The World Today: China, India and the United States as seen from Sri Lanka

Text of a presentation by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP, at the Seminar on:

Crossed Perceptions: China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil and the Emerging World

October 22nd 2013, Rio de Janeiro

 

Let me begin with one of the formative myths of the Sri Lankan state. It deals with the introduction of Buddhism to the country, in the 2nd century BC. The king at the time, Devanampiyatissa, was out hunting when he came across a strange man in the forests of Mihintale. This was Mahinda, the son, or some say the brother, of the Mauryan Emperor Asoka, who had converted to Buddhism after a terrible war in which, to complete his conquest of India, he had slaughtered thousands.

When the monk saw Tissa, he asked him whether he saw the mango tree before them. Tissa said yes, and then the monk asked whether there were other mango trees. Tissa said yes, and then the monk asked if there were trees other than mango trees. Tissa said yes again, whereupon the monk asked whether, apart from all the other mango trees, and all the other trees that were not mango trees in the world, there were any other trees.

Tissa thought hard, and then replied that there was indeed the original mango tree the monk had pointed out. This was when Mahinda decided that Tissa was a fit person to understand the doctrines of Buddhism, so he preached to him and converted him and through him his people. Buddhism has since been the dominant religion in Sri Lanka, though, I think uniquely, we also have substantial proportions of our population belonging to the other principal faiths of the world, Hinduism and Islam and Christianity.

When I was young I used to think the story a silly one, but I have since understood its implications for the way we should look at the world. It seems to me now the epitome of what I would describe as the Eastern vision of the individual, society and the world, as opposed to the dichotomies the West believes in, and therefore often creates. In what I would posit as an ideal concept of our relations with the world, we should see ourselves as existing at the centre of several concentric circles, to all of which we belong. While we share aspects of identity with others belonging to those circles, ultimately we need also to be aware of the unique nature of our own individuality.

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Towards Reconciliation

Rajiva Wijesinha

Adviser on Reconciliation to HE the President

 

Four years after the conclusion of conflict, Sri Lanka still has a long way to go to achieve Reconciliation. This is unfortunate, given the enormous efforts made by government to improve facilities for the people most affected by war. But it is not surprising that, as indicated by the results of the last election held in the Northern Province, we have failed to win hearts and minds.

That would not have been difficult had a concerted effort been made. But this requires planning, and unfortunately planning is not something Sri Lanka has been good at. For over three decades now, we have tended to respond to events or rather to crises. The one exception was the care with which, in the period after 2005, we approached the conflict, with all branches of government working together and care taken to ensure the dissemination of clear and convincing information. Following the conclusion of the conflict however all that broke down, and propaganda, often based on parochial electoral considerations, took over, with little attempt at intelligent analysis of ground realities.

Thus we seemed to believe that reconstruction alone would suffice, and reconstruction that placed a premium on cement rather than people. This is on par with the worst delusions of capitalism as elevated into a political philosophy, the assumption that prosperity will trickle down. But this does not work, and Sri Lanka may in the end have to pay heavily for the failure to conceptualize with sensitivity of those who took on responsibility only for construction and not for consultation, who concentrated only on resettlement and not rather on restoration.

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Statement by Tamara Kunanayakam at the 68th session of the General Assembly Third Committee -28/10/2013

Statement by Tamara Kunanayakam

 

 CHAIRPERSON-RAPPORTEUR OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

68th session of the General Assembly Third Committee

Item 69 (b) of the provisional agenda Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

28 October 2013

 New York

Mr. Chairperson,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to address you in my capacity as Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Right to Development. It is the first time that the Assembly has invited me to present an oral report, instead of an update, of the 14th session of the Working Group, and to engage in an interactive dialogue with the Third Committee. I thank you for this invitation.

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Army Releases more houses & lands to Civilians in Vadamaratchi East, Pachchilapallai and Valikamam areas.

civillian landsSome more houses and lands in Vadamaratchi East, Pachchilapallai and Valikamam areas, hitherto occupied by the Army, were released on Friday (23) after shifting those camps to government lands.

Commander Security Forces – Jaffna (SF-J) Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe delivered the documents related to the release of 51 acres and 7 houses in Uduththurai, Mamunai, Champiyanpattu and Pullopallai to the Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development Mr. Douglas Devananda who subsequently handed them over to Civil Administrative Authorities. Camps were established in those areas by the Army in 2009 after defeating the LTTE terrorists in Humanitarian Operation.

Divisional Secretary Vadamaratchi East Mr. S. Saththiyaseelan, Administrative Officer Pachchilapallai Divisional Secretariat Mr. T. Suntharamoorth, General Officer Commanding 55 Division Brigadier Ajith Wijesinghe and a large crowd attended the handing over ceremony held at Thalaiady Central College. The 55 Division had arranged a donation of dry ration packs, each worth of Rs. 2000/=, for 75 low income families in the area on the same occasion.

 

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Livelihood project loans for ex‐LTTE combatants

The government, under the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has allocated Rs. 525 million to provide livelihood project loans to the rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres and civilians affected by terrorism during the past three decades.

Around 4,700 loan applications have already been received from rehabilitated LTTE cadres and arrangements are in place to provide loans for them to start livelihood development projects as soon as the officials completed processing them, Rehabilitation Commissioner General Jagath Wijethilake said.

Over 11,600 ex-cadres have already benefited from the loans provided during the first and second stages which covered nearly one-third of the ex-combatants who had undergone rehabilitation and it is around 40 percent out of the total number of rehabilitated LTTE cadres.

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