The youth of Jaffna protested in support of Tamil Nadu last week. This protest had nothing political about it. In fact, the politics is between Tamil Nadu and the Central Government of India.
It all started when the Supreme Court of India banned a traditional sport called Jallikattu which is very popular in Tamil Nadu during the pongal celebrations. The sport deals with how men tame a bull which is on a rampage.
The move to ban the sport was made after calls by animal rights activists who said that bulls were tortured during the sport. They had also said that the sport was dangerous not only to the participants, but also to spectators.
Today, several protests are being held in various parts of Tamil Nadu accusing the Central government of taking away the sport which has a rich tradition.
How important is it to Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka only celebrates pongal on a single day where the celebration spreads out over several days in Tamil Nadu.
But, what is important here is that Northern Sri Lanka is standing in support of Tamil Nadu in a situation where the latter feels that the Central Government is removing part of its cultural identity.
Tamil Nadu and the North
Tamil Nadu has close ties with the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The closeness was exhibited during 2008 and 2009, when the conflict was in its final stages. The protests and demonstrations in Tamil Nadu reached unexpected heights when a few youngsters died due to self immolation. There was politics involved. The politicians of both political parties in the State used Sri Lanka to expand their respective vote bases.
But, there were also people who genuinely cared for those who were caught up in the middle of the clashes. Unfortunately, these genuine concerns get washed away when political agendas come to the fore.
But the situation today is far away from politics.
The movement against the ban got even more intense when popular film stars including Kamal Hasan, Vijay, Dhanush and Silambarasan took a strong stand urging the public and all Tamils to unite against the injustice caused.
Clashes at sea
On the other hand, Tamils on both sides of Palk Strait have been clashing over issues of illegal fishing and encroachment. While local fishermen alleged that the Tamil Nadu fishermen were continuously encroaching into Sri Lankan, Tamil Nadu had denied the allegations. The frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy only aggravated the situation.
Indian fishermen have also been accused of indulging in bottom trawling which has been deemed illegal. Even though the Indian government had taken steps to address the issue, it is reported that most of the aquatic resources found in the Sri Lankan waters had been destroyed due to bottom trawling.
Fishermen in the North had complained to the authorities that the issue had affected their catch which had drastically reduced over the years.
However, despite these differences of opinions and clashes at mid sea, Tamils in both countries have managed to maintain a cordial relationship.
Amidst the above development Jaffna is likely to boast of an international cricket stadium in five years. The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced that it had commenced a national programme to develop cricket islandwide, one of which is to establish an international stadium.
The move was proposed last year where SLC announced that it would establish two brand new stadiums in Jaffna and Polonnaruwa.
The establishment of such a venue in the Northern Province would not only benefit the cricket loving youth, but also help the Province to develop further by attracting more investments and tourists from around the world.
The Northern Province had attracted many foreign and local tourists soon after the war. However, the changing phase of the peninsula needed a facelift in order to attract the high end tourists who preferred leisure.
While cricket would definitely help attract more people, it is also important for authorities to ensure the basic infrastructure is in place to accommodate the huge influx of people.
Facilities such as accommodation, health and transportation would need to be improved if Jaffna is to be a hub that attracts tourists.