Thursday, May 21, 2009

Somini Sengupta should learn from Judy Miller

Yesterday's NYT carried this article by Somini( is apparent that some section of the Western Media is trying to make Mahinda Rajapakse a Robert Migabe or a Kayibanda.I'm not a fan of Mahinda Chinthana and have doubts about the post conflict agenda he has.Specially worried about the racist elements around him .To his credit, he has some great liberal non-racist people around him as well.Due to strange 1978 constitution and propotional representaion Mahinda has been walking a political tight rope since 2005.
The issue I have is trying to paint Mahinda and generally Sinhalese as backward looking feudalists.Take this paragraph.

The brothers, who come from upper-caste landed gentry, are not part of the
English-educated elite of Colombo, the capital. Snubbing pressure from the West
did not hurt them; it helped them consolidate their southern Sinhalese
nationalist base.

Any reader who does not have a background on Sri Lanka is going to assume
a)Caste is a important thing in Sri Lanka
b)Mahinda is from the upper caste
c)He is not English educated

Caste was an important factor in Sri Lanka but not any more.Even in it's hayday it was not an important factor like in India or even close to the situation among Sri Lankan(Ceylonese then) Tamils.R.Premadsa,the second executive president , was not from a upper caste.He won against Sirimawo Bandaranayake ,two time prime minister wife of prime minister and a upper caste lady.His successor ,D.B. Wijetunga was certainly Goyigama but did not belong to the "radala" or the upper hierarchy of the that caste.His successor Chandrika Kumaratunga is the wife of Vijaya Kumaratunga. Vijya is from Durawa caste .Durawa was the toddy tapping caste which did not feature high in caste hierarchy .
Of course Mahinda is Goyigama,radala and buddhist but he is married to a women of Cathalic goyigama background.His extended clan has inter married into Karawa and Durawa caste.One of them is married to a Tamil I think!
The bottom line is that caste does not play a important role among Sinhalese.It might have been important 100 years ago but not anymore.
Mahinda is not from Colombo English educated class .That statement is true.That does not mean that he is an uneducated fool.He went to primary school at Richmond(Galle) which taught in English at the tme and Nalanda and Thurstan(Colombo).Many Sri Lankans who can read and write English does not speak english well due to that fact that they do not speack it at home or day to day life.I think Mahinda belong to that category so do not judge him by mispronounciations or strange constructs of the language.After all we had to endure George Bush for 8 years.

Then this paragraph takes the cake....
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defense secretary and a former computer systems
administrator in Los Angeles, accused international aid agencies working in
Tiger-held territory of helping the insurgents. Last fall, he ejected nearly all
of them from the area.

A Unix adminstrator conducting a war !Must be the dream job for a nerd!How fucking hypocritical of Somini to write this ?Who edited this paragrapgh?Gotabaya Rajapakse was Lt.Colonel of the Sri Lanka Army and a collegue of current army commander Sarath Fonseka.I do not know the details but it looks like after retiring (he had a illustarted carreer in the nothern war) in 1990's he got a US greencard and decided come to LA .He seems to have worked as a unix admin during that period.How many lt.col in US army can administrate a unix system?The reason for his leaving might be that during UNP and then the Chandrika period Rajapakses were delegated to back bench .He must have thought it was better to move on after serving his country.

Criticise them for their policies but do not try to paint them as megalomaniacs who are running a backward country and they do not know any shit about what they do.Does the name Judy Miller and WMD issues ring any bells?
BTW Army commander Sarath Fonseka ,he might be from Karawa Caste(looking at the name and Ambalangoda background).You know what? We do not fucking care!

I do not have time to spell check . Grammer might be bad ,too.I'm not writing for NYT.


Anonymous said...

well said.

Anonymous said...

well said.

Anonymous said...

Vijaya Kumarathunga "Toddy Tapping Caste"
Durawa is the most hirachy class in sri lanka.

Anonymous said...

Well said....

However, in justification to Durawa caste ;
It is not a "toddy Tapping Caste" by definition. This definition was officially removed by Law after proving that was wrong. (I browsed the net coz, this definition got my attention. Anyone from any caste can do anything...).
Refer to
" " and

It was one of the jobs that they have performed in the past (may be even now) amongst many more important jobs.... seem to be a well educated community with lots of famous personalities...