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Tuesday, 17 July 2012






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Government Gazette

The ‘feel good’ factor only won’t do

We believe it would be in order to, first, place on record our appreciation of the far-sighted measure on the state’s part to launch a very momentous undertaking under the title of Social Integration Week. This project was flagged-off yesterday under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees, with the National Languages and Social Integration Ministry and its Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara featuring, along with the President, as being among the principal driving forces behind the epochal programme.

Getting down to specifics, the event marked the launching of also a Social Integration Policy Framework, the Social Integration Theme and the Social Integration Logo.

We hope all these components of the national integration project would increasingly enjoy high public visibility. They need to be discussed and debated in public and it goes without saying that officials of the state and UPFA politicians owe it to the people to lead from the front in popularizing national integration and all that it implies.

Something that ails Sri Lanka very badly is that there are very few takers for those things that are intrinsically good for the moral and spiritual health of the people in particular. Whereas, there are ample takers for those things that are distinctly evil, such as, communal hatred, religious bigotry and violence of the most revolting kind, there are just a few takers, apparently, for those things that could make our lives unmistakably beautiful. Hopefully, the concept of national integration would catch on because here is an idea that could work wonders for Sri Lanka.

Following the ending of terror, sections among our communities are reaching out to each other in the expectation of making those who were affected by the conflict ‘feel at home’ in this country. This is certainly a big advance in public perceptions and attitudes, but, as President Rajapaksa has pointed out, we need to further consolidate these ties by bringing into being a policy framework on national integration which will give purpose, direction and substance to our strivings towards communal and national harmony.

In other words, merely making sections among the public ‘feel good’ about themselves, if they are working towards communal harmony and are reaching out to ‘the Other’ just would not do. Nor would it be sufficient to create in affected sections among our communities the mere feeling that they are now being cared for by the state and the polity. It is concrete, palpable, substantive and even measurable progress towards national harmony, and not mere pious sentiment, which is now urgently needed.

The state did very well to give evidence that they were in earnest when they spoke about communal harmony and national integration by establishing the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration, under a minister with distinctly progressive views. The latter institution has made some progress towards giving concrete shape to the state’s programme of national integration through a range of projects, such as, practically realizing the country’s official language policy.

It is little realized that Tamil too is now an official language of this country and this policy must take on practical substance if national harmony is to be effected. We understand that the ministry is endeavouring towards this end. Moreover, the state has made its intentions plain, in the context of nation-making, by launching the Trilingual Sri Lanka project which too is rich in possibilities.

However, the state’s seriousness of purpose is being underlined further by the launching of the Social Integration Policy Framework and we now have a frame of reference, as it were, for the further development of projects. This framework would help in monitoring concrete progress and we urge that time not be lost in working towards realizing the relevant policy framework and its aims.

But the relevant ministry and other state agencies engaged in national integration must be backed wholeheartedly by the rest of the polity. Government politicians, ministers and the like should not fight shy of backing the Social Integration Policy Framework and other measures which conduce towards the national good. May we have no ‘traitors’ and ‘betrayers’ on this score!

‘Poverty eradication - greatest global challenge’ - Part XI:

Importance of national policies, resource allocation

We reaffirm that the means of implementation identified in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development and the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development are indispensable for achieving full and effective translation of sustainable development commitments into tangible sustainable development outcomes.

Full Story

Philosophy of resettlement and economic development

One of the greatest barriers to Reconciliation, I fear, is the difficulties government has to make its position clear. This springs in part from the systemic failure that will soon overwhelm us if remedial action is not taken swiftly. As it is, I believe we continue to survive only because of the enormous energy of a few, and the general decency of many of our administrators, whom the system however tends to suppress, with no efforts to institutionalize procedures and reporting mechanisms.

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