Jul 1 – 31

The countdown of generational first-hand stories: ‘Black July’ 35 years later

by Thiru K. Thirukumaran

Here we are again at another anniversary of the pogrom in Sri Lanka known as ‘Black July’.

The violence was a harbinger that dissipated Tamil life in the city of Colombo especially, and to the generation of that my father. It escalating a brutal war along with triggering an island-wide mass migration of Tamils for 30 plus years is history.

My father’s generation was an important component and formed a significantly affluent presence in the other ways also diverse as Tamils living in Colombo. The generation of my father, having been born in the north during pre-independence Ceylon or shortly thereafter, then notably in vast numbers moved to Colombo. There they built their professional education/career/entrepreneurship, family, indulging in the arts and spiritual part of their enriched lives. And they are diminishing in number in the capital city nowadays. [DailyFT]

“Black July”: Thirty-fifth Anniversary of 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom


One of the darkest chapters in the sphere of Sri Lankan ethnic relations was the widespread anti-Tamil violence that occurred thirty – five years ago during the fourth week of July in 1983. Although the tragic history of post – independence Sri Lanka records that the Tamils of Sri Lanka were subjected to mass –scale mob violence in the years 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, the anti-Tamil violence of July 1983 was the most horrible of them all. It remains etched in memory even after 35 years as “Black July 1983”. I have written about the dark happenings of July 1983 extensively in the past. However I intend re-visiting the events of “Black July” briefly in these columns to denote the 35th anniversary of the terrible pogrom. [dbsj]

Jun 1 – 30:

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s US Citizenship and Presidential Ambition

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap will conclude his three year term in Colombo this August.He will be succeded by Alaina B. Teplitz the current US Ambassador to Nepal. Both Keshap and Teplitz were appointed envoys to Sri Lanka and Nepal respectively by former US president Barack Obama in March 2015. Both however are US foreign service career officers and not political appointees of President Obama [DBSJ]

May 1 – May 31:

TNA May Launch Non-Violent Protest Campaign Against Govt Soon


The Coalition Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe may soon be facing a political challenge from an unexpected quarter namely the Tamil National Alliance(TNA). The TNA regarded as the premier political configuration of the Sri Lankan Tamil people is becoming increasingly frustrated at what it perceives as the slow pace and tardy progress of the Constitution making process. Therefore the TNA is planning to launch a non – violent protest campaign against the UNP- SLFP coalition Govt if it continues to procrastinate and dilly-dally on this issue. If and when matters do reach a point where a political confrontation becomes inevitable, the TNA proposes to embark upon a huge non – violent protest campaign to pressurise the Govt to expedite the making of a new Constitution. [DBSJ]

April 1 – 30:

How And Why The TNA Helped Defeat The No Confidence Motion Against Premier Wickremesinghe


In the seven decade long history of Independent Sri Lanka’s legislature there have been two no confidence motions and related debates that are unprecedented and unparalleled. The first was in 1981 when members of the then United National Party (UNP) Govt brought and passed a no confidence motion against the former leader of opposition Appapillai Amirthalingam. The No Confidence Motion (NCM)brought against the late Tamil United Liberation front(TULF) leader was farcically unique in the sense that members of the ruling party were sponsoring a no faith motion against the leader of the opposition. [DBSJ]

TNA Captures Jaffna, Point Pedro and Chavakachcheri By Defeating Tamil Congress in Skilful Political Operation


Jaffna is the capital city of the predominantly Tamil speaking Northern province of Sri Lanka. It was at the time of independence from Britain, the second largest city in the Island, next only to Colombo. Jaffna gradually declined in the post-independence years dropping to fourth place at the 1981 census. Thereafter with the escalation of the ethnic conflict, Jaffna along with many other places in the Northern and Eastern provinces got drastically affected by the war. Disruption of the economy and mass migration saw Jaffna drop to 14th place when an Island wide census was taken in 2012. In fact there are more Sri Lankan Tamils living in Colombo,London and Toronto than in Jaffna now.Nevertheless Jaffna known as “Yaarlpaanam” in Tamil and “Yahapanaya” in Sinhala continues to retain its glory as the cultural capital of the Sri Lankan Tamils. [DBSJ]

Mar 1 – 31:

Orchestrated Anti-Muslim Violence in Amparai Town and Kandy District


Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as minister of Law and Order on February 25th 2018. It was a stop gap measure. The premier was only expected to be in charge of the portfolio for two weeks until a new minister was appointed. The fortnightly stint as a”caretaker” minister however has proved to be a terrible ordeal amounting to a baptism of fire for the new Law and order minister. A pre-planned, well co-ordinated campaign of anti-Muslim violence was unleashed in two phases , first in the Amparai town and next in the Kandy district.[DBSJ]

Feb 1 – 28:

Seventy Years Of Independence and the Tamils of Sri Lanka

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Three score and ten years have passed since Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon gained Independence from Britain on February 4th 1948. The Island nation has been under colonial bondage for a very long period. Portugese rule came first in 1505,followed by Dutch rule in 1658.Finally came British rule in 1796 that lasted until 1948. It was the British who unified the Island under a single administration in 1833. They also introduced universal franchise and electoral representation through the State Council in 1931. [DBSJ]

♛ Singer A.E.Manoharan Was Crowned “Thamizh Poppisaich Chakkaravarthy” (Emperor of Tamil Pop Music) ♫

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Ithaya Oasai”(Sound of the Heart”) was a drama put on the boards by the students of St.John’s College,Jaffna in 1963/64. The play proved so popular that it was staged to members of the public in Jaffna,Kandy,Trincomalee,Batticaloa and Colombo. The chief actor in the play was a handsome curly-haired student in the then Higher School Certificate(HSC)class. He was a hosteller as his family was living in the central highlands. [DBSJ]

Jan 1 – 31, 2018

Many facets of Thai Pongal: Pongal as Tamils’ Passover

By K. Thirukumaran

Tamils have celebrated Thai Pongal in one form or the other over millennia. Celebrating Thai Pongal nowadays in its traditional, purposeful piety and outdoor gala continues to evolve as vast numbers of diaspora Tamil communities exist in far corners away from their homelands. [TW]

Will Tamil Film Hero Rajinikanth Become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister?


In the May 2014 Indian General elections the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) led by Narendra Modi swept the poll in many states to form a government with a stable majority in New Delhi. However Tamil Nadu was one of the few Indian states to resist “Modimania” with the Jayalalithaa Jayaram led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK) getting 37 of 39 Lok Sabha seats allocated to the state. Jayalalithaa’s resonating challenge at the 2014 hustings “Modi or Lady”resulted in the Lady routing Modi on her home turf. The BJP could not make headway in Tamil Nadu even during the 2016 Assembly polls. The AIADMK and chief opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(DMK)swept the polls.

The BJP was not the only National party of India that failed dismally in Tamil Nadu. Even the Congress party of the Gandhis and Nehrus which ruled in Tamil Nadu for 20 years after Independence from 1947 to 1967 has been unable to regain power in the South Indian state for the past 50 years. The “Dravidian” political ideology has been ruling the roost in Tamil Nadu. Either the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(DMK) or its Alter Ego the All India Anna-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(AIADMK) has been enjoying power in the state.Currently the AIADMK is in the saddle though Jayalalithaa herself passed away in December 2016.

In a not so subtle bid to gain politically in Tamil Nadu the BJP currently at the helm in New Delhi has been making several overtures to a popular Tamil film actor. 67 Year old Rajinikanth or ”Superstar” as he is known is still the single most popular mass figure among actors in Tamil cinema. Prime minister Narendra Modi paid a courtesy call to Rajinikanth when he visited Tamil Nadu for the polls campaign in 2014. Rajinikanth was invited as a special guest for Modi’s inauguration as PM the same year. BJP’s Tamil Nadu state leader Dr.Thamizhisai Soundararajan has been calling on the actor several times. The lady doctor has even been cultivating the superstar’s spouse Ms.Latha Rajinikanth.The BJP has been trying very hard to entice Rajinikanth into its Saffron folds and utilise him as the vehicle to reach its destination of capturing state power in Tamil Nadu. [DBSJ]

“Moovaenthar” Sivaji Ganesan, MG Ramachandran And Gemini Ganesan Were The Three Kings Of Tamil Cinema Heroes


‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’ is a popular Christmas carol written and set to music by Rev. John Henry Hopkins Jnr in 1857. This is about the wise men mentioned in the Bible who came to Bethlehem with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to pay homage to the newborn infant Jesus.

Oral tradition gradually transformed the wise men of the east into three kings from the Orient. Western Christian tradition regards the three Kings as Melchior – a king from Persia,Balthasarr– a king from Arabia, and Gaspar – a king from India.

‘We Three Kings’ is one of my favourite Christmas carols.The “three kings” referred to in the carol keep ringing in my ears and provides the inspiration for this post-Christmas ‘Spotlight’ column. Only this article will be about three cinematic kings and not the mystical kings of the orient.This latter-day trio of kings were actor-heroes who reigned supreme as monarchs of Tamil movies during the latter half of the 20th century.

Sivaji Ganesan, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) and Gemini Ganesan comprised the triumvirate that dominated Tamil movies from the fifties to the seventies of the 20th century.The top thespian trinity of that vintage in Tamil cinema were Sivaji, MGR and Gemini. They ruled the roost in ‘Kollywood’ as the Tamil Nadu film industry is referred to in lighter vein. [DBSJ]

Dec 1 – 31:

DK-DMK Dravidian Movement Split in India and the Decline of Tamil Separatism


India gained freedom from Britain at midnight on August 15th 1947. At the time of Indian independence there was a separatist movement in South India spearheaded by the “Dravidar Kazhagham” (DK) or Dravidian association led by E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker popularly known as “Periyar”(Great Person). As stated in an earlier article the DK demand was for a separate state in South India comprising areas where the Dravidian languages Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Tulu were pre-dominantly spoken. The envisaged state was called “Dravida Nadu”(Dravidian state). [DBSJ]

Scintillating Sri Lankan Actress Jacqueline Fernandez Is Sparkling Jewel of Hindi Cinema

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘Spotlight’ shines again after many weeks to focus on a luminous Sri Lankan star of Sri Lanka who has been illuminating the Hindi cinematic firmament for several years. A beauty queen turned film actress who possesses a flair for promoting culinary commerce as well as retaining a penchant for espousing social and humanitarian causes. [DBSJ]

Tamil Secessionism and the “Dravida Nadu” (Dravida State) Demand in India

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Tamil secessionism in the island of Sri Lanka came to an effective end in May 2009 when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE)Organization was militarily defeated by the Armed forces of the Government of Sri Lanka. Interestingly enough our big neighbour India which has a Tamil speaking population of over 60 million people too faced a Tamil separatist challenge several decades ago. Although secessionism flourished at one time in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu – formerly known as Madras – it was confined within limits of democratic dissent and never transformed into a bitter armed struggle as it did in Sri Lanka. [DBSJ]

Nov 1 – 30

LTTE Oriented Event “Maaveerar Naal” (Great Heroes Day) On November 27th Is Not The Tamil National Day Of Mourning

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

November 27th 1989 was the day on which the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE)first observed its annual “Maaveerar Naal” or Great Heroes Day (GHD). Twenty –eight years have passed since then and the 28th anniversary of the event is today Nov 27th 2017.

The event continues to be observed on a large scale by sections of the Global Tamil Diaspora despite the military debacle suffered by the LTTE in May 2009. The event has lost much of its lustre after the demise of tiger supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran.These are days of decline when compared to the manner in which Great heroes day was observed when the LTTE ruled the roost. Nevertheless commemorating the fallen tigers as great heroes annually remains an enduring tiger legacy despite the LTTE being militarily decimated in Sri Lanka. [DBSJ]

Fear grips Muslims in Sri Lanka’s Ginthota after attack

by M Riza

Muhammad Abrar is still in shock, nearly a week after his house in Ampitiya village in the southern Sri Lankan town of Ginthota came under attack from a Sinhalese-Buddhist mob.

On November 17, he had returned from the mosque after evening prayers and was about to retire for the night, when he heard his neighbours’ home being attacked.

“The first attack on our home was when our window panes were broken by rocks,” said Abrar, who drives a tuk-tuk (three-wheeled taxi) for a living.

“There was a mob of about 150 to 200 people armed with steel crowbars and other makeshift weapons. They smashed our gate and came in and poured petrol on my tuk-tuk and set it on fire.” [AlJazeera]

Geetha Kumarasinghe, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the UPFA Galle District MP’s


Popular Sinhala movie actress Geetha Kumarasinghe who was elected member of Parliament from Galle electoral district on the United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA) ticket in August 2015 has been unseated as an MP by rulings of the Sri Lankan judiciary. [DBSJ}

Oct 1 – Oct 31:

“Aekiya Raajya – Orumiththa Naadu”: For An Undivided, Indivisible Sri Lanka.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Constitutional Assembly Steering Committee chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has laboured mightily and brought forth the Interim report of proposals for an envisaged new Constitution. It would be premature to prognosticate on the report’s potential future or delve deeply into its contents at this point of time. Nevertheless it must be stated that the release of the report in the current political landscape was like a welcome shower of rain pouring on drought-stricken , parched earth. [DBSJ]