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
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.