by Sachi Sri Kantha, November 25, 2017
Twelve years ago, I wrote a commentary entitled ‘Scholarship on Fools – Inspiration from Orrin Klapp and poet Kannadasan’. In it, I also provided the electronic version of the classic paper of Orrin Klapp (1915-1997), entitled, ‘The Fool as a Social Type’ [American Journal of Sociology, September 1949, vol. 55, no.2, pp 157-162]. I wrote this commentary for two reasons; (1) to promote poet Kannadasan’s scholarship on fools, and (2) to focus and critique the anti-LTTE voices among Tamils.
For this year’s Maaveerar anniversary, it seems appropriate to revisit the activities of these anti-LTTE voices now, to take stock. Did the anti-LTTE voices achieve anything of worth for Eelam Tamils, since May 2009, when LTTE lost its military struggle against the Sri Lankan army backed by powerful international forces. My ten selections then, were as follows:
Antic fool – Subramanian Swamy (economist turned politician)
Comic rogue – Cho Ramaswamy (playwright cum actor turned all-knowing oracle)
Rash fool – V. Muralitharan (aka Karuna; military rebel turned politician)
Clumsy fool – V. Anandasangaree (teacher turned politician)
Deformed fool – Rajan Hoole (mathematician turned human-rights activist)
Simple fool – S.C. Chandrahasan (lawyer turned politician)
Weak fool – Radhika Coomaraswamy (legal academic turned women’s rights activist)
Comic butt – Douglas Devananda (militant impostor turned influence-peddler)
Pompous fool – Lakshman Kadirgamar (lawyer turned Colombo’s Rasputin)
Mock hero – Jayalalitha Jayaram (actor-dancer turned politician)
My criteria for choosing these ten Tamils were, (1) They were in public life for at least a decade, and (2) They pretend to be ‘leaders’ of Tamils, in some capacity via their own publicity blurbs in books, magazines and multi-media interviews. Thus, their tomfoolery in words and deeds have been in the public record.
Among these ten, three had died. Lakshman Kadirgamar (1932-2005) was the first to depart in August 2005. Two Tamil Nadu politicians, namely Jayalalitha (1948-2016) and Cho Ramaswamy (1934-2016) died within two day span, an year ago.
Lakshman Kadirgamar is long forgotten now, among his main constituency – the Sinhalese politicians. He has been ‘institutionalized’ with an eponymous name, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. Nothing Tamil at all!
Jayalalitha, if she had lived, would be languishing in jail now, like her friend Sasikala Nadarajan (b. 1957). Her stars had dimmed! In fact, Jayalalitha lived shrewdly (by projecting herself as a no-nonsense, convent-educated, English speaking talent) from 1981 to 2016, NOT on her own strength, but on the reflected glory of cinema association with her mentor M.G. Ramachandran, between 1965 and 1972.
Among the chosen ten, I do agree that Cho Ramaswamy had talent as a playwright and a muck-raking journalist. But, he was no political seer. His evaluation of the Sri Lankan political history was deeply flawed. Cho’s suggested alternatives for a viable political solution for Eelam Tamils are simply ‘pie in the sky’ type akin to a high octane joke that will hardly be implemented by the racist Sinhalese regime.
Among the remaining seven living fools, three appear to have retired for lack of funds, having been dropped by their foreign-based sponsors. These include, anti-LTTE noise makers Rajan Hoole, Radhika Coomaraswamy and S.C. Chandrahasan.
Two Eelam politicians (Anandasangaree and V. Muralitharan) who promoted themselves as alternative Tamil leadership have flip-flopped without showing any iota of diligent leadership on their own. Their idea of leadership is simply issuing ‘letters’, ‘communiques’ and assorted ephemera to the rulers in power and passing such junk to the news media for self promotion. Same applies to antic fool Subramanian Swamy of India, who merged his Janata Party to the current ruling clique of Narendra Modi, for political crumps.
Douglas Devananda, lingers on in the Sri Lankan parliament, for 23 consecutive years, as an appropriately tagged ‘comic butt’. In sum, cumulative deeds of still living seven fools prove that they cannot hold a candle to the sacrifices made by the Maaveerar of LTTE.