ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

Had our policy-makers played their cards well and not allowed themselves to be led astray by notions of imperial grandeur, we, instead of insignificant Norway, could have played the decisive role to bring the Sinhalese and the Tamils together in Sri Lanka. There would have been a rich pay-off from that success. Dreams, idle dreams.

Discourse and Practice of Singhalese Nationalism

The discourse of decentralisation and of village reform which forms an important element of Singhalese mass politics and nationalism today began in the 1930s and attained its zenith in the last 25 years. This article explores the circumstances that led to the emergence of ethnic nationalism that has transformed the village from a basis of Buddhism and a repository of profound knowledge into the basis of the Sinhala nation and the repository of the nation's destiny and strength

Sri Lanka: Elections and After

Given that the People's Alliance's vote base had shrunk considerably, political analysts had reckoned that the party could only win if it resorted to massive rigging and violence on a large scale. Predictably, it was an election marred by systematic violence. However, the defeat of the PA will have many consequences for the country's political system even as the outcome has done much to restore faith in the democratic system and polity.

Sri Lanka : Political Stalemate

With the breakdown of the formal discussions between the United National Party (UNP) and the People’s Alliance (PA) earlier this week, the stage is set for a further period of violence and tension: parliament prorogued for two months since July is due to sit again on September 7; tensions among the numerous political formations are running high; old anxieties about security in the capital have been heightened since the LTTE’s spectacular attack on the airport; and the initiative for the formation of a ‘government of national unity’ before the elections, mooted by a desperate business community, has not found sufficient support. Even within the PA, Chandrika Kumaratunga’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party is facing discontent and dissension. It is possible that Kumaratunga may take the desperate step of coming to an arrangement with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which has 10 members in parliament. The JVP has already offered support to the government for a year, but with conditions: the government must abolish the executive presidency, reduce the size of the cabinet to 20, establish independent commissions to administer a number of government functions, including overseeing the press, the police and elections, and hold the next elections under a caretaker government. Kumaratunga has already said that she is prepared to agree to most of the JVP’s demands, except those on the size of the cabinet and the setting up of an independent commission for the media. However, this is not likely to satisfy the business community whose prime and immediate objective is an end to the ethnic conflict. The pro-Sinhala JVP has at no point accepted negotiations with the LTTE.

On Nationalism and Ethnicity

Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka, and the Question of Nationhood by Sankaran Krishna; University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, 1999; pp 296, $ 22.95, paperback.

Sri Lankan Economy in Turbulent Times

Political crises and economic mismanagement are to account for the grave state of Sri Lanka's finances. While reform programmes under the aegis of the IMF promise some succour, these are accompanied by strict conditionalities. The new Sri Lankan government has thus to take some vital political decisions - negotiating with the LTTE to end the long-drawn civil strife in the north-east and implement a harsh budget that will assist a revival of the economy in the long run.


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