all towns are one, all men our kin.
|Trans State Nation
Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
Six Blind Men of Indostan
21 July 2000
[see also Media & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam]
By contemporary literary yardstick, the American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) is not a major figure. There are no entries about him the standard reference sources such as the Encyclopedia Britannica and Encyclopedia Americana. However, Saxe is remembered by poetry lovers for one of his exemplary poems entitled, 'The Blind Men and the Elephant', which describes humorously about an Indian fable we learnt in our childhood days; i.e., how a handful of blind men ventured to portray the elephant they believed they had 'seen'.
The manner in which the Eelam Tamil nationalism is now portrayed by the international mass media (especially that of the Madras Hindu group) is akin to John Saxe's description of six blind men. First, let me present the lines of John Saxe in entirety. Then, I will identify the six blind men who have been covering the Eelam scene regularly for the Indian news media.
One can identify the 'six blind men' who report regularly on the LTTE and Prabhakaran for the Hindu group of news media. They are, (in alphabetical order) Rohan Gunaratna, D.B.S.Jeyaraj, N.Ram, V.S.Sambandan, T.S.Subramanian and V.Suryanarayan.
Among these, one blind man (Rohan Gunaratna) openly associates himself with the Sri Lankan Intelligence Services. Another blind man (N.Ram) suffers from delusions of grandeur that he is the contemporary Chanakya of Indian foreign policy so much so that the initial 'N' in his name should stand for 'Narcissus' Ram.
Knowledgeable sources have alerted that a couple among the remaining four blind men have functioned as 'front men' for the Indian Intelligence Services.
For the past decade, all six blind men have been predicting regularly the fall of Prabhakaran. In the national media of Sri Lanka, their pontifications are given prominence, since their analyses are touted to be full of insight on the mind-set of Prabhakaran. But, as John Saxe wrote poignantly,
Granted that, the lilting cadence and poignant choice of simple words by John Saxe for his exemplary poem on the blind men of Indostan is difficult to match - however, when I have time at my disposal, I wish to challenge myself by composing a current version of John Saxe's delightful poem - only replacing the symbolic 'elephant' with that of a 'tiger'.