| by N.S.Venkataraman
( December 25, 2013 - Chennai - Sri Lanka Guardian) Throughout the year 2013, Sri Lankan government has been criticised by several groups across the world for human rights violation in Sri Lanka during the period of civil war. One still wonders as to whether Sri Lankan government sinned or sinned against. This debate is likely to continue for long time to come.
The question is that whether the rebels should be found guilty for launching such violent civil war or the government should be accused for responding to such violent movement. The history which would be impartial and objective, may not blame the Sri Lankan government entirely for such disheartening scenario and may give it the benefit of doubt.
Nevertheless, having won the war at heavy cost, the Sri Lankan government has to conduct itself in a lofty manner and the leadership of the government has to exhibit qualities of statesmanship, understanding and compassion towards one and all in the affected region . It should not only be fair in its approach but should also appear to be so.
Further, it should have the magnanimity to understand and appreciate the hard feelings of the affected families and take some extra measures to assure them of government’s earnestness and good will towards their needs and reassure them. While the Sri Lankan government claims that it is doing so , there appear to be difference of opinion and perspective as to whether the Sri Lankan government has moved on with such tasks in an adequate manner and in a manner that would convince the affected population.
Ofcourse, one significant step has been initiated by the Sri Lankan government in conducting elections in the north eastern province recently , which is widely recognised to have taken place in a fair manner. The duly elected representatives have assumed power and no one can have any complaints in this regard.
Now, the question is as to how the Sri Lankan government would view the various policy measures and actions of the newly elected government of the province. While there can be irksome issues, they have to be sorted out , which would be possible only by the Sri Lankan government and President of Sri Lanka in particular , remaining absolutely fair and effectively communicating with the people about its positive and meaningful initiatives and response.
The long term peace in Sri Lanka is vitally necessary for the progress and prosperity of the country for all concerned , including the Tamil population in north eastern province, substantial segment of which have suffered enormously.
While it is true that the separatist forces are still operating in discreet manner outside Sri Lanka, though it may not be within Sri Lankan territory now to any significant extent and Sri Lankan government has to be extremely cautious and vigilant in dealing with such separatist forces , it has to be recognised by the Sri Lankan government that the best way of defeating the separatist forces is to establish firm channel of communication with the affected Tamil population and providing them due role in the national growth.
One best way of doing this is for Sri Lankan government is to recognise officially that the segment of Tamil population and certain other segments have suffered and provide them special concessions and reservations for admission in educational institutions and providing them jobs in the government. This can be done atleast for the period of next five years. Another best way of buying peace with the affected people is to provide adequate employment opportunities for them , which mean that they have to be provided with skill acquisition opportunities. A careful , integrated planning exercise in this regard is called for.
To usher in an era of peace, the important need is the economic and social growth, which will happen only by the implementation of development oriented industrial and economic projects and activities with speed and efficiency.
When poverty level is brought down for the average population, social growth will proportionately take place and the aspiration of the common men would become oriented in positive directions. Then, the majority of the population , who would be neutral and not interested in politics, cannot be influenced by narrow separatist slogans.
The ball is clearly in the court of government of Sri Lanka ,as it has the powers and resources to achieve such ends.
In the interest of the population of Sri Lanka who suffered during the period of civil war, the year 2014 should be a year of peace in Sri Lanka. A drastic change in economic, social and political atmosphere have to be brought about in the country by avoiding any attitude of confrontation and rising above petty issues.
President of Sri Lanka who now wields absolute power , has the opportunity to conduct himself and his government as per the needs of the time . The year 2014 will be a testing time for Sri Lankan president to convincingly prove his commitment to the cause of peace and harmony.