BY Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) met Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, Deputy High Commissioner, Vinod Jacob and Political Secretary, Banu Prakash on 23 March and handed over a copy of the appeal, for the recognition of the Tamil community of Indian Origin in Sri Lanka (Malaiyala Tamils or Hill-country Tamils) as equal citizens and proposed a Non-territorial Community Council (NTCC) be set up. The proposal was to be handed over to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.
The TPA led by Mano Ganesan pointed out the differences between ‘Non-Contiguous’ and ‘Non-Territorial’. They explained that Non-Contiguous is like Pondicherry which is a union territory with land areas in Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Kerala too. The land areas are defined. They are not part of Tamil Nadu or Andhra nor Kerala but coming under one council.
MP Ganesan said that’s what Ashraf proposed for Muslims where some areas in Amparai, some in Batticaloa, some in Mannar etc. were non-contiguous but under one council authority.
He said however he demanded for a Non-Territorial and it has no territory defined. This assembly collects only those IOT members who are elected to Parliament, PCs and LG councils. This Non-Territorial Community Council is not that controversial because it is not land territory defined. It is for the Indian origin minorities who are dispersed all over the country. Moreover, this NTCC was first proposed during the All Party Conference convened by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa and chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana.
TPA Leader Mano Ganesan MP, along with Deputy Leader V. Radhakrishnan MP, Politburo members M. Udhayakumar MP,
K.T. Gurusamy MPC, Advisory Council member Prof S. Chandrasekaram met the Indian High Commissioner.
The TPA proposal submitted to India demands the following :
– Non-Territorial Community Councils (NTCC) shall be established to represent the interests and aspirations of the Minority Communities of Special Interest (MCoSI) living in dispersed form in the country.
– NTCC shall be enshrined in the Constitution by law.
– There shall be an NTCC established for the Tamil Sri Lankan community of recent Indian origin living in dispersed form in the country.
– Legislators elected/nominated to Parliament, Provincial Councils and to the offices of chairpersons to the local government bodies belonging to the particular Minority Community shall be ex-officio members of the NTTC.
– A senior Sri Lanka Administrative Services (SLAS) officer, equal to the rank/status of Secretary of a central ministry, shall be the secretary of the NTTC who will head the secretariat of the NTCC.
– There shall be a number of officers drawn from SLAS/Provincial Cadre shall function in the secretariat of NTTC under the Secretary.
– An Assembly secretary and a deputy secretary shall be nominated to conduct the business of the council assembly.
– All NTCC secretariats shall be established in the national capital territory, Colombo.
– All bills and regulations submitted to the national Parliament and nine PCs shall be referred to NTTC for its scrutiny.
– NTTC shall monitor, scrutinise, propose amendments to the laws and regulations to such submitted to the national Parliament and PCs which are in relevance to the cultural, social, political, economic lives of the relevant MCoSI for which it is established.
– The level of authority of NTTC to intervene in the discussions and passing of bills of Parliament and PCs, relevant MCoSI for the NTTC is established, shall be a matter left to Constitutional/Supreme Court.
– NTTC shall and may exercise monitoring, intervening, engage in development activities on following subjects where the Minority Communities of Special Interest (MCoSI) which the NTTC represents: Primary and Higher Education; Technical Training; Primary Health and Nutrition; Sports; Culture, Religion and Linguistic subjects; Infrastructure Development; Housing; Livelihood and any other
– The patterns of performances and functions NTTC shall be similar to the performances and functions PCs including the use of official and link languages and their respective simultaneous translations.
– A Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson shall be elected from Members of Parliament who are ex-officio-members of the NTTC.
– There shall be an advisory board of eminent persons nominated by the NTTC which will function as the advisory arm of the NTTC.
– A full house meeting of the NTTC shall be the meeting participated by the members of NTTC and members of advisory board together chaired by the chairperson.
– NTTC shall meet as per the fixed agenda decided by the Business Committee of NTTC.
– Chairperson shall chair the house meetings and subject committee meetings of the NTTC. In the absence of Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson shall chair.
– All recurrent and development funds of the institutions of NTCC shall be obtained from national budgetary allocations by the Minister of Finance.
– Presidential Secretariat, Parliament of Sri Lanka, Central and PC ministries, PC administrations, Local Government councils, All government machinery arms, including district secretariats, divisional secretariats and Department of Police shall recognise NTCC.
– NTTC if necessary, may obtain/receive foreign and local grants and assistances for the purpose of the development and welfare of the communities it represents. All such foreign funds shall be channeled through External Resource Division (ERD) of the central Ministry of Finance.
– An internal budget of accounts related to national budgetary allocations, local and foreign grants shall be forwarded to the assembly for approval.
– All financial activities related to national budgetary allocations, local and foreign grants shall be subjected to the department of the auditor general.