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Saturday, 16 July 2011






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

'Recalled to Life'

It is Sri Lanka's Northern Province that we had in mind when we used that famous line from the opening chapter of Charles Dickens' celebrated novel, 'A Tale of Two Cities', as the heading for this commentary. As in the case of the principal character in Dickens' masterpiece, who, we are told, was being 'recalled to life' after languishing for decades in jail and finally being given his freedom, the North is now bestowed the opportunity of rejuvenating itself through the initiation of a state-led development thrust, close on the heels of the LTTE's diktat being brought to an end. For those with a poetic bent, this is as good as being recalled to life.

Our front page lead story yesterday is bound to have had a heartening impact on all those who mean well by the Northern people.

We are informed that some 30,000 Northern families will be given the opportunity of tilling the fields of some districts and of making them bear fruit and thereby satisfying their food needs. It is also said that 80,000 to 100,000 acres of land will come under the plough for the first time in the province, with the assistance of banks and state agencies.

All these and more happenings point to the brightening of the general development prospects of the North, following three decades of chronic underdevelopment and backwardness, resulting from the blighting influence wielded by the LTTE. If not for the conflict, the North would have, perhaps, been as developed as the Western Province, given the industriousness of the people of the province.

Therefore, our wish is that the opportunities that are opening up will be used judiciously and to a maximum by the people of the North. Likewise, the agencies of the state, we hope, will continue to maintain a vibrant presence in the region and continue to be of assistance to the people. Thirty years of missed opportunities need to be made up for and the people would need to be assisted along the way until they are stable and completely on their feet. Meanwhile, the holding of the upcoming local government polls would only improve the development prospects of the people because they will be in a position to elect the representatives of their choice to the respective local bodies and thereby improve their chances of being better served.

The improvement in the life chances of the Northern people could also be seen strikingly in the public examination success rate of one time LTTE child soldiers. In a remarkable development, some of these former combatants are even qualifying to enter the Medical and Engineering Faculties of our universities. This is a glowing success story that speaks eloquently of the general capabilities of these students, while highlighting the positive role being played by the state and its agencies in the rehabilitation of one-time LTTE cadres. Indeed, they are being 'recalled to life' and given more than ample opportunities to pick up the pieces and go ahead with their lives.

These success stories need to be carefully documented and highlighted because they constitute part of the answer to the criticisms currently being leveled at Sri Lanka by sections of the international community. Those tens of thousands of persons who found refuge in the areas of the North, in mid-May 2009, which were controlled by the security forces, having run away from the LTTE in terror, are today being well served and looked after by the state because in the eyes of the state they are equal in every respect to the rest of Sri Lanka's citizenry.

Such impressive performances would need to be sustained in the days and years ahead by the state.

The people whose lives were destroyed by the LTTE should not only be 'recalled to life' but be given the opportunities and wherewithal to integrate themselves into the mainstream of life. Equality of opportunity and condition should be marked features of their lives. These are vital steps to take in the further and progressive democratization of Sri Lanka.

The upcoming local government elections should be seen by the state as offering it an opportunity to enhance the quality of local democracy. Provision should be made for the establishment of multi-party competitive politics in the Northern Province. The will of the people must be enabled to reign.

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