EDUCATION AND ETHNIC CONFLICT IN SRI LANKA
My mandate is speak on the educational scene in Sri Lanka as it pertains to Tamils. To give a complete picture I have printed my talk and will read only relevant sections to give more time for discussion.
This talk must of necessity begin with attitudes of the Sinhalese people towards their Tamil cohabitants of the island and vice versa. I would summarise it as Nazism – a sense of superiority and destiny explain a lot of what has happened. The attitudes are exclusivist.
We find in the Mahavamsa, a chronicle taken as serious history by the Sinhalese, the king Duttugemunu is in a depression after emerging victorious in a battle where several Tamils have been killed. The Buddhist Church counsel him not to worry about “any hindrance in [his] way to heaven” since he had killed only a human and a half – that is the a Tamil who was Buddhist and another part Buddhist. And then the counselors reveal their full attitudes to all Tamils by saying: The rest of the Tamils are “not to be more esteemed than beasts”! That is, a Tamil counts as human only when he is Buddhist.
We see this coalescing into Nazism in the 1930s as the Sinhalese consider themselves Aryan and admire Adolf Hitler. The newspaper Viraya calls for a leader of the Sinhalese like Hitler, saving the Aryan race from degeneration And then D.S. Senanayake, Sri Lanka’s soon to be first Prime Minister on New Year’s day 1939 says at a public meeting: ‘We are one blood and one nation. We are a chosen people. The Buddha said that his religion would last 5500 years. That means that we, as the custodians of that religion, shall last as long’.
At the end of the meeting, a Mrs. Srimathie Abeygunawardena in a congratulatory and adulatory way ‘likened Mr. Bandaranaike to Hitler’
Continuing the Bandaranaike promise to teach those who hinder Sinhalese progress, Minister Champika Ranwake said recently of the Tamil tigers, that if they cannot be dealt with by legal means, they would use any other means available to them
I apologize if I hurt the feelings of Sinhalese in putting things across rather openly. They have held power and abused it. But would we Tamils have been better rulers if we had held power? The indications are that we Tamils and Sinhalese are cut from the same cloth. It seems to me that we Tamils merely lacked the opportunity to be as nasty as the Sinhalese have been. We have shown similar prejudices, but simply lacked the opportunity and the power to be as nasty.
For example, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan after opposing same seating for the low castes in our schools in the legislative assembly manages to this day to be a great Tamil hero.
In 1960 when DS Senanayake was prepared to give us a Tamil university, GG Ponnabalam wanted it to be a Hindu university. The Federal Party wanted a Tamil university. As we fought, the government established a Tamil university fund with Rs. 100 promising to build it once we made up our minds. We never did.
TULF leaders in their speeches have threatened to make lampshades from Sinhalese they have skinned – harking perhaps back to Hitler’s lampshade experiments?
As for prejudice, indeed many a Tamil here – mostly Jaffna Vellahla I am sure as is the characteristic of well-to-do Tamils – would have heard private conversations saying that the Sinhalese are fools and that the Muslims are untrustworthy. We all know that temple entry has been for long prohibited to the low castes and one of our leaders took a leading part in it. We teach in our school texts that the low castes are imbued with bad morals.
Where we Tamils held power as in today’s Jaffna … when I was made Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna …
Oru Paper, editorialized from Canada thus:
“[T]here are a few Christian who are unable to reconcile their minds to the fact that they had deserted the religion of their forefathers. This grievance they carry against the whole community. The Hoole brothers, Lakshman Kadirgamar [Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister murdered by the LTTE] and D.B.S. Jeyaraj of Canada [a well-respected journalist] belong to this category. As for Ratnajeevan Hoole as Vice-Chancellor of Jaffna University, this much has to be said. He should not be allowed to roam free in Jaffna’s Tamil Hindu society, particularly in the university campus where there is even a Saiva temple.” [Emphasis as in the original making the threat to my physical safety all the more ominous]
You will note the dismissal of all Tamil Christians as traitors to the Hindu religion. You will note also the public call to murder. And you will note further the assertion of presumed nexus that Tamil = Saivite
“What Business does Hoole have in Nandhi’s University?,” asked a student union poster. You will recognize that Nandhi is the bull-god that adorns strangely and unfittingly the emblem of University of Jaffna. The new theoretical notion of symbolic racism that has emerged in political science circles, is demonstrable here as it was in Adolf Hitler’s methods.
Thus even as the Sinhalese say that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese Buddhists, we Tamils seems to be saying that the North-East belongs only to the Saivite Tamils.
In further evidence of Tamil Communalism we note that
Tamil intellectual leadership by the Vellahlah caste that orchestrates this Jaffna-centric Caste-Hindu Nazism (Tamil Sangam of NY even today carries an article on its web-site describing Roman Catholics as low caste). Incidentally the Vellahlas shout from the West while many Roman Cathoic Tamils die fighting for the LTTE. If you take any Tamil leader, you will find the he is highly likely to be Vellahla, Hindu and from Jaffna and he would say that we are all united and have no problems. The rest will remain silent because of what this vicious crown can do to them for not falling in line – physically of you are in the North-East or through slander in the web pages they control if you are outside.
Disfranchising of Estate Tamils is rarely described as the beginning of problem – because Jaffna Vellahlas were not affected?
SJV Chelvanayagam who broke off from the main Tamil party on this was rejected by the Tamils in 1952. Ramanathan’s son-in-law Nadesan’s election slogan against Chelva was Velah curusa? (Muruha’s Vel or Jesus’ cross?)
It is clear that the good and bad are there in Sinhalese and Tamils alike. We seem to have allowed our ancient civilizations and prejudices to get the better part of us.
Therefore I do not mean to put down the Sinhalese or the Tamils. I do not say that the Sinhalse are all bad or that the Tamils are horrid. We all seem to have just given into our base nature.
Thus when power passed into the hands of this exclusivist community at independence, with effective control over an equally proud Tamil community, something had to give. Wityh that preamble I will now focus on education as is my mandate although there is a much larger story to tell.
Sri Lanka has had very high achievements in education.
For example, Batticotta College was the first modern western collegiate institution in Asia established in 1823 by the America Ceylon Mission.
The first girls’ school in Asia was by the ACM in 1823 at Uduville
University of Ceylon was established in 1921 as University College as a part of the federal University of London
Some hallmarks of the achievements are that
In 1924, the US President’s sister was resident in the President’s Bungalow at Batticotta
Cyrus Mills, President of Batticotta (1848-54), moved on to found Mills College in Oakland, CA in 1852. Mills is a vewry prestigious liberal arts college
Sir Ivor Jennings, Vice Chancellor of University of Ceylon (1941-55), later went on to be Master of Trinity House and Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University
It is appropriate for me to focus on education because of its sensitivity. As the Sinhalese took on control of the state, they introduced standardization for university admissions in 1970, i.e., adding 28 marks to every Sinhalese candidate, effectively giving Tamils lower grades for the same marks. This led to Tamil militancy and the earliest calls for separatism.
The policy claimed that a Tamil in a 3rd rate school in Badulla was privileged over a rich Minister’s son at prestigious Royal College.
Those who benefited were the rich Sinhalese and not the Sinhalese masses
The government of the time justified standardization by alleging British favoritism for Tamils But was there real favoritism?
Let us look at the pre-colonial situation. The Sinhalese, for example Sterling Silva of the National Institute of Education, claim they were more literate that Europeans.
As for Tamils, literacy seems to have been no more than 30% among upper caste men. A survey from 1815 shows that there were only 2 women in Jaffna who could read.
It is therefore safe to say that the Sinhalese, particularly the men, were far more literate than Tamils, perhaps because of the Buddhist religion’s tradition of learning, greater friendliness to women and rejection of caste.
Tamil graduates are largely agricultural. Tamil MPs too (exception after LTTE began nominating Tamil MPs and standardization). In Jaffna Bishops need to be from agricultural Caste. Till recently Christian priests too. Thus learning and status and caste all went together.
On the Sinhalese side, the fisher-folk are perhaps more educated. Some of the great scholars come to mind. But Sinhalese leadership has been always agricultural. Powerful and able Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva was not even considered for PA leadership because of his caste
On both sides, the lower castes do the fighting. Not a single family member of a sitting MP in the army. Rarely a Vellahla is in the fighting cadre of the LTTE There is one good thing about the war – as the Vellahlas flee, more of the others are filling the vacuum on the Tamil side – so we have lower caste graduates, lower caste priests etc. The Vellahlas I suspect are the leadership as always in Toronto and London shouting for Eelam.
So was there favoritism for Tamils by the British? It would appear from the first table on the number of schools in Jaffna shortly after the missions moved in around 1815, the British (that is Wesleyan and Anglican Missions) put up only 39 schools enrolling about 1500 students while it was really the Americans who built 79 schools enrolling 3106 students. Few mission schools were established after that. Thus we may safely say that the main educational thrust came from the American mission and not the British.
If we look at university admissions figures, we find no basis for saying that the Tamils had a disproportionate share of university seats, by saying which standardization was justified. We see from the Table 2 that in 1967, before standardization, the Sinhalese at 69.5% of the population, had 84.1% of university seats. That is, a community over-represented at the university and with all the powers of the state was claiming that the minorities were having a disproportionate share of university places. If anything, the Jaffna Tamils were over-represented but not Tamils as a community. Today they have increased their population to 81.1% through depopulation of minorities and correspondingly increased their share of university places to a similar figure!
We may conclude that so called favoritism was a fiction to dominate the universities
Did Jaffna dominate then? Are my figures hiding the disproportionate share of seats held by Jaffna folk? This Table shows in 1967 before standardization, Jaffna at 5.78% of the population, had only 3.8% of arts seats and 5.9% of science seats. Today, at 2.619% of the population, depopulated Jaffna has 2.3% of Arts seats and 3.1% of the science seats.
These figures by the way are from liberal Sinhalese who came out against standardization and recent UGC figures.
These summary figures are from Uswatte Arachi, a respected Sinhalese scholar, and the UGC. These merely confirm the loss of position of the Tamil community in the Sri Lankan polity.
If anything these figures show the losses of the Jaffna community as their share was distributed among other Tamils and other districts. This table shows the latest cut off z-scores for admission to the prestigious seats in the universities. A score of 1 means 1 standard deviation above the norm.
Vavuniya, a traditionally backward district, was above Jaffna as recently as 2 years ago. It is probably because some of the displaced teachers and students from Jaffna re-settled here. It had taken these past 4 years of ceasefire for Jaffna to rise above Vavuniya, albeit slightly. I suspect that with the resumption of war, next year’s numbers will be lower again.
The table also shows how Ratnapura and Matara have come up while Tamils backward districts like Mannar remain far behind.
Today the Tamil situation is propped up by the standardization policy that we opposed so vehemently. In the G.C.E. A.Level results of 2005, out of the first 165 students from the much sought after medical/bioscience stream, there are only 5 Tamils!
Jaffna is now a backward district and will have fewer places without this classification. Batticaloa where performance is lower than in Jaffna, is fighting for backward status. It shows that someone from Jaffna used influence to give Jaffna a status of which Batticaloa was more deserving.
The only good thing – as standardization moved towards regional quotas under criticism, lower castes and regional peoples entered the university in greater numbers. Originally regional quotas were used up by the regional high castes. But combined with the war, as these high castes move to Toronto, London and Oslo, the lower castes left behind now suddenly have a chance.
Today it is no longer possible to look at a graduate and assume caste as before in my time.
When quality and merit took second place, a break down was imminent.
As Tamils got details of the discrimination and broadcast them to world, the Office of Commissioner of Exams was blacked out to hide the enormity of standardization. This led to bribery to change marks as those inside the commissioner’s could do anything with the marks in safety. When the there was a change of government in 1977, these scandals came to light but many of those who had had their marks changed to gain entry had already passed out of the university.
Soon naturally, merit ceased to be the norm in university recruitment too.
University of Ceylon journals collapsed. If you go to SOAS or LSE libraries for example you will find they who had regularly subscribed to our journals have now dropped their subscriptions.
Universities became a hot-bed of communalism. A practice run of the July 1983 riots in May was done at University of Peradeniya and the lessons learnt applied in Black J.uly
More recently, a dark skinned Tamil lecturer was accused of being an LTTE member when he visited Ruhuna University and harassed.
An Eastern Univ. Lecturer was denied MPhil registration until legal action was taken
There is increased Tamil-Sinhalese tension at universities. For example, there is high tension when Tamils light crackers following an LTTE battle victory and in response the Sinhalese students ask for contributions from Tamils for the families of fallen soldiers
As an example of the collapse of the university system, the title of professor itself has become cheap. Originally the best of applicants became professors – some very young people became profs in the early years and later in the new universities with no research
In response the UGC introduced a points-based system with minimum conditions for papers, producing PhDs etc.
The academics counter-responded by producing local journals, self-edited journals, vernacular papers, lots of PhD theses with no publications, self-published books and so on.
The UGC countered with more points for foreign journals, reputable book publishers
The debate is ongoing on as the academics argue that the new rules are colonial and anti-national development!
Today there is a quality crisis. Standards of scholarship are poor. Standards are much poorer in peripheral universities – for example a Peradeniya/Colombo professor would have 10 journals papers, a Jaffna, Rajarata Prof. might have 2-3 plus vernacular articles in magazines
BUT there is a core group of 100 or so scholars in Sri Lanka who regularly publish in indexed journals. Sadly, these are nearly all Sinhalese. Tamils, if they are good, can migrate and do. Thus the inimical effects of this deterioration are worse in the North-East.
An important issue is can communalists teach?
In the 2002 elections many dons including a previous Vice Chancellor Maduma Bandara stood for election as candidates of the Sihala Urumuaya.. The Urumaya’s main plank is that Sri Lanka is for the Sinhalese, Tamils are invaders and are welcome in Sri Lanka only if they become Sinhalese. What chance does a Tamil student stand in the class of a professors whose advocates these views?
As for the universities in the North-East, they are characterized by low quality and few professors, few PhD-holding staff etc.
Several students come “horse-riding” – that is somebody else sits the public exam in your place They are a hot-bed of activism and vote rigging. Jaffna. A student leader had boasted that he had voted 100 times.
Degrees have been issued to those who never sat exams. (When issued degrees are not withdrawn after exposure, it is clear who is behind the scandal).
In the North-East universities there is little freedom therefore. For example
Council members who voted for me to be Vice chancellor were threatened with punishment
The University Teachers’ Association (UTA) of Jaffna University refused to join the students’ union in protesting against my appointment Prof. Sittrampalam who spoke at the meeting had his house stoned and name-board broken When UTA wanted to meet again, it was told not to
When Vavuniya Campus Community was to meet, the LTTE asked them not to, just minutes before the meeting.
Academics at Eastern University have been shot. They are openly callous to each other. When Jaffna staff fled and the Easterners insisted on their return under threat of termination of services, a doubtful Easterner asked “What if they return and are killed?” To that this person had said, “Oh we simply hold a memorial meeting and lay a wreath!” Several academics have fled, depleting the limited doctoral staff.
VC Santhanam and Yuvi Thangarajah, Actg. VC and potential VC candidate was kidnapped by Vanni LTTE for saying regional aspirations must be recognized Ramakrishna and Bala Sugumar (Dean/Arts, Easterner) was kidnapped and released subject to eh VC resigning and he fled the country on release. Several Eastern PhD level staff, Dr. Kobindarajah and Dr. Thirtuchelvam have fled. S. Raveendranath, Present VC and northerner, has been kidnapped presumably by Col. Karuna’s forces.
Today there is chaos in Tamil universities.
I am here on special leave. No free election of a VC can take place, given the threats that have been made to those who voted for me. University of Jaffna has been closed for months
Nothing is known of VC/Eastern University
There are special issues for Tamils. Starting New Universities is a problem even as we want development of Tamil areas Can we be a university of Tamils only? Imagine Toronto students going into a class of Tamils only. How enriching would that experience be?
Who is there to teach if we started a university? No one Would we be stuck in cattle-shed universities and kept out of the big national universities? With the war, any university we put up will be of poor quality and we will lose our places in the better universities in the south and be shunted to these new universities without staff. The Engineering Faculty is an example of many of us fearing that once we get our own faculty, we will lose our present admission to Peradeniya Ironically when the government authorized engineering for Jaffna, Jaffna effectively declined by saying it had to be in LTTE controlled areas.
Today, University of Jaffna, a university run by the government, has a huge monument to fallen LTTE heroes. On July 5 2006 Tamilnet reported that the person covering for me as VC Jaffna lit a lamp at a Black Tiger Commemoration by this stainless steel monument
Would the government fund such a university? Do we expect the government to view the university with any favor under these circumstances? From Toronto and New York it is easy for Tamils to say let the government keep its money. But the people stuck there cannot afford to do so.
A difficulty of management is indicated by the person covering for me and who worked closely with those who prevented my working in Jaffna labeling me a traitor in the LTTE’s nitharsanam.com, has been labeled by the same naitharsanam.com as a traitor. Apparently he raised the Sri Lankan flag on independence day. This situation must be noted by cheerleading expatriate Tamils.
Now let us look at schools. University academics play a role here as consultants to the Ministry of Education and bring with them a lot of their baggage. But the situation for the Sinhalese is far better in their schools. Not for the Tamils though.
The tradition is for an incoming government to reverse everything done by the previous. But in school matters there has been a refreshing continuity from UNP to PA under CBK. Highly sophisticated educational methodology is at work. All governments have been seriously committed to quality at least among the Sinhalese. Because of this commitment big World Bank and ADB loans were obtained for schools, training programs for teachers, etc.
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge took a personal interest in education and appointed herself the Minister. On the UGC we therefore got every penny we asked for. We were able to open 2 new universities and a medical faculty for Eastern University, an IT Faculty for Vavuniya. The UGC recommended an Engineering Faculty for Jaffna. All this development for the North-East has been jeopardized by the resumption of hostilities.
Another factor is that even when political authorities are willing, the bureaucracy with a Nazi mind-set will try to hold up anything for the Tamils.
The National Institute of Education under law is in charge of all school education. Let us look at how its bureaucracy operates:
The Director General and the 6 Assistant Directors General are all Sinhalese.
Out of the 22 Directors of Education: 20 Sinhalese, 1 Muslim, 1 Tamil
10,000 teacher vacancies in the North-East
14,000 excess teachers elsewhere (But North-East vacancies can’t be filled because the over-all cadre has excess teachers).
NIE courses of study only in the Sinhalese medium – eg: Diploma in Agriculture, Diploma in Media, Diploma in Drama and Theatre. (Diploma in Special Education has been offered in the Tamil medium since 2005 because of protests.
No Tamil in NIE’s Printing, IT, Media, Administration, and Finance Divisions
At least 15 subject areas do not have a single Tamil on the staff. These are the 13 technical subjects, education management, and research.
The Library does not have any Tamil staff.
The NIE obviously does not think it serves Tamils.
The NIE thus becomes the vehicle for jingoist ideology. School history books are distorted to teach prejudice. They are written by Sinhalese academics and catch them young to spread prejudice.
Tamils in government are shy to object. To raise questions when one sits on high level committees, to is to break up relationships. Many of us choose to remain silent and through our presence endorse these books.
When English medium was reintroduced in schools I was hopeful that the bias would disappear. But at the NIE even for English medium books the hiring practices did not change.
Just to take one example from a Social Sciences Textbook:
The Tamil king Ellalan is rendered in English texts in the Sinhalasised form Elara.
The obsolete racial grouping Aryan is used to describe the Sinhalese In the story of Vijaya, the so-called founder of the Sinhalese people, the Tamil textbooks say that wives for himself and his mates came from Madurai while the English and Sinhalese texts say they came from Mathura. Mathura s you know is a North Indian city.
The so called Aryans are described as settlers.
Vijaya, although he killed Kuveni, the Queen of Lanka, to ascend the throne, is said to have migrated and been the first king. But the Tamil king Elara [really Ellalan as it is rendered in Tamil] is said to have invaded in the English version and worse, in the Tamil version, as having been an oppressor (ahkiramippu). And this our Tamil children have to study.
The Yakkas and Nagas, who pre-dated Vijaya, are mentioned as if they were of some unknown race although there is ample evidence that the Nagas spoke a Dravidian tongue (if not Tamil) and also lived in South India.
Hinduism is said to be an influence from South India in the late period. Perhaps this is the most explicit claim of Hinduism having arrived after Buddhism, against all the evidence to the contrary. Indeed, who and of what religion was Mooththa Siva (meaning the Elder Siva), the father of the first Buddhist king of Lanka? Who was Kasiappah the Sinhalese king?
Roman Catholicism is listed as a religion separate from Christianity.
The Sinhalese claimants to an Aryan heritage also claim Mohenjadaro as their – Harappa (Harappa is rendered in Tamil as Oorarappa, thereby showing that the Tamil translator knew nothing of the subject) as. (This apparently happened because Ha in Tamil uses a special letter which can easily be misread for the two Tamil letters Oo and Ra).
The Buddha is said to have visited Sri Lanka 3 times. As you might know, no source outside Sri Lanka makes this claim Mahinda, the Buddhist missionary to Sri Lanka is said to have been Emperor Asoka's son or nephew. Again no outside source says this.
The Buddhist heritage of Tamils is never mentioned nor that Buddhist worship in Sri Lanka is suffused with Hindu practice so much so as to make it more Hindu than Buddhist. Thus every Buddhist site in Sri Lanka is a place where Sinhalese once lived and were displaced by Tamil invaders School texts gloss over the fact that the first Sinhalese King to convert to Buddhism was the son of Mooththa Siva (a Tamil name meaning “Elder Siva”) and that a Sinhalese hero-king was named Kasy-Appah, as Tamil Saivite a name as any for Siva, meaning the God of the Saivite place of pilgrimage Casi in India).
Christians are as slighted as the Tamils are as if to make us anti-national, strange and out-of-touch. A grade 2 book depicts the various communities through pictures where Hindus and Buddhists are in local dress whereas Christians are in business suit. As we all know, all of us today dress alike. Even ceremonial clothes at a wedding are often the business suit for the man, whether Christian, Buddhist or Hindu at least for a part of the ceremony. Tamil Christian women always marry in sari.
And the NIE experts teach the school children that the food of Burghers, the Sri Lankan descendants of the Portuguese and Dutch, is cake.
When government encourages myth-making to assert Sinhalese dominance, saying academically atrocious things is a quick path to greatness and ready-made audiences at public lectures. Some of these absurd claims by senior acdemics are that Carbon dating proves that 2000 year old ashes in a Dagaba are those of the Sinhalese hero Dutta Gemunu. The claim is not as scientifically proper that the ashes are 2000 years old but rather that the ashes of Duttugemunu.
The Buddhist scriptures include the deeply mathematical theories of quantum mechanics and relativity long before western science had heard of them.
Pali had been developed in Sri Lanka! To challenge these claims in Sri Lanka is to be communal or colonial so they go unchallenged.
The following data on the state of Tamil schools I owe to the work of my wife, Dr. Dushyanthi Hoole, whom I gratefully acknowledge.
The first picture shows that schools in the Tamil districts of Kilinocchi and Mannar have few access roads. The second shows that some schools in Mannar and Kilinochchi have no buildings.
In this slide note that Kandy is a developed district, Moneragala is a backward Sinhalese district and the North-East is Tamil.
These are percentage figures. The NE has the smallest percentage of teachers and resources in the good category. Overall numbers too are small for the North-East schools
For example, when it comes to teachers in Kilinochchi, 67% not trained (as opposed to 23% average). 50% of English teachers are voluntary (as opposed to regular teachers elsewhere). So the actual numbers are worse than shown in the previous slide
The schools in the North-East are largely without a playground. The textbook position is the worst. While all schools are supposed to receive free textbooks, the North-East does not get them and when they do they are not on time. The not available (red) in Kandy and Moneragala are likely to be from Tamil schools.
The ranking of schools says it all. The North-East Schools have most schools in the lower ranks. In the human resources category, the Kandy schools in crimson and Monaragala schools in blue have most of their schools scoring in the highest category 70-80 whereas North East Schools in white are mainly in the 60-70 range. And this is because of voluntary teacher.
But in resource allocation, NE schools fare only about 35% while Kandy schools are at 80% with Gampaha as standard.
An Education Ministry study found 1st-5th graders in Jaffna faring poorer than students in Kilinochchi
Despite this poor situation in our schools Tamil Saivite-Jaffna Nazism continues its game. Consider Tamil Language School Books.
Tamil language school texts are the only books written by Tamils, the others being translated from Sinhalese as written by Sinhalese. When we are put in charge, would things be better. Alas!
In these textbooks we see what we do when we hold power. Let is examine the mythology we have round, first, CW Thamotherampillai a great Tamil scholar and one of the first 2 graduates of Madras University, second, the Jaffna Saivite leader Arumuga Navalar Myth and finally, about caste.
Church Records show that Thamotherampillai was born to a Christian Assistant Priest Cyrus Kingsbury of Telliappalai American Mission Church and received infant baptism.
However, the Grade 6 Tamil school text says he was born a Hindu and pretended to be a Christian to win privileges. Academics like Sivathambi and Shanmugathas now admit this but nothing happens to change the textbooks
As for the Navalar Myth about the Bible translation project.
The Tamil New Testament was translated by Missionaries as early as the 17th century in Jaffna and full translations were done in India by the 18th century. Parallel translation projects were begun in Madras and Jaffna to IMPROVE the translations with regular consultations According to CMS and Methodist archives The Jaffna Project was under Peter Percival and other missionaries who knew the source languages (Greek, Hebrew and Latin) and Tamil They employed Tamil Pandits of whom Arumuga Navalar was BUT ONE. The CMS lists Elijah Hoole as another.
Their job was to refine the Tamil that the missionaries came up with
But our Tamil textbooks teach that Arumuga Navalar who knew no source language translated the Bible. One book refers to “The Bible written by Navalar.” Isn’t this what you the Tamils here believe?
Ironically the Jaffna Bible, called the Union version, was discarded by the Jaffna parishes after 50 years of use because of its heavy use of Sanskrit in favour of the Madras version chosen for “its excellences” of Tamil idiom
This is rarely mentioned. Most of us think we are using “The Bible written by Navalar”
Caste too is inculcated through texts. For example,
We teach our children at school through a poem or limerick that it is those who live by tilling the ground who truly live. The lower castes also memorize this Further, Eastern gods are played down in favor of Jaffna’s Siva, Muruhan and Vinayagar
Again, the story of the lamb that trusted the wolf and was eaten up ends with the moral that every caste has its intrinsic moral qualities
I must say something about Muslims, the 2nd minority in Sri Lanka.
They have been cultivated by government. Even armed as home-guards. The LTTE reviles them and generally have banned them from the North Badiuddin Mohammed was used as Minister of Education to implement standardization. In an effort to wean Muslims away from Tamil, they have been allowed to study in English but their love for the Tamil language has been obvious from the leaders they have produced who have been better at Tamil than any Tamil leader.
As a result of standardization, I am aware that Tamils felt it was quite fare to allow horse-riding. It appears that Muslims also may be resorting to the practice. I have seen court papers and affidavits from a Muslim girl claiming that at Kalmunai her AL exam hall was a discussion session with invigilators during which answers were written by the candidates. She further claimed that because she did not cooperate parts of her answer book were removed by the examiners. If this is not an isolated practice, I believe that Muslims must come forward to look into it.
Kuwaiti+Government funds for Rs. 4000 bn upgrade of South Eastern University!
I wish them well.
Earlier when the LTTE’s Prabhakaran and Karuna amman worked together as partners, their grip on the Tamil community and institutions was total. Now that they have turned their guns on each other, the cracks and chasms in the community are showing through.
Eastern University has two factions quietly quarreling with each other.
As we Tamils fight and kill each other, our numbers tell it all … the population statistics tells it all.
As Tamil speaking peoples we were close to 30% at independence
We abandoned the estate Tamils and a half of them were repatriated to India under the Srimavo Shastri Pact.
We offended the Tamil speaking Muslims and they no longer want to be called Tamils.
We massacred each other, yea more of us than the Sinhalese ever managed to kill, and today as many of us decided that it is better to live abroad and are here; we are down to 11.2% in Sri Lanka.
And then we seem to have used Eastern boys, literally boys, to fight and die for us as we northerners shouted Eelam from Paris, Oslo, New York and Toronto, denying that all this was happening. As Karuna and Prabhakaran clash, we will kill some more of ourselves.
The greatest danger we Tamils face is ourselves. At least in Sri Lanka we seem to be heading to be a depleted community of uneducated coolies. And we in the West will, blind to reality, sing of what a great people we are!
Ominously Minority Rights Group International, in its Annual Report, 2007 says, to quote:
“The biggest jump of all is Sri Lanka which saw a return to conflict last year and which moved 47 places since 2006 to be ranked 14th in 2007. Minority Tamils and Muslims are not only caught up in fighting between government and rebel forces but are targeted for human rights abuses including abductions and disappearances because of their minority status.”
If we truly are interested in Tamil well-being and Tamil education, we must obtain control of a federal area through negotiations quickly. Time is against us. Another few years of war, through death and migration, there will be no Tamil people left to speak of.
The war must stop before we are totally destroyed as a people.