Has a new dawn arrived for the Sri Lankan Tamils to be proud of their classical language and Tamil culture or are we back to the nightmares of yesteryears? The former view is given substance when for the first time, the UK's prime minister Theresa May and Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau have sent Thai Pongal Greetings to the Tamils in their respective countries.
Further and like in Sri Lanka, India and Singapore the Tamil language with its over 2500 years old fine literature and being the oldest living classical language, has also been elevated to official language status in Canada and in some states in the US. But this optimism has been tempered by Rajapakse's landslide victory in the recently completed Sri Lankan local elections, with a foretaste of that monstrous dynasty's likely return to presidential office in 2020. Equally alarming is the current Sri Lanka president's decision to revoke the suspension of a senior military official, after the latter had repeatedly made cruel gestures to Tamil demonstrators outside Sri Lanka's London high commission.
The Tamils who left Sri Lanka for greener pastures yearning for studies, work and business have formed the Tamil diaspora in almost every part of the world.
The world is their village now. The second and even third generations are reaping the benefits of their endeavours while contributing their services in their new homelands. Sri Lanka could have easily used these skills for the advancement of the country and build a just society, if not for those successive callous governments' continued anti-Tamil discrimination.
In recent years, Tamils have achieved respectable positions in the media like the BBC and Channel 4. The Tamils of Singapore have immensely contributed in building modern Singapore and have duly been rewarded with status and political positions of foreign and finance ministers. In India, numerous central government ministerial positions have been occupied by South Indian Tamils and the current defence secretary is a Tamil female from Tamil Nadu.
In the UK, Canada, US and in other countries Tamils have contributed immensely in the medical and educational fields. Although Tamils have had illustrious and distinguished careers, they have largely kept a low profile and minded their own business. As such, there is an abundance of untapped talents among them which is to be harnessed and utilized for good causes, for the betterment of all Tamils, including those struggling for an equitable life back in the motherland.
The Tamils regard education as their cherished wealth. In foreign countries, they have acquired knowledge in their respective fields, and knowledge is power. The Tamil Diaspora can use their knowledge to help their brethren in Sri Lanka or anywhere in the world. The diaspora could help them in many ways, including setting up of production factories which will provide employment and income in the interim in order to arrest the decline of the Tamil nation, without awaiting for a durable political solution in the North East of Sri Lanka.
With the advancement of technology and social media, we will be able to communicate quickly to help those who are in need and in resource-poor situations. We should revolutionise the way we have been thinking about ourselves by going back to our roots and cherished heritage. If the recently created momentum and impetus are kept alive, it would be a huge opportunity to foster self-esteem and fraternity globally.
There is an old Tamil quotation which says that 'A single tree will never become a park'. If all our Tamil professionals and successful business people join hands together, it will make a veritable paradise! But time is of the essence, especially given the outcome of the Sri Lankan local elections and the forthcoming 2020 presidential elections.
We must confer to both the UN and its co-sponsors in the strongest possible way that the exercise of getting any Sri Lankan government to grant any meaningful autonomy that will protect Tamils from harm's way or any future repetition of the past is a futile exercise.
If that statement were to be accepted by the international community, it will provide an opportunity for a 'Tamil Spring' because Tamils have lived in the shores of South India and Sri Lanka for millennia and have been the overlords of the Indian Ocean during that time. Now that they have proved and secured the trust of the West as an enterprising nation while living as exiles in the West, it is high time the Western powers formally intervened to bring about a lasting and meaningful solution.
TWG Editorial Board - London, UK
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Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board
Source: Tamil Writers Guild, UK
Date: 19 February 2018