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Saying goodbye to the 'communal card'

The well meaning among us could breathe a deep sigh of relief that the 'communal card' is no longer used in the Sri Lankan polity. We are yet to outlaw racism and communal politics in this country, and it is such politics that the 'communal card' is all about, but it is a matter for rejoicing that the notorious 'card' is not being resorted to by those who are at the helm of public affairs. This is an achievement that should not be allowed to pass unnoticed.

Commenting on the mammoth crowd-puller which Monday's public demonstration against the so-called accountability resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva proved to be, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said recently that it was the state's ability to crush terrorism without resorting to the heinous tactic of rousing racism or communalism that enabled people from all walks of life and social groups to unite behind Sri Lanka on the highways, as one man.

That was indeed a demonstration of solidarity which is hard to beat.

This observation by the President could in no way be challenged. Whereas down the decades the 'communal card' was played very deftly and unconscionably by some politicians and power-seekers to expand their support bases, what is remarkable about Sri Lanka since the mid nineties is that the Satanic strategy has never been used and this is particularly true of the post-2005 years. In fact, even the historic humanitarian operation in the North in 2009 was carried out by the Security Forces in a most professional manner and the rulers ensured that not even a trace of communalism could be found in their public utterances.

If there is greater fellow feeling among our communities today, it is because influential sections have not resorted to rousing communal friction and hatred. But this was not the case decades ago. There were times when not even the most legitimate concessions of any kind could be granted to who were considered minority communities because such moves were interpreted by some sections as pandering to these communities. For example, this was the backdrop to the scuttling of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact and the Dudley-Chelvanayakam pact.

Even at the height of the 1983 riots when parts of the country had virtually gone-up in flames, there were prominent politicians who went public with the pronouncement that those sections which suffered 'got what they deserved.' One openly said that his sympathies were totally with the numerical majority. This was so because numbers mattered very crucially.

So, it was plain to see who was largely behind the conflagration of July 1983. Ethnicity and communalism are not embedded in one's genes. They are conjured into existence by some power-hungry politicians and their supporters to establish and expand their support bases. They are artificial constructs which could be brought into existence in a trice by devious minds.

We need to say goodbye forever to such dark deceits.

While it was remarkable that the state was in a position to eliminate terrorism without resorting to the 'communal card', this proud record must be maintained. If we are to prove that those sections of the West which are trying to pillory Sri Lanka in the 'Councils of the World' are absolutely wrong, communalism and such evils must be completely done away with.

In fact the way ahead is to implement the LLRC recommendations steadily while making ethnicity and communalism things of the past. We can already see that an ability to steer clear of communalism could help in bringing our communities together in unheard of ways. These pluses could prove the international critics of this country completely wrong and help highlight the degree to which Sri Lanka has achieved democratic development.

The role of the Armed Forces in reconciliation

Our Armed Forces have done a fantastic job in recent years. Not only did they deal conclusively with one of the most accomplished terrorist groups in the world, they also assisted the civilian victims of terrorists with strict discipline and respect of rules of engagement,

Full Story

Socio-economic scene

The power challenge

The electric power sector is a major contributor to Sri Lanka’s balance of payments problems, due to the need to import fossil fuels for thermal generation, partly because the country has no control over international petroleum prices.

Full Story

How a village school unites communities

Amid nationwide protests held on Feb. 27 against efforts by foreign states to undermine and intrude into Sri Lanka's post war reconciliation process, the most defiant protest took place in Saliyapura Village, Kantale where a group of individuals donated an IT facility to a rural school,

Full Story

 

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