Cannot find a decent photo of him anywhere. This is a screenshot from his Daily Mirror column.
DBS Jeyaraj has been in mainstream journalism for over 30 years, and on Twitter and his blog since 2009. The latter is where I follow him, for the former. DBS is an old school journalist who’s been around long enough to meet everyone, piss off most of them, get his legs broken by the LTTE and he’s ended up in Canada. He still covers Sri Lankan (and Indian) issues with more insight and depth than anyone, and he’s taken to Twitter, especially, in a powerful way.
He’s been writing for about 34 years I think, but bilingually (English/Tamil) for 30 now.
I entered mainstrean English journalism by joining “The Island” on November 16th 1981. I celebrate my 30th anniversary today Nov 16th 2011 (Twitter)
What were some major scoops? Here are a few I remember
1. Interview with KP, former arms procurer and head of the LTTE
2. His report on LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s death and a detailed biography were notable for their depth, but also for simply acknowledging that the man was dead, something many former LTTErs still don’t admit.
As you can see, he’s primarily a war reporter, and from the LTTE and Tamil perspective more than anything. While he once said he’d vote for the LTTE if they ran, but they broke his legs broken for speaking his mind. He supported the Tamil separatist struggle, but in I think a fact and reality based way. When the facts changed, so did he. I think his current position could be summed as such:
Had the LTTE transformed its military strength into political bargaining power at the appropriate time the Tamil people would certainly be in a better position. But this did not happen and today the Tamils as a people are in a precarious situation.
Hard as it may be for some Tamils to admit the Tamil people today are entirely at the mercy of the Sri Lankan state. Despite lip service paid by some to the contrary the reality today is that there is no effective support Internationally for the Tamil cause. There is a powerful Sinhala dominated government in Colombo and the disempowered Tamils have no means to influence it. The LTTE by its actions has caused irredeemable harm to the Tamil people.
What is troubling in this situation is the inability and unwillingness of sections of the Tamil people to comprehend the ramifications of their predicament. The confrontational attitude of vocal warriors continues. Instead of trying to arrive at some form of political reconciliation and work for the upliftment of the shattered and battered people, an abrasive style of politics is still prevalent. The politics of confrontation is being followed in the name of “Thesiyam” or nationalism.
This in turn is souring the climate further. The Sinhala hawks with their project of turning Sri Lanka into a Sinhala supremacist state are strengthened. The moderate Sinhalese who want to live in peace and friendship with their Tamil counterparts are confused. The progressive Sinhalese who want to make Sri Lanka a plural nation and ensure equality to all her people are weakened.
It is against this backdrop that this column wishes to examine briefly the impact of Tamil nationalism in the past, its present role and its potential for the future. This would be done in forthcoming articles with the objective of realistically assessing the present plight of Sri Lankan Tamils and encourage the Tamil people to follow a pragmatic course of action that would enable the long suffering people to better their lot and regain their rightful position under the Sri Lankan sun. (Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: Past, Present, And Future)
He’s not just a war reporter, however, he’s a reporter. On any subject like the backstory of India’s actress turned Chief Minister Jayalithaa he can provide lots of personal depth and nuance that makes for both enlightening and informative reads. He also broke the recent asset nationalization story, as far as I know, doing so in the form of a Twitter story – short bursts later compiled into a blog post, a form he has mastered well.