Post Terrorist Era and the (Not) necessity for Federalism – an answer to Ranetunge.

By Indrajith

(April 11, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)
I sincerely feel sorry for the ignorance of Ranetunge. Mr Nadesan, a Tamil from Mt.Lavinia (I have reason to believe is authentic and not a Sinhalese writing under a pseudo name) has given the average Tamil’s view on the so called devolution B/S in one sentence.

It is true that we the majority Sinhalese should douse the flames of Tamil anxiety (can call it Nationalism or what ever) in a prudent and practical way to bring viable and sustainable peace to the mother Lanka. I do not know whether this Ranetunge Lady/Gent understands the social fabric of the Sri Lankan Nation. We at the core, are a peace loving group of islanders with limited ambition in life. Unlike the Indians, where to succeed or be heard, one has to out-manure 1 billion people (which is the result of having 1 million {0.1%) or so very aggressive and vociferous Indians – of some who also have achieved great heights in the material world), we the islanders are happy with a reasonably comfortable peaceful living. This is also an average characteristic of island nations be it New Zealanders, Caribbean, Sri Lankan or any other (of course with some exceptions). This also, can be attributed to the manageable population, Buddhist and Hindu philosophies etc. which are the founding principles of our lives.

Given this nature, there is no need for a separate kingdom for the Tamils but what Mahinda and his Government now need to ensure is to;

a) Win the hearts and minds of all the people of this country by providing good governance, and sincere development activities (e.g. infrastructure, education, health, irrigation for core agricultural activities, proper market infrastructure to sell produce etc.).

b) Integrate Tamil people from the North and East with the rest of the country by bridging the communication gap between races (e.g. by effectively making all three languages – Tamil, English and Sinhala compulsory in schools and also in Government institutions). Thereby making it feasible for all the people in this country to attend to their needs in what ever language they wish to.

c) Spreading goodwill to the minorities (which will have reciprocity effect on majority) by respecting their cultural identity (but not the radical extremism) and having cultural exchange programs, truth and reconciliation forums/respectful debates and allowing moderate minded political structures to flourish which recognizes one nation. It is extremely important (with all the above reconciliatory and reconstruction action in place) that we do not allow separatist political agendas to immerge at what ever cost. We have suffered enough.

d) Additionally, apart from the basic agricultural livelihood of the people of the North and East (not to forget the rest of the country), there is tremendous growth opportunity (that has been suppressed for three decades) in this area in the form of numerous industrial ventures (e.g. Chemical, Mineral, Cement, Tourism, Fisheries, Ports etc.) that need to be supported through both private and public ventures. It is a universal truth that, where there is economic freedom (to general population), there is no room for radical extremism.

While one should recognize that some of the above activities require substantial monetary capital, others need only a sincere “resolve” by the Government. Therefore it is of paramount importance that the post terrorism era of this country is approached with genuineness for the common good of the country (be it through a predominantly capitalist model, socialist model or a combination of the two) rather than petty personal mindedness coupled with corruption (especially of the rulers and their henchmen) which has brought this country to the brink of economic bankruptcy. The Sri Lankans have substantial intellectual capacity and adaptability which is a proven fact. What lacks is proper policy procedures (be it education and other opportunities) and Governance to harness such positive factors for the development of this Nation. It is time to have a clear, sustainable and viable long term politico/economic blue-print for the country to maximize the benefits that shall come our way in the new world order (post Global Crisis). What other better opportunity that we as a Nation could ask for other than ‘dawn of peace” after three decades of bloody war. The Nation is full of optimism and hope for a new era.

Mahinda and his commanders along with devoted “Army” of heroes have executed a highly successful strategy of war on terror with exemplary professionalism and courage with pinpoint accuracy. What more proof should we call for as evidence of intellectual capacity and dedication from a Nation? Despite having a very few diplomatic hic-ups on the way, our team managing the foreign relationships have also provided sufficient capacity to handle the tremendous pressures that came along (and continue to come along). With the dawn of relative peace in the country, the theme of war on terror and the related course of action shall not be applicable in the future.

The challenges that lay ahead are completely different and complex in nature but as pointed out above, the country has proven beyond any conceivable doubt that we as a Nation have the capacity to overcome any obstacle if we put our “right” minds together. The time is ripe for a positive “explosion”. Mahinda and his team now has to tread a different course of action in a substantially complex path, to ensure that our Heroes of War made their ultimate sacrifice not for a “lost” state but for a bright and prosperous mother Lanka. All what we need in this regard is to have a sincere and focused strategy for “war” on poverty put differently, a future with socio- economic prosperity devoid of corruption and personal gain. If this strategy is not engraved in the post terror agenda of our country, we are sure to slide down a slippery slope back to the ‘hole’, that we will never get another chance to come out of and soon end up as yet another lost state joining the elite group of Somalies, Sudanese, Erithrians and Zimbabwians of this world. We will continue to be the slaves of the oil sheiks of the Middle- east cleaning their toilets, sweeping their roads and driving their vehicles. That will make our noble war heroes who made that supreme sacrifice turn in their graves cursing upon a selfish and ungrateful Nation governed by a bunch of crooks. I’m certain that Mahinda and his Generals with this splendid effort did not undergo the enormous stress and pressure to end up in such a pathetic mess. Only time will tell.

Therefore, dear RaNEtunGE, let’s not try to plant the seed of a supper Tamil State for the 80 million Tamils world over by initiating a state of Federalism followed by secessionism. We do not need an Israel in the sub-continent. Sri Lankan Tamils are our brothers and sisters. They belong to Sri Lanka and all what is required today is to have a socio-economic and political structure for them (not forgetting our other minority brothers and sisters) to live with dignity, peace and an opportunity for their voices to be heard.

Perhaps, 13th Amendment without endangering the unitary state of the country (where Police and Land powers and other necessary Insurance policies for unitary status to continue are held by the Centre), but with sufficient authority to the Provincial Governments to have their own economic development agenda whereby empowering the people to participate more in their own socio- economic well being and decision making might be the way to go.
-Sri Lanka Guardian
Raj said...

I agree with your analysis and contributions to post conflict remedies.

austin said...

Arundathi Roy, what happened!
Were you suddenly sucked up into a black hole, devoid of light.
Perhaps you were rudely awakened from a slumber of inattention, to the goings-on in a neighbouring location, which had hit all the high notes, high wires & TV Monitors universally, by the time you moaned the 'Infinite injustice of Silence'.
Silence of the Media & World bodies, to what you alleged were the genocidal events unfolding in S/L.
AS an admirer of your numerous accomplishments as an Author, journalist and courageous activist, I am astounded by your almost cavalier prouncements & conclusions about the approach of the Government and Security forces of S/L in dealing with this Insurgency.
It seems as if you have abandoned, what you have attributed to yourself as your 'forte'.. Curiosity'.
This factor must surely have been missing, in your understanding of the situation in S/L, resulting in a document so obviously hurried, unresearched and ill-informed.
Coming from ajournalist of your stature, at a critical time in the outcome of this conflict, your recipe could result in panic assumptions, and jeopardise the chances of a resurrection of Sanity.

Dayaa said...

You are a true Srilankan.
Your analysis and thoughts are great, but MR, have you got the political will to go thru this suggestion.This is exactly what is needed to solve this long standing issue.

Another point to be raised is a set of proposals to find a solution to this problem.
LETS TALK AS SRILANKAN'S instead of Tamils, Sinhalese or whatever.