Eelaam Homeland struggle was to hide Tamil Caste difference & unify discontented Tamils
Posted on January 17th, 2012

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Shenali Waduge

In understanding the nature of Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s conflict it is important to not only understand the nature of the Tamil caste & class system but analyze how intricately absorbed it is into the social, political, economical, religous hierarchy of how Tamils live or rather should live. The ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ethnicƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ tag was introduced simply to sideline the divisions existing between Tamils & showcase a united front locally & internationally. Using ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ethnic discriminationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ by Sinhalese against Tamils was a perfect theme & perfect reason to start a conflict. The conflict enabled higher caste Tamils to keep a hold on lower caste Tamils by camouflaging the real intention & lower castes had no choice but to accept this homeland utopian vision. This did succeed to a great extent. It is now time for the world to know the truth and falsity of labeling Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s problem as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ethnicƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

It is also time for Tamils to seriously think of their own future vis a vis continuing generations old caste systems or to follow the path of equality amongst the Tamils before accusing the Sinhalese.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 1956 Official Language Act

The 1956 Official Language Act making Sinhala the only official language yet allowing reasonable use of Tamil language is often cited as the grounds for the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-EthnicƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ problem. Yet apart from a few small protests there were no large demonstrations on record to oppose this. Tamils even started to learn Sinhala. We need to remember that English was the language being used however less than 6% of total Tamils in Sri Lanka were actually fluent in English. By 1956 Tamils constituted 50% of the clerical personnel of the railway, postal and customs services, 60% of all doctors, engineers and lawyers, and 40% of other labor forces.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ How many would agree that the Eelaam struggle began in 1923 with Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam which evolved towards the 1931 demand for 50:50 representation when in reality the Tamil representation in terms of population was 70:30. The denial of this eventually led to the formation of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi in 1949 (Tamil kingdom Party). The ITAK conveniently changed its name to read Federal Party which today is known as Tamil National Alliance.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act & not the Official Language Act that Tamils opposed!

Part of SWRD BandaranaikeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s plan was to penetrate into the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-low casteƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ votes of Tamils using division amongst Tamils to garner votes. This similar strategy has been & is still used in present day politics. Thus the Social Diasbilities Act No. 21 was passed in parliament in 1957 giving lower castes the right to attend schools & kovils. Its good for the western world to know that it was a Sinhalese who opened the doors for low caste Tamils to attend schools & kovils ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” places that were taboo to them by their own Tamil brethren. No sooner the Tamil high castes & high classes realized the dangers of mainstream parties courting the low castes they devised their response. It was to create the best division possible. A rift between the Tamils & Sinhalese which would strike better success than low caste-high caste divisions. Who remembers the satyagrahas, the tarring of Sinhala letters on vehicle registration numbers. All launched by the ITAC & Tamil Congress ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” both high caste/class political parties.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is important to note that all these happened a year after making Sinhala the official language. Why did the Tamils not cry foul over the Sinhala Only Act in 1956 but oppose the Social Disabilities Act on 1957 with such venom? It is because Tamils wanted to deprive their own. However, the 1956 Act became a ruse which led to the Bandaranaike Chelvanayagam Pact which had nothing about the language issue but referred to devolving regional power which would enable them to continue ruling over low caste Tamils for eternity. In 1971 an amendment was brought to the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act which naturally did not go well with high caste Tamils & led to large scale protests.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Similarly, when the Government introduced university standardization in 1973 those that opposed were those who were against equitable distribution. Students of all ethnicities from Colombo, Jaffna, Kandy, Galle who had been privy to education opposed opportunities that would be enjoyed by students from Batticaloa, Vanni, Nuwara Eliya, Monaragala & other less developed districts. While the composition of the ethnicities did not change entrance, for Tamils it meant not only the Vellalar caste but lower caste Tamils too would gain university entrance. This was why Tamils opposed the 1973 standardization.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Caste riots amongst Tamils

Why is there no reference to caste riots amongst Tamils ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” where Vellalars, dhobyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s, barber castes were attacking each other in 1871. How about the Vellalars attacking the Paramba caste in 1923 because according to their caste they had no rights to hire drummers for funerals. In 1931 the Vellalars attacked the Pallar castes also for hiring drummers. The message of the Vellalars was clear ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” no low castes could hire drummers for funerals! Do Tamils need to be reminded that they did not allow low castes to enter any place that the high castes frequented? Yet when a government directive on ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-equal seatingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ emerged violence broke out in 1929 against low caste Tamils sitting on benches as previously they had to sit on the floor! This was how Tamils treated their own!

Continuous petitions were written pleading the Government to cancel the directive. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan went so far as to request the Colonial Office in London to encode caste into legislative enactments.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Struggle for Tamil Eelaam never began with the LTTE

Those ignorant of these facts would give the 1956 Sinhala Only Act as being the reason for the emergence of the LTTE & to its demand for a separate homeland. How false this claim is. Why was the ITAC formed in 1949 which denotes a separate homeland in its name? Why did the Tamils want 50:50 representation? Why did Tamils gather to put forward the Vadukoddai Resolution calling upon Tamils to take up arms? Why did Tamils allow Tamil police officers to be assassinated while these political leaders watched when all non-Tamils were forced to leave by armed groups in the North?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Though the LTTE was a guerilla force it had to abide by the rigid Tamil caste system thus the links to high caste political parties. Prabakaran & his main stooges may have all been low caste & low castes in terms of numbers may be more than the high caste Tamils but the caste system is such that low caste Tamils will hardly revolt ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” they are born to accept & never challenge the caste they are born into. That caste differences were very much prevalent is clear in the manner low caste Tamils of the East were used for high risk operations including Karuna who was deprived ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-promotionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ for being low caste which resulted in his ultimate defection & which helped liberate the East eventually from the LTTE. Tamils who cry ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-discriminationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ may like to recall how in the refugee camps during 1983 the high castes refused to share common toilet facilities with the low castes & a lot of problems arose inside the very camps housing only Tamils!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The TNA

Who are they? They are a group of Jaffna centric vellalar caste Tamils who do not represent Tamils. They merely represent their caste & aspire to regain supremacy for their caste. They should in essence be banned for their vision & mission in entirety is to continue a political struggle for a Tamil Homeland. It is a party that needs to be banned in Sri Lanka for political parties are not meant to divide the nation. If the TNA does not represent the Tamil people accept representing the continuous of the Vellalar caste rigid traditions it is time the Government stop playing footsie with such a political party.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Essentially what we must all know is that the Vellalars will never allow lower castes to challenge their status quo in marriage (even political marriage for convenience is regarded taboo). The Jaffna vellalars think themselves the elite while the Eastern Tamils and upcountry Tamils are looked down upon lower than the low castes Tamils of Jaffna.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ So the decision or rather solution for the future of Tamils lies within themselves. Do they continue the age old caste differences or do they put caste, class & regional differences aside. Can the West explain how devolution is likely to provide an answer to these bitter sentiments that exist where Tamils do not want their own to sit with them at dinner, to drink from a teacup belonging to a low caste or to ever into a marriage all because of the caste factor? Obviously the West does not understand or know the complexity of the caste factor amongst Tamils.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It may be just 2 years since the elimination of the LTTE. It is too soon for the low caste Tamils to realize they are in a better position now to decide how they should live politically. They will soon realize that they are not bound to galvanize behind political parties like the TNA that pretends to fight for their cause but is only the custodian of the Vellalar traditions. All that the TNA attempts to do politically has nothing to do with the betterment of the Tamil people and all to do with keeping the low castes from straying elsewhere politically especially tying up with southern political parties.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ What is really important to Tamils

In so far as what is important for the Tamils, it is obvious they need to identify how far they are willing to let go of generations old caste & class barriers. For in defending the caste system they are unlikely to protect either the Tamils or the Tamil culture. The dangers of this arises from large numbers of younger Tamils seeking foreign pastures who are enveloping foreign culture not wanting to be tied to age old traditions that prevails & with time they are unlikely to chant separate homeland either. So Tamils are likely to loose the obvious which is the homeland as well as loose out on protecting its culture simply because they paid scant attention to its protection. The present day calls is for learned Tamils to start protecting the Tamil culture rather than going behind separate homeland themes meant only to hide their caste differences.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Tamils must look back critically at the past 30 years. Did the conflict have adverse effects on the Tamil elite/high class and the high castes? No. Who actually suffered then? It was the low castes who have been suffering all along and the irony is that the paid low caste stooge Prabakaran was a puppet in the hands of the Tamil vellalars who used him to deprive his own. Prabakaran cared not to raise his own caste except to glorify himself. Prabakaran cared not to uplift the lives of the other low castes sharing what he earned from LTTE Inc, then these Tamils are never likely to find a savior any time soon unless they begin to change among themselves.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Indian factor

Just as political parties used caste difference to gain political mileage, religious groups used caste to entice low caste Tamils who were poor to follow Christianity/Catholism. Similarly, low caste Tamils became a tool for foreign interferences and India & its intelligence agencies too followed this strategy.

India is no stranger to caste differences. There are 166million untouchables in India. India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense. 20% that is 11m Dalits live in Tamil Nadu & more than 50% live below the poverty line. Neither the AIADMK nor DMK have done anything to change the lives or livelihoods of the Dalits and it is no different in other States of India.

So for India using low castes of Sri Lanka would be nothing new. Part of the plan to economically develop the North with Indian assistance is certainly aimed at uplifting the technical & educational know-how of Tamils in order to incorporate them into IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s larger plan for the region. It is good for Sri Lanka to be more alert about what countries give post-conflict for the giving factor is more often camouflaged by what they plan to take ultimately!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Hiding behind facades that the Sinhalese are discriminating the Tamils, promoting these lies, distorting facts, paying western media to carry the wrong message is in reality doing damage to oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s own people. People who had been marginalized through the colonial periods, throughout post independence and even while the LTTE prevailed is the real story of the Tamil low castes who had to endure 30 years of suffering. Is this the destiny of the low caste Tamil people? Is it only the vellalars that must thrive in Sri Lanka? This is the question that needs to be answered first by Tamils & next by the West.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Shenali Waduge

 

10 Responses to “Eelaam Homeland struggle was to hide Tamil Caste difference & unify discontented Tamils”

  1. May182009 Says:

    Divide and rule Tamils.

    That is what SWRDB tried to do. It took 50 years to achieve it. Today Tamils are divided into many powerful groups. No single powerful group. That is how it should be. Anyone trying to unify Tamils is a terrorist and should be eliminated from the society.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Well done, Shenali … you nailed Tamil Casteism to the cross as the root cause of the Racist Tamil struggle for Eelam!

    Your words of warning,

    “Part of the plan to economically develop the North with Indian assistance is certainly aimed at uplifting the technical & educational know-how of Tamils in order to incorporate them into India’s larger plan for the region. It is good for Sri Lanka to be more alert about what countries give post-conflict for the giving factor is more often camouflaged by what they plan to take ultimately!”

    ECHO previous warnings to the GOSL by many Sri Lankan Patriots to CEASE & DESIST giving India carte-blanche to gradually incorporate the North and East into Tamil Nadu to please Indian Tamils in the foolish belief that placating Indian Tamils will secure India’s security at the expense of our Sri Lankan Motherland!

    Given the Enduring Tamil Racism in Tamil Nadu, it will only encourage secession of Tamil Nadu from India, as it did when the Tamil Terrorists that India trained and introduced into Sri Lanka to secure their national agenda, turned against Indian national interests.

    These foolish Indians will NEVER LEARN that a friendly united non-communal Sri Lanka, guarding their southern border, is their best defence against the growth of secessionist movements in the Dravidian Sates of Southern India.

    Ananda-USA
    SriLankaDefenceForum

  3. thurai Says:

    The Tamils Politicains who need more power from SLG, never looked their own back.
    What have they done to the low cast and Muslim community in the North?. As I am from north
    there are many lands named as (Sonaga Vallavu) Muslims Land before 50 years. I have never seen
    muslims lived there. They were forced to settle in a seperate and other side of Jaffna named as (Sonaga Theru) moor Street. Later LTTE forced them to Leave from(Sonaga Theru) in Jaffna also. Part of Jaffna´s Famous Hindu Temple Nallur also belongs to Muslims according to the story I heard before 50 years.

    Which shows us Hindu Tamil Monopoly among Tamils. Even Tamils belong to other Religions
    particularly Catholics & other Christ Group their mind never changed. But they have no chance
    to keep their mind when they are Buddhist or Muslims. Because they are against Muslims and against
    Buddhism. The lowcast Tamils & Muslims had no chance to fight against the so called high cast who has
    Educationally and Economically well positioned for a long Time.

    Now many Low cast Tamils have equal rights in western coutries and don´t know the History of
    Tamils in Jaffna and about Tamil politicians. But Hindu Tamil System are well maintained by Hindu Temples.
    In Sri Lanka History is changing and the all communities learn to live in Peace. But in Sri Lankans
    Tamils who settled in western countries are misused by Hindu Tamils. Their hobbys are
    enjoying TamilNadu cinema & Drama and following TN politics like Cast discrimination, Blackmoney,
    Cheating the poor people.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Thank you for writing down the true facts, Shenali.
    Best keep repeating the truth, however long it takes.
    It has always been “Tamil Nationalism to hide Tamil Caste Wars”. The rest of the world pays for it, Sri Lanka in a most terrible way.

  5. gdesilva Says:

    Great article – I did not know about the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act 1957. Thanks for putting the facts out in the open.

  6. M.S.MUdali Says:

    What about Sinhala casteism?

    How many Kandyans respect Karawas?

    Shenali is crying that ONLY Tamils have caste system! That is for laugh.

    S.W.R.D.Bandaranayke was descended from a Tamil Neelapperumal, a temple worker(pandaram). J.R.J.Clans coming from a Malayalee Lascarin. But Shenali and other idiots try to hide the facts and cry Banda and JRJ belong to Govigama and respect them as HIGH caste.

    From where the Fonseka, Rajapaksa rivalry stems? Sinhala Casteism is the answer.

    Further NO leader of the Tamil militancy come from VELLALA caste.

    How many Sinhala leaders (except) Rajapakse belong to Sinhala High caste? Rajapakse enjoys mass support from Sinhala people for his caste GOVIGAMA. To ensure the superiority of the GOVIGAMAS, Rajapakses are in every important positions.

    So, shutup on the Tamil caste issues.

    Thurai:
    Can you tell why the Catholic morons are part of the LTTE? You better talk about the robberies of Catholic priests and their anti-Hindu/Buddhist propaganda. Jaffna Catholic Church always claims it is HIGH CASTE.

  7. thurai Says:

    M.S.Mudali,

    I do´t know cast system is extremely stronger among Sihalese than Tamils. There are some differences.
    We speak and consider about our cast,Religion, and Language is bad for SL. If anyone openly or
    secretly maintain his cast, Religion or Laguage fundamentalism in public work also is a Terrorist.

    Not all Tamils catholic priest are supporters of LTTE. LTTE and Tamileelam covered cast sytem and Religious
    differences among Tamils. Because to take arms they needed all Tamils.

    Person who cleans Toilet in Jaffna is called as Low cast. The high cast woman clean a
    Toilet in western countries says she is always high cast. Even many Catholic fathers from low cast in Jaffna
    Bishop position belongs always to high cast. In low level or upper level Tamils discrimination are same as
    before many hundred years. Without cleaning their own fingers Tamils show the dirt on others.

    Tamils or Sinhalese better to correct their own mistake before condemning each others is better for
    all of us.

  8. Christie Says:

    Sacred bull dust!

    Caste system has nothing to do with Tamil terrorism.

    Tamil terrorism was about prottacting their priviledges and killing non Indians in the island.

    By product was mass migration to the West.

    The aim of this article seems to be to divert attention of Sinhalese , Muslim, Malay and Burghers from their primary concern, Tamil terrorisim.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Tamil terrorism started in Jaffna over Caste Issues. Tamil terrorism has its Roots in the Caste System, though it has widened its scope into other areas now.
    A visit to Tamil Nadu will confirm the firm set of the 3,000 yr old Caste System embedded into the Hindu religion. That is the reason why it is seemingly intractable. That is the reason why Tamjl people flee Tamil Nadu. Mostly Dalits, Low Caste and Poverty go hand in hand.

    Among the Sinhale, caste was confined to occupations such as fishing, lime making, drum beating, etc. It was never tied to Buddhism. It was a loose arrangement easily broken through education. In fact, over 2,600 yrs ago the Buddha addressed Caste Issues in India with these words :”by birth one is not high born or low born, only by one’s actions is one low or high born”. His words are true, and will stand the test of time.

    Eduction & Development with Ethics & Morality, are the only ways to combat all sorts of social discrimination. Terrorism will beget only mistrust, suffering and violence.

  10. jimmy Says:

    (1) Sue the monsters who speak or write against the mother land Srilanka or against the races whether tamil or sinhala or Muslims or Bergers or against religions. Make these scumbags Penniless

    (2) spoken Sinhala and Spoken Tamil to all schools in Lanka

    (3) zero tolerance against racisim Severe punishment against the troublemakers

    (4) Encourage Meditation for all ages
    when bad evil thoughts comein replace this shit with positive kind thoughts

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