before devolution is attempted, as it would be difficult for a devolved Jaffna region to solve it on it’s own after devolution.

      You wrote “So in other words, the “minorities” do not support devolution. It is essentially the demand of one community,”

      Yes, I agree with you.

      You wrote “…and other communities will demand it to the extent that the former community will not be able to use devolution to oppress them”

      Yes, you are correct. I cant see the Muslims wanting to be governed by the Northern Tamils (in spite of a common language), as would happen if the N & E is amalgamated or by the Eastern Tamils in and Eastern State.

      You wrote “BTW there is nothing wrong with devolution in that it is demanded by only one community. There is a problem though when its supporters falsely claim that it is desired by all communities. ”

      Agree with you

      You wrote “The courts only “arbite” current laws and their interpretation. They do NOT make laws or constitutional amendments. Therefore in this context, the courts are NOT the Arbiter. “

      The Legislature makes the Laws and that is done through discussion with all concerned parties. Unless there is agreement devolution will have no meaning. The Arbitration comes later, after the proposals become Law.

      You wrote “What a very revealing statement. Is it possible that Sri Lanka as a whole is too small to have viable devolution?? “

      That is a question for those who asks for devolution to answer. If they think they can govern themselves with the resources they get, then by all means let them have it. But if they think they can get the rest of the population to subsidise them after devolution, then for them, devolution would not be viable. If the population in the devolved unit is half a million they would have an area 121.75 x 500,000 = 60,875,000 perches or 1540 sq Km.

      By giving them devolution you are removing their grievances from further contention.

      You wrote “How did you calculate that figure? “

      It was not calculated as indicated by “say 300,000”.
      The number should be decided within Parliament.

      You wrote “Who will appoint this authority, and how will it have legitimacy for the people whom its decisions will affect?”

      Parliament should appoint it. The parties affected would be taking part in the process and hence it will have legitimacy. The terms of reference would be decided within parliament to meet the objective of demarcating the boundaries but it cannot adjust the area which is predefined by the National Per capita land holding. It may not be identical to what exists in India but will be suitably constituted to achieve its objective.

      • wijayapala

        OTC

        A grievance that is not addressed escalates and precipitates stronger action.

        Not really. The Kandyans in the 1920s wanted federalism, and after everyone ignored them they quietly integrated. When the Tamils on the other hand called for federalism, SWRD unleashed his goons on them and unsurprisingly, the Tamils did NOT integrate.

        The result of 150 years of such rule created hatred against the British and those who helped the British.

        Yet for all that, the Sinhalese never mounted a serious struggle to get rid of the British after 1848.

        Previously I had brought up the example of the upcountry Tamils who had the most serious grievances of all. They have lived as virtual slaves and for decades did not even have civic rights. So how come they did not don suicide vests??

        The majority who helped the British to administer the country came from the Tamil minority, specifically from the High Cast Vellala’s.

        I have repeatedly corrected you on this and I do so now. The group of Sri Lankans who benefited the most from the British were the English-speaking Christians/Catholics who attempted to ape the British the most.

        I believe that you are in error.

        None of the aforementioned groups you mentioned, including Pulippadai were anything more than ad hoc responses to Sinhala repression (and it was V. Navaratnam, not V.N. Navaratnam who backed it), and they did not last. In any case, though, your point strengthens my argument that it was Sinhala violence, not the unitary state which provoked Tamil militancy.

        The main grievances listed by the Tamils are Language, Land and Education. They say that these will disappear in a land governed by them.

        I agree with your first sentence. Part of the reason I do not agree with your second sentence is that many Tamils I’ve come across who call for devolution tend to get evasive when the specifics of this arrangement come up for discussion, or worse expect me or other Sinhala people to find the answers! That is why I conclude that the Tamil call for devolution is a symptom of a deeper and more fundamental problem, and not an actual solution to anything.

        I believe that the Lankan State should spend for and solve the fresh water problem before devolution is attempted, as it would be difficult for a devolved Jaffna region to solve it on it’s own after devolution.

        Why not let the devolved Jaffna region solve its own problems? Why have the Lankan State intrude??

        “Is it possible that Sri Lanka as a whole is too small to have viable devolution??”
        That is a question for those who asks for devolution to answer.

        So in other words, you are not asking for devolution? Then why are we having this conversation? Why aren’t the people asking for devolution having anything to say??????

        It was not calculated as indicated by “say 300,000”.

        Ok, then why “say 300,000” as opposed to “say 30,000?”

        Parliament should appoint it.

        So, you have no objection to a Sinhala majority Parliament appointing a Sinhala majority delimitation commission?

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Wijayapala,

        Any rule has exceptions but generally when a grievance is not addressed it escalates.

        Yes after 1848 there was no uprising that compares to the Wellassa rebellion. The brutal and inhuman suppression which included scorched Earth policies prevented any further reaction.

        The Upcountry Tamils were slaves of the British not of Lanka.
        They were migrant workers who knew the conditions under which they would be employed before they left India. They are comparable to the current Lankan migrant workers who work in the Middle East non of who have any voting rights where they work. However this problem does not exist any more and hence no point in delving on that.

        Generally the Upcountry Tamils are more rational than the Northern Tamils but that does not mean there are no radical elements within them. The LTTE tried to infiltrate the Upcountry but did not succeed as the Upcountry was Multi Ethnic unlike the Mono Ethnic North.

        You wrote “The group of Sri Lankans who benefited the most from the British were the English-speaking Christians/Catholics who attempted to ape the British the most. “

        Agree with you. Here again it was the Vellala’s that ruled the roost.

        I stand corrected about Navaratnam but not withstanding the fact that those armed attempts were short lived, that was the start of Armed Terrorism as the shooting was aimed at a convoy of Sinhalese civilians and government officials.

        You wrote “I agree with your first sentence. Part of the reason I do not agree with your second sentence is that many Tamils I’ve come across who call for devolution tend to get evasive when the specifics of this arrangement come up for discussion, or worse expect me or other Sinhala people to find the answers! That is why I conclude that the Tamil call for devolution is a symptom of a deeper and more fundamental problem, and not an actual solution to anything. “

        The Tamils being evasive does not mean that Land is not their primary bone of contention. Nowhere have they dropped the claim that the North and East should be exclusively populated by them. Even in 13A, which is Law, there is a superficial agreement, that regarding land, the National Ethnic proportions would apply (which is more or less per capita allocation) but elsewhere within it, there is an attempt to subvert what is already agreed to.

        Yes I agree that on the subject of Land the Tamils are evasive. You may notice that even within this discussion Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, is conspicuous by his absence though I appealed for his views repeatedly. The vociferous Tamil person’s on this blog such as Shiva, Velu Balendran, Luxmi, Postdbsj, Jansee, Burning Issue etc and champions such as Ravana are conspicuous by their absence. I believe that is because they want to leave it open ended not because land is not of primary importance.

        You wrote “Why not let the devolved Jaffna region solve its own problems? Why have the Lankan State intrude??”

        I believe I stated my reason within the same paragraph of that post. I stated “…..as it would be difficult for a devolved Jaffna region to solve it on it’s own after devolution.”

        You wrote “Ok, then why “say 300,000? as opposed to “say 30,000?”

        I have no objection to you bringing it down even to 300 if you think it is rational.

        The 300,000 is my mistake. I should have suggested 400,000 instead.
        I expected the Regional devolution to be at least the size of the Municipality, not less than it.

        You wrote “ So, you have no objection to a Sinhala majority Parliament appointing a Sinhala majority delimitation commission? “

        No I don’t, because I have made sure that the delimited Land Area has an inviolable Mathematical relationship to the population within the delimited area. Note that the reference is to the collective population not to any specific ethnicity. This will protect the minorities from any arbitrary land allocation. The allocated Land cannot be decreased only, the boundary can be adjusted.

        Secondly, if the objective is reconciliation, the commission will be constituted in such a way that it would command respect from all concerned.

        Sorry for the delayed response. I was away on business and did not want to post a reply to this important discussion in haste.

  • Dr. Devanesan Nesiah

    @Off the Cuff / Kadphises

    Regarding university admissions, the district quota scheme is definite improvement on “media-wise standardization”, which is a euphemism for linguistic / ethnic quotas. Within each district there are wide disparities in the quality of the schools and it is the most elite local schools that the children of the local elite attend. Thus the district quota scheme serves the local elite.

    All disparities cannot conceivably be compensated for. For example, if a child’s parents are drug or alcohol addicts or in abject poverty, these disabilities are difficult to quantify or to compensate for in any scheme. Hopefully, social and religious societies may find it possible to help individual children in one way or the other. But objectively grading schools and compensating for disparities in schooling is possible, where as the district of residence is an irrelevance, conferring no advantage or disadvantage.

    The school based affirmative action that I suggest is based on the past record of the schools (averaged over five or six years?) and thus the incentive to upgrade performance remains. For the principals and staff, apart from the satisfaction of producing good results there could be other incentives such as early promotions and extra-salary increments.

    @Off the Cuff / Kadphises / Wijeyapala / Nihal Perera

    I don’t see equalizing per capita land as an essential objective in redrawing boundaries of regions. The quality of the land is more important than the quantity. Is it fertile or barren? Irrigable or dry? Easily accessible or inaccessible? Second, what is the occupational profile of the population? Farmers need cultivable land, fisher folk need access to fishing, minors to mineral resources etc. Many city dwellers may not need any of these. Third, some of the land in land rich regions can be developed as forests, serving the entire population of the Island. What is necessary is to design the tax structure to reduce wide income disparities without killing all incentives to develop.

    Regarding devolution leading to separation, this has not been the experience in many countries. Canada has highly devolved federal constitution but the movement for secession is weakening. On the other hand lack of devolution has led to secession in the case of Eritrea and Bangladesh. It is difficult to generalize since other countries may get involved, e.g. India in the case of Bangladesh. Generally, if a region is happy with the degree of devolution as in the cases of Quebec, the Provinces of Belgium and the Cantons of Switzerland, there will be no incentive to secede. India is complicated because federalism has eliminated the movements for secession in Tamilnadu, Panjab etc but violent oppression is keeping the movement for secession alive in Kashmir.

    Regarding the expulsion of the Muslims from the North, the Report is out and is available at the LST/ICES. (Rs 500.00). There is no attempt to suppress the role of the LTTE which appears in the name of the Commission and the title of the Report, of which I wrote the introduction. If there was effective devolution, the LTTE (which was against devolution) may not have flourished or been able to wage war against the State or expel the Muslim population of the North or commit any other major atrocities. Regarding the regional boundaries it can be worked out by a commission appointed by the parliament, as in India.

    I am not aware of some of the details set out by “Off the Cuff” but even it is true Chelvanayakam the main undisputed leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils. He was against violence always and against secession till 1975 – he died soon afterwards. Except for a brief period of two or three years (1975 – 1977) no Tamil political leader has advocated secession. Now that the LTTE is out of the way the Sri Lankan Tamils, Muslims and Indian Tamils should be able to work out a common front and arrive at a national consensus in negotiations with the Sinhalese led parties and the State. In fact the all party conference produced a home grown solution to the national question, and it has not the minorities but the State which rejected it. A national consensus based on APC document and the Thirteenth Amendment with some improvements should be possible to work out without much difficulty.

  • kadphises

    Dr. Nesiah,

    You said.. “I don’t see equalizing per capita land as an essential objective in redrawing boundaries of regions. The quality of the land is more important than the quantity. Is it fertile or barren? Irrigable or dry? Easily accessible or inaccessible? Second, what is the occupational profile of the population? Farmers need cultivable land, fisher folk need access to fishing, minors to mineral resources etc. Many city dwellers may not need any of these. Third, some of the land in land rich regions can be developed as forests, serving the entire population of the Island. What is necessary is to design the tax structure to reduce wide income disparities without killing all incentives to develop.”

    Personally, I think it is ESSENTIAL to equalise per capita land as otherwise that settlement we all crave for is bound to fail again due to each side jostling for more on the gounds of rocky land, arid land, steep land, marshy land, sandy land, boggy land etc. It is going to be impossible to value acre for acre every bit of land in the country before finding an even more complicated and elusive formula for partitioning it. It is a bit like the standardisation problem where you quite rightly noted that “All disparities cannot conceivably be compensated for.”

    I think to say that all areas in Sri Lanka have a roughly equally productive land mix is not too inaccurate. It is just that different areas are good for growing different things. For e.g. Tea and Rubber may not grow in the Jaffna Peninsula. However the best mangoes, Jack Fruit, grapes grow in the Jaffna peninsula. It also has the best lands for growing potatoes, onions and chillies. Potatoes being barely cultivable elsewhere in the country except for Nuwara Eliya. The seas around Jaffna too are much more productive in fisheries. So we find that even if one area is lacking in one comodity it is a net exporter of another commodity to the rest of the country. And no area can really be called a barren wasteland. (Otherwise no one would have settled there in the first place. All those centuries ago, when land was plentiful and anyone could practically settle anywhere).

    If one flies over Sri Lanka one thing that stands out is the green ness of the land no matter where you are flying over. Even the “arid” zones of Mannar and Hambanthota look a lot greener than almost anywhere in India or Pakistan which themselves export much more food than we do. If the Israelis can grow vegetables in the middle of the dessert and even export it to the rest of the world I am sure we too can manage to at least feed our own selves with the food we grow on our land.

    Besides, no farmer needs to worry that they will be thrown off their lands because this is not a full secession anyway and the partition has accomodation for Tamils in the South and Sinhalese in the North.

    …A cut and paste on Standardisation from my comment in a different thread here…

    On Standardisation, I’ve been thinking about what you said and agree. Perhaps what we need is a tier based system for schools. Having no more than 4 tiers and standardise university entrance that way.

    Tier 1: Royal, Ananda, Visaka, Hartly College, Jaffna College etc..
    Tier 2: The Central Colleges, Matale Science, St Thomas’ Bandarawela, Bandarawela MV, Rahula, Maliadeva etc..
    Tier 3: Rural schools (but well managed)
    Tier 4: Shools only in name where there are no teachers and the kids are used to till the land in the Principal’s Manioc plot.

    • Gamarala

      Dear Kadphises, Dr. Nesiah

      Regarding “On Standardisation, I’ve been thinking about what you said and agree. Perhaps what we need is a tier based system for schools. Having no more than 4 tiers and standardise university entrance that way.”

      Personally, I’m opposed to this idea. IMO, as well-intentioned as standardisation may be, and while supporting the idea of affirmative action, I believe the current implementation of standardization has done active harm to the education system. The basic problem can be summed up as follows (with apologies to Churchill): “The main vice of having no standardization is the uneven distribution of performance. The main vice of having standardization is the even distribution of mediocrity.”

      Why do I say this? Because there is an assumption that students in advantaged cities perform well only because of their location. What is being missed is that being in a disadvantaged location does not necessarily mean the student is a good one. By pushing such severely incapable students to the few slots available for university education, we are actively destroying the standards of the universities. This also has a ripple effect, and the mediocrity continues to spread throughout the work force. My personal experience with graduates corroborates this notion.

      While some may argue that the whole point of standardization is to elevate the disadvantaged, I don’t see how our long term development goals can be achieved merely by spreading disadvantage. It is not disadvantage alone that must count. Performance must count, and count significantly.

      One solution I see is to increase merit based entry to about 70% and lowering district quotas to 30% (or some well thought out number), as opposed to the current 40:60 split. The basic idea being to ensure that only the brightest students can get in through district quotas.

      The way to correct disadvantaged schools should be through increased spending on them, not by punishing top performing students in other locations. As someone has already questioned, what good do district quotas do to raising the standards of these disadvantaged schools?

      • Gamarala

        The above reply is addressed to Off the Cuff as well, my apologies for the omission.

        And just to be more explicit, latent in my reply is the idea that a significant number of graduates getting into university are doing so at the expense of students who are genuinely more intelligent – and that this location based scheme is incorrectly filtering them out – to our great collective detriment. (Greater I would argue, than any detriment to disadvantaged locations)

  • Dr. Devanesan Nesiah

    Response to Kadphises’ comments made on the 21st of November.

    What you have proposed, viz. equalizing per capita land, has not been tried out anywhere in the world, and for good reason. There are heavily populated regions and cities everywhere, as also under populated regions and cities. The flow of population, now and in the past, has been mostly out of under populated regions and cities. Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Delhi and numerous other cities are attracting new population. This is not so in the case of Mongolia, Australia’s Northern Territory, the desert regions of India and North America, Burma, Afghanistan etc. Are you suggesting forcible transfer of people and land from popular centres to unpopular ones? Is there any other way to equalize per capita land holdings? Apart from popular dissatisfaction, such a programme will generate social problems as in some of our colonization schemes and plantation regions.

    Within each country, people should be free to settle in any region or city. Ideally, people should also be free to migrate from one country to another. If such freedom is granted, it is likely that most of the heavily populated cities and regions will become even more heavily populated and most of the under populated regions and cities will become even more depleted of population.

    Some population transfers may be necessary, e.g. to find land for landless agricultural labour and to find labour to establish plantations and mines. But this should be done in such a way that social problems are not created. Further, in land surplus areas, some of the surplus land can be converted to forests and wildlife reserves that will spread the benefits far and wide. The objective should be not to equalize per capita land holdings but to meet human need and to improve human welfare, especially of those most in need.

    Response to Gamarala’s entries of 22 November

    The modification that you suggest would be an improvement in that the mix in undergraduate classes will be less wide in terms of achievement, but it is yet based on district quotas and is therefore fundamentally flawed. Quotas are unfair and inefficient when students with widely unequal achievements are mixed together in the same class. At the same time, merit cannot be measured purely in terms of performance at the university entrance examination. If a student from slum school scores 60% at that examination and a student from Royal College score 62% at the same examination, is it not likely that the student from the slum school is the more talented and would have scored more marks if he had been given the kind of schooling that the Royal College student had?

    Under the current district quota scheme it is possible for a student who scores 50% to get into the university to the exclusion of a another who scores 70% irrespective of the kind of schooling they have received but depending only on the district in which that school is located. That would be both unfair and inefficient. Any scheme of preferences must be based on compensating for real disadvantage in the expectation that once admitted to a university, that disadvantage will disappear and the more talented student will prevail. This will work only if the disparity is modest and linked to a real disadvantage like substandard schooling and not to the accident of the location of that school in one district or the other. All disadvantages cannot be adequately compensated for, but the scheme I have suggested could, to a significant extent, compensate for disparity in the quality of schooling.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Dr Devanesan Nesiah,

      I have already agreed with your proposed Affirmative Action in Education in my post to Kadphises on November 3, 2011 • 10:01 pm

      Extract
      Any solution that is aimed at reducing the disadvantage is better than no solution. The District quota system mitigated the disadvantage between districts. Dr Nesaiah’s proposal aims at doing the same thing at a more refined (and more just) school level. In my view that is an improvement on the district level affirmative action. Provided that there is a transparent system of grading schools, I am with him all the way.
      End Extract

      The need for Affirmative Action in a country with limited resources is indisputable. The old media wise or ethnics quotas was a criminal overreaction by the Govt of the day.

      You wrote “I don’t see equalizing per capita land as an essential objective in redrawing boundaries of regions. The quality of the land is more important than the quantity”

      The intractable problem in demarcating fair boundaries are the claims for ownership based on colonial provincial boundaries. The injustice of that is not recognised and hence a device that is not contestable should be adopted. The equalisation of per capita land provides a mathematical relationship to the devolved land. I cannot see the Sinhalese Peasantry agreeing to the Provincial boundaries. Kadphises gives a detailed response regarding the need to use a per capita base in his post of November 21, 2011 • 6:16 pm

      This is not to say that the quality of the devolved land should not be considered when that could be addressed without complicating matters. In fact I suggested that the Arumugam Plan be implemented BEFORE any devolution is attempted, to improve the quality of land in the Jaffna Peninsular and the neighbouring areas of the Wanni.

      Extract from my post of November 2, 2011 • 6:08 pm to Wijayapala.
      Jaffna has a problem of fresh water. In order for a devolution unit centred around Jaffna to be viable, this fresh water problem has to be solved. The Arumugam Plan of 1954 provides an ingenious solution to this. It was partly implemented long ago. I believe that the Lankan State should spend for and solve the fresh water problem before devolution is attempted, as it would be difficult for a devolved Jaffna region to solve it on it’s own after devolution.
      End extract.

      You wrote “I am not aware of some of the details set out by “Off the Cuff” but even it is true Chelvanayakam the main undisputed leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils”

      I am not aware what details you are referring to as I usually provide references to important subject matter. Please elaborate and I will try to explain.

      I did not see your response of November 21, 2011 • 2:23 pm as I stopped monitoring this thread due to the thread going dormant and your long absence. By chance I noticed today’s post from you.

      The following is a response to your post of today December 14, 2011 • 12:11 pm

      I believe the following statement of yours is due to a misunderstanding of what we have proposed.

      “Are you suggesting forcible transfer of people and land from popular centres to unpopular ones? Is there any other way to equalize per capita land holdings? Apart from popular dissatisfaction, such a programme will generate social problems as in some of our colonization schemes and plantation regions”

      No force has been advocated at all.
      The proposal that I made was based on the population that voluntarily resides in the devolved areas irrespective of ethnicity. The population considered in the calculation for land allocation is the TOTAL such population, which is a mix of all ethnicities within that area.

      No relocation was ever envisaged unless it is a voluntary relocation at the sole wish of the persons concerned.

      You wrote “Within each country, people should be free to settle in any region or city”

      I believe you have made an inadvertent error. There is only ONE Country with ONE Constitution but different devolved Regions. Hence the absolute freedom to settle, engage in business, travel, within regions without any let or hindrance is guaranteed.

      You wrote “If such freedom is granted, it is likely that most of the heavily populated cities and regions will become even more heavily populated and most of the under populated regions and cities will become even more depleted of population. ”

      This is inevitable as human nature is to strive for improvement. People would not move out of a region if the region is capable of providing all the necessities that they require. In other words if the governance of the region is good there will not be the need to move away from that region. One argument for the need for devolution is to manage one’s own region is it not?

      You wrote “Some population transfers may be necessary, e.g. to find land for landless agricultural labour and to find labour to establish plantations and mines. But this should be done in such a way that social problems are not created. Further, in land surplus areas, some of the surplus land can be converted to forests and wildlife reserves that will spread the benefits far and wide. The objective should be not to equalize per capita land holdings but to meet human need and to improve human welfare, especially of those most in need.

      There is no need for forced population transfers as movement is solely on a voluntary basis. Hence no social problems will be created. There will be no land surplus as each population will hold the same per capita land. The region is free to utilise that land as they see fit. It can be parks, forests, nature reserves or residences. It will be the Region that will decide how they will meet Human needs and human welfare. The Centre will not have any control, except when the country’s security and foreign policy is under threat.

      Devolution does not mean that the Region will not get any help from the Centre.

    • kadphises

      “If such freedom is granted, it is likely that most of the heavily populated cities and regions will become even more heavily populated and most of the under populated regions and cities will become even more depleted of population. ”

      There is nothing terribly wrong with this as long as it is voluntary. If they think it is better to stop farming and take up a security guard’s job in the city who are we to say otherwise? Still, it must be borne in mind that the security guard does not lose his emotional attachment to his original home. We all have a deep deep attachment to the land of our ancestors which even a couple of generations in the city or overseas cannot erase.

    • Gamarala

      Dear Dr. Nesiah,

      Regarding: “If a student from slum school scores 60% at that examination and a student from Royal College score 62% at the same examination, is it not likely that the student from the slum school is the more talented and would have scored more marks if he had been given the kind of schooling that the Royal College student had?”

      I would imagine so yes. However, even in your proposal, which may perhaps be slightly better than a district quota system, the same fundamental problem remains. If students of a particular school have high marks, does that imply that privilege alone is the reason? Or that brighter students, through scholarships or other means, strive to flock to good schools?

      The basic problem is that any quota system is not an equalizer of the type you explain. Take your example of a student A in a disadvantaged area scoring 55% being equal to a student B in a privileged area scoring, say 60%. Is A better than B? Most likely. But is such a comparison what a quota system does? No!

      Any equalizing system must be a means by which to compare two individual scores. Instead, what a quota system does is, irrespective of this individual performance, simply assign a brute quota to an entire district, or according to your new proposal, a school. This means that a higher concentration of bright individuals in a school is simply ignored (for example, scholarship winners being concentrated in, say Royal College).

      As a more concrete example: let’s assume that school X has 500 students, and that 100 are exceptionally bright.

      Let’s assume that disadvantaged school Y has 500 students, but a lower density of 20 exceptionally bright and deserving students.

      How does a quota system remedy this? Wouldn’t the quota per school still be, say 50 slots, despite there being a higher concentration of individual students who are brighter and more deserving in school X? Wouldn’t an extra 30 who get in through school Y, be less deserving than the 70 exceptional students who miss out from school X?

      How is that remedied by a school based quota system, if not worsened?

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Gamarala,

        Affirmative action in Education attempts to equate the inequality of resources.

        These resources can be Teachers, Laboratory, Library, Sports etc.

        Ideally standardisation would not be needed if the resource distribution is equal amongst schools but that is not achievable in a developing country such as ours. Even USA, the richest country, practises affirmative action and if I remember correctly, there are US Supreme Court decisions that has upheld affirmative action in Education

        Intelligence of a child cannot be gauged by the marks obtained at an examination when one child is deprived of an equal opportunity for no fault of the child.

        Quotas are not blindly set. Quotas are also not static.
        Statistical analysis is used in standardisation to even out the resource disadvantage.

        What is required however, is complete transparency and fairness of the Standardisation process.

      • Gamarala

        Dear Off the Cuff,

        As I have stated previously, I am not arguing against affirmative action! Please re-read my posts if you have misunderstood. What I’m arguing against is the assumption that resource distribution alone is the determinant of variation in performance. What I have attempted to show, through examples such as a higher concentration of scholarship students in, say Royal college, is that marks can vary because of intelligence distribution. In other words, a higher concentration of bright individuals can be concentrated in one particular place.

        Doesn’t a “quota” system based on districts, necessarily overlook such differences in concentration? However, you have said that “Quotas are not blindly set. Quotas are also not static.” Can you please explain the based on which these quotas are determined? It is entirely possible that my objection is grounded in a misapprehension, and I would be happy to disabuse myself.

        In short, I too agree with the overall thesis that Dr. Nesiah presented – that genuine disadvantage must be compensated for through affirmative action (to some reasonable degree). The concern I’m raising is that the current 40:60 split (40% merit based, 60% quota based), already appears to be too skewed in favour of the assumption that resource distribution alone accounts for performance variation. Dr. Nesiah’s suggestion of school-based quotas would arguably worsen that bias, not lessen it.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Gamarala,

        You wrote “You have provided no statistical basis on which this quota works. Without providing that basis, how can we ensure that the system works to our collective benefit? Should we not seek to understand that exact basis? ”

        I tried to explain how statistics could and should be used in designing the Statistical Algorithms. I had no intention or the ability to give you the exact base on how it was done as I am not privy to either the algorithm or the actual data. You could get a better understanding of how statistics are used by referring to a book on statistics. Wiki will also help, try this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_score

        You wrote “It is not the necessity that is in question, but the mechanism and efficacy. ”

        The mechanism and it’s efficacy depends on the Algorithm and data used. Since we are discussing about Higher Education there would not be any dearth of experts in the Statistics field capable of designing and refining a suitable Algorithm.

        You wrote “The second problem I have highlighted, as have others, is that this kind of solution is a mere plaster, a temporary solution, over the real problem, that of resource allocation to disadvantaged schools ”

        By its nature it is a temporary solution. The ideal is to provide the same high standard of resources to every school. Finances and Human resources put a limit to this in a country like ours. This does not mean that improvements in resource allocation is halted. The improvements will go on and will be accounted for in the Algorithm.

        You wrote “Now, resource disadvantages may not be immediately remediable, ”

        You are right, they are not. Hence the quota.

        You wrote “but in our effort to provide temporary remedies, failing to make sure that we actually get the best students into our prized and limited set of slots, is a failure that would spread mediocrity across our entire system”

        This is not necessarily true. If it were, the USA where affirmative action has been practised since Lyndon Johnson would have a Mediocre society. Harvard University and other schools, for example, assess race as a factor among others, including geographical region provided the applicant meets other admissions criteria.

        In USA affirmative action is race and gender based in Lanka it is not. In Lanka it is based on the facilities available in districts provided the applicant meets other admissions criteria.

        The cream will always enter University.

        In Arts streams admissions is a 100% Meritocracy

        In Science based streams
        40% is based on an all Island Meritocracy. (UGC)
        District Meritocracy accounts for 55% (UGC)

        Up to 55% of the available places in each course of study will be allocated to the 25 administrative districts in proportion to the total population, that is, on the ratio of the population of the district concerned to the total population of the country. (UGC)

        Hence higher the population higher will be the quota.

        Other than the 5% places allocated to underprivileged districts (provided minimum standards are met) 95% enter University on merit.

        The high population districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kurunagala and Kandy accounts for 40% of Lanka’s population and hence will take 40% of the Quota allocation. These districts are amongst the educationally advantaged districts and are disadvantaged due to affirmative action. However they have a collective 22% in National terms. Hence the brightest students of these districts will secure places under the National 40% meritocracy. The rest will compete for the available quota of 22% places (national basis) and the brightest amongst them will still enter University. In all other districts the brightest will enter University. Those who will lose out will be the lower end students of the high performing districts. They unfortunately will lose their place in favour of lower performing students in disadvantaged districts.

        I think that this could be remedied by having an IQ test in addition to the subject matter tests and weight given to the IQ test instead of district quota but that is only my opinion.

        Disadvantaged districts 5% (max) (UGC)

        The above 5% of the available places in each course of study will be
        allocated to the under-mentioned 16 educationally disadvantaged districts in proportion to the population, that is, on the ratio of the population of each such district to the total population of the 16 districts; Nuwara Eliya, Vavuniya , Polonnaruwa, Hambantota , Trincomalee , Badulla, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Monaragala, Kilinochchi, Ampara, Ratnapura, Mannar, Puttalam, Mullaitivu, Anuradhapura (UGC)

  • kadphises

    Dr. Nesiah,

    You say “What you have proposed, viz. equalizing per capita land, has not been tried out anywhere in the world, and for good reason.”

    There has not been a Sinhala-Tamil conflict or one with identical historical, demographic and geographic factors elsewhere in the world either.

    You say ” There are heavily populated regions and cities everywhere, as also under populated regions and cities. The flow of population, now and in the past, has been mostly out of under populated regions and cities. Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Delhi and numerous other cities are attracting new population.”

    The demographic pattern in Sri Lanka is also the same. There are heavily populated regions Colombo, Jaffna Peninsula, Galle, Matara and Batticaloa. The conflict is over who in these heavily populated cities gets to control the sparsely populated areas. You say let it all go to the People of Jaffna and Batticaloa. But I say lets all share it equally.

    We need to realise that it is impossible to draw up a map that joins up the abodes of every single Tamil in the country into a Tamil Administrated region. We can however demarcate an area which had a historical concentration of Tamils and includes the region most Tamils originated from and hence have a Psychological attachment to. I agree there should not be any compulsion for Tamils living outside it to move into it. But even Tamils living outside it will derive some benefit of having an area which enshrines and celebrates Tamil Culture and religion above all others and also some place where they can set up and administer schools, universities, cultural celebrations with no interference from the Sinhalese.

    To sell this idea to the Sinhalese it is also paramount that this devolution is granted on the basis of fairness and equality. Even the people in the cities need sparesely populated areas for food production, recreation and as wilderness areas. The bulk of the Tamil population even 100 years ago did not live outside the peninsula and Batticaloa. So if a region is demarcated on the basis of equal per-capita land entitlement no Tamil or Sinhalese can feel short changed. I think without this guarantee any solution is a no-flyer and doomed to failure.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Gamarala,

    No, I have not misunderstood your posts.
    I also understand your viewpoint.

    However the Quota is not arbitrarily set (at least that is not what it should be). The statistical design should take in all those factors that you have mentioned to account. Hence a properly designed Statistical method will yield a quota that will even out the uneven resource allocation without penalising student intelligence.

    You say “What I’m arguing against is the assumption that resource distribution alone is the determinant of variation in performance. What I have attempted to show, through examples such as a higher concentration of scholarship students in, say Royal college, is that marks can vary because of intelligence distribution. In other words, a higher concentration of bright individuals can be concentrated in one particular place”

    There is a problem with your argument.
    Take the case of two students that have an identical IQ score.
    One student is schooled in a resource depleted establishment. The other in a school that has all resources. Both will sit the same examination. The inadequately prepared student will not be able to perform as well as the one that had the advantage of resources.

    Since both students have the same intelligence, the under performance can be attributed only to the unequal resources.

    The student should not be penalised for the inability of the administration to provide equal resources.

    Your question:- Doesn’t a “quota” system based on districts, necessarily overlook such differences in concentration?

    My answer is No, not if the Statistical Method is properly developed.

    However you have a valid point about the preponderance of scholarship performers in prestigious National schools. This can be accommodated with an appropriately weighted variable representing the population of such students.

    You wrote “However, you have said that “Quotas are not blindly set. Quotas are also not static.” Can you please explain the based on which these quotas are determined? It is entirely possible that my objection is grounded in a misapprehension, and I would be happy to disabuse myself”

    I have already explained the first two.
    In a proper statistical design, different weights would be assigned to each variable such as resources, Past performance, IQ etc. Normally this would be district based but with Dr DN’s proposal, it would be school based.

    You wrote “The concern I’m raising is that the current 40:60 split (40% merit based, 60% quota based), already appears to be too skewed in favour of the assumption that resource distribution alone accounts for performance variation”

    The 40% above, is merit based. The distribution of that 40% would reveal the districts that contribute to it. I would suspect that this 40% would be dominated by Schools that have a resource advantage. Out of the remaining 60% these high performing districts would also be allocated a quota. I am not aware what that quota is, but conservatively assuming it to total 25%, the students entering the Uni would be the same as a 65% meritocracy. So you see, it is not so skewed as it looks at first glance.

    You wrote “Dr. Nesiah’s suggestion of school-based quotas would arguably worsen that bias, not lessen it”

    By now you would understand why that will not happen.

    Everything will depend on the Statistical equations that define the quota. Statistics by its nature, is actual performance data. If the equations are realistic the uneven resource allocation would get evened out without significantly affecting the other criteria.

    • Gamarala

      Dear Off the Cuff,

      You have provided no statistical basis on which this quota works. Without providing that basis, how can we ensure that the system works to our collective benefit? Should we not seek to understand that exact basis?

      RE: “Since both students have the same intelligence, the under performance can be attributed only to the unequal resources.”

      There was never any disagreement here, which is why your repeated restatement of this point initially led me to believe you had not understood the argument. Your third repetition yet again reaffirms your belief in the necessity of the scheme. It is not the necessity that is in question, but the mechanism and efficacy.

      RE: “The student should not be penalised for the inability of the administration to provide equal resources.”

      The second problem I have highlighted, as have others, is that this kind of solution is a mere plaster, a temporary solution, over the real problem, that of resource allocation to disadvantaged schools. Now, resource disadvantages may not be immediately remediable, but in our effort to provide temporary remedies, failing to make sure that we actually get the best students into our prized and limited set of slots, is a failure that would spread mediocrity across our entire system. This is why I argued that it is safer to err on the side of a heavier weighting to merit, than to disadvantage. Note that I’m not arguing that there should be no weighting for disadvantage.

      RE: “However you have a valid point about the preponderance of scholarship performers in prestigious National schools. This can be accommodated with an appropriately weighted variable representing the population of such students”

      I’m glad you accept this point, but the scholarship issue was merely an example of what is the broader issue. That, just as your argument that bright student can score lower because of resource disadvantages, the opposite can also be true – i.e. that there can be a high concentration of bright students in particular areas. The scholarship student was merely an example of the phenomenon.

      That’s why, instead of immediately explained away all differences as being “due to resource differences”, it is necessary to consider these aspects, and work them in. That’s why it’s safer to err on the side of giving greater weight to merit. Our long terms concerns of having the most competent workforce possible, should be balanced against our competing concern of equalizing disadvantage for bringing bright, disadvantaged students to the fore.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Gamarala,

        Nothing in my previous posts are to be construed as a defence of affirmative action in education as it exists today in Lanka. It argues for the need of a just system of affirmative action that will give a chance for the intelligent but disadvantaged students from backward areas to obtain an university education.

        K M de Silva who at one time was a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC), and its Vice-Chairman has this to say.

        Quote
        The latest refinement of this came in 1996-97 when the Tamils from the Jaffna peninsula, hitherto the most vocal critics of the system joined in asking for the status of a disadvantaged district for Jaffna itself. This claim was first made before the UGC review committee of 1993: on that occasion it was rejected by the committee. With the change of government they succeeded in securing this advantage. It remains to be seen whether this reversal of the position taken by Jaffna politicians from being the most vigorous advocates of a merit system to the somewhat low-key claimants for the benefits of district quotas will be purely temporary or become permanent. More important, it illustrates the significance of the change that has occurred in the university admissions policy. It had ceased to be affirmative action on an ethnic basis in support of the Sinhalese majority and even politicians from the Jaffna district were comfortable with it as a form of regional, i.e., district, preferences.
        Unquote

        My reply to your post of December 17, 2011 • 8:22 am has for some reason been mispositioned here, http://groundviews.org/2011/10/12/sri-lankan-tamil-destiny-is-inextricably-grounded-within-sri-lanka-a-response-to-d-b-s-jeyaraj/#comment-39934

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Dr Devanesan Nesiah,

    You wrote “I am not aware of some of the details set out by “Off the Cuff” …..” November 21, 2011 • 2:23 pm

    I stated that I am not aware what details you are referring to as I usually provide references to important subject matter. Please elaborate and I will try to explain. December 14, 2011 • 4:27 pm

    You have still not clarified what you have referred to and have not taken advantage of my offer to clarify what seems to be obscure to you.

    Hope you will do so soon.