7/28/2013

Indian Tamils, Upcountry Tamils, Country Tamils or Sri Lankan Tamils

Sri Lankan Prime Minister says that the Indian origin Tamils will have a new race name as Sri Lankan.

Were they not Sri Lankans so far?

British colonial rulers brought poverty stricken South Indian Tamils to Sri Lanka for plantation labor. They made the Sri Lankan soil fertile with their sweat and have been building the national economy for more than a century.

Majority Sinhalese and 'local' Tamils considered them as aliens or foreigners and wonderfully, the Marxist theorists like Rohana Wijeweera considered them as invaders.

This community which is suffering from endemic and abject social backwardness needs to be guaranteed their equal rights.

I don't know if the Sri Lankan race name in their birth certificates and other relevant documents will mean anything in a context the other Sri Lankans identify themselves as Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim peoples.

In my point of view, they have the right to the identity of Upcountry Tamils which they have fought for. But there is a considerable number of Low Country Tamils in the districts of Kalutara, Rathnapura, kegalle and Galle districts.

What if they are called Country Tamils? 

On the other hand, is Indian Tamil a derogatory remark? I don't think so. The Jaffna Tamil elite needed to alienate themselves from this community for backward reasons. They need the same with the Batticaloa Tamils also. Do we need to give into a backward need of a community?

Why can't they claim for the identity of Sri Lankan Tamils? If they too need to mark a distinct identity, I think still Indian tag is better than the geographical term of Upcountry. India is a powerful country you can be proud of our origin.

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