Re-drawing Provincial Boundaries– A Reply to Mr. C. Wijewickreme
Posted on January 29th, 2014

R.M.B Senanayake

 I refer to Mr. Wijewickrema’s snide comments on the viewpoint of Somapala Gunadeera, the former civil servants and the Foreign Service. These institutions have all been changed due mainly to the agitation by those who were ambitious but could not get ahead in obtaining positions in the public service owing to the rules that enveloped these institutions. The continuing attacks on them are borne more out of previous antagonisms and are irrelevant to the issue of provincial boundaries.  Those who belonged to these services were not so naive as those who champion such schemes then or now.

I however wish to comment on the proposal to re-draw boundaries for the devolution units on the basis of river basins. This was a purely academic exercise which ignored the sentiments of the people and the divisions in society based on language. It was na¯ve to believe that ethnic and religious divisions can be obliterated or even diluted by re-drawing the provincial boundaries established by the British. They were not entirely on linguistic basis. The Congress Party in India agreed on linguistic States even prior to Independence recognizing that social divisions cannot be erased by having any other basis for the creation of States. It was necessary for any unit of government to be cohesive socially to enable co-operation among the people in the business of government.

Congress accepted that it was necessary to reorganize the state on the basis of languages of India. This would make administration easier, and would help replace the caste and religion-based identities with less controversial linguistic identities. Earlier in 1920, the members of the Indian National Congress had agreed on the linguistic reorganization of the Indian states as one of the party’s political goals. The Provincial Committees of the party were set on this basis since 1920.

But, soon after independence, the Congress-led Government became concerned that the states formed solely on a linguistic basis might be unsuitable, and might even pose a risk to the national unity. On 17 June 1948, Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly, set up the Linguistic Provinces Commission  to recommend whether the states should be reorganized on linguistic basis or not. That Commission recommended that “the formation of provinces on exclusively or even mainly linguistic considerations is not in the larger interests of the Indian nation”. It recommended the reorganization of the provinces of Madras, Bombay and Central Provinces and Behar primarily on the basis of geographical contiguity, financial self-sufficiency and ease of administration.

The sentiments of the people cannot be ignored and hence no political party took seriously the proposal to re-draw provincial boundaries on the basis of river basis. Sinhala was made the official language in 1956 despite the opposition of the Tamil people. But they realized that English could not be continued as the official language in deference to majority Sinhala opinion. So the workable solution was to have Tamil as the language of administration in areas where the Tamils were a majority. Re-drawing boundaries or settling Sinhalese in Tamil areas is a spurious solution to the problem which promotes only conflict . The demand of the Tamil people is to use their language as the language of administration in the government. This was the alternative to parity of status for both languages which was rejected by the Sinhala political parties including the UNP. So this proposal for devolution on the basis of river basins in order to undermine the demand for a Tamil State was unworkable and those in the public service were not stupid to think it could e forced down the throats of the Tamil people. We are still laboring under the delusion that by reducing the Tamil majority we can get rid of the demand for a linguistic province. Those familiar with the history of nationalist movements in the former Yugoslavia and even the former Soviet Union know the futility of such harebrained schemes. 

 Another idea which was touted by armchair intellectuals is to devolve power to Villages or groups of villages. But the village is too small to provide some services since it lacked technical personnel and couldn’t raise the revenue to hire them either. In fact the Local Government Commission of the 1990s said that the village was too small. to function as a viable unit. Most countries have two or three tiers of government. So devolution of power to the village can only be in respect of services they can afford to provide and have the technical competence to manage.No administrators or politicians took these ideas seriously. 

 

4 Responses to “Re-drawing Provincial Boundaries– A Reply to Mr. C. Wijewickreme”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    This has many LIES.

    1. “That Commission recommended that “the formation of provinces on exclusively or even mainly linguistic considerations is not in the larger interests of the Indian nation”.”

    Then why it is not so for SL? In SL the north is Tamil ONLY. This is a THREAT to SL. Endia, unfortunately FAILED to fix the problem. MOST states in the south are based on RACISM – Tamil Nadu – 100% Tamil, Kerala – Malayalee, Andra – Telungu, Karnataka – Kannada.

    Attempts to SUB DIVIDE them into KONGU NADU, TELANGANA, etc. FAILED!

    SL badly needs its own Linguistic Provinces Commission to DISMANTLE Tamil only north and “Tamil speaking” majority east.

    2. “Sinhala was made the official language in 1956 despite the opposition of the Tamil people.”

    Tamil people? NO. They were not opposed to it. ONLY Tamil RACIST politicians opposed it. If multiethnic Australia can have ONE official language, why not SL? Tamils are only 12% of the population. MOST Muslims and upcountry Tamils speak Sinhala.

    Having two official languages DIVIDED SL people whereas ONE official language unified Australia, Malaysia, USA, UK, etc. that have MORE diversity than SL.

    3. “So this proposal for devolution on the basis of river basins in order to undermine the demand for a Tamil State was unworkable and those in the public service were not stupid to think it could e forced down the throats of the Tamil people.”

    No reasons given why it is NOT workable. 13 amendment was pushed down the throats of 88% of the people. How come that is workable then? A solution CAN be pushed down the throats of 12% than 88% of the people.

    4. “We are still laboring under the delusion that by reducing the Tamil majority we can get rid of the demand for a linguistic province. Those familiar with the history of nationalist movements in the former Yugoslavia and even the former Soviet Union know the futility of such harebrained schemes.”

    COMPLETE NONSENSE! It is not a delusion. It is the truth. Look at the eastern province. Do they make Tamil racist demands, pass resolutions against SL like the racist NPC? NO. Why? Because Tamils are NOT the majority in the east ANYMORE. They used to be but THANKFULLY not anymore. So that works.

    Yugoslavia and SU had linguistic boundaries just like the NPC boundary!!! That is why they collapsed. Does English only Australia, USA, have such boundaries? NO. So they are stable.

    We have to FORCEFULLY change the demographics in the north. Then SL will be safe from falling into pieces. Here in Quebec demographics have been FORCEFULLY changed by settling NON FRENCH SPEAKING people from SL, Endia, Arabia, etc. to FORCE the French camp down. It worked! Toronto area has the largest Tamil concentration outside Endia, SL and Malaysia. No accident. Now French speaking former majority in Quebec who wanted a SEPERATE NATION has been REDUCED and Canada is safe.

    5. Province is TO BIG and SL is TOO SMALL to have all these “units”. It can be centrally managed with the support of village councils.

    6. Even the river basin method is not good. What SL needs is NOT any subdivisions but UNITY.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Senanayake,

    You dedicated more than 1/2 of your words to India. Are you an Indian ? Are you another Catholic trying to betray the mother land.
    Indian problems, Hindu dogmas, jumping to fire after husband’s death, raping low cast girls, political thugs running the country etc does not apply to our small island with Sinhala Buddhist culture. Whatever problems we have now are there because our leaders under the treat of India or not FOLLOWED INDIA.
    First give us un overview of Sri Lanka’s Sinhala Buddhist culture and how a political system compatible with that culture can be found.

    “Re-drawing boundaries or settling Sinhalese in Tamil areas is a spurious solution to the problem which promotes only conflict .”

    What are the “Tamil Areas”. Is “Nuwara Eliya” a Tamil area ?
    What are the “boundaries ” ? Who has drawn these “boundaries” ?

    Who are you ? Who are your parents ? give us a introduction first, so that we know what your agenda is ?

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    R.M.B Senanayake is a regular writer to CT – a Tamilnet sister website in the league of anti-Buddhist racist Sharmini, TGTE PM, GTF boss, LTTE Kiruba alias missile Kiruba, Lacksiri Fernando alias Boy de Bahu, Pinto Jayawardena aka Kapati Kishali, Nediyavaran aka Tamilnet editor and Saddam Izeth Hussein. CT is also the new hiding place of Dayan Jeyatilaka (nee De Silva). A fool is known by the company he keeps! (proverb)

  4. Dilrook Says:

    It is wrong to assume there is a need or demand by locals for devolution of power. Decentralisation of power is what is needed within a framework of national development, economic and governance policy. Devolution of power is relevent to federal countries with large geographical spread than Sri Lanka.

    India is not a stable country. British India has been disintegrated into four parts already (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indian Union and the extent aligned to China in 1962). India has multiple independence movements trying to breakaway from the Indian Union. Indian Occupied Kashmir is held by large militarisation and continuing atrocities against the population. Large military camps are built around the country not just to face perceived foreign enemies but also to keep the Indian patchwork union in tact. It is certainly no model for Sri Lanka.

    Tamil is not an official language in India and Sri Lanka (until Indian imposed 13A made it an official language of Sri Lanka in 1987 contrary to the clear verdict by the people in 1956).

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