Greater Tamil Eelam or Tamil Nadu

The Myth of Greater Tamil Eelam

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 1999 (ID. 1999-05-01)
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ABBREVIATIONS

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

IPKF - Indian Peace Keeping Force

LTTE - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

OUTLINE

1. Introduction

2. The Name Exposes the Lie

3. History and Geography

4. People and Leaders of Tamil Eelam

5. Tamil Nationalists in Tamil Nadu

6. Will an Independent Tamil Eelam Interfere in Indian Affairs?

7. Final Words

1. Introduction

Some years ago, as the momentum of the war for the liberation of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka picked up, a rumor - a calculated lie - a falsehood - a vicious propaganda about the so-called "Greater Tamil Eelam" spread in the Indian capital city New Delhi. According to this vicious propaganda circulating in some media and within the Indian foreign ministry itself, "the goal of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its leader Velupillai Prabaharan is not just the creation of a homeland (Tamil Eelam) for the Sri Lankan Tamils, but the ultimate goal is the liberation of Tamil Nadu also and creating the "Greater Tamil Eelam" comprising of Tamil Eelam and Tamil Nadu". The purpose of this article is to demolish this lie concocted by certain anti-Tamil-Eelam elements in Sri Lanka and India to turn India against the liberation of Tamil Eelam.

2. The Name Exposes the Lie

The very name "Greater Tamil Eelam" exposes the lie. For the sake of argument, even if someone were to contemplate a country comprising of Tamil Eelam and Tamil Nadu, the combined country would be called "Greater Tamil Nadu", and NOT "Greater Tamil Eelam" because Tamil Nadu is much bigger than Tamil Eelam in population, resources and land area. (If the United States of America and Canada were to unite, such a country would be called "Greater United States of America" or, may be "United States of America and Canada" and definitely not "Greater Canada". Such is the case here also.) Also, "Nadu" means country in Tamil whereas "Eelam" refers specifically to the Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern regions of the Sri Lankan island. So the very name "Greater Tamil Eelam" is a misnomer and could have come only from miscreants out to create mistrust against the liberation of Tamil Eelam within the Indian government. They have succeeded to a great extent, indeed.

3. Historical Fact

In all history, Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam, geographically divided by the Palk Straights, have never been unified as a single country though there was significant sea traffic between the two for centuries. There was also cultural exchange between the two. Poets from Eelam contributed to anthologies compiled in Tamil Nadu some 2000 years ago. But the two were never unified as a single country. This is history.

4. People and Leaders of Tamil Eelam

I have never read or heard of any ordinary Tamil in the streets of Tamil Eelam, or any leader, intellectual or writers from Tamil Eelam ever mentioning the concept of a united Tamil country comprising of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam. It simply is not in their minds. History and geography play a great role in people's mindset, and historically and geographically Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam have always been two countries. The myth of Greater Tamil Eelam originated in the brains of anti-Tamil-Eelam elements in Sri Lanka and India to create opposition to the creation of Tamil Eelam in India.

5. Tamil Nationalists in Tamil Nadu

I consider myself a Tamil Nationalist in Tamil Nadu. From my college days, I believed and continue to believe that freedom for Tamil Nadu is the only way to build a better future for the people of Tamil Nadu. With such a staunch Tamil nationalist background, even I never considered a united Tamil country comprising of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam. I am not alone. I have spoken at scores of public meetings in Tamil Nadu about freedom for Tamil Nadu. It is customary for me to chat with people after the meetings. Never once did someone approach me and talk to me about a united Tamil country consisting of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam. One time or another, I have met with most of the popular Tamil Nationalists in Tamil Nadu. None of them even mentioned the concept of a united Tamil country consisting of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam. I read avidly the writings of past and present Tamil Nationalists. I have never read anywhere about a united Tamil country. This is because we know the history of two separate countries, not one. The myth of "Greater Tamil Eelam" was spread by anti-Tamil-Eelam elements in India and Sri Lanka to persuade the Indian government to help the Sri Lankan government in its war against the Tamil people of Eelam.

The Indian government should not heed to these false propaganda, instead should do its own assessment through its intelligence resources in India and Sri Lanka. They would soon find that the concept of "Greater Tamil Eelam", under whatever name, is a myth created by anti-Tamil-Eelam elements in India and Sri Lanka.

6. Will an Independent Tamil Eelam Interfere in Indian Affairs?

We have demolished the myth of Greater Tamil Eelam in the previous five sections. A corollary question in some quarters within the Indian government is, "Will an independent Tamil Eelam help Tamil Nationalists in Tamil Nadu who seek independence for Tamil Nadu?" I am one of those Tamil Nationalists. Anti-Tamil-Eelam lobbyists are hard at work creating a false fear in the minds of Indian leaders that if Tamils get a country in Sri Lanka, they would want one in India too. Nonsense!

The demand for Tamil Eelam arose only in the 1970s and was formalized in the Vadukottai Resolution on May 14, 1976. Demands for an independent Tamil Nadu (or an independent Dravida Nadu) were made even before 1947. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had it in its platform all through the 1950s and the early 1960s. So the demand for an independent Tamil Nadu has nothing to do with the liberation war for Tamil Eelam. It has its own agenda and own time frame and are unaffected by the creation of Tamil Eelam.

Will an independent Tamil Eelam help the Tamil Nationalists seeking independence for Tamil Nadu?

I reproduce here an excerpt from the article "India and Sri Lankan Tamils" by J. N. Kaul (TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 1994): "Sri Lankan Tamil leaders are no fools. Once they achieve their cherished goal of Tamil Eelam in the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka, they would be at their best behavior with India. They know that any meddling in the Indian affair would bring the wrath of the Indian government. They would always have the hostile Sri Lanka to its south. They do not need a hostile India to its north. They fought the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in 1987 because they felt that they could not achieve Tamil Eelam with the Indian army there. Once they achieve their goal of Tamil Eelam, their attitude would be different. Their sole goal would be to preserve their hard won freedom. A sure way to jeopardize that freedom was to have Sri Lanka on the south and India on the north ally together against the sandwiched Tamil Eelam. They want a friendly India. If the Sri Lankan Tamils were to get their homeland of Tamil Eelam, the government of such a country would never risk alienating India because they know that their very survival may depend on it." 

7. Final Words

We have shown the utter irrationality of the myth of Greater Tamil Eelam and the false notion that an independent Tamil Eelam would act against the interests of India in Tamil Nadu. As Mr. Kaul put it succinctly in the excerpt reproduced in Section 6, helping Tamil nationalists of Tamil Nadu and thus antagonizing India would be against the self interest of an independent Tamil Eelam.

Let truth and rationality prevail!

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----    1999-a1d

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