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Wednesday 25 September 2013

Dayasiri and Wigneswaran

Dayasiri Jayasekera and Canagasabapthy Wigneswaran are both lawyers, and obtained the most number of preferentials (Manape) among the Sinhalas and Tamils respectively, and the comparison ends there. Dayasiri was educated at Narammala Mayurapada Madhya Maha Vidyalaya, Mayurapada reminding the Sinhala people the Dambadeniya period and Sinhala kings and literary Bhikkus and lay people, and Wigneswaran was educated at Royal College, Colombo with a history going back only up to 1835, and reminding us of the English. Dayasiri is still not a Sinhala nationalist but most probably will be in due course. Wignewaran is a Tamil internationalist, and like his predecessors Ramanathan, Arunachalam, Ponnambalam educated at the same school as he was, is more pro English than pro Sinhala not different from some of his Sinhala school mates. In fact some of them would be offended for calling them Sinhala! Dayasiri cannot influence the Sinhala nationalist opinion, but on the contrary is influenced by it while Wigneswaran influences the Tamil opinion.

There is a fundamental difference between Sinhala nationalism and Tamil internationalism. I call the latter internationalism since it is based on anti Sinhala ideology of first the Dutch, then the English and now the American led western world. The Tamil internationalism amounts to anti Sinhala Buddhist racism in the final analysis and is top down while Sinhala nationalism is bottom up. SWRD Bandaranaike did not influence Sinhala nationalism and certainly DS Senanayake did not create it.  They were all in some way products of Sinhala nationalism. The Sinhala Buddhists have a history of anti colonialism since the days of Portuguese and their leaders from Mayadunne up to Mahinda Rajapakse were products of Sinhala nationalism. Ranil W. would never be able to lead the Sinhalas as Dayasiri probably realized while he was in the UNP. According to the minister Pavithra Vanniarachchi who is the  daughter of an ardent Sinhala nationalist, Dayasiri made it a point to speak in English to Ranil W. as the former thought that those who spoke in Sinhala had no place in the UNP.  The UNP under these circumstances would lose its vote base further even from the present figure of about twenty eight percent. The vote that Sarath Fonseka gets is nothing but of those UNP supporters with a Sinhala nationalistic inclination and this could increase slightly in the future. However, Democratic Party is no match for the SLFP and Sarath Fonseka cannot compete with Mahinda Rajapakse for the Sinhala vote in general. The irony is that the Tamil people who are dictated by the ITAK would not vote for the UNP and Ranil W. would not be supported by the English high commissioner and the American ambassador in the Northern Province.

If not for the folly of Seethavaka Rajasinghe converting to Arittaku Venduism the history of Sri Lanka would have been different. There was a rupture between Sinhala and Buddhism, and between the leader and the people, and it made the maritime provinces being ruled by the Portuguese. Something similar happened towards the end of the Mahanuwara period making things easier for Cambridge educated Doyle to fool the Sinhala Adikarams. If not for the bondage between Sinhala and Theravada Buddhism of the third Sangayana (council) there would not have been a Sinhala Buddhist nationalism which makes it difficult for the western ambassadors led by the US ambassador on behalf of the English high commissioner to make Sri Lanka their playing field.  The Sinhala Buddhists continue to engage with their anti colonial struggle and Dayasiri, who is yet to become a Sinhala nationalist, is only a symbol of it. Sinhala nationalism is something that the west resents and they also know that culturally Sinhala Theravada Buddhism is an “eternal” challenge to them in this Anithya world. It is in this context that the English attempted to use the ethnic groups against the Sinhala Buddhists. It is to the credit of the Sinhala Catholics ad Christians of various denominations that in spite of some of their leaders, that they refused to be used against the Sinhala Buddhists (perhaps following the Sinhala cultural tradition of not being led by the leaders) and joined hands with the Sinhala Buddhists. Some other ethnic groups such as Malays too have joined the anti colonial struggle of the Sinhala Buddhists. However, the ethnic Tamils are being used by the English and the west against the Sinhala people and it is very unlikely that the situation would be changed in the next few years.

The Sinhala people individually would wish to climb the social ladder given to them by the English, but collectively would not be dictated by the “values” of the west. They would not be dictated by English speaking leaders who do not understand the Sinhala culture, and do not think much about English concepts such as “good governance” “corruption” etc., as probably they know by intuition that the west is hypocritical about these concepts. They know how they were treated by the English, and have no trust at all in the western values and when the English educated people talk of these concepts they just ignore them with ‘ivaseema” (tolerance). At least a few of us who have been exposed to western education with open eyes and not blindly, and who believe in the motto “learn and depart” know how the so called democracy works in the western countries, are in the business of enriching our culture with the knowledge of the hypocrisy of the western values. It is not a case of us teaching the people but learning from the people and then looking at the western culture with our eyes and not theirs. This should not be interpreted as a license for corruption, but Sinhala people know by experience (prathyaksha) and not through ‘learned discourses” that western “democracy” cannot survive without ‘bad governance” and corruption. 

The western diplomats led by the American ambassador and western media led by the biased BBC acted as if there were no elections in Wayamba and Madhyama. They “celebrated” the victory of the ITAK who want to establish a confederation first. The American ambassador soon after the elections was kind enough to remind us that holding elections alone would not make a country democratic or words to that effect. She should be reminded that in all three provinces the turnout was good and that in Sri Lanka we have a participatory western democracy that is not found in USA. In her country people do not believe in western democracy and do not take an interest to vote in general at elections. What they have is democracy of a few by a few for a few, in which most people are not interested. It is not very much different from democracy practiced in ancient Greece where democracy was only for the slave owners. The ambassador should learn something of “mahasammathaya” which we practiced in Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka. Long before the French revolution and the American revolution during the time of King Mahasen Sinhala people rose against the king but did not chop his head, and ultimately elevated him to the status of a god!

The UPFA is the only national party in Sri Lanka at present as it is the only party that is capable of winning at least a single seat in any of the districts in the country. It can poll a minimum of 15 percent of the vote in any district, and though some compare percentages to show that the UPFA has lost its vote base during the last four years in the Northern Province it is not so as in absolute terms there is not much of a decrease. What has happened is that this time many “new” voters have gone to the polling booth and most of them have voted for the ITAK. In any event those ambassadors who celebrate the ITAK victory should note that less than four percent of the people live in the Northern Province, and they could learn from Soulbury who told the then Tamil leaders that by artificial means one cannot make a minority a majority. Wigneswaran has started on a wrong foot and when he said soon after the results that they would talk to India if their demands are not met (negotiations with the government fail means just that) his inclinations are clear. Tamil racism against Sinhala people have been always incited by the west and recently by India, and Sinhala people cannot be scared by such utterances. Sinhala nationalism would not give into Tamil racism simply because it is an internationalism supported by the western countries. If Tamil leaders are genuine they could work with the government (UPFA the only national party in the country) breaking away from western internationalism which is nothing but colonialism and joining the Sinhala people in their anti colonialist struggle. Tamil internationalism is top down and it is unfortunately the Tamil leaders who are products of western education who have taken the cue from the English, and supported by some clergy, NGO personnel, Marxists who cannot interpret the world let alone change it, and some ‘educated” Sinhala who are pro English, who have ignited the anti Sinhala feelings among some Tamils. Even Prabhakaran was one of their creations, and Sinhala nationalism knows how to deal with Prabhakarans. 

Nalin De Silva