The Nation Sunday, March 24, 2013 Page 15
foreign features
Darshanie Ratnawalli
W
e have a bit of a situation over the
Youth Indian connection with the
dawn of civilization inLanka.
The
Mahavansa
traces the civilization impulse
to North India. While the historical revi-
sionist school wants us to stop being fix-
ated with this hackneyed North Indian and
get in touch with our inner South Indian
(read inner Tamil nowadays under dictates
of Tamil imperialism, which insists that
South Indian is the Tamil, the whole Tamil
and nothing but the Tamil; now, then and
for all time.) However, during the time that
interests us, the pre and the early Chris-
tian centuries, Tamil was, but a chorus girl
(on her way to being the leading lady) in a
larger South Indian Musical.
There is a question that intrudes when
we get ready to embrace our inner South
Indian and it’s the same question that a
child brought up by a single parent faces
when the missing parent intrudes in adult-
hood. Why weren’t you there more? Our
inner South Indian is hidden. He has to be
excavated, surmised, derived and deduced
out of the impressively prolific (over 1400
against Tamil Nadu’s 80 odd) stone in-
scriptional record of this country, which
is written exclusively in old Sinhala. He is
not out there, upfront in a frankly South
Indian way that enables us to get our teeth
into him; boldly recording in a Dravidian
language (preferably Tamil) his doings,
titles and genealogy. For the purpose of
this analysis a South Indian presence or
influence that fails to manifest indepen-
dently in Tamil or some Dravidian lan-
guage shall be considered to have forfeited
its South Indianness and entered an other
cultural milieu. I don’t mean that there are
no potsherds and coins in Tamil to attest to
a peripheral south Indian presence in pre-
Christian Lanka. We did have the periph-
eral South Indian. But what happened to
all the early Dravidian potential? Why did
our inner South Indian fail to thrive?
The majority of scholars hold that the
widespread megalithic tradition that
precedes the early historic settlement of
Lanka is strongly linked to if not actually
deriving from South India, which was a
hotbed of Dravidian languages at the time.
“The geographical proximity, the simi-
larity between ecological zones, common
burial and ceramic traditions, including
other grave ware and skeletal remains…
indicate a cultural homogeneity between
the megalithic monuments of south India
and Sri Lanka. It also suggests community
movement, the intrusion of techno-cultur-
al elements (iron, ceramic industry, irriga-
tion) and a new subsistence pattern (based
on paddy cultivation) from south India,
more specifically from Tamilnadu, well
before the 3rd century BC period.”- (Sudar-
shan Seneviratne: 1985).
The spread of the Early Iron Age culture
(which is the proper name for the mega-
lithic tradition) into Sri Lanka from Tamil
Nadu during the first millennium B.C. was
almost certainly accompanied by Dravid-
ian languages including Tamil. “It is only
when we get closer to the EHP (300 B.C to
300 A.D) that we are in a position to saywith
confidence that the Tamil language had
achieved a dominant position among the
languages spoken among the protohistoric
peoples of Tamil Nadu. Assuming that the
earliest of the Tamil Sangam poems were
composed about the second century BCE
(which is the date favoured by most mod-
ern scholars) and assigning a period of two
or three centuries for the language to reach
the level of a literary medium, the middle
of the first millennium BCE seems to be
a reasonable date to mark the emergence
of Tamil in south India.”- (Indrapala:
The
Evolution
: p99).
“… the rise of Tamil as the most domi-
nant language of the present day southern
Tamil Nadu may not have occurred later
than the middle of the first millennium
BCE. It was the time when the EIA culture,
with its special features of BRW, urn buri-
als, megaliths and iron tools as well as rice
cultivation associated with an early system
of irrigation, was spreading in all parts of
southern Tamil Nadu and crossing over to
Sri Lanka. Speakers of the Tamil language
were without doubt associated with this
cultural movement. It is possible that there
were also speakers of other languages
among the recipients, and later distribu-
tors, of this culture in this part of south
India.”- (ibid: p98)
In fact when one considers the spread of
the Megalithic tradition (or to be more ac-
curate, the EIA culture) in Sri Lanka, “one
cannot imagine the Tamil language not be-
ing associated with these activities or be-
ing part of this cultural movement. Just as
Prakrit, and to an extent Sanskrit, was part
of the cultural movement that flowed from
north India…, so was Tamil part of the EIA
cultural movement that spread from Tamil
Nadu to Sri Lanka in the first millennium
BCE.”- (ibid: p99)
Between 900 and 600 BC, when the Early
Iron Age culture derived from Tamil Nadu
was the dominant cultural milieu, Tamil
(and other Dravidian languages) may have
been part of (or even dominated) the lin-
guistic scene of Lanka. Unfortunately this
can only be a surmise and a speculation
(albeit a very reasonable one). Because,
this was a pre-literate cultural milieu.
“Without the aid of written records there
is no way of determining the language or
languages spoken by any pre-literate so-
ciety. That the people associated with the
EIA culture used some kind of writing sys-
tem for certain limited purposes may not
be disputed. They used a set of characters,
commonly referred to as non-Brahmi sym-
bols or graffiti symbols, which have sur-
vived as graffiti marks on sherds of pottery.
These were in use long before a phonetic
script, the well known Brahmi, was ad-
opted in peninsular India and Sri Lanka.
As long as they remain undeciphered, they
cannot provide any clue to the language
or languages spoken by the users of these
symbols...”-(ibid: p.88).
When the literate phase dawns in Sri
Lanka, not surprisingly it dawns in Anu-
radhapura, the largest EIA settlement in
the island and the most unique among all
the other known Lankan EIA sites due to
its early urban character. But surprising-
ly it dawns in Prakrit, not in Tamil. Even
more surprisingly, it dawns early (begin-
ning of the fourth century B.C.) preceding
the Asokan edicts. The surprises keep pil-
ing up and when the literate phase comes
of age in Lanka around 200 BC, Tamil and
other Dravidian languages have become so
peripheral in the island, that even Dame-
das and other recognizably South Indian
lineages are inscribing on stone in old
Sinhala, not in Tamil. Hence we come up
against the mystery of our inner South In-
dian, who failed to thrive.
@
/ and
Chamara Sumanapala
Basic facts
Population
: 31.1 million (July 2012
est.)
Ethnic Groups
: Arabs 75-80%, Kurds
15-20%, Others 5%
Religions
: Islam 97% (Shia 60-65%,
Sunni 32-37%) Other 3%
Nearly 70% live in urban areas.
Human cost of the war
Servicemen and women died: USA
4,487, Britain 179 and other Allies 139.
More than 32,000 wounded.
Iraqi Security Forces (Post Saddam)
lost more than 16,000 lives.
Iraqi insurgent deaths number roughly
around 21,000-26,000.
The organization “Iraqi Body Count”
states that 111,762-122,224 Iraqi civilians
have died. Some of the other estimates
are even higher.
After the war started, 2 million Iraqis
fled the country. Another 2.7 million were
displaced internally. Many of them still
remain displaced.
Life expectancy at birth: 69.5 years in
2002; 68.5 years in 2009.
Democracy and governance
Dictatorship ended and multi-party
politics returned.
Shia Muslims were able to take con-
trol of the country’s politics for the first
time.
Sectarianism persisted. Sectarian vio-
lence peaked in 2006.
Iraq once held the record for the lon-
gest time without a government. In 2010,
it passed 249 days without a government
as different political factions could not
come to an agreement over government
formation after the elections.
In the Failed State Index, prepared by
the U.S. think tank Fund for Peace, Iraq
was among the top 5 failed states through-
out 2005-2008. Even in 2011 and 2012, it
held the 9th place.
International security
Though a dictatorship, Iraq had little im-
plications to international security and ter-
rorism. The claim for the existence of Weap-
ons of Mass Destruction, the main reason
for the war, has been discredited.
Fall of the dictatorship opened an oppor-
tunity for terrorism to establish in Iraq. The
Al-Qaeda, which had no chance of establish-
ing itself in Iraq under the secular regime of
Saddam Hussein, found many sympathizers
among the Sunnis.
The Iranian influence in Iraq also in-
creased. From the United States perspective,
it is a disadvantageous outcome.
Expenditure
Estimated cost to US taxpayers varies. A
non-partisan Congressional Research Ser-
vice estimated the financial cost at just over
US $ 800 billion. Other estimates vary from
US $ 1.7 trillion to US $ 3 trillion.
Defence contractors were paid US $ 138 bil-
lion.
Economy
GDP: US $ 18.97 billion (2002) and US $
115.39 billion (2011). The increase attributed
to rising oil prices.
Poverty remains the main concern of
many Iraqis. Despite the economic growth,
25%of the population was below the poverty
line in 2008.
Unemployment is 18% among young peo-
ple aged 15-24 years.
Crude oil production
Year Crude oil production (barrels
per day)
2002 2,023,000
2003 1,308,000
2004 2,011,000
2005 1,878,000
2006 1,996,000
The highest in recent years (before 2011)
was in year 2000, which was 2,571,000 barrels
per day. Production gradually increased after
2005. In 2011, it surpassed the year 2000 pro-
duction, reaching 2,626,000 barrels per day.
Essential services
In2003, theelectricityoutputwas 3,300MW.
Today, it is 8,500 MW. However, the demand is
14,000 MW. Electric supply is unreliable. An
average Iraqi household receives just 8 hours
of electricity per day. After 2003, majority of
the Iraqi population has always been unsat-
isfied with the electric supply throughout.
Only 26% of the population is covered by
the public sewage system. In rural areas
only 2% of the people are covered.
One fifth of the population is
illiterate
An average household is 20 minutes from
a health facility.
Child mortality rate (children dying
within the first year of life) has decreased
substantially, from 50 to 35 per a thousand
births. In 1999, only 50% of births were at-
tended by skilled personnel. By 2006 it im-
proved to 89%.
There were 204 public hospitals in 2007 in
Iraq. The number of physicians was around
7 per 10,000 inhabitants. In 2009, there were
1.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Iraq spends
nearly 10% of its GDP for health services.
However, two thirds of the Iraqis still
have a negative impression of the country’s
health services.
The US government spent US $ 60 billion
for construction. However, the Special In-
spector General for Iraq reconstruction says
that US $ 8 billion was wasted.
Popularity of the war in the U.S
and Iraq
CBS Poll: 54%of Americans think that the
war against Iraq was a mistake.
Gallup Poll: 53% of Americans think that
it was a mistake to send troops to fight in
Iraq. In April 2008, (five years after the war
started) the percentage of Americans who
thought that the war was a mistake reached
an all time high of 63%.
Reportedly, many Iraqis felt that removal
of Saddam Hussein is worth all the hard-
ships endured thereafter. But, it is no sur-
prise as the majority of the people (Shias
and Kurds for example) were marginalized
and oppressed under his regime.
The organization“Iraqi Body Count” states that 111,762-122,224 Iraqi civilians have died in the war
Iraq - A decade after the invasion
Getting in touch with
our inner South Indian
The majority of
scholars hold that
the widespread
megalithic
tradition that
precedes the early
historic settlement
of Lanka is
strongly linked
to if not actually
deriving from
South India, which
was a hotbed
of Dravidian
languages at the
time
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