Representing an oppressed nation

Against the many crises the Tamil people in Sri Lanka face today, perhaps the most grievous is lack of effective representation. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) continues to claim, implicitly and explicitly, the role of chief advocate, but in practice has instead left it to other Tamil and international actors, including those in the Diaspora, to articulate the Tamils’ urgent needs and difficulties. The TNA’s reluctance to vigorously articulate Tamil grievances on a range of self-evident contemporary issues inevitably raises serious questions regarding their ability, indeed their willingness, to accurately and effectively represent the Tamil nation’s interests and aspirations in any wider discussion on a political settlement.

Thulli Thulli (Sippikkul Muththu)

'Thulli Thulli' is a great number from the Kollywood box office smash hit starring Kamal Hassan and Radhika. Sung by the illustrious S.P. Balasubramaniam and S. Janaki, it is a loving lullaby intended for the heroine of the film. Notably, this song was composed by Ilaiyaraaja purely in Madhyamavathi raagam, a raaga which he has very commonly used for his hypnotic lullabies in other films.

Classic film: Mouna Ragam (1986)

The film 'Mouna Ragam' by hit filmmaker Mani Ratnam was a massive blockbuster in the 80's. Often described as Mani Ratnam's breakthrough film, it depicts Revathi as a carefree spirit who unwillingly marries Mohan in order to satisfy her parents. Mohan is forced to face up to Revathi's past and the pitfalls that come with it. Watch a classic scene from the movie:

Self indulgent hypocrisy

When Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) called upon literary figures to boycott this year’s Galle Literary Festival, they were undoubtedly prepared to face the ire of the Sri Lankan state. What they would not have anticipated was the angry response provoked from event organisers and a small but prominent group of liberal advocates in Sri Lanka. What was particularly striking about the backlash was the hypocrisy inherent to the arguments about free speech and inter-ethnic harmony marshalled in defence of the GLF.

How the ICRC was kept out of killing zones

File photo: ICRC staff in Puthukkudiyiruppu's make-shift hospital in February 2009 struggling to cope with the flood of civilian casualties from Sri Lanka's bombardment of the 'Safe Zone'. Photo TamilNet.

BJP to take up Tamils’ plight

The President of India’s BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), Nitin Gadkari, said last week that his party would take up the miseries of Sri Lanka’s Tamils at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR). The BJP would also raise the issue in India’s Parliament, where it has 165 seats, he told a party event in Tamil Nadu on Saturday January 30. Arguing that the Sri Lankan Tamils’ plight is not an issue for Tamil Nadu alone, Mr. Gadkari said: "We always support the demand of Sri Lankan Tamils for getting fundamental rights. They are part of our family." Saying that India’s former BJP-led...

IMF: Sri Lanka’s exports/GDP falling ‘for years’

"[Sri Lanka’s] export earnings , as a percentage of GDP, have been falling for years . So the first thing for Sri Lanka is to boost its exports to where it was 10 years ago .” - IMF Asia Pacific Director Anoop Singh . (See The Island’s report here .) Interestingly, ten years ago Sri Lanka was gripped by high-intensity armed conflict. And, as the IMF’s chart (click more below) shows, Sri Lanka’s export/GDP ratio today is the same as in 1987 - when the JVP’s second insurgency erupted, and the IPKF intervention began. While Sri Lanka’s Central Bank says export earnings would grow strongly in 2011, the National Chamber of Exporters recently said it would not be able to deliver half of the Central Bank’s expectations. The exporters blame growing energy costs (for their production) and the strengthening rupee (making their products expensive in the global market). See ‘ Why Sri Lanka’s exporters are gloomy ’ Meanwhile, what exactly does the IMF want Sri Lanka to do? Diversify export destinations (to Asia from US and EU), and export products (from garments and tea to more sophisticated ones).

Stretch …

Even as Sri Lanka pledges to carry out the tax reform sought by the IMF, The Sunday Leader newspaper points out another of the system’s quirks: Two stretched limousines were recently imported with state duties being sharply reduced because they were classed as … buses. The logic? The limousines had multiple seats – one seating 18 and the other 13. Meanwhile, the IMF this week queried the Board of Investment’s (BOI) long-standing strategy for attracting foreign investment: giving tax holidays. This is what the IMF’s resident representative in Colombo Koshy Mathai told LBO : "Rather than having...

Powder Keg

In the run up to last month's referendum in South Sudan, it was widely accepted that the overwhelming majority would opt for independence. Similarly, even before Kosovo unilaterally declared independence two years ago, it was widely agreed that the majority of its people endorsed the move. What is striking, therefore, is what went before in these places. Sudan's civil war raged for four decades before the 2005 peace agreement. And when the international community ended the post-Cold War firestorm in the Balkans with the 1995 Dayton Accords, the Kosovars, despite their pleas, were actively excluded. Instead, they were told to make the best of it under Serbia's rule.