Monday, June 25, 2007

Painter Vasan and the paintings of Kiko and Vasuki

Vasan 2nd from left

Snapshots of Living Space

Affiliates of the Thirdeye singing the songs in the opening ceremony

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Living Space: Exhibition of Paintings

Paintings of Vasuki, Kiko and Vasan
@ Teachers' Trainning College Hall,
Sri Lanka.
On 23rd & 24th June 2007
Time8.30am to 5.00pm
Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group

Monday, June 18, 2007

Living with Hue…

Living with Hue…
is a continues creative program for school children with colors.

Children of Vivekananda Girls’ School of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka involved in this program with the Facilitation of S. Nirmalavasan of the Third Eye and co-facilitated by T. Gowreeswaran of the Third Eye Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group.

Conscious effort of the Principal and the staff of the Vivekananda Girls’ School of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka paved way for the success of the creative program.

Living with Hue… is a creative program with colors where people are living with intense war.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Play on Parai at Madurai- May 2007

A Play on Parai is being in process at Madurai by Nigazh Centre for Alternate Art and Culture, Madurai. The first phas of the process was facilitated by S.Jeyasankar.

Poster on Parai

Parai is on the stage !
Where is the Paraiyer Caste?!

Kuthirai Kutty Venumappa in Practice-Madurai May/June 2007

A children's play in practice at CESCI* Campus at Madurai facilitated by S.Jeyasankar
CESCI* Centre for experiencing socio-cultural interaction.
Natham Road, Chattrapatti, Madurai, India


Kuthirai Kutty Venumappa -Children's Play-2nd June 2007

CESCI Children's Theatre Group Presents Kuthirai Kutty Venumappa

Performance of a children's play Kuthirai Kutty
Venumappa at Open-Air Theatre, CESCI Campus, Madurai, India

Performance Facilitated by S.Jeyasankar and Co-facilitated byM.Bharathi, T.Vadivel and P.Jansi Raja and the costume designed by M.Shanmugaraja(Co-ordinator of Nigazh) of Nigazh Centre for Alternate Art and Culture, Madurai, India

Looking Back at Peace

SIU > SIU's publications > Global Knowledge > Looking Back at Peace

Looking Back at Peace

As Sri Lanka moves closer to a new war, Sri Lankan academics look back at what the peace process and the cease-fire has meant for academia on the island.
SHRINE A shrine commemorating a soldier of LTTE’s infamous suicide squad, the Black Tigers.

DESTROYED The remains of a bombed hotel in eastern Sri Lanka.THE CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT (CFA), which came into effect on 23 February 2002, is perhaps one of the boldest documents conceived by the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in their 20-year ethnic conflict. What was to guarantee the cease-fire’s sustainability was the balance of military power between the two sides with a monitoring body – the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) – overseeing implementation of the agreement on the ground. Today we see the CFA gasping for survival as the two protagonists to the conflict find its use diminishing. The only thing stopping them from abandoning the agreement is fear it would displease the international community and invite economic sanctions or diplomatic isolation – issues arising from the ‘overinternationalisation’of the Sri Lankan peace process, to which reference is made below. As the situation enters a downward spiral it is opportune to measure the four-year CFA’s impact on a segment of the population with which matters martial are seldom associated: the academic community.Increased accessIn its most basic sense, the CFA allowed academics and scholars to find access to areas to which they would not have had access before. “I was part of a UNDP study that involved other academicsas well, where we tried to assess whether assistance had reached tsunami survivors. We had to identify the vulnerable sectors and see how well aid had been utilised,” says Professor V.Nithiyanandam, head of the Department of Economics of the University of Jaffna. Professor Nithiyandam said that access to different parts of the northeast had been greatly facilitated by the CFA. His part of the project involved going to the districts of the north aff ected by the tsunami such as the Vadamaradtchi coast in the Jaff na peninsula, the small stretch of land in the Kilinochchi District adjoining the sea and Mullaitivu, which was devastated by the waves. Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are under the control of the LTTE. “We had to consult the government agent, divisional secretary and grama sevaka [village headman] of the villages affected by the tsunami followed by meeting beneficiaries, all involving extensive fieldwork,” says Professor Nithiyanandam.He said the UNDP study had necessitated the compilation of a detailed questionnaire after consultations with government officials, to which the beneficiaries were required to respond. The two rounds of data collection on the ground involved mobilising over 15 undergraduates of Jaffna University. They met fishing communities, peasants and other affected sectors through arrangements made by the divisional secretary – all made possible by a functioning cease-fire. “Data collection in the government-controlled areas required permission from the army, which was readily obtained,” says ProfessorNithiyanandam. “In the LTTE-controlled area however there was a problem because data collectors were not allowed to speak to affected persons without an authorised letter to the LTTE and TRO representatives of the area.” This meant the data collectors had to wait till formal permission was obtained. When that was done they were allowed to conduct interviews in those areas without hindrance. But when the second round of field visits commenced the political and security environment had changed considerably. Emergency regulations were in place and claymore mines, unofficial curfews and army retaliation was the order of the day. “In such an environment, we could not send university students out to collect data – it was too risky,” Professor Nithiyanandam says.This was compounded by another factor. University students could not even come into the campus without feelingvulnerable after the military clashed with students repeatedly in January. “Furthermore, many students are from areas outside the peninsula. They were unable get accommodation near the campus because people were afraid to keep them. All this affected not only university life in general, but the UNDP project as well,” says Professor Nithiyanandam.While smooth access to data was facilitated by the CFA for Professor Nithiyanandam, it did not significantly affect Dr Darini Rajasingham Senanayake, an anthropologist working with the Colombo-based Social Scientists Association (SSA). “The CFA did not make a fundamental difference to my mobility. I used to go to both cleared and un-cleared areas of the northeast even before the CFA, for which I got permission from the government and the LTTE. This was because I am a Tamil and was not afraid. But the CFA did help in that it was easier to get about after dark and there were no curfews,” she says.She says it is wrong to think the CFA had removed impediments to research; it also brought new restrictions that were not there before the agreement was signed. “There were no checkpoints in Omanthai and Muhamalai controlled by the army and the LTTE. All that began with the CFA coming into place,” she observes.Exploiting local knowledgeS. Jeyasankar, senior lecturer in fine arts at Eastern University, Batticaloa, takes a different view. “The CFA has helped city-based academics who believe that research is about data collection andfinding material in university libraries,” he says. Jeyasankar, while teaching fine arts at the university has also used kooththu, a popular dance form both in Batticaloa and Jaffna, as a vehicle for social transformation. Critical of the ‘modernisation’ of kooththu by its performance within the confines of the proscenium arch theatre, he has worked hard to legitimise the dances as they were traditionally performed – on a stage in the open air such as in a temple forecourt or village square. He has also used kooththu performances to understand power relations that are perpetuated through such traditional dances and how they could be transformed to suit a more egalitarian order. “What is usually called research in this country is data collection. The universities, without critically evaluating the methodology and the validity of concepts behind research, serve as channels to collect data, which is then forwarded to the government, private think-tanks or international NGOs to facilitate their work,” he complains.To Jeyasankar much of the research that has taken place in the northeast both before the CFA and after has used local knowledge, universities and the public as instruments for outsiders to exploit and gain something for themselves, rather than to help develop the community that is being researched. Resultsof such studies are not designed for consumption within the community but outside, he said. “We do not define our research programmes to develop the community in which the research is grounded. Therefore the community does not benefit. The benefit is to the academic who conducts the research programme or who publishes a paper or thesis,” Jeyasankar says.Deeply committed to participatory research, which he uses extensively in his work within communities in Batticaloa through kooththu, he believes, “Only if you look at research as application-oriented and community-oriented can you enjoy the real benefit of the CFA.”New ideasMeanwhile, other academics believe an important aspect of the CFA is that it created an environment which provoked new ideas or clarifi ed old ones. Dr Rajasingham Senanyake and Sunil Bastian, senior research fellow, both involved in looking at development paradigms and their application in Sri Lanka as well as other third world countries, see the CFA in this way. “The CFA has thrown up a number of issues: for instance we do not look at foreign aid now as we did in 2002. Similarly, the assumption that negotiations lead to stability is also something I question after four years of the cease-fire,” Bastian said.The other issue which the period of the cease-fire has highlighted is the conflict within the Tamil community. “Categories such as ‘loyalist’ and ‘traitor’ now used within the Tamil community remind me of the conflict between the JVP and Old Left in 1989-1990. Then too there were personal vendettas mixed with politics,” he recalls. Bastian focuses on economic issues that not only forced the then-government to pursue the establishment of the CFA, but have affected the political debate once the agreement was in place. For instance, it was the economic situation after the attack on the Katunayake International Airport in 2001 that compelled the Sri Lankan elite to agree to the CFA, while the economic climate generated post-2002 has framed the political debate on devolution and analysis of the structure of the state.The links between economic imperatives and political ones are also apparent in international assistance for development and relief. “The donors’ objective of giving economic assistance to the United National Front government soon after the CFA was signed was to end fi ghting through a cease-fire, initiate an extensive economic reform programme and internationalise the conflict by using aid,” said Bastian.In 2006 he believes the strategy used by the international community to both manage the conflict in Sri Lanka as well as the economy during the cease-fire period has not yielded the hoped-for dividends. Moreover, conflict resolution strategies that attempt to manage conflict as an end in itself have been found wanting. “The debate should be on how minorities can enjoy their rights. The CFA and negotiations are not ends in themselves – they should lead to people getting their rights. The question should be revisited through a rights-based approach,” stresses Bastian.Rajasingham Senanyake is disillusioned with the CFA and what the peace process has thrown up, but for different reasons. “The peace process has pointed to the existence of an international peace industry. The players are not only the government and LTTE, but the donors who are active in the humanitarian, peace and developmental sectors,” she says. She believes that that the international donors manage internal conflicts in such a way that conflicts are perpetuated. The donors obfuscate issues and their actions even result in the primary parties to the conflict getting more deeply embroiled in war. Like Bastian she too emphasises the economic aspect of the conflict highlighted in the period the CFA has been in operation. The economic agenda is set by the international donors, including the IMF and other international funding organisations, whose objective is to recycle the money spent on development aid back to the rich countries leaving the South continuously poor. “I think the peace process is over-internationalised and traps poor countries by giving aid and perpetuates conflict. The CFA and the peace process allowed me study this problem quite closely,” Rajasingham Senanayake says.Looking to the futureWhether giving access to researchers to areas that were earlier inaccessible, throwing up the stark truth that negotiations by themselves do not lead to stability unless underpinned by an agenda restoring equality and justice to affected communities, or demonstrating that international linkages do not always benefit a people at war, the CFA has helped academics by allowing a respite from war and by bringing to the fore an alternative environment that has fertilised new ideas on war, politics, development and society. The most we can hope for today as the CFA unravels is that these ideas will help to re-frame future debate.Jayaprakash Tissainayagam is a Sri Lankan editor and journalist based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Last updated: 15.06.2006 11:37:12

Sarinihar: Re-emerged as Monthly Magazine!

Midweek Review

As I Like It...

Glossy magazine on politics and the arts
by K.S. Sivakumaran

A few weeks ago, a glossy and lush monthly magazine in Thamil called 'Sarinihar' (On Equal Basis)was launched in Colombo.

This 100-page journal is full of colour photographs and illustrations, new to Lankan Thamil journalism. It is basically a left-inclined political journal with space for alternative thinking contributed by both Sinhala and Thamil speaking Lankans. One would not call it a 100 % political journal either as it incorporates within its pages a coverage on Sinhala and Thamil films.

As a person more interested in the arts than in politics of the country (which again is in a muddle), I naturally went over to the 13 pages allocated to the arts as I opened the beautifully designed magazine of 12 x 06. I found it to my satisfaction that there were excellently written film reviews by the knowledgeable G. T. Keathaaranaathan, who has also translated into understandable and elegant Thamil two of the articles written by a Sinhala intellectual (Sunila Abeysekera) and another by one Ammu Joseph an Indian journalist who writes in English in India.

The films reviewed were 'Sankara' directed by Prasanna Jayakody and 'Ammawarune' directed by Lester James Peiris and 'Veyil' directed by Vasanthabalan. While I do not subscribe to GTK's stance on two of the films, I agree with him on what he says about 'Sankara'. His review of the film is more detailed than what I wrote about it in the Sunday Standard some months back.

Commentary on the arts includes a profile on the late poet S.Vilvaratnam by Dr.S.Yogarasa of the Eastern University (with illustrations of his poems by G..Kailasanathan, a notable artist hailing from Yaalpaanam and other illustrations are by Nirmalavaasan)

There are also obituaries on Eliyathamby Ratnasabapathy of the EROS fame by R.Cheran and Ajith Samaranayake by K.S.Sivakumaran.

The magazine includes poems by S. Jeyashankar, Harold Pinter (translated by M. K. M. Shakib), Parakrama Kodithuwakku (translator's name not given), Ilavaalai Wijendiran, Simonthi, Anaar and Avvai.

Moving away from these pages to the front section of the magazine one finds faithful recordings of the political climate in the country with justifiable commentaries from the Lankan Thamilan points of view.

The names of the editor or editors are not given, but one assumes that at least two of them are involved in the content and production of the magazine. In fact, 'Sarinihar' was in existence as a fortnightly tabloid receiving wide acceptance as an organ of alternative views funded by an NGO that comprised people of the calibre of the late Charles Abeysekera, Kumari Jayawardena, Uyangoda et al. It folded up in February

2001 and the editors, one of whom was reckoned as Sarinihar Sivakumar, started a new newspaper (fortnightly) called 'Nihari' with the sponsorship of Victor Ivan's 'Raavaya'. It was in circulation for sometime and then wound up due to lack of funds. Now 'Sarinihar' is reborn in the magazine format.

Apart from the editorials there are a few political observations by an unsigned writer. A signed commentary by Naasamaruppan, notes on three journalists arrested or abducted, translations of articles by Victor Ivan and Sunanda Deshapriya.

Other articles are by Prabha, Siraj Mashoor, and S P. Nirmanyshan. Interviews published in 'Raavaya' and another set of interviews conducted by 'Sarinihar' on current political matters with eminent public figures are also published. Sivakumar has translated an interview with the Maoist Prasanda.

The magazine includes a translation of a short story in Sinhala written by Sumika Perera. The translator's name is not given.


Children's Art Work

Children's Art works facilitated by S.Nirmalavasan.
A program of the Thirdeye with the children in Children's Home.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Sitting by the sunset
Waiting for my turnTo be loved
Waiting by the oceanLonging for someoneTo take notice
It’s been so long since I laughed
There is a part of me
That wants to hide awayThe pain
that I have endured
All I feel is hopelessness
Am the lost soul
Who is seeking control
Can you hear me cryinMy heart out
It was just yesterdayI told you how I felt
And so soon I can see thatYou chose to ignore it all
When will my time come
Who will help me realize my dreams
Waiting for so longTime has drifted away
Can you hear me say
When will my time come


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Third Annual Tamil Studies Conference 2008


"Being Human; Being Tamil: Personhood, Agency and Identity"

Third Annual Tamil Studies Conference

University of Toronto, May 15-17, 2008

Plenary Speakers: Prof. Vidya Dehejia, Columbia University, New York

Prof. David Shulman, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Being Human; Being Tamil: Personhood, Agency and Identity.

The third annual Tamil Studies Conference, "Being Human; Being Tamil: Personhood, Agency and Identity", organized by the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor, will be held at the University of Toronto from May 15 - 17, 2008. The conference organizers invite submissions of paper abstracts from all disciplines and welcome abstracts with an interdisciplinary focus. Scholars, graduate students, artists, writers, performers and activists are welcome to present scholarly papers in English or Tamil at this conference. The organizers also welcome the participation of non-Tamil Studies specialists whose work addresses the theme of this conference. The organizers encourage the submission of new scholarly work that can also be included in the conference publication.

The objective of this conference, in response to questions posed by scholarly critiques of universal conceptions of the human and unified notions of identity, is to invite papers that investigate how “human” or "personhood" have been imagined, conceptualized, practiced and performed throughout history within the Tamil regions and traditions. What is the intellectual, cultural, and literary history of Tamil understandings of the human person? Was there ever a conception of a universal human being? What are the sources for imagining the self and the practices of its construction and expression? What are the continuities and transformations in Tamil conceptions of the self, particularly in defining men and women and caste identities?

What are the religious and secular sources of the self? What ritual practices have played a seminal role in constructing the idea of being human? How have texts and print shaped or altered the roles

and functions of individuals? What is the relation between geography, landscape and individual identity? How does one understand the relation between ideology and classification? In the modern era how have concepts of "individual" and "collective" rights" affected Tamil articulations of personhood, particularly in relation to gender and caste? How do diaspora and hybridity inform or structure Tamil conceptions of identity and affiliation?

Papers on the Tamil Diaspora can address subjects other than those indicated in the Call for Papers.
Proposals can also be submitted for an entire panel.
Those interested in presenting a paper or panel must submit an abstract of no more than 300 words or the full details of the panel (all the scholars and their abstracts), in the language they wish to present (English or Tamil) by August 31, 2007 to:
Please note that all scholars are expected to meet the costs of their accommodation, registration and transport.
The conference website,, has details of the 2006 and 2007 conferences.

Chelva Kanaganayakam

Professor, Department of English, University of Toronto

R. Cheran

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Windsor

Darshan Ambalavanar

Visiting Fellow, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Toronto.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The tough get going

Date:26/05/2007 URL:
Metro Plus Bangalore Chennai Coimbatore Delhi Hyderabad Kochi Madurai Mangalore Puducherry Tiruchirapalli Thiruvananthapuram Vijayawada Visakhapatnam

The tough get going

A Sri Lankan professor, who successfully uses art to mend battered minds, writes T. SARAVANAN

Photo: K. Ganesan

Bold attempt Sivagnanam Jeyasankar (extreme left) trying to prove a point to his fellow performers

Father” for many is the first role model. From children’s point of view, he is the most powerful person capable of doing anything. He is loving, caring, sharing and who takes care of all needs.

But give a thought to those children for whom father is just a relation or simply an image. For, the father might be away in a battleground particularly in war-stricken countries like Sri Lanka. Or he may be whiling time playing cards while the mother toils to make both ends meet in order to feed the family.

“Psychological trauma these children undergo can rattle anyone,” says Sivagnanam Jeyasankar, senior faculty in the Department of Fine Arts, Eastern University, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.

To help such children overcome imbalances in life, he launched with his friends “Third Eye Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group” which involves these affected children in different activities. The prime idea of the organisation is to initiate and establish self-sustainable societies and create a world free of violence and oppressions.

Cultural activism

“The group uses cultural activism as a means to achieve the objective,” says Mr. Jeyasankar, at present in Madurai to work on a Dalit-oriented play tracing the evolution of ‘parai’, a music instrument. He is working in collaboration with Nigazh, a Madurai-based alternate centre for art and culture, at Centre for Experiencing Socio-Cultural Interaction (CESCI).

Mr.Jeyasankar believes strongly in theatre which can usher in a change in peoples’ mindset.

“The problem is not just child-specific. It affects adults too as most of them living here are ‘internally displaced.’

A child who sees his or her parent living on goodwill has scant regard for them. Such a situation motivates us to involve the entire family in theatre and provide them physical, intellectual and spiritual refreshment,” he explains his work.

“At present we are working on theatre in education, children’s education in particular, and conventional stage and street plays. We see ‘koothu’ art as the organic form of community theatre and involve the whole community for our activity,” he shares.

Mr.Jeyasankar shuns the idea of modernising ‘koothu’.

“In the name of modernising it, people fail to capture the essence of the traditional art. For most of them it has become a pure academic exercise without realizing practitioners of this art are illiterate and have learnt it with experience, which is a part and parcel of life,” he says.

Mr. Jeyasankar considers community activity to be the essence of this art.

He emphasises on community interaction, which is also the core aim of his group.

“We try to retain the art form and perform as per the rituals. Besides, we arrange for publishing their works and invite them for discussions. This works wonderfully as confidence levels go up. Such alternative education system helps participants improve their critical thinking.”

The group also facilitated formation of children’s, youth’s and men’s clubs. For instance, the children’s club encouraged kids to draw, write and motivated them to participate in sports and games.

“It boosts their confidence and makes them realise their responsibility to life. Once this target is achieved, these people become peer educators for others in neighbouring villages as they are major motivational factors having tried and tested it all,” Mr. Jeyasankar cites his success stories in villages such as Seelamunai, Karuvappamkerni, Pukudiyiurruppu, Thevapuram, Mugathuvaram, Kaluvenkerni, Kannanguda, near Batticaloa.

Untiring effort

“In bringing the old koothu art form back to life, some aspects considered negative for development and welfare society, like the hierarchical social set up and marginalisation of women, are naturally pushed to the background. New interpretations evolve. In fact, our men’s club has started to approach issues in a feministic perspective. This is a plus point in our untiring effort,” he beams.

Mr. Jeyasankar’s visit here is also for a children’s theatre workshop, produced in association with CESCI involving kids from the villages of Kadavur, Vemparali and Chathirappatti near the Temple City.

The Third Eye is an all out effort to bring hapless people back to the mainstream.

In a war-ravaged society when threat to life dangles before the eyes every minute, it is even difficult to think about theatre but involving the community to evolve a new dimension of the art form demands a lot of courage. But Mr. Jeyasankar and his friends have set themselves on a unique path and their efforts are rejuvenating scores of emotionally hammered people.

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu


With the collaboration of

Batticaloa District Children Probation Departnment


Amici dei Bambini (Association Friends of Children)

Third Eye Local Knowledge & Skill Activists group



For celebrating the skills of children

Exhibition Art Forums

Sculptures Story telling

Paintings Traditional Instrumentals

Handcraft creations


Performances Launchings

Children Songs “Mulai” Magazine

Children Dances Documentary film of Children festival

Children Dramas


Manresa Meditation centre


Sunday 20th May 2007


09: 00 Am – 05: 00 Pm

Children welfare homes which are participating in the festival

Palukamam Vipulananthar Children Home
Palukamam Thilagavathiyar Ladies Home
Kaluwanchikudy Sakthi Ladies Home
Kaluthavalai Thirugnanasampanthar Boys Home
Puthukkudiyiruppu Geevananda Ladies Home
Puthukkudiyiruppu Geevananda Boys Home
Navatkudah Arudpani Ladies Home
Kallady Saratha ladies Home
Kallady Ramakrishna Mission Children home
Kallady Hari Children Home
Thamaraikerney Mankayarkarasiyar Ladies Home
Eravur Children welfare Home
Mavadivembu Mariyanayagam Ladies home
Santhively Manickavasakar Children home


Morning session

Inauguration Ceremony – 09:00 Am – 09:25 Am

Lighting the oil lamp
Silent Prayer
Inauguration address
Launching ‘Mulai’ magazine & Documentary film of children festival
Opening the exhibition and art forums


Ms. Lucua pantella Ms. T. Gnanasoundary

(Country coordinator- amici dei bambini) (District child probation officer)

Mr. T. P. Christopher Mr. M. M. H. Najimudeen

(Project Director- amici dei bambini) (Senior child probation officer)

Exhibition and the Art forums – 09:25 Am – 11:25 Am

Story telling and children songs – 11: 25 Am – 12: 25 Pm

Break for Lunch – 12: 30 Pm – 01: 30 Pm

Evening session – 01: 30 Pm – 05: 00 Pm
Celebrating the skills of children through Dramas, Songs and Dances

Thanking you.