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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

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Government Gazette

Learning the lessons of history

Considering the repeated mistakes states and polities make in efforts to handle their issues on the domestic and external fronts, the question could very well be raised whether the lessons of history are ever learnt by them. Indeed, some cynical quarters have gone so far as to pronounce that the principal lesson that should be learnt from history is that mankind never ever learns from history!

Modern history could be found to be having adequate proof of this curious and brain-storming contention. For instance, despite Fascism in Europe and Asia in the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, providing some of the grimmest chapters of modern history, sections of political opinion in contemporary Europe seem to be aligning themselves behind the Fascist ideology, in these times economic distress.

Accordingly, Fascism is enjoying a new lease of life in sections of the West along with its correlative in the ideological sphere, racism. Despite Fascism having figured as a principal factor in the triggering off of the Second World War, which was, of course, a most ignominious episode in the history of mankind, and is still regretfully remembered for the millions of lives which it needlessly claimed, Fascism is back in vogue, being idolized by more than scores of followers in particularly the West. What, then, has ‘mankind’ learnt from history?

Religious bigotry has claimed lives in the tens of thousands and brought devastation and bifurcation to countries and communities even in South Asia, but there is no end to religious bigots in societies such as ours. In fact, they seem to be on the increase.

Some Western polities have repeatedly turned their backs on social welfarism, expecting the ‘free market’ system to liberate them from their pressing material needs, but no such favourable state of affairs has come about, as the present ‘Winter of Discontent’ in the West demonstrates, but the majority of Western polities continue to swear by the ‘free market.’

Therefore, the conclusion seems inescapable that mankind learns very slowly or not at all from history.

Such reflections give special poignancy to Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga’s recent pronouncement that it is of the utmost importance that Sri Lanka learns from local history, in its current efforts at bringing normalcy in these post-conflict times.

Well, the simple and incontrovertible truth is that those societies which tend to forget the lessons of history are tragically prone to commit the mistakes of the past.

Accordingly, every effort must be made to learn the lessons of history and charter our way forward on the basis of these revelations.

We need to keep these insights in mind as we try to bring to birth a new Sri Lanka, on the basis of the National Action Plan for societal rejuvenation, which is in turn based on the insights of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report.

It cannot be emphasized enough that we need to go full steam ahead with the National Action Plan if we are to win increasing international support.

The observation of friendly countries is that Sri Lanka must help them to continue with their support for this country by losing no time in forging ahead with the National Action Plan. While going ahead with this process of implementation, the lessons learnt from history need to be borne in mind.

One such lesson is that every section of our polity must own and appropriate the LLRC Report. There can be no prevarication on this question.

Over the decades, efforts at ending the national conflict came to nothing essentially because not all our significant political actors were united in their support of such initiatives. Therefore, a united peace effort is an imperative of history. This is a most valuable lesson of history, Sri Lanka could forget only at its peril.
 

‘National rejuvenation getting into top gear’ - Part IV:

Reintegration with the focus on multiple choices

Forty six different vocational training courses were also provided to the beneficiaries of the rehabilitation programme. The courses involved many sectors, including agriculture, industry, services and entrepreneurship. Substantial opportunities were provided for training information technology, with assistance from private sector implementation partners, and a computer lab was set up with the capacity to train approximately 100 persons at a given time.

Full Story

Reminiscences of Gold

Like Father, Like Daughter

Manouri Muttetuwegama is a remarkable lady who is no stranger to politics. Coming from a political background, she is well versed in the intricacies and subtleties of the political arena. Having been a daughter and wife of two famous politicians, she understands the sacrifices one has to make when one deals in politics. She is also a Barrister and Attorney- at- Law, who has been very active in the field of Human Rights. This week Reminiscences in Gold features this vivacious lady.

Full Story

Resettlement, housing assistance and livelihood development

I have noted previously that the failure of government to make its position clear on a number of issues has been one of the main difficulties about Reconciliation. I say this because, by and large, the government position on most issues has been extremely positive, and inadequacies are more due to inefficiency than policy. But because the system does not encourage transparency, very good practices do not get the appreciation they deserve.

Full Story

Dr N M Perera’s 33rd death anniversary :

Doughty fighter and man of principles

A great son of Sri Lanka, national leader, brilliant economist cum political scientist, exemplary statesman, above all man of principles foremost upholder of democratic socialism passed away on August 14, 1979. Born on June 5, 1905 as Nanayakkarapathirage Martin Perera at ‘Thotalanga’, Grandpass, Colombo 14, his father was a businessman Nanayakkarapathirage Abraham Perera and mother was Ranwalage Johana Perera. Martin Perera's father hailed from Wattala-Hendala area and settled down in Grandpass to commence his business as a trader. His mother was from Sedawatte, Wellampitiya.

Full Story

 

 

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