Guru and Indi debating Sri Lankan issues on Al Jazeera

My good friend Guru and Indi Samarajiva debated issues on Sri Lankan politics and the way forward just a couple of hours ago on Al Jazeera’s The Stream.

I met Guru for dinner last night and we discussed some of these issues on a very casual level, I knew the outcome of this debate long before it started.

My personal opinion on this video, followed by the twitter conversation Indi, Guru and I had afterwards is that Guru clearly comes out on top. His argument was clear and concise, Indi’s on the other hand stemmed from a more cosmetic and idealistic perception of the sufferings of those in the North and East which seemed out of touch with ground realities of those at the grassroots.

It doesn’t help Indi that his connection timed out (or so I like to think) a little after Guru threw a barrage of arguments, and he goes on to say ‘I am not a very good Sinhalese’. Which begs the question, who was he representing ? By his choice of argument one would understand that he certainly didn’t represent a holistic ‘Sri Lankan’ identity, surely not – and he proceeds to reinforce this ambiguity furthermore by saying what I have quoted above. Guru on the other hand had a stronger sense of what he stood for.

This is purely my opinion, to be fair to both Guru and Indi watch the video above and make up your own minds.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Guru and Indi debating Sri Lankan issues on Al Jazeera

  1. How does one actually represent an ethnic group? By saying one is a good Sinhala or Tamil? By winning votes at the last election (making sure the votes are from a particular ethnic group)? Surely, no one can represent large amorphous groups, other than a democratically elected government (many people question this too).You seem to have missed Indi's main point by a mile: he was saying identity-politics was a deadend. Claiming to be a representative of Sinhala people would mean destroying his own argument.What your interpretation demonstrates is how entrenched identity-politics are, sadly. No one can just be a blogger, a young man with an opinion. He has to be pigeonholed into an ethnic representative. That is the dead end we are all stuck in.And once the mythical Eelam is established, the identity politics will persist: Karaiyar representative, Vellala representative (if permitted)and so on.

  2. Shame it comes across as a "debate" in which you are cheering your buddy. Indi has a valid point – I agree with Anonymous above. But Indi does not have an understanding of what I as a Tamil feel and face (and Guru articulates this well) — that of successive Sri Lankan governments' miserable failure to see me as part of Sri Lanka, or them actively seeking to throw me out. Happens to this day, in the form of suddenly suggesting the National Anthem should be sung in Sinhala only and suspending the dual nationality system (which many think is because of a large number of Tamils applying; true or not, I believe it to be plausible!).But how does one build a future? The Tamil side of the debate has been well-put in different ways: writing about it, speaking about it, Satyagrahaing about it, voting about it, and violently fighting over it. We even tried to explain our grievances to the world by killing the Prime Minister of India… still nobody seems to understand how we feel and what problems we face as a Tamils, right? So, I think, from the Tamil side, instead of cheering Guru for winning the debate, we better think of some fundamentally novel idea!

  3. It wasn't a debate for me and I wasn't trying to come out on top. I was aiming for the middle. I think we all need to work together. I think we need to find common ground, and equality.Anonymous 2, I can only empathize with the humiliation and outrage Tamil people have undergone. I think that the Tamil people deserve true equality in this country, as do the poor, women, and all possible divisions and illusions we can imagine. Have the Tamils in the north and east suffered more? Yes. My question is, how can we all suffer less. I believe that it starts with compassion and with unity. I was not representing the Sinhalese or anything of the sort. I am not my race. I am Sri Lankan.

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