Rail politics: Sri Lanka snubs India

Sri Lanka swapped a Chinese-made train for the Indian ones to be used on the service when the Galle-Matara high-speed line was inaugurated Wednesday. The track, destroyed in the 2004 tsunami, has been rebuilt by Indian firm IRCON, and was entirely funded by Indian credit. The Indian-made locomotives to service the route have arrived in Sri Lanka, but railway officials said they were “not ready”. So Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha and the other dignitaries traveled in a Chinese-made train on the maiden run. The train hit 100km/h - but started and arrived late. See LBO’s report here Photo...

Tamil Nadu police reject LTTE threat claim

Senior police officers in Tamil Nadu this week dismissed claims that LTTE cadres would attack top political leaders during the forthcoming state Assembly elections On Sunday The Hindu newspaper quoted Indian intelligence sources as saying the Ministry of Home Affairs had sent alerts about possible attacks. However, in response to the reports, Director General of Police Letika Saran told reporters Wednesday that the police have confirmed that there were no LTTE elements in Tamil Nadu. (See the Times of India report here) Meanwhile, another senior police officer told The Hindu: “ Sri Lankan...

Northern railway projects to begin

Indian engineers are beginning work on three railway track projects in Sri Lanka’s north funded by loans from India. The three lines are Omanthai-Pallai, Madhu Church-Tallaimannar and Medawachchiya-Mannar (via Madhu). See map here . IRCON International Limited, a company of the Ministry of Railways in India, has been given the contract. See the Daily Mirror’s report here . More than 200 engineers, technicians and supervisors from India would eventually be employed on the three projects. A similar number of local staff would be employed, and the labourers will all be Sri Lankan. 100 Indian...

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...