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Wednesday 11 April 2012

East India Company

There have been a number of East India Companies but the so called British India Company appears to be the oldest of all of them. The British India Company had been granted a Royal Charter in 1600 followed by the Dutch East India Company established in 1602. Some other European countries followed them but we are told that all these companies which were originally formed to carry on with trade not only in India but even in countries including Sri Lanka had to be closed down when the respective states acquired not only trade (economic) rights but political rights as well. They very rarely mention cultural rights, if at all, but that was their main concern as McCauley has put down in his infamous minute on Indian education in 1835, a year significant in western Education in this country as well. This is an extract from what Macaulay had to say in his minute. “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.”

“It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population”. It is clear what the English had in their minds as to the education of the Indians and of course of the others. If it was possible they would have converted all the Indians to be Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. However, they did not have the resources to do so, and hence decided to train a group of people to be English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. This class is sometimes referred to as Macaulay's Children. It is unfortunate that the educationists not only in India but in the rest of the colonial countries continue to breed Macaulay's Children. In a sense it is worse now as in addition to the schools and the universities we have mass media to turn out Macaulay's Children. Macaulay was wrong that English had to be used as the medium of instruction to produce these children as what is more important is the content and not the medium of instruction. The mass media is much more effective than schools and universities producing Macaulay's Children as one would have noticed listening to Uruvarigelage eththos, the so called Adivasins, on “traditional homeland pojja”, though not in the same words, recently.

One is very often judged by the company one keeps. Most people would have thought that East India Company of the English was dismantled in 1874, after an existence of 274 years that saw among others the “Indian Mutiny” of 1857- 58. However it is clear that at least a section of the Macaulay's Children keep company with the political and cultural descendants of Macaulay in England in the so called United Nations Councils. Most of them are Brahmins not only among the politicians, but also in the Indian Civil Service as well as the Indian Foreign Service. To that extent East India Company is not dead but kicking hard at the neighbours who also have their share of Macaulay's Children. If not for the Macaulay's Children among ourselves we could have returned all those kicks without much of a problem. We do not intend to advise the Indian Macaulay's Children on the company they want to keep. After all we are not Macaulays who are determined to convert these Children with Oxbridge and other such degrees to become Buddhists who follow the greatest son that Dambadiva has produced. The Buddhists are not interested in conversions following Buddha who advised Upali the Grhapathi to continue to be a disciple of Nighanta Natha Puththa.

India voted with the western Christian countries against Sri Lanka keeping the company intact. However by voting with the west India has lost any pretensions to be the leader of South Asia and the SAARC region. All the countries in this region, voted against the USA motion against Sri Lanka thus ignoring the company that India keeps. India is now isolated in the region and it is the company that she keeps that has pushed her into that position. India pretends to have helped Sri Lanka but when Israel publicly claims that the UNHRC resolution against that country would be ignored it is not necessary to amend the resolution by adding phrases such as in consultation and with the concurrence of Sri Lanka. In any event Sri Lanka should not allow any representative of the UNHRC to come to the country to monitor the implementation of the USA resolution backed by India. From the time of Indira Gandhi, if not before, India has worked in unison with the west against Sri Lanka, and it is an open secret that the Americans and the English consulted India before they announced their policies on Sri Lanka from time to time. Solheime was a regular visitor to Delhi and one does not have to be an expert in international relations to know what happened between him and the Indian leaders. Norway was only a go between and it was England and America who called the shots in unison with India from the very beginning. The Sri Lankan government should not be afraid to tell the truth and what the people not the UNP, JVP and the three wheeler left parties, have to say on the resolution of the USA. As we have said on number of occasions though the LLRC was appointed by the government the latter is not bound to implement even one of the recommendations if it is not to the satisfaction of the government and the majority of the people. It is clear that the majority of the Sinhalas and the Muslims are against the resolution and many of the Tamils are turning against the USA resolution.

It should not be thought that India decided to vote in favour of the USA resolution because of the presence of the Chinese. In 1987 when India dropped those Parippu bombs there were no Chinese and most of the people had forgotten of the Rice Rubber Pact signed by late Mr. R. G. Senanayake. If India says that they had to take the decision to vote for the USA resolution because of the pressure applied by Tamil Nadu then it implies two things. Firstly it says that “devolution of power” has failed as the central government in Delhi, which has to take decisions on Foreign Policy, has no power to do so. The Foreign policy is now determined by the Tamil Nadu government and Jeyalalitha appears to be the minister of foreign affairs of India. Secondly it demonstrates that there is no so called reconciliation in India even with a pseudo federal state as the state governments act individually when it comes to important matters such as foreign policy. The Tamils in Tamil Nadu behave as Tamils and not as Indians (they have their complaints on selections to the Indian cricket team), and are we to conclude that the people in the state think and act the way Jeyalalitha does? If India has acted due to pressure by the Tamil Nadu, it certainly argues against the thirteenth amendment that was imposed by India on us and so called reconciliation as recommended by the LLRC.

However, in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere it is not the average person who is interested in Sri Lanka, except perhaps during the period when they set fire to the effigies of Ravana probably under the mistaken belief that Ravana in Ramayana is the same as a powerful King by that name in ancient Lanka. It may be that Valmiki the poet created Ramayana based on the powerful king of Lanka in the so called surrealist tradition! It is the Brahmins most of whom are Macaulay’s Children and others who keep company with the west who resent an independent and sovereign Sri Lanka and are instrumental in formulating the Sri Lankan policy of India. We in Sri Lanka do not have to bow down to these Macaulay’s Children who keep company with the British and we should appoint a commission not in the tradition of Colebrook and Cameron with our own Macaulay’s Children, but with representation from Sanga, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru to report on the involvement of the west and India in establishing, nurturing and promoting Tamil racism and terrorism against Sinhala people, especially the Sinhala Buddhists, and aiding and abetting the violations of human rights by the LTTE. India unlike China cannot survive without support from the west and they have no alternative but to keep company with the west.

In the meantime we should prepare ourselves to face the economic sanctions that the west will impose in the near future, the war crime charges and possibly a NATO attack if the west fails with all their resolutions, threats, economic sanctions to get Sri Lanka to yield to devolution of more and more power to the Provincial Councils in order to solve a non existing ethnic problem. The government may say that the USA resolution does not recommend any economic sanctions, but how can a resolution supposed to be on violation of human rights spell out that the Sri Lankan government should implement the LLRC proposals that speak of an ethnic problem due to injustices caused to the Tamils. This “ethnic problem” is the biggest myth that our own Macaulay’s Children subscribe to, and it is clear that as far as the East India Company is concerned, the so called ethnic problem, war crime charges, violation of human rights are all interconnected.(12/03/28)

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva