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Lessons to be learnt and reconciliation

The so-called ethnic problem is nothing but an anti Sinhala Buddhist movement inspired by the English (British for the "enlightened") and carried out by the English educated Tamils, the Burghers who had been displaced from the leadership of the aborted "Ceylonese" nation by the English educated Tamils and the English educated Christians among the Sinhalas.

by Prof. Nalin de Silva

(October 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) What are the lessons that we can learn from the so-called ethnic conflict supposed to have lasted for about fifty years? The first lesson is, of course, not to try to find solutions for non existing problems. The second lesson is to formulate the problem, if any, before attempting to find a solution. The third lesson is not to be either guided or directed in any manner by the western concepts and theories not only in social sciences but even in what are known as natural sciences. The fourth lesson is to try to formulate our concepts and theories as much as possible, especially in social sciences. The fifth lesson is that independence will be gained only after we create our own theories and concepts without depending on western theories and concepts. The sixth lesson is that commissions, conferences and committees, including various all party conferences, will not solve problems.

I am writing as a person who has held almost the same view for about twenty five years on the so-called ethnic problem and not as an "expert" who changed his views with the change of governments or with NGO associations or after the defeat of the LTTE. Today those who wanted nothing less than eelam or at least a confederation are writing in favour of unitary government! People who thought that only the so-called peace talks would solve the problem as it was formulated for them by the westerners and, of course, by the Tamil racists following the former, talk not only of victory by the Sri Lankan armed forces but of the heroism of Sarath Fonseka! Some of these people who make it a point to go to Welikada to visit Sarath Fonseka were not to be seen in or around the hospital when he was attacked by a "terrorist woman".

Initially, as a Marxist, I, too, held views similar to those of the "experts" up to 1979. However, soon after I ceased to be a Marxist but continued to believe in western science. By 1985, I gave up even western science though I have the distinction of being the Dean of a Faculty of western science even at 66 past the retirement age of an academic in Sri Lanka. One may call it dishonesty but I enjoy "preaching" against western science while being the Dean of a faculty that teaches "science". If I have been consistent in my thinking since 1985 it is because I was able to see the problems of the country through my own eyes and not through the eyes of the westerners who could not see our problems. For 25 years I have known that there is no "ethnic problem" in this country.

I do not want to elaborate on my views as they have been given publicity through these columns and through those in the Divaina, a daily Sinhala news news paper. The peace councillors "national" and international, national being part of the so-called international network, were talking of multiculturalism and blaming the Sinhala Buddhist hegemony for all the problems they saw in the country through, of course, the eyes of the westerners. They or their friends never told us that the so-called ethnic problem had been created by the westerners themselves who wanted to deny Sinhala Buddhist culture its due place in the country. Even today, more than 50 years after 1956 the Sinhala Buddhist culture has not been given its due place and the so-called ethnic problem is nothing but a sustained attack on the Sinhala Buddhists and their culture from the arrival of the Portuguese here. What the Portuguese did to the Buddhists is history and it is those who work against the Sinhala Buddhists and their culture today who would agitate to remove that history from the history books. The Burghers, English educated Tamils, and the English educated Sinhala Christians in that order were the most privileged sectors in the first half of the nineteenth century under the English.

The so-called ethnic problem is nothing but an anti Sinhala Buddhist movement inspired by the English (British for the "enlightened") and carried out by the English educated Tamils, the Burghers who had been displaced from the leadership of the aborted "Ceylonese" nation by the English educated Tamils and the English educated Christians among the Sinhalas. It was the attempt by these groups not only to suppress the ordinary Sinhalas but the nobodies or the Olcott Buddhists (Thomian Buddhists) of the yesteryear. Senanayakes of Bothale, Mirigama, just as much the Panadura elite who sponsored the Panadura Vadaya were Thomian (Olcott) Buddhists and certainly nobodies as described by Kumari Jayawardhane (the more I analyse the term nobodies in this context the more I am thankful to Kumari Jayawardhane for introducing this concept as it illustrates the status of the English educated Buddhists among Sinhalas, not to mention the ordinary Sinhala Buddhist yakkos.) How Sinhalas and Sinhala Buddhists, in particular, were discriminated against by the English have been described elsewhere beginning from the representation in the Legislative Assembly on ethnic basis. Whenever the English educated Tamils led by the Ponnambalam family that included Coomaraswamys could not win more representations in the legislature it was construed to be an act of discrimination against the Tamils in general, though the ordinary Tamils in Jaffna and Batticaloa did not know what these legislature boys were up to in Colombo.
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