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Is Tamil Diaspora having hard time to retain its Identity? Find out!

A Tamil Wedding ceremony. Image source:

With India having the largest diaspora spread across the world, Tamilians from India make up to 3.3 million in total. Despite their endless contributions to the modern world, the Tamilian sect of Indian diaspora is having a hard time to retain their identity in South Asian countries like Myanmar, Malaysia, Fiji and Sri Lanka, which was recently discussed in a lecture at Loyola College, Tamil Nadu. The event was organised by Mononmaniam Sundaranar University and Centre for Diaspora Studies, in partnership with Loyola Institute of Social Sciences Training and Research and Madras University.

Students during the lecture at Loyola College. Source: Centre for Diaspora Studies
Students during the lecture at Loyola College. Image Source: Centre for Diaspora Studies

Sunil Amrith, a professor of History and South Asian Studies at Harvard University, addressed this issue at Loyola College. The lecture was called ‘Global TamilScapes’ by the diaspora expert.
According to report, nearly 28 million Indians from South India are reported to have migrated to Southeast Asia, who are living a life of misery. Tamilian dialect and lifestyle have been changing with its encounter with the European, Malay and Chinese communities, but their lives are becoming mundane with the day.

“Tamil migrant labourers played an essential role in the development of global capitalism and their contributions in Southeast Asia is immense. There must be steps to ensure inter-cultural interactions exploiting avenues of globalisation,’’ said Amrith.

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Amrith is the author of ‘Crossing the Bengal’ a book that talks about Tamil migration to South-east Asian countries. He also discussed in the lecture that Tamil diasporic literature and studies provide a concrete ideology for Tamilians and will address their emotional dislocation and dilemma, for instance, their circumstances in Sri Lanka.

Tamil citizens were denied citizenship by the government after the country got independence. Similar to the studies of the Orient in comparison of the Occidental, studies of Tamilian diaspora have also been denied the recognition it deserves. For generations, Tamilians worked at plantations in countries like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa and Malaysia and they didn’t have any document to prove their citizenship after Sri Lanka’s independence. Only 16% of the total Tamilian immigrants received citizenship which increased the bar of discrimination, mentioned report.

Canadian Sri Lankan Tamilians. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Canadian Sri Lankan Tamilians.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tamilians have migrated to every part of the world. Read on for some reasons why and where they have migrated:

  • Due to the Great Famine of 1876-78, Tamil Nadu became economically weak. As a result, the British sent Tamilians to their plantation setups in countries like Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and others.
  •  Since Sri Lanka is nearby Tamil Nadu (merely at a sea-route distance of 2 hours), Tamilians have settled here since ages.
  • Tamil groups like the Chettiyars are traders of money lending. This is how they dominated finance and trade in Burma.
  • Besides all of this, South India has always felt disconnected with the rest of India. Politically, no Prime Minister has been elected from the Tamilian state since more than five decades, and not to forget the anti-Tamil riots in Mumbai. Some Tamilian groups found recluse in outer nations.
  • One of the most important reasons for this shift is their intelligence. Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of engineer graduates in India, who usually emigrate to abroad and especially the Silicon Valley.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna


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Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Gets Reinstated

A spokesman for Wickremesinghe said he was expected to form a Cabinet in the coming days, with priority given to the 2019 budget

Sri Lanka, prime minister
Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe looks on during a parliament session in Colombo, Dec. 12, 2018. On Sunday he was reinstated as prime minister, ending a political crisis.

Sri Lanka’s sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated Sunday, his party said, ending a 51-day crisis that had paralyzed the island nation and pushed it toward debt default.

The 69-year-old leader was sworn in by President Maithripala Sirisena, who sacked him Oct. 26 and triggered a power struggle that brought the country’s government to a standstill.

Wickremesinghe had refused to step aside since being sacked and replaced by former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Power struggle won

Sri Lanka had drifted without a functioning government for nearly two months as the rival factions jostled for power in parliament and the courts.

Sri Lanka, Parliament, Prime minister
Supporters of ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe celebrate outside the supreme court complex in Colombo. VOA

Sirisena had vowed to never reappoint Wickremesinghe, who he publicly castigated in speeches in recent weeks, as prime minister under his watch.

The acrimony between the two was underscored Sunday when Sirisena barred journalists from attending the swearing-in ceremony, leaving it to Wickremesinghe’s legislators to announce the appointment.

“We thank the citizens of the country who fought the illegal seizure of power and ensured that democracy was restored,” his United National Party of Sri Lanka posted on Twitter

President’s appointee failed

Rajapaksa, Sirisena’s appointee, was unable to govern, failing many times to muster a majority in parliament.

Sri Lanka, prime minister
Sri Lanka’s disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures as he arrives for a meeting with his supporting lawmakers at the parliamentary complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 29, 2018. VOA

He was defeated six times on the floor of the legislature before being forced to step down Saturday.

Sirisena suffered a huge setback when the highest court in the country ruled last week that he acted outside the constitution when he sacked parliament in early November.

The court also confirmed Friday that Rajapaksa and his purported Cabinet could not exercise the powers of the office they held.

Also Read: President’s Dissolution of Parliament Unconstitutional: Sri Lanka’s Court

A spokesman for Wickremesinghe said he was expected to form a Cabinet in the coming days, with priority given to the 2019 budget, without which foreign debt servicing may not be possible.

Sri Lanka had been braced for a government shutdown as parliament failed to approve spending for 2019, and ratings agencies downgraded the country’s credit rating amid fears of a sovereign debt default. (VOA)