COLOMBO: After concentrating for decades on Tamils living in North and East Sri Lanka, also known as “Sri Lankan Tamils”, the international community, including India, has now begun taking notice of the Indian Origin Tamils (IOT), observes Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) and Cabinet Minister for National Coexistence.
Speaking to Express here on Friday, Ganeshan said: “The growing attention is due to the emergence of the TPA; the way the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government is accommodating us; and the constructive way in which the TPA itself is using the new political climate and the opportunities given to us to participate in critical decision making.”
The TPA is a coalition of IOT parties other than the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC). It found a place in the “rainbow” government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after having done well in the August 2015 parliamentary elections in the IOT-populated plantation areas.
“The TPA, and through it the IOT, has been made part of all the committees formed to draw up a new constitution and a new electoral system. And the TPA has reciprocated by participating in a responsible and constructive manner. This has won the appreciation of the international community including India,” Ganeshan said.
A Swiss diplomat met him a few days ago to say that the Swiss are ready to help the IOT. Indian High Commissioner Y.K.Sinha has described the IOT as Lanka’s “most disadvantaged community” which needs to be given a helping hand.
“The last time we spoke to Sushma Swaraj, she told us that the IOT are special because they are blood relations of Indians,” Ganeshan recalled.
Asked if India has started leaning more towards the IOT, the Minister said: “ Visiting Indian leaders and diplomats have been showing greater keenness to promote our welfare. But words have not been translated into action yet. When we meet the Indian Foreign Minister on Saturday, we will say that out of the 3.2 million Tamils in Lanka, 1.6 million are IOT. We do not want India to give up supporting the North-East Tamils. All we want is equal attention.”