In What Ways Are The Tamils Already Sovereign Based Upon The Definition Of Sovereignty And Fundamental Characteristics; And How Realistic Is Their Claim To Sovereignty, Self-Determination And Their Own Nation State. Eric Metselaar
Global Politics 11th (G)
27 November 2014
Word Count: 1840
The Tamils Go Way, Way Back…
Among, the arguable, 196 countries, are an assortment on stateless nations. Stateless nations being a group of people sometimes called ethnic minorities, who have lost or never acquired sovereignty. What happens when one of the counties with the largest populations on earth looses control over starts to loose control of 5.7 million people? The current map of Nation-States could be subject to change if the Tamil people push for sovereignty. The stateless nation of Tamil could become its own nation-state; this could change the geography of the globe, and would have several major consequences for both India and Sri Lanka. The Tamils have been their own group of people, with admirable history, culture, language, and tradition since 15,000 BCE, however they are still not part of their own sovereign Nation-State. Tamils make up 5.9%1 of India’s Population, and continue to grow. The Tamils mostly qualify to be defined as Nation-State, however there are several key factors that are absent. If the Tamil people were to push for sovereignty there would be significant changes and implications for both Sri Lanka and India. However, the Tamils claim to a Nation-State is still questionable. Could Tamils survive sovereignty?
The Tamils have most of the aspects needed to be a sovereign, self-determinant, nation-state, nevertheless they are still considered as part population of the county of India or Sri Lanka. They do not have any official sovereignty, however they do have self-determination, which is a majorly important aspect and step towards freedom from Indian and Sri Lankan rule, and sovereignty. The extent of Tamils self-determination encompasses the protection and promotion of its resources, the economy, business, its citizens, and national boarders.
The Tamil people posses the fourth-largest economy and the fourth-largest industrialized state in India. They also have the sixth highest GDP per capita $1,622. Their GDP as a state of India was 145.8 Trillion dollars with a high growth rate of 9.4% each year (Bhavan). However they are the most urbanized state in India (49%). The Tamil’s strong economy would adequatly sport itself if they were to gain sovereignty.
Yet, the most powerful reason for the Tamils to gain self-determination is their culture and history. Tamils have existed in modern India since the 15,000 BCE. Also Tamils speak the oldest cultivated Dravidian language and their rich literary tradition extends back to the early Christian era. They are rich in history, literature, cuisine, celebrations, national heroes, and certainly extreme nationalism. The protection of their boarders is seen happening both in the Sri Lankan, and Indian Territory, which the Tamils occupy. This has lead to major government intervention. The Tamils have the power, the self-determination, the culture, the language, the population, and many of the characteristics of a Nation-State. However do they want independence and sovereignty? Rise Of The Tamils?
The Tamil’s wanting for sovereignty is inconsistent and dependent on several elements, such as which geographical population that is being examined, nevertheless there are mentionable benefits and downfalls, if the Tamils were to gain sovereignty. As in everything, there are two sides to the debate. The Tamils that fight for independence and the Tamils content with Indian/Sri Lankan rule. In India especially, the Tamils are more comfortable with the rule of India. They have their own land, and it goes mostly uncontested by the government. However they still have their complaints, mainly being that the Indian government relentlessly forces the Hindi language, culture and religion on their people. Still they can be seen as patriotic Indians. Opposing that view was the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army; a group of left wing, extremist, Naxalites2. They believed that the Tamils needed independence from Indian rule “essential for the betterment of the people of Tamil Nadu” (“Tamil Nadu Liberation Army”). This extremist organization used bombings and other means of destruction gain attention, though this simply lead to their capture in 2005. The Tamils in Sri Lanka had had similar but more effective terrorist organization. The defunct, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam3 4 were founded in northern Sri Lanka in May of 1976, and were the most significant attempt at nationalist campaign to create and independent Tamil Nation-State. This campaign continued to grow in power until it escalated into the Sri Lankan Civil War that lasted from 1983 to 2009. At the peak of its development, the LTTE controlled a well-developed and powerful militia who successfully carried out significant amounts of high-profile attacks and the assassination of numerous high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian Politicians, including two world leaders; the former Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. By 2002 they had control of over 15,000 km2 (“Liberation”). Because of the Sri Lankan government expelling UN staff and other Aid/Peace groups from the war-zone there are no definite death count however it is estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 (“Sri Lanka starts”). The Sri Lankan Civil War ended in 2009 after defeating the remaining rebels, leaving no change to the status of sovereignty of the Tamil people. But what would sovereignty for the Tamils look like? Implications of Tamil Independence
Theoretically, if the Tamils gained independence there would be great benefits, and major downfalls.
Firstly, there are the Pros. A major argument made by the Tamil people for the independence is the loss of cultural identity. The Indian government especially is greatly enforcing the idea of a uniform India, and a Hindianized India. Hindi politicians want their language to be the main language in all regions, and they are not accepting of the Tamil culture. The Tamils are forced to speak Hindi if they want to establish a meaningful carrier in India. Also the prevalence of Hindi only television is a major concern because it will lead to the loss of Tamil language, and possibly its death. The reason that this is such a concern is that the free, Hindi, television is used by over 65% of the population in Tamil Nadu, and the only option for receiving channels in Tamil is by paying for cable or satellite television, which is not in the budget or interest of many Tamils. The solution to this issue would come with sovereignty, however the Tamils would have to create their own television-broadcasting company, which is illegal at the moment.
To continue, a second issue that arises with the Tamils being part of the Country of India, is taxation that the Indian government imposes on the state of Tamil Nadu. Much of the wealth that is generated is absorbed into the Hindi heartland. Additionally, the taxation placed specifically on Tamil Nadu is substantially higher than other Hindi states. However this would not be as mush of a problem if the money were reinvested into the state of Tamil Nadu. But that is simply not the case; only 39.5% of the money given by the Tamils to India is reinvested in India (Nalankilli). Furthermore the government of India provides no reasoning for why the taxation on the Tamils is higher than average, no comment was made when asked about their reinvestment policies in relation with the state of Tamil Nadu.
The benefits, such as increased standard of living seams like it would be substantial enough for the people to want independence. However the negative impact that would be created with Tamil sovereignty simply outweigh the benefits.
Firstly, there are substantial negative implications for Tamil Nadu if they were to gain independence. To begin, the Tamil are rich in minerals but poor when it comes to other critical resources such as oil, natural gas, and iron. Tamil Nadu is also majorly dependent on India for fresh water and electricity. Becoming a Nation-State would mean that the Tamils need to pay India for their water and electricity, or invest billions in their own water and electrical infrastructure. Secondly, presumably, after independence, if the Tamils were granted land from both India and Sri Lanka, neither county would be content. This would mean that both its neighboring Nation-States, who they would rely majorly on both for import and export, would develop hostility or at least dislike for the newly sovereign Tamils. Lastly many Tamils living in Tamil Nadu don’t work there. Most higher salary jobs are situated in neighboring Indian states. This would mean that all Tamil residents would need to acquire working visas, not an easy task.
Lastly, and also majorly significant are the disadvantages for India and Sri Lanka. For India, some of the highest literacy, human development, and business enterprises are located in TN. Also Tamil Nadu forms one of the core manufacturing bases for India, meaning that the loss will decrease national interests. Lastly India would loose two of their critical ports, and it would greatly affect their international trade and their Navy’s capability (Viswanathan).
Tamils are their own people at heart. However this does not signify that they are capable of sovereignty. The cons outweigh the pros for India, Sri Lanka, and especially the Tamils. On paper, the Tamils closely qualify as a nation state, however this does not translate to real world functionality. The collapse of the sovereign nation is highly possible especially in aspect of its resources. Having to rely on the Indian government for subsidized water and electricity and other resources is a much better deal for them than paying them for it. Yes, it is true that the Hindi Elite government is imposing many cruel and discriminating laws on the Tamil people in regards to taxes, culture, and language, however the solution to this is a plebiscite, not full scale sovereignty, self-determination, and their own Nation-State. To continue, who might be next in the plea for sovereignty in India or Sri Lanka? The Tamils could start a chain reaction leading to the collapse of either of these nations, let alone the fact that many of the ethic minorities are completely incapable of self-help. It is to easy for the Tamils to say that they want sovereignty because of their culture, but to hard for the Tamils to realistically survive without their support.
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