Feature Article

Nelson’s Eye in New Delhi academic thinking

[TamilNet, Thursday, 31 March 2016, 09:51 GMT]
“Do we have to endorse the identities that British colonialism imposed on us? Can we not instead question these identities and consider alternatives. The continuation of such identities is inherently anti-democratic. They were meant for a colony not for a free democracy,” says Professor Romila Thapar, in an article “Religion-based Nationalism is back in Full Force” that appeared on Tuesday. The very same comment could be made on New Delhi academic preceptors of the so-called progressive forces in India and their followers inside and outside of India endorsing the identity of genocidal Sri Lankan State, for the continuation of a model meant for imperialism, responded Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

Professor Romila Thapar
Professor Romila Thapar
“We continue to base our identities derived from religion and caste on those that the colonial system imposed on us. If we were to question these, something different may well emerge,” said Romila Thapar.

The colonially created State itself is the foremost among the imposed identities, especially when that State, now fitting into the designs of corporate imperialisms, resorts to militarily conducted genocide and continues with that through imperialist endorsements, responded the Tamil activists.

It is the identity of such a State of chronic genocidal quest, imposed on the nation of Eezham Tamils in the island that is questioned and challenged.

India itself is an imposed identity and a colonial creation, perhaps with a small exception that a mass struggle of the peoples had also endorsed it, thanks to Mahatma Gandhi. But by endorsing the imposed identity of ‘Sri Lanka,’ if the implied message is following that model for the region, the identity of India itself needs to be questioned and challenged.

* * *

Eezham Tamil militancy of all shades went beyond religion and caste, and has practically achieved significant strides in upholding secularism, denouncing caste and bringing in gender equality and security. A combination of Left thinking and Dravidian ideology was behind the trend. But whether that was appreciated or feared by imperialisms is the question Tamils have to ask.

Romila Thapar, who sheds tears for religion-based nationalism coming back in full force in India, was one of the first to run to Colombo to preach Buddhism to the Sinhala-Buddhist genocidal State, after the State crushing secular Tamil militancy with the partnership of Washington and New Delhi.

The academics in India now rallying behind Thapar may not know what took her to Colombo. But she sure must be aware of the hosting elements in Colombo that show head to Washington and tail to New Delhi, and vice versa when needed – all for sustaining the genocidal State and its Colombo-centric system.

The ‘academic’ gesture coming from New Delhi was such that it trod on the oppressed nation to give moral support to the oppressor-State that now grows mushrooms of ‘Buddhas’ and stupas in the occupied country of Eezham Tamils.

The Mauryan Empire specialist writes about Brahmanical and Shramanic (Buddhist, Jain, Ajivika etc) as the two Dharmas in conflict in pre-Islamic past, to begin with her history of religious intolerance and tells us about Asoka insisting on tolerance. She continues into later additions to religious conflicts and all religions discriminating Dalits.

The whole Gangetic Plain outlook and bi-polar simplification for the entire region is the problem in historiographical constructs. The South and various peripheries in India were responding in different ways. There are other dimensions for historiography getting obsessed with the divide of so-called Hindu and non-Hindu, and dragging the entire region into it.

If showing Nelson’s Eye to genocidal Buddhism in ‘Sri Lanka’ is needed for building India, that is what the BJP is also doing: by luring the ‘Brahmanical and Shramanic Dharmas’ together in the ‘war’ against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, tribals, animists and all the ‘others’, not only in India but also in what they consider as ‘Greater India’ in Southeast Asia. The 'Army and Archeology' Sri Lanka Buddhism is already invited by New Delhi for partnership in the process in Northeast India and in mainland Southeast Asia.

* * *

One should welcome the protests that took place in the JNU calling for self-determination to Kashmir, even though Kashmir itself is a feudal creation endorsed by colonialism; now occupied by China, India and Pakistan, and there are different peoples whose self-determination should be separately recognised.

One should also welcome the JNU protests that questioned a section of academics and politicians in India, which Romila Thapar found “remarkable.”

But why there was no demand from the JNU for the self-determination of Eezham Tamils, no protest for Romila Thapar endorsing genocidal ‘Sri Lankan’ State and Rajapaksa government by going to Colombo and no protest for its Professor S.D. Muni receiving ‘Sri Lanka Ratna’ award along with Hindu Ram, are questions Tamils have to ask.

The Indus-Gangetic heartland, obsessed with its own issues in the North, showing Nelson’s Eye to what New Delhi is doing in the southern tip in partnership with Washington, is not going to do any justification to the sermons coming from Romila Thapar.

This is where Tamils have to be awakened to the reality: Firmly rejecting ‘Sri Lanka’ identity of colonial-current imperialist designs; having a parallel thinking in Indian Ocean geopolitics by mobilising global Tamils and other stateless nations in contrast to the vertical line leading to New Delhi-Colombo axis; and above all, cherishing the secular legacy by totally denouncing the religious paradigm through which Washington and New Delhi are now trying to ride on the world –these have to be kept in mind in Tamils doing any justification to their civilisation.

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