08 February 2014

Jayalalithaa’s good neighborliness


Neighbors are allowed a certain amount of license.  If the branches of your mango tree have strayed into your neighbor’s domain, some mangoes are bound to fall into his garden.  If you are not helping him sweep the fallen leaves, you can’t really tell him not to pick the fruit.  If there is good neighborliness all around, things are easy.  You could ask him whether he wants you to chop off the invading branches and he could, by way of courtesy, ask you if it’s ok to keep some of the fallen fruit.

Not all neighbors are nice.  What if one neighbor has a long history of jumping into your premises when you are not around or while you are asleep and taking off with a kehel kena or two? What if you are in the habit of tossing your garbage over the wall and into his garden?  Then every dried leaf, every twig and even the sweetest melody that is whistled are bones of contention. 

So we draw lines.  Once lines are drawn there are laws.  There are statutes that come into play.  There is of course common sense.  If the boy next door hits a rubber ball into your garden, it would be a bit much to charge him for intrusion or for trespassing if he walks in to pick up the ball.  You either toss it back or tell him to come get it. If he picks a guava on his way in or out, you can smile or scowl or impose some kind of sanctions.  On the other hand, if the boy makes a habit of walking in and stripping your trees and claim right to the fruit, that’s just not on. 

This is why it is laughable when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa says ‘repeated actions on the part of the Sri Lankan Navy in arresting Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu undermine the confidence and goodwill which was sought to be built through direct talks between fishermen of the State and Sri Lanka’.

The lady is said to have written to Indian PM Manmohan Singh in agitation after 19 fishermen from Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram districts along with their 5 mechanized fishing boats were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy recently.   Jayalalithaa said this had sent “shock waves throughout the entire fishermen community” in Tamil Nadu.  Now that statement is quite a shocker.  You cross the line, you pay.  It’s simple.  No shocks there.    

Jayalalithaa is upset, it is reported, ‘by the attitude of the Sri Lankan government’. She is even more upset about ‘the inability of the Indian government to effectively protect their interests’. What is this ‘interest’?  In a word, ‘poaching’.  She is upset that Delhi is not aiding and abetting Tamil Nadu fisherman in poaching.  Wow!

These arrests could compromise talks regarding the vexed issue of Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters, the logical thing to do is to advise the fishermen not to stray.  Giving the green light to poaching and imposing a red on arrest doesn’t really create an environment conducive to working out a solution. 

Jayalalithaa should take a break.  She should meditate on her house, her garden, and what’s licit and illicit, proper and improper for her neighbor when it comes to stepping into her premises.  She could do better.  She could try walking into a neighboring state and grabbing the harvest with a simple statement, ‘what I can take is mine’.  She might get bitten by mongrels that irate farmers set on her.  If she complains about losing a piece of her rear end, the dog-owners might just say ‘what they could bite off is theirs’. 

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