Sunday, 18 January 2009

What really is the "ethnic problem" in Sri Lanka ?

There is supposed to be an “ethnic problem” in Sri Lanka. But no body has so far said what is the “ethnic problem” . To solve this still untold ethnic problem, the President of Sri Lanka has appointed an All Party Representative Committee to make proposals for power sharing. But how can power sharing solve a non-existent “ ethnic problem”

Under the British Colonial Rule, all the important government positions were handed over to the Tamils and Muslims, and the Sinhala who were the majority was pushed to the background. It was however the Sinhala majority who spearheaded anti-Colonial movements to liberate the people from an unfriendly Colonial Rule, who were corrupting the people through Missionaries, setting up their schools, and propagating their religion.

Some of our people, under threat, or lured by offer of jobs, and various other facilities, were converted to their religion , making them discard those of their own. The result of the introduction of this new religion was the corruption of our own culture, and the way of living.

The later freedom movements of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), were supported by the educated upper class Tamils. After Independence, the activities of the Marxist movements by the Western Educated Sinhala intelligentsia , and then the election of S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike as the Prime Minister of a SLFP government, called for radical changes in the British Colonial administrative system that had followed Independence. The Sinhala people who had so far been pushed to the back ground by the British Rulers under their divide and rule policy, demanded their due place in the Administration, and education.

The upper class Tamils who had until then enjoyed the special privileges provided to them by the British Colonial Rulers, found themselves loosing their pre-independent position in the Sri Lankan social hierarchy. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike swept on a wave of popularity hastened to give back to the Sinhala people their rights and privileges denied to them by the British Colonial Rulers, passed legislation to make Sinhala the Official language with Tamil as the second language. This angered the Tamil upper class Vellalah Politician who were already smarting under the loss of the privileges enjoyed by them.

Later on, after the assassination of the Prime Minister Mr. S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike , his widowed wife Ms.Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the Prime Minister. With new developments after the Independence, the upper class Tamil politicians held back the emancipation of ordinary Tamil people from their bondage to the educated upper class Tamils, by discouraging them from supporting Sinhala political parties such as the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Communist Party, by carrying out false propaganda against the left Political Movement.

In the mean time the free education system commenced by Mr.C.W.W.Kannangara began to give results. Many Central Schools were established and large numbers of students from all levels of the society were being educated. But yet Sri Lanka had only two Universities one in Colombo and the other in Peradeniya. These Universities could not accommodate the large influx of students seeking University education.

To overcome this difficulty the Government adopted a system of admission to Universities on a population basis, which was not favourable to students from the minority communities. This fact added to the Sinhala being declared the official language, deepened the growing discontent of the Tamil politicians, who set up the people against the government.

This situation could have been stopped, if the government had acted thoughtfully by adopting a more accommodating government policy, such as making both Tamil and Sinhala Languages compulsory subjects in the school curriculum for all students. The government could have provided crash courses to Tamil public servants to learn to speak Sinhala, and the Sinhala public servants to speak Tamil.

With regard to admission to Universities, the government could have taken steps to open more Universities, and Open Universities to admit all students seeking higher education. These facilities could now be provided and the two main problems that concern the ordinary people of all the Communities could be solved, without entering into an APRC.

These are not really “ ethnic problems”, but situations that had been allowed to grow without being attended, in the development stage of Sri Lanka as an Independent Sovereign State. The problem was amplified by the politicians seeking political mileage on these issues.

It was this political rivalry between the Tamil politicians, and the government that eventually resulted in a group of youths from under privileged non-Vellalah caste taking up arms against the government and their upper class Vellalah political mentors to set up a separate State for the Tamils.

They were used by India and trained as terrorists to keep Sri Lanka from developing into a dominant Island in the Indian Ocean, a challenge to India in South Asia. However, the leader of the terrorists is of the Tamil fisher caste, a low caste, in the Hindu caste system.

The Tamil politicians who do not want a separate Tamil Homeland, but more political power to administer the Tamil dominated areas are trying to reap benefits from the situation resulting from the language Issue, and that of the admission of Students to the Universities on a percentage basis, projecting it as an “ethnic problem” purely for political reasons.

This same “ethnic issue” is being used by the terrorists to attract the attention of the International Community which knows nothing at all about the “ethnic” problem of Sri Lanka, or how it started. They do not make any attempt to understand what it is all about, and merely call the government to find a solution to the problem !

However, the “ethnic problem” is prominently exposed to the public view, by the Tamil politicians , the International Community, the Human Rights activists, and the Amnesty International, as an un-surmountable problem, which could be solved only by negotiations for “power sharing”. This power sharing is a call by the ambitious Tamil politicians.

The ordinary Tamil people want only to have access to education, employment, more contact with the people of other communities, and the ability to use their own language in their contact with the government administration ,and justice. Above all they want a peaceful existence with their compatriots.

The Tamil diaspora, supporting the terrorists in Sri Lanka to separate a part of Sri Lanka as a homeland for the Tamils also justify the call for a separate State by the terrorists, as a solution for the non-existent “ethnic problem”.

Therefore, in reality there is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, but an attempt to divide the country and keep the Communities apart haggling for a bone of contention called the “ethnic problem”

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