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A Lost Generation of Tamil Youth

 

Impact of Past War Trauma, Present Psychosocial Context, Education and Globalization Dr. Daya Somasundaram BA, MBBS, MD, FRCPsych, FRANZCP, FSLCP Professor of Psychiatry, University of Jaffna:-

A Lost Generation of Tamil Youth

 

 

A Lost Generation of Tamil Youth Impact of Past War Trauma, Present Psychosocial Context, Education and Globalization

Dr. Daya Somasundaram BA, MBBS, MD, FRCPsych, FRANZCP, FSLCP Professor of Psychiatry, University of Jaffna and University Adelaide Consultant Psychiatrist, Teaching Hospital Jaffna and Tellipalai, STTARS, South Australia

1 The title ‘Lost Generation’ is taken from Ernest Hemmingway, “The Sun Also Rises”, referring to the youth who grew up with World War

 2 Introduction

Many youth, the blossoming flowers of our communities were killed during the recent civil war in Sri Lanka. Many more were injured, maimed, lost limbs, became handicapped, some continue to live with shell pieces and spinal injuries. Many were psychologically scarred by their traumatic experiences. They were sacrificed, or sacrificed themselves or were caught in the crossfire in an orgy of youthful dreams of freedom, better social order and adventure (see Fig. 1 of Push and Pull Factors that motivated and pushed youngsters into joining militant movements). While the state terror and violence, military atrocities, detention and torture of youth and general discrimination against Tamils, particularly in university admissions pushed youth and students to join militant movements; the propaganda of the militants and other social leaders to arouse feelings of Tamil identity, motherland (Eelam), soil (mann) and blood (raththam); appeal to heroism Fig. 1 Push and Pull Factors 3 (veeram), commitment (arpanippu), sacrifice (thiaham), a martyr cult, and adventure pulled youth into becoming child soldiers. Although Anandarajan resisted and eventually paid the supreme price, militants had a fairly free run of schools and other public places to carry out their meetings and videos to recruit students. Whole batch of students joined overnight or ran away from home, leaving a note in the sugar bottle for their mother. They were lured by the pied piper to their doom, to become cannon fodder on frontlines across the northeast. A considerable portion have migrated or had to flee to escape death, conscription or detention and possible torture. Their desperate journeys took them across the Palk Straits to India, continents and seas in rickety, sinking boats; through freezing forests in Northern Europe, jails in South East Asia, Africa and Latin America and international borders, hiding as human cargo in containers and undercarriages of trucks, seeking refuge and asylum. The result is a world-wide diaspora of Tamil youth, some discontented with homesickness and acculturation stress, others doing well in their host countries. The surviving, present day youth in Northern Sri Lanka face a grim future. Society is just recovering from three decades of devastating civil war. In the current post war context, the future of the community depends on rebuilding broken social structures in which youth can play a crucial role. However, to understand the predicament of today’s youth, it would be necessary to understand their past, current psychosocial context and the educational system. There is a popular caricature of male youth, particularly among critical elders, that they hang around street corners, smoking, drinking and harassing females. They are wasteful of money and do not become involved in work or other constructive pursuits but spend their time on motorcycles and other consumer pursuits (see satirical Fig. 2). A Jaffna judge has recently ordered police to arrest all ‘rowdy gangs’ hanging around street corners and put them behind 4 bars following an increase in violence and other antisocial activities. Obviously this is an extreme, the overwhelming majority of youth, males and females, are struggling with their identity and role in society. The periods of adolescence and youth have no clear-cut boundaries, tending to last much longer, into the later 20’s in traditional societies like the Tamils, sometimes dependencies on parents, involvement with family and extended family, the adolescent behaviour patterns and role can last even into marriage and beyond. But generally, adolescence and youth are critical periods of transition where children grow up, mature and develop into adulthood, taking on responsibilities, becoming respectful citizens, marrying and forming families, working and settling down. There is commensurate physical and biological changes in body, endocrinal function, emotions, thinking, behaviour and capacities. It can be tumultuous period of tremendous upsurge in energy levels, behavioural changes, identity confusion and personality formation, rebellion, experimentation, risk taking, peer influence, independence, impulsiveness, adventure, sexuality and creativity. Most of the present youth in North and East, Sri Lanka were born during the war, faced many hardships and had grown up amidst manmade and natural disasters (i.e. internal ethnic conflict, brief Indian intervention and Tsunami). Coming of age, they have to Fig. 2 ‘Rowdies’ 5 struggle through a multitude of psychosocial problems, many of them a legacy of the war. There is also the sudden impact of modernization and global culture which they were not exposed to during the war due to blockades and more immediate survival needs. In addition to these handicaps, they also have not had the advantages of a beneficial educational sector to help them make a future for themselves and rebuild their society. Background of present youth Almost all the youth in Northern, Sri Lanka, had been exposed to horrendous war events as children or more recently as adolescents. Many have been traumatized as shown by standard international and local research studies (for example, see Fig. 3). Elbert, T., Schauer, M., Schauer, E., Huschka, B., Hirth, M. & Neuner, F. (2009) Trauma-related impairment in children- A survey in Sri Lankan provinces affected by armed conflict. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 238-246. 6 The mass exodus from Jaffna peninsula in 1995 affected almost everyone in Jaffna and the final war in 2009 in the Vanni District caused massive destruction and devastation. During the war, many were injured, lost their loved ones, witnessed killing and some were detained and tortured (Table 1 & Fig. 4). War was not only a direct threat to many lives, but also caused displacements, and economic difficulties which led to a state of inability to fulfil even basic needs. There was massive infrastructure destruction including whole villages (uur), social structures and institutions (Temples, Churches, Schools, Government and social offices, Courts - see Fig. 5) and homes (veedu) where people have been living together from generation to generation. The hopes, trust and feelings of safety that children need to develop normally would have been destroyed, causing permanent scarring at their impressionable age. Fig. 4 The path that present youth have travelled through 7 2 Shayshananth, T. and M. Sivashankar (2010). Report on Comparative study on the impact of Trauma in General Health among Medical Students in University of Jaffna. 3rd MBBS, University of Jaffna. Table 1 War Trauma among Vanni and Jaffna Medical Students2 Traumatic Events Vanni Students N= 60 Jaffna Students N= 60 N % N % Lack of food or water 29 48 5 8 Lack of housing or shelter 40 67 5 8 Unnatural death of family/friend 38 63 11 18 Murder of family member/friend 21 35 9 15 Being close to, but escaping, death 40 67 9 15 Ill health without medical care 16 27 5 8 Witnessing killing of stranger(s) 26 43 5 8 Tortured or beaten 11 18 2 3 Forced separation from family 19 32 3 5 Being abducted or kidnapped 14 23 0 0 Made to accept ideas against will 42 70 15 25 Serious injury 4 7 2 3 Forced isolation from other people 16 27 1 2 Being in a war (combat) situation 49 82 29 48 Imprisonment against will 16 27 1 2 Rape or sexual abuse 0 0 0 0 8 Children were also forced to become soldiers and to carry weapons (Fig. 1 & 6). They were made to fight in the war front and carry out atrocities, imprinting hostility and violence in their developing minds. Traumatic events that their parents and society experienced at that time can be transmitted to children epigenetically, or through parent child interactions, family dynamics, sociocultural perpetuation of a persecuted, ethnic identity based on selective, communal memories; and through narratives, songs, drama, language, political ideologies and institutional structures. For example, the burning of Jaffna library (Fig. 7) which contained invaluable manuscripts, books and other resources has been described as an act of ‘cultural genocide’ causing a permanent impact on the collective unconscious influencing future generations. The culture of impunity for such acts, lack of social justice and historic victimhood has created a ‘learned helplessness’, feeling hopelessness and anomie that makes youth flee their homeland, seeking haven and opportunity in foreign shores or commit suicide. Their children too, grow up with hatred in their hearts and ‘chosen traumas’ in their minds. People in North faced another devastation during this period, the Tsunami of 2004. Due to this natural disaster, multiple deaths Fig. 6 Child soldiers Fig. 7 Burnt Public Library 9 occurred in many families, houses were damaged, families separated, and whole villages destroyed. It is evident from studies that youngsters who experience massive trauma develop loss of concentration, memory impairment, hostility, loss of motivation, loss of efficacy in work, fear, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and an increased tendency to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Such war and natural disasters cause major consequences not only in youth but also in their families and society which we have described as collective trauma. Present Psychosocial Context Focus group studies among psychosocial workers in Northern Sri Lanka disclosed the present psychosocial problems(see Fig. 8). Youth related problems amounted to 8%. Source: Focus Group Discussion with Psychosocial Workers in Jaffna 10 Serious issues included poverty, malnutrition, handicap, mental illness, disturbed family dynamics, loneliness, helplessness, abandonment, antisocial activities, child and sexual abuse, suicide and suicidal attempts, orphans, unmarried motherhood, teenage marriages and pregnancies, illegal abortions, domestic violence and increasing alcohol & drug abuse. Children have to grow up facing considerable abuse and violence within the family and even at school (see Fig. 9, Table 2 & 3). Corporeal punishment is widespread in schools, even in elite schools like St. John’s College. If society and the judiciary is now so concerned about youth rowdiness, antisocial activities and violence, what have we done to them in their childhood? Many students are scarred for life and develop aversion to education from the punishing atmosphere in schools and home. Source: Northern Provincial Council 11 Table 2 Child related issues in Jaffna District (2007-2012) Type of Abuse 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 Sexual abuse 32 60 37 66 74 Physical abuse 31 11 07 12 35 Psychological abuse 21 06 05 01 08 Attempted suicide 9 01 03 05 07 Committed suicide 2 09 10 01 05 Neglected children 0 01 01 16 31 Kidnaped children 12 01 04 02 01 Trafficking 01 00 01 04 Threatening 03 00 00 Separated children 00 11 13 18 Early child marriage 00 00 14 Total 107 93 78 131 397 Source: Probation Department, Jaffna Table 3 Probation and Child Care, Northern Province (2014) OPERATION INFORMATION Jaffna Kilinochchi Mannar Mullaitivu Vavuniya Sexual abuse 99 21 22 19 31 Physical abuse 37 69 12 11 37 Mental abuse 4 47 0 6 7 Attempt to suicide 2 15 3 4 6 Committed Suicide 1 5 0 6 3 Neglected 46 58 9 15 40 Kidnapping 5 0 1 1 1 Trafficking 8 0 4 1 0 Threatening 2 20 6 7 15 Drop-out from school 435 188 23 35 71 Child labour 16 16 1 4 17 Adoption 32 1 14 2 7 Others 122 10 55 3 20 Source: Vital Statistics – 2014, Northern Provincial Council 12 Suicide rates have increased dramatically after the war (see Fig. 10). As the sociologist, Durkheim, has shown there is drop in suicide rates during war due to increasing social cohesion but an increase after the war, as seen here in Jaffna, due to various social factors described here like tearing of social fabric, collective trauma, anomie and hopelessness about the present and future. Psychoanalysts say that the drop during war is the opportunity to externalise aggression against a common enemy, while after the war, aggression gets turned inward due to a myriad of problems within the family and community. According to our figures, youth are forming a significant portion of these suicides (under 30’s form about 1/3 of the total). There has been a welcome drop in suicide rates in 2015, perhaps, due to the hope that has been created this year. Source: Jaffna District Courts 1990-97 data from Registrar Generals Department 2015 figures projected from data up to June Young females are compelled to start working at a younger age and look after a family at the same time. Generally, women’s roles have been changed during the war, becoming more emancipated in generally, where they had to take on responsibilities when the husband died, disappeared or missing as female headed household. Apart from facing the social stigma of being a widow, they had to fend for their family single handed, negotiate with authorities, take their children to school, go shopping and attend to a myriad of responsibilities that normally have been done by their husband or a 13 male member. Thus, there was increased demands and stress on females, some of who developed psychosocial problems like increased somatization and other minor mental health disorders. This could be considered the price they have paid to keep their families and communities alive. As militants, females have fought in battles, handling weapons and heavy machinery while playing powerful roles, commanding battalions and collecting taxes toughly. Source: RDHS (Maternity and Child Health Unit) In the post war context, the shift in the gender power balance in a traditional patriarchal society, has made males resentful and more aggressive at home and outside (see Fig. 11). However, it is highly unlikely that females are going to easily give up their new found independence. In the Vanni, females are also becoming pregnant as teenagers, giving birth and then bringing up children while they have barely attained adolescent age. This is mainly due to the lack of knowledge about reproductive health and consequences of unsafe sex. Some face harassment at the work place and violence at home. Young poor women go for well-paid jobs at the Army run CSD farms, then face problems at home with alcohol husbands and uncared for children. Others were lured to join the army with lucrative salaries 14 and benefits but developed hysteria when the reality of their situation dawned on them. Alcohol consumption by males has increased dramatically after the war (see Fig. 12 & 13). Furthermore, there is an increase in consumption pattern of foreign liquors (whisky, brandy and beer) compared to local products of alcohol. Source: Excise Department, Jaffna District. Kassippu figures not available. Source: Excise Department, Jaffna District. Kassippu figures not available. 15 One of few positive developments in the post war context is the decrease in Kassippu consumption and the inevitable toxic complications that used to fill up the medical beds in hospitals during the war. Kassippu production could have decreased due to free availability of other forms of alcohol. In the recent Punguduthivu gang rape incident, it was reported that an expatriate distributed alcohol to local youth perpetrators before the crime. Alcohol has been introduced even among school students, for example, by military alcohol mobile units in the Vanni. When considering psychosocial problems in the community, alcohol had a cross-cutting affect, being closely associated with domestic violence, crime, road traffic accidents, suicide and attempted suicide. Families too have been affected with pathological family dynamics due to displacement; separations; death, disappearance or injury to bread winner with female headed households. It is common to see disturbed family dynamics as well as multiple sexual partners. Children and youth are exposed to these sexual licentious behaviour, marital conflict and strife. They often get caught between multiple competing adults and are neglected, abandoned and vulnerable to abuse. Whole communities have been uprooted from familiar and traditional ecological contexts such as ways of life, villages, relationships, connectedness, social capital, structures and institutions. The results are termed collective trauma which has resulted in the tearing of the social fabric, lack of social cohesion, disconnection, mistrust, hopelessness, dependency, lack of motivation, powerlessness and despondency. There is a breakdown in social norms and values. Many of the psychosocial problems have arisen in this post war context, processes characterized as globalization and other factors discussed later. As a result, the normal, healthy social control and adjusting mechanisms that operate in ordinary times are no longer working. For example, the upsurge of ‘rowdy’ behaviour and violence like ‘val vettu’ and sexual 16 violence against women would normally have been controlled or avoided by intra community mechanisms using village leaders, elders and respected community resources like priests, teachers and others. In contrast, these kinds of youth rowdy behaviour are not so marked in the East. A reason could be that many of the community level traditional practices, structures, functioning and belief systems have survived or revived in the post war context, thus providing the social control and adaptive mechanisms. In the north the police had to be ordered to provide external control and clean up. Children have to grow up amidst these family and social pathologies. They have poor or maladaptive role models among the elders. During the war, those with leadership qualities, those willing to challenge and argue, the intellectuals, the dissenters and those with social motivation have either been intimidated into leaving, killed or made to fall silent. Talented and committed leaders like St. John’s Principal, Anandarajan and Dr. Rajani Thiranagama were labelled as traitors and executed in the prime of their life, leaving young, grief-stricken families and submissive communities. Apart from the extrajudicial killings of the state and its allied paramilitary forces, the internecine warfare among various Tamil militant organizations competing for the loyalty of the community resulted in the elimination of many of its own ethnic, more able, civilians- a process of self-destructive auto genocide. There was also a crippling brain drain, where intellectuals and professionals with their families sought greener pastures or safety abroad. Now, Tamil society is left without vibrant leaders and youth without role models. Tamil children have grown up and become youths in a militarized environment with brutalization of their thinking and personality. Children and youth learned that violence, aggression, and power are the only ways to solve problems, the way society functions, as they have not experienced alternative, civilian and peaceful functioning. They learn to communicate and interact within a hierarchical, 17 authoritarian system. Many of these hierarchical, authoritarian structures had been part of traditional Tamil society. Among the few positive consequences of the war and displacement was the disruption of some of these structures such as the rigid caste system and patriarchal suppression and violence against women. However, in the post war situation, these traditional structural practices and social attitudes are reviving with vigour. It is important that youth are not poisoned with these oppressive attitudes and behaviour. Once the germs are planted in their minds, not only will they continue these practices but pass them onto generations to come. The much more virulent ethnic consciousness that was the cause of the war, and became reinforced by the bitterness and polarization during the war, would need to be sensitively and carefully weeded out from taking hold among the youth. Suspicion and paranoia was also generated against the Muslims who were expelled ‘en masse’ from the north during the war. Some are venturing back. Politicians and conflict entrepreneurs will endeavour to fan the flames of the communalism and ethnocentrism which will lead us again down the path of calamity. Youth do not appear to be infected by the sectarian virus yet. The future of this country and society will eventually pass into their hands. For national reconciliation to work, youth will need to be encouraged to broaden their outlook and consciousness. Almost a century ago, the Jaffna Youth Congress exemplified a progressive, enlightened and non-sectarian mind set with an inclusive, expansive consciousness but was soon drowned in the cacophony of ethnic polarization, of exclusive, narrow consciousness that ended in war and devastation for all. 18 Adoptive behaviours Many youth were at the forefront during the war and Tsunami to save and care for those who were injured, had lost limbs, or were separated, and lost. Where elders had died, been injured or were unavailable, youngsters took the responsibilities and leadership of mature adults to fill that gap and fulfil their role effectively and successfully. They took part in many essential activities fulfilling family and social needs, taking people to safe places, giving first aid to those who were injured, helping the handicapped, caring for patients and transporting people. Sadly, the youth are not provided with such opportunities or responsibilities at present. They wander around without jobs and healthy hobbies; at times they are induced to involve in antisocial ‘rowdy’ activities. If responsibilities are given to youth, they will show interest in their duties and carry them out effectively. Education Education is vital in moulding socially and culturally responsible citizens by influencing their thinking, changing their life styles and providing them with jobs. Unfortunately, our educational system is in a crisis. The current state of the northern educational system was assessed thoroughly under the Provincial Education Minister in 2014 which produced the report: Northern Education System Review (NESR) (Fig. 14). It recommended one teacher for 20 students in primary divisions, and Fig. 14 Northern Education System Review (NESR) 19 one teacher per 35 students in higher classes. According to statistics published by the education department, the ratio between the numbers of teachers and students is reasonable (Fig. 15). However, in reality, one often finds one teacher managing 100 students in remote areas especially in the Vanni. Sometimes the number of students per teacher rises up to 400. Schools in rural areas are sometimes closed because teachers are not willing to work in remote villages where the facilities are fewer and travel related difficulties (most teachers do not reside in remote or rural locations but commute to work from urban areas where they like to live). Parents too send their children to urban schools believing that they are better. Thus, students in these remote areas are compelled to daily travel long distances. When analysing the overall situation, even though enough teachers have been appointed to remote or rural schools, they use their influence (via politicians and educational directors) informally to get transfer, under the guise of temporary “attachment (inaippu)”, to schools where there are better transport facilities such as along main road. But they do not appear to properly teach there too. Many teachers travel every day to remote locations in the mornings and come back home in the evenings due to responsibilities in the family. Considerable time is spent in travelling, leaving little for actual teaching. On some days, the teachers may unofficially skip going to school altogether. There is an inherent bias against caste in Fig. 15 Average No of Students per Class 20 the educational system that propagates the disadvantages against oppressed castes. For various reasons beyond their control, students from the oppressed castes tend to attend rural schools that are already under resourced, and even those who attend are treated badly and humiliated by upper caste teachers. Teachers from oppressed castes are also discriminated against, for example principal positions are denied to them. Thus, students’ education in remote and rural areas, particularly those from socioeconomically deprived background or oppressed castes becomes a question mark. Hence, it is blatant discrimination against students living in less developed areas, social injustice done by elite Tamils against their own people by not providing the opportunity for thousands of youth, for successive generations, to build a hopeful future. It can be described as cultural auto genocide, when considering the number of children affected and the enormous negative impact in creating a lost generation of youth. The whole educational system has become exam oriented, whether it is the year 5 scholarship, ‘O’ levels or ‘A’ levels. Exam results have become the main measure for assessing the ability and standards of teachers, schools and educational zones. Furthermore the exam results are perceived as determining the social prestige and dignity of parents, and the self-esteem of children. In this keen competition for social standing, childhood is sacrificed for examination success without extracurricular activities including arts, sports, play; and religious and cultural practices. Children grow up without having experienced fun, creative exploration, imaginative wonder and familiarity with nature and the ecological system. Their whole world and consciousness becomes unnaturally constricted and narrow like the adults driving them to study and memorize irrelevant details. Children have to wake up very early and attend private classes in the early mornings and late evenings in addition to going to school. They are also beaten amply, and given physical punishments as well as 21 made to undergo mental agony. They are prepared for their exams like sacrificial sheep or a race horse. This gruelling regime and frequent punishments amounts to torture at an age when they should be out playing, having fun, indulging their curiosities and creating with their imagination. The practice of corporal punishment in schools and at home is a form of socially sanctioned, sustained violence against a vulnerable young population. Student’s natural development and growth, the blossoming of creative ability and the acquisition of a variety of skills necessary for life, responsibilities and maturation are neglected or repressed. The young are being abused for misplaced social and family prestige by restrictive social structures. Some of these tortured and abused children end up coming for treatment in mental health units before and after the exams or attempt suicide when their results do not come up to their parent’s, teacher’s or their internalized expectations. If we look at the exam results, 70% were unsuccessful in grade 5 annually and 50% failed the ordinary level (O/L) examination. In those who sit for the A/L examination, only 15% enter into the universities. Is it the aim of the educational system to defeat most of its students? Is it a useful educational system if its main focus is only on exams? What will be the future of failures? At present, the main expectation and aim of middle class society is being successful only in exams and finally entering university. Even in rural areas, there is a premium on university admission and getting government job but there is more pressure for survival, can they get their youth to make an earning. Can they have their young daughter look after younger siblings? There is the need for incomes, so young boys are expected to go fishing or mason work. That is also the cause for school drop outs. Those who have high memorizing capacity pass or do well in exams. Sadly, much of the materials students are made to memorize are outdated and irrelevant, and forgotten very quickly by the students, once the exams are over. At the same time, some 22 important topics in the curriculum for youth like reproductive health and information on alcohol and drugs are not taught as teachers are not conversant with the subject or harbour negative attitudes. Students with curiosity, imagination and ability to be creative or think ‘outside the box’, the real geniuses of any community, those most likely to find new advances, invent innovative advances or meet difficult challenges rarely do well in these types of rote learning systems. They may find the whole educational system boring, not stimulating or rewarding. Thus, education does not really develop the capacities and abilities of students. Moreover, students, parents, and schools compete among themselves, developing jealousy and hostility rather than friendship and a spirit of collaboration. Those who pass exams are praised and appreciated by their relatives and society; schools even publish their names and photos in newspapers and school walls, having functions to celebrate their results, honoured by leaders in society. On the other side, failures are doomed, feeling dishonour, shame, loss of self-esteem and even suicidal ideation. Even the few youth who enter University are not assured a bright future. The university system that was doing reasonably well up to the early 80’s have deteriorated drastically due to the general chaos of the war, poor resources and support from the state, loss of able academics, researchers and teachers with the general brain drain, and breakup of the university atmosphere of learning, development of character, artistic creation, discussion and activities. The time when lecturers like Rajani Thiranagama who interact with students to encourage widening of their consciousness and social concerns, develop their personalities and encourage a culture of lifelong learning are no more. Instead, we are left with a glorified tutory system that focuses on outdated notes and make or break examinations that do not prepare the students for the future or 23 world outside. The Universities have not served the students or the community but has only barely survived. Taking a broader view of the whole community, youth should also be guided to be good citizens. Those with the capacity and inclination, those who may not do well in this narrow educational system, should be guided into vocational training early, perhaps at the ‘O’ level stage after acquiring a basic education. By doing what they are best at and interested in, youth gain self-esteem and dignity for themselves and their families, while at the same time earning reasonable incomes and other benefits (See section on vocational training). It is the responsibility of society, media and opinion makers to make these alternative pathways socially attractive, appreciated and meaningful so that youth can make an informed choice that best suits their situation, instead of being left at a dead or loose end, discarded by misplaced social value systems. Globalization In the post-war context, there is a major attitudinal and behavioural changes in the present day youth. During the war they had been insulated from global influences due to blockades, travel restrictions, lack of consumer goods and unavailability of credit. It is literally as if the doors have suddenly opened to the outside world and its influences-good and bad. With increasing feeling of security, the number of foreigners who visit Sri Lanka for tourism and to meet their relatives, has been rising, particularly after the opening of the A9 road (which connects the Northern and Southern parts of Sri Lanka). The sudden changes in their lifestyle, job aspirations, fashion, attire and commitment to place has drastically changed and altered the socialization of youth. Consumption patterns have increased with the remittances from 24 relatives abroad and easily obtainable loan facilities. In the post war context, this vulnerable and defeated society was subject to the free ingress of modern market and corporate forces. The financial companies and lending institutions that freely set up shop in every street corner after the end of the war, like the carpetbaggers after the civil war in the US, came in to clean up on the remittances and whatever meagre savings people were left with. State policies on development including infrastructure and facilities such as roads, electronic communication networks, trading outlets and banking and financial services have been complicit in pushing the market and exploiting the war-torn population. Given this easy access, the public, youth in particular, tend to consume with compulsion. Newly acquired familiarity with a variety of modern goods such as televisions, decks, music players, DVD players, computers, laptops, mobile phones including new smart phones, motorbikes and washing machines was apparently to enjoy, and to reduce their work load (Fig. 16). The widespread consumption culture has brought about changes in their thoughts, attitudes and activities. The impact of cinemas, videos, YouTube, and other media, particularly South Indian teledrama series and movies on youth has been immense. They take these telecasted stories as real, and try to imitate or practise such imaginary life. For example, the recent popular, Vaasuvum Saravananum Ontrai Padithavarhal (Vaasu and Saravanan studied together), out rightly promotes an alcoholic life style. While in any society after a prolonged deprivations due to war, such consumption Fig. 16 Globalization 25 patterns are bound to change. But, in this case such consumption comes in the phase of decreasing local production and few avenues of youth employment. Some youth have access to money from abroad and others are given the illusion that future migration to the West will solve their economic problems, therefore, they are less self-reliant and less motivated to work and earn. The few employment opportunities are irregular day-wage labour. Thus, they have increased leisure time and spend it with peers, ‘hanging out’ in public spaces. In those deprived families and areas without links to outside remittances, the lack of opportunities and a future without jobs also leads to nihilistic life style among youth. In this context, state, foreign and diaspora investment should be towards getting the economy going to create opportunity structures, meaningful jobs and real income to make the future hopeful for the youth. Psychosocial Regeneration of Youth We are faced with the urgent task of rebuilding this shattered society which was devastated by war and Tsunami, and to provide a prosperous, hopeful future for the younger generation. According to international and United Nations conventions, victims of war and conflict have a right to reparation, redress and rehabilitation including psychosocial rehabilitation. However, since the end of the war in 2009, the state had actively prohibited psychosocial interventions and healing processes. At present, with the change in the political climate, there are opportunities to address the psychological trauma youth have undergone and create an enabling environment for them to thrive. In this final section, the challenges of psychosocial regeneration of youth will be discussed. However, it 26 should be noted that psychosocial regeneration has to be related to broader social and economic changes in a holistic approach. It is important to realize that disasters such as a massive natural catastrophe or a chronic civil war can lead to depletion of social capital and what is called collective trauma. According to Bracken and Petty, strategies used in modern warfare (sometimes called counter-insurgency) deliberately destroy social capital assets to control communities. Social capital encompasses social institutions, structures, functions, dynamics, social interactions, community networks, relationships, civic engagement with norms of reciprocity and trust in others. It is a reflection of social cohesion, the glue that holds society together. Thus in a post war context, families and communities have to recover if any meaningful socio-economic rehabilitation programmes were to succeed. In fact, in time most long-term programmes in other post disaster settings around the world began to include a community based psychosocial component, what is now being termed MHPSS, within the larger socio-economic rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. A key element of post-war rehabilitation, and reconciliation would be to rebuild trust, the basic glue that holds society and nations together. Trust in her institutions like those for law and order, justice, governance structures, between authorities and the ruled, between the different members of society themselves. In the recent post Punguduthivu incidents, youth reacted in the way they did as they had lost trust in the mechanisms and those responsible for law, order and justice due to their tragic experiences before, during and after decades of ethnic conflict. 27 Box 1 Methods of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Psychoeducation Psychological First Aid Psychotherapy Behavioural-Cognitive methods Relaxation Techniques Pharmacotherapy Group therapy Family therapy Artistic Expression Rehabilitation Community Approaches  Psychoeducation  Training of community workers  Public mental health promotion activities  Encouragement of indigenous coping strategies  Cultural rituals and ceremonies  Community interventions o Family support o Groups o Emotive methods o Rehabilitation Prevention Due to the widespread nature of the impact of war trauma, it may be more appropriate to use public mental health and psychosocial approaches in most post-war states for the rehabilitation of affected populations. 28 Psychosocial education Psychoeducation about trauma for youth, what to do and not to do, can be communicated through the media, pamphlets and popular lectures, empowering youth to look after their own problems. Media plays a big role in creating psychosocial awareness among youth. For example, Shanthiham, publishes a real life story regarding a common psychosocial issue in a Tamil newspapers, every Sunday. Subsequently, on second Sundays an interview with an expert about this issue and finally on third Sundays,the opinions, advice and answers to questions raised by the readers are published. Topics have included, indebtedness, exam pressure (see Fig. 17), child sexual abuse, alcoholism, PTSD, and grief. One series looked at the issue of youth problems (see Fig. 18). Titled, ‘Those three persons’, it is a true story of three youths who used to waste their time at the village street corners harassing females and other passer-by’s. A National Youth Officer took them in hand and slowly reformed them into useful, respectful citizens involved in socially constructive service. Fig. 17 Exam pressure Fig. 18 Youth Probelms 29 Among youth in Tamil society, drama is a powerful, traditional and cultural methods that can used to raise awareness, disseminate healthy knowledge, understand problems and find solutions. Koothu and street drama (see Fig. 19) have been used to create psychosocial awareness and promote healthy behaviour. Training It is effective to train teachers at schools to identify and help with psychosocial problems among students. The book, ‘Child Mental Health’ has been used to train teachers as counsellors (see Fig. 20). Grass-root workers and youth can be trained to deal with psychosocial problems in the community. The manual, “Mental Health in the Tamil Community” (see Fig. 21) had been used to train a variety of community level workers and youthful core groups throughout the Northern Province to carry out psychosocial work, particularly after the tsunami and also during the war. Fig. 20 Child Mental Health Fig. 21 Mental Health in the Tamil Community Fig. 19 Street drama 30 Expressive (emotive) Methods Artistic expression of emotions and trauma can be cathartic for youth. Art, drama, storytelling, writing poetry, narratives or novels (containing testimony), singing, dancing, clay modelling, and sculpting are very useful methods to express pent up emotions, frustrations, new ideas and imagination. Youth can externalize disturbing emotions and experiencesthrough a medium and thereby handle and manipulate the working through outside without the associated internal distress. Youth who often find it difficult to express their thoughts or emotions verbally, will benefit from the above mentioned expressive methods. Hobbies & Sports Hobbies help youth to utilise their time and increased energy levels in healthy ways (Fig. 22). Traditional games such as Thachchi, Killithaddu, and Kiddipul, as well as Volley Ball, Net ball, Football (soccer), Badminton, Aquatic games, and Cricket can be played regularly. Self-defence marital arts like Judo, Karate and the South Indian Kalari (see Fig. 23) can particularly help females defend themselves against sexual violence. Play grounds, clubs, basic equipment, swimming pools, coaches, referees, matches, cups and athletic tournaments should be available. Musical programmes, cultural and religious festivals, celebrations and social gatherings, will help youth to meet, interact with society, find meaning in their life and pursuits, learn civil Fig. 22 31 behaviour and healthy competition. These can be taken up as leisure time activities. If youth fail to make use of their leisure time, energy and efforts in healthy ways, it may end up badly. It is necessary to provide opportunities to enjoy, to have fun and to mix up with peers and members of the opposite sex. Family Support Family is the basic structural unit of Tamil society. Therefore, it is important to motivate youth to perform their roles properly, by taking shared responsibilities, helping each other, developing harmony, carrying the burdens of life, and communicating with mutual understanding within the family. Family dynamics should be directed into healthy ways. Family dynamics can be improved by encouraging youth to observe rituals for those who died (apara kirihaihal) and to assist in searching for those who disappeared. Traditionally, youth used to help prepare the sarcophagus (padai kadduthal) by cutting down areca tree (kamuhu) to make the casket and logs for the funeral pyre and then carry the corpse as a group. However, most of these practices have now become commercialized with hardly involvement of family and extended kin. Similarly, wedding used to be a time of full family involvement for over week, where they cook together, prepare short eats and decorations together. Youth should be encouraged to partake in these activities so that they become part of the family and community and relationships can be strengthened. Fig. 23 Kalari (fsup) 32 Group therapy Youth belonging to same age or having similar problems or same gender are united together, forming self-help groups and are given the opportunity to organize activities, learn new knowledge and skills, share their difficulties, find solutions to pressing problems, support each other and discuss disturbing issues. For instance, teenage mothers can become a group. Forming groups can become powerful ways where mutual cooperation, understanding and joint activities can produce impressive results giving a sense of selfefficacy; and building trust, relationships and civic responsibility (see Fig. 24). Thus youth can be trained to do socially useful tasks and given responsibilities in first aid, organisation, health, food, maintaining health in camps, leadership, games, caring for elders, the disabled and handicapped; children; and run preschools and care for babies. Life Skills and Vocational Training Given the limitations of formal education to develop the inherent potential of youth, it is essential to make Life Skill and Vocational Training (VT) widely available to youth. VT should have subjects and courses that are interesting to the youth, compatible with their aptitudes and capacities but at the same time, addressing job vacancies, areas of need and income generating potential. Those interested and willing can undertake VT as well as those who are not Fig. 24 Young Women group 33 enamoured with the traditional educational system that prepares students for university entrance. VT should meet social needs by providing dignity and self-esteem and to enable youth to gain regular income. Social dignity, honour and respect should be given to occupations that provide regular income and secure jobs in order to make them attractive for youth. Information and life skills in subjects like first-aid, hygiene, nutrition, reproductive health, computer literacy, parenting and social skills, money management, planning and problem solving are important areas that youth need training in that can be done through VT institutes. VT has been established in many fields all over the country in every district but most parents and children are not aware of the training opportunities. But a research survey done by Verite institute reveals 60% of parents have an interest in sending their children to vocational training centres (see Fig. 25). Educational officials, teachers and VT officers need to disseminate adequate information and awareness about courses available. Contrary to general expectation, this study discloses that few youth prefer to migrate abroad but many more don’t (see Table 4). Vocational training should be given near to their residence with consideration or allowance for travel, accommodation in cities if courses cannot be organized nearby or in local schools (after hours). Just like schools, VT institutes should also provide routine activities for the psychosocial regeneration of youth. Fig. 25 Interest on Vocational Training 0 50 100 150 Vavuniya Mannar Mullaitivu Jaffna Total Batticaloa Kilinochchi Polonnaruwa Aware of VT Not aware of VT Like to follow VT Course Do not like to follow VT Course 34 Table 4 After school expectations from the children 1 st Preference % 2 nd Preference % 3 rd Preference % Work in a government office 95 Work for a private company 59 Start my own business 44 Work for a private company 3 Start my own business 29 Go abroad 23 Start my own business 2 Go abroad 8 Work in a garment factory 7 Other 0 Other 3 Other 26 Drop-in-Centres such as at community sana samuha nilayams, schools and universities can provide life skills and knowledge through seminars, lectures and printed materials with a library, IT and internet facilities as well be the site for training in topics mentioned above. Psychoeducation and courses in cultural relaxation techniques, yoga, home gardening report and CV writing, exam preparation, interviewing skills, and other relevant subjects can be done at the Centre. Group work can be facilitated by psychosocial workers who can also provide individual counselling to those in need. Youth can meet as peer groups to discuss and share views on various issues of importance to them. Cultural, artistic activities and games can be undertaken on a regular basis. The present generation of youth are not that interested in traditional occupations such as agriculture and fishing because currently they provide poor income. The state, UN and other organizations trying to rehabilitate the war torn communities, will need to invest to improve facilities, modern machinery and marketing opportunities to make these occupations profitable. VT can be given in latest scientific methods with modern instruments and techniques. Basic courses in presently popular fields such as computer literacy, English courses, management and marketing techniques will be useful. Males and females must be trained with jobs compatible to their gender and interest. Former militants showed sacrifice and commitment for the 35 benefit of society when they joined. They have gained rich experiences. They should also be further trained in skills necessary for civil life. Traditional Coping Strategies Youth should be encouraged to partake in indigenous coping strategies that would help re-establish community processes, trust, values, belief systems and social cohesion. Culturally mediated protective factors like rituals and ceremonies should be strengthened. In traditional cultures, funerals and anniversaries can be very powerful ways to help in grieving and finding comfort. Funeral rites like eddu chelavu, anthyetty, andu thivasam, thivasam and similar anniversary observance are powerful social mechanisms to deal with grief and loss. The gathering together of relations, friends and the community is an important social process to share, work through and release deep emotions, define and come to terms with what has happened, find meaning and integrate the traumatic experience into social reality. Religious and temple rites (see Fig. 26), cultural festivals, drama, musical concerts, exhibitions and other programs, meetings and social gatherings provide the opportunity for youth and elders to discuss, construct meaning, share and assimilate traumatic events. In cases of detention by the security forces the relatives may take vows (naethikkadan) at Temples to various gods which they will fulfil if the person is released. The practice of Fig. 26 Traditional healing ritual 36 Thookkukkaavadi, a propitiatory ritual involving hanging from hooks, has increased dramatically after the war and may be especially useful after detention and torture. After resettlement, Kovalan Koothu (a popular folk drama) was performed all over the Vanni with large attendances and community participation. In the traditional folk form of Oppari (lament), recent experiences and losses from the Vanni war were incorporated into community grief performances. Religious festivals, folk singing and dancing as well as leisure activities like sports can be ways of meeting, finding support and expressing emotions. Koothu (see Fig. 27), other dramatic forms, laments, poetry, writings and drawing should be encouraged and promoted. Recently a group of traditional artists, including Annaviars from the east, were able to revive the practice of Koothu at a local Amman Kovil. Earlier the community had regularly performed Kathavarayan and other koothus, but with the war many of the practices had died down and practitioners dispersed. They had taught school students a child koothu, rain fruit (malai palam), for over two months, bringing together the community and families to partake in regular rehearsals, and the go through the initiating ceremonies (chalangai ani vila; arangaettam), and building of the performing site (vadda kalari) and decorating it with different roles and functions being earnestly undertaken by community members with considerable discussions, sharing of tasks, communal gatherings and functioning. By ongoing discussions, consensus was reached on various prickly topics like caste and gender, that found a progressive voice in the Fig. 27 Koothu 37 final performances. Hopefully, the koothu art form will be now be continued to be practiced from generation to generation binding the community together with the youth taking a leading role. Ideally the social processes should work to promote feelings of belonging and participation, where the group is able to give meaning to what has happened, adapt to the new situation, and determine their future. It is noteworthy that the worldwide panel of trauma experts identified restoring connectedness, social support and a sense of collective efficacy as essential elements in interventions after mass trauma. Cultural rituals and practices are well suited to do just that (see Box 2). The teaching of the culturally familiar calming exercises like jappa, dhikir, anna pana sati, rosaries or yoga (see Box 3) to youths in the community and as part of the curricula in schools can be both preventive and promotive of well-being (Fig. 28). Their traditional approaches can produce the calming, countering the hyperarousal due to traumatization and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. At a Box 2 Healing Effects of Cultural Rituals • Purges, purifies and heals physical and psychological wounds of war • Establishes a supportive and caring milieu, communal participation • Strengthens continuity of culture, meaning and hope • Creates solidity, integration, social cohesion, group identity • Restores communality, relationships, networks, interpersonal bonding • Accesses familiar childhood associations, spiritual resources Fig. 28 38 community level it can create a sense of collective efficacy; and social and cultural connectedness and mobilize social support (Fig. 29). Research has shown that when more than 1 % of the local society starts practicing cultural calming techniques, the levels of violence, anti-social behaviour and crime rate decrease. Box 3 Cultural Calming Techniques (Can be done individually, as a family, group and/or community)  Regular Repetition of Words: Hindu- Jappa: Pranava mantra, ‘OM’ Buddhist- Pirit or chanting: Buddhang Saranang Gachchami; Islam- Dhikir, Takbir, Tasbih: Subhanallah Catholic Christians- Rosary, prayer beads: the Jesus prayer (Jesus Christ have mercy on me) Scientific- T.M., Benson’s Relaxation response  Breathing exercises: Pranayamam, Ana pana Sati or mindful breathing  Muscular Relaxation: Shanthi or Sava Asana, Mindful body awareness, Tai Chi  Meditation: Dhyanam, Contemplation, Samadhi, Vipassana  Massage: Aurvedic or Siddha oil massage Fig. 29 39 Conclusion In summary, when analysing the behaviour of the present lost generation of Tamil youth, external, environmental factors have determined their current state. Past war trauma, parents’ behaviour and example, the style of parenting, the educational system and globalization have had a significant impact. In emergency situations, youth took responsibilities and acted courageously by helping those facing difficulties. It is best to encourage the good qualities in youth who have travelled through the dark shadows of war. Providing psychosocial awareness and education, training in healthy psychosocial activities, expressive therapy through creative arts, giving opportunity for healthy hobbies, obtaining family support, harmony and unity, forming self-help groups, giving suitable vocational training, observing religious and cultural rituals can be used in a holistic way to increase motivation and participation in development. The challenges of rebuilding a society devastated by war for three decades and regenerating youth who carry the inter-generational burden of the war and post-war crisis are tremendous. It requires a major psychosocial, economic and political vision and the requisite leadership, both within Tamil society and the state. Education is one aspect of such social revitalisation. While the problematic aspects of school education has to be addressed, at the same time, education involves various social institutions including the family, religious institutions, cooperatives, village forums such as reading rooms (sana samuga nilaiyam) and the places of employment and work. At this crucial juncture, we as a society have to reflect on broader social and educational revival necessary to build a hopeful future for this lost generation of Tamil youth. 40 Acknowledgments I want to the thank Rev. Anandarajan and the family of late C.E. Anandarajan and St. John’s College for giving me this opportunity to prepare and deliver this inaugural memorial lecture. This vital inquiry into the state of our youth started with a lecture at Aaruthal’s Forum for Making Sense under Sundaram Divakalala. It has then progressed with discussions and input from a variety of field workers, activists and socially concerned groups. Particularly, Madona Hashanthy Sriskandarajah and Navaraj played crucial roles in writing the manuscript, both English and Tamil. Ahilan and Niyathini Kadiramar, Swasthika Arulingam, Elijah and Jeevan Hoole, Jeevamuhunthan, Chandrasegara Sharma, Judy Jeyakumar, Jeyashankar and many others helped immensely with its development. Rathakrishnan was responsible for the figures and graphs. Babu (now Dr. Naguleswaran) drew the pictures. Finally, I must thank all the youth and community members who continue to be a source of inspiration and support. 41

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