The issue regarding a separate homeland for the Tamils of the world has evoked considerable interest over the past 70 years or so. From the 1950s to about the early 1980s, a strong campaign took place in India for carving out a separate state of Dravidastan in the southern part of India. That campaign reached a level where it nearly threatened the break-up of India; but with some strong-arm tactics and quiet diplomacy, India was able to manage the issue. Nevertheless, as is well known, the yearning is still strong among the Tamils in India to set up a separate state, and many are waiting for a new spark from anywhere in the world to trigger the call once again. The Tamils in Sri Lanka too, attempted to establish a separate State in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, even prior to Sri Lanka’s independence from the British, and have made many efforts to realize such a goal.
When the call for a separate state in Sri Lanka was mooted, it was no secret that the Tamils in Tamil Nadu were overtly and covertly assisting the effort of the Sri Lanka Tamils to do so. That support was akin to the support that the Tamils in Sri Lanka gave to the Tamils in India, when the Tamils in India tried to realize the dream of a Dravidastan nation. In fact, it is well-known that Tamils in India were supporting the Tamils in Sri Lanka, not because of their sympathy or affinity towards the Tamils in Sri Lanka, but rather as a result of their own compelling desire to create a separate Tamil State, which then, could be of benefit for all Tamils, worldwide.
Unfortunately, the separatist effort in Sri Lanka evolved into a violent and terror phase because of the ruthlessness of the terrorist leader Prabhakaran. But even so, the Tamils worldwide tolerated the terror and the cash extortions, since they perceived Prabhakaran as the possible conduit through whom the elusive Tamil homeland could be won for all Tamils of the world.
It is estimated that there are about 100 million Tamils living in many countries across the world. That, therefore, makes them one of the few races in the world with such a large population, but are yet without a geographical land mass to call their own. This drawback perhaps may be the psychological factor that drives the Tamils’ inner desire to carve out a homeland of their own in some part of the world. However, since their attempts to do so in India and Sri Lanka have failed, it is necessary for the Tamils to now examine the option of identifying a new location, or a part of a country, to create a homeland of their own. It is only if they are able to do so, that they could practice self-determination, nurture their culture, and protect their customs in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.
To achieve that vision, three important factors need to be fulfilled in the identification of a country to host the Tamil nation. First, that country must be sympathetic to the cause of the Tamils, and be one which would encourage the Tamils to express themselves in their own style. Second, that country must already have a critical mass of Tamils. Third, that country must have a sufficient land mass to be able to allocate a land area for setting up such a new Tamil homeland. Then, the billion-dollar question world is which country fits these specifications?
A host country that could comfortably fulfil the conditions as referred to above, is undoubtedly Canada, which is a second largest country in the world. It has a land mass of almost 10 million square kilometres, which makes it 153 times the size of Sri Lanka! It practices bilingualism and is one of the most ethnically diverse, multicultural nations. It has a population of only 38 million. Nearly 15% of its people are Asians, with a large proportion of them being Tamils. Canada is already divided into 3 territories and 10 provinces, many of which are very sparsely populated. That also suggests that the influx of a few million new immigrants to Canada could be accommodated without much tension or displacement of the existing population. In addition, Canada’s Constitution provides for a significant degree of autonomy to its provinces, which would conveniently allow a new ethnic group to establish themselves as an autonomous group, living in a specified location within a federal system of government.
The number of Tamils living in Canada as Canadian citizens is estimated to be around one million, and therefore a critical Tamil population mass has already been established in that country. Many Tamils from Sri Lanka and India have made Canada their home, and serve Canada diligently and loyally. In return, Canada has been sympathetic and generous towards them. At the same time, based upon the benign and tolerant attitude that the Canadians have developed towards minorities, the Canadians have also been able to understand and appreciate the aspirations of the Tamil People. Therefore, Canada will be in a position to actively provide the Tamils with the opportunity to express themselves in a separate state of their own. Moreover, many European Canadians, especially the current leadership in Canada, have openly supported the Tamil aspirations to establish a separate homeland for the Tamil people. They have done so at many world fora, and also canvassed for the Tamils at many global organizations, including the United Nations. Taking all these factors into consideration, Canada seems to be the ideal host country to provide the necessary framework for the Tamils of the world, to help establish their own nation.
The recent demonstrations by the Tamils in Canada have given expression to this growing sentiment, and that must now be recognized by the Canadian authorities. Hence, a suitable official response should be given by Canada to the Tamils of the world, without allowing such peaceful demonstration to take the shape of more violent expressions, as those that took place in Sri Lanka and India. In that regard, the best course of action for Canada would be to respond in a fair manner, and grant the Tamils in Canada the freedom to exercise self-determination in a demarcated part of Canada in a land area of around 200,000 square kilometres, which would, in effect, be only about 2% of its massive land mass. That would then provide the Tamils in Canada the political and economic space to engage in self-rule within the demarcated territory, thereby fulfilling a long felt need of the Tamils.
In that context, the province of Manitoba in Canada seems to be the ideal location from which a suitable segment of land could be conveniently demarcated for the new Tamil nation, since that province has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Such a new nation of the Tamils could, in due course, accommodate Tamils from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji and from any other country, who wish to migrate and make a home in the new nation within the Canadian territory, in much the same way that the Jews from difference lands migrated and settled in Palestine, and established the new state of Israel. This type of a gesture by Canada would not only be a magnanimous humanitarian expression, but also one in which the world surely would position the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau as the foremost contender for the next Nobel Peace Prize. Even more importantly, that action would also lead to the Tamils of the world being finally able to realize their cherished dream of having a separate nation for themselves, with land under their control, and with their own government.
Dr. LIONEL PETERSON
A ‘painless shot’ from Army
When I was told that the Army was administering Sinopharm Covid vaccinations at Viharamaha Devi Park with special provisions for individuals with disabilities, I decided to take my wife, herself a Rehabilitation Medicine Physician, but now afflicted with Alzheimers disease, for her Covid shot, not knowing quite what to expect.
At the driveway into the park an Officer in smart uniform stopped me and inquired politely if there was anyone with a disability. When I answered in the affirmative, indicating my wife, I was asked to drive in and given instructions where to park my vehicle. In the parking area, another army officer kindly directed me to park under the shade of a “Nuga” tree for my wife’s comfort and asked me to proceed to the Registration desk and obtain my vaccination card.
Walking the short distance to the registration desk I observed those awaiting the vaccination seated comfortably in shaded and green surroundings. There was even a vending machine which was, I presume to provide refreshments for those waiting.
The several registration desks were manned by smart young male and female army personnel. The gentleman who attended to me took down my details and when my contact number was given information that the owner of this phone number had already had the vaccination appeared on the computer correctly, as I had been already vaccinated. Now, I expected a typical “public servant’ response that the “rule” is that a contact number could be registered only once. However, the officer used his brain, and after listening to my wife’s situation proceeded to complete the form. Then came the consent form that had to be signed. When I explained that my wife was unable to do so again I expected him to say, “Then get a letter from a doctor saying she cannot sign.” But this officer who did not behave like a robot used his judgement and allowed me to sign the form.
The paper work having been duly completed, I was asked to bring my wife to get her shot. When I explained that it would be very difficult, but not impossible, I was directed to the doctor at the site. I walked up to the young yet professional looking doctor attired in scrubs. When I explained my position, he promptly directed a staff member to go along with me to the vehicle and administer the injection while my wife was still seated there.
I then inquired if the young man who was helping my wife could also get his vaccination, and “no problem” was the answer. And before I could say “Sinopharm” the whole procedure was done and dusted!
What first class service!
To be at the receiving end of empathy and kindness was indeed a satisfying experience.
My thanks and appreciation to the organisers of the vaccination programme at Viharmahdevi Park on Wednesday (21 July)
Those who are critical of the army playing a lead role in Covid pandemic control, please take note.
On ‘misinformation’ against Minister of Health
Dr. Upul Wijayawardhana (UW) is a regular contributor to this newspaper. His articles are almost always interesting and sometimes they provide valuable perspectives.
I find his criticism/castigation of the Minister of Health (MOH) in an ‘epidemic of misinformation’ (Island 19.07.2021) unfair and baseless. UW singles the MOH out as ‘the leader of the pack, undoubtedly is the Minister of Health who conveys wrong health messages’. This is erroneous and unwarranted
The main issues that UW quotes in support of his argument is that ‘she recently went to a shrine to thank a goddess for protecting her’ and ‘that she dropped pots in rivers to prevent the spread of the pandemic’.
From the onset of this pandemic a multitude of rituals have been conducted and they are still in force; all night Pirith, Bodhi Pooja, continuous chanting of the Ratana Suthraya, etc. The MOH releasing pots to the rivers that would wash down the ‘pandemic’ to the sea was one such ritual. A salient point to be appreciated is that while there is the possibility that the MOH herself believed in the effects of releasing these pots; this ritual was done primarily for the country/public rather than herself- hence the coverage on TV and news.
In contrast to this, her fulfilling a vow that she and/or her family made on her behalf when she was at death’s door, is based on a personal belief, and unlike the previous public action was done as an extremely private affair. If not for the fact that she is the MOH and her actions got reported in the press, none of us would have been even aware of this act. One would be hard pressed to find anyone in this country who has not fulfilled a vow; be it for himself or herself / siblings/ parents /children with regard to examinations, illnesses, promotions, etc…
None of these actions has any bearing on how the MOH has advised the public based on the counsel that she has received from her health officials and as such she is certainly not guilty of conveying any ‘wrong health messages’.
The MOH contracted Covid -19 because she was at the forefront of this epidemic and was constantly in touch with frontline workers. Not because she abandoned good health practices in favour of a cultural ritual! She had to be admitted to the IDH, was in the intensive care unit and according to medical sources was quite sick. We now see her on TV, the effects of the Covid-19 are apparent, a person who has had a near brush with death, fully cognizant of the danger of her current position. Certainly this would not have been something she signed up for when she took on the job as the MOH! This being the case, for UW, a doctor of medicine, to refer to ‘There are other idiotic politicians around the world who paid with their lives for the folly of not accepting the reality of a viral pandemic’ is not worthy of a healer.
Having recovered from her illness the MOH at a press conference publicly thanked her medical team for the effort they put into saving her life. I am sure that she would have thanked them personally as well. UW concludes his diatribe against her saying ‘Her life was saved not by goddesses, but by the excellent doctors, nurses and other health professionals Sri Lanka is blessed with. A person who is unable to even grasp that reality surely does not deserve to be the Minister of Health’. Is UW seriously suggesting to this readership that the MOH is unaware of the difference between science and culture? Is it his contention that anyone who engages in a religious /cultural ritual has no grasp of reality?
As a side note I am amused by the use of the term ‘Sri Lanka is blessed with ’. Based on UW’s logic ‘who are highly trained in Sri Lanka’ ought to have been a more appropriate term as blessings have nothing to do with a scientific reality!
Dr. Sumedha S. Amarasekara
Night soil as fertiliser
I write with reference to a letter on night soil as a source of fertiliser by my good friend Upali Wickremasinghe which appeared in the Island of 17/07.
In the first place we were not talking of ammonium sulphate only but all chemical fertilisers vs compost as the sole supplier of nutrients for successful crop growth.
His suggestion to use night soil is an invitation to revisit the smelly past. It is true that some Asian countries and Sri Lanka too used this on a very limited scale many years ago mostly on home gardens.Our concern is on much larger holdings. Irrespective of the scale of operation the implementation poses many problems,
Outdoor latrines have to be built. Who collects and cleans the buckets used? In the olden days scavengers were employed. Today, we attach more respect and dignity to human labour. These kinds of latrines particularly around Negombo were designed for the pigs reared on the range. Repulsive no doubt. I remember a story I heard as a child. A state councilor who visited a friend in Negombo spent a night with him. The following morning when using the toilet he was amazed to find a pig catching his dropping in midair. He is supposed to have commented that although he had been a state councilor for many years it was the only day that his motion was carried! There was also a practice to tether buffalows to coconut palms overnight. Their dung and the urine nourished the palms.
I will not elaborate on the sanitary and enviorenmental issues which are bound to be overwhelming
Some theoretical concepts cannot be adopted in practice particularly on large scale. UW talks of some girls in Nigeria generating electricity from urine, One could also conceptualise to extract sugar from the urine of diabetics. How feasible is it?
UW in earnest implores to find ones roots. Whatever it means it cannot be scattering human waste all over.
Let us view the fertiliser issue crippling the farmer and the nation more seriously.
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