Is it really Possible...?
By Ananda Ariyarathne
Our motherland, Sri Lanka, is just another country and the most intelligent use of our limited land and the nature given resources shall decide how our future shall be. As man is greedy and ambitious by nature, he may trespass and exploit for his own personal benefit unless there are rules and regulations in place. Those are limitations imposed in the interest of society and what is expected of the Government which is there to ensure that all are treated equally.
The tribal leaders who became monarchs have democratically-appointed Governments to provide the citizens with the best living conditions and that is how ‘National Prosperity’ becomes the indicator of national well being. A country is a convenient historical organisation that came into being. The history of such can be full of historical mistakes as well as success stories. Unlike in the past, all governments have to be very seriously and strictly conscious and concerned about the future because we are in the process of creating exactly that.
It is with such awareness we have to take decisions now as it shall be the responsibility of the Government to build a future for its people to live together in harmony sharing the prosperity achieved.
This is why the world now needs a system where political doctrines should be limited and contained only to provide wisdom and not to be dominated by illogical principles of political parties. The main principles have to fortify the needs to preserve and protect the limited resources the ‘nature’ has given through our own countries.
The laws have to be enacted to forbid any anti-social behaviours and with severe measures to eradicate such negative thinking. Therefore, in the modern world, what the Governments have to be concerned about is what the best policy to uphold peace and harmony is. Having such awareness we should look at what happened in the past over the years as well as what is happening now, in Sri Lanka.
A country where two communities existed and coexistence was symbolised by yearly pilgrimages of Hindu Tamil devotees trekking to Munneswaram Temple and to Kataragama Temple which are places of reverence for the Singhalese too who have their annual pilgrimages to Nagadeepa in the Jaffna Peninsula. It would be interesting to know that in all the Buddhist temples, there are shrines of all the Hindu Deities. Both communities cohabited in the island without being discriminated for ages. A map drawn by the Dutch Rulers as far back as 1670 s A.D. shows over four hundred village names in the Jaffna Peninsula alone.
It was that lapse on the part of the rulers that accounts for the absence of understanding the macro -politics both regional and global without losing their ability to feel the pulse of the Nation locally.
Shortsighted moves like Sinhala only
The shortsighted moves like Sinhala only paved way for reactions that distanced people. It was the discriminatory historical developments that saw more Tamil people in Government offices and in professions like doctors, engineers, and teachers but a very few would understand that it was the only option young Tamil people had to do as they could not have openings in their own regions.
The older people still remember those people very affectionately, even now. The rulers do not have the presence of mind to create opportunities for people. Sinhalese regions were mostly rural where education was in the Sinhala Medium which created only limited opportunities. So, it looked justifiable when the medium of education became Sinhala up to the university levels. That was how a situation was created in Sri Lanka driving a wedge between Sinhalese and Tamil people. It became a fertile ground for developing a strained relationship between the people.
The unpleasant developments that took place after the Sinhala Only Policy created an unnecessary strain between the two communities which otherwise had a smooth symbiotic relationship. The land tenure system in Tamil areas, by tradition allowed only one male child to become responsible to stay back and manage the family property while others had to seek their future away from home. All the brothers in the family helped the younger ones who were yet to enter the adult world. Some, who could not pursue education, resorted to getting employment or self employment in trading. All those males were committed to ensure their sisters well being .Most of them came down to Sinhalese areas where they were respected and accepted and got on well. The qualified males who ended up as Medical Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Managers, Clerks, Policemen and even lawyers married daughters of families of rich Tamils who were well set in Colombo.
It was a very comfortable arrangement and the moment the language issue came up, the unnecessary feeling of harassment distanced both communities creating feeling of insecurity. The communal unrest that started as a result sparked clashes and it is no secret what happened thereafter.
The Jaffna farmers who depended upon the markets of the South could not sell what they produced and that became an immediate reason for their frustration.
That coincided with the militants’ activities who had already gained confidence after the assassination of Alfred Doraiappa, and it started inching towards the powder keg that was being formed.
The environment was created for escalated terrorist activities and military action providing the background for the diehard Tamil extremists to rally supporters for the cause. Young militants looked more trustworthy and the mass support for them was rising.
The humiliation the Government armed forces had to suffer eroded the morale and restricted half hearted army movements made things worse for the Government.
The airdrops by the Indian Forces became a test for the Indian Government trying to please voters in Tamil Nadu while it was not a secret anymore that the Indian Government had helped in training Sri Lankan Guerillas. That called for the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord The militants’ action in ambushing the soldiers became the turning point towards a desperate struggle for all.
Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and 13-A
As it can be taken as the biggest blunder caused by the speculating politicians who wished to consolidate and remain in power, willingly or under duress, due to the series of blunders that contributed towards such a climactic position, it shall be the inescapable duty and the responsibility of the Government to prevent any more destructive developments from happening as it shall be only a case of creating another problem that would pin our country from progressing.
On that fateful day of 29 July 1987, when the Indo- Sri Lanka accord was signed between Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardena introducing the devolution of power to the provinces. Consequently, the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment on 14 November 1987 to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987 was established.
Imagine the colossal resources wasted in a war that bled the Nation white. The Government has no choice but to carry on the war against the LTTE, while the country had started crumbling against the forces that did not allow the Government no respite while the LTTE was gaining fast. The 13th Amendment in place, it became a matter of time while the LTTE gained military successes, to call for peace moves to pin the Government while letting the LTTE consolidate what they gained.
Under the new Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the fateful showdown became a test for all where the LTTE declared their arrogance at Mavil Aaru that symbolised the beginning of the Liberation War that was destined to end in Nandi Kadal, which showed the world the convincing defeat of the LTTE, shattering all hopes of LTTE supporters in India as well as the Western World.
That Indian induced amendment was aimed at creating Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka boasting about enabling Sinhalese and Tamil as national languages while preserving English as the link language. It was an issue that had been addressed before and in order to achieve that, there was no need when it was an issue that had been addressed. To look honest and above board, it indicated that it was for the whole country. It was indicated that there were practical problems in devolving land, the police and financial powers to the provinces and the Government has stressed that the structure that is implemented should be acceptable to all parts of the country. Also, that the Provincial level it could be decided to even join with other provinces. That allowed the possibility for Northern and Eastern Provinces to join and function as one Administrative Region. It fitted well with the Eelam Boundaries.
What has been really happening can be understood by a development like the former Chief Minister of the Northern Province in Sri Lanka – C.V. Wigneshwaran seeking India’s direct intervention in the complete implantation of the amendment, in February 2016 proves where Sri Lanka stands. While the country remained in poverty, the Government had the responsibility to wage a successful war against the well equipped LTTE. On one hand, the government was being pressurised, internationally, Sri Lanka started losing her image.
As these major moves by International forces, it become necessary to go a little deeper into the background of this unshakeable legacy Sri Lanka has earned in the process of chasing goals for national Prosperity.
To be continued as ‘Is it really possible?’