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Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
A Tale of Two Tamil Vice Chancellors
9 November 2006
This is a
tale, which will be told four generations from now in Eelam, of two Tamil Vice
Chancellors. For simplicity, I tag them with the animal motifs, a toad(y) and an
ant, in the blessed island in the year 2006.
The toad(y) badly wished to become the Vice Chanellor of the University of Jaffna. This toad could croak loudly, and also carried in its neck quite a plethora of accouterments ( “internationally recognized scholar” etc.). Once a ‘Raja’ was enthroned in late 2005, the toad waggled its head and neck this way and that way to clear its path to the Vice Chancellorship of Jaffna University. And lo and behold, the Sinhalese ‘Raja’ (the king) chose the toad to be the Vice Chancellor to Jaffna.
The ant had been laboring in the Eastern front of Eelam for 25 years, without much fanfare. It couldn’t croak like the toad, and also didn’t carry any accouterments. Nevertheless, the ant was qualified enough to earn a doctorate from the University of London, and return to the homeland to serve the community. By some good fortune, the Sinhalese ‘Rani’ (the queen) who preceded the ‘Raja’ had appointed the ant to be the Vice Chancellor of Eastern University in Feb.2005. For the preceding year (from Jan.29, 2004 to Feb.1, 2005), the ant had functioned as the Acting Vice Chancellor.
For the toad’s appointment to the Jaffna University to replace the outgoing Vice Chancellor in March 2006, by the ‘Raja’, there was vehement opposition from Eelam Tamils. But nothing of that sort of opposition was heard for the ant’s appointment as the Vice Chancellor to the Eastern University by the ‘Rani’, though it was not so long ago. What I meant as ‘not so long ago’ means, ant became the Vice Chancellor, only after the foolish Eastern Colonel was evicted from the Tigers organization. Eelam Tamils (irrespective of whether they were from the North or East) had sincerely felt that the ant deserved the position, since it had paid its dues to the Eastern Tamil community, since the inception of the Eastern University.
For a few weeks March and April 2006, the toad croaked heavily and loudly. This croaking was picked up instantly by the Priggish Moralist Orchestra (PMO in short) constituted by the island’s hacks and jobless cranks posturing as leaders. Headlines, editorials, opinion pieces and even a bad poem were instantly created by the members of PMOs. Eelam Tamils know who are the members of these PMOs – H.L.D.Mahindapala, Lucien Rajakarunanayake, Dayan Jayatilleka, Bandula Jayasekara, D.B.S.Jeyaraj, V.Anandasangaree, Dr.S.Narapalasingam, K.T.Rajasingham and their coterie. Here is a sample of their recorded high decibel bleating.
Eventually the signal event in the bravado of the bloated toad(y) turned out to be rather a flight from the blessed island on April 20, 2006, for safety to an “undisclosed destination”. So much for this toad’s much hyped “will to serve the homeland”. It should be noted here that the PMOs who amplified the croaking of the toad, were never willing to offer the Vice Chancellorship of any one of the ten universities which is located in the non-Tiger territory of the blessed isle. Some cynics among the Tamils were quick to note that, “If this toad(y) is such a ‘national asset’ (as touted to be), the PMOs should have clamored to the ‘Raja’ to immediately appoint this highly decorated toad to the Vice Chancellorship of any other Sri Lankan university, which suffers from leadership deficit.
The disturbing events which occurred in late September in the Eastern University, exposed the hypocrisy of the PMOs who bleated for the toad. As reported by Somini Sengupta for the New York Times (Nov.7, 2006),
Who the abductors of B.Sugumar is an open secret to Eelam Tamils. They are none but a paramilitary group embedded to the armed forces of the ‘Raja’. But since the field reporter Shimali Senanayake (a Sinhalese partisan hack working for the Associated Press) to the story is spineless to expose the perfidy of the ‘Raja’s’ naughty boys, this New York Times report on Sri Lankan kidnappings suffers from incomplete analysis.
As anyone can guess, the ant in my story is this unnamed (why?) “senior university administrator”. Unlike the toad, the ant hasn’t croaked. Ant being an ant, it cannot. To save the life of the Dean held captive by abductors, the ant tendered its resignation as the Vice Chancellor of Eastern University on October 1st. It is also interesting to note that the Priggish Moralist Orchestra (comprising of Rajakarunanayakes, Mahindapalas, Anandasangarees, Jeyarajs and Rajasinghams) who bleated loudly about the tragedy of the toad, has gone silent for weeks, on the forced resignation of the ant. The courage of the ant to ride through the crisis is revealed in another plane.
Unlike the toad, the ant didn’t flee from the blessed island for an “undisclosed destination”. I have been informed by reliable sources that this “undisclosed destination” of the toad is none other than the Land of Liberty, and the toad has now settled in a Midwestern university.
I write this tale of a toad and an ant in a sense of desperation, to expose the gimmicks of the Priggish Moralist Orchestra. They hardly know the ant. But I know. This courageous, self-effacing academic (Dr.Sivasubramaniam Raveendranath)who labored in the East Eelam for 25 years to build a university is an old friend of mine. He and I were batchmates at Aquinas University College 36 years ago, before we entered the universities. He went to the University of Peradeniya for an agriculture degree. I chose the University of Colombo for a science degree. I dip my head in salute for his energy and decency.