Opinion Article

Alternative Development

[TamilNet, Monday, 13 September 2010, 06:35 GMT]
There is no point in diaspora arguing with officials and politicians over development, because, they ‘do know’ what they are doing. Instead the diaspora should think creatively in identifying overlapping areas of interest in development, without compromising the national aspirations. Human resource development is a potential area, needed both by the ‘developers’ and nationalists. Eezham Tamils have credible institutions at home and grass root organisations in the diaspora to carryout it. Ask the developers whether they are prepared to give direct aid. If they decline and if their interest is only in prodding the diaspora to Rajapaksa and in devising KP-line of politics, then the diaspora need not care for them.

“Rather than being implicit on the ‘development’ question, reflect explicitly the Tamil sentiment that it is impossible for Tamils to connive with the colonial regime of Colombo in a ‘development’ agenda that is designed for ultimate subjugation and degeneration of the Eezham Tamil nation. Tamils cannot be expected to work for their own national liquidation”.

“Eezham Tamils, especially in the diaspora, cannot cooperate with any power or country whether in the West or East that doesn’t recognise Eezham Tamils as a nation, doesn’t come out with appropriate political solutions, doesn’t recognize their right to develop themselves, treats them as ‘defeated minorities’, blame them as responsible for all what had happened and now asks them to work with Mahinda Rajapaksa if they want at least subsistence”.

“Expose the collaborators, ‘task groups’ and their links to this ‘colonial development’ agenda that bulldozes the aspirations of the Eezham Tamil nation in the island, so that the diaspora can be careful about them”.

“In the meantime, concentrate on ideologically helping the diaspora to come out with models of alternative development that doesn’t compromise with the national aspirations of Eezham Tamils, and help the mobilisation of the diaspora towards that line”.

The above are feelings and expectations of the feedbacks TamilNet regularly receives from academic and influential circles of readers.

* * *

However, the voices heard from the diplomatic and political circles especially of the West go contrary to the aspirations of Eezham Tamils.

The world today has no appetite for national questions but it has full of appetite for ‘development’, so collaborate with it is their position ‘selectively’ applied to the question of Eezham Tamils.

West may pursue human rights and war crimes investigations only as tools for the development conquest. But India and China do not care even for them.

Perceptions differ about ‘development’. According to Pentagon documents ‘development’ is a vital ingredient of ‘counterinsurgency’. The British foreign office papers envisage that the national question in the island would be null and void with ‘development’. For India it is ‘economic integration’ of the island with India, while for China it is strategic entry into the island.

But for Mahinda Rajapaksa regime ‘development’ is the ultimate conquest of the Eezham Tamil nation, a smokescreen for the ongoing multifaceted genocide, a strategy bailing it out from the crimes it committed and is a platform to institutionalise its family dictatorship in the island.

* * *

Eezham Tamils may wonder why the situation is so desperate and where their aspirations of their own development could fit in such a scenario.

As a social activist of Batticaloa pointed out in TamilNet Saturday, “The war, incarceration of people, displacement, deterioration of democratic institutions, contradictions among communities, collapse of the rule of law and the human rights crisis in the island are not merely results of internal dynamics. They were deliberately allowed, abetted and promoted from outside for new appropriation of land and resources and for creating a new social order required by the outside”.

“The very same elements will provide space and funds to set nuances for rebuilding a structure suiting their agenda”.

Global land-grab of farmland is an issue that has to be compromised with, according to what is implied by The World Bank report this month.

Stop land-grabbing now, promoted by The World Bank. Governments and corporations are buying up farmland in other countries to grow their own food – or simply to make money. No principles in the world can justify land grabbing, said a statement signed by hundreds of organizations across the world in April.

In the case of Eezham Tamils, the war facilitated not only an easy land-grab but also sea-grab of their waters and resources.

This is why neither the abetters of the war nor the peace brokers have ‘appetite’ for the national question of Eezham Tamils or even any traces of it in the ‘post-war era’.

While some powers want to grab lands and along with them several others grab the seas, Rajapaksa regime grabs the lands of Tamils to satisfy the Sinhalese.

What they need now is to make the ‘defeated’ Eezham Tamils to compromise with the forfeit of ownership and to accept a position as subordinate, ‘multicultural’ work force.

* * *

Many political observers view Norway, the failed peace broker, as a country in the forefront in upholding the US agenda for the world.

Reportedly, Norwegian circles that meet Eezham Tamil representatives in recent times repeatedly tell them that Eezham Tamils have to blame only themselves for what had happened, so now they have to cooperate with Rajapaksa regime in ‘development’. Eezham Tamils in the island are prepared to forget the national question and they collaborate with the Sinhalese. Only the diaspora refuses to see the ‘reality’, they accuse.

There is not much difference between what they say and what the International Crisis Group (ICG) said sometimes back. In fact, ICG’s suggestions about whom to be chosen as collaborators among the Tamil diaspora is also adhered to by the official circles, creating crisis within the diaspora.

The West has produced a lot of literature and a number of films on collaborators, silenced peoples and resistance movements in the Nazi occupied Europe. But they seem to have missed the heart of today’s officials and politicians. Even Vidkun Quisling and the Norwegian resistance to Nazis, after all a fellow Germanic-speaking people, is unfortunately not remembered today when it comes to ‘advising’ Eezham Tamils.

* * *

A recent diaspora visitor to Maathakal in the Jaffna Peninsula narrated the modus operandi of ‘development’ and ‘cooperation’ of Tamils and Sinhalese:

“Right from Jaffna city, name boards that Sinhalicised Tamil place names lead ‘tourists’ from the south to Maathakal, where a new Buddhist complex has been built with the direct participation of Rajapaksa family in the stretch of land occupied by the military after evacuating Tamils from their lands and houses”.

“When the ‘winners’ from the south walk in to the area, the owners of the lands are not permitted even to go and see their houses”.

“The ‘tourists’ pay good money for fresh fish caught in the area, so the locals ‘enjoy the development and cooperation’ by catching fish for the visitors who pollute the area and go after cooking fish on the roadside”.

Colombo has no money for the rehabilitation and development of Tamils when it has lot of money to build Buddhist complexes and military cantonments in occupied Tamil land.

The powers have a lot of money and a ‘world vision’ for development, but they don’t know how to give assistance to Eezham Tamils directly because of their ‘obligations’ to Rajapaksa for what they have purchased and what they want to purchase.

But it is easier to the pressure the weakest- the Eezham Tamils - to fall in line, without anything to offer to their aspirations.

* * *

After disabling the Eezham Tamils to the maximum, still the officials of those who enacted it are very inquisitive in knowing what the Eezham Tamils want to do, without caring that the responsibility of creating necessary conditions lies with them.

The diaspora representatives who negotiate with such officials and politicians should realize that there is no point in arguing with them, because, they ‘do know’ what they are doing.

Diaspora need not discuss everything it wants to do with them. But there is a pertinent question for the diaspora to think creatively and identify overlapping areas of interest in development, without compromising the national aspirations.

For instance, human resource development is a potential area that is needed both by the ‘developers’ and by the nationalists.

Eezham Tamils have still-existing institutions at home and grass root organizations in the diaspora to carry out human resource development independently.

Design credible programmes and negotiate with the ‘developers’ in the West whether they are prepared to give direct aid for such initiatives.

If they decline, and if their interest is only in prodding the diaspora to Rajapaksa and in devising KP-line of politics, then the diaspora need not care for them.

Even in a small way the diaspora can work on its own in durable and damage-controlling ways.

* * *

Kusal Perera, writing a few days ago from Colombo, said that the maximum Tamils could expect from India is protection under a ‘development canopy’ of India. Even that protection canopy is not guaranteed in the Norway model of ‘development’. In the long run the Indian canopy has many advantages to Eezham Tamils, at least in providing tactic opportunities to ease out contradictions on one side.

The diaspora can cooperate and work only with those who provide independent access and protection, whether India or China or the West. The diaspora has to seriously explore the options and alternatives.

An ideology advocated by the media in the West to oppressed-peoples in the world is to stop fighting for political rights and to concentrate on ‘development’.

This is something ‘development’ collaborators among diaspora Tamils who are not hesitant to collaborate with Rajapaksa to the elation of the Norway ‘developers’ also reflect.

The ‘lower castes’ in southern India concentrated on economic development and education and have become prosperous. But the ‘lower castes’ in northern India aimed for political power and remains under-developed despite capturing political power in several north Indian states, said an article in New York Times, Friday, citing the example of the Naadaars of Tamil Nadu.

The writer of the article and the academics she cited have ignored the fact that it was the Dravidian movement and its Tamil nationalist socio-politics in Tamil Nadu and the leftist politics in Kerala that made the difference, by preparing the grounds and by sustaining it, even though the present day Dravidian leaders and the leftists have gone astray.

* * *

Pre-occupied with the ‘clash of civilizations’ the West has forgotten ‘culture and development’.

“America is on the decline seems rather well ingrained in many people’s minds”, reported AFP Sunday adding an academic citation that an economic clash between super powers the United States and China, which holds more than 843 billion dollars of US treasury bonds would bring in a doomsday scenario.

“Today’s economic problems are structural, not cyclical”, AFP cited an editorial writer of the New York Times, who also said: “the United States is losing its world dominance much in the same way the British Empire began to crumble more than a century ago”.

The US, Norway and the West can score a point for their image and their ‘world vision of development’ by demonstrating political justice in the test case of Eezham Tamils. But will they?

* * *

It is time for the Eezham Tamil diaspora to think creatively. It is for creative thinking and mobilization of the diaspora the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) was conceived.

Rather than making TGTE really transnational, to what extent leading it to individual leadership in the backyard of Washington will be helpful in meeting the unfolding requirements is something the members of the TGTE and its supporters have to seriously consider, especially in the light of the way the KP-line of politics was simulated in Colombo.


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External Links:
AFP: Doomsday warnings of US apocalypse gain ground
FCO: British Peace Building Strategy for Sri Lanka
STWR: Land Grab or Agricultural Investment?
IPS: Land Grabs in Poor Countries Set to Increase


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