By Rifai Naleemi –
This part of my article should be read in conjunction with previous part. That is to avoid to any de-contextualization of any part of my article. It would be wrong to choose and pick some of my ideas out of context.
All Sri Lankan communities should work together on a commend ground to promote and protect national interest ofSri Lanka. At the same time each community should have rights to promote and protect its own cultural and religious identity: Each community does not need to give up its cultural identity and heritage in order to promote national interest. What we need is a dynamic social interaction and participation of Sri Lankan communities to support and help sustainable development in Sri Lanka: not cultural and religious assimilation: In the spheres of socio-economic, educational and political life, all communities should participate and contribute equally to build a strong economy in Sri Lanka. This is a true social interaction and contribution.
We could learn many lessons from modern democratic values and multi ethnic cultures of western countries: Western countries give preference to the talented and skilful people in recruitment and job opportunities: They do not look down on you because of your ethnicity or religion when they need skill workers. They appreciate the quality and skills of human resources: because, in our modern world, strong economies are based on the quality and skills of human resources. We too inSri Lankashould give preference to the highly qualified people in recruitment and job opportunities in the national interest of our country:
What I mean here is that we should not give preference to the less qualified people on the basis of our ethnicity and religion over highly qualified people. In many occasions, this has happened inSri Lankadue to religious and political influence. This social attitude and political influence have already greatly damaged our developments: whoever is talented whether he or she is a Sinhalese or Tamil or Muslim he or she should be given preference in job and career opportunities. It is regrettable to say that political influence has been dominating in the third world countries at the expense of national interest. This political influence takes place in our country at all levels. Consequently it is people who are going to suffer from this type of malpractice and misconduct.
Compared to other nations in Asia, human resources and skills of Sri Lankans are highly appreciated and recognized in the western world. Moreover, our university degrees are recognized in the western countries. Unlike other Asian nations, our literacy rate is high.
We have talents and skills to become one of the most developed countries ofAsia. Yet, it is really sad to see thatSri Lankais trapped in communal violence and ethno- religious tension. It was argued by some economists that if there was no war inSri Lankafor the last three decades,Sri Lankawould be economically better off thanSingaporeandMalaysia. I think given the speedy progress of military successes in the battle fieldSri Lankashould win the economic battle field as well. But such success and victories can be only sustained inSri Lankaif onlySri Lankadecides to adopt good policies of social and communal harmony. Such policies should be on the basis of humanism, social justice and equal opportunities. More importantly it should give preference to the talented and skilful people of all communities without any discrimination.
We should have some plans and strategies to sustain social harmony and peace in Sri Lanka: Religious leadership of different religious groups should sit down and discuss ways and methods of improving communal harmony: Even they could hold annual conferences regularly in the various parts of Sri Lanka discussing similarities between religious concepts: Moreover, we should teach comparative religious education in our schools: our future generation should learn each other’s culture, tradition, customs, religious tenets, religious beliefs and way of life. So that children of each community will appreciate and respect other’s sacred belief and traditions. In this way, Sinhalese children will learn to appreciate and respect Hindu cultures and traditions. Hindu children will learn to appreciate and respect Buddhists’ culture and religion and tradition: Unfortunately, each community has been teaching & learning only about its religion:
At least, we should introduce comparative religious education at secondary levels so that our new generation will not only increase their understanding of world religions but also such education system could enhance social harmony and peace in our community: Moreover, It will open up job opportunities for our next generation in teaching of RE and related subjects. In western countries RE teachers should teach at least six religions.
Moreover, Our universities should urgently introduce comparative religious studies: Since the inception of University education system in Sri Lanka up to now, Universities have been teaching Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam exclusively for Sinhalese, Christians, Tamils and Muslims: But, these religions have not been taught as a comparative subject so that our graduates could learn from each others religion and culture: Many people would disagree with such comparative approach to different religions in Sri Lankan context for fear of conversion and indoctrination. However, we should learn about and from other religions so that we could deepen our understanding of our world around us.
More importantly, We could compare and contrast various philosophical & theological aspects of different religious teachings: At least, if our universities start such comparative religious study courses that could generate more interest in the minds of our next generation to learn about other faith and that would help us to enhance social cohesion and tolerance in our communities: In addition to these, we all should learn other community’s language: Tamil people should learn Sinhalese language and Sinhalese people should learn Tamil language. This is a very demanding task, yet, at least teachers, police officers, key professionals and office workers should learn each other’s languages: so that we could develop inter communal communication skills. I really appreciate this government policy on this matter. Moreover we could promote mutual understanding between communities. I think that Sri Lankan government has already taken some positive steps in this regard. Srilankan Army, Navy and Police officials has made rapid progress in learning Tamil Languages. I wish that all other professionals do the same in all other departments. I happened to listen to one of Buddhist monks speaking in Tamil fluently. This is really a wonderful achievement of social and communal integration.
In addition to ongoing development process, we should have programmes for social interaction; We can not live anymore in watertight compartments as we did in the past: Dramatic changes have been taken place in our modern global world: different cultural and ethnic groups are living more closely than before: In western countries, Multicultural ethnic and religious groups live in big cities and towns side by side: unlike in the past, humanity has come very closer now. There is no room for racial hatred and social prejudice in our modern world. We have moral duty and responsibility to educate our publics about these dramatic changes that are taking places in the world. Through the constant process of education we could change hearts and minds of public: As I said before by nature all human beings are good. They love to live in peace and they enjoy co-existence. There may be few black sheeps in each community who stir communal violence. Anyway, if our communities in Sri Lanka once again plunge into hostilities and racial revenge the bright future of our new generation will remain questionable: But it all depends on the political will and religious guidance. We all should reach out to the public with the message of tolerance and communal harmony.