Celebrating Independence- Which One?

By Darmitha- Kotte

In 2008 we Sri Lankans are supposed to be celebrating 60 years of Independence and 4th February will have a show of pomp and pageantry with all the foreign dignitaries in attendance, our politicians except for the known absentees like CBK, Ranil Wickramasinghe & his current "UNP", a few pro-LTTE Tamil politicians, Commanders of The Forces. The President of Sri Lanka will ofcourse be Chief Guest and will proudly stand on the podium to watch the display of military "spit and polish" and exhibition.

Sri Lanka deserves or may we say, the Armed Forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force together with The Police Force deserves all the compliments we can offer today, for the wonderful work of coordinated attacks on LTTE terrorist outfits in the North being carried out. Every Sri Lankan (unlike when we watch a Test Match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, we have seen the Sri Lankan Muslims cheering for the Pakistanis and not our own boys) must think that this 65,000 sq.kilometers of land belongs to everyone born and bred in this country and the entire country must be free for all citizens to enjoy. This is our land, our nation, our culture, our history and our heritage. We must be proud of what is "OURS."

Tracing Through Sri Lankan Modern History:

"Independence" - what does this mean in it's true sense? Having been under the British and soon after India won her independence, "Ceylon" at the time also "got a walk- over" and gained independence in 1948 on 4th February -one year after Indian independence of 1947 which was a hard fought battle against the British rule. Ours was a cosmetic "independence" with absolutely no struggle at all!

From then on till today( sadly so), our country has been ruled by " Kalu Suddas" as the late Anagarika Dharmapala called our western educated politicians who are considered to be like coconuts- " white in the inside and brown on the outside"! Even after having obtained independence from Britain, we take great pride to feel that we were yet part of the British Empire and continued to maintain and "polish" the British accent, customs in clothing and eating habits and even worse, in our hobbies like horse racing! No effort was made by the then politicians in "Ceylon" to establish our own identity and our own national policies to well and truly breakaway from British control (which India did but we did not). We even had a ceremonial representative of The Queen in the name of "Governor General" whose attire and ceremonial dress continued to be very British! Our Prime Ministers at the time were dressed in western suites and were smoking Cigars and were so proud of these habits. The British on the other hand were quite happy that they had left the late D.S.Senanayake in charge of Ceylon as The Prime Minister, because they knew he would never do anything against the interests of the British.

This scenario changed drastically when the Coalition Government of the late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike won the elections in 1970 and with the combined effort of Socialist politicians in the then government like the late Mr. Colvin R. De Silva, Mr. N. M. De Silva, Mr. Peter Keuneman, Mr. Bernard Zoysa together with Mr. Felix Dias Bandaranaike and other senior SLFP politicians decided to change our Constitution and turn "Ceylon" into " The Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka" on the 22nd of May 1972.Our Constitution was redrafted to make us truly independent of Colonial controls and instead of the Governor General who represented The Queen, replaced it with "A President" as the Ceremonial Head of State with the Prime Minister holding supreme powers but answerable to The Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Many drastic and draconian laws were introduced to sever our Colonial mentality and move on the path of true independence with laws to govern our financial resources, our natural resources, take over if private sector plantations under government control, our economy, education, health and transport systems. Earlier it was mentioned "draconian laws" because at the time, to those who cherished the western lifestyles and habits/customs, it was considered "GODE ("infra-dig") to grow your own vegetables in your home-garden and it was even more "GODE" to eat Sweet Potatoes and Manioc together with other home-grown vegetables, even though these were truly products of our own soil and our own sweat! It was also insulting to wear Handloom Sarees instead of the imported Silk Sarees from overseas even though the material was woven in our own mills and should have been reason for national pride. No, Sri Lankans can never be proud of our own national products! To this day, there are ladies and gentlemen who curse the late Mrs. Bandaranaike for her revolution.

The period 1970-1977 was not without problems. The JVP Insurgency of disgruntled/misguided youth with revengeful antagonism towards "The State Institution", the educated elite society, broke lose and they took the law into their hands and created untold chaos, bloodshed and disruption in our civil society. Even today, we see evidence of this disruption in the form of Trade Unions which are following "way outdated dogmas and theories" which even the country considered as "The Father of Socialism"-Russia, and it's East European Block countries have thrown out of their windows nearly 20 years ago! Nevertheless, our "Samajawadi Sahodarayas" are still anti-English, anti-Education(one can see how university students are wasting their precious time in universities without studying) when they deprive other students from entering university but do not make the maximum efforts to enhance their knowledge and improve their skills to be "marketable" when they finally graduate and enter society looking for jobs.

Because of the late Mrs. Bandaranaike's socialist policies, the country prospered economically and her non-aligned policies were respected world-wide. She gained the highest respect from all world leaders be they capitalist or socialist-that was due to her own personality.

Come 1977 and the untiring political campaign of the UNP under the late J.R.Jayawardane and the late Ranasinghe Premadasa who was known to have gone around the country showing " half a coconut" at the price of Rs.2.50 and a loaf of bread to win the hearts of housewives. Human psychology is such, that most often people do not think beyond catering to their creature comforts and mostly the "belly"- the UNP won with a landslide majority victory which unfortunately paved the way eventually to all the evils we see in today's society! Under the circumstances of the time, the masses expected the late J.R.Jayawardane to keep his promise of turning Sri Lanka into a "Dharmishta Samaajaya" but for his own survival and the party, and for his own name" Jayawardane" to remain in posterity & to create " A Jayawardanepura Culture" which he certainly did by paving the way for gambling, thuggery ( 4 days after the general elections, the Police were given a holiday) for UNPers to take revenge on their political adversaries, provided personal weapons to politicians to be used for their " so called protection against JVP attacks" but which paved the way for mayhem all round plus the creation of now famous underworld gangsterism, total breakdown of our local economy and industry" by opening the doors" to indiscrete imports of products already being produced within Sri Lanka as well as foods/vegetables according to his open economic policy! Sri Lanka became a haven for bribery and corruption. His policy of cunningly eliminating any person who opposed him "in the name of democracy and freedom" and insulting intellectuals and lawyers destroyed the respect for education, his vengeful act of destroying the late Mrs. Bandaranaike by stripping her Civic Rights on cooked up false charges etc. He also was of the firm belief that western powers especially the USA will support him in every endeavour of his-which failed him miserably.

He also changed the Constitution of Sri Lanka and renamed the country as "The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka", made The Executive President the supreme power in the country and the Prime Minister a ceremonial post for him to hold supreme power in Sri Lanka. Instead of continuing with 22nd May as Republic Day and celebrating our independence on that day( to spite Mrs. Bandaranaike), he reversed history and went back to celebrating our Independence Day on 4th February as against 22nd May the day on which we truly broke away from British controls!

From then on, with all Presidents, Prime Ministers and Governments, what we saw was a systematic deterioration of the quality of life in this country and the introduction of utterly worthless low quality politicians entering the arena of governance in this country. Since then the qualification to enter politics in this country was not education and community service/public service but how much "brawn" a person had against "brains"! Good for nothings in this country began to enter politics for them to become rich and become "something from nothing." The worst of this we saw during the 1994-2005 era of Chandrika Kumaratunga!

Terrorism in Sri Lanka:
Since the entry of the J.R.Jayawardane era of governance and due to his over-confidence where he thought he was smarter than other leaders of the region, Sri Lanka has become a hell hole of LTTE terrorism. While terrorists went on a worldwide propaganda campaign demanding for a " Mythical Traditional Homeland" for them, JR Jayawardane did nothing as Executive President to enlighten the western world that LTTE propaganda was fake. He used this situation to keep on extending his tenure of office and government on the grounds that the country was facing a war and the country needed to be governed " under Emergency" which he did for 17 years! The late Ranasinghe Premadasa went a bit further than late J.R.Jayawardane and eventually succumbed to the same terror he wreaked out on others when he himself was assassinated in a bomb blast.

For 30 years since 1977 we have been told that LTTE terrorism cannot be defeated and this country has been converted into a state where foreign powers have begun to control every move of our government and every direction of our economy. Thanks to Ranil Wickramasinghe and his now abrogated infamous Ceasefire Agreement signed with the LTTE terrorists without the endorsed approval of our Executive President at the time during 2001, he virtually gave a free hand "to the terrorists to rule as they pleased" in the North and East! Foreign mediators were brought into this country to "monitor and control" this country! They have proved that they were no "impartial monitors" but very much biased towards terrorists as against our government which was democratically elected.

Our Nation Can Do It If We Have Dignity and Self-Pride:

Since time immemorial, Sri Lanka has produced engineering marvels, structural greats in the form of ancient Dagobas, Palaces such as Sigiriya, ancient irrigation systems which even today are considered to be a puzzle to modern day engineers, and been the breeding ground of great heroes, literary personalities and left a deep and rich cultural heritage.

Due to our self-serving avaricious politicians we have allowed all our national assets and treasures to be destroyed! Our nation has been turned into "a nation of beggars" who are always stretching out our hands to foreign powers and foreign money! We have lost the ability to think constructively and positively focusing on putting the country before self. We need to change that even in the year Sri Lanka is celebrating 60 years of independence! We need to be proud of our country, our heritage and our people without division(but excluding terrorism) and work as ONE NATION for the benefit of OUR MOTHERLAND! Any politician who proves to be a "bootlicker of western powers" must be expelled from local politics.

To be proud of our identity as a nation we need to:

" Whether people like it or not, it must be acknowledged that the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka is Sinhala Buddhist and every artifact proves this fact- ours is not " a multi-cultural multi-religious" country as the west and Christian Churches want us to accept;
" Learn from countries like Japan, Singapore how they developed their countries after World War II;
It is not by importing everything but by developing their own identity and pooling their intellectual resources to build their nation;
" Strengthen our local economy, agriculture, education, health, transport systems;
" As a nation we must formulate "National Policies" rather than 5 year political policies to serve party politics;
" Our "Independence" must be celebrated on 22nd May every year and not 4th February because that is the day on which we truly broke away from British controls;
" We must teach our children who will become the leaders of the future, our rich cultural & religious heritage;
" We must fully strengthen our own local education system and administration of schools whereby we produce our own educated and intelligent citizens who will work towards building our nation.
We must stop the "Invasion of Foreign Educational Institutes" operating in this country and producing Sri Lankans who are like coconuts " white in the inside and brown on the outside." Such intellectual products will have absolutely no allegiance to Sri Lanka or to our culture;
" Politicians must learn to be answerable to the masses and be humble to correct their mistakes ( we must never tolerate attitudes like that of Mr. Mervyn de Silva and his thuggery);
" Honesty must be inculcated in the minds of all citizens from leaders of this country down to the ordinary citizen and everyone must respect the Law of this country. Before the law, all are equal and should be so;
" Every citizen of Sri Lanka must begin to honour and respect all State Assets, cultural monuments, archeological sites, the fauna and flora of this country,
" As a nation, we must get rid of this "inferiority complex" where we try to compete with more developed countries in the west. We must develop but that has to be done according to the specific needs of our country and our heritage while preserving it;
" We must promote our own products and import only those products that cannot be produced locally.

Sri Lanka must begin to celebrate our independence proudly and rightfully so, when we have eliminated terrorism totally from this country and when all people of our nation can unite as one for the development of our nation! That day may be not too far away.

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