20 May, 2024

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Two Challenges: Economic Recovery, Political Devolution – II

By Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Nation building

The crumbling British South Asian Empire spat out three bloodied rumps. Their dominant elites dignified them as “independent States” and have struggled to squeeze the multiple nationalities – nations lacking their own States – into the elite’s imagined “composite nation”. The tortuous process has been glorified as “inclusive nation building”, which in reality is more like how sausages are made.

The simile does not suggest that history may be ignored when arbitrarily flavouring a country’s culture. Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam (“Great Leader”) and first Governor-General Mohammad Ali Jinnah discovered that fact when he kicked off the vaunted nation-building within months of the Dominion’s “independence”. His new government in Karachi announced Urdu and English shall be the State languages in November 1947. The use of English was offered as a sop, a holding position, soon confirmed when the Education Minister swiftly made preparations to declare Urdu as the sole official language.

He brushed aside the sentiments of East Pakistan’s Bengali scholars who reasoned that if Urdu becomes the state language, their own people would be turned ‘illiterate’ overnight and made ‘ineligible’ for employment in the public sector. Bengali  students in Dhaka rallied, demanding Bangla too be made an official language of Pakistan.

As public outrage boiled over, Jinnah arrived on his first visit to Dhaka in March 1948. He informed Bengalis that Pakistan is a new country, that Pakistanis must stand united against external enemies [India]. Allegedly to solidify a unity between Pakistanis living in the western and eastern wings, he reiterated Urdu must be adopted as the sole official language. Ironically Jinnah was functionally illiterate in Urdu. His almost colonial action in East Bengal, renamed East Pakistan in 1952, invigorated the Bangla Language Movement, shattered the social basis of the unity he claimed to seek and deepened disunity.

The Karachi government blamed the exploding nationalist protests in Dhaka on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman-led Bengali “separatists” and “communalists” in the Muslim Awami League, and accused them of misleading the Bengali people to grab transient political gain. The West Pakistan’s Punjabi-dominated elite soon unleashed the armed forces presumably because they believed Bengalis would prefer death to separation from West Pakistan. 

The elite justified the militarisation as a necessity to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, concepts invented in the 19th Century to legitimise the defence against external aggression but illegitimately enforced now against internal challenges to the domestic West Pakistani elite who controlled the State; thousands of Bengalis were tortured, raped, killed and disappeared. The dystopian politics intensified Bengali nationalism to demand Bangla self-determination, fought for by the Mukti Bahini-led armed resistance in the Bangla Liberation War. 

The carnage could have continued for decades more, wrecked the economy and laid the country waste if not for New Delhi’s swift intervention that midwifed the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 and turned “separatists” into statesmen. The returns on Sindhi, Baluchi and Pachtoon nationalist movements have yet to roll in.

Ceylon’s Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike staged the similar dystopian politics with his “Sinhala Only” eight years later, in 1956, by legislating Sinhala as the sole official language. Ironically, Bandaranaike was functionally illiterate in Sinhala. He sought to dignify the myopic strategy to harvest votes among Sinhalese as patriotic nationalist politics allegedly to replace the coloniser’s English with Sinhala. He claimed also the new official language would “facilitate” Tamils to communicate with the Sinhalese, thereby uniting them as a nation. 

The divisive consequences soon tore the country apart. Most nationalist Sinhalese who controlled his and subsequent governments found it incomprehensible why Tamils, who were coerced into learning Portuguese, Dutch and English languages under successive colonial regimes, cannot similarly learn Sinhala under Sinhalese rule. Their confusion impelled them to caricature Tamils’ non-violent protests as “communalism”. On the contrary, the S.J.V. Chelvanayagam-led Ilankai Tamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) championed a federal structure based on linguistic states, a principle that had surfaced in India in the late 1930s. 

The Sinhalese-controlled government deployed armed forces to repress Tamil nationalism’s struggles for political rights; inevitably the demands escalated to national self-determination. The repression matured the ITAK’s two-decade long non-violent agitation (1956-1976), guided on Ahimsa, into the armed resistance of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that sucked the country into a 40-year (1979-2009) civil war. The Island has bled for the past six decades; and we see no light at the end of the tunnel.  

Not one to be outdone, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP is striving to impose Hindi as the sole official language on the plethora of nationalities – around 22 at the last count – in India. He is functionally literate in Hindi. But his language policy confirms that politicians, consumed by power, usually do not learn from history: he is convinced a single national language is necessary to unify a supposedly divided India but has yet to demonstrate that division, if any. 

Moreover, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) votaries of Hindi as official language claim it is recognised in the Constitution, which in fact declared two official languages – Hindi and English. However, they do not seek to implement both; instead they are manoeuvring to enshrine Hindi as a national language. The sleight of hand is obvious. Since amending the Constitution to eliminate English as an official language would be hugely controversial and fraught with difficulties, Hindi could be “smuggled” in as the de facto sole official language under the cloak of a newly-minted national language that in practice, they hope, would apparently subordinate and, in time, eliminate English as an official language.

The opponents argue that the imposition of Hindi as a national language through the foot-in-the-door educational reforms betrays the solemn undertakings New Delhi gave, when the policy of linguistic states was adopted in the 1950s, to allow the states to freely develop their respective language and culture. The pro-Hindi lobby alleges that Hindi as national language does not retard the development of other languages; but many disagree and point out that it is nothing less than a serious reversal of the devolution of power enshrined in the Linguistic States Principle and reinforced by practice. 

The opposition in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Karnataka further underline that Hindi is not a language of philosophy, literature, science and/or the arts; rather Bollywood popularised Hindi; and that its imposition may eclipse the proficiency in English and eventually dumb down the country’s intellect notwithstanding the borrowed Sanskrit vocabulary.  The full outcomes of the political regression may soon be evident in India; ominously, first blood has already been drawn over verbal and physical violence perpetrated upon the 200 million, Urdu-speaking Muslims.

Reconstruction of memory

Privileging Urdu speakers, Sinhala speakers and Hindi speakers in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India respectively consigns people speaking other so-called “regional” languages to the social periphery.  

What’s worse, language is the repository of historical memories of each nation and its primary source of identity. Imposing an outsider’s language, whether of the “majority” within the State’s territorial border or from without, attenuates historical memories and violates their inextricably linked national identity. 

English colonialists wiped out the Gaelic language of the Scottish people by mandating English as the language for official business and as the medium of education: children who spoke Gaelic were punished. The palpable intention of the English elite was to “inclusively” develop the Scottish people within the English milieu. That succeeded for time through a combination of military repression of the people and co-opting their collaborative elite, backed by the enormous wealth plundered from the British Empire. But Scottish nationalism expressed itself in the language of the coloniser – English – and is back with a vengeance after almost three centuries. The Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA) has surfaced on and off since 1965 and several members were imprisoned; the political Scottish National Party (SNP) unveiled the blueprint for independence in 2013. Despite the unsuccessful 2014 Referendum – its narrow failure was exaggerated and celebrated by the English-dominated press – the Movement is only growing stronger. The Scottish, and similar Welsh, experience underlines the futility of repressing cultural identity. 

The historical memories of the native, pre-colonial peoples were by and large wiped out by eliminating their mother tongues, denigrated as “Devil’s Speak” in the United States to stamp out their cultural identity – culturecide – or cultural genocide. Canada and Australia have similarly attempted to erase historical memories of First Nations by brutally dragging several generations of their children away from their families, regimenting them in English language boarding schools and imprisoning them with white families to deform them into English speaking “civilised citizens”. The full extent of the atrocities are yet unknown and apologies made for recent revelations invoking multi-culturalism are not justifications for closing the investigations. 

First Nations who managed to survive in appreciable numbers are struggling to claw back their history and culture. In Canada the State has belatedly recognised the Inuit peoples’ land rights “to create socio-economic and cultural equity between Inuit and other Canadians”; certainly, a welcome change. However, clarifying title to land also facilitates multinational corporations, thirsting after sub-soil resources, to lease the land owned by the Inuit.  

The political essence of official language policies of the elites of respective major linguistic group that wields State power in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, is the virtually the same: to similarly deracinate the cultural identities of groups that don’t speak the major language under the pretext of “nation-building”. Blatant racism is only the lesser part of the explanation. More to the point, the elite of the major linguistic group homogenise language to dispense with coalitions with troublesome elites of other linguistic groups and exercise power to directly dominate and control the entire population. A focus on “identity conflicts” usefully explores anthropological dimensions but tends to miss the central dynamics of political power.   

The tragic consequences are unfolding before our eyes. In Sri Lanka we are living the folly of the Lilliputian Sinhala-Buddhist feudalist elite, as it fumbles with “Sinhala Only”. Meanwhile its current affluent generation are voting with their feet to join International Schools, proliferating like mushrooms and teaching in the English language medium.  

Dynamics of nation-building: exclusion and resistance

For a while the Sinhalese elite and its mainstream intelligentsia (excluding literally a handful of the Old Left), content that Sinhalese hegemony had been secured by legislation and administrative actions, were shaken out of their reverie when Tamil’s armed resistance exploded in the late 1970s followed by Muslim radicalism. Most nationalist Sinhalese have been flummoxed, wondering how Former President DB Wijetunge’s earthy metaphor of the sturdy Sinhalese “Tree” and clinging Tamil and Muslim “Vine” (Interview, Sunday Observer, 6/feb/94) proved so tragically wrong. 

More so when the Sinhalese rural youth they had pampered with land settlement schemes and rural development programs revolted in 1971 and 1987-89, betrayed by the mirage of a Sinhala Only Golden Agrarian Age. 

The elites in successive governments responded by rapidly modernising the expanding the hitherto largely ceremonial armed forces to repress Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim resistance. Large numbers of unemployable Sinhalese – mostly collateral damage of the Sinhala-Only policy – were absorbed into the burgeoning military that wolfed down scarce national resources. 

The anti-Tamil 40-year war (1979-2009) and military operations against the two JVP uprisings dragged the government deeper and deeper into debt to finance the military and to replenish foreign reserves essential to import consumer goods. 

The prolonged military operations widened and deepened corruption: the judiciary made questionable rulings to incarcerate numerous Tamil youth and condoned the suspension of the hallowed habeas corpus; new opportunities to get rich quickly opened as many Tamils arbitrarily arrested and indefinitely detained under the PTA reportedly “bought” their freedom; the medical profession received intra-venous injections of corruption as JMOs (Judicial Medical Officers) routinely falsified autopsy reports and covered up evidence of torture, naively believing they were helping the armed forces to save the motherland from the Tamil “Tigers”; reported mass graves in the north and south and extra judicial executions have been hardly investigated with the professionalism they demand; defence procurements enriched a new social layer of crony capitalists who supplied everything from boot laces, brass buttons, dry rations and weapons; and their kickbacks greased the palms of large sections of the Sinhalese political class and bureaucracy. Human rights were violated in the name of saving the country from “terrorism”. The cumulative result is Basil Fernando’s non-rule of law system. 

However, criticising the government a few Sinhalese acquaintances explained to us in the mid-1990s, would only benefit the “terrorists”. They were confident the “vibrant democracy” that Sri Lanka they believe is would weather the challenges posed by unconstitutional rule, institutionalised impunity, virtually non-existent democratic accountability and endemic corruption. Little do they realise that the very “challenges” reveal that the country is far from a democracy and probably never was one. 

The feudalist elite inveigled the Sinhalese people in general to tolerate the unbridled corruption and non-rule of law as necessities for the success of the Tamil “Tiger” Safari; soon people acclimatised themselves to the new political normal. Their moral collapse is vividly documented by Asoka NL Ekanayaka and amply confirmed by the choice for President in 2019 of the 69 lacs of almost exclusively Sinhala-Buddhist voters. 

Most members of today’s political class and dysfunctional State institutions are by and large the effluents of a system broken by the four-decade long war. Sinhalese concerned to fully comprehend how the country came to this pass may find it edifying to take walk down the Road to Nandikadal.

[Next: Part III – Systemic change]

*Dr Sachithanandam Sathananthan is an independent researcher who read Political Economy for the Ph.D. degree at the University of Cambridge. He was Assistant Director, International Studies, Marga Institute, Visiting Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University School of International Studies and has taught World History at Karachi University’s Institute of Business Administration. He is an award-winning filmmaker and may be reached at: commentaries.ss@gmail.com

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  • 10
    2

    “He brushed aside the sentiments of East Pakistan’s Bengali scholars who reasoned that if Urdu becomes the state language, their own people would be turned ‘illiterate’ overnight and made ‘ineligible’ for employment in the public sector.”
    *
    Urdu, a minority language in Pakistan with 7% native speakers which includes Indian immigrants from Hyderabad and elsewhere, was as alien to the Punjabis and Sindhis. But more so to Bengali speakers.
    The conflict in East Pakistan was aggravated by Bhutto’s unwillingness to let Mujibur Rahman become PM, despite winning the largest number of seats (167/313) in parliament. Both Bhutto and Pakistan paid a heavy price for this folly.

    • 7
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      “Both Bhutto and Pakistan paid a heavy price for this folly.”

      The entire island continues to pay a heavy price for the follies of Banda and SiriMao.
      And SiriMao aided and abetted Pakistan to commit Genocide against the people of Bengal. Some thought it was a master stroke in diplomacy by her.

      • 5
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        Native,

        Try to make an attempt to get out of the habit of beating up on long-dead people and pissing on their graves.

        Concentrate your attempts on the preset ……… try to prevent your stalwart Ranil making Lanka a pawn in America’s global power-games. What happened in the past can’t be reversed …… what is happening now can be prevented.


        “folly”

        Look around ……. the whole world is a sea of folly ……. time to get your life-raft of intelligence ready ……. so we can all get onboard! :))

        • 1
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          nimal fernando

          SJ types:
          “Still confused?
          See the doctor ASAP.
          I care for your health.”

          I think the message is aimed at you.

      • 1
        1

        Still confused?
        See the doctor ASAP.
        I care for your health.

  • 7
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    What a wonderful lesson on nation building has Sachithanandam Sathananthan given in simple, eloquent language. Each calamity boils down to an exercise in futility by the voting power of the major community to dominate and control the entire population.
    That our country is far from a democracy and probably never was one, is a salient truth.

    • 4
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      Nathan: much appreciated.

      • 2
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        Dr. SS,
        .
        “Little do they realise that the very “challenges” reveal that the country is far from a democracy and probably never was one”

        This is absolutely the truth.

        Our people are made to believe that DEMOCRACY is only holding elections in compliance with constitutional paragraphs. They dont give a damn to recheck after those candidates are elected.

        Compared to people in a civilized country, Sri Lankan average will not dare to cross-examine about anything. That is why many believe, that most of our people are seen like ” slaves” than “brave ones”. Also so called independence from Brites were not achieved by their own sweat but thanks to HIndians as we clearly look back today.
        Sometimes, I feel if their “slave” nature is written in their genetic code.

        Regardless of their academic title they wear, most of our people are often made to believe and imitate what the majority does.
        If a departure from traditional thinking is to be expected, radical reforms in Sri Lanka’s education systems are essential. Although many in society assume that “monk wisdom” is superior, it is an absolute myth, and most of them are lowly educated in “Dharma”. As time went on, it was noticed that the monks were NOT “well read and learned the Buddhist languages well”. The line between the buddhist laity and the buddhist monks is blured with the time.

        tbc

  • 4
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    “Economic Recovery, Political Devolution”

    If you are a realist you can forget both! …….. If you are a dreamer, the sky is the limit.

    ” Economic Recovery” ……. If you don’t mean “Economic Recovery” stands for becoming a permanent client/casualty of the IMF ……….. and becoming an irretrievable addict of more and more borrowing.

    “Political Devolution” ……… How long have you gone behind/followed that goat …….. any sign of them falling?

    • 8
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      “Large numbers of unemployable Sinhalese – mostly collateral damage of the Sinhala-Only policy – were absorbed into the burgeoning military that wolfed down scarce national resources”
      That was probably seen by the leadership as a neat way of keeping idle hands out of mischief, along with stuffing State bodies with more unemployables. This created a new class of untouchable “ranaviruwos” who could do no wrong even while cutting the throats of children. They were until recently, promoted as being highly efficient and capable of doing anything. But their lustre faded when Gota himself saw the abject failures of his hordes of Brigadiers and Admirals. An unemployable is just that.

    • 1
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      Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan,

      I’m sorry I didn’t have time to read through the whole article …….. just glanced through and cherry picked.

      If we make things simple and look past the ethnic/racial/religious divides ……… the battle in SL is between the ruling-class and the ruled-class. …… when some from the ruled-class migrate to the Ruling-class their “new” interests fall in line with that of the ruling-class.

      How do we know there are no ethnic divide in this battle? …… Nothing that was done to the captured/surrendered Tamil youth ….. was not done to the captured/surrendered Sinhala youth. The same brutality was meted out to both. The ruling-class can resort to unspeakable brutality when their interest are challenged.

      To me there is very little difference between the Tamil and Sinhala revolts …….. they were both fighting against the ruling-class and their bad-governance. Wijeyweera, being in the majority, could make an attempt to topple the government and capture power. Prabakaran, being in the minority, could only fight for separation.


      Some of you might find this interesting …….. https://www.fdiintelligence.com/content/news/the-imfs-top-10-biggest-debtors-81405 ……. do any of you know a country that escaped the debt-trap with the help of the IMF?

      • 2
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        Nimal,
        “do any of you know a country that escaped the debt-trap with the help of the IMF?”
        This an oft-repeated chestnut on this forum.
        Yes, our neighbour India avoided bankruptcy in 1991, with IMF aid. That was the last time they went to the IMF.
        Perhaps what we need is an Indian CEO.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Indian_economic_crisis

        • 2
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          Thanks, OC.

        • 1
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          old codger

          Didn’t Hindia send planes load of its gold reserves to Bank of England (UK) as being collateral?

          Do you think we have sufficient Gold to satisfy IMF conditions (that is of course whatever remaining after looting by the ruling parties, not our friend Nimal. He has alibi).

          • 2
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            Native,
            All our gold was sold by Cabral prior to the crash.
            If you have gold, the IMF goes easy on you.
            Ìndia got its gold back. Will we?

      • 4
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        Dear Nimal Fernando,

        You are correct to assert that Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslim masses are equally victims of economic exploitation by the dominant classes.
        It is also true the State is ethnically blind when repressing challenges to its power from any and every quarter.
        The claim “there is very little difference between the Tamil and Sinhala revolts” however ignores the NATIONAL dimension unique to Tamils’ struggle as has been done for the past 75 years: see,
        1. https://www.shenaliwaduge.com/the-tamil-problem-how-can-sri-lanka-solve-a-problem-that-does-not-exist/
        2. https://www.shenaliwaduge.com/why-does-arun-siddharth-stand-out-from-tamil-leaders/
        Nationalist Sinhalese are of course free to continue along the same path for the next 75 years. We can only wish them good luck.

        • 3
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          Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan,

          Thanks. I was referring to the Sinhala and Tamil youths’ violent revolts: not the greater Tamil struggle for equality.

          I believe equal treatment of all citizens is the cornerstone of good governance.


          Although the Sinhalese have not fared any better under the “Sinhala Buddhist” ruling-class ……. I believe Tamils, Muslims and other minorities get treated worse and have bigger problems.

          • 2
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            Nimal Fernando,

            You are welcome.

            The claim that “the Sinhalese have not fared any better under the ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ ruling-class” contradicts the well known advantages that accrued to the Sinhalese upper-middle and upper classes.

            Lest we forget, it’s the vast majority of Sinhalese who themselves repeatedly invited the Sinhala-Buddhist ruling dispensation election after election, culminating in the enthroning of the Duttugemunu Avatar in 2019. At the risk of exaggeration, it’s fair to say the unfolding tragedy is entirely self-inflicted,

            Your concern for the condition of Tamils and Muslims is appreciated.

            • 2
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              Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan,

              Thanks.

              “The claim that “the Sinhalese have not fared any better under the ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ ruling-class” contradicts the well known advantages that accrued to the Sinhalese upper-middle and upper classes.”

              Could you please elaborate on the above statement?

              Your perspective will be very interesting: there might be something I haven’t seen/encountered. ………. I do not want to pre-empt your response. So shall hold back my response how we (my family as Sinhalese) have fared under the “Sinhala-Buddhist” ruling-class.

              • 2
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                Nimal Fernando,

                Part III of the essay, to be published soon, may provide at least part of the answer to your question.

          • 3
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            nimal fernando

            The learned professor Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan mentions Shenali Wduge, so do I. Don’t get me wrong, I am not learned.

            Please look at the Ceylon/Sri Lanka story of nation building and let us know where this island went wrong?

            • 4
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              “Shenali Wduge”

              Geeze Native, I know you have mentioned her before …….. but I don’t have to go as far as Shenali Wduge to encounter raving racists, Holocaust Deniers ………. I find them in my own blooming extended family! So much so I have to keep my mouth shut in gatherings to maintain family harmony.

              The crazy thing is …… in the Black July riots these same people took food and water and other help to people whose houses were burned down and were sheltered in schools etc. ……. but hate just not Prabakaran and the LTTE (which can be expected and understandable) but all the Lankan Tamils as an ethnic group.

              We have to be brutally honest with ourselves ……… cant pussyfoot around issues.

              I always look at things from the perspective of the human-condition ……….. ethnic/racial divides are just a minor part of the whole …….

        • 2
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          Dr. SS,
          Don’t you find it interesting that this Shenali Waduge person is herself of recent South Indian descent?

          • 2
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            Old Codger,

            Do you mean she is more Sinhalese than the Sinhalese?

            We wish her well.

            • 0
              0

              Dr.SS,
              Given the current retrogressive trend, it won’t be long before Shenali or her descendants find themselves treated the same as they were before the Portuguese rescued their ancestors.

          • 3
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            old codger

            “Don’t you find it interesting that this Shenali Waduge person is herself of recent South Indian descent?”

            Prof Gananath Obeyesekere says they are the trouble makers, just to fit in with the crowd. However the vociferous Shenali Waduge is more than that she should be identified with paranoid Fascistic tendencies.

        • 1
          0

          Dr. SS,
          thanks for the Links.

          Ignorance of the equal rights of all citizens is common among some Sinhalese. I would not harbour ito me today. Enough is enough.
          I was most familiar with such behaviors of our sinhalayas in Europe. They do not bother to study the facts carefully to understand whether there are minority issues or not.
          Denial of their existence is associated with their indifference. I don’t know where Shenali Waduge or similar Sinhalese women grew up, what race their parents and relatives might have been? were they conceived in test tubes ?
          In order to solve the ethnic problem in the country, such women should be executed in public. Harsh punishments to them would surely clean up this nation filled with racism.
          .
          For example, I know from my experience how much pressure they go through to get their passport related documents done, through embassies in Europe. Once I took them to Sri Lanka Embassy in BONN and happened to help them by myself. Many Tamil Sri Lankans thought that if I intervened as a Sri Lankan sinhalaya it would speed up the process. I myself observed how impolite the embassy officials treated them. Shenali would have to be demented by nature not to make such observations. Absolutely despicable. Basta.

    • 1
      0

      Get integrated with Indian currency to prevent further downfall of the value of the Rupee.

      • 1
        0

        L@
        A common currency can stabilize the economy of small countries.
        .
        Below is how it was done at EURO EUROPE.
        .
        Let’s compare, what are the benefits of the euro?

        The euro offers many benefits to individuals, businesses and the economies of the countries that use it. These include:

        a) The ease with which prices can be compared between countries, which increases competition between businesses, thereby benefiting consumers.
        b) Price stability
        c) The euro makes it easier, cheaper and safer for businesses to buy and sell within the euro area and trade with the rest of the world
        d) Enhance economic stability and growth
        e) Better integrated and therefore more efficient financial markets
        f) Increased influence of the global economy
        g) A tangible sign of a European identity.

        Many of these benefits are interrelated. For example, economic stability is good for a member country’s economy, which enables the government to plan for the future. But economic stability benefits businesses by reducing uncertainty and encouraging investment. This in turn benefits the public through increased employment and better quality jobs.

  • 1
    0

    You missed the first challenge Sachi. “How to survive as President” for some time.

  • 4
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    Dr Sachithanandam Sathananthan’s precise and watchful use of language and facts is a lesson to all journalist and all those who aspire to be writers.

  • 2
    0

    Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan,
    You had not given due emphasis to the recovery part in the economic recovery and to the advantages of political devolution that could facilitate economic recovery and a more harmonious life of different communities or racial groups in any country.
    Anyhow it would have given correct perspective had you use the concept of power sharing to devolution as a unit of governance because the word devolution itself accept subservient role of a devolved unit to the all-powerful center.
    Otherwise it was an interesting and informative article and I await Part-III Systemic Change with eager anticipation.

    • 1
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      Economic Recovery and devolution if handled properly will lead to systemic change and as a result, economic recovery could be a worthy byproduct.
      Power sharing could be an important element for systemic change
      Sri Lanka should not be reluctant to go on a new less travelled road to a multi linguistic united country with imagination and innovation

    • 2
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      Srikrish, thank you.
      Some (not exhaustive) comments on economic recovery may be found in Part I here:
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lankas-two-challenges-economic-recovery-political-devolution/

  • 4
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    SS,
    Well composed material on Birth of independant South Asia, from British Empire post WWII!!??

    • 1
      1

      Nation building is still awaits Sri Lanka, a bit delayed after what happened in the Indian subcontinent.
      It need not be a carbon copy of what happened in Europe in the 19th century with nation states.
      It could be around culturally homogeneous, but multilingual nations like India after partition and the birth of Bangladesh with small deviations like Kashmir.

      The long delay in Indian sub-continent came only after the end of colonialism and the end of World War II

      • 3
        2

        “culturally homogeneous”
        India!
        That is interesting.

        • 2
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          SJ,
          ““culturally homogeneous India”
          Which includes pork and beef eaters, vegans, alcohol distillers, naked Jains, Syrian Christians, a couple of Christian-majority States…..
          Very interesting indeed.

          • 1
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            There are two kinds of people- optimist and pessimist. Optimist looks at brighter side of life and opposite is true for pessimist. They are total failures in life. Pessimist usually engage in nick picking with a magnifying glass and find fault with something. They refused to look at the whole, not parts holistically, but only look at the parts with tinted eyes. Poor creatures! Whatever field they try to engage and outshine all others –academic, political, literary, both creative and as literary critics, they end up as ignominies.
            They have come to an age when growing up had become impossible-only decay and soon become extinct from this beautiful planet!.
            We can only pity them!

            • 2
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              Old Codger,
              Very interesting indeed!
              culturally homogeneous India”
              Which includes pork and beef eaters, vegans, alcohol distillers, naked Jains, Syrian Christians, a couple of Christian-majority States…..
              Very interesting indeed!
              Oh so diverse, yet binding by secularism. Secularism binds the diverse beliefs and accommodate them all within a single state-bickering communities, yet celebrate diversity and diversity is their strength –no coercion! The country survives after partition as a single country. Kashmir is an aberration and India could not yet find a way out with all their wisdom. India is a marvelous mix, one may not find anywhere else in the world. Yet survive and in time, it had grown into a powerful economic and military giant, challenging China.
              Now look at the unique governance structure of India , the wisdom of founding fathers of India , the constitution promulgated in 1950 with quasi federalism with center and states bicameral legislations, Panchayati raj System of local governance with autonomous and semiautonomous councils to solve diversities of even very small tribal communities in North India.
              Everyone will be proud of the marvel of India – yes a culturally homogeneous India!

        • 1
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          There are two kinds of people- optimist and pessimist. Optimist looks at brighter side of life and opposite is true for pessimist. They are total failures in life. Pessimist usually engage in nick picking with a magnifying glass and find fault with something. They refused to look at the whole, not parts holistically, but only look at the parts with tinted eyes. Poor creatures! Whatever field they try to engage and outshine all others –academic, political, literary, both creative and as literary critics, they end up as ignominies.
          They have come to an age when growing up had become impossible-only decay and soon become extinct from this beautiful planet!.
          We can only pity them!

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    Accurate on all accounts (India, Pakistan, Scotland and others). Hopefully SS will have some answers to economic recovery and political devolution, two things Ranil promised by 2048. It doesn’t mean Ranil or others will take on SS advise. Still curious to know what other options we are left with.

    • 4
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      Chiv if I am correct, Scotland has historically been divided into highlands and lowlands. The vast majority of the population lived in the lowlands and always spoke a form of English or a sister language, that diverged from middle English called Scots and many renowned Scottish poets/authors wrote in this language or dialect. It is a Germanic language/dialect just like its close sister language English and completely different from the Celtic Gaelic that was the predominant language of the highlands Scots and in some islands. This is the reason the Highland Scots used to derogatorily call the lowland Scots “Sassenachs ” Meaning an English person. The tartan the kilt and many things associated with the Scots belong to these Highland areas.

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        Even the Scottish or Highland rebellion against the British or English crown for Catholic Bonny Prince Charlie was fought largely by these then largely Catholic Gaelic-speaking Highland Scottish tribes and not by the largely Presbyterian Protestant English/Scottish speaking low land Scottish majority. It was after the defeat of these Gaelic-speaking Catholic Highland Scottish tribes, that the British or English Protestant crown tried to suppress the traditional Highland Scottish culture, Kilt wearing, and the Gaelic language. They cleared the highlands and millions of these Highland Scots were forced to emigrate to other parts of Britain, Scotland and to America, Australia, Canada. It is from these English/Scots-speaking lowland areas like Edinburgh, and Glasgow that lots of industry and innovation came. However, whenever people associate Scotland its people and culture, they always associate it with these with the Gaelic language, the kilts and everything associated with the Highland Scots. Are you aware that many of the remote and outer islands of Scotland were invaded and settled by Viking tribes the Scots from these areas at one time spoke a Viking dialect not Gaelic and are largely of Viking descent.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language

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    A good and very interesting piece if a shade too long.
    However.
    I have reason to hope that the dystopian picture sketched by Sathanathan may be changing or at least under serious challenge, in Sri Lanka

    Kumar David

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      Eeakdavi,
      We too believe the dystopian reality can change, provided the vanguard of the social classes who are desperate for a sane order take political power. Who, then, is that vanguard?
      An unanswered question here is: what’s to be done with the criminal denizens of the old order fighting tooth and nail to hang on?

  • 0
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    “Economic Recovery” and “Political Devolution”. I would say it must be most important and urgent:

    “Political Stability”. At the moment, the Government is the least “STABLE” in the sense, it is the most “HATED” and “UNSTABLE” in eyes of the general population. Whether anyone likes it or not, that is a FACT and REALITY. Please listen to the link below>

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guQilq9o1wg

    This is an interview given by Mr. Ravi Abeysuriya, the former Fitch Rating chief of S/L.

  • 0
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    Sorry. That video clip has gone out. I will try and connect it later.

    The fact remains, without a STABLE and POPULAR SUPPORT Government, this problem cannot be achieved. That is a prerequisite for RECOVERY.

    This government’s continued apathy to holding elections will further dwindle the chances of recovery.

  • 3
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    Good article by SS and very well written.

    • 3
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      Thank you, SSS.

  • 0
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    One wonders why Scottish nationalism took centuries to assert itself in separatist terms, unlike the Irish.
    The Welsh are sentimentally attached to their language, but not separatist.
    Is not the loss of the empire a key to some of these vexing questions?

    • 0
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      SJ,
      The Irish were mostly Catholic, unlike the Scots. They were looked down upon, and sent as indentured labour to the Caribbean before Indians.

      • 1
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        Old codger it is true, the so-called Protestant population of northern Ireland proves this point. Very few of them are actually native Irish but are largely Scottish and a minority of English Protestants who were brought across and given land and settled, a few centuries ago. The native Irish Catholics from this northern part of the Island protested the most against English rule, there the British crown decided, that in order to put them down and marginalise them, they will bring in hundreds of thousands of Protestant immigrants from Scotland and England loyal to the British crown and settle them in these restive Irish lands. Just like the way Sinhalese were settled in Tamil lands after the so-called independence, especially in the east. Scottish and English protestant settlers were brought in and confiscated and state lands were given to them to settle and start farms. The bulk were Scottish and above them were the English Protestant settlers, who were given bigger parcels of lands, homes and important positions. This is the reason the Protestants from Northern Ireland are called Scotch Irish and you can see this from their family names. All Scottish or English not native Irish surnames.

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          This was deliberately done to marginalise the native Irish and to create a loyal population to the British crown, and they showed this by opting to remain with Britain in the areas where they were in a majority. Just like the way the recently settled Sinhalese are doing in the east. Even in the south of Ireland, thousands of acres of Irish lands were confiscated and many English Protestant Anglican aristocratic families loyal to the British crown were given these lands and they built huge estates and manor homes here. Lots of huge Protestant institutions like the Trininty college were established to cater to them.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Scots_people

  • 1
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    There is no relationship between Sinhala political leadership and Buddhism but there is strong relationship between Buddhist fundamentalists and Sinhala political leadership. There focus was power and money making and keeping people including Sinhalese in the dark and poverty

  • 1
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    Sooner we integrate with Indian currency,it’s better for the economic stability.It will prevent further downfall of the Rupee.

    • 1
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      Lingam,
      “Sooner we integrate with Indian currency,it’s better for the economic stability.”
      Yes, it’s already happening, but Ranil is doing it quietly so as not to spook the Mahanayakas and Weerawansas.
      A common currency, Euro style, should be the ultimate goal.

  • 1
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    Lingam,
    “Sooner we integrate with Indian currency,it’s better for the economic stability.”
    Yes, it’s already happening, but Ranil is doing it quietly so as not to spook the Mahanayakas and Weerawansas.
    A common currency, Euro style, should be the ultimate goal.

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