TULF, BUDGET AND THE ORIGINAL PEOPLE
(1998 November 11)
The Tamil United Liberation Front has decided to vote against the budget. This has nothing to do with Dr. G. L. Peiris or with his budget proposals. In fact they are not concerned with the budget. They have not even analysed how the budget is going to affect the Tamils in Jaffna or outside Jaffna.
The TULF is going to vote against the budget not because of the money allocated for the so-called "war". If that was the case then they should have voted against the previous budgets of Dr. Peiris. But they did not do so.
The reasons behind the decision of the TULF are political and not economical. It is very clear that the TULF is thinking of withdrawing gradually, its support to the government (TULF TO WITHDRAW SUPPORT ) and they may be already looking towards the UNP and Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe.
This government though voted in by the people was manoeuvred into power by the non-national lobby. They had only one objective. That was to devolve more and more power to the Eastern and Northern provinces and pave way for the Eelam through a federal state. The Marxist parties continued to support the government even with an 'open economy' policy. They were and are more interested in devolution of power than in economics. The Tamil racist parties rallied around Ms. Kumaratunga, as they believed that she was genuinely interested in devolving more power to the Tamils.
In fact Ms. Kumaratunga was and is interested in devolving power. She is convinced that the Tamils have grievances and that is exactly why she was made the leader of the PA by the non-national forces. Having come to power she immediately commenced negotiations with the LTTE. The G.L. - Neelan political package was introduced and a huge campaign was launched to promote it. The Sudu Nelums, Thavalams and Yathras were seen on the roads in addition to peace merchants trying to sell peace to the captive audiences in schools and in meetings organised by the MPs. The government media worked overtime to take the package to the people. The NGOs thought their dreams were coming true and they started day dreaming.
However it did not last long. Even without the SLFP, the party that traditionally championed the Sinhala Buddhist cause, which was hijacked by Ms. Kumaratunga and her SLMP type politics, the Sinhala people were able to campaign against the package at all odds. The LTTE was never interested in the package and the so-called war was resumed to 'liberate the Eelam from the Sinhala imperialists'. The UNP first wanted to test the public opinion and then feeling the pulse of the electorate decided not to support the package.
The NGO bandwagon, especially the free media people, were the first to realise that the package was not on. Then the others gradually came to the same conclusion and now the peace merchants have to satisfy themselves with dubious opinion polls. However not all are seeking the comfort of opinion polls. For example we have amongst us Mr. Fatchett (FATCHETT ARRIVES ), the British under secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs, having come all the way from London, to get the UNP and the PA to come to some kind of agreement on talks with the LTTE. The big business community is seen to be giving him a big helping hand.
If Mr. Fatchett and the big business community fail in their attempt then the Tamil racists and their sponsors will again turn to their traditional supporter the UNP. The TULF is already on their way towards the UNP. As a first step they have decided to vote against the budget.
The TULF in the meantime has expressed shock over a statement made by Ms. Kumaratunga in South Africa to the effect that the minority community in Sri Lanka was not the original people of the country. Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, who has denied that Ms. Kumaratunga made such a statement, has been criticised by the TULF. Dr. G. L. Peiris can rest assured that the decision by the TULF to vote against the budget has nothing to do with his economic management.
This incident shows how the Tamil racists try to bully the Sinhala people with their false propaganda. All the Tamil racists have join hands in criticising the statement made by Ms. Kumaratunga as if it was a deliberate lie. These are the tactics of Tamil racism. They fear the truth. They do not want to accept the history of the country. They want the whole world to believe their false propaganda, according to which the Tamils have lived in this country from time immemorial.
Ms. Kumaratunga should not give into their false propaganda. She has spoken the truth except for the use of the term minority. The majority and minority communities are concepts coined by the ancestors of Mr. Fatchett and we should try to avoid using these terms. Let the TULF vote against the budget. Nothing will happen to the government.
The Tamil racists base their false propaganda on work by people like Gnanapragasar, who claimed that Sri Lanka was originally a land of the Dravidians. For the benefit of those who have not read the Ph. D. thesis of Dr. Karthigesu Indrapalan who later became the first Professor of History at the University of Jaffna, I quote below extensively from chapter 2 of that unpublished thesis.
"It has been claimed by certain writers on the history of Jaffna that the people of northern Ceylon at the time of the earliest Indo-Aryan settlements, called Nagas in the chronicles, were Tamils. ( S. Gnanapragasar, Ceylon originally a land of Dravidians) Some others have claimed that these Nagas were Tamil in culture and language, although ethnically they were not Dravidian.( S. Rasanayagam, Ancient Jaffna) These conclusions, as we shall see presently, are based on the legendary accounts of the Nagas in the Pali chronicles and the Tamil Buddhist epic Manimekalai as well as on the erroneous identification of some of the place-names mentioned in early Tamil literature. Gnanapragasar, a leading proponent of the theory that the Nagas of the Pali chronicles were Tamils, has put forward four main arguments in support of it." Dr. Indrapalan then goes on to demolish these arguments.
"In the first place , he has argued that the island of Ceylon as well as the language spoken there were known in ancient times as Ilam and that the name of the language was later corrupted to Elu. These factors, in his opinion , "should lead one to conclude prima facie that , at the earliest times, Ilam was occupied , at least in the main, by a Tamil speaking people. This argument is far from logical. Presumably it rests on the fact Ilam is now used only in Tamil as a name for Ceylon. But the origin of this name , far from indicating that the island was occupied by Tamil speaking people in ancient times, shows that the people from whose name Ilam is derived were Sinhalese. The earliest occurrence of this name is in the Brahmi inscription of South India. In these inscriptions, from Tirupparankunram and Sittannavasal, occurs the Prakrit form of this name, namely Ila. Evidently it is from this Prakrit form that the Tamil Ilam is derived. It could be shown that Ila is derived from Sinhala through the Pali Sihala, or more probably through another Prakrit form Sihila………. Thus, Ilam could be derived from the name Sihala and would therefore, mean the land of the Sinhalese rather than indicate that Ceylon was originally settled by the Tamils. Gnanapragasar's arguments, on this score, will become groundless. The derivation of Ilam from Sinhala is accepted by leading Tamil scholars. ( S. Vaiyapuri Pillai, Madras Tamil Lexicon p 382 & S. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar in the Preface to S. Rasanayagam's Ancient Jaffna)"
"Secondly , Gnanapragasar has argued that the original inhabitants of Ceylon came from South India and that these pre-Aryan aborigines were Dravidians who seem to have spoken a Tamil dialect. He base this on the assumption that the pre Aryan inhabitants of India represent an earlier wave of immigrants from the Mediterranean area and that no trace of any language other than Tamil is found in India till the arrival of the Indo-Aryans. Although the pre-historic relations between India and Ceylon are undeniable, the rest of his arguments are based on mere assumptions. It is not true to say that all the non-Aryan inhabitants of India were necessarily Dravidian. There were others as well, chief among whom were the Munda speaking people. The chronology of the Dravidian migration to India is itself an unsettled question."
"His third argument is that 'hundreds of Tamil place-names in Ceylon are pre-Sinhalese. He has given a few examples of elements of present-day Sinhalese place-names and what have been considered by him to be their Tamil origins. It is clear that this argument is based on superficial similarities and not on any historical study of the development or evolution of these names. This could be seen in the two sets of elements as well as from their phonological development. He has claimed, for instance, that the Sinhalese element dena, meaning 'low-lying land or valley', is derived from Tamil tinai, meanung corn. But dena and its more common variant deniya are derived from Sanskrit droni (=valley), through the Pali doni and medieval Sinhalese dona and deni.
The fourth argument that Sinhalese is based on Tamil and that, therefore, 'the original inhabitants of Ceylon' spoke Tamil is unconvincing. Gnanapragasar arrives at this conclusion by adopting unscientific methods in his linguistic research. One can only quote the views of Wilhelm Geiger on this matter:- 'Gnanapragasar's methods are not at all Indian; they are simply a relapse into the old practice of comparing two or more words of the most distant languages merely on the basis of similar sounds without any consideration for chronology, for phonological principles, or for the historical development of words and forms.' ".
So much for Gnanapragasar. Dr. Indrapalan then goes on to deal with Rasanayagam. The problem of Tamil racism is a problem of history and the history of the problem reveals that the Tamil racists are not prepared to accept the history of the country. Ms. Kumaratunga's statement in South Africa is probably the only correct statement by her on the problem. Perhaps Ms. Kumaratunga should request her minister for cultural affairs to take steps to see that Dr. Indrapalan's thesis is printed and made available to the general reader.