Sunday 12 June 2011

Who introduced Outsourcing in India?

Ask this to anyone from the current generation and the fingers would most likely point to N.R. Narayana murthy or one of the IT triumvirates. Anybody with a fair knowledge of recent history and economics would be well aware of the economic liberalization in the 90s and how the IT & BP Outsourcing sector rode on its waves to lead India’s economic resurgence in the 21st century. However, Outsourcing isn't something which entered the Indian lexicon only in the past few decades; the term has had quite a long legacy in India...

Sunday 5 June 2011

Sri Lankan Tamils

I'd invited a few friends in Facebook to the Cause - Sri Lanka's war crimes against Tamils. The response had been good; however one of my friends responded with this message: "Arun, I can understand the war crime and we need to have justice. But did you look into the cause behind the war? Was it fair on immigrants to ask for separate country?"

This post is my attempt to put down a few important mile stones of Sri Lankan history. This is not an in-depth study; and should be viewed only as a handy reference. This article in no ways justifies the violence that the struggle has faced; nor does it support LTTE - this is purely a reflection of history. I do not support the cause for a separate nation but only respect every individual's right to live his identity, and the government's accountability towards establishing an equal and equivocal society.
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  • Sri Lanka's history is as old as India's - it was a part of Indian land mass until 30,000 years ago.
  • Iron Age relics of Sri Lanka dates back to 1000 BC very close to that of South India (1200 BC) 
  • Sinhalese history started with arrival of Buddhism
  • Sinhalese came to Sri Lanka from Kalinga (modern Orissa and part of Bengal) around 3BC. After Ashoka won over Kalinga (his last war) and as Buddhism spread, Prince Vijaya with his followers sailed to Sri Lanka and established their kingdom there.
  • Mahavamsa (Dammapada) a Buddhist scripture is used as a reference of Sri Lanka history by Sri Lankan govt; hence the bias towards Buddhism and Sinhalese.
  • Sinhalese language is a fusion of Sanskrit, Pali and Tamil
  • During Older Chola period, Elara a Chola king established a Tamil Kingdom around 200 BC and ruled the country for over 40 years.
  • There had been frequent Chola domination in Sri Lanka since then (the Pandyas supported the Singalese in turn)
  • Raja raja Cholan and his son Rajendra Cholan ruled Sri Lanka for close to 100 years until 1070.
  • Tamil Kingdom of Jaffna ruled over North and Central Sri Lanka from 1215 to 1624 after which British took over the whole island.
  • It's true that some Indian Tamils were migrated to Sri Lanka for tea plantation work by the British. However, India took back 5 lakh Tamils back in 1964 (only the plantation workers). Since then, there has been a stereo-casting that all Tamils in Sri Lanka are migrants which is completely contrary to historical facts. Ethnic Tamils lived in the North and Eastern parts of SL, while the immigrants lived in the central hilly terrain.

Every country has its share of ethnic struggles; and it's the government's duty to allay the apprehensions of the minority.

Post independence:
After Sri Lanka got independence in 1948, both Sinhalese and Tamil were declared official languages. English continued to be the language of the administration. Back then, Tamils were generally more educated than the Sinhalese; and hence were occupying most of the administrative positions. This didn't go well with the conservative Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which was in power since 1952. They replaced Sinhalese as the sole official language; which made thousands of Tamils jobless. Also, stricter rules were set for Tamil students in education; and in government posts; and the struggle started since then. However, this struggle was purely a political movement until the 1970s; demanding equal rights and opportunities within a single country. This led to a moderate Sinhala govt coming to power in 1965; and for the first time since 1956, Tamils got government jobs. The agitated SLFP joined with the Maoists and formed an alliance, the youth wing of which formed a guerilla group in 1971, Janatha Vimukhti Peramuna ( JVP); often resorting to violent measures to further their desire for a conservative, Sinhala based society as against a moderate, pro-Western society. With economy stagnating, the government relented in 1972; and implemented some pro-Left reforms which also included renaming Ceylon to Sri Lanka. A new constitution of incorporated with more powers to the President and the Governing Council. Sinhalese was retained as the official language; while Tamil became a 'national language'. Government then focused on measures to improve the economy and put the ethnic issue to the back burner. Tamils then contributed to 20% of the Sri Lankan population. The ethnic clashes and the Tamil problem turned violent since then...


Culture, language and religion are the unique identity of a civilization; and it's the government's duty to preserve the identity of every such community in the country. The ground reality is when nationalism turns myopic in the realms of politics and ulterior motives, the minorities suffer the most!!

- Arun

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