Dr. Noel Nadesan has provided a leadership of an exemplary kind to a group of Tamil men and women, who came together to deal with the government of Sri Lanka on matters concerning the war-affected Tamils in March-April’2009. He does not have a bloated ego and hence was able to lead without seeding dissension.
l by Dr. Rajasingham Narendran
(October 14, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I read with interest the article by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam titled, ‘Is Dr.Noel Nadesan a Tamil leader?’ Her article was in response to someone questioning her description of Dr.Noel Nadesan as a ‘Leader’ in another article. The author also refers to someone who refers to him as a ‘Vet’ in a condescending/ insulting manner.
A leader according to the Longman’s dictionary is,” A person that leads or is in advance of others , or a person who guides or directs a group, movement, etc’’. Pearl S. Buck (Essay on Gandhi the leader), asks, “What makes the Hitler, leading his people to destruction? What makes the Gandhi, leading his people to triumph? The answer lies in the quality of leadership, and the quality of leadership depends upon the quality of the leader.” A leader can be as prominent as a Hitler or a Gandhi or as unknown as a person who leads a handful of men or women towards a commonly agreed goal. A leader can be as bad as Hitler or as good as Gandhi. He is yet a leader.
Dr. Noel Nadesan has provided a leadership of an exemplary kind to a group of Tamil men and women, who came together to deal with the government of Sri Lanka on matters concerning the war-affected Tamils in March-April’2009. He does not have a bloated ego and hence was able to lead without seeding dissension. This meeting meant swimming against prevalent currents, amidst much criticism and vulgar abuse. It was a courageous act that inspired those who followed his lead. Time will tell whether he and those who joined him were right or wrong. There can be no doubt that he led well and hence he is a Tamil leader of an exemplary kind.
The group that he gathered continues to play various roles in helping the war-affected in the north and east in various fields, quietly and effectively. Their impact may not be huge, but they have proved that an alternative approach involving working with the government of the day is wise and worth the effort. Gajalaxshmy Paramasivam has explained how she became involved through the efforts of another team member.
Dr.Nadesan’s and his group’s approach is vindicated by what Arjuna Hullugalle has written on the prudent manner in which the Catholic Church reacted to the pressures it was subjected to in the nineteen sixties (Transcurrents, 14/10/11). Dr. Nadesan with his private funds has also built primary health centre in Eluvaitivu (an island off Jaffna). I am glad Dr.Nadesan has chosen the political approach he did and am also convinced that it is the right path for the Tamils. Working with the government- the ultimate repository of power- does not make him or his group quislings as many are vaunt to accuse. A quisling works for his/her personal gain, where as Dr.Nadesan and his group are only spending their own money to do what they are trying to do.
Further, as a Veterinarian (Vet)- proud one too- myself and a person who had taught Dr.Nadesan as an undergraduate, it baffles me why some think that ‘Vets’ are not qualified to involve themselves in social/ political matters. Some have even described Dr. Nadesan as a ‘Balu Dostara’ (Dog Doctor) in their writings, with the intent to insult him. If everyone else ranging from auto rickshaw drivers, postal peons, smugglers, thugs, criminals, drug dealers, media men, businessman, clerks, accountants, medical doctors, engineers and others can play various social and political roles, why should the Vets be barred? Is this a peculiar manifestation of the Tamil mind set? Many Tamils, who have found refuge in the west and very likely have not yet imbibed the essence of western culture, have failed to grasp that Vets are much respected professionals in those countries. In Canada and the USA, it is more difficult to get into Veterinary Schools than Medical Schools. Those who call Dr.Nadesan a ‘Balu Dostara’ should read Bernard Shaw’s long poem on the Vets.
Those who supported the LTTE and probably yet sympathize with their cause, have a right to pursue what they believe in within the law and within limits of decorum and civilized behaviour. However, they have to concede others the right to believe and act otherwise.