By S. Sivathasan –
A Plan, What For?
What is mystical about 100 days? Everything about it is mystical. Listing out of items shows a clear selection of priorities from a well thought out process. Publicity induces sharp focus, energy purposefully directed and sustained mental stress for achievement. Prescription of timelines imposes a moral compulsion. Besides them all, it proclaims earnestness, commitment, a will to realise and the verve to honour one’s word. The 100 Day Plan, the first ever in this country is showing results. Fair progress is recorded in the first 40 days. It shows the way for the next 100 Day Plan of great national consequence towards ethnic reconciliation if it is so deemed.
Three weeks after the change of regime, Wall Street Journal wrote about Sri Lanka’s readiness to take centre stage. President Srisena in his Independence Day address showed that Ethnic Relations had already taken centre stage in his consciousness. He said he would “Unite the hearts of the people of the North and South through a national reconciliation process for co-existence”. This message was straight off his heart, not from a script.
The foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in his visit to Washington on 12, February said that President Maithripala Srisena is deeply committed to “Ensuring that all communities in Sri Lanka enjoy the dividend of peace”.
The Minister himself asserted “We are reaching out to minority communities and ensuring that they are included and heard in all national processes”. He also added that Sri Lanka had drawn up a road map to implement election pledges.
Meeting with John Kerry
John Kerry welcoming the Foreign Minister said, “How to move Sri Lanka away from war to a country that is inclusive, prosperous and peaceful”. The Foreign Minister said “For the new administration, the United States of America is a great opportunity”. He had discussed the way forward with the Secretary of State John Kerry, who in response asked “What can the US do to help Sri Lanka?” Herein has come an occasion for the nation to benefit from.
Seizing the Opportunity
In what ways does Sri Lanka seize this offer to become prosperous and peceful? How can the lofty sentiments be concretised, cast into building blocks built into an edifice and made to last? A 100 Day Plan neatly formulated can externalize intentions, invite views, draw up parameters and attract the majority and the minorities into proactive interaction. To set the thought process in motion this note is presented. Why should a Tamil step in to do this? He knows well how the shoe has been pinching. Why now? For once there seems a new beginning and it needs to be taken in its flood.
There should be the most sensitive understanding that 2 full months, March and April 2015, will be taken up in thinking out and writing out the Discussion Paper.
It will be for deliberations within the polity only. The time devoted to it by the people will be May and June.
The TNA will then hand over to the President, the one and only official document from the Tamil side, before end July.
The views of other minorities will be taken care of by the respective leaderships within the same time frame.
The government’s consolidated 100 Day Plan will be published before end of August 2015. Thus a full 6 months to draw up and to adopt a Plan. Parliamentary elections intervening in between calls for a longer timespan due to tactical reasons.
The Plan itself will have 1. Immediate 2. Short Term and 3. Long Term engagement. Implementation should commence in September 2015. The 100 Day Plan embraces 10 segments. The government will spread the 10 segments across 100 days.
100 Day Plan Components
Day 1 The government to demonstrate its placement of trust in the Tamils as a first step to resuscitate their trust in the nation.
Begin the process of demilitarization to remove the humiliation Tamils are subjected to. As crucial is to show growing faith that no danger lurks in the Tamil entity.
Day 2 Complete the handing back of land not required by the armed forces. This was decided on by the President, the Prime Minister and the Heads of the forces in January 2015.
Day 3 Defreeze the High Security Zones (HSZ) in the North East, so declared after 1.1.1983. Hand back all lands within 2 years. Reparations for reconstruction within 8 years. Tamils in Colombo chafing under high density conditions will have a choice of options.
Day 4 Begin to bring about employment parity between Sinhalese and Tamils in state services.
Day 5 Affirmative action to draw North East into Foreign Direct Investment.
Day 6 Establish a ‘US – Lanka Friendship Institute of Technology’ in the Northern Province, accessible to all Sri Lankans over the centuries. “What can the U.S. do to help Sri Lanka” asked John Kerry. This can be the best gesture and now is the finest hour.
Day 7 Initiate programmes to raise the North to development parity; from lagging as the 9th Province – the last – in Sri Lanka. In 5 years place the North on the threshold for takeoff from a level of equality.
Day 8 Complete the major ‘Industrial Estate Complex’ conceived of in 2005. A 400 – 500 acre complex similar to the Japan funded Sitawaka one. A preliminary survey identified a site in Mannar District. Files are available in the central Ministry of Rehabilitation and with UDA. Full infrastructure can be provided in less than 5 years.
Day 9 A new city in Mankulam to get over the devastation of the North. It will serve as a counter magnet to Jaffna. Action was initiated on this project in 2005, at the Ministry of Rehabilitation, with the blessings of the former President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga. Files are available in the Ministry and in the UDA. The officers of the UDA had worked proactively with field visits and recorded fair progress.
Day 10 The Nation and the Province to move in tandem in a common engagement towards economic progress This is the sheet anchor for ethnic reconciliation and social cohesion.
The wisdom of Tamil poets is also reckoned with in arriving at the above priorities.
Thiruvalluvr – This world is not for those who do not have finances.
Bharathy – The first obligation of the impecunious is to garner finances
A Tamil film song – Money alone is God; even God knows it.
Not without wisdom did Plato say – Before you practice virtue, you must make wealth. Tamils before they can practice the virtue of reconciliation should feel equal to all others in the nation’s polity. Only economic equality is real in a world that is very much material. Here again Thiruvalluvar’s wisdom comes to the fore regarding the obligations of the king then and rulers now:
“It is the ruler’s responsibility for creating the means for making wealth, garnering it, consolidating it and dutifully distributing it”.
A share of power is precisely for this.