We are one people on a small island
Posted on June 4th, 2015

By Kanthar P (Nathan) Balanathan

DipEE(UK), GradCert(RelEng-Monash), DipBusAdm(Finance-Massey), CEng, MIEE, MIE(Aust), CPEng.

Retired Director & Specialist Power Systems Engineer

Like all right thinking people born in Sri Lanka, my wish is for the country to go forward to a period of Peace and prosperity for all its citizens. I am a Tamil from the North and have lived in peace with Sinhalese, Muslims and Burghers in the South of Sri Lanka and enjoyed their friendship which I look back to with immense happiness. I have also lived and worked abroad for many years and been able to integrate with people of different cultures. This too has given me a dimension to widen my thinking and be spared of being enslaved with archaic ideas, which several of my people back home are saddled with.

When approaching the problem of Sri Lanka from this distance I have looked at the following facts which are most relevant to me:

1.The statistics and the demographic pattern in Sri Lanka are as  follows:

Department of Census & Statistics, SriLanka-Year 2012

With a total population of 20,263,723, the Sinhalese people; 15,173,820, SriLanka Tamils; 2,270,924 and the Indian Tamils; 842,323. On a percentage basis, Sinhalese strength is 74.88%, SL Tamils 11.21%, and Indian Tamils 4.16%.

Proportion of Sri Lankan Tamils in the North and East (N&E) to the total numbers in the country

From the statistics, Sri Lankan Tamil population of 29.66% dwell outside the North and East, and only 43.49% of the Sri Lankan Tamils populate the North. If the Upcountry

Tamils are merged with the Tamils from the North and Eastern Provinces as a Tamil entity, the percentage of Tamils living outside the North and East is 49 percent.

231,318 Tamils live in Colombo. 70 per cent of the population of Wellawatte, in the city of Colombo is Tamil.

What has to be accepted is that the people living outside the North and East generate a large income and on no account should their livelihoods or their capacity to earn be endangered.

Post-independence

During the last 64 years, the qualitative facets of human life in the North and East was badly affected with crime, terrorism, racial conflicts, and social class division among Tamils, which affected the minds of the Tamils to take to terrorism, separatism, and a racial xenophobic outlook.

2.Comparison of the Indian model for Sri Lanka

India has a population of over one billion people. The wealth distribution, natural resources and their technical capability, is totally different to Sri Lanka. India cannot be governed by one Parliament in Delhi.

The population of North Sri Lanka is around 1.5% of the population of Tamil Nadu, and that of East Sri Lanka is less than one percent.  N&E Tamil population together is around 2.28% of the population of Tamil Nadu.

Can we think of dividing Tamil Nadu into states at the rate of 2.28% per state, in which case Tamil Nadu has to be divided into 44 state administrations? This is not practical.

India will have to be divided into several hundreds of federal states.

The population of Tamils in Sri Lanka is small and does not warrant separate administrations. Without strong integration with the rest of the country the North is not a viable unit.

A Federal government or Provincial Government system for a country is germane from the following criteria only:

The ethnic group(s) should be comprised with Large population

  •  Gross natural resources are distributed around the country.
  •  Revenue accrual in each district / province / state is large.
  •  Industrial concentration is distributed.
  •  The country should have its income adequate to meet expenditure.
  •  Export earnings should be sufficient to accommodate state allocation.
  •  People concentrated in districts should not be racial / xenophobic / religious fanatics / practice superstitious racial beliefs.
  •  All citizens should be nationalistic and patriotic.

3.The reality of the situation in the North of Sri Lanka

Jaffna is not a highly fertile land and has no resources and has limited water supplies. The only products are rice, tobacco farming and fishing. Even this is inadequate to feed the Tamils. Foreign exchange earnings for the country are earned in the South through rubber, tea, gems, some agrarian products, garments and now the large remittances from workers abroad. The foreign exchange income from these activities is that helped the people in the North and financed all the activities like health, education and employment. The trend has always been that when a person from the North qualifies in medicine, engineering or any other profession he or she sought employment in the south of Sri Lanka, which has many more opportunities.

4.Provincial Council System

The current Provincial Council system imposed by the Indian crafted 13th Amendment has no real value. It has not accelerated economic development, nor has it improved ethnic relationships, nor can it bring about good governance.

Some Tamil Politicians both in India and in Sri Lanka are promoting this for their own agenda.

In real terms the main engine of growth is in the South. The entire free education system which has enabled Tamil professionals and scientists to get employment abroad is financed by the Sri Lankan Government, with funding generated in the South.

The best economic option for Sri Lanka is to have one government in Colombo with all communities working and sharing a common objective towards a national development without discrimination of any group. Each community has its strength. The skill is to work out formats, and institutions to make the best use of this energy and make all Sri Lankans feel that they are a part of a common enterprise. This structure has to be stimulated to enable the Districts, the Pradeshiya Sabhas, Municipalities and Village Councils to have powers to develop the areas at the periphery efficiently without excessive expenditure.

5.Importance of Language

Sri Lankans should be encouraged to learn their mother tongue, English, and have an effective competency in the third language. If Sri Lankans can learn and speak Italian, Latvian, Hungarian, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and all those languages around the globe where they have gone for employment, as students or refugees, what stops them from learning Sinhalese or Tamil as the need be in Sri Lanka?

In Tamil Nadu, most Tamils can speak Hindi, and they consider it prestigious to speak it. Most Tamil MPs in Delhi do speak Hindi. Why are the Tamil MPs in Sri Lanka so myopic and possess devastating inhibition when it comes to learning Sinhalese?

This originates from a complex haunting by the more irrational Tamil politicians. Although in real terms the DNA of the Sinhala and Tamil is almost identical, there are atavistic tendencies to consider the Sinhalese as Aryans. Even the legend of the killing of Dravidians by Vishnu, an Aryan, is cited to divide the two communities.

6.It is time to work

It is time for all to work on a formula to live in Peace, and live fruitful lives in the small island of Sri Lanka. Actually, we can never go to the madness of war again. We need hard headed and rational thinking, which will give leadership to the Tamil people, which in turn will integrate with all the people in Sri Lanka and make a collective contribution for its betterment. This call goes to all the people of Sri Lanka. Everyone has to work to create the correct climate with prudent thoughts, words and deeds.

The Tamil politicians should exit from the folly of naming their political parties as Tamil Ealam Liberation..…” or Federal Party”, but initiate naming starting with SriLanka….”.

The Tamil politicians should respect the SriLankan Constitution.

Finally, we have to realize that the bulk of the people are here to stay. They have no other country to go to.

7 Responses to “We are one people on a small island”

  1. stanley perera Says:

    My dear Kanthar, Asoka Weerasinghe from Canada and Shenali Waduge had been in the past over and over againreiterated the same statistial analysis. I support your idea whole heartedly. The international ommunity did not pay any attention to the true story of the ethnic mythology because they were infiltrated by the bogus Tamil refugees. Furthermore anti MR feeling did not leave any room to accept the truth. Rasist Tamils want the udder of the cow in the North and the mouth on the South. That was the saying by late Hon. H.L.de Silva. The problem with MR regeme was could not stick to the one nation policy. Well said Kanthar.

  2. Independent Says:

    ” Why are the Tamil MPs in Sri Lanka so myopic and possess devastating inhibition when it comes to learning Sinhalese?”

    Obvious question. I have the answer.

    Sinhalese selfish greedy politicians , rather than implementing the laws strictly, try to get these racists support and never promote Sinhalese speech in North and East. They allow learning Arabic and Tamil in Sinhala areas instead.

    We need a Sinhala leader, who will help all Tamils learn Sinhala.
    I have seen a video that Tamil students learn Buddhism willing in the North in one Dhamma School.

    Lorenzo the LTTE propagandist might be very angry seeing this. This the last thing he wants.

  3. Daya Says:

    At last a sensible comment form “the other side”! Mind there has been enough rubbish written by us as well. I’m sure that this is true: “the DNA of the Sinhala and Tamil is almost identical”. It may not be a bad idea to get World Bank Funding to carry out a survey on at least 60% of the population (taking in all “ethnic groups”, obviously, although we may have to stick to only healthy adults). It’ll be worth the cost and the inconvenience if we can bring a halt to Sri Lankans being considered one of the prime nuisances in the world. Not just a halt, an absolute end.

    For the rest, you’ve come up with an excellent analysis. There clearly are going to be Parliamentary Elections. Never mind what system is going to be in operation, never mind what party we vote for, and never mind even its ideology. Let us resolve not to vote for anybody whom we have reasonable suspicion to have been corrupt.

    Many thanks, Kanthar Balanathan

  4. Chula Rajapakse Says:

    Many Thanks Kanthar for your brilliant analysis.

    I do hope more of our Tamil brothers will pay heed to your sentiments. the late Mr Laakshman kadirigamar said he was first a a Sri Lankan and then a Tamil. i wish more of our Sinhalese and Tamil politicians think the same way.
    Mahinda R , I believe had similar views. He was the only national leader who made and attempt to learn Tamil , did so with improvement by the month and year,and at the end of the last election campaign was making reasonable long speeches in Tali while campaigning in the north was the only leader who took the trouble to speak at the UN Gen Assembly in Tamil, not once but three times, even though he only represented 3.1 million Tamils as you pointed out. But no Indian leader has taken the trouble to do that even once ,though he re[present 70-80 million Tamils.
    MR also made it official government policy to make SL a tuely tri lingual nation by 2020. i called for this in my writings over twenty years ago. In the late fiftees, I had the opportunity and leaned , Latin, Sanskrit, & Pali, that has been of noearthly use to me. But I had no opportunity to learn Tamil. The tragedy is that opportunity has taken over fifty years to come, but I believe it has come now. Better late than never.
    Sadly, he did not receive the due credit for his efforts from the north and east though I believe he polled 20-30% , which is 20-30% he ever polled before form these regions!
    I believe we also need urgently a Bilingual National anthem which is available and is incredibly nice or start using national anthems in Sinhala and Tamil both of which are also really nice, which is also available. I have lived in NZ for over 25 years and National anthems in English & Maori have been the norm for several decades and welcomed and enjoyed by all.
    Kanthar, you are right when you say that politicians have played politics with language and race for too long in SL and should stop doing so.
    Expressing your sentiments coming form an ethnic tamil , has far more clout among other Tamils and international politicians mislead by opportunistic propaganda , than coming from us Sinhalese. Please do both of these as much as possible for the good of all Sri Lankans in SL and overseas.
    Thanks again

  5. Independent Says:

    Dear Chula,
    Many Sinhalse would not agree with your ( and as you said MR’s) “SL a tuely tri lingual nation by 2020” policy.
    NZ is a totally different set up. Quoting from Wikipedia,

    “According to a 2001 survey on the health of the Māori language, the number of very fluent adult speakers was about 9% of the Māori population, or 30,000 adults.[1] A national census undertaken in 2006 says that about 4% of the New Zealand population,[4] or 23.7% of the Maori population could hold a conversation in Maori about everyday things.[5]”.

    Now, if we think carefully, only comparable applicability to Sri Lanka could be those Sinhalese living for very long time in the North. Most of them could have already become Tamil by now and some may speak a bit of Sinhalese.

    In all areas, 100% of Tamil speak Tamil. We, Sinhalese did not kill Tamils until they speak Sinhalese ( good example is Australia). In all areas except North , at least 90% Tamils speak understandable Sinhalese and in the North I believe at least 10% could manage a meaningful conversation in Sinhala.

    Therefore, the most appropriate economical and sensible approach should have been implementation of a policy to help our Tamil compatriots to learn Sinhala with a plan to help them be fluent in Sinhala by 2020.

    On the other hand I fully agree that it is a great thing (which is never done in Australia) to promote and enhance the use of Maori language in New Zealand. If that percentage increases from 4% to 50% by 2020, it is a grand achievement, but I don’t believe it can be achieved – yet I would not down play that effort. Otherwise Maori language will go extinct soon.

    But please tell me , what is the point of teaching Tamil to 20 million Sinhalas, when there are possibly 70 million Tamil speaking, writing people exist in the world ? It is not going extinct, it is the Sinhalas going to be extinct

    Don’t we have to spend our effort on eradication of poverty, treatment of women (in practice not for the show only) and advancement and promotion of our own value systems ?

  6. stanley perera Says:

    Mahinda Rajapakse learned some Tamil language was to catch the votes. Tamils have no confidence with Mahinda Rajapakse. MR became a tyrant and a dictator in his second term. He is a bad loser tryin all the dirty tricks to enter through the back door with the healp of the buddhist temple. I wish he retires from politics. All he did in his second term taking the revenge from Lalith Kotalawala, Sarath Fonseka and Shirani Bandaranayake. NZ is not treating the Polanisians, Indian greengrocers and the Market gardners fairly. Racism in NZ is under the carpet.

  7. Kumari Says:

    I am with Mahinda’s policy of we have only two groups of people “Those who love the country” and “Those who don’t”. We should not have any other distinction among Sri Lankans.

    With whatever the faults (it is mainly the separatist Tamils & Muslims and some of the Sinhalese – who were targeted by the mud campaign), Mahinda finished off the war and brought peace to all Sri Lankans. He gave development to whole of Sri Lanka. How I summarise Mahinda’s two terms as in the first he finished the war, in the second he brought development to the island (just check the per capita income, it took 60 yrs to come to US $1,000 and only 4 years to go up to US $4,000).

    Now Ranil has started introducing new laws. How was the country governed since Independence? What were the previous UNP governments did when they were in power? As per a previous writer all what Mahinda did in his second term was to take revenge from Kotalawala, Fonseka and Bandaranayake. I am sorry, but open your eyes and see. Were any new laws introduced for any of these? Kotalawala robbed the investors, Are you saying he should not be punished? Fonseka was tried under the Army Laws, he had the freedom to appeal the verdict and when in prison he received special treatment and he was not kept in an actual prison. Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached following the due process as per the constitution. What is happening now (in five months) is a hunt, a hunt for political opponents. I wish Ranil was this efficient in hunting down the terrorists?

    Why Sri Lanka has all these problems between different ethnic groups is because of foreign interventions and our own selfish politicians? It is high time for us to get together and choose those who love the country (irrespective of ethnicity) to govern the country. The best example I can think of is Laxman Kadiragaama who was eliminated by the LTTE. I expected when Vigneswaran was chosen to the Northern PC, he would work to bring the North and rest of SL closer, but now I know it was only a dream.

    All ordinary citizens of SL must be careful now as the only aim of Ranil is to separate the country. That is why My3 is talking of releasing hard core LTTE terrorists. This will bring lot of chaos to the whole island. The Jaffna Tamil will be the first to suffer, then it will spread to the rest of the country. They tried it out with the rape case. If the government does not take security seriously, there will be a repeat of 1983 riots. I have a hunch this is what the new government is aiming for, that will fulfill the desires of the foreign powers in dividing the country. With such a division they will introduce not only LTTE but Al-Quida and ISIS too. They are only looking for a market for the highly powerful war industry. Best examples are Iraq and Libya. The so called dictators that were eliminated were Angels compared to the results of the regime change/s.

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