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‘Madaraasi Madam’ on Eezham Tamils: comments of a Tamil journalist

[TamilNet, Monday, 19 January 2009 08:06 No Comment]

j_jayalalithaa_200_140 The Tamil Nadu opposition leader Ms. Jeyalalithaa, in an interview reported by BBC on Saturday, has said that it is wrong to call the Tamils of the island of Sri Lanka as Eezhath Thamizhar, because there is no country at present called Eezham. In her opinion the right term is Ilangkaith Thamizhar. What is explicit in the statement of this leader who was made a Chief Minister twice by the people of Tamil Nadu as leader of a political party having a Dravidian label that doesn’t stand for any people at present, is her heartbeat of desire not exactly to see the elimination of the LTTE, but to see the nullification of the nationalism of Eezham Tamils inclusive of all its symbols, writes a Tamil journalist based in Chennai.

Edited translation of the original comments in Tamil:


Eezham and Ilangkai mean the same in every respect, other than the fact that the former is a word of Dravidian origin and the latter is a Tamilized form of a Munda (Veddoid) word. Both stand for the entire island, but Eezham precedes Ilangkai in Tamil epigraphical and literary usage. Even in Sinhala the use of the cognates of Eezham such as I’la (Hela in later Sinhala) is earlier than Lanka.

Eezhath Thamizhar (Eezham Tamils) is a cultural identity. There can be no qualms if Ms. Jeyalalithaa wants to use the alternative term Ilangkai Thamizhar. But she has crossed the line and trespassed into the cultural and emotional rights of the Eezham Tamils when she said the former is a wrong usage.

Such is the paranoia just because all Tamil militant groups have used the word Eezham. It may not be surprising to find soon Jeyalalithaa joining her ilk in India and the Colombo government in erasing out the word Eezham from the Tamil dictionaries.

Thanks to the struggle, Eezham or Eelam is better known to the outside world today.

Will Ms. Jeyalalithaa dare to write the term she says in English to popularize the identity? Never. In English she will go for the term Sri Lankan Tamils. It is exactly the point she wants to make, that these Tamils who dared to have national aspirations should be penalized to perish under the Sri Lankan identity imposed on them against their wishes by the first Sinhala constitution of 1972.

Thamizhakam and Tamil Nadu, on the CM chair of which she sat, did not exist for centuries until her Dravidian predecessors brought back the terms from Chilappathikaaram. Otherwise, it would have been still Madras.

Even today, for most of the North Indians all southerners irrespective of states are Madaraasees. Jeyalalithaa may think of authorizing the term because it is a contemporary usage of the north and it covers her native city Mysore in Karnataka as well.

Another golden statement made by the lady was that it is common for people to die in a war. It is also common for people who wage war to get killed.

The people in Vanni are not a human shield. They have no other trust worthy saviour to go. The people of Jaffna are living in an open prison for years now. What prevented the Madam not to express concern of it?
Ms. Jeyalalitha stated that the fast unto death of Thirumavalavan is a joint drama of him and Karunanidhi.
What onlookers think is that directed by remote control, the play-write and the heroin, screen together a cine-show to amuse the people of Tamil Nadu. The producer of the film is the only mystery and will remain a mystery at least for the time being. But, people have hopes that the spirit of democracy is still alive in Tamil Nadu.

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