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OLD WOUNDS,NEW CURE….

5 February 2012 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Developmental issues and governance concerns have dominated the administration ever since President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power in end 2005, both inheritances from the past. ‘Development’ work was on, even when the ethnic war was in full swing but none took nor wanted to take notice It is not sure if a different end to the war would have brought the same electoral results. Yet, new roads and lamp-posts where none had existed was also a factor on which the rural South voted post-2005. Today, there is also a grudging acknowledgement, though not admiration that the same thing has been happening in the war-ravaged east and the north. Again, something that was not acknowledged until it became impossible to keep the eyes closed, eternally. This much is on the reconstruction front.The same is true of rehabilitation, if only to an extent. All the reservations that the government expressed when the international community was opposed to the settling up of IDP camps have come true. Their own reservations, based on perceptions and the propaganda by LTTE remnants, have been proved wrong. Much needs to be done on the rehabilitation front, for years and decades to come but no one seems to be bothered, any more. There is no voice for those voiceless, as there was none before the war. It may remain so in the future too, what with greater internationalisation of war crimes and power-devolution proving to attract listeners more. It is on larger issues of human rights and governance that the government needs to do more. The continuing protests on the streets of Colombo and elsewhere, at times, carry this message. On the human rights front, barring the past one-and-half year or so, the criticism went beyond accountability issues and war crimes, as is understood. Media freedom and those of the political Opposition and other critics of the Government are issues that have since returned to the centre-stage. Sri Lanka has a long history and short memory on this score. Unfortunately, no one wants to remember the past, on which the present seems to be growing, parasite-like. Rather than protesting individuals and incidents, the nation should take time off to address the larger issues, and create institutions and instill faith, both of which are absent. The same applies to the issue of corruption. Maybe, the higher judiciary in the country can be the initiator -- if none has faith in the government of the day (which is again another curse of the country). It is happening in neighbouring India, where incidents are many and the issues, much more complex. The less sophisticated the culprits are, the easier it is to unravel. On a future day, it could become impossible, if that is when constitutional institutions in the country begin taking notice. Across the country today, there has been an air of disillusionment, and consequent sense of disturbance. The campuses across the country have been restive, the trade unions are out there on the streets almost every day, and the civil society has eternally been grumbling about everything around. While much of it may be the making of a frustrated political opposition and part of an ‘international conspiracy’, as the government is wont to argue, it cannot believe in what it wants others to believe. Something is seriously at issue on some fronts, and obviously so. The Z-score mess, the Government cannot blame on anyone else. It is also a reflection on how an over-centralised government apparatus cannot find answers for every problem -- that too when numbers, complexities and concepts keep on increasing and/or improving, compared to the days when such institutions were originally thought of, in difference circumstances. It is here that they miss the cushioning effect of an intermediary administrative set-up to take the political blame, just as they miss the delivery mechanisms that are needed to make once-tested old schemes effective under evolving circumstances. What is true of school education is true of health and higher education, police administration and revenue collection. The nation having been stalled and stunted through the 30 long years of war, it would begin discovering the old wounds that had remained unattended for long -- and for which there may be no cure under that scheme and system, any more.
By N.Sathiya Moorthy
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