There are Sinhalese (for example, Asoka Weerasinghe in a recent contribution) who challenge: “Tamils live all over the Island, so why shouldn’t we, the Sinhalese, move to (so-called) Tamil areas”. A few of the Sinhalese who speak on these lines are unthinking and naïve but others are far from “innocent”.
The Tamils, what with the flight of thousands from the Paradise Isle, are now perhaps down to about 15% of the island – I don’t have the statistic. The majority of these live in the North and East. Therefore, it follows that the number in the “South” is very, very small.
However, those Sinhalese who are “racist” have the impression that Tamils have “taken over” certain areas in the South, particularly in Colombo, for example, Wellawatte. This is similar to the “racist” in the West who cries that people of colour (or Muslims) are swamping her or his country when, in fact, the percentage is in single figures. It is a reflection of the person’s prejudice, and not a statement of fact.
Secondly, Tamils in the South, because they are Tamil, quietly, unobtrusively, get on with their lives. Their presence has no impact on the Sinhalese-Buddhist way of life (culture). They talk either Tamil or English with each other but learn Sinhala, at least, sufficiently to get by on a daily basis.
Thirdly, Tamils did not move South under some government-sponsored scheme or encouragement.
On several grounds, Sinhalese moving into traditional Tamil areas is quite a different matter, the first of these being number. (I gather there are now more Chinese in Tibet than Tibetans.)
Secondly, their behaviour is that of conquerors – superior, demanding, arrogant, insulting, indifferent to the feelings of Tamils, contemptuous of their language, religion and way of life. They will not pay their hosts the courtesy and compliment of learning Tamil: indeed, they will not see themselves as guests but as those who now live there by right of conquest, under the protection of “their” government and army.
Tamils living in the South only want to make a living, as successful a living as they can: they have no wish, and make no effort, to take over the area, to wipe out the way of life on their neighbours and replace it with theirs.
Given all this, one is compelled to conclude that those who ask the above rhetorical question are being disingenuous, specious, even cynically deceitful, and contemptuous in their pretended innocence of implication and long-term (destructive) consequence.
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