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Answer criticisms with concrete results

Those who wish this country well would be heartened on reading the joint statement issued by the governments of India and Sri Lanka at the end of External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris' recent three day visit to India. In it, among other things, the government of Sri Lanka states that it is committed to ensuring 'expeditious and concrete progress' in the current dialogue between it and Tamil parties and we hope this pledge would be supported by substantial results. There is no better way to answer present allegations leveled against the state in the controversial Darusman Report than by making concrete progress in national reconciliation and this is the approach we would strongly endorse.

In the days ahead much will depend on the effectiveness of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. The 30- year conflict has yielded many a lesson for all quarters concerned, and our expectation is that these have been learnt assiduously.

As we have observed previously, one of these is that there is no alternative to the harmonious co-existence of communities, in a spirit of brotherhood. If Sri Lanka is to experience national rejuvenation in full, communal disharmony must be completely and unreservedly shunned and we hope the LLRC would underscore this priceless lesson for the ready and steady inculcation by all relevant sections. Indeed, united we stand and divided we fall.

Be that as it may, there is also no denying that it takes two to Tango. While the state would need to be constantly guided by the principle that the good of all the communities of Sri Lanka or the collective good of Lankans must take precedence over any sectional interests, the Tamil parties must come to grips with the fact that they must talk to the state in a spirit of compromise and with a strong sense of realism.

If these conditions are met by the main parties, there is no doubt that the process of negotiation could be taken forward.

Fortunately, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has proved a very pragmatic and practical-minded leader. He has made no bones of the fact that Sri Lanka belongs to all its communities and that it is no contested arena between 'majority' and 'minority' communities. In other words, all of Sri Lanka's citizens are her daughters and sons and all would be protected by the Lankan state. All that is needed on the part of Sri Lanka's citizens is that they pledge their allegiance to the country and remain loyal to her. No citizens' creed or code of conduct could be simpler.

However, a great deal of work remains to be achieved. It could not be emphasized enough that nation-building, as such, is yet to be achieved in full in this country. It could be said that the incomplete nature of the nation-building process allowed sectional loyalties and even communalism to raise their ugly heads.

This was true of both the South of Sri Lanka and of the North-East. In other words, a lacuna remained open in our conceptualizations of the post-independence Sri Lankan state, and ethnicity and communalism emerged to fill this vacuum.

Policy and decision-makers would need to keep these facts in mind as we make a courageous attempt, following a long conflict, to pick-up the pieces and forge ahead. Welding all of Sri Lanka's ethnic and cultural groups into a single and undivided collectivity and making the latter identify completely with the Lankan state is the single most important challenge.

May Sri Lanka make concrete progress in achieving this aim, is our hope. Indeed, the achievement of this aim could be the most effective rebuttal of the Darusman Report. We need to make our achievements speak for themselves. This is not as hard a task as it may seem. Although the Report speaks of 'credible allegations' on a number of issues, it could be found that the majority of these contentions are unsubstantiated claims which are phantasmagoric in nature. The requirement that claims be substantiated by facts and figures is conveniently swept under the carpet. It becomes clear that the panel is overwhelmingly dependent on mere hearsay.

This makes the task of the state easy. A no-holds-barred effort must be made to impress on the world that we are, indeed, making concrete progress in returning the country to normalcy. For instance, it must be clearly established that swift progress is being made by the state in acting on the recommendations of the LLRC. This is an essential precondition for laying to rest the allegations made in the Report.

Besides acting on the recommendations of the LLRC, the state must ensure that all its agencies are doing their utmost to take their services to the people, wherever they may be, on a completely impartial and fair basis. The line ministries, in particular, must do their duty, wherever they may operate, in the most honest and people-oriented fashion. This will make the task of the state easier.

Last stages of war, Darusman’s laxity and UNP’s hopes

The veteran Sinhala journalist Wasantha Priya Ramanayake in his weekly article for the Sinhala daily ‘Lankadeepa’ has come up with the last days of the humanitarian operation carried out by the Sri Lankan security forces, compassion shown by the Sri Lankan security forces to the Soosai’s family, as well as to the family of Thamilselvan, parents of Velupillai Prabhakaran, and many other LTTE leaders, several hundreds of Black Tiger suicide cadres, and the failure of controversial Darusman Panel to comment on these events and the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s double standard during the war and on the controversial Darusman Report.

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Building a local technological capability

Socio-economic scene - Sher Azad

In January 1996 the science journal Nature published a report from Gill Juleff, a British Archaeologist, that wind-driven blast furnaces had been used for smelting steel in the Samanalawewa area in the first millennium.

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BRIC: economic power house in the making

PARALLEL Perspectives - Philip Fernando

Brazil, Russia, India and China are the cynosure of the world - as a group they are called BRIC. The four countries are beginning to be dominant economies. They would equal or surpass USA, Germany, Japan and France as a bloc within the next two decades.

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