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Friday 23 November 2012

The Brahmins and the springs

A reader commenting on my statement at a public meeting that I would be against a decision by the government to increase the salaries of academics had asked why need enemies when there are friends like me. Probably, the reader thought that I was a friend of the trade union struggle of FUTA that ended on last Thursday after hundred days. The strike by the academics that began on July 04 ended on Oct. 11, after long marches, public rallies, exhibition of T-shirts with the symbol 6% printed on them, and more than anything else statements by various fora, that constitute fifteen to twenty people well known especially among the English educated public, and various trade unions supporting the strike. I was never a friend of this particular trade union struggle that began more than two years ago with token strikes, resignation of heads of departments etc. The struggle culminated in, or rather began to decline with, a continuous strike. The Brahmins supported the strike probably dreaming of Springs. However, when they awoke temporarily from their deep slumber they had a nightmare experience of a fall and a winter. They think that they are active but they act only in their dreams. As far as the general non-Brahmin public is concerned they are far away from the people. With respect to the non Brahmin public the Brahmins are in a deep slumber. The particular reader has to be excused as the public had been given the impression by the FUTA leadership that the strike would be over after a couple of discussions with Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The reader must have thought that I was obstructing the Minister and the leadership of FUTA coming to an amicable solution probably with a salary increase with my statement. The government had an understanding of the Brahmins and their Springs, and it was clear to non-Brahmin public that FUTA was not going to get anything as a result of the strike.
I find Dr. Mahim Mendis making the following statement to The Island. "The IUSF (The Inter University Student Federation) was not physically with us but IUSF was with us spiritually. And there was no party which was not with us. It is no exaggeration. Except SB Dissanayake and few fellows, some cronies - people like Nalin De Silva — all the people were with us." This implies that even the SLFP was with the FUTA! Dr. Mendis may think that I am a crony of the minister S. B. Dissanayake. However, it has to be placed on record that the Minister and the Ministry was against giving me an extension when a request to that effect was made to him by the University of Kelaniya. I opposed the FUTA trade union struggle while the ministry was opposing my extension in 2010. For, I could see the Brahmins were up to various schemes. I do not have to go into details as these have been discussed by me and others in newspapers including The Island and at various discussions over the electronic media in the last few months. In any event with all that support FUTA had from the political parties, trade unions, various fora, IUSF and others why did the strike fail to achieve anything other than a letter from Dr. P B Jayasundera that did not promise anything effectively. If all the people other than a few of us were with the FUTA an Arab spring would have been there for the asking as they say. In Arab countries the westerners were able to topple the governments that they did not like with so called uprisings as there were enough and more disgruntled people opposed to the incumbent governments. The trouble with some of the academics and other Brahmins is that they think that their acquaintances constitute the people.
There is a caste system in Sri Lanka that pervades ethnic, religious and the usual Govigama, Karawa, Salagama, Durawa, Vellala cast systems. It is a caste system that depends on the western education that has been with us for the last two hundred years or so. The Brahmin cast spreads from those who have had an education up to the GCE A/L to those with degrees and professional qualifications. The Brahmin class in general has two layers. The Upper Brahmins are usually English educated and are professionals university lecturers etc. Some of them have worked for foreign institutes including the UN and are looked up to by the lower Brahmins who are usually Sinhala or Tamil educated and have had a western education in universities and schools including the so-called Buddhist schools, at least up to the GCE A/L. The Brahmins try to maintain their social status above the others and in general do not support the SLFP. The upper Brahmins in general support the UNP while the lower Brahmins in general support the leftist political parties. The upper Brahmins, and the lower Brahmins who do not support the leftist parties in the government, in general oppose the UPFA. The upper Brahmins who tolerate all the undemocratic acts of the UNP governments are up in arms against the SLFP-led governments with their usual slogans on good governance, freedom of speech, independence of judiciary etc. These concepts have been created within the western modernistic hegemony, and again in general the western educated elite are trapped in these concepts. It is not wrong to say that those who receive a western education are consciously or subconsciously used by the west to maintain the western hegemony. They cannot think outside the framework given by their education and are manipulated by the west through agents and/or education to achieve what the latter wants.
The Arab Spring was not merely an uprising by the people in the relevant countries. It is very clear that the West wanted to replace the governments that they did not like with their puppet governments. The so-called mass uprisings were manipulated for that purpose whether finally the west achieved what they wanted or not. In Sri Lanka, it is obvious that the West does not like the faces of two Rajapaksas. Though there may be a number of Rajapaksa associated with the government, including provincial councils, only Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa have incurred the wrath of the west. The politics in Sri Lanka, as far as the West is concerned is all about removing these two Rajapaksas from office. In this connection, various fora sponsored by some western embassies are being used to create a so-called educated opinion against the government. The FUTA trade union struggle that commenced over a mere salary issue, which was all about the take home pay was converted into a fight for a hike in the basic salary which no government is in a position to grant, with a view to creating instability in the country so that a wave of strikes would sweep across the country. However, the leadership of FUTA could not justify the demand for a pay hike and soon the so-called 6% demand was introduced. The Brahmins, both upper and lower, gave a push to this demand with rhetoric on freedom of education university autonomy etc. It is interesting to note how some of the former vice chancellors who project themselves as saints once went behind presidents and other powerful politicians in order to be appointed to their posts. The university autonomy has remained the same during the last thirty five years and these elites did not find anything wrong with the system when they were going behind the politicians.
The FUTA was being used by the anti-government Brahmins to make the government unstable and very soon the government realized what was happening. The academics are the highest paid in the public and corporate sector excluding those institutes that generate income, and enjoy much more freedom at the work place than any other employees in the public sector. It is clear that the government has not promised any salary increase to the academics and they would have to be satisfied with what Dr. P. B. Jayasundera has called a middle term solution, which is nothing but allowances given to the public sector in the annual budget of the government. The Arab Spring has failed miserably for the Brahmins and their mentors in the west, and now they are looking forward for a Pakistan type spring by promoting a crisis in the relationship between executive and the judicial. However, the majority of the non-Brahmins are with the government and this spring will also fall through like the other Springs.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva