The Government of India, after taking permission from the Sri Lankan state, is planning to construct a cultural centre at Jaffna. A Memorandum of Understanding for implementation of the project was signed by the High Commissioner of India Mr. Y.K. Sinha and the Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka in the presence of Basil Rajapaksa, the website of the Indian High Commission for Sri Lanka reported on Monday. The aim of the project was “to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna”, the report further said. Jaffna civil society activists however are sceptical and wonder whether this project is a “cultural imperialist” collaboration between New Delhi and Colombo to distort, fetishize and commercialize the culture of the Eezham Tamils.
“The Cultural Centre is to be built in the next 36 months, on a plot of land adjacent to the Jaffna Public Library, made available by the Jaffna Municipal Council. The Centre and the adjoining water body – the Pullukulam will be transformed into an integrated cultural space that can also accommodate open-air performances with the help of a floating stage,” the report said.
Further, “The purpose of the Jaffna Cultural Centre, which is being built at an estimated cost of SLR 1.2 billion, is to provide suitable social infrastructure for the people of the Northern Province, especially for the people of Jaffna, to help them to reconnect with their cultural roots as well as to the rest of the country and to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna.”
“The Centre will enable the people of Jaffna to enjoy various local and international cultural products. It would also serve as a delivery centre for training, instruction and education in a variety of cultural disciplines. The Centre is being developed as an iconic building that will emerge as a cultural forum that embodies coexistence and cooperation amongst the various communities on the island.”
In the way the report has been framed and in the manner in which the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ has been signed, it appears that the interest seems to be more in promoting the ‘reconciliation’ agenda of the genocidal Sinhala State rather than an attempt to help the Eezham Tamils “to reconnect with their cultural roots”, the civil society activists from Jaffna commented.
Meanwhile, the supposedly Hindu-centric government in India has been completely silent about Buddhicisation process in the Tamil homeland and the systematic destruction and desecration of Saiva temples, both of which are a component of structural genocide.
After allowing the Sinhala state to destroy the very roots of Eezham Tamils’ culture, to alter demography, and to ethnically re-engineer the Tamil homeland, what culture do the Indians seek to promote, the Tamil activists question.
High Commission of India: