Feature Article

‘It is not the big brothers but the younger ones who watch’

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 18 November 2008, 04:50 GMT]
How the leadership in India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular going to respond to the question of Eezham Tamil liberation has become a test case. Watching the youth and grass-root public uprising in Tamil Nadu, defence analysts in London, Delhi and Colombo, off the record agree that the line of attempting a military defeat of Tamil nationalism can turn out to be disastrous to those who commit it, contribute to it or allow it. They also see a warning to the policy makers of the so-called International Community against meddling with Tamil affairs, writes a media student from Chennai presenting a cross section of reflections from India, Sri Lanka and Europe.

All epoch-making changes in the history of Eezham Tamils in the last hundred years, started with youth movements and uprisings.

The Jaffna Youth Congress, came up in 1924, was the first left movement in the whole of Sri Lanka. It was also the first movement to call for full independence of Ceylon.

It brought about the end to a half-century old trend in Eezham Tamil politics that based itself in Colombo, collaborated with the British and prevented the inspirations of Indian National Movement reaching the Eezham Tamils.

It was the Youth Congress that invited Mahatma Gandhi to Jaffna in 1927.

It called upon the society to denounce the Donoughmore Constitution of 1931, which was fully responded by the people. This was the first public demonstration of silent non-cooperation and psychological disassociation of Eezham Tamils with the political system of Ceylon that upheld majoritarianism, the dark side of democracy.

Even though the Youth Congress, which was not a political party but only a movement died out in a few years, the bearings of the political struggle as well as the internal struggle for social reformation that ensued the following decades were already set by it.

The next watershed was the youth uprising in 1970, marked by the spontaneous and overwhelming participation of school students all over Jaffna and was demonstrated in the march from Manjavanappathi temple in Kokkuvil to Jaffna city, organized by the Tamil Students League (Thamizh Maa’navar Pearavai).

It marked the beginnings of the fading away of moderate Tamil politics and heralded the rise of militancy.

The spark within a couple of years inspired the entire Eezham Tamil youth.

All the Tamil militant organizations, except a now defunct Maoist group, could be traced of a direct lineage to the Tamil Students’ League of 1970.

What was globally significant and unique about this youth militancy was that it remained actively and predominantly participated by successive generations of youth for nearly four decades and is continued to be so.

The righteousness of the cause and circumstances evolved this humble youth uprising into a global phenomenon. One is only amazed and at the same time puzzled to see how all the powers of the world have to poke their noses in unison to face the challenge with success still eluding their hawkish attempts.

A scrutiny of the whole story is the story of the failure of fundamentals in the international system of our times.

If the International Community, while showing its seeming concern to the unfortunate side of the youth phenomenon such as the human tragedy of under-aged recruitment, had attempted in any other way for the removal of the root cause, it would have been a different story, said a former militant now living in Europe.

The adamancy of the Sri Lankan state in continuing the war and the attitude of the International Community in abetting it only indicate that both are destined to continue facing failures in the island, he said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s repeated insistency on first fighting ‘terrorism’ and not even spelling out the nature of the political solution before that makes clear of his intention that what he wants to conquer is not what he is projecting as terrorism. It is the Tamil spirit of freedom and the spirit of youth behind it that he aims to conquer. The international colluders have other reasons, observed a political analyst in Colombo.

The Eezham Tamil youth movement should have caused positive parallel awakening in the Sinhala youth. But unfortunately the Sinhala youth is under an exploitative spell of the Sri Lankan state, lured into the armed forces for an aggressive mission of committing genocide on Tamils. The JVP, which has significant hold on the Sinhala youth only adds to the misery by abetting the process.

It may take some time for the Sinhala youth to realize how they are misled into something negative, anti human and anti-civilization. But, if they don’t realize in time, that will be the starting point of an inescapable degeneration of the Sinhala society, worried a Sinhala intellectual from Kandy.

Striking a sharp contrast, the Eezham Tamil liberation question has now triggered off a youth phenomenon in Tamil Nadu.

Decades of physical as well as structural violence of the Sri Lankan state against Tamils reaching genocidal proportions, the overt chauvinism of Rajapaksa government, intrigues of the Indian Establishment not only allowing the liberation of Eezham Tamils but also aiding the Colombo government and the misplaced act of the International Community ultimately resulting in equating Tamil identity with terrorism have gone to the inner recesses of the youth psyche of Tamil Nadu, reports a media student in Chennai.

The Eezham Tamil crisis has brought about a new mould of unity, awakening and uprising in the Tamil Nadu youth, the impact reaching even schools as seen from the kind of demonstrations that have taken place in Tamil Nadu recently, she observed.

The phenomenon has certainly gone beyond the conventional political perspectives of Tamil Nadu.

If the leadership in Tamil Nadu and in India is not prepared to recognize the emerging phenomenon and if they continue to ignore it, being embroiled in petty sectarian squabbles, considering only their political interests, such leadership will soon be sent to political oblivion by the youth force of Tamil Nadu, noted a left wing student political activist of Tamil Nadu.

How the leadership in India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular going to respond to the question of Eezham Tamil liberation has become a test case.

Watching the youth and grass-root public uprising in Tamil Nadu, defence analysts in London, Delhi and Colombo, off the record agree that the line of attempting a military defeat of Tamil nationalism can turn out to be disastrous to those who commit it, contribute to it or allow it.

They also see a warning to the policy makers of the so-called International Community against meddling with Tamil affairs. It is not going to be granted forever in their geopolitical games.

 

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