by Naga Narendran, December 27, 2015
The history and the sorry saga of the Tamils of the North-East of Sri Lanka in the last 60 years demands high level of vigilance, to be aware of the extent of progress being made and its context. Broken promises of the past require the people to be far more skeptical.
The people of the North-East of Sri Lanka has always been politically savvy and has expressed their franchises in a well-informed manner. Politics is only one dimension of what is required now. People have been subjected to a well-orchestrated marginalization campaign over many years. They were being pushed to the brink of extinction economically, culturally and physically and now need to recover. This requires a multidimensional approach such as planning at the detailed level, capacity building at all levels, awareness campaign and advocacy to prepare people for progress and development.
Do we wait till a “political settlement”, “reconciliation”, “resettlement” etc. etc. to start thinking holistically and make progress in preparing ourselves for the next phase in our journey? Each of these are not an outcome of an “on” “off” switch. Behind every one of these labels there is a long list of actions and a lot of efforts that will take long time to complete.
Let politics take its course. Currently there are too many people engaged in and disproportionately high amount of energy being spent on politics. A lot of talk and no action, out-beating each other to grand stand and appear knowledgeable.
Singapore was not built based on political knowledge alone. Are we in readiness for our next phase? Irrespective of what lays ahead. People need to fortify themselves and enhance their capacity to respond to the next phase by rebuilding financially, emotionally and socially
Where do we start? In the current context financial resources required will come centrally from the GOSL or International community. What actions have we taken to reinforce the structures that will ensure we receive funding without delay, and spend it and achieve outcomes. Do we have the capacity to undertake any major recovery and development? Is our public sector ready to cope with new demands? Can we handle twice the current load and more complexity?
What is required is for us to outline what we want to achieve in the next one, two, three years. This will force us to think about what is required, to be in preparedness by way of enhancing our capacities to take on the new challenges anticipated.
Alternatively, we can keep talking politics with no plan of actions and start reacting only when it happens, but Singapore was not built like that.
We need leaders who are nation builders economically, socially and less talk more action. Can we afford to sit back relax and wait for a take-off? or do we want to catch it by the collar and drag it to the finish line.
We need to be more discerning and hold all parties accountable including political representatives, GOSL and the international community to ensure these are achieved. We have suffered long enough and we need this for our very survival.
It is easy to say, but it is not easy to do what we say.
Politics is the way to the future. We have to organize ourselves to achieve our economic, social and cultural goals. The much despised Northern Provincial is the vehicle that we should use to achieve our goals. Hopefully more powers will be devolved on the provincial councils if the government succeed in enacting a new constitution. The south has progressed because political power is in their hands. During the last 1 year we have seen incremental progress. The army has vacated about 2,000 acres of land in the North and another 1055 acres in the East. But there are still about 14,000 acres of private lands are still occupied by the army. Unfortunate for our people the Chief Minister of the NPC is engaged in national and international politics at the expense of rehabilitating IDPs, War widows, youth etc. 2016 is going to be the year of reckoning for the Thamis of the Northeast.