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Sunday, 16 February 2014





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Wigneswaran's statement is food for thought

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa first took office in November 2005, Sri Lanka's economy was in a near state of collapse as terrorism was at its peak. Over 20 million Sri Lankans lived in mortal fear due to the ruthless terror unleashed by the LTTE.

At the time over half a million Tamils in the North and the East were forcibly held as a human shield by Tiger terrorists. Although there are a myriad of godfathers and human rights champions today who are weeping buckets of crocodile tears, there was barely anybody to speak a word of comfort for those Tamil civilians.

With the dawn of peace after the humanitarian operation to liberate those hapless civilians from the jaws of death, people in the North and the East received a new lease of life.

However, the majority of the Tamil Diaspora in the West is still living in a world of fantasy of Velupillai Prabhakaran's separate state. Their aspirations and those of the liberated Tamils in the North and the East are poles apart.

The Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran's forthright statement is an eye-opener to one and all, especially some Western politicians who have failed to comprehend the true ground realities as far as Sri Lanka's success story is concerned.

Wigneswaran, who heads the administration of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)-led Northern Provincial Council (NPC), bemoaned that the money sent by Tamil Diaspora has had a devastating impact on the lifestyles of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The retired Supreme Court judge turned politician stressed that foreign funds had caused irreparable damage to society, especially the Tamil student community. He told a gathering at the annual prize-giving and 60th anniversary celebrations of Varani Central College that those who had received political asylum overseas during the height of terrorism sent money to their relatives here.

Wigneswaran said that in days gone by, people strove for a good life but money coming from abroad today made things easier for them to spend lavishly on expensive mobile phones, computers and other luxuries.

He stressed the need to address social issues due to the unprecedented flow of Diaspora money. The Chief Minister said regular funding by the Diaspora's close kith and kin in the West and the peaceful environment prevailing in the country had not been productively used by the youth in the North and the East. Rather than paying more attention to studies, the Tamil youth prefer to watch movies, particularly those with sexual connotations and violence and, moreover, exchange romantic messages via mobile phones.

Wigneswaran lashed out at those who had abandoned traditional values and imbibed a new culture where the youth smoked, consumed alcohol, narcotics and even engaged in street fights. Those who received easy money from abroad felt they could achieve anything with money.

Hailing the age-old customs nurtured by the Sinhalese youth who worship their parents and elders on auspicious days, Wigneswaran deplored that some Tamil youth even went to the extent of abusing their parents and teachers.

It is no secret how the Tamils toiled during those trying days, depending heavily on education to secure a better life.

Even during LTTE terror, the Jaffna youth were no second or even stole a march over their Southern counterparts at the GCE (Advanced Level) examination. Traditional Tamils always gave top priority to education and produced brilliant academics from the North.

Regrettably, it seems that the Tamil Diaspora had spoilt the Northern youth as with dollars flowing in they are driven away from education or don't bother to work hard for their future. The NPC Chief Minister said that the vast majority of Tamils today were of the view that Diaspora money would help them achieve their hearts' desires. Commenting on the welfare measures implemented by successive governments, Wigneswaran said that people should bear in mind that free books, uniforms and meals may not be available in the future. The student community should be told in no uncertain terms what the country expected from them and recalled the days when such facilities were not available.

The Chief Minister also cautioned Tamils that they should realise that one's bad deeds would result in punishment in one's lifetime and one would benefit from good deeds. He said that no one could escape Karma and recollected the fate of some former world leaders who had paid the supreme price for their misconduct.

The Chief Minister said that despite many difficulties, the NPC does its utmost to improve the economy through self-employment projects and there was no purpose in the NPC working if the younger generation was only keen on migrating abroad or surviving on Diaspora money.

Wigneswaran's bold statement is an eye-opener to one and all, especially the Tamil Diaspora which has a one-track mind. If the Tamil Diaspora is sincerely interested in the well-being and development of its own community, it should desist from advocating a separatist ideology among Tamil youth.

On the other hand, the Tamils in the West should encourage the Tamil youth here to work hard for their future by enhancing their knowledge.

In bygone years, there were many outstanding Tamils who had excelled in their chosen fields as professionals.

Tamils made a significant contribution by producing eminent scholars, academics, lawyers, medical specialists and public servants.

Ethnicity and religious affiliations were never a barrier for anyone to reach the pinnacle in their careers. Although the LTTE projected a dismal picture on the so-called discrimination against the Tamils, there are concrete examples to prove that these allegations are baseless. These attempts had been made only to woo international sympathy.

If one were to peruse the history of Sri Lanka's administrative service, politics or any other sphere for that matter, there are numerous examples of Tamils holding the topmost positions - such as former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, former Chief Justice S. Sharvananda and former IGP Rudra Rajasingham. Moreover, there had been many eminent Tamil doctors who excelled in the medical profession. However, the performance of Tamil youth today as academics has been on a steady decline. What Wigneswaran had pointed out could well be the main reason for this scenario. If this is the case, the Tamil Diaspora should be held responsible for ruining the future of Tamil youth.

The country has also lost the opportunity of securing the valuable services of home-grown Tamil youth. While the Tamil Diaspora youth in the West have ready access to the world's top universities, their counterparts in Sri Lanka have often messed up their lives mainly due to the unlimited funding that came their way.

As Wigneswaran had highlighted, the Northern youth would have definitely shone as brilliant academics had they been shown the hard way. Tamils have always been industrious, intelligent and enterprising. This was their recipe for success in the past.

The LTTE's separatist ideology and the lavish Diapora funding have relegated Tamil youth in the North and the East to the wilderness. When Prabhakaran's terror outfit held sway, Tamil youth were forcibly taken away for weapons training, brainwashed and deployed as LTTE cadres, thus depriving them of their right to education. This was the main reason for their downfall.

The NPC Chief Minister's statement sends a strong message to the international community on the irreparable damage the Tamil Diaspora had inflicted on the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The international community, even at this late stage, should realise that the aspirations of the Tamils here and those of the Tamil Diaspora are as chalk is to cheese.

If the Tamils in Sri Lanka are keen on protecting their rich customs, values and age-old traditions to protect their future generations, they should seriously heed Wigneswaran's call. This would also help foster amity and national harmony as the peaceful Tamils had always contributed their mite for the country's betterment.

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