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Saturday, 6 August 2011

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From barrenness to bounty

The paddy harvest in the North is reportedly bountiful and this is an important ‘peace dividend’ that should not go unnoticed. The hand is back on the plough in those areas which were not so long ago furrowed with the dreaded violence of war and the unspeakable suffering of humans and our hearts rejoice in this momentous rejuvenation of a once benighted community. May the people of the North flourish and be happy is our wish.

From barrenness to bounty is, indeed, the story. The province which had been devastated at one time by war is today yielding the fruits of the labour of a people who are breathing the air of liberty and we hope the scenes of flourishing paddy fields would continue to greet the eyes of the visitors to the region. Normalcy, apparently, is fast returning to the province and it is a cause for happiness that the people of the North are resuming the important task of contributing vibrantly to the common weal with the rest of the working people of Sri Lanka.

Putting a very vibrant smile on those Northern faces is very important but before this could happen on a vast scale the larders of the North should be chock-full with the essentials of living and hopefully this process would gain pace over the years. The economy of the North should gain in stability before the more ambitious task of nation-making gets into full swing and the focus now should be on the former task, although the latter process should also be persisted with.

It is of crucial significance to nation-making that the process to find a lasting solution to the grievances of the Tamil people is continued. One cannot expect the govt-TNA talks to be smooth sailing on account of the contentious issues involved but we urge a continuation of these talks. Ideally, they should be dovetailed with the search for a solution through the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) process. Hopefully, the latter process will get off the ground before long and be taken to its logical conclusion.

As could be seen, some strides are being made towards the normalization of agricultural activities in the North and in the area of restoring the livelihoods of the people. These positive developments should go hand in hand with efforts to evolve a political solution. For, the nation-building effort would not be complete until the communities of this land are welded into one on the basis equality.

Meanwhile, we are seeing some commendable efforts in the direction of integrating the North into the wider Sri Lankan polity and this process too must continue vibrantly for the sake of national harmony. During the week that was which was ‘Farmers’ Week’, for instance, many central government institutions coming under the purview of the agricultural authorities in Colombo, toured the North and lent their assistance to the farmers of the province. Many were the ways in which the Northern farmer was helped and there is no doubt that all such activities will accrue to the benefit of the Northern people. A look at our front page lead story of yesterday will reveal the extent to which the farming community of the North would benefit through such partnerships with the state.

All this is as it should be. The state must consolidate its presence in the North and prove to be of continuous assistance to the people if the sense of alienation among some sections of the North is to be forever a thing of the past. Thus, will national integration be promoted. Particularly, the symbiotic economic links between the North and South should be re-established and strengthened. That is, the markets of the South should be flung open to the agricultural produce of the North, while goods and services from the South should flow into the North.

These links came asunder with the eruption of the war decades ago and along with it North-South linkages in the economic field came apart too. It could be seen that the Lankan state is faced with a massive repair job. North-South links in a number of spheres must be patiently re-established and strengthened and this is going to take some time. Nevertheless, the challenge should be accepted and overcome and the state is obliged to put its best foot forward in this exercise.

Regime change - the rationale

In the world, family governments change either democratically or violently. In the past, violent changes of governments have taken place more often. Fortunately, the current situation in government changes are comparatively non violent.

Full Story

Let us caress ‘Kattankudy’

Ramzeen Azeez is one of the most well-read people I know. He knows a lot about a lot of things and is generous with his time and wisdom. He points out error or misconception gently, as is the way of those who have opened their minds to perceive the eternal verities. He’s not alone of course and one day I will write about all the giants who with affection, giving and wisdom make me less of a dwarf than I am. Ramzeen is a devout Mohammedan and I feel a discerning and humble student of the Holy Quran. He teaches English to Sinhala children in Habarana. I am sure he’s teaching them more than English songs and pronunciation, but it warmed me when he informed me recently, with unmistakable pride, that they can now sing ‘My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean’.

Full Story

Elepha Maxima

It appears that the on-again off-again struggle to lead the United National Party is once again heating up to its inevitable, lukewarm anti-climax. But this time, might there be a difference in the outcome of the battle to be declared the Elephas Maximus, the great elephant?

Full Story

 

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