Yaadhum Oore Yavarum Kelir which means, “To us all towns are one; All men our kin”. Tamil being one of the ancient languages in the world this ancient Tamil poem was rendered by Kaniyan Punkundranar, a foremost Tamil poet who lived in the Sangam period, between 300 BCE and 200 CE, in South India.
Realizing the significance of the poem which emphasizes all human beings as one family, the United Nations has taken this poem as its motto. Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran signing a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) linking Britain’s Royal Borough of Kingston city with Sri Lanka’s Jaffna city last Tuesday (18) had highlighted the Sangam period poet Kaniyan Poonkundranar’s poem on global brotherhood which is now a reality with Tamils of Sri Lankan origin interacting closely with the people of various races and religions in every nook and corner in the world.
The London event of Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran was the second important event to be attended by him after the Arise Tamil rally led by him in Jaffna, two weeks ago, to highlight the post-war grievances in the North and the East. The memorandum of understanding to link the cities Royal Borough of Kingston and Jaffna is focused on building greater understanding and sharing knowledge in the areas of governance, healthcare, education and enterprise.
The initiative was taken to link Royal Borough of Kingston with Jaffna was taken as the London city has a significant population of Tamils of Jaffna origin and according to the Leader of the Kingston Council Kevin Davis their contribution to the Kingston Council has been recognized by linking Jaffna with Kingston.
Jaffna remained an admirable city with good infrastructure facilities such as the new market buildings and drainage system when Alfred Duraiyappah was the Mayor of Jaffna. However, the Northern city turned gradually into a ‘ghost town’ following the assassination of Duraiyappah followed by the escalation of civil strife in the early eighties.
Since the civil war came to an end in 2009, several infrastructure facilities such as road transport and the railway link to the Northern Province have been established between Jaffna and rest of the island in the past seven years.
Even former Mayor of London borough of Harrow Suresh Krishna, who hailed from Nelliyadi, Jaffna, praised the post-war infrastructure development when he visited Jaffna a year ago. He took note of the significant improvement in infrastructure
Suresh Krishna in an exclusive interview with Ceylon Today said that compared to the time he lived in Jaffna the region has developed significantly, soon after the end of war with significant improvement in infrastructure facilities.
However, several humanitarian issues in the North are still to be resolved with the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in their original places also rebuilding their houses. Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and several other international dignitaries visited the centres sheltering the Internally Displaced Persons in the North and expressed their support towards improving the living conditions by emphasizing on expediting the resettlement process.
State Minister, Vijayakala Maheswaran, speaking at the bicentenary celebration of Union College Tellippalai, Jaffna last week pointed out that several school buildings in the North were still in the possession of the Security Forces and those schools should be regained and rebuilt to enhance the educational activities in the North.
As the Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates live all round the world their contribution in developing the war-torn Northern Province remains inevitable.
So, Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran linking up Jaffna city with the Royal Borough of Kingston will pave way for the Tamil expatriates in Britain to make a significant contribution in developing Jaffna city as well as the Northern Province at large.
North and East Provinces which are limping back to normalcy need extensive support, both nationally as well as internationally, to overcome the devastating effects created by three decades of war.
While seeking assistance from abroad to develop the Northern Province, Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran cannot simply ignore the support he should get in his own country towards rebuilding the war-torn Northern Province.
Being a ‘fire brand’ in emphasizing not only resolving the humanitarian issues, but also urging extensive devolution of powers to the Northern Province it would have been interesting if Wigneswearan had entered into a twin city memorandum of understanding with Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland to which had been devolved extensive powers from Westminster with its own Parliament despite losing in the referendum to get separated from the United Kingdom, a year ago. Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan visited Scotland a year ago to study the Scottish way of regional governance with regard to power sharing with the Central Government.
Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswran aligned Royal Borough of Kingston with Jaffna city in the backdrop of a crisis situation within the Tamil National Alliance and the Northern Provincial Council in a tug of war with the Central Government in the island.
However, when the coalition of the Central Government remains shaky, Chief Minister Wigneswaran on his return from London, is expected to face the messy political situation which is on the rise in his province as well as in the country.