Monday, October 24, 2005

Island Mentality?

Click on the link for a great paper on island mentality .It starts with the quote
"An Island ,If it is big enough ,is no better than a continent.It has to be really quite small before it feels like an island
D.H. Lawarence ,The Man Who Loved Islands"
I wrote in a prevoius post that we should join india as a solution to the ethnic problem.Judging by the responses obvoiusly I have not made the case clearly.

What am I trying to achieve?
Obviously it makes sense and nobody dispute that India as the big neighbour is essential for our economic well-being .While acknowledging the fact, my plan is to aim for the side-effect of the increasing involvement with india,the effect on Sinhala middle class .
By Sinhala middle class ,I mean teachers,policemen,memebers of the army , government servents,nurses,small business owners,small farmers,private sector middle level employees etc...Although they might know a little bit of English their main language of interaction is Sinhala. They read Sinhala newspapers.They have just enough money to survive month to month.Will probably build a home within their life time .Being eligable for government pension or because of children, will have a relatively safe retirement.Probably will not go out of the country in their life time except may be once.That could very well be a pilgrimage to India.Being children of 1956 ,entirely dependent on the worldview filtered through the so called Sinhala Intelligensia.

Compared to them, the upper and the upper middle class would travel widely and use English at home.Interestingly enough the lower level of the class hierachy has been open to the world outside due to middle east labour markets as well.

When it comes to the public discourse and elections it is this group that makes the decision who gets to be the next king or queen(The media outlets that caters to them will vehemently deny this poiting out CWC and SLMC as King makers).It's not the numbers.It's the opinion among the majority community that they control.They are the self appointed guardians of the Sinhalese.The kings and queens knows this .Thats why when one guy makes a gaffe by saying something stupid about the history of "Pasdun Rata" ,the other one says Ha! Ha! in the front pages of Sinhala newspapers.

I'm not trying to cure the well documented Majority-Minority complex of Sinhalese being next door to the mamoth Tamil population .What I'm trying do is to find the easiest way to open their eyes a little bit to the outside world (for the good ,the bad and the ugly).
For them,....
1.Federalism -bad because it gives control of your land to bad people.
2.Police powers to provinces-bad.Almost the above argument.(Like any other country I think Sri Lankan police was part of the Ministry of Internal affairs dealing with law enforcement until 1971 rebellian.Now it is a part of the defence ministry .Everybody has forgotten it's original identity by now.)
3.There are 60 million Tamils ready to pounce on you any time.
4.Sri Lanka feels like a country .They always say it is "tiny" but they don't feel it at all!(Would you feel the same way about the size and our place in world if you can go to Jaffna from Colombo in 3.5 hours by land?Think about getting on train in the morning ,visiting Nagadeepa and coming back in the same day.That's luxury only top politians could afford now by air.).
5.We have a unique culture .(Of course we have a unique culture but more than 90% is borrowed from outside.)
and the list could go on.

For instance when I told my neighbour that the Policemen are hired and fired by local governments(read Nagara-saba,Gam-saba) in US and I have to pay toll to use some roads ,He obviously drew the parallel in North (and A9 road situation )and wondered what would be so bad about it.He hasn't experianced any thing similar .Sinhalese middle class has been isolated not only from outside world but also from their counterparts in Tamil and Muslim communities thanks to the 1956 Sinhala only policy. It is easy make the assumption that every Tamil =LTTE and worry about giving control to part of the country to a bunch of terrorists.What if there are good guys and we let them police their own neighbourhood peacefully?

For instance Dr. Rajasingham Narendran wonders about Sinhala & Tamil intransigence in a recent Tamil Week article.
"The on-going presidential election season is also revealing the deception being foisted on the public from the Sinhala side of the political spectrum. The recently released UNP manifesto states, “We will bring about a permanent resolution to the ethnic problem through a political solution based on a United Sri Lanka. A consensus reached between the UNP and the UPFA on the ethnic problem, the agreement arrived at between the Government and the LTTE and the Oslo and Tokyo declaration, which guarantees the unity, democratic character and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, has created the framework of a solution acceptable to all communities of the country”. Even at this stage of our history, a major political party in Sri Lanka is unable to explicitly state in its manifesto that it will seek to establish a federal framework for the governance of Sri Lanka, which will ensure her unity and territorial integrity. Why did the UNP not explicitly use the word ‘Federal’ in its manifesto? Is it a dirty word in Sinhala politics that cannot be openly alluded to in a manifesto? "

Also the Hindu wonders about the reluctance to use the word federalism.
"The reluctance to use the phrase "federalism" is largely because of its imagery of secession"

It's not a simple case of marketing one word to the south.Due to the langauge and geographic barriers the most influantial section of the SOUTH (read Sinhalese) is isolated from the most common knoweldge from outside.Hence my extreme idea of joining India as a short cut to speed up the things(I will settle for less ambitious goal of "more economic co-operation").
1.Most of them will have to learn a second language to interact.The best candidate will be English.
2.The access to Indian higher education system.(Less than 5% of Sri Lankans have tertiary education).
3.More business opertunities ,bigger market.
4.Look at how numerous ethnic groups work with each other (not always ideal) how we are simply one of the ethnic groups in the Indian subcontinet with similar cultures.
5.Will experiance the first hand how other governments works.

I have been to India and I might not want to live there (if you freeze it in the current time frame).India has great potential and She will definitely change for the better.We will be stupid not to join the party.
On the other hand why not have cheap indian prostitutes in Colombo instead of Russians or Chinese ?(Just kidding .Pointing out one of the many BAD side-effects.prostitutes-bad.Hot indian babes-good !)
Full Disclosure.
I hate the rolling 'R"s of indian accent and also feel good to do something like this once in a while

"Sir John Kotelawela created a sensation by condemning "neo-colonialism" of the Communist bloc. When Pandit Nehru of India asked Sir John why had not shown his speech to him before delivery, Sir John responded bluntly, "Did you show me yours?"."

but we have to be practical guys.!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Simon Navagattegama

It was not my intention to make this the obituary page of Daily News or the disaster response main page.I guess it is human nature react to bad news .
I always wanted to write a post about Simon.The topic ,why most of Simon's works cannot be translated without losing the original value.The obstacles are,I don't have any of his books with me at the moment,I'm no literary critic and most of all I seem to have less and less freaking free time!I'm sad most of the world will not get to know him and his works.I tried googling to find a photagraph to include without success. (Finally found a photo. 16/10/2005)

A longtime ago ,I was in a bus heading towards Colombo.He was on the sidewalk near De Soyza flats .I recognized the face from newspapers.That was the only encounter I had but his "sansaranyaye dadayakkaraya" will always be a cool dude to hang out with.Atleast in my dreams.

Several Links.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The blogger peace plan:No way out?

Ivap and Sittingnut wanted to know what I think about the blogger peace plan .
I wanted to be safe in my world thinking about how the TV viewing habits of children in 80's could effect the O/L English results in 90's or How similar the Sri Lankan and US history looks as countries built by immigrants, why building the proposed highways will do more to peace in Sri Lanka than SLMM. Add to that list why every working Sri Lankan should file taxes every year which came up in indi's blog .

I intentionally avoided any peace plans .I'm good at Monday morning quarterbacking like everybody else. It is easier take down somebody's plan than to come up with your own .Also I'm lazy. If somebody takes up my plans and runs with it ,who is to be blamed for FUBARs?
(Bringing democracy to middle-east is a noble idea but Tom Friedman is in a sticky wicket now)

When it come to this subject ,my ideas has been all over the scale of 1-10 in the past depending on the maturity of my age, experience and what I read at the time.
(10 being Kill all Tamils, invade foreign countries and rule the world to 1 which is ,
Just eat humble pie ,save your life and surrender to Prabakaran and live as slaves with remaining Sinhalese population ).
I think I'm all grown up now safely in the middle of the scale for the rest of my life.

I want
Pursuit of happiness
for everybody of this tiny but congested island.

How do we get there from the current highly unstable situation of death ,restrictions and no happiness at all ?

I'm all for people deciding there own fate down to individual level.If the Tamil people want a separate state to mind there own business ,so be it.On the other ,I always worry about a genocidal maniac dictator, who answers to nobody and who thinks he is the sun god running a country next to mine.If we let this happen the blood of his victims will be on our hands,too .Since I never enlisted, I cannot ask other peoples children to be sent to the war front either.
When two prominent members of Sri Lankan (nano-) blogosphere are prodding me, I cannot stay silent, can I ?
Here is my plan A

The case for joining India

The case for joining India(as a solution to the Sri Lankan ethnic problem)
India was a state of mind for the outsiders.India was never a political reality until British decided it is high time the world have a mediocre cricket team that would consistently loose to teams from smaller countries to prove that size really doesn't matter after all.Only time India became almost a political reality was 2000 years ago under emperor Asoka.It's not a single country rather a collection of countries with hundreds of different languages and cultures.The miracle is somehow this crazy mix stayed together and thinks about it as a single entity after 50 years (with minor exceptions).Think about it this way folks ,it's our EU .

The pre - independence Ceylon politics was heavily influenced by Indian politics.Gandhi and Nehru visits in 1930's were sort of hidden message saying either we own you when British leave or We are in this together depending on who interprets .(Also Tagore's visits.Being away put serious restrictions on my quoting ability directly from reference material that are not on-line.May be Mephistopheles1981 the closet Indophile can verify) .May be British would have tied us to the freedom at mid-night experiment if not for the military bases and the cool moustache of DS.
That being the history ,we exactly fall into the size and composition of the Indian state with all the cultural connections any other Indian state could claim to their neighbors.The SAARC experiment was supposed to tie the countries together more tightly economically anyway.They were talking about the single entry passports couple years back!We were going to sign a defense fact with India ,weren't we?On the other hand we can't extend Palalay airport ,lease oil tanks in Trincomalee or our President can't take a bathroom break without first getting the permission from Delhi.Why not cut the crap and eliminate the middleman?
The important question is WWPD(What Would Pirabakaran Do)?
Of course on the first glance this one would sure to go down the crapper like the peace talk at airport suggestion.After fighting IPKF and killing Rajiv LTTE wants India to be involved in negotiations and everybody accepts that India is the deciding factor of any settlement.What if there is a mass political movement for joining India among both Sinhala and Tamil communities?Factor in the up-country Tamils and the cozy relationship of SLMC with India.He will be irrelevant if everybody else want to join.There is still a sizeable Sri Lankan Tamil community in India as refugees. That is where most of them would go if the war breaks out again .
To ease the way to merge with India I would say let's lay the ground work now.As soon as possible.
1.Single entry passport
2.Single currency(also free trade)
3.Highway network
(From Colombo) Think about Going to Galle/Kandy within 1 hour ,Trinco,Batticalo in 2-3 hours Jaffna in3- 4 hours maximum.See how tiny we are?My personal bilief is that If we had a good highway network in the country we wouldn't have this trouble at all.Instead of Mahaweli project we should have done this first .That's another post though .
On the same line ,think about Chennai in 6 hours ,Bombay 10-12 hours(I don't know the exact numbers just throwing them out .The point I'm making is to connect with India via land ,Air and Sea as much as possible)
4.More Interaction with Higher Education system in India.
What if we can get it done in next 5-10 years plus a critical mass within Sinhala community to back up the support to join India.

What about the Sinhalese dominated factions?JVP cannot say no ,can they?They wanted to fight India by killing Sri Lankan armed forces and police first .They also re-named Bombay onions and Mysore dhal (Freedom fries anyone?).Then their mighty leader's ass was saved by RAW .There is no bigger buddy than India now.UNP and SLFP are all for good relations bending over backwards for India.That leaves JHU and some irrelevant leftist parties.I'm sure leftists would say yes.How can JHU say no when the country wants to join the holy land where Buddha was born?
I can list plus and minus points for the case.The pluses cancels out lot of minuses and there are ways to get around them ,too.
I'm aware of Subramanium Swami's campaign for totally different reasons.That wouldn't hold us from considering a totally valid option which can bring peace and prosepertity.Let's try the anti-separatism!