Image courtesy Narenthiran

I read Prof. Carlo Fonseka’s article under the caption ‘Accolades for President and Prime Minister‘ in The Island of 10 Feb. with much interest and appreciation. Listening to the singing of the National Anthem in either or both of languages is indeed a moving experience on account of its melody and its theme that we are all children of one motherland. It is most moving when it is sung in our mother tongue, or in both languages.

It is for this reason that those who dispute the claim that all of us, without exception, are children of one motherland may disagree with Prof. Carlo Fonseka. This category of dissidents is not composed exclusively of Sinhalese majoritarian racists. Many Tamil racists also dispute the claim that we are all children of one motherland. They claim that it is the Anthem of the Sinhalese and see no reason to sing it, especially in Tamil.

Such tribalism is a feature of all human societies, and is not easily eradicated. Accordingly, both progress and regression in national reconciliation have occurred and may continue to occur. But the singing of the National Anthem in both national languages on the occasion of the celebration of National Independence Day this year, and its endorsement by the President, the Prime Minister and very many others marks a significant advance. To quote Prof. Carlo Fonseka’s tongue in cheek understatement, “Good things do happen in our country every now and then”.