There was an interesting work shop on ‘Conceptualizing Caste in Sri Lanka’ at the ICES on Tuesday 15th March 2011. It was noted that caste is a tabooed and under-researched subject in Sri Lanka, unlike in India, Nepal and elsewhere in South Asia. We tend to dismiss caste as insignificant and irrelevant, except perhaps in remote rural areas. In consequence, caste related problems are evaded and not addressed. It was noted by Prof. Tudor Silva that the British brought sanitary labourers from South India into selected Urban centres, and these then constituted the underclass of those towns, doubly despised on account of ethnicity and caste.

Prof. Ranweera Banda, based on his research in Panama in Ampara district, found that the people of that locality were of mixed Sinhalese –Tamil origin at all social and caste levels. However, the social and caste elite opted to identify with the Sinhalese upper castes, embracing the appropriate cultural practices needed for such identification. This is akin to the phenomenon of ‘Sanskritisation’  adopted by sections of the lower and middle  Hindu castes in India to gain upward social mobility, individually and collectively. In  contrast, those of the lowest castes in Panama have no such option and, though they too are ethnically of mixed origin, are treated as of a separate ethnic group and are doubly discriminated on account of ethnicity and caste.

Dr.Sidharthan explored the ways in which vital caste information is often not explicitly recorded by match makers but subtly communicated through the use of euphemisms. He noted that caste is often relevant even to those in the Diaspora. We are aware that despite the reluctance to use caste names, marriage advertisements of Sinhalese and Tamils persons may mention caste affiliation or caste requirement to avoid misunderstandings. We are also aware that the caste is a critical issue in elections almost everywhere in the Island, and is carefully considered by political parties in nominating candidates. Untouchability is almost exclusively a Sri Lankan Tamil vice; but other aspects of caste prejudices and preferences, eg; in electing representatives, negotiating marriages and even conferring benefits are practised alike by Sinhalese and Tamils, even including Christians.

Vinod Moonesinghe’s thoughtful letter (The ICES workshop followed a lively discussion in the newspapers, Island of 22 February) contains one factual error (it was Ponnambalam Ramanathan , not Ponnambalam Arunachalam who contested and defeated Marcus Fernando) but has provoked a valuable debate on caste. Vinod rightly points out (Island of 9 March) that race in the US context has many of the attribute of caste; US society has had traditionally many of the features of ‘Homo Hierarchicus’– a term invented  by Louis Dumont to reflect the essentially hierarchical structure of Indian caste. Vinod’s argues convincingly   that the caste remains a significant feature in Sri Lankan society and politics, and goes on to suggest that the real test for Sri Lanka would not be  the election of a Kadirgamar but of a Thondaman  .

Izeth Hussain (Island of 02 March) correctly points out that we should neither over state nor misinterpret the caste significance of Premadasa emerging as President of Sri Lanka. In a sense it is a classic case of ‘the exception that proves the rule’. Izeth refers to ‘Sri Lankans who have raised the question- whether Premadasa would have become UNP’s choice as Presidential candidate if not for the fact that he was a member of a small sub-caste that would not be able to entrench in power and constitute a continuing threat to Govigama dominance. At that time it seemed doubtful that the UNP would have with the same alacrity chosen as Presidential candidate  a member of the low country castes, namely the Karava, the Salagama and the Durawe’. Izeth goes on to say ‘it is time to recognise that there has been both ethnic and caste discrimination. The latter led to the two JVP rebellions, while the factor of caste in the LTTE rebellion is coming to be recognised’.

Brigadier Ranjan De Silva (Island of 4 March) spells out the distinction between Obama’s achievement and Premadasa’s and between progress in Sri Lanka and in India in relation to caste. He goes on to say ‘ Sri Lankan will reach the level of maturity of the US voter and the Indian voter only on the day we elect a Tamil or a Muslim as Sri Lanka’s executive head of state; not before’. I would introduce a qualification in this matter. The Tamil or Muslim need not, indeed should not, be an advocate of sectarian Tamil or Muslims politics; nor should he /she be seen by Tamils and Muslims as a puppet  unable / unwilling to effectively voice their concerns.

A critical factor in the dynamics of caste status and achievement in the Indian sub continent (particularly India, Pakistan and Bangaladesh) is the potent mix of demography and Universal Adult Franchise. A distinctive feature of the caste structure of the Hindu component of the Indian sub-continent is that it is pyramidical. At the apex are the three small elite ‘twice born’ caste categories, viz Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaisya. Then come the middle castes which are much larger in number. At the bottom are the Sudras, who are by far the most numerous. The Dalits (Untouchables) are ‘non-persons’ out side the caste structure and inferior even to the Sudras. From the Indian caste perspective and on a strict interpretation of the authoritative Hindu caste scripture, Manu Smriti, every one out side India is Sudra or Dalit. In fact high caste persons who travel abroad are required to go through a purification ceremony to be re-admitted to their original caste.This practise is now largely defunct. If we accept the legitimacy of Manu Smriti, Sri Lankans are a nation of low caste and untouchable persons. If we reject Manu Smriti, we must concede that caste in Sri Lanka has no scriptural basis.

Up to 1930, the Indian political, social and professional elite were almost exclusively Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaisya. Unlike in Sri Lanka, Indian Dalits had a towering intellect and leader in the person of Dr.Ambedkar. He was bitterly critical of Gandhi and other Congress leaders and even wrote a book titled ‘What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchchables’, but he could not be suppressed. He got Gandhi and the colonial government to accept quotas of 15% reservation for Dalits and 71/2% reservation for Tribals into not only recruitment to all state institutions, schools and colleges but also into elected political bodies at the time a measure of representative government was conferred on India (about 1935).Quotas and the demographic realities began to work, slowly but inexorably. In time, Gandhi and Congress changed, and so did  Ambedkar.The quotas were embedded into the Indian constitution drafted under the direction of Ambedkar two decades later.

By 1960, fundamental political changes had taken place, notably in South India-eg; the rise of the DMK. The changes have spread to the rest of India. It is now more likely that a Sudra or a Dalit or some one from an ethnic minority would occupy the highest political offices in any part of India than a Brahmin , Kshatriya or Vaisya of North India. Even in the professions, fundamental changes have been and are taking place. This does not mean that the caste structure built up over millennia has been demolished. Social changes occur slowly, and the caste institution may persist for centuries. What is important is that the structure is in the process of gradual decay.

Unlike in India, the demographic  feature of caste in Sri Lanka is an inverted pyramid. There are virtually no Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas of long standing in Sri Lankan society- apart from a few who came in within the last few centuries. The ‘high castes’ in Sri Lanka (Govigama,Vellala and any other) constitute the largest segment of the population. The Untouchables (including the Panchamar among the Tamils and the Rodiyas among the Sinhalese) constitute the smallest segment of the population. In between are the middle castes. In this demographic context the impact of Universal Adult Franchise is to reinforce caste hierarchy. There are some among other castes ,eg, Karava , who claim Kshatriya lineage, ranking above Govigama/Vellala. But such claims are ineffective in the context of continuing Govigama/Vellala dominance. Thus, although caste discrimination is even now much less acute than in India, there is  slow but relentless progress in India but not in Sri Lanka. The Govigama/Vellala control of the major political parties is as strong as ever. There has been much economic mobility , especially among Karavas and Salagamas, but social mobility is dampened by Govigama/Vellala dominance.

The same logic applies to ethnicity as to caste. The Sinhalese form a clear majority, unlike the Hindi speakers in India. In India coalitions of South Indian, Muslim and low caste communities could prevail against the North Indian and Hindi speaking communities. In Sri Lanka unless there are fundamental social and political changes, the kind of ethnic and caste transformation which has taken place and is continuing very gradually in India, may not materialise at all in the near future. Such changes need to be pushed and promoted by outstanding leadership of the kind India (South Africa too) has been blessed with in the 20th century. Even if such leaders emerge locally over the next few years, we need to be realistic. Fundamental changes will be slow and spread out over many decades. Sadly we see neither signs of the emergence of such leaders nor of the beginning of any such changes.

  • eureka

    Instead of resolving the ethnic question, many Sinhalese have been harping on the caste system among Sri Lankan Tamils. It has been onthe wane in the last few decades. From what I’ve seen, heard and read the LTTE was against caste system and didn’t follow any religion. Anyway the LTTE is out of the way now.

    Because of the way the people of the Northeast continue to be oppressed even after May 2009, the diaspora have to raise their voice and the problem gets worse and knottier. ALL because there is NO POLITICAL WILL to be fair to ALL citizens.

    Has the ICES been doing enough(it can be done in many ways) to raise this issue and advocate paths to it?
    NO from what one finds on its website – I’m absolutely devastated.

    Please visit:
    http://www.ices.lk/index.shtml

  • eureka

    What happened to the archives(significantly inadequate though) I saw a few years ago on the website?

    Those archives could have been of use to students/researchers from all over the world. Intrastate conflicts in the last half a centiry have been a significant block to world peace and prosperity. ICES should be an important institution of a mulrtitude of such institutions around the world to promote world peace and prosperity.

    We have been tired of talking in special summits on survival of mankind on this planet, climate change, arms race, MDGs, etc. It’s time we concentrate on positive steps leading to the solution.

    Resolving intrastate conflicts is a very important part of this.

  • Davidson

    Dear ICES

    Thank you for discussing this menace of ”castes”.

    Thaank you also for your great vision and Mission too:

    http://www.ices.lk/aboutus/about_02.shtml

    VISION
    A world which celebrates diversity anchored in the fundamental unity of the human species.

    GOAL
    To contribute towards relevant rigorous intellectual traditions that recognise our common humanity and promote our diverse identities, and to generate ideas that inform and guide policies and institutions in order to promote justice, equity and peaceful coexistence.

    MISSION
    To deepen the understanding of ethnicity, identity politics and conflict, and to foster conditions for an inclusive, just and peaceful society nationally, regionally and globally, through research, publication, dialogue, creative expression and knowledge transfer.

  • eureka

    Dear ICES

    Those in the Northeast can’t wait for you to do much more for them:

    1. National Anthem in one language for UNITY
    2. Kopay military headquaters over cemetry
    3. 18A
    4. Emergency Law extension
    5. Cadet Training in army-controlled peninsula in a Buddhist Republic

  • silva

    eureka: ”Resolving intrastate conflicts is a very important part of this”

    http://www.equinoxjournals.com/ROSA/article/view/3519/2212
    ‘’….one of the most complex and intractable conflicts in the world’’, Dr Elizabeth Harris(Liverpool Hope University), Review(2007) of Buddhism, Conflict and Violence in Modern Sri Lanka(2006)

  • Panabokke

    Chandra Jayaratne
    Board of Directors
    ICSE

    Dear Chandra Jayaratne

    You gave Tamils a lot of hope:

    Dear Friday Forum

    You made Jayaratne write on your behalf. You need to support him to see it see the daylight;

    http://groundviews.org/2010/10/06/amber-light-signals-requiring-pro-active-action-by-the-lessons-learnt-and-reconciliation-commission/
    Amber Light Signals Requiring Pro-active Action by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Chandra jayaratne, 6 October 2010;
    http://groundviews.org/2010/10/01/llrc-submission-by-the-friday-forum/
    LLRC: Submission by the Friday Forum, Chadra Jayaratne, 1 October 2010;
    http://groundviews.org/2010/09/27/recommendations-for-ict-and-research-supported-enhancement-of-the-effectiveness-of-the-llrc/
    Recommendations for ICT and Research Supported Enhancement of the Effectiveness of the LLRC, Chandra Jayaratne, 27 September 2010:
    http://groundviews.org/2010/09/23/submissions-before-lessons-learnt-reconciliation-committee-llrc-by-chandra-jayaratne/
    Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010:

    • Out of the Almirah

      Hello Panabokke,

      As a descendent of Henakanda Biso Bandare, I am glad to see that caste practice is fading from Sinhala society.

      People who hold on to caste –just like to race and religion- are also sadly unaware that a sizeable portion of the general population rejected this garbage a long time ago. Anyway, this is nothing to brag about because such forms of discrimination are akin to violence. We all know that violence has no place in decent society, don’t we, Panabokke?

  • sr

    A pressing issue of the society is duly addressed by the ICES. Thanks.

    Now to

    i.the conditions for an inclusive, just and peaceful society and

    ii. the human species from the North to the South and from the East to the West please.

  • silva

    The menace of ”castes” can, and should, be tackled by education.

  • It’s unfortunate that the article applies a pre-independence lense to focus on the subject. The suggestion that ‘race’ is America’s ‘caste’ is an exciting one and I’d be inclined to suggest that ‘wealth’ is Sri Lanka’s new ‘caste.’ The Panama experience also seems to suggest that traditional ethnic, lingual, religious or traditional caste markers are not set in stone and are often used or discarded subject to the overriding factor of wealth. I’d argue that progress is stymied by the continued use of a pre-independence lenses to view (and address) this and ancillary topics.

  • Kusal Perera

    To those in want of another perspective

    There is apparently a large ‘miss’ in this discussion, where Sinhala caste issues are concerned. Ceylon, even before it was Sri Lanka, was dominated by its loyalty to Buddhism and Buddhism has a major hold on Sinhala society. Buddhist clergy bearing on Sinhala society, is clearly divided on caste lines and thus leaves the whole society identified on caste leneages.

    Buddhist clergy in fact thrives on caste identity and with differentiation as “Low” and “Up” country Sinhala Buddhists, even today. The 03 major Nikayas, “Shyamopali Siyam”, “Amarapura” and “Ramanna”, are based accordingly with Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters strictly restricted to the nobility of the Up country Govigama caste, that prompted the formation of the other two Nikayas.

    With the Shyamopali Siyam monks refusing to provide the higher ordination to Low country Buddhist monks in 1793, it was Salagama traders who funded a Salagama monk from Balapitiya to travel to Burma and bring higher ordination. The Amarapura Nikaya was established on Wesak poya day in 1803, in a ceremony held in one of the islands in Madhu river.

    In 1862, a group of “Vanavasi” (a sect that had retreated into forests, to avoid the secular society) monks, all low country, travels again to Burma, recieves higher ordination and returns to Ceylon to establish the “Ramanna” Nikaya. The “Kotte Siyam” Nikaya cam subsequently for the Low country Govigama caste.

    What needs to be stressed here is that, since 17 Century, with the maritime provinces under Dutch rule, the low country Buddhists did not have a “King” of their own as in the past to revive Buddhism, time and again. It was therefore the Buddhist traders who funded all the higher ordinations, for both Amarapura and Ramanna Nikayas. With Durawa traders and philanthropists taking an interest to identify themselves as Sinhala Buddhists during the Colonial period, Amarapura Nikaya of South became the Nikaya of the Durawa caste and to date remains so. Amarapura now has over 23 sub-Sects with different sub castes and provincial leneages, deciding their dominance.

    Another interesting fact is the silent claim of the “Vahumpura” caste to be the most pure Sinhala-Buddhist caste, that does not accept any non Buddhist maraiges, within their fold. This caste in present day Sri Lanka, is predominantly trader based and its politically dominant leader, Cyril Mathew is known for his role in the 1983 July pogrom against Tamil people, especially in Colombo.

    Well, the underplay of ethnic violence in SL is a “trader war” for bigger market shares in all urban townships, that now comes into play against not only Tamil traders, but against Muslims as well.

    It would thus be interesting to see, what castes play “pro Sinhala Buddhist” politics in today’s Sinhala society.

    (Google for plenty info on “nikayas” and Buddhism)

    Kusal Perera

    • Devanesan Nesiah

      To Kusal Perera

      I entirely agree with your well-researched contribution. If we are to eliminate this cancer from our society, we need to first acknowledge and address it the way you have done.

      Devanesan.

      • Kusal Perera

        Let me also stress that in Sinhala society, caste not only reflects a feudal social hierarchy not valid anymore in its ancient social form, but also plays a racist role in present society.

        Few of the castes like Vahumpura, Karawa and Durawa are now very much into trade and commerce, have their own closed associations and dabble in power politics that is beyond picking candidates for elections. Their trade and commerce base in the local economy requires they compete in the market, which is not growing and developing enough. Therefore it is these caste based traders and businessmen who back Sinhala politics for power. They want the market for themselves, cleaned and rid of Tamil and Muslim competitors.

        This caste clubbing cuts across party politics too. Some 16 years ago, immediately after CBK was elected President, there was a party organised at one of the Committee Rooms in the BMICH to toast her victory. All invitees were Durawa politicians. There were Mangala S., C.V. Gunaratne, Gamini Fonseka, Mervyn Silva (then as UNP MP from H’tota), Bernard Soyza (LSSP), Prof Carlo Fonseka, K.P. Silva (CP), Y.P.Silva (SLMP) among many others and they thought as told by Mervyn Silva, CBK belongs to their clan with her marriage to Vijeya Kumaratunge. This gathering was then talked of as blessed by then Chief Sanga Nayaka of Amarapura Nikaya, most Venerable Madihey Pannasiha thero.
        Such is caste, class, politics and racism in Sri Lanka

  • Devanesan Nesiah

    To eureka:
    I agree with what you have stated in your first contribution.Many Sinhalese rightly criticize caste practices among Tamils but fail to do any thing about caste practices among Sinhalese.Similarly,many Christians criticize caste practices among Buddhists and Hindus but do nothing about caste practices among Christians.Likewise, many urban dwellers dismiss caste as a rural phenomenon. There is a Biblical commandment to first clear the obstruction in your own eye before commenting on that in another’s eye.
    Regarding singing the National Anthem in Tamil, hard line Tamil Nationalists have always strongly opposed it;it is those Tamil speakers who wanted a united Sri Lanka who favorite singing the National Anthem in Tamil, incurring the displeasure of the hard liners.The state has now come down firmly on the side of hard line Tamil nationalists.

    To Davidson, To Silva and To Panabokke:
    I agree with you completely.

    To Out of the Almirah and to Gini Appu:
    If indeed caste practices among the Sinhalese are fading post- independence,the process is far too slow.We can all cite a hundred examples but I will mention just three;
    i)Is ordination in the Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters open to those of all castes?
    ii)Is caste a major factor in determining the leadership of the major political parties and in nominating candidates at elections?
    iii)Is it likely that any person identified as Karava or Salagama would be elected as Executive President in the near future?

    To dodge addressing such issues is to contribute to the perpetuation of caste oppression.

    • Out of the Almirah

      Dear Dr. Nesaiah,

      Hailing from Udunuwara, my comment was addressed to Panabokke.

      I don’t see the need to defend myself or the Malwatte and Asgiriya maha viharas simply because I happen to be a Kandyan. Although I mentioned that I rejected certain aspects of the society in which I was brought up, you seem to hold me accountable on some level.

      Your first question directly concerns people living in my area, and I must say that not a whole lot of them are thrilled by the Malwatte and Asgiriya folk. Only politicians seem eager to seek their praises – not people with real jobs.

      As for your two other questions, sir, how do you see R. Premadasa’s rise to power? Was he from the Govigama caste?

      Simply discussing this issue is not going to make it go away. Take the first step and reject caste altogether. Many people have.

    • Dear Dr Nesiah…

      Caste was used as a ‘kaduwa’ long before the white man set foot in this country and you would expect this sabre to be wielded by those who stand to gain the most from the existence of a caste structure. The Asgiriya and Malwatte folk are no longer the powerbrokers they once were… to the masses, they are ceremonial relics, just like the Queen in England and the leader of the UNP.

      The world is moving forward and fast dividing into ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ and that spectre is far more frightening than some rustly old kaduwa that is as potent as a butter knife.

      I’m sure there is some caste residue in both the Tamil and Sinhalese communities but that all it is… residue.

      Affectionately

      Gini Appu

  • eureka

    When our (global and national)problems have become very acute, bodies like ICES have a great responsibility to play in taking the thinking(=discuassion+conceptualisation) forward.

    • rodger

      eureka
      let us discuss some of the good suggestions made to LLRC without wasting any more time – perhaps ICES should take up the discussion as one of its projects.

  • rodger

    Resolving the ethnic conflict should help tackle the caste problem to a large extent – with the help of a body of vision and mission as that of ICES:
    Eureka’s ”What happened to the archives(significantly inadequate though) I saw a few years ago on the website?” is scary in terms of the current investigation into National Peace Council, etc.

    Really scary in terms of the ”Database Debacle” given on http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/2044

    This atrocious lie is as humiliating as the pogroms unleashed on the Tamils in 50s/60s/70s/80s.

    ICES should not keep quiet now.

    Such a body keeping quiet would be the scariest of all.

    There is a responsibility on the part of educators(as much as on civil socieies) to discuss the suggestions, esp. those on education.

  • rodger

    ”to discuss the suggestions” should be ”to discuss the suggestions in submissions to LLRC”

  • silva

    3 years of APRC(2007-9) and 126 sittings of many people were wasted?

    Let’s not the amount of work put in by many eminent people for the submissions to LLRC go as just hundreds of pages of suggestions to a handful of commissioners.

    I believe all the citizens need to pay attention and discuass them in groups, ie if we want justice and peace for ALL.

    I appeal to all professional organisations (and civil societies) to take this seriously as their responsibilities.

  • sr

    We should be proud to have an insttution like this:

    http://www.ices.lk/aboutus/index.shtml

    The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is a renowned international research centre located in Sri Lanka.

    It was established in 1982 with the support of the Ford Foundation by a team of Sri Lankan and International scholars. ……

    Since its establishment in 1982, ICES has undertaken a series of research and policy formulation programmes and projects in areas such as ethnicity, minority protection and multiculturalism. ……

    But alas ! no material on the website to educate the people.

    This is an ideal link for what Justice Weeremantry and others have been telling LLRC on Reconciliation. It will go beyond national borders and help other countries too.

    I’m appealing to the Board of Directors to let the website used as an instrument of education for peace nationally, regionally anmd internationally.

    Thank you.

  • Davidson

    Has the government been forcing the ICES to remove its archives ?

    No surprise ??

    But how can the civil society help ICES stand its ground ?

    This page is a horrifying example – nothing heppened in 2009? or 2006 and before?

    http://www.ices.lk/publications/lectures.shtml

    Lectures:

    Democracy and Development: Restoring Social Justice at the Core of Good Governance. Neelan Tiruchelvam 9th Memorial Lecture by Gowher Rizvi, July 27, 2008. Colombo, ICES, 2008. 31p.

    Tamil Traders in Sri Lanka and Sinhalese Traders in Tamil Nadu. Address by Osmund Bopearachchi. Colombo, ICES, 2008.130p.

    An Unstable Ecosystem: Relfectins on Conflict and Arms in Sudan. Lecture by Robert Muggah, June 22, 2007. Colombo, ICES, 2007. 17p.

    The Limits of State Sovereignty: the Repsonsiblity to Protect in the 21st Century. Neelan Tiruchelvam 5th Memorial Lecture by Gareth Evans, July 29, 2007. Colombo, ICES, 2007. 22p.

    The Politics of Loss, Alienation and Nostalgia after the ‘Gujarat’ Earthquake. Address by Edward Simpson, January 16, 2007. Colombo, ICES, 2007, 48p.

    I’m sure many university departments would be gaining by the archives.
    If you look up the internet new organisations are forming all the time. But shouldn’t we help the organisations that are already there to solve problems of the societies in various vertical and horizontal levels??

  • Davidson

    Dear ICES Board of Directors

    Is the current regime very successful with its agenda??

    I’m petrified:

    1.No pamphlets before Jan 2010??

    http://www.ices.lk/publications/pamphlet.shtml

    Pamphlets

    These are Short, theory based advocacy papers, available for download.

    January 2010: Decision Analysis for the Principled Voter.
    Analyses rational decision making for a principled-voter, choosing between proximate candidates in a system of preferential balloting. Application is made to voting at the Presidential Election of Sri Lanka in January 2010.

    2.No reports before 2010??

    http://www.ices.lk/publications/reports.shtml

    Reports

    Sustainable Exit Strategies for Tsunami Related Programmes, by Sanayi Marcelline, ICES, Colombo and Oxfam International, 2010. 49p.

    This study identifies good practices in implementing closure for post disaster relief programmes. The findings and recommendations of the study draw on the experiences of aid organizations/INGOs and implementing partners, that were engaged in tsunami related rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes and on the opinions of the beneficiary communities. The main focus of the study is to identify how aid organizations/INGOs could formulate exit strategies that ensured the sustainability of programmes once aid interventions came to an end.

    Free Copies of the report are available on request. Please get in touch with the library ICES Colombo by email or on +94-11-2679745, +94-11-2685085.

  • Davidson

    A part of our current conceptual ecology has groundviews discussion, ICES potential, LLRC submissions, regional and international human rights organisations, UN and international instruments, etc with various intrinsic links between them. Let us make those links very conscious and even add more links to take us forward. The majority of those in the South may not be itching for it, but there are so many, many people in the Northeast impatiently clinching their fists and gritting their teeth to move forward.

  • Padda

    [Sri Lankan will reach the level of maturity of the US voter and the Indian voter only on the day we elect a Tamil or a Muslim as Sri Lanka’s executive head of state; not before]

    Tamil / Muslim voters will reach the level of maturity of the US politician and the Indian politician only on the day they decide to represent the whole country, not their own races; not before

    • Padda

      Tamil / Muslim voters . . . should be corrected as politicians

  • manga

    Padda

    What do you measn?
    The South will accept federalism ???????????
    The South will let the Tamil/Muslim politicians to represent the whole country of Socialist Buddhist Republic?
    First of all Tamils/Muslims don’t want to rule the whole country – they just want their fundamental rights.
    It’s the SLFP and the UNP who were ethnic-outbidding from the time of independence to get ruling power.
    Tamils/Muslims want to be left alone with their fundamental rights.

  • renu

    US, India,… Federal States !

    What on earth is in the report by APRC on which the President is sitting on for so long !!

    What will hatch out of it ?

  • luxmy

    Twenty Two Years of Devolution – An evaluation of the working of Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka, Institute of Constitutional Studies(2010):
    ‘’… Recentralization is the hallmark of the system. Today, PCs have become a means by which the centre controls regional resources. They have also become the avenues through which the centre consolidates its political power. ….”

    Tamils/Muslims will never be allowed to look after themselves ??

  • sr

    The conceptual ecology of a free society working hard and prospering evolves to express itself in artistic ways and go on to have festivals. With vigorous changes taking place internationally, regionally and nationally the caste system will hopefully disappear. But if ”festivals” are imposed on societies struggling to breathe while being trampled:

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2011/02/grand_music_festival_boosting.html
    Grand music festival boosting Northern folk artistes to be held from March 25 – 27th in Jaffna
    ”The festival will take place amidst a folk village camp setting which is built surrounding the main stage, explained the coordinator Jaffna Music Festival, Ramesh De Saram.”

    http://www.vivalanka.com/news/page.jsp?articleid=152222
    Sri Lanka: Military in Jaffna district to stay, says SLA Commander, 27 January 2011:
    ”Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya said that the Sri Lanka’s defence ministry will not move out the security forces stationed in the Jaffna peninsula.”

    http://print.dailymirror.lk/news/front-page-news/33690.html
    Economic independence in North questionable: Bragg, 22 January 2011:
    ‘’The United Nations yesterday said most of those resettled in the North currently had limited access to basic services such as shelter, water and sanitation and healthcare.”

    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/09/19/next-the-19th-amendment/
    Next, The 19th Amendment Tisaranee Gunasekara, 19 September 2010:
    ‘’When Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao came visiting, the Tamil Parties Forum TPPF requested her to persuade the Rajapaksa administration to “engage the elected representatives of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the resettlement and rehabilitation work” (Daily Mirror – 3.9.2010).”

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/06/18/celebrating-war-victory-and-banning-commemoration-of-dead-civilians-this-is-%e2%80%9chome-grown-indigenous%e2%80%9d-reconciliation-and-freedom-in-sri-lanka/#more-3587
    Celebrating war victory and banning commemoration of dead civilians: this is “home grown & indigenous” reconciliation and freedom in Sri Lanka? 18 June 2010:
    ‘’… A Catholic priest in Jaffna told me that he had got several threatening calls asking him to cancel a religious event he had organized in Jaffna to commemorate civilians killed in the war.”

  • Davidson

    Artistes of all kinds work to elevate their society through their artes. Sinhalese dramtists, film-makers, painters, poets and sculptors have been doing that(including material on what has been happening to the people in the Northeast) and have been making some changes(including making the South aware of the Northeast reality) in their society. If there has not been enough changes in the attitude towards caste, it’s because in the last 63 yrs the politcal leaders have been making the people believe that ”selfishness works” in all possible ways, including textbooks(distorted history and ethnic hatred).

  • Davidson

    If we are worried about the caste problem are we making enough use of Galle festival, Jaffna festival, etc to take the message to the people in telling, irresistable forms?

  • Davidson

    Sorry, folks.

    ”A part of our current conceptual ecology has groundviews discussion, ICES potential, LLRC submissions, regional and international human rights organisations, UN and international instruments, etc with various intrinsic links between them”

    Various academic departments of various universities, technical coleges, schools, are all extremely important.

    Various professional organisations.

    Organisations like the Institute of Constitutional Studies, Friday Forum, research organisations, civil societies, …….. too.

  • sr

    It is very discomforting to note that when the last six years, esp. the last two, have been the recapitulation of the previous 5/6 decades or even worse, the calibre of an ”international centre for ethnic studies” had a workshop on caste while a ”music festival” designed in Colombo(just as development plans are determined by the Presidential Task Force) was held in the North while the army controls all aspects of social life in the North.

    Will the North be allowed an exposure to the free expressions of artistes in the South?

  • roger

    Combined social sciences(minimum one examination subject) need to be made compulsory for all school-leavers to have an understanding of how a healthy society works.

  • luxmy

    Now that there was a workshop on caste, will ICES move to a bigger area, the ethnic conflict, by conceptualising ”healthy ethnic relations” please?