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Changing Sri Lanka : Today it is the Mind and not any more the Life

20 February 2015 10:21 pm - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


he enigma today is quite complex. The war has ended, and government or the policy makers too have changed, but the task ahead could be much more complicated than winning the war and/ or defeating the Rajapaksa regime, as the grievances of the Tamil speaking people are yet to be solved. This is the best opportunity Sri Lanka got to build it to a “World Class” status, by recognizing, developing, realizing the full potential and protecting our human capital with due diligence irrespective of ethnic differences.  
In the world where impermanence is ruled, the paradigm is much more complex than one would imagine. One could argue that the permanent solution to the ethnic issue was devolution of power i.e. implementing the 13th Amendment after resettlement; elections and the problems would all be resolved. The issues such as, psycho graphics of fulfilling aspirations, image, pride, acceptance, and belongingness etc, have not taken much significance, although it can be assumed that they will be taken care of once the 13th Amendment is implemented.     

Therefore, the writer conducted a research by using the qualitative methodology through structured interviews with the objectives of: a) Insight to the root causes of youth uprising particularly Tamil speaking citizens of Sri Lanka, b) Briefly analyze the post war scenario/needs, and c) Provide recommendations to the reconciliation, integration and peace building process to create an environment to “live together” as Sri Lankans.

The Root Cause

The opinion range from not having proper Tamil representation in the Parliament to bring forward their grievances effectively and provide solutions along with attributes of administrative issues which subsequently changed to living aspirations and later a fight for peace/rights. There is also a belief that the perception of discrimination is an accumulation of language policy, access to public service, employment in the public service, colonization, constitutions of 72 and 78, institutionalizing of a liberal state and 83-violence. Furthermore, unwillingness to share power and unethical political culture too can be attributed to the root cause. There is also a belief that “poverty is a manifestation of education” which bring in a different dimension as the root cause is purely economic and therefore the issues will be solved once the hierarchy of needs are fulfilled.

Further reading and analysis with regard to all ethnicity

 Sinhala as official language was adopted with the introduction of the free education system and the education expansion into the rural sector, resulted in a large number of youth wanting education as a way of improving social mobility. Political reforms introduced in 1956 described as “the common man’s age” strengthened the aspiration of the youth, but, frustrated youth who could not find opportunity and wanting to create a social system, was a result of the uprising of the JVP.
In 1989, the second youth uprising in the Southern part of Sri Lanka evolved and was crushed by the then government and a settlement were brought in for land distribution and utilization as a solution; since equitable distribution and utilization was seen as remedies of youth dissatisfaction and reduce rural poverty. However, this policy of giving land to landless people applied only to those outside the plantation sector, which created discrimination to this sector which is still unsolved.  In 1947, the government categorized plantation sector as “Indian (Plantation) Tamils” and decided to take away citizenship rights due to political gains of not allowing the left get stronger. It can therefore be argued that, the Independence obtained in 1948 was for the rest of the country except the plantation population.

One important factor that resulted in the formation of the LTTE and the war in the North – East is the issue of land. Power share is the conflict that arose between the political leaderships of the Sinhala and Tamil communities, which escalated into a conflict on control over geographical territories. Concept of traditional homelands of the Tamil-speaking people in the North and East and the issue of right to self determination emerged as a result of this conflict. This unsolved problem remains as one of the most crucial issues after ending the war.
History tells us that the most deprived social classes have been affected or discriminated as a result of short term political goals and divides social groups by not considering the importance of unity and peace of the country which will bring about equality, improved productivity, better utilization of human capital and long term sustainable economic gains. This conveys in to the conclusion that, in the struggle of aspiration the remedies are needed for all of the communities with higher weight-age and prominence to the deprived Tamil speaking citizens, considering the current trauma. Therefore, I suggest that we re-visit all the ethnic issues that are faced today and take care of all of the society needs in a planned manner by prioritizing them.

Moving Forward

In addressing the grievances, there is no single answer. A whole lot of small parts will add to the big picture. The process is not only simply implementing but requires a certain level of change initiations and management. It was revealed that Sri Lankans have lost the basic level of civilization and decency. Religious leaders have a major role to play. Politics has lost its ethical core. The political ethical core and professionalism is a growing concern and the need for better governance, and the present regime has a challenge to prove its capabilities/worth of holding power/existence.
There is a mix opinion on the subject of devolution of power. Some believe that the answer to ethnic grievances can be eliminated or minimized with the implementation of the 13th  amendment, giving the example of India’s complex multi-ethnic, multi-lingual culture under a federal state. At the same time, some believe that it is not a requirement as Sri Lanka is not as complex as India and also comparing the land and population of the two countries, it does not merely make any business sense to adopt the Indian model. Therefore, strengthening the administrative structure of the central government which is low cost and brings in the notion of a liberal state, due to the perception of the government’s reluctance to share power, and therefore, Provincial Councils being inactive is apparent.

It also came about through the research that the current administrative structure considering the population and land extent is quite complex in Sri Lanka, with a central government, provincial council, local government and divisional secretariats. When there are so many levels or structures of administration the question of “who does what” to “responsibility and accountability” becomes a question. It is the opinion that Karuna’s role will not have significance to the future shape of Sri Lanka or to the Tamil speaking citizens’ grievances. A simple and a cost effective structure is desirable. We should identify and have our own system of administration with impartial leaders which will benefit all stake holders, be feasible, viable and appropriate – a new political and administrative agenda which will serve all communities with equality.

The Social integration process is another aspect of solving the grievances of the Tamil speaking citizens through the removal of fire arms and demilitarizing the north and get to the tradition of democratic politics. Social integration requires the promotion of “living together as one” concept throughout Sri Lanka which requires a psychological transformation of all groups in the society.
Democracy at the expense of ethnic division should not be encouraged, which brings to the ideology of political parties in the name of the ethnic origin such as Sihala Urumaya, Muslim Congress, TUNF, TNA should be banned. There is also a belief that ethnic parties subscribe to the “hope of ethnic groups” and therefore it is a democratic right and people should decide. At the same time there is also the belief that it will continue the division of ethnicity and a tool for political manipulation.

The educational system should encourage 1st, 2nd and 3rd language up to O/L and be mandatory to learn all three languages. This will be the testifying point to make English the administrative language over time by recognizing its importance. English is the most internationally accepted language in the world. Sri Lanka will be globally competitive, and the best example is India. English has become one of their core competence and it has brought in a remarkable level of interaction with the external world and foreign exchange earnings through business process outsourcing a new revenue generation form away from the conventional export earners.      
Build the standard of education in all parts of the country to be the same as in Colombo schools. A child in Jaffna and Hambantota deserves equal opportunity. Regional city campuses will provide the opportunity of further education to reach their aspirations. For example: An engineering campus can be in Jaffna and a medical faculty in Matara. This will automatically shift population from one state to another and “adjust and adopt” which will develop into an automatic social integration process and a good education system will change the attitude and approach to life. Encourage cross marriages through increased mobility and social interaction and also providing a solution for the unsolved land issue too was seen as important.

Change management is a dire need in the reconciliation process with which Sri Lanka is faced today. Change does not need to be radical but can take few incremental steps with a rational approach due to the complexity of issues and cultural barriers to bring in the unity, peace and reconciliation. It requires a change in the paradigm of thinking to begin the whole process with no ulterior motives or political gains. It requires ZERO thinking and a practical approach that will harmonize and unite different groups and in the process of managing group dynamics will take an important role. Creating a culture of caring, sharing and belongingness will be the success story of Sri Lanka. Almost six years has passed since the end of the conflict, but the healing process would take much longer than another six years to fully integrate and unite. It is the responsibility of all governments who come to power to implement one policy with dedication and maintain consistency in the approach in resolving the post conflict development.
Personification of “the ideal world” was said to be: “a world with peace, human dignity, a professional political culture, life without fear and no obstacles for reaching peoples full potential” – which concludes that “It’s the Mind and not any more the Life” and I end with full of HOPE of realizing the dream of our people.

  Comments - 6

  • Ganesh Saturday, 21 February 2015 03:37 PM

    Well done. Well researched. Right thinking from a honest Sri Lankan. Thank you.

    Lacillw de Silva Sunday, 22 February 2015 04:29 AM

    It is a very good articles which contains valuable ideas we should consider. A job well done. Thanks

    observer Sunday, 22 February 2015 08:11 AM

    Modern and practical thinking.wise people do understand value of these.But,wil the unwise and moron politician understand these facts?

    Mohamed Ramees Sunday, 09 September 2018 07:16 PM

    I am reading this in 2018. It is so frustrating to see that such an excellent article like this getting only 5 comments even in the span of 3 years.

    Ganesh Sunday, 22 February 2015 02:05 PM

    Its no strange that a good article like this has only three comments. Only intellectuals and well educated can understand this. I studied at Trinity College in Kandy during 1961-1974. We never knew that there was difference between a Singal and Tamil/Muslim. We slept next to each other in dormitories, played together, ate our meals together, some classes like Art, Music, English all mixed. So we never knew anything about Ethnic problems. But in 1971 our home was attacked and we were in refugee camps, then again followed in 1977, 1981, and the worst in 1983.Recently this politicial Wimal Weerawnse in Nugegoda has said that until MR was there the Norhtern Provincial Council was like a cat, and now become a tiger. Also he says that Govt is going to release 1000 acres of land ( belonging to the civilians) to the public , and therefore MR should come back.This is typical racism and racism continues to get votes from 1956. What is wrong in giving back the land belonging to the owners? When will Sri Lanka become the a real NAtion, when all communities can live happily. Only when we all reject politicains such as Honourable Vimal. Thanks for reading.

    Ganesh Saturday, 21 February 2015 02:40 PM

    Well done. Well researched. Right thinking from a honest Sri Lankan. Thank you.

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