BUILDING RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY IN SRI LANKA

THE PEACE PROCESS:

BUILDING RESILIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

IN SRI LANKA

By Nirmalan Dhas

mentor.srilanka@gmail.com




The objective


The objective of this communication is to articulate a broad and general overview of the developmental dynamics that have dominated the island for the last six decades, and how they played out between 2005 and 2015. It hopes to contribute towards the developmental discourse aimed at the consolidation of an overall dynamic developmental policy. It also aims at ensuring that such a developmental policy is based not only on the interests of this island and its population of two crore human individuals but also on the potential that its strategic location offers the human species.

It is based on the often imperceptible reality, of an ongoing attempt to transform the global civilization of the human species into a sustainable one and to generate sustainable and resilient social support and species survival systems and supply chains in response to climate change and its accompanying hazards and the disasters that they generate when interacting with human civilization. It is also based on the awareness that the island cannot help but play a significant role in the generation and sustenance of processes of planetary guidance upon which the well being of the human population, that is currently seven hundred crores and growing, will increasingly come to depend upon.

 
This communication may also be viewed in the context of a continuity of perception flowing through the series of articles by the author published in the Daily News and Sunday Observer from 1995 until the point where the dominant political ethos of the island changed radically making it clear that such perspectives were not welcome and were likely to elicit violent and even murderous responses[i]. As events have shown, a more inclusive, gentle and creative approach is preferred by many to that of strident militarism, intolerant authoritarianism, ethnocentric nationalism, violent repression, the subversion of democracy and the institutionalization of impunity.

This communication is also based on the awareness that the realization of the potential of the islands geo-strategic location requires its constant perception and articulation along with the reconfiguration of the values that its population lives by as well as the facilitation of the transformation of its collective character that will be generated in response. It is based on the awareness that it also requires the re equilibration of global geo-strategic equations as they impact the regions linked by the island and that this is an ongoing process that demands the consistent input of many advanced human resources along with the engagement of structures and processes at global and regional levels. It includes the awareness that the resolution of internal contradictions that allowed the generation of conflict on the island following the dissolution of the British empire also depends on the successful re equilibration of these global geo strategic equations that are now rapidly being rendered more complex by the increasing urgency of the search for resources both on the planet as well as in space.



The context


The destruction, by the Sri Lankan state, of the armed cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam (LTTE) with the wholehearted support of the global community of nations has been completed, demonstrating once more that the human species strongly rejects the rule of force even when it seeks self justification as a force that seeks to defend freedom and resist oppression. The low intensity conflict that had dragged on for over two decades was essentially generated by the need to re-balance regional geo-strategic equations. It had claimed the life of a prime minister of India, a president of Sri Lanka and several members of the Sri Lankan parliament as well as the lives of well over a hundred thousand civilians. It had caused extensive damage to infrastructure and brought about the oppression of civil society in areas that fell under the influence of the dominance of the LTTE.

While the destruction of the armed cadres of the LTTE has brought the fighting to a halt, the need to re balance regional geo strategic equations has become more pressing, has drawn in players from other regions and from the global level as well and has begun to express itself overtly. The primary global institution for development and conflict resolution – the United Nations Organization – has engaged the process of reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, incorporating its current doctrine of sustainable development and the building of resilience along with its prevailing doctrine of the observation and defense of human rights and freedom from gender based violence into its processes of response.

The task of rebalancing regional geo strategic equations is being brought within the democratic framework and so the task of re building democratic processes and re establishing the rule of law has now to be addressed. The complexity of this task demands its engagement by human resources who possess conceptual frameworks, perceptual capacities and functional levels that are sufficient for its successful completion and this will in all probability require extensive support and input from global institutions. Democracy, though perhaps far from perfect, vulnerable to subversion by majoritarianism, open to manipulations, constrained by the sparse distribution of education and rational thought and as yet not widely understood and practiced in day to day life, still appears to be the system of government most congenial to the aspirations of individual Homo sapiens.

 

 

The process:


The political context within the island, has always offered two distinct tendencies. The first and domestically more dominant portrays the islands internal cultural evolution as having been victimized, brutally destroyed and prevented from evolving its own political systems and institutional structures. The other more globally supported one accepts the perceptual paradigm that is dominant at global level along with its developmental concomitant and seeks to integrate and implement its principles and contribute to the achieve of its objectives both locally as well as globally. Both these tendencies have from time to time resorted to authoritarianism and murderously violent repression in pursuit of their objectives.

The former tendency defines itself as religio-ethnocentrically exclusive and includes the perception of itself as a “race” in competition with and occupied by its defense from other “races” thereby polarizing the world around concepts of “friends” and “enemies”. The latter defines itself along the lines of a pluralistic inclusive nationalism that includes the option of cosmopolitanism and a commitment to membership in the global community and acceptance of global aspirations, standards and norms. Both these tendencies are well structured and organized and find expression through political parties. The objectivity required to advance constructive criticism of global processes and objectives, resides mainly in individuals and is disorganized and as yet incapable of collective political expression.

Not unexpectedly the domestically dominant tendency found itself unable to reconcile with the task of nation building along lines of democratic praxis, inclusive nationalism and subjection to law and order and constitutional constraints. It was soon embroiled in an armed struggle with a group of rebels from amongst the islands largest minority. This minority itself continues to struggle with the task of establishing its own historical definition in relation to neighboring populations and construct a credible identity in terms of its presence on the island.

These contradictions led to an armed conflict between this minority seeking definition as a nation with the right to self-determination and a repressive and paranoid majority preoccupies with its defense from other “races” and struggling with the task of charting its own developmental pathway and role within the global developmental process. The conflict led to the total destruction of rebel forces and the unnecessarily gruesome decimation of the minority population. Most of its intelligentsia and middle classes fled the island, seeking asylum abroad and consequently forming an organized and vocal community in exile. This community in exile has gone to the extent of generating its own transnational government. This transnational government without a corresponding state or defined geographical territory, continues to function and is an interesting phenomenon with its implications and options remaining yet to be explored.

At local level, the five years following the destruction of the LTTE have seen an outburst of triumphalism liberally laced with xenophobic paranoia. This upsurge was based on perceptions of past glory along with that of an opportunity for the revival of feudal relationships and rule and their evolutionary development. Though the British had departed, their “alien” legacy of democracy and rule of law remained and was soon joined by the institution of the doctrine of human rights sponsored by the United States of America leaving no room for the re-institutionalization of the disrupted feudal system.

The majority of the islands population therefore lives in a situation perceived as one within which their feudal heritage cannot find expression while at the same time they are called upon to conform to “alien and oppressive” democratic and legal processes that they have not integrated within their consciousness or learned how to practice in their day-to-day lives. To many of them the dominant global cultural trends appear to threaten their way of thinking and their understanding of the world. They see these trends as attempting to impose themselves on their lives and define much of their behavior and aspirations and they find this insultingly unacceptable and grossly oppressive and their consequent distress finds clear expression in the articulations of their culture.

The destruction of the LTTE was seen as a historical moment within which the values and processes of a tragically disturbed feudal past could be re vitalized and allowed to re emerge, evolve and become dominant, towards which end a feudal dynasty could be initiated and established on the island. These hopes and dreams were largely those of the largest ethnic community on the island – the Sinhala Buddhists. Their hopes seized upon the moment and sought realization through being projected upon the executive presidency and through an attempt towards the de facto transformation of the practice of the constitution into feudal rule along with a cunningly feigned commitment to the rule of law and requirements of democracy while leaving intact the letter of the constitution itself.

The projected character of the then presidential incumbent with its air of self importance, gross ostentation and omnipotence overlaying a ruthless and fairly vicious commitment to raw, naked and murderous violence as the best means to ends appeared to have been found most suitable to meet the requirements to project the nobility and dignity of the regality being sought. This acceptance of violence was clearly evident, and often articulated despite its contradiction with the concepts of benevolence, humility and justice recommended as the principle elements of the character of royalty that prevails in the traditions and historical narratives of South Asia, as well as the practice of respect, radiance and compassion called for by the Buddhist approach to life.

This was an interesting, alarming and adventurous attempt to advance a mix of feudalism, nationalism, racism and fascism under the banner of the defense and development of Buddhism. It was accompanied by a naĂŻve and simple dualism that classed all those who blindly and ostentatiously supported the regime as patriots and all those who advanced criticism, dissent or opposition as terrorists, traitors, agents provocateur and conspirators funded and supported by democracies all of whom had to be killed. This sinister and constant undertone that such people had to be killed became one of the main elements of the character of the government.

A confusion between the concept of nationalism and racism that is evident within the everyday usage of the Sinhala language contributed much to this mixture[ii]. So too did the origins of the swastika as an eastern pagan symbol of “goodness”, “spiritual advancement” and “purity”. It was this very positive character of this symbol that led to its adoption by the Nazi movement that had arisen to challenge the British empire, as an indication of its being of such noble character. The fact that the confrontation with Nazism led to the dismantling of the British empire and hence contributed in no small way to the islands gaining independence in 1947 undoubtedly strengthened this perception of Nazism as being a pure and liberative force to be allied with, espoused and emulated. Like the Nazis in Europe the regime in Sri Lanka saw itself as a liberative and purifying force that would restore to the island its imagined past glories and powers under a noble dynasty of modern kings produced by the lineage of the president.

This emerging king and kingdom would be defended by powerful armed forces led by the unique personality of the loyal brother of the regent. These armed forces would be commanded from within a massive headquarters befitting more a global superpower than a small tropical island and yet clearly indicative of the ambitious visions that resided in the minds of those who had gained control of the state. These valiant forces would be funded by a strategy of siphoning off large amounts of funds from borrowings for development, that would function as a forced and unaccounted for development tax, and the sale and lease of strategic assets regardless of the dilution of national sovereignty that would result.

Unconventional armed units specializing in unconventional warfare would engage in the strategic destruction of minorities, human rights defenders and advocates of democracy and the rule of law. This was a sort of blackmail along the lines of “We will kill them if you intervene or pressure us in any way”.  Far from being a deterrent it threatened to play the role of catalyst to what it sought to deter and so it was accompanied by plans for a long war of attrition funded by friendly countries against any intervention or rebellion by advocates of democracy, rule of law and the doctrine of human rights which was constantly portrayed as being imminent

This scenario painted valiant troops holed up in the mountains slowly ethnically cleansing the islands central massif, upon which the plantation industry with its indentured laborers of recent Indian origin is located, and returning the mountains to the watersheds that they constituted in pre plantation periods, as it butchered its way down the mountains towards the plains. The systematic ethnic cleansing would leave a pristine, pure and orthodox “Sinhala Buddhist” population whose contribution to the species and its civilization would be the preservation, development and outward global spread of Buddhism following this model of depopulation and population substitution, depleted populations being replaced by the armed forces now being paid by the state for reproduction. The influencing of the twenty million Buddhists in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and the Indian armed forces whose praxis of defense is grounded in their understanding of Buddhism as a force for peace would be the target of the first great outward thrust of this movement, which would enlist their alliance and then see no backward turn in a peaceful war against “global terrorism” led by Sri Lanka; a war that would see the defeat of all opposition and the emergence of a new world based on Sinhala Buddhism in which all being may be happy.

The emerging dynastic ethos was one of martial pomp and extreme authoritarian diktat that was seen as a very effective feudal form of “discipline” imposed under threat of “disappearance” and murder.  Energies generated by the understanding of the mythological king Ravana of “Lanka” as having been king of Sri Lanka and one amongst the greatest monarchs of South Asia skilled in ayurvedic practices and various spiritual arts and the architect of a lost system of technology, also drove this adventure and supported it through various magical devices, soothsayers and violence prone elements of neo paganism.

Accompanied by a surreal post-modern aura – consisting of the doctrine of “shape” or “accommodation of criminal activities and the disruption of due process” and that of “holding victims of violence to be their own attackers” -  this majoritarian alternative to democracy, advanced by the major part of the Sinhala Buddhist ethnic community that forms the larger part of the islands human population was cunningly disguised with the trappings of populism and the claim widely projected through systematic propaganda that this is what the citizens of the Sri Lankan state wished to be governed by. This was also stated and reinforced in a more blunt and extreme form according to which there were “no minorities or opposition on the island: only patriots and terrorists”.

The doctrine of majoritarianism - which held the right of the majority to dictatorial rule - was used to justify the position that the island that is home to many ethnicities and religions “belonged” solely to the majority Sinhala Buddhists and that the minorities should accept subservient positions and be glowingly grateful for being allowed to remain on the island at all. This same doctrine pointed out that the Sinhala Buddhist Ethnic community was in a minority in relations to other communities in the region and hence it required “strong allies” from outside the region to ensure that it did not itself have to accept a subservient position as a minority in therein. Extended to the global scenario the Sinhala Buddhists sought allies who would help them “stand up to the whole world” and advance their own interests with no regard for those of other nations or the objectives of the human species as a whole.

The adventurers had indeed entered entrancing regions and showed admirable ambitions that appeared to increase by the day with an air of manic enthusiasm and a tone of confident arrogance and boundless optimism tempered by a major deficit in realism. The strong support and financing that this dynamic received from China may indicate that this is a global project that has stirred the heart of that great nation and that China is willing to tow the line of this adventurous tendency that has emerged from within the island. It may on the other hand be that China has realized that such an adventure could well be utilized to muddy the waters in the regions linked by the islands and use the turmoil as a cover to harvest resources and control territory. It could also be the outcome of the ambition of one feeding the ambition of the other and the two together dreaming of regional and global conquest.

What was not realized is that China remains totally dependent upon the dollars it has earned on global the markets primarily by manufacturing products for the USA based on technological specifications and technologies provided by the USA but using its own resources and labor, and secondarily through the sale of cheap and often meaningless products to populations in developing nations who cannot afford high quality branded products. China has no technology that can compete with the technologies possessed by global centers of technological excellence and its political system has in the past produced major catastrophes and remains vulnerable to global climate change. This can change its billion strong population currently viewed as a source of cheap labor that drives its manufacturing into a liability capable of turning against the state in the event of its survival needs not being met.

This political position along with its philosophical system began to widen its circle of influence affecting business-persons, the corporate sector, intellectuals, academics, professionals, large sections of the supposedly educated middle class and the person in the street alike. Special mention must be made of its insidious infiltration of and making of significant inroads into the corporate sector where its influence has led to a rapid degeneration of integrity both at the level of individual human resources as well as systems and processes and to a consequent loss of confidence of investors in all corporate entities. The impact of this factor will soon be felt very sharply and will show up on the bottom lines of balance sheets throughout the sector.

Soon it began to give rise to the dynamics of a “deep state” that indicated that the process of subversion of the state was nearing completion and could at any moment lead to its suspension and substitution by a few individuals. These few individuals appeared to have gained access to weapons, armouries, vast amounts of funds, the loyalty of sections of the state armed forces, the support of all those who had fallen victim to its enticements and the forced loyalty of those who had compromised their integrity and whose illegal activities had been placed “on file” as well as all those who saw themselves as standing to lose by the implementation of due democratic process, law and order and internationally accepted ethics and norms of civilized behavior.

Soon extremist organizations with intriguing Sinhala names emerged and began to launch physical attacks against minorities with increasing frequency emboldened by the impunity that prevailed. Many of these extremist organizations were actively led on the streets by Buddhist monks with heavy muscular frames and tonsured heads in full religious garb in states of frenzy screaming wild abuse. They ignored and pushed aside the police and appeared to be above the law. Those who had welcomed the destruction of “terrorism” in the north were now confronted by this “terrorism” from the south as white vans superseded suicide bombers and assassins freely made their play while mobs led by “Buddhist monks” attacked the businesses and communities of the minorities. The law stood silent and inactive and claims have been made that security forces protected the attacking sacred “Buddhist forces”.

The sources of the interesting indigenous philosophy of “shape” and its political theory of fascism as well as its advocates and adherents may be identified with ease and their role in this subversively seditious adventure as well as their motives and political agendas examined and responded to effectively. Those who have been influenced by their ideology and patterns of thought may require urgent mental rehabilitation. Some of them may have to be granted mental asylum. A few may have to be prosecuted for their seditious activities and their advocacy and instigation of organized violence.

In addition to this, accusations of extreme verbal abuse and personal physical assaults by the immediate past president have now begun to surface and the question as to whether these attacks can be held to enjoy protection from prosecution by virtue of the constitutional protection guaranteed by the holding of office requires examination. In this respect the government’s attention may be drawn to article 35. (1) of the 19th amendment to the constitution. No person who intends to subject himself or herself to the law of the land and common norms of decent civilized conduct requires immunity from criminal proceedings for acts committed in private. Such provisions may be removed unless the citizens of this island so deeply crave a repeat performance as to provide for its possibility in the constitution of their state.

 


The outcomes


This exclusive, arrogant and aggressive agenda projected the national character as one of intolerance, constant irritation and irritability, anger, violent aggression and abusiveness and this served to isolate the island from global centers of technological development and development finance. It sought to align the interests of the island with the interests of individual nations while cynically exploiting contradictions and playing one off against the other. This led to an increasing isolation of the island and its alienation from all global survival systems. This increasing alienation became intolerable as the need for sustainable development and the building of resilience within a context of an increasing rate of climate change and accompanying  disasters become clear.

The financing of the developmental process with commercial borrowings accompanied by large unexplained outflows of cash from the island to offshore banking centers and the granting of privileges to the global gaming industry roused the suspicion of international watchdog mechanisms and pointed to the likelihood of large scale criminal activities being engaged in. The organized large-scale movement of banned substances through the islands waters despite the presence of its navy that had won accolades fighting LTTE suicide boat squadrons raised eyebrows, as did a rapidly growing maritime human trafficking network that was of a magnitude large enough to influence the foreign policy of the Australian government many miles away. Along with suspicious movements of ivory and gold, the acquisition of real estate in various global locations by persons who had no commensurate sources of legitimate income gave rise to the appearance of the state on the island rapidly becoming a criminal one.

A central trend of this adventure was the engagement of the administrative structures and processes of the state by the armed forces on the grounds of a need for efficiency. This caused a serious distortion of the economy with civilian jobs and occupations being performed by armed forces personnel forcing more and more civilians to enlist with the armed forces. Along with university students having to undergo “orientation” by the armed forces and heads of government schools having to undergo training with the armed forces, the militarization of the minds of the citizenry was well under way.

The outcome of this adventure at local level has been a dangerous and nearly complete collapse of already corrupt and inefficient administrative structures. It has also contributed to the collapse of the integrity of the judicial system, the ignoring of democratic process, the abandonment of compliance with professional regulations and standards leading to the loss of integrity in many organizations and the abandonment of all norms of decency and civilized behavior along with the compromising of the integrity of the economy. A period of impunity, intimidation, extensive land grabbing and the forced sale of expensive properties at depressed prices, disappearances and increasingly cunningly crafted and carefully disguised extrajudicial killings, extended over the decade and gradually increased in intensity and effectiveness as dissent and the democratic developmental discourse was effectively suppressed.

Journalists, professionals and educated persons fled in fear as a reign of terror began to engulf the island. Those who remained maintained silence in fear of losing their lives and the term “white vans” or “being white vanned” gained currency in reference to the way in which dissidents were disappeared by white vans without number plates or any other form of identification or accountability with the full complicity of all the organs of the state. The same white vans were apparently involved in the abduction of hostages who were then held for ransom that became another source of revenue.

The resulting fear and silence were seen as the government’s capacity to instill “discipline” amongst the citizenry and this “capacity to instill discipline” was lauded and widely admired, encouraged and supported by certain types of personalities who commenced a process of social engineering that had as its objective the installation of a multi term dynastic regime in place of the limited two term presidential system that prevailed. These outcomes left Sri Lanka in a position similar to that of North Korea and thus it would probably have been allowed to remain but for its geo strategic potential arising from its geo physical location.

 


An unexpected turn of events

 

One important element that the adventurers had completely overlooked and which in time led to their complete downfall and likely prosecution was the existence of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party known as the SLFP. The SLFP was a strongly nationalist party and enjoyed the support of the majority of the Sinhala Buddhist ethno religious community as well as the institutional structures of the Buddhist religion. It was essentially a liberal democratic nationalist party with a partiality towards socialist thinking and a strongly non-aligned foreign policy. Though the party had always advocated national development its non-aligned position and close relations with socialist countries had in the ideologically bi polar world of the past hindered its access to global centers of technological development and development finance and hence limited its achievements to a large extent.

The SLFP though not a cadre based party, was built on carefully structured relationships between its members who formed strong feudal bonds with the population through family relations, bonds of cast and kinship and ties to the land and were deeply embedded in the villages and rural areas where they operated. They drew their support from feudal dependencies and loyalties as well as their ability to deliver development to these areas that they belonged to and their ability to contribute to the well being of the structures of the Buddhist religion and support and patronize indigenous cultural traditions. The nature of these relationships has often been mistakenly perceived as being nepotistic but this is largely due to the robust village system from which they arise. The population of Sri Lanka is structured into a system of 36, 807 villages and this village system is its primary political and developmental structure. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party understands this far better than any other party and has based its organizational structure on the dynamics of this village system.

With the rise of a single family aspiring to the establishment of a feudal dynasty in modern times this network that anchored the SLFP to the population began to come apart. The perception of alienation from the sources of power along with corruption and the abuse of power began to grow and the base of the party that had at first enthusiastically and joyfully supported the attempt at generating a dynasty now began to perceive a “king gone bad”. To the feudal peasantry the perception of “the king gone bad” formed the basis of a sense of having been betrayed by the advocates of the dynastic project and pressure began to mount on the SLFP to remedy the situation. This internal pressure could not be ignored and the perception of “the king gone bad” awoke deep seated feudal notions of justice, righteousness and “the correct path” that demanded that the SLFP move immediately to remedy the situation.

The manner in which Buddhist extremist organizations attacked minorities with impunity was clearly seen as being contrary to the non-violent, compassionate and tolerant tenets of Buddhism and the impunity with which these organizations broke the law was seen as their enjoying government approval and support. The way in which these organizations were allowed to use Buddhism in order to legitimize their attack on minorities gave rise to anger and resentment directed against the government and many Buddhists realized that Sri Lanka was gaining global recognition as a country that abused Buddhism rather than as a country that protected, nurtured and developed Buddhism. There was a clear understanding that the actions of these organizations and the support of the government that they appeared to enjoy was beginning to paint a picture of Sinhala Buddhists as being violent and uncivilized fanatical extremists.

At the same time a deep and genuine sense of sadness began to spread through the rural sections of the Sinhala Buddhist ethnic community. They saw their greatest opportunity as having been squanders by the greed and selfishness of the family in which they had placed their hopes for the renaissance of their perceived past glories that would bring them global recognition and enable them to take their true place in the modern world. The more intellectually astute amongst them also began to realize that the community did not have the intellectual resources to express their aspirations in terms of modern systems processes and structures of governance that would be globally understood, recognized and accepted.

Those who could think deeper realized that given the increasing complexity of global relations such a project aimed at the establishment of a Sinhala Buddhist ethnic Royal dynasty was not a global priority at the moment. Those who could make deeper perceptions realized that while a glorious Sri Lankan nation was irrelevant and hardly likely to win much interest or support – except possibly as a novel aberration useful to the tourist industry - a global recognition of Buddhism as being compatible with the scientific paradigm and the recognition of its basis in the Indian religio-cultural and philosophical heritage and the later development of its theravadic traditions in Sri Lanka was inevitable and that it would be owned by Buddhists and scientists globally and not by the Sri Lankan structures of the Buddhist religion or the Sri Lankan state alone. They realized too that such a globalization of Buddhism would lead to its secularization, de ethnicization and re statement in scientific terms.

It was in response to this realization as well as to the global disrepute and marginalization bordering on ostracism and disaffection that Sri Lanka had begun to face, that the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party agreed to make an attempt to remedy the situation by himself contesting the presidential elections against his own party candidate. The move had to be kept secret for as long as possible in order to avoid the standard response of the emerging dynasty, which was intimidation, assault and assassination[iii].

The maneuver was successful and the elections contested. For the first time in decades the islands minorities threw in their lot to defend democracy and the rule of law leading to a resounding victory for the reformer and to the current opportunity for change. A determined effort is now required in order to investigate crimes committed and punish those guilty, re establish the rule of law and democratic process, strengthen rational and scientific thinking and replace the philosophy of “shape” with an acceptance of individual responsibility and accountability. The cultivation of integrity and transparency, and the re building of disrupted relationships with the rest of the world and with regional and global institutions and re commencement of the developmental discourse and facilitation of its practical outcomes in relation to global objectives and local priorities require immediate attention.

 

 

The building of awareness


Democracy is not a product of the cultural evolution of the people who inhabit this island. It is an aspect of civilization that has been introduced to the island by virtue of its having been brought under the suzerainty of the British empire. Whether the transmission of democratic principles was done effectively is open to question since methods such as the use of torture by the police and the violent assault of students and especially male students within the education system as well as the assault of children and in particular the assaulting of male children within the family – all in the name of “discipline” - appear to be patterns of behavior acquired from the British colonial regime.

An awareness of the fundamental principles of democracy and the processes by which they are upheld and implemented in day to day life has to be brought about if the benefits of citizenship in a democratic state are to be reaped by all and in particular by children, and in particular by male children, women and minorities. The provisions of the constitution of the state that exists on the island in relation to citizenship are not widely known by its population with the possible exception of those who have gained citizenship through application and registration who may have studied their entitlements and obligations under the citizenship that they acquired. The islands population has therefore to be educated and made aware of their rights and obligations as citizens.

The very notion of a human individual as having “rights” is seen as an alien proposition since human individuals are widely perceived as objects “belonging” to another individual or to an organization or to an institution.  The concept of an individual able and entitled to act upon its own decisions and willing to be held responsible for the outcomes of such actions is not widely accepted, understood or internalized. Instead the Individual is perceived as being the property of its spouse, parents, family, community and so on and these elements are seen as being responsible for the actions of the individual and the individual may also be held responsible for the actions of these elements.

A similar lack of awareness exists in relation to what is legal and what is illegal as well as the penalties and punishments for the commission of acts that are illegal. This continues to lead to violence against children – and in particular against male children – and to domestic violence of all sorts as well as gender specific forms of violence that affect women much more than men. The extent to which there is awareness that adultery continues to be a crime is unknown and the extent to which theft, cheating, demanding kickbacks and commissions, and misappropriation has been defined and such definitions made known is open to question.

Interpersonal relationships have come to be governed by the doctrine of “shape” or “accommodation of the disruption of due process and of criminal activities” and that of “holding victims of violence to be their own attackers”, as mentioned before. This doctrine is installed upon the human mind throughout the education system and is forcefully locked in place through the system of violent “ragging” at the point of entrance to universities. This “ragging” is a violent process by which the values and principles of the individual are attacked, the individuality of the individual broken and the individual forced to accept the philosophy of “shape” after which “shaping” for each other and becoming accomplice to and covering up each others crimes becomes compulsory beginning with the practice of signing in for those who are absent and helping each other cheat at exams and assignments. This mindset then expands as the individual moves through his or her career and life. Failure to comply has on several occasions led to brutal murder and this state of affairs continues because the state refuses to act in defense of the individual and prosecute those who act against the institution of the individual. The reader will probably recognize the roots of this process in a similar one that had different objectives, was known as learning how to “play the game” and was instilled within the individual through the local equivalent of the British public school system. “Playing the game” was however limited to local elites and was not an islandwide phenomenon that affected culture and everyday life in the way that the philosophy of “shape” does.

The philosophy of shape and the network of shapers has come to dominate the administrative apparatus of the state, the judiciary and the armed forces as well as increasingly the private sector making the island a paradise for criminals of all sorts. This unwritten philosophy that is programmed into the individual through the education system and in particular the universities has to be effectively countered along with its violent basis and it remains to be seen whether the minister of education is up to the task of doing so.

Over the years of conflict and particularly over the last decade the practice of disappearances and of killings that have not been investigated with anything like the rigor required has flourished – in other words they have been “shaped” -  and this has conveyed the impression that murder is permissible and will not be punished. Evidence is beginning to emerge of the state armed forces having been abused by the executive through being used to carry out extrajudicial killings and this violation and degradation of the dignity and integrity of the armed forces of the state will have to be responded to and those violated assisted to recover[iv].

As in the case of democracy, the doctrine of human rights is not a product of the cultures of the islands inhabitants and has to be explained to them and their commitment to this doctrine advocated and secured if possible. The concept of the acceptance of the doctrine of human rights as a global standard of human conduct is viewed as a form of oppressive imperial international intervention and the doctrine has not been understood, accepted and “owned” by local populations and in particular by their middle classes. The cynical attitude of many states - and most notably that of the USA - that condemn the violation of human rights by other states while themselves practicing the violation of human rights continues to contribute to this situation.

The islands free education system has the potential to engage the population through informal processes of awareness building and the introduction of the population to the fundamental concepts that form the foundations of human civilization, science and technology and development in this way may lead to an increase in the awareness of the importance of education and a deeper understanding of the dynamics of development and its global context. Whether this potential is realized or not depends on the dedication of sufficient human resources to the task and the generation of the required capabilities.

 

 

The rise of the

Global Masters of Development Practice


It has been proposed by certain individuals that the government ensure that the developmental process is rooted within a nexus of facilitative relationships supported by all forms of media. The proposal appears sound and may help successfully lead to the required mass perceptual modification and hence is worthy of mention at this moment when the island requires extensive psychosocial re engineering.

It consists of the adoption of the device of a reality series to be broadcast on television and radio and carried online as well and takes the form of a perpetual debating competition between school circuits from District to Provincial and National level in a repeating annual cycle. The objective of the competition is to select the “Masters of Development Practice” who will be generated through the competitive process in which students will propose, recommend, justify, and debate each other on development policy, process and practice. They will be educated and advised by professors and lecturers from the universities closest to their schools so that participants will be exposed to the full scope of the education system and become familiar with developmental concepts and theories so that the debate will bring out into the open the various issues involved in development.

Scholarships at state universities will be offered to winners and runners up at all levels and they will be encouraged to enter politics, public policy formulation and the administrative apparatus of the state at graduation. It is hoped that each annual round will produce at least twenty five and possibly many more of these Masters of Development Practice from the outgoing GCE (AL) classes who enter universities and graduate. On graduation from university these Masters of Development Practice will form the basis of the future development and governance of the island as well as the building of sustainable and resilient species support and survival systems and supply chains within it.

Those who wish to play a role in the transformation of the global civilization into a sustainable one may go on to complete masters degrees and become “Global Masters Of Development Practice”. Special training on how to operate at international level will be made available to such aspirants and they may be linked up with global development networks. A research base may be developed and the employment of these Global Masters of Development Practice by institutions of global governance may be encouraged and facilitated.

 

 

Development of the cultural milieu


Urgent attention is required by the task of generating a structural framework that is facilitative of functional capacities regardless of the cultural and ethnic identities through which such capacities may find expression. This requires, among other elements, a very high level of tolerance of cultural, religious and ethnic differences as well as differences in functional capacities and consequent differences in approaches and methodologies, perceptions and lifestyles including basic elements such as preferences in food, dress, music and art as well as more complex ones such as sexual expression and the consumption of intoxicants.

The collection of such attributes required for the generation of such a facilitative context may then make up its psycho social basis and become the common character of all those who may wish to make the island their home and the process of its becoming so may be facilitated in as many ways as is possible. The structures of the state and legal framework and processes by which those who wish to live on the island are governed may progressively be reconfigured to support this process and to make it possible for any person wishing to visit the island and live there for any length of time or become a citizen of its state to do so with ease.

It is anticipated that this will strengthen and increase the cosmopolitan nature of the islands population and help to attract advanced human resources to migrate and make it their home leading to cultural, intellectual, functional and developmental advancement.

 

 

The national character and its expression


The generation of such a cultural milieu requires immediate emphasis on the cultivation of the following cultural attributes:

 

1.     Integrity,

2.     Truthfulness,

3.     Kindness,

4.     Friendliness,

5.     Helpfulness,

6.     Wisdom,

7.     Tolerance,

8.     Patience

9.     Respect,

10.  Gender Sensitivity,

11.  Compassion and Caring for the world,

12.  The commitment to Non Violence,

13.  The commitment to Democratic processes and Law and Order

 

These attributes may form the template for the national character of all Sri Lankan citizens regardless of their origins, ethnicities, religions and cultures. The cultivation of such attributes will have to be made the primary responsibility of the education system commencing at pre school level, while academic achievements are made secondary to the building of this national character.

All institutions as well as the organizational culture and services delivered by all government organs and agents of the state and all forms of media and communication will have as their principle objective the instilling, supporting and reinforcing this national character.

This new humanistic national character may be expressed by its tenets being recited or chanted in suitable composition with hands held together every morning in schools and government institutions before the national anthem is played signifying clearly that Nationalism comes second and is subordinated to these human characteristics without which it has the potential to become a destructive and oppressive force.

 

 

The history of the island

 

Geologists are aware that the islands geology and geo morphology span a vast period of three billion years. They know that the uprise of large formations of pre Cambrian metamorphic rocks – known as shield rocks – that form part of the islands central massif are amongst the oldest known rock formations dating back to three billion years or more. The island has been inhabited by a constantly changing configuration of flora and fauna consisting of many different genera and species.

The notion that this ancient island landmass should be considered the private property of any one species is of questionable worth. To think in terms of its ownership by warring ethnic tribes betrays a serious lack of intelligence and strategic skill in its management and development especially within a context where the developmental potential offered by the island is of global worth.

A new and holistic history of the island that emphasizes its great age and the wide range of life forms and civilizations that it has supported as well as its potential contribution to the global developmental process and the need for global collaboration in order to realize this potential must be articulated and publicized without delay.

 


The development framework


The island requires a clear developmental framework within which its traditional economic activities can continue while the islands economy successfully engages the global developmental process which is moving towards sustainable development and the building of resilience in response to emerging constraints.

The following are essential elements of such a globally integrated developmental framework that cannot be excluded without encountering serious setbacks:


The development of traditional produce and their subjection to modern quality control methods, packaging methods and global marketing methods, and

 

The development of traditional infrastructure, structures, architecture, methods, systems, processes and perceptions and their subjection to modern scientific methods of measurement, monitoring and evaluation.

 

The development of the island as a highly developed health, rest and recreation service center for tourists, based on the protection and where necessary the repair, rehabilitation and development of its environmental resources and biomes and the protection of its flora and fauna, and areas where traditional lifestyles and practices are supported and made accessible for those who wish to experience and partake therein, and

 

The development of the island as a location housing training centers for the production of the advanced human resource required to manage the developmental process within the regions linked by the island, and

 

The development of the island as an important watershed from which rainfall is harvested through specially designed water management systems, treated with essential mineral additives, packaged and exported to regions that are facing and will increasingly come to face acute shortages of fresh water.

 

The development of the island as a financial center, capital market, marketing hub, entrepot to the regions that it links, transshipment point with world class air and sea port facilities and the location of choice for regional corporate headquarters and global marketing functions.

 

The setting up of a development intelligence unit charged with the task of informing the government of progress being made on projects and compliance with development policies.

 

 

Developmental priorities

 

A certain prioritization of the various elements of the developmental process is advisable. The fundamental infrastructure required is best put in place before more intricate systems and processes are activated. The following are the most basic elements that are required.

 

1: The construction of an electrified railway network – to be governed by a dedicated ministry and railways department - capable of transporting heavy goods and maintaining supply chains to all provincial capitals as well as providing a superfast fast, cheap, clean, comfortable, well timed and consistent passenger transport service so that the use of highways and road transport for day to day purposes is reduced significantly.

 

This electric railway network to be designed to play the role of the backbone of the islands transport system.

 

2: The immediate assessment of all development projects completed and commenced and decisions made as to which of them may be integrated into the developmental parameters set out in the development framework above and the rest to be dismantled and their environmental impacts removed.

 

3: The construction of the following sustainable and resilient support systems and their supply chains in order to establish compliance with the requirements of the sustainable development goals and ensure the mainstreaming of Disaster Risk Reduction and Hazard Impact Mitigation and Management:

 

1.Power Generation Systems
2.Communication Systems,
3.Food & Agricultural Systems
4.Waste Recycling Systems
5.Manufacturing and Transport systems,
6.Social Support Systems,
7.Training, Education and Research Systems,
8.Health Systems,
9.Surgical and Medical Systems
10.Planetary Guidance Systems.

These systems will enable – within the context of the national physical development plan[v]-the rendering of Sri Lanka’s existing cities[vi]resilient – within the context of the building resilience program of the world bank[vii]- and their planned development in conjunction with carefully formulated processes of immigration that will allow rural inhabitants of the island to migrate to these cities. This will make rural areas available for agricultural and environmental development and tourism and help control pollution.

 

The existing plans for human habitat developed by the physical development council must be reworked removing them from the low lying areas close to the coast to the peneplanes further inland taking care to avoid unstable colluvial slopes. Educated and technically trained manpower will be required on these peneplanes for the management of water, its harvesting, packaging, handling, documentation and dispatch. This shifting of habitat away from the coast will make adequate provision for the accommodation of sea level rise and will reduce population exposure to volatile weather patterns along coastal regions. These regions may instead be used for the development of tourism, harvesting of marine resources and other activities that do not require permanently resident populations.

 


The environment


Sri Lanka's environment that offers easy access to three climatic and forty six agro ecological zones and a variety of geo physical formations including ancient shield[viii]rock formations is one of its assets second in value only to its geo-strategic location.

 

The perpetual protection, maintenance, rehabilitation, repair, regeneration and development of the various and widely differing biomes – both on land and in the territorial waters of the island - that make up this environment is a specialized task demanding large numbers of highly qualified human resources.

 

Plans for the maintenance of this major resource may be accepted for implementation and it may be ensured that the utilization of the 6% of GDP to be expended on education includes expenditure on the generation of the advanced human resources required for their implementation.

 

An Environmental Repair, Rehabilitation, Maintenance and Development Program (ERRMDP) may be designed and implemented as a perpetual ongoing support system that provides widespread employment with high levels of employee satisfaction.

 

 

The Development of Tourism


Tourism may be encouraged in all its diverse forms including but not limited to all of the following:

 

Village exposure programs where tourists may visit and if desired live in traditional villages where traditional lifestyles and traditional production systems are allowed to flourish along with traditional crops, animals, flora fauna and cultural practices without denying the inhabitants access to global systems processes and cultural values, technologies and practices.

 

Cultural tours that expose tourists to the islands relatively young (compared to India and the middle east) but rich civilizational heritage and history, as well as its culinary traditions and its arts and crafts and technologies.

 

Educational tourism where foreign students may live and work at universities while leisurely traveling through the islands villages and varied landscapes and exploring its cultural tapestry over a year or more.

 

Medical Tourism that offers economical western medical treatment as well as traditional forms of treatment and healthcare.

 

Retirement estates where retired persons can live in their own houses with easy access to all modern amenities while spending their retirement leisurely traveling through the islands villages and varied landscapes and exploring its cultural tapestry and living in various locations in order to sample their various climates and cultures and traditions.

 

Facilities may also be maintained for the holding of global and regional conferences and gathering.

 

Long term residencies for high nett-worth individuals who may wish to enjoy the islands climate and environment while conducting their business affairs. These residencies will provide them with all supportive technologies and facilities required to carry on their business activities from the island.

 

Top end resorts that are deeply embedded within traditional villages and embody traditional lifestyles and production processes and cultures will form the top end of the industry.

 

 

Migrations to cities


Migration to cities may be supported and managed by the state - in order to prevent poverty and the generation of slums – through the following five step process.

 

Persons wishing to transfer from rural areas to the city may apply for assistance to do so to their Grama Niadhari.

 

Their Grama Niladhari will send their application to the council of the sity that the applicant wishes to migrate to.

 

The city council will allocate the immigrants with the following:

a. Access to employment

b. Access to housing

c. Access to education and training

d. Access to all ten species support and survival systems.

 

Once these have been made available the Grama Niladhari will arrange for transport for the migrants to move to the city.

 

The migrants will return all leasehold properties that they may have been occupying and using for cultivation and the Grama Niladhari will allot these to Agribusiness or other users.

 

 

Highways

 

The ministries of highways and tourism to be brought together and charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the tourism industry has access to a highway network that makes access to all parts of the island possible with ease and comfort with adequate breakdown points and access to emergency services provided at intervals along all highways.

All hotels and residential facilities for tourists to have facilities for the re charging of electric motor vehicles.

The construction of the Sri Lankan segment of the Trans Asian Highway to be entrusted to this ministry.

 

 

Tolerance and multi-culturalism

 

Several steps are required to generate and establish tolerance and multi-culturalism:

 

1: The active promotion of the acceptance and tolerance of the template of the national character using state media and all institutions and systems.

 

2 The active promotion of the acceptance and tolerance of all religions, ideologies, belief systems, opinions and ideologies and their expressions and advocacy and the granting of the freedom to accept any religion and/or ideology and to change such religion and/or ideology from time to time and to provide a legally accepted procedure and process for making such changes and notifying such changes to the state. It is important that no limit be placed on the number of times any individual may make such changes in the course of a lifetime.

 

3 The encouragement and promotion of new religions and ideologies and the provision of processes by which such religions and ideologies may be registered with the state and recognized.

 

4 The state media to ensure freedom for the promotion of all religions, cultures, ideologies and perceptions in ways that are neutral and non discriminative and respectful of each other.

 

5 The state to institutionalize specialized cultural processes designed to promote interaction, goodwill, understanding, collaboration, friendship and helpfulness between different socio economic classes of persons and between persons with different beliefs or perceptual systems, with different ethnicities and different approaches to life to be designed by experts in the field and initiated, supported and sustained by the state rather than the government.

 

6 Festivals at which exposure to cultural expressions and exchanges such as cusine, clothing, music, dance, poetry, literature and various art-forms may be held as state celebrations on all cultural holidays under the auspices of the relevant ministries and the ministry of tourism and highways.

 

7: The current practice of standing to stiff and martial attention - borrowed from imperial cultures of the past - as the national anthem is played every morning in schools and all government institutions and workplaces may by government directive be preceded by a statement of commitment to the cultivation and practice of the national character derived from the sacred books of the island and recited with hands folded in gentle compassionate and friendly spiritual receptivity and respect.

 

 

Financing development

 

Accept the reality that subject to the re equilibration of global geo strategic equations as they impact the regions linked by the island, extensive borrowings towards the realization of the islands potential is rational and necessary in the interest of regional and consequently global development.

All processes aimed at the realization of the islands potential will also have to be structured in terms of the building of resilience and sustainable development.

On the basis of this understanding continued borrowing on the best of terms possible from all institutions and bi lateral programs that welcome the emergence of the national character described above as well as the repair, rehabilitation and establishment of democratic process, law and order, and independent judiciary, the de politicization of administrative systems, and the mainstreaming of sustainability and the building of resilience and willing to contribute to its support and consolidation, is necessary for the realization of the islands potential.

Rigorous processes aimed at preventing corruption and watchdog mechanisms for the same purpose to be set up by civil society organizations.

 


Development planning and policy formulation

 

Human resources required for the perception of process pathways towards the realization of the above and their conceptualization and articulation in the form of developmental plans supported by data and policy frameworks for their implementation are available within the island. These human resources are globally networked and are capable of drawing on global expertise and synchronize their perceptions and processes with global processes of building resilience and sustainability while retaining an awareness of locally specific requirements.

With the removal of repression and corruption these human resources are now free to articulate their perceptions. These human resources need not wait for the government to do what must be done and instead they may design and institute processes by which they may engage the government in order to bring about sustainable development and build resilience.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Much of what is necessary for the emergence of a lasting peace and the successful negotiation of global pathways to the building of sustainability and resilience has been outlined above and the citizens and government of the island are very cordially invited to move towards its successful implementation.

 

 



[i]Most notably see “Peace Process: A Strategy for Sri Lanka” – Daily News. Wednesday February 25th 1998, and “Within the Shadow of SAARC” published in the Daily News SAARC supplement on July 29th 1998.

[ii] http://www.dailymirror.lk/64573/clarify-difference-between-nationalism-racism-bbs-to-pm

[iii] http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=121806

[iv] http://www.dailymirror.lk/65195/vy-unit-probed

[v] http://www.nppd.gov.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71&Itemid=2&lang=en

[vi] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Sri_Lanka

[vii] http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2013/11/18513435/building-resilience-integrating-climate-disaster-risk-development-world-bank-group-experience-vol-1-2-main-report



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