Feature Article

Proposals for roof without foundation

[TamilNet, Sunday, 21 June 2009, 00:12 GMT]
M S Swaminathan is a great name in the world of agriculture. He is a pride for all Tamils all over the world. The 83-year-old veteran who is now a member of Indian parliament in the Rajya Sabha and is running his own research foundation in agricultural sciences has recently come out with a ‘roadmap’ for India to develop agriculture, livestock and fisheries in the North to facilitate the twin mantras ‘resettlement and rehabilitation’. Mahinda Rajapaksa pricked his enthusiasm by saying ‘de-mining first’. Dr. Swaminathan should have first spoken to Eezham Tamils, the intended recipients. With all due respect to him they would have told him that if the guilty Indian Establishment he represents could concede their self-determination, they would be able to resettle and rehabilitate by themselves without giving the trouble to anyone.

Snatching away the sense of belongingness from a nation and superimposing a development infrastructure will only engender a slave population and that is what New Delhi and Colombo want to happen to Eezham Tamils they ‘conquered’. Whether Dr Swaminathan is playing in their hands is a question raised in the Tamil circles.

While India and China are going to explore oil in the waters that partly belong to Eezham Tamils, Dr. Swaminathan is exploring ways how to keep the owners docile and dependent as slave farmers and fishermen, the circles pointed out.

Eezham Tamils have their own, long heritage of agriculture. James Cordinor, the chaplain of the times of the first English governor who visited Jaffna in 1801, was surprised to see the successful cultivation of all European vegetables in such an arid landscape. That was a Dutch legacy. The Portuguese legacy of tobacco and how people in different parts of India, especially the Malayalis, were dependent on Jaffna for supply is very well known.

During the food crisis of the 1970s the Eezham Tamils helped themselves and helped others in the island. They in fact smuggled seed onions and other required seeds from India in catamarans.

Now, Dr. Swaminathan says that India will give them seeds, but this he says after India helping in taking awy the ‘right of land’ from them.

The International Crisis Group has aptly brought out in a recent analysis how the development agenda in the Eastern Province, dubbed by genocidal Colombo as Kizhakkin Uthayam (the rise of the East) failed in the absence of a political solution.

Dr. Swaminathan is now seen by many Tamils as trying to sing the song Vadakkin Vasantham (the spring of the North), on behalf of Colombo and New Delhi, without any fundamental changes in the political outlook.

The reputed agricultural scientist who says “India rendered timely assistance in the past to Vietnam and Kampuchea in getting their agriculture into a high growth trajectory after the end of the war with the U.S. in one case, and the termination of the Pol Pot tyranny in the other”, wants India to extend similar ‘timely help’ to Sri Lanka.

It is a misleading and a mischievous comparison. Dr. Swaminathan should not try to hide the fact that India is a partner to the oppressive war against Eezham Tamils. His present India has to be actually ashamed of the role it played in making a people subjugated and incarcerated.

Dr Swaminathan is not rendering his expertise to a people free from imperialists and Pol Pots but vice versa.

Illustrious personalities like Dr. Swaminathan should first voice for the recognition of the freedom of Eezham Tamils and political justice to them from the Indian Establishment, in order to pave way for any meaningful development.

Contributing to the oppressive ideology of the imperialist circles of today, i.e., imposing development without political justice is not going to help India-Eezham Tamil relationship in the long run.

The Eezham Tamils have enough expertise within their nation, especially in their diaspora, to rebuild themselves. What they don’t have are not ideas, seeds, manures and Angan Wadis (child-care centres for working women), but political freedom to look-after themselves and to design development to suit for themselves.

The approach of Dr Swaminathan, based on wrong assumptions that war is over, peace has come when political solutions meeting Tamil aspirations are nowhere in sight, and Tamils are going to be ‘proud citizens’ in a country linked to India through ‘Buddhism’, is not going to be appealing to the people for whom he intends his programme. Nor the highlight he is getting from sections of media known to be inimical to Eezham Tamil interests will do him any good in his mission.

Dr. Swaminathan representing the Indian Establishment that doesn't recognise Eelam Tamil self-determination is not welcome. But he, as a fellow Tamil, dealing directly with Eezham Tamils with a desire of upholding Tamil dignity, is always welcome.


External Links:
THE  HINDU: Sri Lanka: task of livelihood rehabilitation
PTI: Swaminathan presents roadmap for reviving agriculture in Sri Lanka


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