Daily Archives: October 3, 2006

Inclusive, not exclusivist

By N. Sathiya Moorthy

The report that the Opposition United National Party (UNP) in Sri Lanka is wanting to talk to the centre-Left Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) should be welcome by all wanting the emergence of a ‘national agenda’ for Sri Lanka, which otherwise has been sliced away by the ‘ethnic strife’ and consequent civil war for over two decades. While political constructions become unavoidable, and could even point an accusing finger at the UNP for wooing an existing ally of the ruling SLFP-PA, that too after the former had criticised the latter’s ready acceptance of ‘deserter MPs’ and honouring them with ministers’ posts, the long-term usefulness of the current efforts for nation-building efforts into the future cannot be ignored, either.

That the twine, namely, the UNP and the JVP, cannot meet, not as long as they hold differing perceptions on economic policies and developmental issues is there for all to see. So should be the fact that the UNP, more than the SLFP, cannot accept any of the hurdling conditions that have prevented the JVP from re-joining the PA Government on issues pertaining to the peace process.

As authors of the cease-fire agreement (CFA) between the Government and the LTTE while in power, the UNP, more than any other political party in the island is opposed to any review of Norway’s role as peace-facilitator and the correctness of the CFA. So there is every reason to believe that the current efforts are aimed at understanding each other better and identifying commonalities in approach – rather than conspiring against the ruling coalition, if ever. As the ‘southern Sinhala’ voter is not prepared for that – as yet. Or, so it would seem.

On the other sticky point of concern to the JVP, it is enough for the UNP and the SLFP, as the two political majors, to ensure that the Government of the day is not held to ransom by intended-defectors and possible power-seekers. It is in issues like these that the ‘Indian model’ and ‘Indian experience’ could help an equally evolving democracy like Sri Lanka.

However faulty in implementation, not only has India got legislation against defections by legislators, but it also has restricted the strength of the ministries at the Centre and in the States through law. Both laws, it need to be pointed out, are of recent origin, removed in time from the founding of the Indian nation and Constitution – and are products of the political evolution of the Indian democracy.

It is not as if there are no common views among all three Sri Lankan political parties, namely, the SLFP, UNP and the JVP, on larger issues of nation-building.

They are all for a united Sri Lanka, whose sovereignty and territorial integrity could not be compromised in any negotiated settlement with the LTTE, or in otherwise addressing the stymied ‘Tamil aspirations’, demands and legitimate requirements.

Given the long history of the ‘ethnic strife’ and the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka, a time may have now come for all three parties to review their known positions on issues and aspects flowing from this basic tenet – where differences have existed from the beginning. On the economic front, too, all three political parties – as also the rest of them – want the greatest good coming to the largest segments of the population.

It may thus be time for the JVP, for instance, to recall how from an ideology-oriented political party addressing the concerns of the rural poor, it had veered to hijacking the ‘Sinhala nationalist agenda’ after the mainline leftist party in the SLFP began ‘diluting’ its position from the ‘Sinhala Only’ days of the mid-Fifties.

It may have suited the JVP to try filling the political vacuum sought to be created by President Jayawardene on the Opposition front after he had disenfranchised SLFP’s Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

At the end of the day, the SLFP is still there, and the party mantle has already passed on to a ‘new generation’ leadership with a newer orientation. The UNP continues to be the single largest party – and the JVP too has not lost out, either.

The ‘Sinhala polity’ over the past decades has shown that there is democratic political space for every party and group to operate and succeed, too, to the extent that their agenda reflects the aspirations and expectations of the people. It has also shown that over-simplifying the people’s aspirations, or over-estimating their expectations would take a political party or group nowhere.

It is in this perspective that the larger issues pertaining to the ‘Tamil ethnic needs’ need to be addressed. It cannot be denied that certain decisions and actions of the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala polity had led to the alienation of the community first, and to the ethnic strife and civil war, since.

The latter in turn has also demonstrated the fragile nature of the Sri Lankan State, and the impossibility of the Sinhala society enjoying the Sri Lankan territory and sovereignty to the exclusion of the ethnic minorities.

If that was the intention, and if the Tamils hence had to go, the LTTE has shown that it would take away with it a slice of the Sri Lankan State, sovereignty and territory, too.

For years now, a de facto State had operated in the Tamil areas with all accoutrements attending on a legitimate State — minus legitimacy. For the same reason, it is also a lesson for the LTTE and the larger Tamil community that nation-States have to be built, not sliced away. They are creations of history, and not of accidents of history – for the latter however others need to share, if not take all the blame.The ongoing confabulations between the SLFP and the UNP on the one hand, and the All-Party Conference are to be welcomed for more reasons than one. While the latter is aimed at addressing issues of immediate concerns attending on the peace process, the former has a broader agenda for ‘nation-building’. It is at such times as this that the two parties in particular, and the broader polity in general need to adopt ‘inclusive’, and not an ‘exclusivist’ approach, whether it relates to lesser mortals in the Sinhala polity and society, or to the larger issues, pertaining to the minorities, starting with the Tamils.

In the absence of a unifying force and compulsions, Sri Lanka missed the bus at the turn of Independence – as it came almost without asking, and not certainly fighting for. The result of it is there for the whole world to see.

Starting with the exclusion of the non-Sinhala groups, it came to a stage when the politically alive sections in the SLFP and the socially alert groups of the JVP had to be disenfranchised, or decimated. Three Constitutions in three decades has only added to the woes without solving any – all because, they were documents not necessarily aimed at nation-building. It’s all in living memory, and the current generation cannot afford to blunder again – particularly with the fate of the unborn generations.

The writer is Director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer Research Foundation, the Indian think-tank, headquartered in New Delhi. Email:



Asia Pacific University partners with ICTA, CIMA Sri Lanka

By Shehan Rayer

The Asian Pacific University (APU) announced its partnership with the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Sri Lanka Division (CIMA) with a signing of agreements between the 3 organizations. Described as a historic milestone for the nation, the agreements focus on the development of Human Resources.

The agreement was overseen by the chairman of ICTA Mr. Reshan Devapura, president of CIMA Mr. Shanthikumar Sadanandan and Prof V K Samaranayake, President of the APU along with other notables.

Having been a pioneering success in the field of HR, the APU an apex university in Japan, hopes the collaboration will enable them to create and put in place an effective strategy or plan that directly targets the forwards progression of the SME sector and eGovernance initiatives.

By standing out in the field of HR, the university draws to it some of the best researchers from around the globe, who in turn experiment different theories and designs on the Asia Pacific region. As proof of the universities ever growing success in the field, approximately 40 leading Japanese foreign companies have requested the university to provide support in the field of HR, there by enabling them to compete in the emerging global economy.

Now SME’s are the backbone of emerging economies and are thereby of vital importance to Sri Lanka.

Training of employees has previously been an overbearing cost especially taking into account funding and capacity, making it difficult to ensure that all the staff are on the same level but now with the agreement these trainings and programmes will be offered by CIMA with the backing of the APU, at more affordable prices, yet maintaining the highest of standards.

As for government sectors, under the MoU between ICTA and APU , focus and emphasis will be put into comprehending the wants and needs of organisation in the public sector that have put into place re-engineering programmes under the eGovernance initiatives but government sector needs in the forms of training and development will not be over looked as per the agreement.

Along with this, the APU will also provide relief to an already oversaturated budget in the forms of funding, training and recognising particular world leaders in the specified field to share their experiences.

“Global Human Resource Development” is an award winning APU career backing programme providing specialised knowledge but simultaneously takes measures to make sure that students are well counselled in their academic endeavours. Another key feature is that it provides ample opportunities for these same students to put into practice the theories and programmes they have been taught, a hallmark of the success of any programme.

It is hoped that the signing of these agreements is the first step in a long process to ensure that the public as well as government sectors have the necessary skills to compete effectively in the digital world. -Financial Times

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