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.!


Indian 'babe' said...

surely sri lanka can't be that bad off to join our reeling nation! We can't evn carry our own weight let alone add on more...pls get a realistic view of ain't that great.

Dr Wimal Weerawansa said...

Adoh chandare, heta ude hath hamarata thoge kate bombay loonu gediyak obala puke arinawa madras kohu mitiyakin. Denaganiw.

Anonymous said...

Puka thamai.

sittingnut said...

antics of anons above made me almost agree with you . almost ..
i am not sure how you can say that joining india will change the attitudes of the so called 'middle class' in sri lanka when the similar (also relatively poorer btw) class in india is even more 'insular' in their thinking in spite of their great country. i have never seen bigger chips on shoulder than on some north indians.
yes, india has great potential but so do we.
yes, we need more economic cooperation and access to the market but we are getting that without much fuss anyway.
i am not sure that the access to the indian higher education system will be different just because we join.
as for english even now ppl who can't use it get nowhere so what will make ppl more willing to learn it then?
india is hardly the place for ethnic harmony though i will admit they are doing better than us.
i am not sure we want to experience how much more incompetently various levels of indian government work, compared to less than stellar our government. we might even get nostalgic for the present system, like some sri lankans do for british colonial administration, if we join.

Indian babe said... are so right ...being Indian I tell you, this person unfortunately is wearing rose tinted glasses and so things seem rosier on the other end...believe u ain't...we deal with a corrupted, lethargical bureaucracy,not to forget completely inefficient law courts, police departments as well as govt offices.Privatised hospitals will kill u with their high fees, and govt hospitals..even without..!Now how come they say my land is competing with hogwash!!Really, we have a long way to becoming a responsible , mature nation that does it's duty and in turn creates dutiful citizens..or shd that be vice versa..!Anyways...thats how it is.

Renegade Eye said...

Greetings from Minnesota.

I found your blog surfing.

India is overrated. The new wealth only affects a few people. People forget the poor.