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Role of education in building a harmonious society: Challenges and opportunities

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By: Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

RECONCILIATION,

WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:
… For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near;
I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.” -From ’Leaves of Grass’ by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

The key words in the title are harmony, education, challenges and opportunities. The main theme is however reconciliation to achieve national harmony and the role education plays in this process.

We are gathered here to speak, listen and probably ask questions, because we acknowledge that we have contentious issues that have caused disharmony in Sri Lanka. The failure to address contentious issues in an enlightened manner, have kept the issues on the boil through various phases of our post-independence history.

When music is not harmonious, it sounds discordant and becomes a noise. It is not pleasing to hear. When a society is not harmonious, with relation to its component members- its peoples- and a ‘larger’ vision, it loses its direction, seeds chaos and breeds conflict. Harmony is balance and disharmony is imbalance. Harmony is the middle path and disharmony is the extreme path. Harmony is peace and disharmony is conflict. When a society is not harmonious in its thinking and actions, it ceases to develop and progress in a steady and meaningful manner. A society is not harmonious when it is inherently unjust and does not treat its peoples alike and provide equal opportunities.

Frustration, grievances and anger are fertile grounds for conflict. Conflict leaves in its wake a divided society that has been torn asunder. What was easy to break is usually more difficult to mend/make. Conflict robs a society of its abiding values and renders it soulless. It robs our humanity and distorts our equanimity. There are always two or more parties to a specific conflict, with all parties having valid grievances. There may be several reasons for a conflict, of which misunderstanding and refusal to understand are primary. As a prelude to resolving conflicts there should be a willingness to accept there is a conflict, understand the reasons from a multi-dimensional and ‘other’s’ perspective, forgive, apologize, trust, be trustable and desist from mutual recriminations. Education can provide the necessary mindset.

Harmony is the pleasant effect made by parts being combined into a whole. Harmony does not infer uniformity in thought, behaviour or actions. But it requires, as in an orchestra, a coming together of different vocalists, various instruments and the conductor, to produce a music pleasing to hear. Each conductor is unique, each instrument is unique, each player is unique and each vocalist is unique. The members have to adjust to the unique style of each conductor, and express their uniqueness within the whole, the music, the audience would perceive.

In societies- a collection of diverse peoples- we may march as individuals to the beat of different drummers, but as peoples, speaking different languages, professing different religions and living different cultures, we have to yet work together towards achieving common goals. The principle goal- the ‘larger vision’-, being a just society with safety, security, equal opportunities and adequate livelihood for all. Within this context there should be space for individual talent to find expression, value and appreciation. No single person should feel he/she is a victim of an unjust, iniquitous society. This is the ideal we have to strive towards, to re-establish harmony and contain conflict. Awareness of the elements that contain conflict and those that seed conflict comes through education.

Education should instill ethical values in society. Education should make us understand that most aspirations are common to mankind. Education should instill an awareness and appreciation of not only an individual’s cultural heritage but also an awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of the ‘Others’. Education should give us knowledge of ourselves as individuals and by extension of those around us. Education should produce ‘thinking’ persons. Education should produce cultured and wise persons. Education should produce persons who understand their limitations and can learn from those who transcend these limitations. Education should produce persons with respect for ‘Others’. Education should produce persons who seek to learn the ‘Wisdom’ distilled from previous generations and from those of learning and wisdom in their society and the world- at -large. Education should help understand the distinction between rhetoric and truth/facts. Education should help us reconcile the duality we see in everything around us and appreciate the whole- the concept of reconciling the opposites. Education is the key to achieving harmony in any society. Education should transform us into an ‘Ethical nation’, from one that is built on expediency.

The question that needs to be asked is what is education? Education is a process to educate a person. The word educate comes from the Latin root- ‘Educere’, which means ‘to bring out or lead forth’. Swami Vivekananda once said, “Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man”. This recognizes that every person has something ‘good’ within, although some may have it in greater measure than others. This implies that education should bring out what is best in each person. Perfection is generally considered a divine attribute. As every person is unique, the lesson should hit a ready target- a ‘lock and key’ mechanism-, to bring out his/her uniqueness. Education is the key that opens the door to the riches within man. Education then would bring out the ‘God’ in man and not the ‘Devil’.

An ill-educated man is a menace to society. An ill-educated leader is a calamity. An ill-educated teacher is an outright criminal. An ill-educated preacher/ priest a curse. An ill-educated society of peoples is a tragedy. We have all experienced the consequences of the words and deeds of ill-educated persons in various walks of life.

The stories reaching us through the epics and literature-religious or secular, centered on heroes, who made ideal characters for the guidance of all subsequent generations. Traditional education in Asia, particularly India had been accomplished deliberately through hero-worship. These heroes stood for ethical values in life, in their positions as saints, kings, queens, warriors, teachers, jesters, commoners and even animals. The Jathaka stories, the Aesop’s fables, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Panchatantra stories, the biblical stories and the Hadiths are examples of this manner of educating people.

Does our system of education today bring out the best in us or indeed lead us towards anything more useful or worthwhile than literacy- reading, writing and Arithmetic (the three R’s) – and employment related training? Does the education system we have, yet based on its colonial foundations, suit us in terms of our cultural, religious and philosophical heritage and needs as peoples? Does our education system recognize the differences in the potential of students and cater to it?

Can a system of education created to mass produce the cogs and wheels of an industrial society which has greed and unnecessary consumption as its goals; produce a co-operative society that can contain conflict from within? Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy emphasized that when literacy becomes an only skill, ‘the collective wisdom’ of a literate people may be only ‘collective ignorance’. He also underlined that the so-called “Illiterate’ people of old had ‘Collective wisdom’. Sri Lanka and many other countries- probably all countries- now suffer from the malady of ‘Collective ignorance’. We are also the victims of the tyranny of the literates masquerading as educated. Political power bestowed on such literates inevitably makes a mockery of democracy.

Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy very perceptively asked, “Should literacy produced by compulsory mass education be the primary goal of our educational system as this literacy provides little more than the ability and the will to read newspapers and advertisements?” In today’s context the visual media and the internet should be added to this mix. This is not the kind of knowledge that should be handed out to everyone under ‘compulsion’ or ‘free choice’. Can any nation afford the needed quantity and quality of teachers, to provide the quality of education needed? The home and the society at large have to no doubt play their part. Can they in our context of having been badly educated for several decades?

We were once a co-operative society, where one was for all and all were for one and the pain of one was the pain of all. Modern education has created a society in which competition and conflict are in-built and selfishness and self centeredness are virtues. Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy referring to India said that India has nothing to offer the world except her religious philosophy, and her faith in the application of philosophy to social problems. This obviously applies to Sri Lanka too. How can we introduce philosophical thoughts we have evolved over the millennia, into our education system? However, it is important to remember that Socrates was poisoned by the rulers of the day, because he tried to teach philosophy to the youth! He was accused of poisoning the minds of youth!

In the seventh century CE, Robert Knox (Englishmen who was held captive in the Kandyan Kingdom and later given the freedom to travel the Island) said of the ‘Cingalese ‘ people that, “—their ordinary Plough-men and Husbandmen do speak elegantly and are full of complement. And there is no difference of ability and speech of a Country-man and the Courtiers”. How did we achieve this sophistication in a time before western education was introduced to us? (Please note that Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy has been identified as a ‘Cingalese’ by Englishmen of his generation, on many occasions).

In a time gone by Tamil children were taught the Tamil alphabet with a profound aphorism beginning with each alphabet. The first alphabet ‘Aana’ was taught with the aphorism ‘Aram seyya virumbu’ (Desire to do things that are harmless), ‘Aaavanna’ was taught through ‘Aaruvathu sinam (Let anger cool) etc., which were concepts that were valid throughout life. Whereas, English alphabet is taught through ‘A’ for apple, ‘B’ for bat etc., which have no meaning to anyone beyond the Kindergarten. Most Tamil students are not taught the Tamil alphabet the old way now. They are the poorer for it. Similarly, literature such as the Nalavenba- the story of Nala and Damayanthy- are not taught in schools to Tamil students in a composite manner now. A poem in Nalavenba referring to King Nala’s just rule, says, “Mathar aruhuttum paingkiliyum, ardattr parunthum oru kootil vaala ulahu” (The parrot hand-reared by maidens and the predatory eagle were able to live in harmony in the same cage). What better education can a child receive in the formative years?

Education in its true sense is explained by the following equation:

Education = Knowledge + Culture + Wisdom

Knowledge- is, at the basic level what we learn to achieve literacy and life skills. This should in turn create a thirst for more, deeper and wider knowledge.

Culture- Involves refinement of mind, morals and taste. This comes about through exposure to religion, literature, arts, philosophy, diversity and cultured persons. Culture involves learning of the profound and distinguishing it from the profane. Culture should be imbibed from ones surroundings and sought beyond it through books and travel. Culture involves the senses and dictates the way of life.

Wisdom- is the ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. The knowledge component includes what one learns in his/her own life time and of the accumulated wisdom of past generations. Discriminative / selective learning, which is erudition, is a vital aspect of wisdom. A wise person has to be also a cultured person. A wise person is the ‘Educated’ person.

We mistakenly think that those who hold higher degrees are more educated than those who have only qualified at the lower levels. The former, may have accumulated more knowledge, but may lack culture and wisdom. The latter, may have less knowledge, but more culture and wisdom. Modern education tends to produce masses with various levels of knowledge and skills but very few with also culture and wisdom. Literacy makes everyone think they are educated! This has been modern man’s tragedy, despite the unprecedented progress we have made in science and material wealth creation (multiplication of wants and greed).

Are our education system and social environment designed to produce educated persons? Do these draw out the best in us? Do our educational system and social environment teach us to think critically? Do our education system and social environment teach us to seek the truth behind what we hear, see and read? Or are these designed to produce a range of stuffed sausages that accept everything at face value and react without understanding? In a society of stuffed sausages, lacking in the ability to think and ask questions at the individual and collective level, can reconciliation and harmony come about? Can bigotry and jingoism that seed conflict be contained or preferably weeded in a nation of peoples confined to their own mental and attitudinal wells (remember the frog in the well story), when the education system does not afford an opportunity for them to come out, learn, experience, interact and see the world as it is- beautiful in its diversity and as a mosaic.

The education system in this country should be overhauled at all levels to incorporate components of our heritage and culture in greater measure. The education system should embrace the dedicated institutions, the home and society. The best from the west should be incorporated, but not permitted to diminish or blow away what is ours and makes us what we are. The story, poem, song, arts, aphorisms, morals, proverbs, values and meaning that have come down to us from generations past, should remain essential parts of who we are and should be cherished. Further, the menace of private tuition in school subjects should be eradicated to provide the child the time to learn other things of value in life.

An education system that can make us a cultured, wise and thinking people can make us reconcile, and become a harmonious society. This is the challenge. The opportunity is right now, in the aftermath of decades of conflict and overt war that have spread nothing but misery all around, cost us many lives and scarred us beyond imagination, but not resolved our problems. Are we capable of using this opportunity and meeting this challenge? I have my doubts whether we have the collective wisdom and will to do this with the urgency and objectivity required, over the long haul. To achieve these we have to have educated persons leading us, educated persons rearing us, educated persons preaching to us, educated persons teaching us, educated people around us and an enlightened media focused on promoting harmony.

However, the aftermath the prolonged conflict and wars have produced- the gaping wounds and a searing pain- in our society, cannot be ignored. This pain will be with us for a long time, as we are yet not thick skinned. The wounds and pain have touched a national nerve. The lessons of past failures have hit our very soul with a force that hurts and cannot be ignored. We and the generations to come will not forget these lessons easily, as they have been painfully learned.

These lessons- practical education- will pave the way for national reconciliation faster than the ability of the education system to reform and respond.

The political leadership has to respond to this lesson and solve the fundamental problems that led to a bloody conflict and social schism. The people will be with them

(Paper presented at the National Conference on,” the Role of Education in Reconciliation” organized by Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Sri Lanka, on 13th March ’2012)

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21 Comments

  1. Dr.Narendran’s paper on the ‘Role of Education’ can be construed as the work of a mind that had distilled the essence of the Kural,Jatataka tales,Aesops fables,Ramaayana,Mahabharatha,Hadiths etc.

    It is when Culture,Knowledge,Wisdom combine that a harmonious relationship emerges in a society with multifarious faiths,languages.

    A person can be considered as educated and refined when he is able to tolerate differences and has the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction and be ready to compromise by being prepared to grant the benefit of the doubt like for instance in this case, that Dr.Narendran’s failure to mention the Kural or that of the Taosist or Zen thoughts may have been due to oversight and not deliberate.

    When it comes to a country it is that attitude and frame of mind in it’s society which would distinguish it as civilised or other..

  2. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran:

    With all due respect I copy and paste the lyrics of a profound song on education. I hope you approve of it. I am not responsible if the song offend you.

    Pink Floyd’s
    Another Brick In The Wall lyrics

    Songwriters: WATERS, ROGER

    Daddy’s flown across the ocean
    Leaving just a memory
    Snapshot in the family album
    Daddy what else did you leave for me?
    Daddy, what’d’ja leave behind for me?!?

    All in all it was just a brick in the wall.
    All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.

    “You! Yes, you! Stand still laddy!

    We don’t need no educationÂ
    We dont need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.

    We don’t need no education
    We dont need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.

    I don’t need no arms around me
    And I dont need no drugs to calm me.
    I have seen the writing on the wall.
    Don’t think I need anything at all.
    No! Don’t think I’ll need anything at all.
    All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.
    All in all you were all just bricks in the wall.

  3. An education system that can make us a cultured, wise and thinking people can make us reconcile, and become a harmonious society. This is the challenge. The opportunity is right now, in the aftermath of decades of conflict and overt war that have spread nothing but misery all around, cost us many lives and scarred us beyond imagination, but not resolved our problems. Are we capable of using this opportunity and meeting this challenge?

    —————————

    I hope all of us will be capable of meeting this challenge. For the sake of the victims of war we need to take the right direction, right now.

  4. Native Veddah,

    Thanks. I appreciate the deep meaning. Quality of education is presently confused with fancy buildings. There was better quality education provided under trees and in the front verandahs of teachers in an age gone- by.

    “We don’t need no education
    We dont need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”– It is beautiful!

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

  5. I like this one

    [Education = Knowledge + Culture + Wisdom]

    A lovely article by the good DR.Now here is a person who deserves that doctorate.I always knew in experience i have in interviewing and selecting people,degrees were not enough.Now i know why?A degree without culture and wisdom is not adequate.

    If we can instead of 225 donkeys in our parliament,just have 100 MP’s with knowledge + culture + wisdom,we can beat the rest of the world.

  6. shankar says:

    “If we can instead of 225 donkeys in our parliament,just have 100 MP’s with knowledge + culture + wisdom,we can beat the rest of the world.”

    I vehemently object to your comment describing MP’s as donkeys.

    Donkey is the beast of burden. It used to be very useful to the human kind.

    Please don’t insult donkeys.

  7. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran thank you for this thought provoking article, I congratulate you. you said “An education system that can make us a cultured, wise and thinking people can make us reconcile, and become a harmonious society” yes do agree with that, but with whom we Tamils should reconcile? Firstly we should reconcile within our Tamil community who have various perception and belife on the political thinking, then with our Sinhala brethren. Will our Sinhala brethren streach their hands to accomodate us? People with mindset of JHU,Patriotic front Dr. Gunadasa will reconciliation be possible? Educated Dr. D Jayathilake, Dr.Rajeva W and few others having only education, doubt they have the wisdom? They are the advisors of the President,whom lack this equation of yours. Mahatma Gandhi said ” the weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” Tamils have been the victims for the past 64 years, Tamil terrorism is the making of Successive Sinhala government. Reconciliation with compensation may be needed by the Tamils to move on would you not agree? Education must be a must,but it is also a gift,having had the education then,one to be wiser and tolerance will be an important matter.

  8. Native vedda says

    “Please don’t insult donkeys.”

    okay.okay.To assuage your feelings lions,tigers,elephants,chimpanzees,gorillas,monkeys,chameleons etc etc

  9. Dr. Easwaran,

    Thanks for your valid thoughts. There cannot be pre-conditions, if we want to embark on a path of reconciliation. Each party has to approach the other, one or few steps at a time, to finally embrace each other. This will not be easy. We have to forgive and they have to forgive. Reconcilation cannot be achieved on the basis of a debate, however civilized it may be. Unfortunately, in our context, a debate will soon degenerate into rancour. Reconciliation has to come from the heart. Once we reconcile, solutions to our problems can be easily found. Both have to lock incidents of history in secure vaults. The lessons learned, if learned correctly, will be common to both. The lessons are there for everyone to see now. Through reconciliation, we will learn to trust each other. This trust will generate the solutions from the lessons learned. We, as a nation, need a prolonged period of contemplative silence, to meditate on our problems. The current debate centered on Geneva, has once again brought out the noise and the nonsense. It is very counter-productive.

    The names you mention are individuals and do not represent the Sinhalese as a people and their thoughts.Incidentally, Prof.Rajiva Wijesinha, whom I have met several times, is a truly educated person. He is quitely doing many things here on the ground to achieve national reconciliation. However, we should not forget that we have also people acting foolishly and talking foolishly on our side. This is the result of the democracy we practice and the result of the education system we have. I have refered to the above phenomenon in this paper. It is literates- sometimes semi-literates, masquerading as educated! Reconciliation cannot be achieved if the problems are defined in terms of ‘We’ and ‘They’. We have to start taking about the ‘Us’ – all the citizens of Sri Lanka.

    I have heard as a 12 year old, the then education minister-W. Dahanayake (Banis mama) proclaiming at an election rally
    holding two fingers up,words to the effect ‘ How can these be equal? To make them equal, the longer finger has to be cut. It will bleed and hurt’. This man who could recite the treatise on parliamentary procedure by Erksine May, verbatim, was bold enough to utter such arrant nonsense at a public rally! We have had our share of such men and women too!

    I would personally, in our current context, throw the ‘Problem’ into the government court and not make any demands. Let the government come with a solution. Whatever solution that is suggested, has to obviously address the fundamental issue and its ramifications- Equal rights in every way for all citizens in theory and practice. Let us also give the government the opportunity to come up with a time frame for formulating the solutions and implementing them. Let us accept what is suggested and work to make it a success. Time will show its strengths and weakness. We would by that time, have established an equation of mutual trust, for the weaknesses to be addressed in an enlightened manner.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  10. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran writes, ‘Time will show its strengths and weakness. We would by that time, have established an equation of mutual trust, for the weaknesses to be addressed in an enlightened manner’.

    There is precedence to this exercise. It was carried out prior to our Independence, in 1948. The Hansard refers to it. I think it was DSS who assured, – We understand the fears of Tamils (against a unitary State). You have to trust us.

  11. The Tamil community in Sri Lanka has re-discover its identity and re-invent itself , after coming out of a stay in a dark and haunted tunnel for several decades. There is an urgent need to evaluate and plan. We have to evaluate our human, natural and financial resources. We have to plan our future on the basis of where we are now and what needs to be done to go where we need to. The entire education system, island-wide, including the universities must be geared to serve these objectives.

    The questions that need to be asked are:

    1. What is the type of characters, ideals and values, the citizens of Sri Lanka should represent?

    2. Are moral, ethical, spiritual (religious) are necessary to define the do’s and don’ts
    Involving the individuals and societal behaviour, and legal conduct?

    3. Who should be responsible for character building and teaching and refining the

    minds of citizens of all ages?

    4. Should non-acceptance of violence and corruption be taught to our students?

    5. What is age limit for learning the aspects in our lives?

    6. Should these aspects be part of the curriculum in education institutions- primary, secondary and tertiary?

    Culture is measured by the amount of sacrifice, one makes, for the benefit / good of others –family, relatives, village, town, region, the country and ultimately the world – Rajaji (Rajgopalachariyar).

    Culture is not expressed/ manifested by the polish in the language spoken and mannerisms, but the inner compassion, manifested through sacrifice made for others.

    Education must be manifested through culture.

    A society which has large number of educated persons at various levels of society and primarily at the level of those leading, guiding and making decisions for the society will be harmonious, productive, prosperous and happy and be free of conflicts.

    If not, the society will be chaotic and full of misery and pain.

    I have raised only a few questions. The entire community should raise such questions and seek answers.

    It is relevant to remember that the community was responsible for education and creating institutions of learning before independence. The role of the community in education has been usurped by the state, post-independence. Community has no role now in planning the curriculum and institutional goals and direction. After the nationalization of schools in 1963, education has become the monopoly of politicians, half-wit bureaucrats and self-proclaimed experts.

    Unless the community is drawn back into the education system and the role of the politicians, bureaucrats and the so-called experts are circumscribed, the current education system, which is in shambles, cannot be put right.

    Let us pray that wisdom prevails.

    Old Yarlppanathan

  12. Dr.Easwaran,

    Further, the TNA should particpate in the proposed ‘Parliamentory Select Committee’, discuss the ideas proposed dispassionately and make its comments. It should not drive the process, make demands or dictate terms. What would emerge would be a consensus of the political parties representing largely the Sinhala polity and the GOSL. This would be an opportunity for the Sinhala polity and the GOSL to come out with a clear definition of what they think are solutions to our communal problems. Let them thereafter pass into law what they propose and implement it. If not everything we want, something of substance would evolve with Sinhala consensus. The Sinhala intelligentia, I am sure would drive the process. This will be a major gain, on which progress can be built on with time. The world is not the same as it was before. The world would be watching too now. This would be an opportunity for Mahinda Rajapakse to spell out his vision in concrete terms. Currently, he is only Sinhala political leader who is trusted by the Sinhala polity to safeguard their interests. They would accept what he accepts. He is also a very astute politician, who knows that the Sinhala people at large want the Tamils to be treated as equal citizens and regret what transpired in the past. He can turn the trick and may succeed in doing so.

    I however wonder whether the TNA is capable of taking this approach. One both sides of the communal divide ‘Literate’fools dominate the discourse and are capable of spoiling the soup. That is the tragedy.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  13. Anonymous,

    I am sure you remember the story of Robert Bruce. Let us keep on trying- in this case trust- until we succeed. It is better to trust and be let down, than fight and be destroyed.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  14. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:
    March 21, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Further, the TNA should particpate in the proposed ‘Parliamentory Select Committee’,

    ————————————–

    Dr.Narendran

    Why should the TNA participate in the PSC?Mahinda has publicly said many times that he will give 13th amendment plus.Leave aside the plus for the moment.Why can’t he implement the 13th amendment in full,without having the TNA participating in the PSC?After all it is something already there in the constitution itself.So how can you blame the tamils for thinking that this man is just palying for time and yet again this is another sinhalese leader trying to hoodwink the tamils with their usual antics.Better just ask him to implement the 13th amendment in full as a first step to check his bona fides and then we can have a PSC or whatever and pass some loose motions in parliament for the ‘+’ aspect.Better to corner him now otherwise the tamils will end up with the 13th amendment minus,minus and minus.

  15. Shanker,

    The 13th amendment as it stands, with its concurrent list and the manner in which its spirit has been destroyed over the past 2 + decades, is meaningless. This fact has to be faced. Devolution to the other seven-largely, Sinhala provinces, as it stands today, under the 13th amendment, is a cruel joke. Is there a need to perpetuate a charade, just because it is in the books? The 13th amendment has been subject to a process of minus, minus, minus, from its very beginning. Most people in the eight provinces will not even notice the difference, if the Provincial Councils, disappeared overnight!

    The PSC, as I had emphasized is an opportunity to through back the issue into the GOSL court. If I were the TNA, I would reject the 13th amendment, as it stands, outright.

    I think it is time for a new round of soul searching for a solution, because of our experiences with the 13th amendment and the aftermath of the last war. The PSC offers this opportunity.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  16. Shanker,

    The 13th amendment has proved a failure and is a mere skeleton now. The concurrent list has been used to strip all the flesh off that ill-conceived amendment. It is at present, mostly for the criminals and theives who cannot be accomodated at the centre. The people – in the eight provices they are operative- will not notice the difference, if the ‘Provincial Councils” disappeared overnight. It has been 13, minus, minus, minus, from its promulagation.

    Should we talk about the 13th amendment and want it only because it is there in the constitution? Sri Lanka will remain a highly centralized state, come what may. It has become more centralized since the JVP insurrections, the 13th amendment and the LTTE wars. Even the system decentralization of administration through the system of ‘Government Agents’ and Kachcheris has been emasculated. We should be thinking of alternatives,which are more in tune with the times and will have the support of the Sinhala people.

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

  17. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:
    March 22, 2012 at 12:40 am

    “Is there a need to perpetuate a charade, just because it is in the books?”

    THEN WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT NOT TAKING IT OFF THE BOOKS IF IT IS INDEED A CHARADE AS YOU SAY.IS THE REAL CHARADE IS MAHINDA WANTS TO USE IT TO TAKE THE TAMILS FOR A RIDE UNTIL HE HAS SUFFICIENT TIME TO BUILD UP HIS DEFENCES THROUGH CHINA,RUSSIA ETC AND DITCH INDIA AND THE 13TH AMENDMENT ONE DAY.LET HIM DO IT NOW AND ABOLISH IT.IF HE WANTS TO KEEP IT IN THE CONSTITUTION THEN IMPLEMENT IT.DON’T TRY TO BUY FURTHER TIME WITH THIS PSC CRAP.TAMILS MUST FORCE HIS HAND ON THIS BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    “The 13th amendment has been subject to a process of minus, minus, minus, from its very beginning. Most people in the eight provinces will not even notice the difference, if the Provincial Councils, disappeared overnight!”

    YOU YOURSELF ARE SAYING THAT IT HAS BEEN DESTABILISED AND SABOTAGED BY A PROCESS OF MINUS,MINUS AND MINUS BY THE GOVERNMENT.EVEN PILLAYAN,A GOVERNMENT ALLY HAS SAID THAT IT IS LIKE BEING GIVEN A CAR WITHOUT THE KEYS.SO NATURALLY PEOPLE WON’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE IF IT DISSAPEARED.IF IT IS IMPLEMENTED FULLY,THEN THEY WILL KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.ALREADY EVEN IN ITS EMASCULATED FORM IT HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE BY STOPPING THE RECENT ATTEMPT OF LAND GRAB BY THE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE OVER PRIVATE PROPERTY ON VARIOUS PRETENCES,INCLUDING SUMANTHIRAN’S OWN LAND,AFTER RESISTANCE TO IT BY THE PROVINCIAL COUNCILLERS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO THE COURTS.

    “The PSC, as I had emphasized is an opportunity to through back the issue into the GOSL court.”

    THE ISSUE IS ALREADY IN THE GOSL COURT FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS.THE TAMILS DON’T NEED THE PSC TO THROW THE BALL BACK,BECAUSE THE BALL IS NOT IN THEIR COURT.THE TAMILS HIT THE BALL INTO THE GOSL COURT NEARLY 3 YEARS AGO,AND IF THE GOSL WANTS PLAY WITH THEMSELVES AND THE BALL FOR ANOTHER YEAR WITH THE PSC,THEY ARE WELCOME TO DO SO.THEY DON’T NEED THE TNA FOR THAT.A RECENT THREE YEAR RIDE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR TAMILS AFTER THEY HAD GONE EARLIER ON A 36 YEAR ONE FROM 1947 TO 1983,BEFORE EMBARKING ON A ARMED STRUGGLE.

    “If I were the TNA, I would reject the 13th amendment, as it stands, outright.”

    TNA HAS REJECTED THE 13TH AMENDMENT,BUT THEY STILL LIKE TO HAVE DEVOLVED LAND AND POLICE POWERS.THEY HAVE JOINED OUR ILLUSTRIOUS LEADERS OF 1947 TO 1983,WHO DID NOT KNOW WHAT THEY THEMSELVES WANTED,BUT EXPECTED THE SINHALESE TO READ THEIR MIND FOR THEM.BY TRYING TO BE TOO SMART THEY ACHIEVED NOTHING FOR THE TAMILS EXCEPT RUINATION,AND THE PRESENT TNA MOB ARE FOLLOWING THEIR FOOTSTEPS.

    “I think it is time for a new round of soul searching for a solution,”

    HAVEN’T WE BEEN DOING THAT FOR THE LAST 65 YEARS.IF YOU WANT TO CONTINUE GO AHEAD WITHOUT ME.I LIKE TO SEE SOME ACTION AT LAST BECAUSE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDEST.IF THE 13TH AMENDMENT IS IMPLEMENTED FULLY THEN THE FIRST STEP IN A LONG PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION WOULD HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED AT LAST.RECONCILIATION IS A STEP BY STEP PROCESS.THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO GO IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION,NOT THE PACE OF MOVEMENT.SINCE INDEPENDENCE TAMILS AND SINHALESE HAVE BEEN MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION VERY FAST,RESULTING IN A LOSS LOSS SITUATION FOR EVERYONE.NOW IT IS TIME TO MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION,ALBEIT SLOWLY EVEN.

  18. Shanker,

    It is convenient for the government to continue with the 13th amendment charade! It suits its purpose. Does it suit us, in our circumstances in a post-war Sri Lanka? Let the GOSL come up with a new formulation!

    I am not talking about specific issues- land, police etc. When the amendment itself is meaningless- it is only a skeleton as I had said-, is there any point in talking about missing body parts and limbs?

    The Sinhala people at large also want changes to how they are governed. We also have been asking for changes to how we are governed, over a longer period. For the first time, both the Sinhalese and Tamils are articulating the same need, although couched in different words. This development should be taken advantage of to solve our problems.

    Further, the circumstances and the political environment are different now. We have to recognize this in terms of post-war circumstances, Tamils as an entity, the Sinhala polity, the nation as a whole, technoloical developments, the media focus and international awareness. We are in the 21st century and in an entirely different milleu! I think it is time to look beyond the visible horizons now. Rear-guard modes of action and formulae will not serve our present and future needs.

    Should we not be thinking differently and be ready to gauge the depths of other’s thinking? I think we should stop riding the ‘toothless’ old tiger (I am not referring to the LTTE) and find a new mount- possibly a mount on which all Sri Lankans can ride safely, fast and comfortably.

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

  19. Shanker,

    We did not do any soul searchimng in the past. They were acting and we were reacting. We were acting and they were reacting. It was a vicious self-destructive cycle. The result is the calamity that befell us and the whole nation.

    The other factor to be taken into account is that this government is investing in the north and east. It is something very visible and substantive. There is no discrimination here. This is a sea change and a good omen. They have also done a good job in rehabilitating the LTTE cadres. The resetlement and livelihood processes for the IDP’s are slow, because of financial constraints, lack of societal help and a corrupt, inept and insensitive bureucracy. However, things are being moved in the right direction.

    There is room for hope.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  20. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    The following equation of yours perfectly sums up what education is .
    Education = Knowledge + Culture + Wisdom
    In current Global Context Education = Knowledge and the person with more knowledge is considered to be more educated and we see for ourselves what sort of mess these educated people world over have brought about . Until knowledge is balanced by Culture and Wisdom we will have to confront lots of problems in Society . The Global Economic Crisis of 2008 was brought about by Highly Educated People who were products of Great Business Schools in USA .
    I am sharing your article with some friends of mine ( only minority of people respect these sort of holistic vision of Education ) and more than sharing I am myself immersed right now in getting educated in true sense i.e adding wisdom , culture to my knowledge and while this process is slow I am sure it will have a positive effect in due course .
    Once again thanks for ur mature and forward thinking ideas .

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