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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha > Tamil Mind and Tiger Mind: A 1994 Debate between S.Sivanayagam and Ketheesh Loganathan

Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha

Tamil Mind and Tiger Mind:
A 1994 Debate between S.Sivanayagam and Ketheesh Loganathan

5 September 2006

Front Note by Sachi Sri Kantha

In late 1994, the Sunday Observer of Colombo published three features (two by distinguished journalist S.Sivanayagam and one by the then EPRLF theoretician Ketheesh Loganathan) on the theme of �Tamil Mind and Tiger Mind�. Shortly afterwards, I received copies of these three articles from Sivanayagam himself, and I reproduce these below for their topical interest.

These three features appeared at a time, when the then �fresh moon� of Colombo�s political landscape, Chandrika Kumaratunga, was having a �wave� with her �Peace with Tamils� pledge. The UNP�s fortunes (then having been in power from 1977 to 1994) were in decline. As such, some of the comments relating to Chandrika Kumaratunga in these three features have to be gulped with nostalgia now. Sivanayagam aptly ended the debate (in his rebuttal to Loganathan�s critique) with a conditional yearning, �If she can roll back the political history of the island by forty years�� But, it was never to be. Chandrika Kumaratunga�s political reign from 1994 to 2005, turned out to be nothing but a damp squib.

Loganathan�s pet peeve for nearly two decades (from 1983 to 2006) has been, whether LTTE deserves the �sole, legitimate representative� status for Eelam Tamils. I personally view this peeve as nothing but an example of �sour grape syndrome� of a so-called ex-militant who had hitched his stars to a Marxist-Leninist EPRLF group which had confused objectives and convoluted plans. Sivanayagam�s rebuke to Loganathan�s critique on LTTE was unambiguous and endearing. After listing the alphabet soup of Eelam Tamil entities which have �Liberation� in their names (TULF, PLOTE, TELO, ENDLF and EPRLF), Sivanayagam�s smashing return was,

�Tamil people have never been short of liberators. What seems to be the difference between the �self-proclaimed liberators� in the LTTE and other self-proclaimed liberators is that the former is at least in the liberation business!�

While Chandrika Kumaratunga of SLFP has been replaced by Mahinda Rajapakse of SLFP in November 2005, the political personalities who embedded themselves to Chandrika�s political vehicle and named by Sivanayagam in his two articles, still linger on personally or via their clones. The death of Thondaman Sr. of CWC in 1999 saw his grandson Arumugam Thondaman replacing him. SLMC�s Mohammed Ashraff�s accidental death in 2000 has promoted his wife Ferial Ashraff into political arena. P.Chandrasekaran of UPF, who was with Chandrika then, is now with Rajapakse. A.Thangathurai of TULF was killed in 1997. But one of his TULF parliamentary colleagues, V.Anandasangaree is still pursuing unsavory political business, and pretends to lead a rump TULF, via rib-tickling media releases and unsolicited �letters�. Its unfortunate that Ketheesh Loganathan, who had aligned himself to President Mahinda Rajapakse�s political agenda early this year, also had an untimely death on August 12th.

War and Peace and the Tamil Mind -  S.Sivanayagam [Sunday Observer, Colombo, Oct.16, 1994]
On Reading the Tamil Mind -  Ketheeswaran Loganathan [Sunday Observer, Colombo, Nov.6, 1994]
On Reading the Tamil Mind -  S.Sivanayagam [Sunday Observer, Colombo, Nov.27, 1994]

War and Peace and the Tamil Mind
by S.Sivanayagam [Sunday Observer, Colombo, Oct.16, 1994]

The biggest testimony to the leadership quality of Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga lies undoubtedly in the fact that she has created a climate for peace. It might not be an easy thing to make it endure while the war continues to take its toll. But it has to be realised that a 11-year old war, which has its roots in history, cannot end suddenly particularly a war of secession. Nor can a peace settlement, however high the popular expectations are, be gone through like a shot-gun wedding. Sustaining the climate of peace has therefore become the need of the hour, with no major developments likely to take place until after the presidential election. After all, an enduring climate of peace has its other uses as well. It could be a time for a sober review of the past, for cold, clinical analyses, objective assessments and introspection, on the part of people and politicians alike.

Even semantics have a part to play in a peace process. There are several words and phrases that had been overworked in Sri Lankan political usage � words like Federalism, Terrorism, North-East merger, traditional Tamil homeland � and as a result they have been loaded with emotive content, triggering instant knee-jerk reactions. Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga�s reported idea for a re-demarcation of provincial boundaries was useful lateral thinking on her part to skirt the use of words like North-East merger and Tamil homeland, while at the same time going some way in meeting Tamil aspirations. Whether she succeeds in it or not is another matter, but in trying to smooth out intractable problems, there is no point in covering the same ground over and over again, employing the same trite expressions. It would be as much an unwinnable debate, as an unwinnable war, with every one taking fixed positions on every word and phrase.

Unfortunately toway, even the word democracy has become a tired expression, with no one pausing to define what it implies. For far too long, the Sri Lankan voter has been asked to chase the shadow of democracy. Does democracy merely mean going to the polling booth, and voting parties in and out of power? Even if it does, where do the Tamils come into the picture? If at all they do, it would be only to enable a Thondaman, or an Ashraff or a Chandrasekaran to tilt the balance in favour of one or other of the majority Sinhalese parties. Electoral arithmetic may have everything to do with sanctioning the right to rule, or the right to be an MP but not necessarily with quantifying the democratic content of the elections.

For example, the recent Parliamentary elections in some parts of the North have been widely accepted asa farce, but the farce continues under the shell of democracy. An illegitimate face of democracy has been given legitimacy. Those who benefitted by this continue to prospect; their views are being sought by the Colombo Press. There are others who have not won a single seat and they too are being consulted by the Prime Minister. How far, in such circumstances, is the popular allegation that the Tigers are unwilling to come into the democratic mainstream valid? Before one gets puzzled by the Tiger mind, it would be useful to understand the Tamil mind. After all, even the Tigers are creatures of history, both ancient and contemporary.

Let us start with the process of history. When the first western invaders, the Portuguese, came to the island at the beginning of the 16th century, there was in existence an independent Tamil kingdom in Jaffna, co-existing with the Kotte and Kandyan kingdoms. That was of course the era of kingdoms, when nations were yet unborn. Both the Kotte and the Jaffna kingdoms were overrun by the Portuguese in 1597 and 1619, and thereafter the Dutch wrested power and controlled the maritime areas. But neither the Portuguese nor the Dutch did ever try to merge the Sinhalese and Tamil-populated areas. The Dutch, in fact, divided the entire maritime areas into three jurisdictions � Jaffna, Colombo and Galle, and controlled the present northern and eastern provinces as one single unit. Even the British, after the fall of the Kandyan kingdom in 1815 and the decline of the Vanni chieftains by 1818, did not disturb the original territorial divisions. Instead of exercising a single composite rule, they administered the Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna territorial limits separately and independently. In an oft-quoted minute, Sir Hugh Cleghorn wrote to the British government in June 1799,

�Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the island. First the Sinhalese, inhabiting the interior of the country in its southern and western parts, and secondly the Malabars who possess the northern and eastern districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language, and manners.� (Malabar meaning Tamil).

Later, in 1827, the Chief Justice of the time, Sir Alexander Johnstone said in a communication to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland:

��I think it may safely be concluded both from them and from all the different histories which I have in my possession, that the race of people who inhabited the whole of the Northern and Eastern provinces at the period of their greatest agricultural prosperity, spoke the same language, used the same written character, and had the same origin, religion, castes, laws and manners, as that race of people who at the same period inhabited the southern peninsula of India��

It was only in 1833, following the Colebrooke Commission recommendations that the British rulers brought the entire island into a unitary form of government, while incorporating the native administrative structures that existed earlier. So it would seem that there is nothing sacrosanct about changing or preserving administrative or political structures of boundaries. They are dictated by the prevalent wisdom and needs of the times.

There is another aspect of Tamil history that is worth recalling. At a time when the Sinhalese and Tamil elder statesmen of the 1920s (including the Ponnambalam brothers, Ramanathan and Arunachalam) were nibbling at the goal of constitutional reform, there grew up in Jaffna, the Youth Congress, imbued with the idea of total freedom for the country. Men like Handy Perinbanayagam, influenced by the freedom movement in neighbouring India, invited Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Kamaladevi Chattopadhya, Satyamurti to preside over the annual sessions of the Youth Congress in Jaffna. They planted a tricolour flag at the Jaffna esplanade and agitated for �Purna Swaraj�, for the country. They organised a boycott of the elections under the Donoughmore Constitution reforms, saying it did not go far enough towards the goal of independence.

Elections to the Tamil seats went uncontested, until the boycott was lifted in 1934. These aspects of history are recalled, in order to show that until independence in 1948, the Tamils had a continuous historical past in which they were left unhampered to determine their own future, carry on with their own lifestyles, conduct their affairs in peace, while at no time letting go their spirit of freedom. Even during 450 years of western colonialism, they were able to live safely in areas where they had lived for centuries.

If independence from alien rule means something for the Sinhalese people, should it mean the same for the Tamils as well? But what has it meant for them these past 46 years? Let alone become victims of legislative and constitutional discrimination, and continuous State repression, they were to be beaten up and killed, and made refugees in their own country within ten years of independence. That was long before the cry for separation came, and long before the present generation of Tigrs were born!

And look at the progression that the Tamil struggle had taken over these 46 years � assertion of �minority rights� (G.G.Ponnambalam), pacts, understanding, satyagraha and demand for federalism (S.J.V.Chelvanayakam), the seeking of a mandate for separation (TULF), State repression, extra-parliamentary struggle, acts of terrorism, Indian military intervention, guerrilla warfare, and now come to the point of open combat between two armies and two navies(!). Where were the Sinhalese leaders and the Sinhalese people during this 46-year deterioration? As an American writer once said,

 �Far from being a stumbling block in the path of democracy, nationalism provided its building blocks; democracy did not sprout at random among consenting adults, but in nation states. There has been lots of nationalism without democracy, but there has been precious little democracy without nationalism.�

While the South was recently pre-occupied with the question whether President Wijetunga was right or wrong in saying that there was no ethnic problem but only a question of terrorism, that line was crossed much earlier as far as the Tamils were concerned. It was no longer an ethnic problem, anyway, it was one of nationality! In short, history was leaving behind the thinking in the South. Clinging on to the concept of a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious entity, however noble it sounds, would appear to be a case of closing the stable door after the horse had bolted. Even Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga�s well-intentioned peace moves could be in danger of falling into, what Professor A.J.Wilson once termed as, the �too little too late� syndrome. In which case, even an acceptable emissary to Jaffna like Lionel Fernando could end up as �the last train to Jaffna�.

But having said that, one need not give away entirely to pessimism. There is tremendous hope and expectation on both sides of the ethnic fence that a peace settlement is not only much-needed but is within the realm of possibility. There is an unobtrusive power behind human urges that shapes political action on the part of leaders. Ending the war and channelling the peace dividend towards balancing the budget, or routing it towards development and welfare measures could be a tempting proposition. Or, relaxing the economic embargo and promising electricity and telephones could be useful strategy in winning the hearts and minds of the people in the North. But to bring about a durable political settlement, a government has to look beyond self-interest and strategies. There has to be a genuine urge to understand the Tamil mind. What makes it tick? What is behind the Tiger phenomenon?

One hears of social scientists addressing their minds on the question of Asian women in a male dominated region, wearing the pants in the corridors of political power � Sirima Bandaranaike, Indira Gandhi, Corazon Aquino, Benazir Bhutto, Khalida Zia and now Chandrika Kumaratunga, all political widows and beneficiaries. How come a more startling scenario closer home, the activities of women Tigers, young virgins at that, had escaped the notice of those social scientists? A case of slective perception obviously.

These women do actually wear pants! They drive vehicles and handle powerful weapons. They swim and dive in the sea. They are in the forefront of battles, with no ambitions of acquiring political power; on the contrary, they are ready to give up their lives. They had emerged from a conservative Tamil society that was riddled with cultural taboos only a few years ago. How did this strange transformation take place? And why? What has driven them into such fierce motivation? This is one aspect of the Tamil mind that needs serious inquiry. But it is too vital a task to be left to social scientists. The onus of empathy and a search for understanding is on the Sinhalese people, mothers, sisters and daughters, politicians, media people and primarily on the Prime Minister, a woman herself. In such understanding, may one submit, lies the key to peace and a worthwhile settlement.

On Reading the Tamil Mind
by Ketheeswaran Loganathan [Sunday Observer, Colombo, Nov.6, 1994]

It is, indeed, a great pleasure that S.Sivanayagam, former Editor of the prestigious Jaffna-based Saturday Review during the late 70s and early 80s, and later the Editor of the pro-LTTE Tamil Nation during the late 80s, should once again take to his mighty pen. And, I wish to say, �Siva, welcome back � but, I am not surprised!� With these homilies out of the way, let me now proceed to place some comments on the more substantive issues raised by Mr.Sivanayagam in his article �War and Peace and the Tamil Mind� (Sunday Observer, October 16, 1994).

Firstly, I do not consider as significant, Sivanayagam�s hackneyed reference to the �Cleghorn Minutes� which is often cited by most Tamil nationalists to substantiate the �Two National Theory� (i.e. �Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the Island� � Sir Hugh Cleghorn, 1799). The mere impressions of a colonialist penned down two centuries ago is hardly adequate to support the case for a separate entity for the Tamil people � or for that matter, the secessionist demand for �Tamil Eelam�.

What is undeniable is that the Tamil people do have their own distinct identity and it is because they were oppressed as a People and excluded from the process of nation-building of a unified Sri Lanka, that the demand for secession began to gain validity. Not otherwise � and certainly not as a result of an emotive and an abstract �birth right� based on the �glories of the past�.

Further, even this does not in anyway invalidate another truism, namely, that Sri Lanka is also multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and a multi-religious society bound together by a common destiny. This is a contemporary reality that S.Sivanayagam cannot ignore or wish away. Instead, he is of the opinion that, to quote, �clinging on to the concept of a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious entity, however, noble it sounds, would appear to be a cae of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.� He then proceeds to argue, �to bring about a durable political settlement, a government has to look beyond self-interest and strategies. There has to be a genuine urge to understand the Tamil mind. What makes it tick? What is behind the Tiger phenomenon?�

Yes! Any government of a multi-ethnic or a multi-national state, such as Sri Lanka, that is serious about nation building on the basis of secularism and pluralist democracy, must necessarily rise above narrow sectarian and parochial interests. In our particular context, such a government must come to grips with the legitimate aspirations and grievances of the Tamil people and other national minorities. Unfortunately, our past experiences have been otherwise. And I totally accept, without any reservations, Sivanayagam�s sketch of the experiences of the Tamil people with broken pacts and unkept promises.

But, the past is there for lessons to be learnt from, so that mistakes are not repeated. The past cannot and must not be allowed to stand in the way of any sincere attempts at seeking a rational, equitable and a durable solution to the ethnic question � just as much as the colonial legacy should not be allowed to shape the destiny of post-colonial socio-economic formation of Sri Lanka. We owe this to our future generation. I trust that the present PA government, under the leadership of Chandrika, has the courage and the political will to reshape the future � a future where diversity is perceived as a source of national strength, not as a threat to national unity.

But, the question that I wish to pose to Sivanayagam is what has the �Tamil mind� got to do with the �Tiger phenomenon�? Sivanayagam repeats this curious combination later in his article when he argues that: �Before one gets puzzled by the Tiger mind, it would be useful to understand the Tamil mind�. There can be no doubt that Sivanayagam is presenting a case for equating the Tiger interests with Tamil interests. If so, then the only interpretation that could be given to Sivanayagam�s veiled and laboured argument is that whether the Tiger�s do right or wrong, that is what the Tamil people deserve. In short, the Tigers are the sole representative and the sole arbiter of the Tamil interests. And if the Tigers end up as the destroyers of Tamil interests, then that is their sole right! The �Tamil mind� is stuck with this �Tiger phenomenon�, whether that homogenous and holistic concepts that Sivanayagam calls the �Tamil mind�, likes it or not!

All that I can say is that as a Tamil, with a mind of his own and the interests of the Tamil people at heart, I find this argument reprehensible and repugnant. The LTTE leadership�s drive for hegemony through the process of physical elimination of Tamil leaders, political cadres, and intellectuals, who refuse to accept their blood-soaked pursuit of hegemony, and culminating in their penchant for keeping the people in areas under their control in a perpetual state of war and fear psychosis, in my opinion, disqualifies the LTTE from being labelled the sole, legitimate representative of the Tamil people. Further, the terror tactics adopted by the LTTE against Sinhalese and Muslim civilians, as well as their political leadership, is neither supported by the majority of the Tamil people � nor is it the product of the �Tamil mind�.

Of course, there is no denying the long history of State terrorism and the role played by successive governments in Colombo turning a blind eye to, or even sponsoring, atrocities against the Tamil people as a means of terrorizing them into submission. But the Tamil Resistance that emerged as a result, initially as a non-violent movement and later as an armed struggle, had nothing to do with the �Tiger phenomenon�. On the contrary, it was much later that the �Tiger phenomenon� was to introduce into the Tamil resistance, as whole, certain distortions and aberrations which eventually led to the Tamil people being emasculated in a vice grip by self-proclaimed �liberators�.

But, Sivanayagam is entitled to his opinion � and his democratic right to espouse that opinion. Likewise, I reserve the right to exercise my democratic right and espouse my opinion irrespective of whether it is consonant with the �Tiger phenomenon� or not. I know for certain, that my opinion is shared by other �Tamil minds� � and so does Sivanayagam. That in itself is sufficient to explode the myth of the homogenous �Tamil mind�.

Another argument advanced by Sivanayagam is that if the Tigers refuse to come into the democratic process, they are not to be blamed since the electoral processes in Sri Lanka is a farce. While it cannot be disputed that the electoral processes in Sri Lanka is far from perfect and the recent polls in the North (i.e. Vanni and Jaffna) an unmitigated farce, that is no justification to turn a blind eye to the violations of fundamental democratic and human rights by the Tigers against the very people that they claim to solely represent. When the LTTE is called upon to enter the democratic process, it is not just elections one is talking about. Instead, one is talking about the political dissidents who are languishing in LTTE torture chambers! One is also talking about the hegemonic control that the LTTE has established, over mind and matter, which determine the day to day existence of the people of Jaffna.

Sivanayagam concludes his article by placing an immense burden on the �Sinhalese people, mothers, sisters and daughters, politicians, media people and primarily�The Prime Minister� to come to grips with, in his words, the �firece motivation of the women Tigers, young virgins at that�who are in the forefront of battles with no ambitions of acquiring political power�. He labels this process a �startling transformation�, while simultaneously engaging in unabashed glorification.

It occurs to me that the burden of explaining this �startling transformation� lies with Sivanayagam himself. If the Tiger cadres, male or female, have no ambitions of acquiring political power, then who has these ambitions? The Tiger leadership and their �cheer leaders� who glorify death and destruction? If Tamil Eelam is the objective, how then is that possible without capturing political power?

 If �Tamil Eelam� is not the objective, what then does the Tiger leadership tell the cadres, male or female, who are sent on suicide missions? What does the LTTE leadership tell the fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers of the martyrs who were driven by a �fierce motivation� to kill and to die? That their siblings and loved ones were merely carrying out orders of their Supremo and that they had no visions, ambitions, goals or objectives � only a �fierce motivation� to die for their leader? If that is so, is not the �Tiger phenomenon� a simple leader? If that is so, is not the �Tiger phenomenon� a simple case of nihilism that has become internalized at the level of the leadership, with the Tiger cadres merely constituting its external manifestation? Are not the Tiger cadres, then, as much victims as those at the receiving end of this senseless bloodletting?

These are questions to which Mr.Sivanayagam has to provide an answer. There is no point in mystifying the �Tiger phenomenon� by placing the burden on the �Tamil mind� or, for that matter, the �Sinhala mind�! What we need to know is what is in your own mind?

On Reading the Tamil Mind
by S.Sivanayagam [Sunday Observer, Colombo, Nov.27, 1994]

While it is hoped that President Chandrika�s emphatic victory would bring about a sea [of] change in the political outlook of the country, one cannot meanwhile let Ketheeswaran Loganathan�s polite response (Sunday Observer, Nov.6) to my article, �War and Peace and the Tamil Mind� (Sunday Observer, Oct.16) pass by without an equally polite rejoinder.

Ketheeswaran says: �First, I do not consider as significant Sivanayagam�s hackneyed reference to the Cleghorn Minute which is often cited by most Tamil nationalists to substantiate the �two nation theory�. If 200 years ago, at the very advent of British rule, a colonial governor saw �two different nations� �who had divided between them the possession of the island�, that was significant in itself. But my reference to the Cleghorn Minute was only one of several sign-posts of history that I cited in order to show in what direction Tamil history in this island had evolved. It would be ludicrous for anyone to hold up the Cleghorn Minute of 1799 as the basis for making a case for a separate Tamil entity circa 1994. I did not do so in my article, so Ketheeswaran was wasting his breath in shooting down a clay pigeon which he himself tossed in the air.

Ketheeswaran gets on to slippery ground when he refers to a �truism� and �contemporary reality� which he says I cannot ignore or wish away. What is this �contemporary reality�? �Sri Lanka�, he says, �is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious society bound together by a common destiny�. One certainly wishes it was true, but some pertinent questions arise. If Sri Lanka was truly a multi-ethnic society bound together by a common destiny, what was the need for the ethnic cleansing in the East that has been going on since independence, forcing Tamils bred there for centuries, to evacuate their habitats to make way for state-aided Sinhalese colonisation? If Sri Lanka was a multi-lingual society, what was the need in 1956 to make Sinhalese the sole official language? If Sri Lanka is a multi-religious society, where was the need to give Buddhism a privileged position in the 1972 constitution?

A unity built on diversity becomes a society, as in the United States, for example. Ketheeswaran himself quite correctly points out �Tamils were oppressed as a people and excluded from the process of nation-building of a unified Sri Lanka�. Once a section of the people are excluded on ethnic, linguistic and religious grounds, it ceases to be a unified society. What it merely means is that there are people of differing ethnicity, language and religion who constitute the population of this island � �hardly adequate to support the case� (in Ketheeswaran�s own words) for a unified nation.

It was Nelson Mandela who said �Societies that make diversity a strength prosper; and those that don�t will be the new Bosnias�. Mandela should have said this to the Ceylonese politicians in the mid fifties. Indeed, Singapore�s Lee Kuan Yew offered similar advice later, but there was no one to listen.

What has evidently soured Ketheeswaran�s mind, is my reference to the �Tiger mind� and the �Tamil mind�. He gets on to a futuristic plane and a self-inflicted nightmare in which he envisages the Tigers ending up as �the destroyers of Tamil interests�. If they do so, they certainly do not deserve sympathy. But as a detached observer, as an optimist by nature, and not belonging to any militant or political group or party, I have no vested interests; and hence no need to take a roller-coaster dive and foresee a destruction of Tamil interests. He says the Tigers are �self proclaimed liberators�. But are they the only ones?

I find that my old friend Thangathurai is the organisational secretary of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). There is the People�s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), whatever that might mean. There is the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO). There is the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF). Ketheeswaran himself is an able theoretician of the EPRLF, which is not only revolutionary but a Liberation Front. In fact, the Tamil people have never been short of liberators. What seems to be the difference between the �self-proclaimed liberators� in the LTTE and other self-proclaimed liberators is that the former is at least in the liberation business!

Ketheeswaran says he has a mind of his own, that there are also others with minds of their own, different from mine. What he probably means is, he has views and opinions of his own and so have other Tamils. Good, let a thousand opinions bloom! It used to be said of Irishmen � banteringly of course � that when ten of them met, there is bound to be eleven opinions on any given subject! We Tamils too have that Irish streak in us. We are rugged individualists with born critical minds; particularly the academic �intellectual species� among us, who could be depended on to be far more tolerant of an identifiable enemy than their fellow Tamils. We like to be our own leaders. But when I wrote of the �Tamil Mind�, that is not what I meant. It is the distilled reservoir of a cumulative Tamil thought � process, shaped by their past history, their experiences, suffering and aspirations, and eventually finding voice in one single call for action.

The Tamil United Liberation Front reached that point, perhaps unwittingly, in 1976, but retraced its steps soon after the 1977 elections. The LTTE as I see it, is only trying to carry forward the mandate the Tamil people gave the TULF in 1977, with the difference that they have taken recourse to an extra-parliamentary armed struggle. But for that difference (to which other Tamil liberation groups did also subscribe at one time) I don�t see, in terms of political objective, any difference between the �Tiger mind� and the �Tamil mind�.

Ketheeswaran is also disturbed by what he thinks are LTTE tactics and strategies in the process of carrying forward the struggle to which they are committed, in commenting about which he uses harsh words. Those alas, need the verdict of history. We have witnessed in recent memory epoch-making developments in the world outside, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, that compel us to revise our mind-sets. In Sri Lanka itself, within the last six months, we have seen developments that were both shattering as well as pathfinding ones.

In Mrs.Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka has a President who is not only endowed with several �C�s � Conviction, Commitment, Charisma, Courage, but an unswerving dedication towards finding a peaceful political settlement. If she can roll back the political history of the island by forty years, she would have made true what Ketheeswaran incorrectly referred to as �a contemporary reality�, notwithstanding what her own father the late S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike who once said, �Rivers never flow backwards.� But they could always be diverted!



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