The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon
Part 52

Sachi Sri Kantha
[3 February 2003]

Eelam’s Karma – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly



A Story by Buddy Hackett and its relevance  

I once watched actor-comedian Buddy Hackett (1924-  ) telling a funny story in Johnny Carson’s ‘Tonight Show’ TV, and since it has metaphorical relevance to what I write in this chapter, I will first re-tell the gist of this story. 

A hunter shot a bird and followed its path. The bird fluttered and fell into a farm. When the hunter tried to gather his trophy, the farmer came out of his house and shouted: ‘Hey! Stop Will’ya? That bird fell inside my farm, and you cannot just retrieve it like that.’ Then, both the hunter and the farmer had a vocal argument and settled on a compromise. Each will give a kick to other in the butt, and the last person standing will get the bird. Then, the problem arose on who will deliver the first kick. The farmer said: ‘I go first since the bird fell into my farm’, for which the hunter agreed. The farmer gave a hard blow on the butt of the hunter and the latter slumped. When the hunter regained his stance and prepared to kick the farmer, the latter retorted: ‘I don’t need the bird. Get away from my place.’  

I should admit that in writing, the story doesn’t shine well, as one would hear it from the inimitable delivery of Buddy Hackett’s mouth. I still remember that, for the kicking butt act of the story, Hackett got off from the guest’s couch in the show and acted it in the floor, which brought belly laugh from normally cool and unflappable Johnny Carson.  

Why I retell this story now is that there are metaphorical equivalents to this story. I believe that I represent the farmer in the story. I see Pirabhakaran’s virulent critics (especially the authors of the Broken Palmyra book) as the hunter in the story. I equate the bird in the story to the Broken Palmyra book That book (considered as a trophy by the hunters) fell into my yard, and I will continuously kick the authors of that book for their exaggerated scribblings and cheapening of the Tamil-Hindu beliefs. Among the four authors of that book, two were born Christians and two had self-garlanded themselves as Marxists. Then, they had the temerity to comment and critique some Hindu rituals and beliefs (including karma) in that book, which is springled with subtle anti-Hindu drivel.  

Lest I’m thought of as a Hindu partisan, I add that I’m not criticising Christians at large since Pirabhakaran and LTTE - as a viable Movement - are beneficiaries of dedicated Christians in Eelam and elsewhere, who see the worthiness in Pirabhakaran’s ideals. But, I remain as a critic of the thoughts of closed minded, dogmatic Christians represented by the two authors of the Broken Palmyra book, namely Rajani Thiranagama and Rajan Hoole, who couldn’t grasp how Christianity as a religion originated, survived under trials and tribulations during its first four centuries, and ascended with time. Martyrdom against oppression was a significant contribution of early Christianity to the global culture and those who show contempt for martyrdom in the 20th century cannot be contemplated as true Christians. Among some Christian scholars, there even exists a belief that the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion was a voluntary suicide. 

Karma in the words of the Broken Palmyra authors    

First, I present a paragraph which appear in the Broken Palmyra book, in which the karma theory was added as a tool to support the view of the authors. 

“Another incident which influenced the local mind was the landmine attack by the LTTE on an army patrol on 25 March 1987. Subsequently the severed foot of a Sri Lankan soldier with a boot on it was exhibited successively at the Maviddapuram temple and Tellipallai junction. For its part the Sri Lankan army shelled these two places on successive nights. On the first night a temple priest lost his leg. At Tellipallai junction, Mr.Venugopal was killed. On the 31 March [1987], the LTTE’s Jaffna leader Mr.Kittu lost a leg in a grenade attack. Many of the Hindu folk at Maviddapuram, steeped in a belief in karma, formed their own conclusions. Nevertheless, the exhibition of gore had attracted sizeable crowds. This followed the exhibition of the dead bodies of nine Sri Lankan soldiers at Kandasamy Kovil four months before. There was taking place a transformation of sensibilities. Many Hindus were disgusted, but silent.” [Book: The Broken Palmyra, 1990, pp.105-106] 

In this paragraph, the authors of the book made selective use of the karma theory to their arsenal of criticism on LTTE in a circumspective manner (through the ‘Hindu folk at Maviddapuram) that Kiddu lost his leg a week later, because the ‘severed foot of a Sri Lankan soldier with a boot on it was exhibited successively at the Maviddapuram temple’. If one accepts this logic, then other violent deaths among Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese attributed to LTTE (such as that of Duraiappah, Sri Sabaratnam, Padmanabha and TULF leadership) should be also accepted on the same belief in karma. But this would have been not to the liking of the authors of the Broken Palmyra. This devious omission and selective use of karma theory by Rajan Hoole and his colleagues in 1990 stimulated my interest on the karma theory.  

My push on the Karma theory  

In 1994, when an opening appeared for a comment in the Lanka Guardian magazine, I expressed my opinion on karma theory candidly and was criticised by a fellow Eelam Tamil and two Muslims. I reproduce my original contribution, and the subsequent communications on the karma theme. 

In a short letter written in half-jest to swipe at the cant of Mr.Izeth Hussain (a Sri Lankan diplomat Poo-Bah who had served as ambassador to Philippines and then Russia and was also an academic pretender, with whom I clashed on the ethnic issue in the Lanka Guardian), I contributed the following letter, entitled ‘A Hindu Perspective on Bosnia’. Excerpt: 

“As a Hindu, who believe in (a) Brahman, the creator, preserver or transformer and reabsorber of everything; and (b) theory of karma, it is my belief that the current fate of Muslims in Bosnia is related to the historical plundering of the Serb land by the Ottoman Turks (read as, Muslims), which began in 1389 at the Battle of Kosvo and continued for almost five centuries following that. In 1459, ‘Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II achieves complete annexation of Serbia. The Turks rule for the next 400 years, often ruthlessly. They impress Serbian youth into military service, exterminate the nobles, burden the people with heavy taxes and subject the Serbian Orthodox Church to the control of hated Greek patriarchs’, according to the historical synopsis, published in the Newsweek of April 19, 1993. 

In the Holywood western movies, the heroes wore white and rode in white horses. The villains had to wear the black and ride on black horses. In the current Bosnian conflict, Muslims are being portrayed by Izeth Hussain as pitiable heroes. But, history shows they also acted as villains for centuries in the same battle-grounds. So, the theory of karma holds that the current generation of Muslims are reaping what their forefathers sowed.” [Lanka Guardian, May 1, 1994, p.20] 

As I expected, I received criticism for this contribution from V.T.Saravanapavan (from Canada) and M.A.Nuhman (a Muslim Tamil poet from the University of Peradeniya, about whose analysis I had already referred to in part 47 of this series under the Muslim Factor ), and of course from the diplomat-turned-political commentator Hussain. Since Hussain’s bombastic diatribe (as is his wont)  is nothing but personal bleating, I leave out his contribution, and provide other two for observations. 

M.A.Nuhman indicated his objections as follows: 

“According to the Karma theory of Sri Kantha, ‘the current generation of (Bosnian) Muslims are reaping what their forefathers sowed. I wonder whether Sri Kantha tries to justify the sufferings of Bosnians or to explain the courses of the sufferings. If it is a justification, then it reveals the cruelty of the intellectual mind. If it is an explanation then it is not an explanation of a scientist but of a layman. 

Everyone who reads history and has a common sense knows that the historical forefathers of any race had committed some kind of ‘sin’ to the ‘other’. However, a rational intellectual can’t relate the contemporary political turmoils and sufferings of a later generation to the sin of their forefathers. Can Sri Kantha justify or explain the tremendous sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils using his theory of Karma? It will be mere absurdity. Even some orthodox or fanatic Muslims may justify the Bosnian sufferings as it is the punishment of Allah because they didn’t practice Isam in their day to day life. Rational intellectuals can’t entertain these type of irrational religious ideology in contemporary political discourse.” [Lanka Guardian, May 15, 1994, p.18]  

V.T.Saravanapavan communicated his views on the theory of karma as follows: 

“I was surprised and shocked to read Dr.Sachi Sri Kantha’s ‘A Hindu Perspective on Bosnia’ (LG, May 1st 1994). I always admired and agreed on what Sachi Sri Kantha wrote on the ethnic (Tamil) problem of Sri Lanka. But on Bosnia Muslims he is 100% wrong and the theory of karma does not hold good in modern context. Imaginative theories of karma and re-birth were expounded/created to instil fear so that people do not commit sins and crimes…If the theory of karma is to be believed, are we Hindu/Tamils should also believe that the current generation of Sri Lankan Tamils are suffering in many ways because of some unknown or imaginary sins committed by our forefathers?…[Lanka Guardian, Colombo, June 15, 1994, p.20] 

I briefly responded to Mr.Saravanapavan’s criticism as follows: 

“…Saravanapavan is entitled to his opinion that the theory of karma ‘does not hold good in a modern context’. But he should also not forget that millions of Hindus will disagree with him. I also hold the view that many Hindus in Sri Lanka still believe that the fates of S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, Amirthalingam, Premadasa, Athulathmudali, Sri Sabaratnam, Uma Maheswaran, Padmanabha, Kiddu and Mahathaya can be explained by the theory of karma. The Tamil proverb ‘One who sows millet reaps millet; one who sows misery reaps misery’ reflect the theory of karma lucidly…” [Lanka Guardian, Colombo, July 15, 1994, p.20] 

At that time, by personal experience of previous submissions, I knew that to get into the print, my letter had to escape the editorial scissors of Mervyn de Silva. Thus, the above rebuttal suffered from few limitations. First, I had to measure my words and limit the examples of fallen victims of karma theory to Sri Lanka alone so that it gets carried in the slim 20 page fortnightly magazine. Secondly, even with the Sri Lankan examples, I did not include other names like Rohana Wijeweera and his deputy who suffered violent deaths. Thirdly, in the above-cited examples of names, I overlooked the fact that Kiddu’s death was different from that of others, in that he died on his own volition – if the released records are to be believed, whereas others mentioned were assassinated or (in the case of Mahathaya) executed. Fourthly, I also refrained from answering Mr.Saravanapavan’s poser whether current generation of Tamils are suffering because of some ‘unknown or imaginary sins committed by our forefathers?’. Now, after 8 years, in this chapter I will provide my extended response to this raised question. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Karma 

Unabashedly, the caption ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ is borrowed from Clint Eastwood’s 1966 movie. In my opinion, karma is all encompassing. But, it receives highlight only when something bad ocurs in one’s life. Thus, for sake of convenience only, I divide the karma types into the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. 

(a) Ugly Karma 

To reiterate the question posed by my two critics (M.A.Nuhman and Saravanapavan) to me in 1994, could it be true that the current generation of Tamil are suffering because of some ‘unknown or imaginary sins committed by our forefathers?’ In defense of the karma theory, I would state that the sins committed by our (Hindu/Tamils) forefathers is neither unknown nor imaginary. These are well known and real. I will list a few recognized sins of our forefathers. 

1.     cowardice against oppression by adversaries (going all the way to the 14th century), leading to intrusion by Muslims into the Indian subcontinent 

2.     tolerating the practise of casteism which led to nasty consequences of Brahmin - Vellala dominance in the Hindu society and concurrent conversion of low caste Hindus into Muslims and Christians in the Indian subcontinent (between the 13th century and 19th century). 

3.     In the 20th century Tamil Nadu  and Eelam, political naivete of parliament-prone vocalists, leading to loss of Tamil rights at the national level in every subsequent decade since 1930s. 

4.     In the post-Independent era, retaining the slavish mentality reinforced by half-baked scholarship, leading to a flawed sense of superiority to Western thoughts (whether it is Karl Marx or moribund Magi of UN) while cavalierly ignoring the views of notables who critiqued the same. I point out that Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, Bertrand Russell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Nelson Mandela are few notables who pricked the ‘Western values’ valiantly. Who can top Gandhi’s classic humorous scorn [‘It’s a good idea’] to the asked question, [‘What do you think of the Western civilization?’] 

(b) Bad Karma 

In my view, the bad karma of Eelam campaign are the two losses it faced in the mid 1980s (in a span of 38 months), when Pirabhakaran was emerging as the leader. I refer to the assassination of then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in Oct.31, 1984 and the natural death of then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran in Dec.24, 1987. Both were inevitable of sorts. 

Indira Gandhi and Eelam  

If one believes  Inder Malhotra (Indira’s biographer, who quotes Cuban leader Fidel Castro), the then Indian prime minister had had a premonition of her assassination even eleven years before her death – when she heard the news of unnatural death of Salvador Allende, the Chilean leader, in 1973. This is how Malhotra states his case: 

“…On November 11th, 1973 Castro was in New Delhi, on his way to Vietnam. An extremely pleasant banquet Indira gave in his honour was rudely interrupted by the ‘stunning news’ from ‘far-off Chile where it was still morning’ that Salvador Allende had been killed in a coup d’etat. 

‘At that dramatic moment’, recorded the Cuban leader twelve years later, ‘Indira Gandhi, in a proof of her intimacy and confidence, said to me: ‘What they have done to Allende they want to do to me also. There are people here, connected with the same foreign forces that acted in Chile, who would like to eliminate me.’ 

Thereafter, time and again she was to repeat publicly a sanitised version of what she had told Castro privately. As constant as her warnings against the ‘foreign hand’ – which, according to sneerin critics, was ‘home-made’ – was her refrain that ‘they’ wanted to do her in. She took care never specifically to identify who ‘they’ were. But, by innuendo and insinuation, she left little doubt that the accusing finger pointed to the CIA, if not to the government of the United States.” [Book: Indira Gandhi, Coronet edition, Kent, 1990, p.291]. 

One can question whether Indira was paranoid about her intended fate. But one should also not forget that in 1973, America was under the regime of nefarious President Nixon and his Rasputin-like impressario Kissinger whose implemented un-democratic policies in Asia, Africa and South America as well as domestic policies of pathological lying and burglary could make Indira as a prophet in comparison. About the death of Chilean leader Salvador Allende in 1973, existing literature is confusing; some report that he was killed, and some report that he committed ‘suicide’. Even if the latter version is accepted, it is undeniable that the proximate cause of his suicide was the CIA-aided successful coup d’etat in Chile. [Note: In Appendix 1, I provide an incomplete list of Heads of State and ex-Heads of State who met violent deaths since 1967. Having not heard from Leslie Pyenson of CIA to whose research study I referred to in part 51 of this series, I prepared this list from open reference sources, to supplement the Appendix 1 which appeared with part 51.] 

Now, I present a few paragraphs of what Malhotra wrote about Indira’s policy on the Eelam issue: 

“In dealing with the crisis arising from the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, however, Indira did not waver in the least and firmly took control of a highly explosive situation. 

Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, forming about a tenth of the total population and concentrated in the north and the east of the island, having despaired of getting justice from the Sinhalese majority, had started clamouring for Tamil Eelam (independence). Moderate groups, which might have settled for less, were quickly marginalised and the leadership of the Tamil movement passed to a ferociously separatist organisation called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which was heavily armed and never reluctant to take on the Sri Lankan Army, often getting the better of the government troops in combat. In sheer frustration, the security forces killed unarmed Tamil civilians. 

Unsurprisingly, the LTTE enjoyed wide support in Tamil Nadu, the Southern Indian state whose people had ties of blood, kinship and culture with the Tamils of Sri Lanka. The state’s phenomenally popular chief minister, M.G.Ramachandran (MGR) was the LTTE’s patron saint and gave the ‘Tigers’ sanctuary, arms and cash on a generous scale. This was obviously embarrassing to Indira, then busy denouncing Pakistan for its aid and assistance to Sikh terrorists in Punjab, but she could do nothing about it, for a tidal wave of Tamil opinion was supporting the actions of MGR who was, moreover, Indira’s only political ally in the whole of South India, now ruled by non-Congress (I) parties. In any case, she herself was not averse to using MGR’s support of the LTTE as leverage on the Sri Lankan government. 

At the same time she was not prepared to countenance the demand for Tamil Eelam or that for converting Sri Lanka into another Cyprus, partitioning it de facto rather than de jure. What she wanted was that within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, the Tamil minority should have equal status with the Sinhalese majority as well as adequate autonomy.” [ibid, pp.285-286] 

Given the developing tension in her Southern back-yard, whether Indira Gandhi wouldn’t have repeated a ‘Bangladesh operation’ in Sri Lanka in the 1980s is now only of academic interest. The TULF leadership believed that Indira (if her nerves were pulled irritatingly by the then Sri Lankan leadership Jayewardene-Premadasa duo)  was capable of  carrying out such an operation. But, with her assassination in 1984 such a belief evaporated into thin air since Indira’s successors (including her son Rajiv Gandhi) lacked the nerve and gumption to even think along those terms. And thus, Indira’s departure was a bad karma for the Eelam hope. 

MGR and Eelam 

Since I had cited above Inder Malhotra’s view on the then Tamil Nadu chief minister MGR’s role as the patron of LTTE and Pirabhakaran, I provide my own impressions on MGR’s contribution to the Eelam campaign. To quote from a commemorative feature I wrote in 1992: 

“Call it a mere coincidence or the destiny of Eelam Tamils, when the liberation struggle began earnestly in 1977, MGR would become the chief minister of the Tamil Nadu. Though his interest on the problems of Eelam Tamils remained passive till 1982, the ethnic holocaust of 1983 kindled his support for the Eelam cause. 1983 also saw the change in guard among the political leaders of the Eelam Tamils. MGR had never felt comfortable with the TULF leadership since he had perceived them as emotionally more close to the DMK leadership. 

When the leadership mantle in the struggle for Eelam needed a change and a boost, MGR became the godfather of the LTTE and made sure that the ‘new born baby’ would not suffer a premature death in the hands of wily J.R.Jayewardene, the central government of India and the Intelligence Agency of India. 

Even to his allies in politics, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the links MGR had with the LTTE was too embarrassing. But they simply had to ignore it for their own political survival in the south India. For all this moral support to the Tamil Eelam cause, MGR became the arch enemy of the Sinhalese power brokers from 1983 till his death in December 1987. 

Many Eelam Tamils also did not expect much from MGR after his skirmish with the TULF leadership at the 1981 Madurai Tamil International Conference. But, now in hindsight, one can see how much vital was the support of MGR for the Eelam cause from 1983 till his death…” [‘The Man from Maruthur and Malai Nadu’, Tamil Nation (London), Jan.15, 1992, p.4] 

MGR’s death in December 1987, at a relatively ‘senile’ age of almost 71, was the second bad blow for the Eelam, following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. For better or worse, some of the leading Tamil Nadu politicians had lived and (even marginally) influenced policy well into their eighties. C.Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), E.V.Ramasamy Naicker, C.Subramaniam are few who reached 90 years of age. Among the still living, former President R.Venkatraman had passed 90; DMK chief Karunanidhi is nearing 80. Thus MGR’s death, while he was holding the influential chief ministership of Tamil Nadu, in 1987 was indeed a bad karma for Eelam. 

I believe that MGR’s role as a mentor to Pirabhakaran and LTTE has been still under-appreciated by Tamils, partly due to the publications and self-righteous posturing of Tamil academics steeped in the Marxist Leftist tradition (Prof.K.Sivathamby and Prof. S.Sivasegaram, to name a few) who poured scorn on MGR’s modus operandi. Being a successful stage and movie actor for decades before he became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977, MGR had the advantage of using three skills he learnt in his primary profession and used them effectively to counter his foes and friends equally. These are as follows: 

1.     his impeccable sense of stage presence (a la Muhamad Ali and President Ronald Reagan) and intuitional decision-making skill. Only professional artistes  – actors, musicians and dancers –  of high caliber, and not the arm chair critics, can grasp this sense of stage presence well enough to act and react to the developing events and not following the pre-prepared script like a fool. Since events are always in a state of flux, this intuitional decision making skill is of high relevance for success in politics and all other endevors. 

2.     his virtuoso ability to not allow virtually anyone from stealing a scene. MGR demonstrated this ability repeatedly against all whom he had to interact with. This  included Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, J.R.Jayewardene, Amirthalingam, India’s Intelligence gumshoes and policy pundits, and last but not the least - political upstarts belonging to the RAW-supported Eelam militant groups. 

3.     his acting background helped him again in the last three years of his life, following his debilitation with stroke in 1984 which resulted in speech impediment. MGR could use mime and hands to express his thoughts to his confidants, while ignoring and deflecting unwanted pleas and noise from distractors within his party as well as those in outer circle. 

This last ability has been aptly described by one of MGR’s confidants, K.Mohandas – the Deputy Inspector General of Police – who served as MGR’s ‘ears and hands’. Mohandas had recorded, 

“[in the post-1984 period] Since I had been keeping MGR informed about the activities of these [i.e., many Eelam Tamil] militant groups and the training given to them, he expressed at one stage, that he would like to get in touch with all the leaders of various groups – particularly those of LTTE….The discussion was general in nature….MGR listened patiently but it was apparent that an instant rapport was established between MGR and Prabhakaran, the LTTE supremo. MGR, with his uncanny insight could easily make out the difference between the LTTE and the rest of the groups. It was a widely known fact that, as a consequence, MGR used to extend financial assistance at various stages in later years, both from his personal funds and sometimes from government funds. [Book: MGR – The Man and Myth, Panther Publishers, Bangalore, 1992, pp.78-79]  

In a subsequent chapter, Mohandas had further noted, 

“When I informed MGR that the developing situation was dangerous from the point of view of law and order, he asked me to warn the leaders of all the groups and also to inform the Centre. MGR was, on his part, gradually getting in touch with the militant groups – particularly the LTTE, through sources other than the CID. His idea seemed to be to impress on the Central Government his hold over the militant groups and use it as a card to be used if and when the need arose. This was a dangerous game, but as MGR once told me, life was not worth it without risks.” [ibid, p.113] 

That LTTE and Pirabhakaran recovered from the death of MGR is indeed a ‘miracle’. And I consider this is one of the good karmas for Eelam. 

(c) Good karma 

The ascension and dominance of Pirabhakaran as the military leader for Eelam Tamils since 1986 was a good karma in my assessment. Now that Japan is very much in the news relating to aid and development of war-torn Eelam, Sri Lankans as well as Indians are also getting familiarized with Japanese names like Yasushi Akashi and Mieko Nishimizu – both professionals of a caliber. 

I will use an analogy to a still not-well recognized Japanese inventor in explaining Pirabhakaran’s contribution to Eelam. That I have been living, researching and working in Japan since 1986 (with the exception of two years which I spent in Philadelphia) allows me to make a strong claim about myself as someone who have studied a little more than quite many pundits who contribute to Indian, Sri Lankan and even American newsmedia on Japan. This includes even the passing caravan of journalists who report for international magazines like Time, Newsweek and the Economist. I make these observations first to present my credibility as a Japan watcher. 

In mid-1999, I was working at a medium-size food company in central Japan, and as is the practice, I had to deliver once-a year ‘morning cheer speech’ (called chorei in Japanese) for about 5 minutes in Japanese, to the fellow workers numbering over 100. For this speech, I chose to focus on the contributions of a Japanese engineer-inventor about whom none of the fellow workers would know – but had used his invention regularly. Here are excerpts from my speech. 

“America’s Time magazine have picked 100 people who influenced the world greatly in the 20th century. Only one Japanese – Sony’s Akio Morita – has made it into this top 100, in international ranking. All of us have heard about Morita and his transistor story. But in my opinion, better than Morita, it was Hideo Shima, who made a greater contribution to the life of Japanese in this century. 

Who is Shima? Until last year, when he died at the age of 96, I didn’t know his name. Even now many Japanese don’t know much about him; though everyone would have used his product. Shima’s product was introduced in 1964. It was called the bullet express train (shinkansen). From my school days in Sri Lanka, I had wanted to learn about the principles of the success of this bullet express train. Only after Shima’s death, I learnt about his original idea, and the unique design. What is unique about the bullet express train? – it is speed and safety. 

Engineer Shima wanted to increase the speed of the regular express train. He did it by three steps. 

1.     by building a separate ‘bullet-train express’ only track.

2.     by making the this track, as straight as possible.

3.     by closing the windows and doors, like air plane, to decrease friction. 

Then, engineer Shima wanted safety, at high speed. He did it in two steps.

1.     by having an electric motor to pull each car of the train. This is quite different from having an engine, in front of all the cars.

2.     by the most ingenous step of having the electric motor in each car function simultaneously as brakes. 

Until 40 years ago, no one in Japan or in Europe or America believed in Shima’s idea. But Shima made his dream come true, against all opposition from politicians, bankers and pseudo-pundits in his profession. And when the opening ceremony for the bullet express train came, Shima was not there. He had resigned from his job for the politicians to strut in front of limelight.” [from my original text, dated July 5, 1999] 

Each of the five simplified steps I had outlined above which resulted in the successful operation of bullet express train can be metaphorically tagged to Pirabhakaran’s success with LTTE and Eelam. 

First, Pirabhakaran built a separate ‘express’ track from the worn-out parliamentary track. Even in engineer Shima’s conceptualization, this was the most significant contribution to the development of the bullet express train; i.e., to think that the already used path or track has to be given up for a new track.  Secondly, Pirabhakaran made this separate track ‘as straight as an arrow’ rather than giving into de-tours or bendings. Thirdly, he closed the windows and doors to unwanted friction – without hesitation by coercion and even silencing. Fourthly, he made the LTTE express train function effectively by delegating responsibilities to different regional leaders. Fifthly, he also developed a strategy to ‘put brakes’ on the running express train at appropriate intervals. (To be continued).   


Appendix 1


Unnatural Deaths of Heads of State and ex-Heads of State (since 1967)

[source: Sri Kantha – an incomplete list, compiled from open reference sources] 


Name of Head of State          Country       Date of Unnatural Death


1. Humberto Branco                  Brazil                    1967

2. R.Barrientos Ortuno              Bolivia                  Apr.27,1969

3. Abdirashid Ali Shermarke      Somalia                Oct.15, 1969

4. Salvador Allende                   Chile                    Sept.11, 1973 

5. Richard Ratsimandrava          Madagascar          Feb.11, 1975

6. Faysal ibn Abdal Aziz            Saudi Arabia         Mar.25, 1975

7. Francois Tombalbaye            Chad                     Apr.13, 1975

8. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman         Bangladesh           Aug.15, 1975

9. Murtala Mohammed               Nigeria                  Feb.13, 1976

10. Juan Jose Gonzalez              Bolivia                   1976

11. Juscelino Oliveira          Brazil                    1976

12. Mohammad Daud Khan        Afghanistan           Apr.27, 1978

13. Ali Mtsashiwa                      Comoros               May 13, 1978

14. Zulficar Ali Bhutto                Pakistan                Apr.4, 1979

15. Nur Mohammad Taraki        Afghanistan            Sept.16, 1979

16. Park Chung Hee                  South Korea           Oct.26, 1979

17. Hafizullah Amin                  Afghanistan             Dec.27, 1979

18. William R.Tolbert Jr.          Liberia                   Apr.12, 1980

19. Anastasio Somoza Jr.          Nicaragua              Sept.17, 1980

20. Ziaur Rahman                      Bangladesh           May 30, 1981

21. Omar Torrijos                     Panama                 Aug.1, 1981

22. Mohammad Ali Rajai           Iran                       Aug.30, 1981

23. Anwar Sadat                       Egypt                    Oct.6, 1981

24. Maurice Bishop                  Grenada                Oct.19, 1983

25. Indira Gandhi                      India                      Oct.31, 1984

26. Olof Palme                         Sweden                  Feb.28, 1986

27. Samora Machel                  Mozambique           Oct.19, 1986

28. Thomas Sankara                Burkino Faso         Oct.15, 1987

29. Zia ul Haq                          Pakistan                Aug.17, 1988

30. Ahmed Abderemane           Comoros              Nov.26, 1989

31. NicolaeCeausescu              Romania               Dec.22, 1989

32. Samuel K.Doe                   Liberia                  Sept.9, 1990

33. Rajiv Gandhi                      India                     May 21, 1991

34. Ranasinghe Premadasa       Sri Lanka              May 1, 1993

35. Zviad Gamsakhurdia          Georgia                 Dec.31, 1993

36. Melchior Ndadaye              Burundi                Oct.21, 1993

37. Cyprien Ntaryamira            Burundi                Apr.6, 1994

38. Gen.J.Habyarimana            Rwanda                Apr.6, 1994

39. Muhammad Farah Hassan  Somalia                 Aug.1, 1996

40. Mohammad Najibullah        Afghanistan           Sept.27, 1996

41. Ibrahim Barre Mainassara   Niger                     Apr.11, 1999

42. Laurent Kabila                   Congo                    Jan.16, 2001

43. King Birendra                    Nepal                     Jun.1, 2001