The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 5

5
Politics
Sunday, March 8, 2015
By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
“It is my humble view Sir, if we are
to progress as one Country with two
nations…”
(‘Your Excellency Our President, we
need one country with two nations’- CV
Wigneswaran,
Colombo Telegraph
, March 3, 2015)
It became known as the Two Nation
theory. That was the basis on which
Jinnah fought for and obtained the par-
tition of India and Pakistan, with all
the carnage that entailed. The two na-
tion theory thus became a dirty word in
neighboring India.
Chief Minister CV (“Genocide
Judge”) Wigneswaran has just enun-
ciated it in the presence of President
Maithripala Sirisena on the latter’s first
post-election visit to Jaffna. Of course,
in order to be fair by Chief Minister
Wigneswaran, it must be said that the
Tamil political mainstream first articu-
lated this claim officially, way back in
1951, a good five years before 1956 and
Sinhala Only.
The Federal Party in its resolution
at the first national convention held in
Trincomalee in 1951 proclaimed:
“Inasmuch as it is the inalienable right
of every nation to enjoy full political free-
dom without which its spiritual, cultural
and moral stature must degenerate and
inasmuch as the Tamil speaking people
in Ceylon constitute a nation distinct
from that of the Sinhalese by every fun-
damental test of nationhood, firstly that
of a historical past in this Island (which
is) at least as ancient and as glorious as
that of the Sinhalese, secondly by the fact
of their being a linguistic entity entirely
different from that of the Sinhalese, with
an unsurpassed classical heritage and a
modern development of language which
makes Tamil fully adequate for all pres-
ent day needs, and finally, by reason of
their territorial habitation of definite
areas which constitute over one third of
this Island, this first national conference
of I.T.A.K (Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kat-
chi) demands for the Tamil speaking na-
tion in Ceylon their inalienable right to
political autonomy and calls for a plebi-
scite to determine the boundaries of the
linguistic states in consonance with the
fundamental and unchallengeable prin-
ciples of self-determination.”
Vadukkodai Resolution
This was reiterated in and formed the
conceptual basis of the explicitly seces-
sionist Vadukkodai Resolution of 1976:
“The First National Convention of the
Tamil Liberation Front, meeting at Pan-
nakam (Vaddukodai Constituency) on the
14th day of May 1976, hereby declares that
the Tamils of Ceylon, by virtue of their
great language, their religions, their sep-
arate culture and heritage, their history
of independent existence as a separate
state over a distinct territory for several
centuries till they were conquered by the
armed might of the European invaders,
and above all by their will to exist as a
separate entity ruling themselves in their
own territory, are a nation distinct and
apart from the Sinhalese and their con-
stitution, announces to the world that
the Republican Constitution of 1972 has
made the Tamils a slave nation ruled by
the new colonial masters, the Sinhalese,
who are using the power they have wrong-
ly usurped to deprive the Tamil nation of
its territory, language, citizenship, eco-
nomic life, opportunities of employment
and education and thereby destroying all
the attributes of nationhood of the Tamil
people. And therefore…This convention
resolves that the restoration and recon-
stitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular,
Socialist State of Tamil Eelam based on
the right of self-determination inherent in
every nation has become inevitable in or-
der to safeguard the very existence of the
Tamil nation in this country.”
If one is to understand Tamil politics,
the North-South dialectics and the con-
temporary history of Sri Lanka, one
must recognize that the Tamil Maha
Sabhai was formed over a decade before
SWRD Bandaranaike formed the Sin-
hala Maha Sabha in the 1930s and that
the Tamil claim of a separate, distinct
nationhood and the right of self-deter-
mination, preceded what liberals have
touted as the Original Sin, namely Sin-
hala Only.
Eelam
Speaking in 1922, Sir Ponnambalam
Arunachalam stated as follows at the
meeting of the Ceylon Tamil League:
“…It has far higher aims in view, name-
ly to keep alive and propagate these pre-
cious ideals throughout Ceylon, Southern
India and the Tamil Colonies, to promote
the union and solidarity of Tamilakam,
the Tamil Land. We should keep alive and
propagate these ideals throughout Ceylon
and promote the union and solidarity of
what we have been proud to call Tamil
Eelam.”
.
co/selfdetermination/tamileelam/
2200arunachalam.htm)
The historical record clearly demon-
strates that Sinhala nationalism has al-
ways been reactive and one may argue,
defensive, while Tamil nationalism has
been initiatory, escalatory and political-
ly proactive, even aggressively assertive.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran is thus
well within the Tamil political and ideo-
logical tradition, but he is clearly step-
ping up the pace.
One may well ask “what is wrong in
the claim of Tamil nationhood?” Prob-
ably nothing, except for the fact that the
claim is made here in Sri Lanka. The
Tamils may or may not be a nation, but
if they are, it would be in Tamil Nadu,
not in Sri Lanka. However, in Tamil
Nadu they haven’t raised the slogan of
a distinct, separate nationhood for de-
cades now. In Sri Lanka, where one eth-
nic community amounts to almost three
fourths of the population, only it can be
regarded as a nation. Given the extreme
asymmetry, no other community can be
regarded as a nation, but only as a na-
tional or ethnic minority. The Sinhalese
are a nation within a larger, potential or
emergent nation, namely the Sri Lankan
nation. The Tamils of Sri Lanka are an
ethnic or a national minority.
As individual citizens the Tamils
must enjoy rights equal to that of the
Sinhalese. Indeed every citizen on this
island must enjoy equality of rights,
irrespective of ethnic, linguistic,
religious, caste or gender affiliation.
However, as political collectivities, as
political communities, the Tamils do not
and cannot have an equal status as the
Sinhalese, not because one is superior
to the other but simply because of the
island’s demographic realities. In those
countries that recognize more than one
nation or nationality within them, there
is a rough equivalence in size between
those constituent communities.
If every country on the planet were
to recognize as nations, those commu-
nities that were under a quarter of the
population, there would be enormous
destabilization. There would also be
complete confusion in terms of defini-
tion, because there would be no such
entity as minority nationalities or na-
tional minorities! If the Tamils of Sri
Lanka are not a national minority, who
is, where and why? And if the Tamils
of Sri Lanka are a nation, who—which
community-- in the world is not? This
is the path to what the late Daniel P
Moynihan, writing on ethno-nationalist
particularism and drawing from John
Milton’s great poem, denounced as ‘Pan-
demonium’.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran made
clear that in his view and that of the
Tamil nationalist mainstream, the po-
litical solution to the Tamil Question
is not and has never been the full im-
plementation of the 13th Amendment
which issued from the Indo-Lanka Ac-
cord. In his latest speech he says: “Mr.
Appapillai Amirthalingam and others
including our present leader Mr. Sam-
pandan on the 28th of October 1987 had
foretold that the 13th Amendment could
never be a solution to our problems.”
Institutional guarantees
This makes it obvious that Tamil na-
tionalism strives not to make the 13th
Amendment work, but precisely to su-
persede it. The political goal of Tamil
nationalism lies at some unspecified
point beyond the 13th Amendment. We
do not know, though we may guess, what
the envisaged ‘final status agreement’
is.
What then is the solution to the co-
nundrum? The Tamils of Sri Lanka,
and indeed every citizen and commu-
nity, must have institutional guaran-
tees against discrimination of any and
all forms. Constitutional amendments,
laws and regulations must be brought
in to ensure this. A powerful anti-dis-
crimination Ombudsperson could be
appointed. Something akin to the old
Race Relations Board in the UK could be
created.
That apart, there must be a contin-
ued commitment to limited provincial
self-administration and self-rule, in the
form of maximum devolution within a
unitary framework. What this means
is the full implementation, apart from
Police powers, of the 13th Amendment,
with negotiation on the Concurrent List
so as to make for balanced and equitable
swaps in terms of powers.
‘Two Nation’ claim
by
Chief Minister
Wigneswaran
By Elnathan John
Nigeria is an important country
for many reasons. First there is the
jihadist group Boko Haram which
has engaged in an expansionist cam-
paign, freaking out everyone in the
free world. Then there is the fact that
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy.
Most recently however, everyone is
interested in the upcoming elections
with analysts predicting everything
from widespread violence to a break-
up of the country. Expectedly, every
major news organization around the
world doesn’t want to be somewhere
covering the escape of Llamas when
this sexy, maybe-conflict story is un-
folding in Nigeria. So most of them
are putting boots on the ground.
Some journalists have had to wait
long periods for their visas while oth-
ers have come and gone in the wake
of the six-week postponement of the
elections from February 14 to March
28. As a local, I keep getting contacted
for interviews and pointers. Conse-
quently, I have decided, at no cost, to
provide a fairly detailed list of tips for
foreign journalists coming to Nigeria
for the first time:
NOTE: Most of my advice is for the
white or light-skinned foreigner. If
you are black and cannot be visibly
identified as a foreigner, then I am
sorry, you will have to work as hard
as every other local journalist.
1 There is no protocol for the for-
eign journalist.
You may think, I want to interview
a high profile politician and I am
not sure a foreigner who just flew in
to cover the elections will be able to
get access. Nonsense! There are no
access issues for the foreign journal-
ist in Nigeria. You know the saying
“man proposes, God disposes”? Well,
here it is “foreign journo proposes,
foreign journo disposes”. Especially
if you are white, there is hardly any
door you cannot walk right into and
be greeted with a smile. If you cannot
enter, then rest assured that no one
can.
2. You are white. Don’t fight it.
Like I said above, this article is for
the light(er)-skinned journalist. In
Nigeria, all light-skinned foreigners
are referred to as white, or “oyibo”.
Up north, where Hausa is the main
language, you will be called “bature”.
It does not matter if you are Algerian,
Mexican or Chinese. Do not try to ar-
gue or explain that you are not white.
The tag comes with a lot of perks like
the one in 1. above. You will experi-
encemore love and attention than you
have ever received since the nurse
first showed you to your parents.
3. Don’t be shy to ask personal
questions
Sure there are taboo questions,
but because you are foreign, most of
these will not apply to you. Do not be
shocked if you find people telling you
their most intimate secrets. You will
not need to be very influential for a
public official to share sensitive gov-
ernment information or for a random
stranger to tell you the crimes they
have committed. There is something
about your skin that makes us trust
you. Milk it.
4. Prepare for the beer gardens
Especially in Lagos and Abuja, you
will find that there are dozens of beer
gardens or bush bars in any one area.
Feel free to explore these lively places
but please do not wear those hideous
shorts that foreign journos like to
wear in tropical countries. Along
with the general population, mosqui-
toes converge there and will not hesi-
tate to feast on you. Especially you. If
you have never had malaria before,
trust me, the first time is not good.
Plus, you don’t want to be delirious
with fever while your colleagues are
out covering electoral violence. An
African election report without some
violence is like a man with erectile
dysfunction. You don’t want that.
5. Love is a dangerous game
Everyone needs some loving. While
you are in Nigeria, there is nothing
wrong in some adventure of a sexual
nature. Again, it doesn’t matter how
you look - old, fat, sun-burnt - you will
be treated like a local celebrity. Sex
(transactional and otherwise) will be
fairly easy to find. People will tell you
very quickly that you are beautiful,
or even, that they love you. Especially
if you are no longer in your prime
and it has been years since someone
last said those words to you, it can be
quite intoxicating to hear them. En-
joy the attention, but be careful. You
may end up sponsoring someone’s
trip abroad. Love at your own risk.
6. The gay shall not inherit the
earth
If you are gay and you need some
action while you are in Nigeria, you
might want to be extra cautious. It is
a crime to show any same sex amo-
rous affection. We can talk about
how this is against human rights
and all another time. Today it is a
crime, and you can get in trouble.
Plus, the open playing field for the
gay foreigner in Nigeria is a mine-
field. To scam you, we will pretend
to be gay. Don’t use the internet for
hookups. I am not recommending
abstinence (that can be frustrating),
but you might want to think about
it.
7. We stare at exotic people.
Deal with it.
You will find out very quickly that
as a foreigner, you stand out. People
will stare at you, nonstop. No, they
will not look away when you look
back. Yes, they will call out to you in
the streets, referring to you by race.
Calm down. This is not racist. It is
endearment. Deal with it.
8. You will pay more. Deal with
it.
Will you be charged higher prices
when you go to the market or take
cabs or pay for sex? Yes. Yes. Yes. If
you ask me, it is a small price to pay
for all that love. Deal with it.
9. The devil is in the spices
Especially if you are from places
with bland food, the first time you
eat a Nigerian dish will be followed
by reactions that will require a long
period of recovery. If you do not
like hot spices, you might want to
mention that several times before
the food arrives.
10. Vegans can go to hell
I am sorry but if you are vegan,
food will be a challenge for you here.
If you will not feel too guilty about it,
you might want to take a vegan break
in Nigeria and enjoy the meaty culi-
nary delights for the one or two weeks
you will be here. Trust me, the one or
two kilos of meat you will eat in the
period will not destroy the planet.
However, to deal with any extreme
guilt when you do go back home, you
can volunteer at a homeless shelter,
donate to Oxfam or to one of those
animal rights organizations.
I hope you enjoy Nigeria as much I
hope Nigeria enjoys you.
elnathanjohn.blogspot.com
10 tips for the
foreign journalist
Covering the Nigerian elections
The Tamils do not and cannot have an equal
status as the Sinhalese, not because one is
superior to the other but simply because of the
island’s demographic realities
AFP
1,2,3,4 6,7,8-9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,...76
Powered by FlippingBook