Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lanka, the Aryan invasion at last

The Lankan Army, mostly consisting of ethnic Sinhalese, are taking over the last strongholds of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The self-declared Tamil state of northern Lanka is about to pass into history. On balance, this may not be a bad thing.

Most Tamil nationalists have been spoonfed a particular version of the Aryan Invasion theory (AIT). In general, the AIT claims that the Indo-Aryan (and Kafiri and Proto-Bangani) branches of the Indo-European language family were brought into South Asia from the northwest. The Tamil nationalist variety claims moreover that the speakers of Indo-Aryan languages including Sanskrit subdued and displaced the original population of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization (ISC), and that the latter consisted of speakers of Dravidian, the language family of which Tamil is the best-known member. There is in fact no proof for this "Aryan invasion" nor for the Dravidian character of the ISC (which even pro-AIT scholars now deny), but this lack of proof is amply compensated for by the intensity of the theory's political exploitation.

In Lanka, in the Tamil Tigers' understanding, the Aryan-Dravidian confrontation of about 4,000 years ago is now being re-enacted. The Indo-Aryan-speaking Sinhalese Buddhists have tried, since independence, to impose their language on the whole country, trampling on the distinct identity of the Tamil minority. They managed to get India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's co-operation for the "repatriation" of those Tamils whose parents had been settled in Lanka during British rule. They tried to suppress the Tamil attempt to preserve their identity and freedom by setting up an independent Tamil Eelam. And now they are militarily overrunning and dismantling that de facto Tamil state.

Contrary to international perception, this is not primarily a religious war. The Sinhalese resented the Tamil "overrepresentation" in the civil service and the professions that had developed under colonial rule. Along with the Indian Muslims, the Sikhs and particular Christian groups, the Tamils were "the spoiled children of the British empire". In the British scheme of the racial characteristics of their subject nations, the Buddhists in Lanka and Burma counted as indolent, the Tamils as hard-working. Therefore, they transferred Tamil labour to Lanka and Burma, whence the immigrants were again expelled in the 1960s, as well as to Malaysia, where they eke out a meagre existence as dhimmi-s, and Singapore, where they thrive. Ethnic envy and mistrust is sufficient to explain the genesis of the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict. The key event in its escalatioon was the declaration of Sinhalese as only national language.

Later on, a religious dimension was nonetheless inserted into it. After the armed struggle broke out, Sinhalese Buddhists vandalized some Hindu temples, identifying Hinduism with the Tamil enemy. Inside the Tamil separatist movement, however, Hinduism was never the prime motivator and was eventually sidelined completely. All through the 20th century and down till today, Tamil nationalism or "Dravidianism" has been allied with militant anti-Brahminical and generally anti-religious atheism, championed by Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker, the "father of the Tamil race". He summed up his hatred for the "northern, Aryan" Brahmins in his dictum: "If you see a snake and a Brahmin, kill the Brahmin first." Since the 1960s, Dravidianist parties have been taking turns at ruling India's state Tamil Nadu, and their two lasting achievements are the exodus of most Tamil Brahmins (to Mumbai, Bangalore and Silicon Valley) and the "purification" of the Tamil language of Sanskrit loanwords and of the chaste Brahminical style.

Along with vulgarity, corruption is the hallmark of the Dravidianist political culture. On this point, at least, the Tamil Tiger movement, with its extreme military discipline, provided an improvement. But is has kept on sharing the Dravidianist aloofness from, if not hostility to, Hinduism. That is one reason why the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in India has never supported the Tamil Tigers. The other is that India has enough problems with various separatisms, and that any success for separatist movements in other countries would only encourage them.

So, the Tamil Tigers are mainly a secular-nationalist movement. At least as far as the nominally Hindu members are concerned. But there is also a Christian presence in the movement, and it has gradually gained in importance. Both LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham and the suicide bomber who killed Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi were Christians. The Sinhalese tend to see the LTTE as a Christian-led and Christian-teleguided movement, which to them explains "Christian" Norway's attempt to broker a peace agreement effectively legitimating Tamil rule in the north. Hence the famous cartoon showing a padre hotly denying any LTTE involvement all while a tiger's tail is showing from underneath his clerical garb. The Tiger martyrs are not cremated after the Hindu custom, but buried after the Christian fashion. Given the Sinhalese Buddhists' prior and long-standing resistance against missionary efforts at converting them, the Christian angle to the Eelam problem exacerbates the religious animosities.

For the Lankan Tamil population, the war for Tamil Eelam has been a disaster. The people for whom the LTTE claims to be fighting, is disappearing. Their percentage of the Lankan population has more than halved due to emigration, war casualties and the war's damaging effect on family formation. Possibly the terms they will get after surrendering will not be as favourable as those they might have gotten after a two-sided armistice negotiated from a position of strength. But in the circumstances, there is simply nothing to be gained anymore from continuing the war. Some international pressure may help in assuring them of a sufficiently fair deal in a reunited Sri Lanka. Or alternatively, the Sinhalese themselves may freely decide not to repeat the mistakes that drove the Tamils to armed separatism.

8 comments:

sie.kathieravelu said...

In Sri Lanka, the trouble started due to discrimination and injustice and continues due to bribery and corruption. These may be the reasons for troubles in other countries too.

Current wars have to be ended and new wars have to be prevented. To achieve this goal the present system of Democratic Governance has to be changed to one that is really democratic in its true sense.

In the present democratic system it is only those - who possess the power to attract people through speech, have enough money and muscle power - can join the ruling class to suppress or convert all others as their subjects and is thus a fertile ground for "corruption" in various forms to thrive.

In my opinion "Corruption" includes any kind of waste, neglect and every form of malpractice, dishonesty, abuse, misuse, unreasonable exercise of power, failure or refusal to exercise power, anything and everything left undone which results in the right of the people being denied or impaired.

Without a "just society" in existence much talked about "terrorism" cannot be eradicated. For the creation of a "just society" there should be "good governance" in the country. For the creation of "good governance" in the country "corruption" in ALL its forms must be eradicated. And to eradicate "corruption" the present democratic system of governance, where full power to make final decisions ultimately rests in the hands of one person, must be changed.

So the only way to salvage a country is to change the present system of governance to one that is truly democratic where the final decision-making power will NOT be in the hands of ONE person BUT shared by as many people as possible and thus restricting any individual to rush into hasty decisions that might lead to trouble everywhere.

To make a country truly democratic, the powers of the Parliament (the decision making supreme body of a country) should be split and separated and each of the separated powers must be handled by different groups of persons selected and elected by the people for the purpose of administering EACH SET OF POWERS or duties as the case may be so that no single group has the full power. All the groups together will make the whole. The country is not divided but the powers of parliament are divided/separated. The World would become united. The people would have sustainable peace, prosperity and a pleasant for everyone is guaranteed.

Different groups have to be elected for such purposes as administration, fiscal management, planning, implementing, policy and law making, auditing and for any other function that may be deemed necessary.

The group that is entrusted with the power to make laws and regulations shall not be given the duty/power of implementing/administering the laws and regulations.

Particular care should be taken to see that all powers are NOT CONCENTRATED in one place and that they do not overlap and there must not be a secret budget to be handled by a single person.

All transactions should be transparent including Diplomacy which has to be diplomatically transparent.

One set of powers dealing with the development of the country should be given to the set of representatives at the village level. The people of each and every village must be empowered to determine their way of life (lifestyle). The life-style of a village, its lands and resources shall not be disturbed by external forces.

All plans of development of a village that remotely/indirectly affects the village must have the concurrence of the people of that village concerned.

It has to be ensured that people are treated equitably regardless of their gender, race, colour, ethnic or national origins, age, disability, socio-economic background, religious or political beliefs and affiliations, marital status, family responsibilities, sexual orientation or other inappropriate distinction;

The decision-making powers with regard to each and every set of powers must be spread through-out the country.

With such system in practice discrimination, injustice, bribery and corruption, the four pillars of an Evil society might become history.

When the above four pillars of Evil are eradicated, the people would be living under a system that would guarantee sustainable peace, prosperity and a pleasant living to everyone in any country.

Comments on the above views are solicited from everyone with a view to prevent future wars and end current wars.

velluprabhakaran said...

So the only way to salvage a [[[country is to change the present system of governance to one that is truly democratic where the final decision-making power will NOT be in the hands of ONE person BUT shared by as many people as possible and thus restricting any individual to rush into hasty decisions that might lead to trouble everywhere.]]]

i agree. get rid of murdering dictator vellupillai & tamils will be free.

B.N.Gururaj said...

For all the non-violence propounded by Buddhism, the Sri Lankan Buddhists seem to be a pretty violent lot. Putting down rebellion using bombers and fighters is something done not routinely, he world over. With much reluctance, one has to share the thought that Sri Lankan method provides a model for India to put down insurgency within its borders.

Vijay Lohitsa said...

Dr. Elst, once again great clarity. I am not sure anyone in India thinks this clearly else we would not have the problems we have.

Tamils like the muslims feel victims all the time. Their hatred for Brahmins seems strange and hopefully the OIT theory takes roots there to free their mind.

I can clearly see a British ploy as in Africa to range the minority against the majority and exploit both. The shop keepers were amazing play makers I should say.

Raj said...

wot about the rituals of the ltte especially their suicide culture isn't it rooted in saivaism (cangam poetry)...

Deshabhakta said...

Thus this Eelam movement is not good for Bhaarat from any perspective. Consider it as Tamial National movement or as a Christian agenda, it is neither in the interest of the Tamails nor Bhaarat and Srilanka. Dr. Elst has clearly put forward the LTTE's evolution and how it has become a threat now. Bhaarat must stand with the Lankan government in eliminating the LTTE. This way we also get a model to uproot secessionist movements within our borders.

Harish said...

Mr. Lohita the Tamils are the victims here, perhaps you should read the islands history since independence. For a starters can you tell us why Sinhalese was declared the sole official language with nearly a 25% Tamil minority back then?

Why were reservations designed to keep Tamils out of education?

Why was the Jaffna libary burned down in 1981 by Sinhalese thugs (comparable to the Muslim destruction of Nalanda)?

Dr. Elst is right in that the colonial authorities favoured the Tamils & the Tamils were overrepresented in education, so what, banias & marwaris are overrepresented in business, the Tamil Brahmins were very overrepresented in the gov't jobs under the British (one of the reasons for the envy & hatred of Brahmins that was to be generated) but that doesn't justify trying to keep them out of those jobs.

The reasons for anti Brahmin hatred are manyfold, among them was the fact that Tamil is not influence by Sanskrit as much as other other Southern languages, Brahmin over representation in gov't jobs, missionary & colonial inspired lies plus the Brahmins own instragience. Southern Brahmins can be notoriously rigid & obsessed with "purity" especially in Kerala & TN, note that Swami Vivekananda called Kerala a "madhouse of caste" when he visited. In TN, the Brahmins were the only one's who wore Upanayana & used to call the rest as Shudras including martial groups like the Thevars & Vanniyars, that did not help their case. In AP there are only 3 groups who wear Upanayana, Brahmins, Rajus (freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju was a Raju), & Komatis (Banias), combined they barely make up 6-7% of the population.

Mr. Raj Sangam literature is a very broad term, of this Purananuru deals with subjects like war in which maram (martial courage) is given a very high place & martial suicide is extensively referred to, so yes LTTE has been influenced by that but the crucial difference is that in the former martial suicide as done to save one's honor, to kill an enemy combatant NOT to suicide bomb civilians. Anyway this is not unique to Sangam literature, saavan kallu (hero stones) can be found all over India including the North in which some of them depict self decapitation (called Avippali/Navakandam in Tamil literature). Hammir Dev Chauhan was said to have decapitated himself when the Muslims led by Alladdin Khilji finally surrounded him & he could no longer fight.

Brilliantly Foolish said...

Humans are a bunch of emotional rubber balls isn't it ha ha.