by MICHAEL ROBERTS, December 2009
One of the fundamental problems facing Sri Lanka today has been an underlying current for some time. Let me present this argument first in abstract terms. I refer to a way of seeing the world that enables a PART to equate itself with the WHOLE and thus to subsume the whole.
In this insidious and yet powerful fashion the Sinhala part subsumes the Sri Lankan whole and provides one of the foundations for Sinhala domination. This attitude can be discerned in Anagarika Dharmapala’s writings. It underpinned the surge of political forces that effected the political transformation of 1956, challenged the primacy of English, made Sinhalese the language of administration and in the process placed the Tamil vernacular in a secondary position.
The 1956 ideology underpinned the triumph of the SLFP-led forces that brought Mahinda Rajapakse to power in late 2005. So, the recent defeat of the LTTE raises the possibility that the merger of whole within the dominant part of the population could poison the prospects of reconciliation.
I do not have the expertise to assess the degree to which such a mind-set prevails among the Sinhala-speaking people, both Buddhist and Christian. There are many persons of goodwill within the Sinhala community who are attentive to the needs of the present hour: a healing touch that is built on a genuine confederative ideology that sees the minorities as an integral part of the concept “Sri Lankan.” However, I do not know what political clout they carry or what proportion of the Sinhala-speaking problem are even aware of the part/whole relationship that I have set up as a PROBLEM.
If you do not consider something to be a problem, then you will not attempt to redress it. So, this little note is a consciousness-raising act. In parenthesis let me note that people who cannot read a text that runs to more than 250 words will not even get to the starting point of internal reform.
For an elaboration of this theme, also see Michael Roberts, “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” in FRONTLINE, Volume 26 – Issue 12 :: Jun. 06-19, 2009 Volume 26 – Issue 12 :: Jun. 06-19, 2009. SEE http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2612/fl261200.htm