The Tamil Diaspora in Norway

Life on the Outside: The Tamil Diaspora and Long Distance Nationalism by Øivind Fuglerud (1999).

Not a review of the book, just excerpts.  I found the book unbiased in my opinion.  The first chapters are a background of how the separatist movement evolved. The latter chapters are on the dynamics of the Tamil Diaspora in Norway.  The excerpts are from that part of of the book.

  • Link to the pdf of the book at end of post.
  • YouTube video of life in the Tundra at end of post.

Vasanthan, Thank you very much for sending the book link

Excerpts

A more radical change in climate and nature than that between Sri Lanka and Norway is difficult to imagine and if one is going directly the journey may be made in less than twelve hours. One Tamil lady explained to me how, arriving in the middle of winter with the snowdrifts high against the houses, she believed that people in this part of the world lived in underground caves

A refugee counsellor in the northern part of the country told me how a young Tamil boy due to be settled in the township where she worked had desperately clung on to the aeroplane steps, refusing to come with her into town. Seeing the barren, snow-covered environment he was convinced he was being banished to somewhere outside human habitation.

When he was moving to another town I asked Sri, a moderate LTTE supporter, how he would go about getting acquainted if he met a fellow countryman at his new working place. He answered: I will begin by asking him if he has any news from home, that is our standard opening. Then I will ask him what he thinks about this or that of the recent development in Sri Lanka. If I understand he supports the movement I may invite him home. If he criticises the Tigers but is basically neutral, we may keep on talking at work. I am not a fanatic, I don’t mind that. If I understand he is a member of one of the other groups, however, I will break off. I don’t want to socialise with traitors.

In dealing with fellow countrymen there is always the possibility that actions in Norway will have consequences in Sri Lanka. Tamil refugees are not fleeing a common enemy, the violence is within as much as on the outside. ‘They are here, don’t speak’, newcomers will be informed upon arrival. ‘LTTE is here, I cannot speak’

Even Wilson, a founding member of the LTTE who was permitted to leave the organisation after a dramatic escape from Batticaloa prison in the early 1980s, found that after finally obtaining a visitor’s visa for his mother she was being held back byhis former friends in Jaffna. ‘ Theyjust want to remind me that they know where I am’, he said to me. ‘They are afraid that after ten years in Norway I may be tempted to write a book or something.’ In fact, from 1990 this effort to execute control beyond their own borders has been institutionalised through a very strict exit control in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka, which includes the obligatory signing of a ‘contract’ by a guarantor staying behind.

As already indicated, in Norway many Tamil refugees have in fact violated the ‘first-country’ regulation on their way. To remain in Norwaytheymust make up a storyand stick to it.

The idea that Tamils in exile tend to give each other away is part of the current self-understanding, a situation which prevents a communicative sharing of life histories. Most of my informants asked me not to tell their stories to other Tami

Another man asked me to take care of his passport when he was kicked out by his wife and had to staywith friends for some time. ‘You cannot trust Tamils when it comes to passports’, was his laconic comment

When the possibility of sending home Tamil asylum seekers came up for renewed
discussion in 1994, a frenzybroke out in one of the small northern settlements. It incited people to go to the police on their own initiative and provide what little information they had about their neighbours. Within a few days local immigration authorities were able to establish that, of the 120 Tamils resident in the village, more than 40 had been living in Switzerland before coming to Norway.

For example, it is a well-known fact among Tamils that in Norway the local LTTE people were for a number of years allowed to monopolise positions as interpreters for the immigration police.
That interaction between a police officer and a refugee in a situation of interrogation is on unequal terms, defined by the context and scale of Western immigration, is readily understandable. But when the refugee is afraid of telling his story to the police officer because of the interpreter’s connections to the militant opposition in Sri Lanka and this interpreter is employed by the Norwegian police, where do we draw the boundary of the system?


In terms of inter-personal relationships social fragmentation is not readily apparent to outsiders. To a Norwegian the first impression of Tamil life is one of dense sociality.

the divide among Tamils in Norway has been on an LTTE /anti-LTTE basis. LTTE is today the only militant group with a properly working organisation in Norway, keeping offices in the main cities and having more or less official representatives in most Tamil settlements.

Prabhakaran, lacking resources of his own, had temporarily joined the organisation TELO which was then under leadership of two militant leaders called Kuttimani and Thangathurai. Together with them he was supposed to have taken part in a famous armed robbery of the Neervely Bank in Jaffna. The second was that subsequently Prabhakaran had personally tipped off the Sri Lankan police on the whereabouts of Kuttimani and Thangathurai, this information leading to their arrest and, as a result of this arrest, their death in the Wellikade prison massacre.

On 1 May 1994 the writer and publisher, Sabaratnam, was killed by unidentified gunmen at his home in Paris

Critics of the LTTE in Norway pointed out to me that shortly before his death Sabaratnam had written an article in the Canadian magazine Thayagam. In this article Sabaratnam had observed that all who participated in the Neervely Bank robbery, except Prabhakaran himself, were now dead, killed either by the Sri Lankan authorities or by the LTTE. He implied that Prabhakaran saw it in his interest to remove the other participants in the action in order to conceal his own co-operation with TELO.
Sabaratnam had promised to return with another article disclosing the real story behind the robbery and the capture of Kuttimani and Thangathurai, but was killed before this could take place – allegedly by the LTTE itself. By the adherents of the Thayagam version, the killing of Sabaratnam and Prabhakaran’s betrayal in the late 1970s were seen as closely connected events which should make people turn their backs on LTTE activities in exile. Not only did Prabhakaran’s tip-off constitute a collaboration with the enemy, but the killing of Sabaratnam reached the lowest possible level of human baseness. It was claimedby people familiar with the early history of the militant movement that in the mid-1970s, years before the Neervely robbery, when Sabaratnam himself was a political activist in Jaffna, he had taken Prabhakaran into his house while he was wanted by the police and had kept him in hiding for several weeks, putting his own life in danger. Repaying this old debt with murder constituted a breach with the militants’ most fundamental ‘code of arms’ and, by implication, left his organisation, LTTE, without any legitimate claim for support.

Tamils are the group of immigrants with the highest rate of employment and with the lowest level of welfare support in Norway. One reason for this situation is the acceptance of the kind of work which is not in demand. In Oslo, according to a recent statistical survey (Djuve and Hagen 1995), only 1.3 per cent of Tamils’ income comes from welfare, as compared to, for instance, 41.7 per cen among Somalis and 37.5 per cent among Vietnamese. In fact, the Tamil level of welfare support is lower than among Norwegians (2 per cent).

In this rather inhospitable area Sri Lankan Tamils have won a reputation as workers in the factories where fish is cut and packed. Even if the numbers are small, seldom more than 50 to 100 in one village, statistics will show that in several villages Tamils represent 5 to 10 per cent of the total population

In the anthropological literature the dowry has generally been regarded as a pre-mortem inheritance to the daughters of a family (Comaroff 1980). In the prevailing war situation it is normally a chosen son who pre mortem inherits the realisable capital of the family and invests it in migration against taking further responsibility for his native family upon himself. This implies, inter alia, that he must procure his sisters’ dowries before establishing a family on his own.  (my comment: This is one of the biggest differences between Tamil and Sinhalese culture, among the Tamils (and northern muslims) the house goes to the daughters, among the Sinhalese the house goes to the son)


most Tamil asylum seekers arriving in the early 1980s had been granted recognition as refugees while those arriving after 1986 had not. In their understanding this was related to the fact that most of these early applicants had been active LTTE-members, in other words that Norwegian authorities intervene and take sides in internal conflicts, caring less about the killed than about the killers.

from people who have fled to get away from their dictatorship in Sri Lanka and have relatives still suffering under their rule there. It is here, at this precise point, that the spirit of selfsacrifice of the LTTE soldiers becomes important. The actual materiality of death makes it difficult not to believe the LTTE when they say that their fighters die on behalf of the Tamil nation. Even people who in public take upon themselves the burden of speaking against the LTTE may sometimes admit in private conversations that, emotionally, they are not able to free themselves from sympathy for the organisation and its cause.

In 1903, for example, there were 2021 Jaffna-Tamils employed as functionaries in the federated Malay States Railways compared to 84 Sinhalese, 278 Malays and 1084 Chinese (Ramasamy 1988).In 1903, for example, there were 2021 Jaffna-Tamils employed as functionaries in the federated Malay States Railways compared to 84 Sinhalese, 278 Malays and 1084 Chinese (Ramasamy 1988).

The main reasons why Ceylon Tamils were favoured by the British administrators were their recognised industriousness and their fluency in English. As noted in Chapter 2, at the turn of the century the Tamil community already had a long-standing relationship with English speaking missionaries. The acquiring of language proficiency was, however, not a passive process. Education was an asset seized upon by the ambitious, something that aspiring Jaffna families put their minds to without regard for the costs.

Migration to areas like British Malaya was clearly one way of ‘converting . English education into cash’. The Money Order remittances returned to Ceylon in a good year like 1918 totalled 736,652 Ceylon rupees from the Federated Malay States and 289,651 rupees from the Straits Settlements, quite substantial amounts at that time. The importance of these remittances was such that on two occasions, with a twentyseven years’ interval, the government agent in the Northern Province found it necessary to point out that it was the money coming from Malaya which accounted for the relative prosperity of Jaffna (Ceylon Administrative Report 1903 and 1930).

https://zodml.org/sites/default/files/%5BIvind_Fuglerud%2C_Oivind_Fuglerud%5D_Life_on_the_Outs.pdf

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Author: sbarrkum

I am 3/4ths Sri Lankan (Jaffna) Tamil, 1/8th Sinhalese and 1/8th Irish; a proper mutt. Maternal: Grandfather a Govt Surveyor married my grandmother of Sinhalese/Irish descent from the deep south, in the early 1900’s. They lived in the deep South, are generally considered Sinhalese and look Eurasian (common among upper class Sinhalese). They were Anglicans (Church of England), became Evangelical Christians (AOG) in 1940's, and built the first Evangelical church in the South. Paternal: Sri Lanka (Jaffna Tamil). Paternal ancestors converted to Catholicism during Portuguese rule (1500's), went back to being Hindu and then became Methodists (and Anglicans) around 1850 (ggfather). They were Administrators and translators to the British, poets and writers in Tamil and English. Grandfathers sister was the first female Tamil novelist of modern times I was brought up as an Evangelical even attending Bible study till about the age of 13. Agnostic and later atheist. I studied in Sinhala, did a Bachelor in Chemistry and Physics in Sri Lanka. Then did Oceanography graduate stuff and research in the US. I am about 60 years old, no kids, widower. Sri Lankan citizen (no dual) and been back in SL since 2012. Live in small village near a National Park, run a very small budget guest house and try to do some agriculture that can survive the Elephants, monkeys and wild boar incursions. I am not really anonymous, a little digging and you can find my identity.

37 thoughts on “The Tamil Diaspora in Norway”

  1. Another weekend gone on a book on a topic of my interest.

    First, I will get rid of a number of problem statements in my mind re the book

    “The Sri Lankan Moors represent another 7 per cent of the population and trace their origin to visiting Muslim traders from centuries back”
    They do, but it is not true. Little differentiates the Tamil from the Moor, except the Tamils have alos made them the other.

    “With respect to Sri Lanka it is worth noting that the refugee crisis and the whole ethnic debacle developed during the rule of the United National Party with its implementation of the IMF-sponsored liberal economy between 1977 and 1994 (Gunasinghe 1984). In this sense, at least, Sri Lanka is
    a truly modern country: while capital goes in, refugees go out”

    This kind of discussion is common in European lit; liberalization does not mean capital inflow. https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/205949/2/3.pdf, figure 1 has capital inflows into Srilanka that shows that 1977-1994 period was one of limited or no investment, whilst, 1984-1993 was peak refugee generation. With war starting, between 1994 and 2003, capital flow actually increased, but refugee generation kind of dropped and leveled. Refugees are created by war; war is not created by capital inflow.

    Chapters 2 and 3 traverse the well known history of the conditions that led to LTTE; surprising is what is not mentioned is the history between 1956 and 1977 except as pertinent to Tamils; youth-led warfare in srilanka was not new; twice in the history of Srilanka, the communist JVP led warfare against the government, once in 1971 and the next time before the full scale breakout of Tamil insurgency. Some 10,000 people were killed in these two insurgencies, but it was clear that both, the government and the students have access to weapons, and means to putting down the insurgency. In 1987-1990, the government disappeared 10,000 Tamils.

    One additional issue I have in these chapters is the focus on Jaffna Tamil, particularly Vellalar; the LTTE had a broader scope in rural northern province and parts of the Eastern. Making this a Vellalar-government rivalry rather cheapene the experience.

    I will go through the rest of the chapters which pertain predominantly the Eelam Tamil experience in Norway. However, I cannot but suspect that human development went too far ahead of economic development in Srilanka; both, the sinhalese and Tamil students expected something beyond school and college which was not available in Sri Lanka. The Tamils exploration led to war and migration. The keralite powderkeg after education was relieved by jobs in rest of India and middle east. No such relief was available in Sri lanka. Even now, the GDP-tax ratio and beyond-college economic growth in Sri Lanka are rather low, in spite of the high(er) GDP (than India). Just that the pressure build up will start again. I saw this first hand with a lot of tourism-related jobs taken by people with postgraduate degrees in science and engineering, but those kinds of jobs are not numerous.

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    1. Brahmin population minimal in SriLanka (may be a few thousand left); a plurality of the population is Velala, or farmers. In a sense, it replicates some of the features of Caribbean or Fijian diaspora, even if the diaspora happened 1500-2000 years ago. However all of the attendant Hindu issues of purity, untouchability, etc are amplified even in the absence of Brahmins, negating some of the usual objections regarding Brahminism. Such is the shortage that some Indian priests have been imported into the north SL, as even the minimal Brahmin population was reduced, escaped or killed in the war. A small number of Saivite priests have been shuttling between TN and SL to account for seasonal demand variation circa. 2016.

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      1. Brahmin population minimal in SriLanka (may be a few thousand left)
        More like a few hundreds if that. I dont know a single Brahmin, which is saying a lot as Sri Lanka is a very “small” society.
        Maybe a few working as priests at Vellala owned temples.

        “few thousand left”; implies there was a sizable population. For sure not many in the recent past (200 years or so).
        If possible read Caste in Tamil Culture: The Religious Foundations of Sudra Domination in Tamil Sri Lanka, Bryan Pfaffenberger
        http://tamilnation.co/books/Caste/bryan.htm

        However all of the attendant Hindu issues of purity, untouchability, etc are amplified even in the absence of Brahmins, negating some of the usual objections regarding Brahminism.
        Agreed completely

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    2. Indo-Carib

      There isnt even one Brahmin family of note in Sri Lanka, in politics, business or academics.

      There are Vaishya’s of recent origin (after 1817, British colony) the Gujarati’s and Sindhis who own some of the biggest businesses in Sri Lanka.
      Jaffna Tamils (Vellala) own some of the other large conglomerates, e.g. John Keels Holdings (Ken Balendra), Maharaja Organisation which also owns Sirasa TV (Kili RajaMahendran)
      http://www.capitalmaharaja.com/group/history.html

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      1. Have you seen my recent comment – Aryans in Sri Lanka? Any feedback comment or different knowledge? Txs.

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        1. Have you seen my recent comment – Aryans in Sri Lanka?

          Milan, Sorry did not see.

          Many Sinhalese THINK they are Aryan. Part of the Max Muller hypothesis.
          The Jaffna Chieftains titled themselves Arya Chakravarti.

          Maybe there is the odd Aryan and many Europeans in our ancestry.
          You decide.

          Here is a photo of Kandyan Chief, probably 1900’s
          http://lankapura.com/2008/12/kandyan-chief-and-family-ceylon/

          https://www.google.com/search?q=kandyan+chieftains&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjH6cmfj_fdAhXM6Y8KHW-5DUgQsAR6BAgFEAE&biw=1288&bih=530

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          1. Aryans in Sri Lanka? (with phonetic names)

            Serbika (or Serika) was the name where Aryans lived in India. It probably originated immediately after the first Aryan expedition. Ammien Marcellin in his Histoire says that Serbika was one of 20 satrap-regions in Persian kingdom. It occupied very large space. Ammien cites 10 Serbian tribes and 4 largest towns: Asmira, Esedon, Asparata and Sera Metropolis (p.207). Under Himalaya were cities which remain on Sere: Sirinagor, Seharempur and Sirhind. On the river Sirdaria was a Serbian place, Serhend, from its town Serinda was brought silkworm to Europe during the reign of tsar Justinian. Most of these names are of Serbian origin.

            Today’s Sri Lanka, previously Ceylon, belonged to Serbika. Its name originated from Serbian name Serpska-dvipa (or shorter Serendib). Amien Markelin this island named as Seren-divus while Abu Rihan is Sirindib, what is Serendib for European navigators. A. Cunningham (The Ancient Geography of India) says that from this name became Arabic name Zilan, i.e. Ceylon (p.470).

            In Sanskrit it is mentioned as Ratna-dvipa, some read this as Pearl-island, where is the word Dvipa=island. More likely that Ratna-dvipa is War-island (rat=war in Serbian, there are two Ratna islands 1 km from the downtown of Belgrade). It is also mentioned as Sinhala-dvipa (or Sinhala-dipa). Sinhala means Lion’s or Lion’s origin. Serendib or modern Sri Lanka is considered that was populated with Aryans (some call them Vedas) and that in 504 BC the island experienced a massive immigration of Hindu. Pausania says that from this island was coming silk via ocean road. Over time, the size of Serbika got smaller and not so numerous Serbian tribes were melting within much numerous Hindu people. Serbika the longest persisted in Punjab.

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    3. Hi everyone,

      not sure if i’m too late to comment, but as an occasional lurker of this forum, I thought I’d chip in, as i have some first hand knowledge of this.

      There are two communities that in jaffna that could be called “tamil brahmin”.

      The first is the Iyer community, which is quite small and seems to have come in the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s from South India, largely to work as teachers.

      Jaffna in the early 20th century seems to have become well known for its schools.

      I suspect Jaffna Tamil Hindu reformer Arugam Navalar’s Hindu education reforms might have played a role in this.

      This community was (and is) quite small and quite linked to iyer communities in towns and cities in southern Tamil nadu and Kerala.

      As sbarrkum notes, they were not a particularly influential part of Jaffna society, although one of the founders of the Tamil revolutionary group EROS was an Iyer.

      Some who entered the professions went to Zambia, a few immigrated to the UK in the late 60s and 70s, and some to Malaysia. Given the close connections to India some members of the community also went to tamil nadu when anti-tamil sentiment increased in the 70s and 80s. Others remained in Sri lanka until the war when many went to Canada or Australia. a few still remain.

      The second group is the Kurukkals (or Kurakkal), hereditary saivite temple priests who have a much longer history in Jaffna, although many seems to come from south india as well. They are nominally considered “iyers” or “tamils brahmins” but not considered a part of the Iyer community by Iyers, and in India did not usually inter-marry with the Iyer community, although in Jaffna they occasionally did. I suspect that, at least those whose roots are in Jaffna are “brahminized” and originally from the Vellala community.

      They generally have a strong Jaffna tamil identity and are a constituent part of the sri lankan tamil diaspora. Being largely temple priests they didn’t really play an influential role in Jaffna tamil society.

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  2. Another weekend gone on a book on a topic of my interest.
    Sorry about that, maybe a weekday to post would have been better and can read at work.

    “The Sri Lankan Moors represent another 7 per cent of the population and trace their origin to visiting Muslim traders from centuries back”
    vijay says: They do, but it is not true. Little differentiates the Tamil from the Moor, except the Tamils have alos made them the other.

    They do, but it is not true., what do you mean by that.
    No question little differentiates between Tamil culture and Muslims, eg inheritance/house goes to daughters, language etc. What is surprising is even the Muslims living in the deep south (my gen and older) speak Tamil in the home.

    However, I cannot but suspect that human development went too far ahead of economic development in Srilanka; both, the sinhalese and Tamil students expected something beyond school and college which was not available in Sri Lanka.
    Not suspect, I would say the primary reason. Free education for all and raised expectations. Literacy comes with a price.

    Making this a Vellalar-government rivalry
    No question, not just Vellala but middle/upper middle class Vellala. Even now all MPs are Vellala. The LTTE to give them credit was about eradicating caste distinctions.

    I saw this first hand with a lot of tourism-related jobs taken by people with postgraduate degrees in science and engineering, but those kinds of jobs are not numerous.

    Science and Engineering degrees are in high demand, specially from a state uni. I am surprised that Sci/Eng grad is doing a Tourism job (which also implies decent English skills).
    There is a youth mismatch between expectation of job/pay and that available. So business leaders are saying that they cant fill vacancies and want to get employees from India (probably at half pay that Sri Lankan expect).

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    1. I have to stop around chapter 6 or so as I have no more long trips now; I gave the impression that something was wrong with SL; on the other hand, it looks like a more advanced Kerala, with few poor except in the north and somewhat in the east. I just do not understand the violence that exploded a few times in SL. Both the SL Tamils and Sinhalas seem to be very nice and friendly people, and the periodic paroxysms are not readily unexplained, given that Sinhala people do not even seem to be very religious.

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      1. Ethnocentrism is the answer. It is a secular ideology like fascism or communism, can coexist and exploit power games of the elites , either ESTABLISHED or upcoming.
        There are no foolproof answers to human brutality
        Sinhala nationalism like Dravidian movement is outright ethnocentric

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        1. I just do not understand the violence that exploded a few times in SL.
          VijayVan says Ethnocentrism is the answer.

          As Vijay said However, I cannot but suspect that human development went too far ahead of economic development in Srilanka; both, the sinhalese and Tamil students expected something beyond school and college which was not available in Sri Lanka.

          The primary cause was increased human development, i.e. education without economic opportunity. A population of less than 2 million in 1900’s jumped to 15 million in 1970.

          The first crack was in the South with Sinhala being made the national language in 1956. However, that was not enough, in 1971 rural educated Sinhalese youth (with no jobs) tried to overthrow the govt with the idea of creating a communist govt. They tried again in 1987-89.

          The Tamil elite were also in parallel espousing Tamil Nationalism, .i.e Tamil Homelands by the Federal Party also ethnocentric. The LTTE took it many steps further, they kicked out the Muslims (and Sinhalese) from the “homelands”.

          Vijay says Just that the pressure build up will start again.
          Very unlikely, SL is an ageing population. The bulge if I recall is around the 40-50 age.
          Sure they will be the occasional local issue like the Muslim/Sinhalese in Digana and Ampara, fueled by opportunistic politicians.

          The bigger problem I see in the future is invasion, economic or otherwise by India.

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          1. Bro , it will not happen again. I know its difficult to believe, but India has learnt its lesson (the whole Maldives saga) . It was a very peculiar event which happened in the 80s, the India political center has shifted decisively to the North and apart from the usual mealy mouthed UN statements ,India wont be doing much, nor does it has power or appetite to.

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          2. India does not have the spunk to invade for invasion’s sake. The best time was in the 80s when India had some foreign issues with SL, which had a domestic reasons and domestic audience . That is not there now. SO, SLers can sleep peacefully. Gandhism of Mahatma variety than Indira variety is the ruling spirit.
            Keeping domestic balance between interest groups is of more abiding interest to Indian governments historically than striking abroad. Even though the Indian state is a successor state to the British Indian raj, it does not have it’s strategic concerns.

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          3. You guys are taking a cynical and tragic view of human development , which if not suitably bribed by economic progress will resort to violence. That is a new angle for me on ‘human development’ which sound nice and desirable.

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          4. VijayVan
            “You guys are taking a cynical and tragic view of human development , which if not suitably bribed by economic progress will resort to violence”

            This is related to something called youth bulge, where a large number of students come to market with no chance of employment. THe explosion can take eynic, religious, left wing or right wing overtones. Examples of youth bulge+massive theoretical education leading to riots happened in:

            1. France = Paris riots of 1968
            2. US = events between 1969 and 1971, related to vietnam
            3. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia during Arab spring.
            4. The events in WB between 1966 and 1969, which was also exacerbated by food shortage.
            5. Europe in 1929-1936

            In India and SriLanka, the youth bulge/high levels of low quality education are exacerbated by a reluctance to take blue collar jobs, which is considered below caste-based aspirations. HDI and economic development are not tightly coupled, and it is possible for one to lead other. In the event that economic development leads HDI, other issues such as religion and attempts by countries to pay off their unemployed youth come to play.

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          5. If you are talking about a replica of the Rajiv-jayawardhene IPKF agreement, that is not likely to happen again. RG was a dilettante who did not know who he was dealing with, nor was the Indian army capable of”peace=keeping” in Eelam. Ecomically, the returns are meager. The present export-import balance is such that now they are talking USD-INR at 100 in a couple of years, so SL is safe from economic invasion for a long time.

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          6. Saurav,

            Bro , it will not happen again. I know its difficult to believe, but India has learnt its lesson (the whole Maldives saga) .

            Sorry to burst your bubble. There are conspiracy theories and reports that India and the US helped defeating Mahinda Rajapakse in 2014 and electing MaithreePala Sirisena (My3) and Ranil Wickremasinghe ( a descendant of traitors to Lanka).

            Anyway, My3 and Ranil gave 99 year leases to Hambanthota Port and Colombo Port City projects.

            So the Indians (and US) have egg on their faces and the Indians (Modi and all) are busy courting the ethno Nationalist Rajapakses. Rajapakses would have borrowed to the hilt, but would not (I think) sold our birth right to China

            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-election-india-insight/indian-spys-role-alleged-in-sri-lankan-presidents-election-defeat-idUSKBN0KR03020150118
            https://www.narendramodi.in/former-president-of-sri-lanka-mr-mahinda-rajapaksa-meets-pm-modi-541432
            https://theprint.in/diplomacy/in-warm-meetings-with-prachanda-rajapaksa-modis-veiled-message-to-kathmandu-colombo/118534/

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          7. sbarrkum

            If you saying India will not play favorites as to which politicians it likes and doesn’t like (Bangaldesh Awami Party) in neighboring countries then you are asking too much. Every country does it and frankly thats very different then “invasion” of the 80s kind. If you think Rajapakshe would really have not done what the current Govt has done that i dont know what to say. When a supposedly neutral Govt has been forced to do China’s bidding , a pro China one would have done exactly the same.

            India’s expectation from the current Govt was to stem the tide and not necessarily reverse it. Even India aint that foolish . The current Govt in India was the best the SL could have got, considering it did not have any view on SL. Even Rajpakshe said Modi was misled to believe certain things by its bureaucracy. If the opposition comes to power next year, in India , the hostilities between India and Sri Lanka to resume.

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  3. By not working out an open, congenial relationship with India, Sri Lanka isolated themselves from the Gujaratis and other entrepreneurial communities. There are no equivalents of a Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad or Pune in Sri Lanka, let alone a Mumbai. And there are no institutions like the IITs or IIMs to produce high class labor and entrepreneurs. Check the faculty of any IIT and you will see names and faces from all over India.

    Sri Lankans, Sinhala or Tamil would have benefited tremendously from better access to India and I have always wondered why nobody there seemed to realize this. In that sense, seeing sbarrkum’s thinly veiled contempt of Hinduism and racism against North Indians has been eye opening. Isolation can truly reinforce and solidify negative feelings.

    This is not to say that North Indians do not have problematic attitudes or that Hinduism is a perfect tradition. But the record of history will say that Indians of different regions and religions did manage to overcome their shortcomings and fear of others to build a good country with a strong economy and a vibrant culture. Sri Lanka, first constricted by the racism of its elite, will now be further limited by Chinese mercantile imperialism.

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      1. No question of saving anybody. Both sides would have benefited. But economic and social development depends critically on networks. No surprise that the main investors into China in the early part of its growth were Taiwanese.

        Sri Lankans cut themselves off from the network that could have benefited them enormously.

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        1. I do not believe that india with a per capita GDP of 1700 $ has much to offer to Srilanka which has a GDP closer to 388o $; in nominal GDP, only Goa and Delhi outscore Srilanka. This is inspite of Srilanka losing the 1990s growth period in internecine warfare. In addition, HDI is hig and GINI coefficient is moderate.

          An attempt was made by SL to use China to improve the infrastructure such as ports, telecommunication, roads and airport after the end of the war. It resulted in large debt, and little socioeconomic improvement. It is unclear what India can offer that China cannot. The only help that india can provide is to ameliorate the debt situation, but given the Indian currency woes (expecting the Rupee to slide to 80’s and 90’s in the next few years0, the government will be quite reluctant).
          A model that might work for SriLanka may be Costa Rica, Uruguay or such similarly sized countries where the economy is dependent on tourism or agriculture/light industry. Indian agriculture or tourism industry is not a model here.

          1+
          1. What would India ameliorate SL debt situation, even if rupee would have been better situation? Should India also pay to ameliorate Nepal’s debt to China? India cannot offer anything which China can and that in my view is a very good thing. Its their country and their future, and unless any one of these new China’s BFF countries fail economically and that can be directly linked to China’s lending policy, no country will really move away from BRI (even then i am a bit sceptcial)

            Again India has time and again worked overtime to undermine its own strength in this countries (wading into war where no one asked, hunting down maoist in own country and helping them sieze power in another). it s best that India learns its lessons the hard way.

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        2. sbarrkum’s thinly veiled contempt of Hinduism
          I am an atheist, so I not a big aficionado of any religion. I hope you have seen my comments on Buddhism as practiced in Sri Lanka.

          The “Buddhists in Sri Lanka”; The Sinhalese pay homage to the Buddha (not a god) and then they go next door and pray to a “Hindu” god and ask for the Mercedes Benz (Janis Joplin). The “Hindu” gods maybe Ganesh, Kali, Mariamman and Aiyanar (no Siva or Vishnu). I think the Sinhalese draw the line in praying for a Lingam.

          No way will a Sinhalese support the philosophy of the Vedas, specially the Laws of Manu.

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    1. Vikram,

      first constricted by the racism of its elite, will now be further limited by Chinese mercantile imperialism.
      seeing sbarrkum’s thinly veiled contempt of Hinduism and racism against North Indians has been eye opening.

      Whats the difference between ” Chinese mercantile imperialism” and “Indian Mercantile imperialism”

      In Sri Lanks we have Sindhis, Borhas, Bhais, Parsees (one was a Finance Minister) who are economic power houses. (see links below).

      racism of its elite; racism against North Indians
      Its not just the elite its across all segments of the populace. In 1983 progrom there was no differentiation between Tamil business and Sindhi/Gurjarati etc. They were all destroyed, Tamil business and “Indian” businesses.

      Vikram, I repeat for the avg Sri Lankan all Indians are the same; 1 billion breathing down our neck of 20 million.

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      1. By not working out an open, congenial relationship with India, Sri Lanka isolated themselves from the Gujaratis and other entrepreneurial communities.

        Vikram, you sound like the typical North/Central Indians (and Europeans) who think us black Madarassi Jungle Bunnies cant manage ourselves. Your big purpose is to exploit.
        Just as much as Ugly Americans, Vikram you epitomize all that is exploitative of the Indian mind set.

        Anyway Vikram, welcome to visit SL, we are friendly peoples and love your money. As the Tamils say, fish spoils after a day or two, so dont over stay your welcome.

        https://roar.media/english/life/culture-identities/the-bohras-plucky-business-barons/

        https://roar.media/english/life/culture-identities/parsis-of-sri-lanka-denizens-from-a-land-far-away/

        https://roar.media/english/life/identities/from-sindh-to-ceylon-the-lankan-sindhis/

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        1. “Vikram, you sound like the typical North/Central Indians (and Europeans) who think us black Madarassi Jungle Bunnies cant manage ourselves.”

          Lol a Sinhalese accusing a Tamilian of having a north Indian “madrassi” mindset. The world has come full circle

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          1. Saurav,

            I am 3/4th Tamil my self who cannot speak/read Tamil.
            From an ancestry of Tamil poets and possibly an even older male ancestry from Kalinga.

            The Tamils and Sinhalese are much the same genetically, obviously mostly Indian.
            Low caste Indians as some Brahmin commentators (in other blogs) claim.

            Anyway, Saurav I think you are confusing Vikram with Vijay.

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          2. Saurav,

            One last word, I have managed to survive alcoholism (many of my friends were dead by 30-40).
            I will be 60 in Jan. No regrets about life.

            You can search my name, Sereno Barr-Kumarakulasinghe

            The Barr is American when my ggfather converted to Christianity (again)

            Want to check antecedents of some Jaffna Tamils
            https://ceylontamils.com/search/

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          3. Saurav

            Forgot to add my middle name, the proper Tamil name Anukkranayagam

            Can you blame me, still not sure of the spelling of the middle name.

            Sereno Anukkranayagam Barr-Kumarakulasinghe the grandson of Ariyanayagam B-K.

            5’4″ and a name longer than my height.

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  4. Indo-Srilanka Accord of 1990 was the best thing that happened to Srilankan Tamils. LTTE in their egotism and psychosis worked hard to undermine it and succeeded. All other Tamil militant and peaceful groups like TULF accepted it. It could have been the starting point for a more peaceful and inclusive political evolution. Basically , when two parties are at each others throat , you need a third party to come between them . LTTE’s policies, tactics and strategy had been sinister and self-defeating. Basically SL Tamils’ cause was a right one taken up by wrong people, who screwed it up.

    DBS Jeyaraj , an SL Tamil journo was the correspondent for The Hindu and had to flee Srilanka for Canada in 1991 due to the threats from the government. He was quickly disenchanted with INdo-SL Accord and was thought to be a stooge of LTTE. That did not prevent him from being attacked by LTTE supporters in Canada on the day of his marriage and that left him permanently crippled. He also said that he had interviewed Appapillai Amirthalingam the TULF leader who thought that the Indian presense in Srilanka due to the Indo-SL Accord was the best one for Tamils to protect them, and how he disagreed with him in those days , and had come to agree with Amirthalingam’s analysis after many years. http://www.dbsjeyaraj.com/

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    1. VijayVan,

      Indians just dont understand the SL mindset Tamil or Sinhalese.

      The Tamils like India to intervene and create a separate state (Federal or whatever).
      They dont want Indians (North or South) dictating what they should do.

      If you recall when the IPKF (called Indian People Killing Force) was in SL the then President, Premadasa supplied arms to the LTTE.
      Also the LTTE killed all the moderate Tamils, including Amirthalingam, Lakshman Kathirgamar and also Premadasa.

      It is also a good point to remember Prabakaran and Sarath Fonseka (the Army Commander) are descendants of South Indian mercenarys who were brought into fight the wars between the local Chieftans, ok called Kings.
      The Sinhalese contingent (Karava, Tamil; Kariyar) claim descendant from the Kauravs. In general they are taller (not Prabakaran) than the avg Sri Lanakan in the past.
      The Karava are considered a Fishing caste and are not mentioned in historical texts. de Soysas (de Zoysas are different), Fernando, Mendis have economic power, but not much political power.
      see
      http://www.karava.org/

      The Sinhalese think Tamil Federalism is the Trojan horse for India to occupy Sri Lanka.
      Then there is the Mahavamsa ethos, the chosen Land by the Buddha to preserve Buddhism.
      Forget about that Buddhas philosophy and Buddhism as practiced in Sri Lanka has no comparison.

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  5. Question to Vijay . What options the political parties in Tamilnadu could have adopted during the period 1979-2009 in Srilanka and it’s ethnic conflicts. What could have been an optimal policy which could have minimised the Tamil trauma and defeat.

    Given that Indian foreign policy was to keep the Srilankan sovereignty intact i.e. no Bangladesh style intervention in Srilanka, how could Tamilnadu politicians played their hands .

    I think TN politicians irresponsibly played populist politics to the hilt , giving false hopes to Tamilnadu agitators that somehow independent Tamil Elam will be created by suitable agitations. . TN politicians never understood Indian foreign policy, how it is made, who makes it , how they can influence , and to what extant. In public they never criticised LTTE or any other Tamil groups , they did not explain anything about Indian foreign policy or their limitations to the people of TN at large.

    Only political commentator who was very consistent was Cho Ramaswamy who asked for no truck with LTTE or other militants and keep them at arms length. He had that view all the way from the 1970 to 2010. For his consistency , he was simply branded as brahminical supremacist by TN politicos.

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