Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do Tamils face particular problems that Sinhalese don’t face to demand a political solution?

The "ethnic problem", "Tamil question", "solution to the ethnic problem", "political solution to the Tamils" or "power devolution "etc, etc..are the most used or abused words in Sri Lanka for quite a sometime which are being uttered with renewed vigor now in the backdrop of LTTE terrorism being completely annihilated. We are now at an important juncture to do a critical analysis   to see whether the Tamils in Sri Lanka are still disadvantaged due to them being Tamils.  The best way to do this analysis is to see whether there are special privileges that Sinahalese enjoy but Tamils do not enjoy.  
A brief analysis on this gives us a true picture about the so called Tamil's "grievances":
(1)    Education Opportunities- Tamils enjoy free Education provided by the government at all levels with no discrimination at all. There are universities namely Jaffna, the Eastern and the South Eastern and their affiliated collages in the provinces. Tamil students continue to study any other university in the country with no restriction at all while the Sinhalese students are denied to the NE universities with number of student being killed and severely assaulted. Tamil students face no restrictions at all in entering the universities irrespective of where they are located in the country.  

(2)    Employment opportunities: There are no restrictions whatsoever in terms of employment opportunities in whatever sector except armed forces. Close on the heels of the defeat of world's most ruthless terrorist organization it is yet to take a little more time to ease restrictions Tamils to enter the armed forces. However, restrictions to enter the police service have been eased giving opportunity to Tamil youth to join the service from the provinces. It is a common knowledge that the lack of employment opportunities is common to every community in the country.

(3)    Language:  The Tamil language is the main language of communication in the North and East of Sri Lanka including every government officers and departments.( However, there are still some shortcomings in the police stations in certain areas. It is also being fast redressed with the recruitment of Tamil speaking officers.) It is the minority Sinhalese in the provinces that face difficulties in the government departments and other institutions as there are no Sinhala speaking officials there.

(4)    Administration: All administrative matters of the people in the provinces are addressed by the government officers and elected members to the Pradeshiya Sabhas and Provincial councils from the same provinces with no restrictions. Institutions such as provincial councils and other government institutions are functioning very well with no restrictions. The North Provincial Council will be set up soon after its election due in this year. Other government institutions are also functioning addressing the day today needs of the people with no restrictions at all. These institutions are vested with all the powers as other institution in the Southern part of the country are.  The language communication of all these institutions is Tamil.  
 
(5)    Development: The development activities were taking place at a minimum level in the two provinces due to the three decades old war. Now the development activities have been taking place at a pace that the southern part of Sri Lanka would feel envious.  Eastern province was the first beneficiary of these projects. They were started while the war was raging in the north. Anyone who visits those provinces can witness this. Unequal development and wealth distributions to the provinces have been a common problem faced by Sri Lanka from the independence. It seems the Rajapaksha regime has been doing its best to redress this.  

(6)    Freedom of movement: The restrictions faced by the Tamils during the war time have vastly been reduced now. There are virtually no check points in the provinces. There is no restriction to a Tamil person to travel any part of the country including the deep south of the country. The problem of High Security Zones(HSZ) will be solved in due course with the improvement of security situation.    

(7)    Freedom of living in any part of the country: Tamils face no problem at all to live anywhere in Sri Lanka as they have been doing so for ages. Tamils can buy a land and live any part of the country with no restrictions at all.   However, Sinhalese had not been allowed to do so though they were the original inhabitants of those lands before Tamils were brought to the country by colonial powers.

(8)    History: As has been the common knowledge to many so called "homeland" concept of Tamils is a creation of power hungry elite Vel-lla Tamil politicians of Jaffna in order to meet their political aspirations. There had never been an existence of a "Tamil Homeland" as has been proved wrong by many evidences. The truth is that the Tamils are recent immigrants to arrive Sri Lanka a few centuries ago while Sinhalese had been the original inhabitants of the two provinces with a flouring civilization. 
On the other hand it is a well known fact that the minority communities in Sri Lanka enjoy the fullest freedom with no restriction whatsoever in terms of following their religion or engaging their cultural activities. However, this situation is much different in some other countries in South Asia
Most of the other common problems faced by the Tamils are common to other communities of Sri Lanka as well. The underlying problem is that the mythical Tamil history and the bogus homeland concept have poisoned Tamils' minds to the extent that they find hard to get rid of it. The biggest question before us is the so called "political solution" is being used as a Trojan horse to deny other ethnic communities to live in the bogus 'Tamil Homeland'. Even during the recently concluded general election the TNA's propaganda campaign was mainly centered on achieving the "homeland".
Anyone who does a clear analysis would realize that there are no particular problems that Tamils face in Sri Lanka just being a Tamil except a few problems still in existence due to security implications.( But they are too being fast eased now.)
So the critical question before us whether Tamils face particular problems that Sinhalese don't face or Tamils' have a long standing history in Sri Lanka to demand a political solution?      

6 comments:

Mahasen Bandara said...

Nice post.
Couldn't agree more on the subject.

Donald Gaminitillake said...

Sinhala and Tamil Languages are not compatible across all platforms in Sri Lanka
There is a Standard for sinhala which is incomplete but for Tamil there is no standard in Sri Lanka. ONLY I have done this. Making a standard for both Languages.

Also Tamils are discriminated when they register birth certificates, NIC etc. My sister in Law a 100% sinhala do have an indian name her NIC is written in Tamil.
She faces lots of questions when going around.

Donald Gaminitillake
Let us change the standard

Magerata said...

Man you are right. It is more of a assumed discrimination than actual.
Just ask an African American to walk around in small Kentucky town or a place like Durham, NC. in the night. They don't because of fear of groups like KKK and Aryan Nations.
I am yet to find a place in Sri Lanka where a Tamil person could not go even with all the security checks etc. Less than a year ago, there were plenty of place where a Sinhalese could not go. I did not see anyone calling it foul. No NGO ever noticed it.

Any of these people ringing the racist bell are doing it for themselves, like most politicians do. They are happy to find problems than solutions. Even if there is disparity, I do not see these preachers providing means to over come them.

Please don't insult these NGOs by saying those words are most abused. Those are the words these NGOs live by and those are the words that bring them a livelihood.
You and I have to work on bringing the peace about and prove Sri Lankans are much better than many assume.
I am for promoting all three languages in everywhere possible. Because after chatting among us in Sinhalese or Tamil, we still need to communicate with International communities.
Hi Donald, we just ended a war, in which ladies in saris who blew them up. If you do not like being checked, only solution is to wait at home. Have you tried to travel recently to any so called developed country? In Japan, like everyone I got all my ten fingers printed, in USA it is not much different.
Every time I am checked or inconvenienced, I think about the benefit of these security provide.
peace.

Anuradha Ratnaweera said...

How very coincidental, I was going to write the same points anytime soon. Now I can simply tweet/link to this post. Thanks!

I don't think that the high security zones is a "problem" specific to Jaffna. There are several high security zones in Colombo as well. Perhaps Jaffna has more, but like armed forces and Police, this also will be solved by time.

Pratyush Mazumdar said...

Good post. But, I wish to point out certain false notions.

1. Tamils were not brought by British during colonial rule. The plantation tamils were the ones who came to Srilanka, 'few centuries' back.

2. The tamils of north-east lanka were there since atleast 1000 years. The island belongs to them as much as it to you, who came may be another 1000 years back to the island.

3. When I say that tamils or sinhalese 'came', it is not to be taken literally. The indigenous population underwent a sort of cultural assimilation and conversion with the influx of various tribes over the ages. However, the basic stock is the same. For me, Prabhakaran looks very much a sinhalese and Rajapakse looks like any average Malayali from Kerala State of Tamilnadu. Hence, there are no two different 'races' in the racial sense.

4. As an Indian - Hindu, I to some extent can understand your feelings. What happened with Islamic invasions in India happened with Tamil/South Indian/North Indian invasions in your island. But, we have to accept the reality now and there is no point in try to bring back the old notions of pure & serene land inhabited by a pure race/culture. We have to simply accept and move ahead.

5. Give Tamils their due. Your country will not be weakened by such magnanimous gestures, it will only be strengthened by that. Remember that the whole Eelam issue would have fizzled out 25-30 years back had the sinhalese politicians had the foresight of a Nehru or Gandhi. They are ready to give those rights now, after the country suffered badly during all these 30 years.

6. Any conflict badly damages the country and population. It is not that Tamils alone have suffered. If you compare Tamil population and sinhalese population, by taking the total percentage of those who were affected by this, it is the sinhalese who suffered most. Had you been magnanimous and generous, many lives on both sides could have been saved.

7. Try giving the eelam tamils what is due to them. Let them have a homeland. We, in India have homelands of different groups. We have not been weakened by these. In due course of time, everyone identifies himself as Indian as well as with his linguistic background.

8. It may look like I am sermoning and this is an Indian conspiracy. But, these advices are from the bottom of my heart and for the well being of the whole population of lanka. It is upto you guys to take it or leaving it aside.

Anonymous said...

Good post. But, I wish to point out certain false notions.

1. Tamils were not brought by British during colonial rule. The plantation tamils were the ones who came to Srilanka, 'few centuries' back.

2. The tamils of north-east lanka were there since atleast 1000 years. The island belongs to them as much as it to you, who came may be another 1000 years back to the island.

3. When I say that tamils or sinhalese 'came', it is not to be taken literally. The indigenous population underwent a sort of cultural assimilation and conversion with the influx of various tribes over the ages. However, the basic stock is the same. For me, Prabhakaran looks very much a sinhalese and Rajapakse looks like any average Malayali from Kerala State of Tamilnadu. Hence, there are no two different 'races' in the racial sense.

4. As an Indian - Hindu, I to some extent can understand your feelings. What happened with Islamic invasions in India happened with Tamil/South Indian/North Indian invasions in your island. But, we have to accept the reality now and there is no point in try to bring back the old notions of pure & serene land inhabited by a pure race/culture. We have to simply accept and move ahead.

5. Give Tamils their due. Your country will not be weakened by such magnanimous gestures, it will only be strengthened by that. Remember that the whole Eelam issue would have fizzled out 25-30 years back had the sinhalese politicians had the foresight of a Nehru or Gandhi. They are ready to give those rights now, after the country suffered badly during all these 30 years.

6. Any conflict badly damages the country and population. It is not that Tamils alone have suffered. If you compare Tamil population and sinhalese population, by taking the total percentage of those who were affected by this, it is the sinhalese who suffered most. Had you been magnanimous and generous, many lives on both sides could have been saved.

7. Try giving the eelam tamils what is due to them. Let them have a homeland. We, in India have homelands of different groups. We have not been weakened by these. In due course of time, everyone identifies himself as Indian as well as with his linguistic background.

8. It may look like I am sermoning and this is an Indian conspiracy. But, these advices are from the bottom of my heart and for the well being of the whole population of lanka. It is upto you guys to take it or leaving it aside.

Pratyush Mazumdar