Ethnic Problem was the making of the British Colonial Rulers, and the Tamil Politicians.
A.J.N.Selladurai’s article, ” Devolution of power is all that is required”, which appeared in the Sri Lanka Guardian on 6 August,2008, need no reply as it is only a reflection of his mental hatred and bias against the Sinhala Buddhists majority. But Sinhala being accused for all ills in Sri Lanka, it would be interesting to examine why the Sinhala, because they are the majority is blamed for what they were not responsible.
Any country has a majority, in France there is a French majority, in England there is an English majority and so forth. In France they speak French and in England
they speak English but that causes no problems, and it is not considered dividing a country according to an ethnic line.
The difference in Sri Lank arose due to the fact that it had been a Colony of many foreign Nations. The Sinhala had always been the majority in Sri Lanka, and the Sinhala had always been Buddhists, after the coming of Venerable Mahinda, until Sri Lanka was first conquered and colonised by the Portuguese in the 16 Century, then the Dutch, in the 17 century, and last of all the British in the 19th Century.
Due to Sri Lankas geographical situation , there had been incursions in to Sri Lanka from time immemorial by the Cholas, Pandavas, Pallavas and Kalingas. A South Indian invader established him self in Anuradhapura and ruled for a long time. He was disposed of by King Dutugamunu. Subsequent intrusions were repelled by Valagambahu. Thereafter, it was King Vijayabahu who chased away later invaders from India, and brought the whole Island under his rule establishing Polonnaruwa as the Capital.
All that is history. You may accept it as history or reject it. It is immaterial. It is best leave history in the past without making it a barrier for progress now. There had been Tamil invaders, and Tamil settlers who came along with them. However, the Tamils were never the majority in Sri Lanka. The Sinhala had been the majority all the time. The minority settlers never even challenged the Sinhala majority, and lived in peace with each other quite unconcerned who is the majority, and who is the minority.
The British rule was not a happy period for Sri Lanka. They created the ethnic difference, by placing the minority Tamils, and the people from Moor Communities in dominant official positions over the Sinhala. They did that because they feared an uprising by the majority Sinhala against the Colonial Rulers, and secondly they could not bring down large numbers of their own citizens as soldiers, and officers, and therefore made use of the minorities, and the Moors for the purpose.
The British colonialists prepared themselves for a possible uprising against them by all communities lead by the Sinhala majority, by taking the minority ethnic groups into their confidence offering them official positions.
Mr. SWRD Bandaranaike, was preparing to re-establish pre-colonial situation of Sinhala majority living in peace with their Tamil and Muslim compatriots as a nation.
removing the ethnic, religious, and the class differences created by the Colonialists.
It was in this effort, that interested parties accentuated the ethnic difference. The Tamil Politicians, like Ponnambalam, Chelvanayagam ,Sundaralingam, developed a certain Tamil supremacism, which exploded into Tamil racism against the Sinhala. This Tamil supremacism manifested in their claim of equal rights for the Tamils. That was the beginning of the ethnic problem.
It is easy to accuse the Sinhala of being supremacists as they are the majority, but they were neither supremacists, nor racists. The Sinhala only as the official language claimed by SWRD Bandaranaike was not an election gimmick. It was his aim to re-establish an independent Sri Lankan Nation, by giving back to the Sinhala people, who were humiliated neglected, and stripped of their rights, that which had been taken away from them.
The intention of introducing Sinhala Only was never to ” hit” the Tamils as Mr.Selladurai says. It was interpreted that way by the ambitious Tamil politicians, who dreamt of separation, contrary to the unity that the Sinhala wanted.
SWRDBandaranayake may be seen as a nationalist by those who do not try to understand to what extent our country had been damaged by the Colonial Rulers, by dividing its people, robbing its treasures, forcing a foreign culture, a foreign religion, and bringing coolies from India to work in the plantations. The Colonialists were bent on destroying the culture and pride of the indigenous people, turning them into a slavish people under the command of their Colonial masters.
D.S.Senanayake and the rest of the National leaders who fought for independence, were in a state of mental bondage to the Colonial Rulers, and did not break away from the culture and the political system they inherited. SWRD Bandaranayake observing this lethargic state into which they had fallen, wanted to make the newly won Independence meaningful, and broke away from the UNP.
SWRD Bandaranaike gave back to the people a national pride, a pride of being on their own, independent from Colonialism, and their culture. SWRD Bandaranaike did not pave the way for the ethnic divide. It was the British colonialists who laid the foundation of the ethnic divide. It was then fortified and put on a pedestal by the Tamil politicians who had other agendas.
The Dry Zone of Sri Lanka was once the granary of Sri Lanka. Jaffna had good schools. They had access to South. If the Tamil Politicians had, instead of seeking a political break away, worked to develop the North and the Dry Zone, things would have been different. The successive governments restricted development to certain areas. In the South too , areas beyond Galle, such as Tangalla, Matara, Hambantota remain neglected. It is only now that the Present President has moved to develop the South of the South.
Devolution of Political power is not the panacea that will solve all problems. There should be a change of attitudes. The Sinhala Buddhists do not claim superiority over the Tamils and the Muslims. The Sinhala people want to live with other communities sharing the common motherland and its riches, without interfering into each others lives. What would end the ethnic wide is, not the devolution of power, but the sincere, and genuine acceptance of being a part of a Nation, without having any prejudice against each other’s ethnic difference.
The Sinhala people live in the South along with the Tamils and Muslims. The Imbalance of development was not a measure taken purposely to harm the Tamil or the Muslim people. The successive governments of Sri Lanka had neglected planned development projects, due to various reasons . The whole country, is affected by such neglect. It should not be hoisted to perpetuate an anti Sinhala-Tamil sentiment. In China there are 56 different ethnics, and they live harmoniously, despite foreign interferes to discredit China, creating dissension within.
The Tamils should stop untiringly throwing insults at the Sinhala, siting “Mahavamsa mythology” and Mahavamsa mindset. One should think of the Soldiers dying in numbers, to free Sri Lanka of terrorism, and bring peace to Sri Lanka for the good of the Sinhala, the Tamils and the Muslims. They are mostly Sinhala and they are not thinking of the Mahavamsa Mythology while they are risking their lives for the cause of the motherland.
Therefore, let us forget all this rantings about the Sinhala Buddhists, sadness of the black July, the Heroes’ Day Speeches, and the homeland concepts, to grow into being a Great Nation, where we are all brothers and sisters. We should not forget that those Western Nations who show concern to us are in reality, moving to benefit from our differences and conflicts.
In Mahinda Rajapakse we have the correct leadership to build our Nation. Let us stop parading our little differences and join hands forgetting the past, to build a better future, for ourselves and our children, for that cannot be done alone as Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, but as a one Great Nation –Nation of Sri Lankans.