For the Love of Humanity.

 

The purpose of this article is not to lay out my political beliefs, to brag about my liberal values or to simply  appear above the fray. In an age in which we constantly contradict our democratic beliefs and our personal sentiments, this was written purely for the love of humanity, which we sometimes disregard, in our search for justice.  

Whenever a hate crime (murder, rape etc) that gets considerable media attention surfaces, it has been a trend in our society to lash out with demands to restore the death penalty. although I have trouble understanding the logic in anyone who supports the death penalty, since it produces no positive outcome, I do understand the causes behind such an extreme demand. It is a demand heavily induced by anger; a justified anger. The anger, however is a temporary emotion. Similarly the death penalty, is a temporary solution to the larger problem that A Grade crimes represent. It is only impractical that we let our temperory emotions be reflected in the law of the state. Instead we must look for sustainable solutions to the causes of the crimes.    

Law, to me, is a scale of liberty. Yes, punishment must match the crime, but the variables used to equalize the weights on both sides of the scale have to be  variables that we can define. How can we define death if we have not yet  experienced it ourselves? What gives us the liberty to assign a punishment of which the boundaries, or depth we cannot define?  

Research shows that the death penalty is not a proven deterrent to future murders. In fact a recent research from Northeastern University, explains that that the death penalty has the opposite effect: that is, society is brutalized by the use of the death penalty, and this increases the likelihood of more murder. Take the United States, for instance, where different states have different penal codes.  States in the United States that do not employ the death penalty generally have lower murder rates than states that do. Similarly when the U.S. is compared to similar countries, the U.S., with the death penalty, has a higher murder rate than the countries of Europe or Canada, which do not use the death penalty.

In a just, rational society, unlawful conduct is preferably prevented before  rather than punished after. That is what we must aspire to as a society, to prevent, than cure and to correct than punish. As evolved human beings in a civilized society it is time we leave behind antiquated laws such as the death penalty and replace concepts such a imprisonment with more sustainable humane solutions such as mental rehabilitation and correctional institutions.  

We don’t have to  kill people who kill people to teach people that killing people is wrong.

මනුශ්‍යත්වයට ආදරයෙනි.

මෙම ලිපිය ලියන්නේ මගේ පුද්ගලික වාසියකටවත්, දේශපාලන අභිමතාර්ථ​, තර්කයින් මවාපාන්නටවත් නොව,  මනුශ්‍යත්වයට ආදරයෙනි.

රටේ මාධ්‍ය අවධානය යොමු වන ඕනෑම අපරාධ​යක් සිදුවු විට මරණ දඬුවම යලි ක්‍රියාත්මක කලයුතු බවට රාවයක්, කොලහලයක් කිරීම අපේ පුරුද්දකි.  මේ සංවාදයේ ඈති අමානුශික විතර්කානුකූලත්වය අපි තේරුම්ගත යුතුවේ.  

මරණ දඬුවම ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට සහය පල කරන අයගේ තර්කය මට තේරුම්ගත හැකිය. මේ මතය දරන්නන්ගේ තර්කය සහමුලින්ම කෝපය නිසා ඈති වු එකකි. එය සාධාරණ කෝපයකි. එහෙත් හැඟීම්වලට වහල්වී නීතිය හසුරුවන්නට අපිට නොහැකිය. එය ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදයට පටහැනිය.

නීතිය යනු සාධාරණයේ තරාදියකි.දඬුවමේ බර අපරාධයේ බරට සමාන විය යුතුය. එහෙත් බර සමානකරනයේදි පාවිච්චි කරන විචල්‍යයන් නිර්වචනය කල හැකි විචල්‍යයන් විය යුතුය. මරනය යනු අපි තවමත් අත්දෑක නෑති දෙයකි. එහි ගැඹුරවත් සීමාවන්වත් අපි නොදන්නෙමු. එසේනම් අපිට නිර්වචනය කල නොහෑකි දන්ඩුවමක් අන් අයෙකුට නියම කිරීමට අප හට අති බලය කුමක්ද? එහි ඈති සාධාරණය කුමක්ද? මරණ දඬුවමට සහය දෙන්නන් ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය සහයට පල කිරීම එකිනෙකට පටහැනි, දෙගිඩියාසහගත සිදුවීමකි.

තවද​ පර්‍යේශන වලින් තහවුරුවී තිබෙනවා, මරණ දඬුවම අනාගත ඝාතන අඩු කිරීමට  නිවාරකයක් නොවන බව. එමෙන්ම​ මරණ දඬුවම විරුද්ධ බලපෑමක් ඇතිකරන බවත් පර්‍යේශන පැහැදිලිව පෙන්නුම් කරනවා: එනම්,  මරණ දඬුවම භාවිතා කරන සමාජයන්හි වැඩි ඝාතනය සම්භාවිතාවක් ඇති බව​ පෙන්නුම් කරනවා.උදාහරණයක් ලෙස ඇමරිකා එක්සත් ජනපදයේ ගතොත්,තොත් එහි විවිධ ප්‍රාන්තවලට විවිධ  විවිධ දණ්ඩ නීති කේත ඇත​. මරන දන්ඩණය ඇති ප්‍රාන්ත වල වැඩි ඝාතන සංඛ්‍යාවක් පර්‍යේශන පෙන්නුම් කරයි. ඒ වගේම, එක්සත් ජනපද හා සමාන රටවල් සාපේක්‍ෂව ගත් කල, මරණ දඬුවම ඇති එක්සත් ජනපදයේ මරණ දඬුවම භාවිතා නොකරන යුරෝපයේ හෝ කැනඩාව වැනි රටවල් වලට වඩා වැඩි ඝාතනය ප්‍රමානයක් ඇත​.

පටු හැඟීම්වලට වහල්වී රටේ ඉදිරිය ගැන තීරණගත් ඉතිහාසයකට අපි උරුමකම් කියන්නෙමු. යුද්ධයින් ප්‍රශ්න විසඳිය​ හැකිය යන්න විශ්වාස කරපු කාලයක්ද අපේ රටට තිබුනි. එහෙත් ප්‍රශ්න විසඳිය​ හැක්කේ යුද්ධයින් නොව සන්හිඳියාවෙන් බව තේරුම් ගත හැකි බුද්ධිමත් ජනතා බහුතරයක් අපේ රටේ ජීවත්වන  බව පසුගිය මැතිවරණ දෙකෙන් පැහැදිලි විය. හැඟීම්වලට වහල්වී නීතිය හසුරුවන්නට පෙලබෙන සමාජ කොට්ඨාශයක් තවමත් අපේ රටේ සිටිති. මිනීමෑරුම් කිහිපයකට වෑරදිකරු ලෙස ඔප්පුවු යුධ සෙබලෙකුට මරණීය දන්ඩනය පෑනවීම පිලිබන්දව ජාතිවාදී හැඟීම්වලට වහල්වී කොපයට පත්ව සැලකිය යුතු මිනිසුන් ප්‍රමානයක් මෑතකදී නටපු නෑටුම එයට හොදම නිදසුනකි.

සිරගෙවල් කෙමෙන් කෙමෙන් විශෝධන හා පුනරුත්ථාපන ආයතන බවට පත් කිරීම පිලිබදව සිතීමට කාලය​  පෑමිණ ඈත. මිනිසුන්ට, තිරිසන්සතුන්ට මෙන්, සිර කොට වදදී, හො එල්ලුම් ගස් යවා  ප්‍රශ්න විසදු යුගය අවසන් කිරීමට කාලය එලඹ ඈත. අපි පරිනාමයෙන් ඔබ්බට ගිය, ශිෂ්ටසම්පන්න, මිනිස් වර්ගක් ලෙස මරනීය දන්ඩනය වෑනි යල්පැනගිය විසදුම් වලින් ඈත් වෙමු. මිනිසුන්ට මිනිසුන් ලෙස සලකමු. වැලිකඩ බන්ධ​නාගරය ඉදිරිපිට සදහන්ව ඈති මෙන් “සිරකරුවෝද මනුශ්‍ය​යෝය.”

අපරධකරුවෝද මනුශ්‍ය​යෝය. විනය ගරුක සමාජයක් ගොඩ නැගිය හෑක්කේ දඬුවමින් නොව පෝශනයෙනි, අධ්‍යාපනයෙනි, මානසික පුනරුත්ථාපනයෙනි,. දඩුවම වෙනුවට පුනරුත්ථාපනය විසදුම කරගනිමු. මනුශ්‍යත්වයට ප්‍රමුඛත්වය​ දෙමු.

මිනිසුන් ඝාතනය කිරීම නරක බව කියාදීමට​ මිනිසුන් ඝාතනය කරන මිනිසුන් ඝාතනය කිරීමෙන් ඵලක් නැත​.

 

Open letter to the new Members of Parliament.

Dear new Parliamentarians,

we don’t ask for much. Don’t steal our money. Overusing is theft too. I know power is overwhelming but try to get rid of that need to make others feel small. Cut out the security escorts; nobody wants to kill you. Do your job; people need a lot more than food to eat and clean water to drink, but there are people in our country who don’t even have access to those.Our education system is a tangled mess, untangle it little by little, start with teacher training centers across the country. Make it possible for children in all areas in the country to have the resources to have multiple streams to choose from in the advanced level classes; that’ll help reduce the high quantities of unemployed Arts graduates.     

Equality is everything; it’s almost impossible to achieve but try your best. There are communities in our country who have been discriminated against for centuries, give them affirmative action, it’s about time we adopted it as a policy. Give women a chance. Maybe start with setting a compulsory quota for women in Student Unions in State Universities; that’s where real politicians are made, not just in rich households. No matter how much the narrow-minded resist, fight for LGBT rights, everyone deserves to marry the ones they love, no matter what gender they may be.

Give the press freedom, they can help you do your job, make our country better. All citizens deserve the right to information, don’t filter it, people are smart enough to choose the right from the wrong: the past two elections proved that. A good press is a huge catalyst for development; it can reduce ignorance, make people more aware and disciplined. Try to find more sustainable solutions to the high rates of sexual assault in our country, but, no matter how bad things get, don’t resort to the death penalty; there are better, more sustainable, humane solutions. 

Cut down the costs on the military and government perks and invest in Healthcare. Thousands die from chronic kidney disease every year and thousands sit on the wait-list for their heart surgeries from state hospitals. We need more state sponsored cancer treatment centers in Sri Lanka, especially in the North. Decentralize power carefully, and keep our foreign friends close. Strengthen our relationships with the Middle East and negotiate for better labor rights for our migrant workers; they do so much for us, but we do so little for them.

Stop selling the drug menace, people are going to stop buying it very soon. The best solution to end the drug menace is to create better employment; Wele Suda was not a coincidence; 28% of our youth is unemployed. Go green; we are just an island; when the time comes we’ll be one of the first dozen to go down to the sea.Even though you have power now don’t resort to political vengeance,that’s the place where every party made mistakes in history, and they paid for it for decades. I believe you won’t be vengeful, most of you are too educated and disciplined for that. 

Show us your strength not your power.

Your seat awaits you.
Be a class act.

What is the President Up To?

A brief introduction and socio-economic analysis by Thisuri Wanniarachchi of the President’s National Sustainable Development Initiatives Currently in Progress.

Originally published on Financial Times ()

With party politics, political campaigns and election violence, many have lost sight on the fact that there’re great strides being made in the President’s national development agenda. Those who have been very critical of the                 President during the days leading up to his speech on 14th July, remain quiet in times of progress.  Perhaps they had spoken too much of him in the days leading up to his speech, and since he has decided to remain neutral in the election, maybe there isn’t as much dramatic complaints on him; and where  there is no drama there is no talk. Hence the public silence.

In this silence, you may wonder what the president is really up to. What does he gain out of remaining neutral? Should a politician really remain neutral during a crucial national election? These questions have been common in the political dialogue in Sri Lanka in the past month.   Here’s your answer: Presidents of all democracies are expected to remain neutral during elections, although this has not been the norm in the past.  The country has much to gain from his neutral position. This is the first election in Sri Lankan history that a President has been this adamant on making sure state resources and powers are not exploited by candidates for their campaigns.

So what does the President himself gain from remaining neutral?  Apart from the satisfaction of abiding by the duties and democratic obligations of a President, remaining neutral during the election season gives him much time and space to focus on his National Development Agenda. As he mentioned in his speech on the 14th, whichever party comes to power, it is the agenda that 62 million people voted for on January 8th that he will focus on moving forward in his Presidential term. It is crucial that we, the public know what this agenda is and what part of it is currently in progress. Instead of petty political gossip, this what we ned to be talking about. This agenda has the power to make drastic changes to our country’s future, i.e. our future.billion years old (2)

This article will explore the 4 main sustainable development initiatives of the President’s National Development Agenda that are currently in progress, and how it could help widen and strengthen the middle class.   As of right now, the President’s National Sustainable Development Agenda looks at 3 main national Programs: 1. The Local Food Production Program, 2. The Anti-Narcotics program, and 3. The National Environment Conservation Program. The Chronic Kidney Disease Prevention Program is an initiative causes and outcomes of which affect all three of the above national programs. More importantly, it addresses a national health crisis that needs our utmost attention.These 4 initiatives that are currently in   progress, address 4 of the several extremely humane issues that Sri Lanka faces today.

The Local Food Production Program

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At a recent meeting the President pointed out that his ambition is to stop importation of every food item that can be produced within Sri Lanka and lead the country to a self-sufficient economy.  The President recalled that the country is spending about Rs. 154 billion every year for the importation of food items. He pointed out almost every food item with several exceptions can be produced within our country. This program hopes to subsidize local farmers and cut down food imports. While reducing imports may seem like an extreme protectionist measure, in order to revitalize the poverty stricken farming community and help them climb up to the middle income category, this measure is very important.

This program also looks at ways of increasing food production while efficiently using agricultural lands and the need of implementing a strategy to make it obligatory to cultivate lands that are not being cultivated currently was emphasized during this meeting.

 

The Main Objectives of the National Food Production Program

  1. To increase the production and productivity of rice other field crops, fruits and vegetables to ensure the food and nutritional security in the country. To reduce the cost for importation of agricultural commodities and enhance the sectoral contribution to the GDP. To Introduce and implement of agro – ecological zonal based crop production program.
  2. To popularize modern technologies, machinery and to facilitate development oriented crop research.
  3. To assure the availability of good quality inputs for producers and to assure availability and safety of food to consumers.
  4. To promote agribusiness and to encourage private public partnerships
  5. To ensure the environmental friendliness of agricultural practices.The foreign currency saved through cutting down food imports could be utilized for imports in the education, healthcare and national security sectors.

 

 The Environment Conservation Program

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Deforestation, environmental damage, Environmental degradation, Natural Resource Damage, soil erosion, lack of a proper garbage disposal systems are some of the major environmental issues that will be addressed through this program. As of today, Sri Lanka’s forest coverage is 29%, the proposed project is expected to increase the forest coverage to 35% within the first few years.

The program ensures the setup of a proper system for garbage disposal in Sri Lanka. About 7,500 tons of waste is produced in Sri Lanka for a day, of which nearly 1,000 tons of garbage is processed for waste management.  The remaining 6,500 tons of garbage is expected to manage systematically using the new technology.

The Anti- Narcotics Program

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Research shows that 1/3rd of Sri Lanka’s low income families spend a substantial of portion of their monthly income on cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. Also 22% of the national health budget is spent on cigarette- smoking patients. As a result of President Maithripala Sirisena’s anti- narcotics initiative, a law was passed in 2015 to make it compulsory to display advisory images on all packs of cigarettes sold in Sri Lanka.

The programs aims at:

  • An 80% reduction of the production of illegal narcotics by 2020
  • A 25% reduction of the rate of narcotics consumption by 2020
  • A 50% reduction of Tobacco production by 2020
  • A 50% reduction of drunk driving related accidents by 2020
  • Put an end to advertising/social propaganda/ CSR projects of all tobacco and narcotics production companies.
  • To take measures to reduce victims of involuntary/ second-hand smoking.
  • To increase awareness programs on the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and narcotics consumption
 The National Strategy for CKD Prevention

About 1,000 Sri Lankans die from CKD annually. There are 40, 680 registered CKD patients as of now.

The lack of access to clean drinking water has been identified as one main reason for kidney disease. Even though the facilities in hospitals throughout the country were improved to treat the kidney patients, the rising number of kidney patients had led to various difficulties. Agro chemicals and chemical residuals, hard metals, Nephrotoxins produced by Blue-Gree Algae, dehydration, heat stress, high fluoride levels in water and hardness of water (high levels of Calcium and Magnesium)

President’s National Strategy to Prevent CKD involves a Presidential Task Force, which includes specialists in the field for research and implementation and Brand Ambassodors Muttiah Muralitharan and T.M Dilshan who will communicate campaign to the public.

The President recently spoke to the diplomatic community of Sri Lanka regarding the need for international support to strengthen this initiative.

The ambassadors expressed their willingness to give their maximum help to Sri Lanka to overcome this crisis, while admiring the humanitarian aspect of the President as a Statesman. The representative of the World Health Organization extended support to further investigate the causes of the illness. The EU representative stated it would increase the donations for the drinking water projects in Sri Lanka.

China will build a 100 million dollar specialized hospital to treat a mysterious kidney disease that is striking mainly rice farmers in Sri Lanka. The Chinese High Commissioner said that water samples form affected areas are now under research at the Chinese Academy of science to identify the actual cause of the disease and that China will continue to collaborate with Sri Lanka to fight CKD.

Indian High Commissioner Y.K. Sinha said the water projects in Polgahawela, Kundasale and Kalutara would be supported by India, while the Japanese Government agreed to make donations for 60,000 kidney patients in Anuradhapura.

The Australian High Commissioner said they would extend the support to launch a drinking water project benefiting to about 100,000 people in the North.

Most victims of CKD belong to low income families. Prevention of CKD is not merely the prevention of a health hazard. It’s also a measure to reduce poverty by strengthening the agricultural industry and families depending on it, which can help widen the middle class.

 

 

Author Bio: Thisuri Wanniarachchi is the State Literary Award Winning author of novels Colombo Streets and The Terrorist’s Daughter. She is an undergraduate student of Bennington College studying Political Economy with a focus on Education Reform and is currently interning at the Research and International Media Division of the Presidential Secretariat.

Bennington Girls are (Not Easy)

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I was three when I began to speak English. I was ten when I became a writer. I was fourteen when I published my first English novel. I was fifteen when it became a local bestseller. I was sixteen when it won the National Literary Award for best novel of the year.I was seventeen when I was nominated to represent my country at the Iowa International Writer’s Program.I was eighteen when I applied to college.I was nineteen when Bennington found me. I was nineteen when my life truly began.

My name is Thisuri Wanniarachchi and I’m a Junior at Bennington College. I  study Political Economy with a focus on Conflict Resolution and Education Reform. I came to Bennington hoping to study writing, but after walking into a Conflict Resolution class on the Palestine-Israel Conflict, I discovered a side of me that I had forced myself to hide over the years. I grew up in Sri Lanka, which, as most of you know, was home to a brutal civil war. My entire life I had kept my thoughts on my home conflict to my self. For as long as I’ve known, I was taught to look at war as necessity. For the longest time I was blind to the difference between the state and the government.   I used to believe that the state was the government and that one must seldom question the state. I used to believe that privilege was a social construct; I failed to realize that I was blinded by my own privilege. It is at my political philosophy classes at Bennington that I was introduced to the concept of democracy in its truest form. Bennington transformed me from a conservative who believed that sometimes autocracies can help countries be better, to a true democrat who spoke against autocracy, sometimes even disregarding my own safety. Bennington taught me that privilege is blinding.
At Benington I was exposed to some of the most inspiring people I’v met in my life, whose work was on par with the leading experts of their respective fields. I was astonished by how hard they worked on the academic side of their plans during the two semesters and spent their Field Work Terms travelling the world doing what they love.  Bennington produces some of the best artists, actors, writers, political activists, scientists, musicians and writers that graduate out of any university not just in the United States but in the world.

In my first Field Work Term I wrote my second novel, which was a fictional story on privileged youth of the newly rich elite of Sri Lanka: an elite that was being formed due to corruption caused by the existing autocracy. Due to security reasons the story was censored in numerous ways. Many well wishing lawyers advised me not to publish it. One thing I learnt during my first few weeks at Bennington was to “never, ever play it safe.” So I published the censored version of the book. Its first edition sold out in a week. And four months later, a massive national campaign against corruption, nepotism and autocracy elected out the former President, restoring democracy.

My second Field Work Term I interned at the Ministry of Higher education in Sri Lanka. My Bennignton Plan focuses on using education as a tool to find sustainable solutions to issues in Post- Conflict nations and this Field Work Term truly helped mold my plan into a more practical one. I became more interested in understanding government institutions that are involved in the process of education reform and political reforms that make  education reform possible.This summer I’m interning the Presidential Secretariat in Sri Lanka to learn further about government structures and their role in political reform. Working for the office of the first President they voted for is any Political Science student’s dream.

In many ways Bennington saved me. Bennington taught me that writing alone won’t change the world; you have to walk the walk as well.  And that’s what Bennington students do; student from New York to Calcutta, Paris to Colombo,  talk the talk and walk the walk.  Nothing about what we do is easy.

So if I were you, I wouldn’t call Bennington Girls “EASY.”

I would dare to be one of them.

 

 

 

The Last King of Lanka

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I first met President Rajapaksa when I was 11 years old. I had won a national short story competition and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs had taken me and several other winners to Temple Trees to see the President. He was a rare and skilled politician. He knew the game and he played it very well.   He had a clever way of making people feel comfortable around him.   He patted our heads spoke to us for a long time; asked us about school and home. We were infatuated. He had us  hooked. The other kids and I would go home and tell our friends and family what a great man he was. He was simple, loving, almost god-like. “He’s like a father, not a President,” the kid from Mahiyangana who was the winner of the Sinhala short story category  said on our way out. Little did we know, that was all politics. Politics was all PR and propaganda; and Rajapaksa knew  this very well.

I met him again when I  was sixteen,  when I won the State Award for the Best Novel of the year. By then I had read many books on democracy and governance, and I was starting to realize what Rajapaksa was up to.  He was playing us. He was satisfying his electorates in every way he could, and ignoring the rest of his duties. By 2012 at least 30% of the people had noticed this, with the way he treated General Fonseka and his supporters,  and by 2013 40% of the people were talking about the growing nepotism. By 2014, he had resorted to creating internal conflict within religious communities to distract the people from  the economic  menace that the country was in due to mishandling of state resources; bad move on his part, and his opposition grew to 50-55%. His propaganda was no longer effective and come 2015 elections, he is defeated.

 Although Sri Lanka was declared an electoral democracy in 1948, Rajapaksa’s political propaganda referred to him as the “king” of Sri Lanka. His henchman, locally renowned historian and artist Jackson Anthony even went a step further to tweak Sri Lanka’s history to tie up the Rajapaksa’s to King Suddhodhana of India, Lord Buddha’s father[1]. According to Jackson Anthony the Rajapaksas weren’t just royalty; they were holy. But as the 2015 elections came closer, and the poll predictions and the public support went further away from him, Rajapaksa showed his true colors.  In his campaign concluding speeches, he asked his people to vote for him because he was “the known devil.” This post explores the life and leadership of a rare holy devil: Mahinda Rajapaksa, the last king of Sri Lanka.

 

Illegitimacy.

Rajapaksa came to power in 2005 in an inhumanly rigged in election. An alleged political deal with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, (also known as LTTE, the separatist terrorist group that led the 30 year civil war in Sri Lanka) stopped the war-struck citizens of Northern Sri Lanka from voting. On Election Day, bombs were set off at polling stations. LTTE motorcades roamed the streets, watching out. Vehicles that attempted to transport voters were set on fire.   The few who were rebellious enough to still go to the polling stations were assaulted, sometimes killed. In Jaffna, the heart of the North, a youth activist was beaten to death in the Hindu College grounds. One man who voted had his inked finger cut off, clarifying the message to the others.  With his voter base lying majorly in the island’s ethnic minorities, all the voters who were suppressed from voting in the North were supporters of candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe and his more conciliatory stance on the ethnic issue (as opposed to Rajapaksa’s militarist- solution) Mahinda Rajapaksa suffocated the lion of Sri Lankan democracy and made a red carpet out of its leather to make his illegitimate entrance to leadership with a 50.2% majority “victory”.  His extensive plan for the next three years, brings a military solution to end Sri Lanka’s 30 year civil war. Rajapaksa runs for a second term immediately after the military victory, and has a landslide win thanks to the nationalist citizens elated over the end of the war.

Early Life and Political Career

Percy Mahendra (Mahinda) Rajapaksa was born to a prominent political family in Southern Sri Lanka. His uncle D.M. Rajapaksa began the family trend of wearing the earthy brown shawl that represents kurakkan (finger millet,) cultivation of which makes the livelihood of most his electorate. Rajapaksa studied at Richmond College in Southern Sri Lanka and later moved to Nalanda and Thurston more prominent city schools in Colombo. Mahinda Rajapaksa is also a talented actor who played roles in several Sinhala movies, skills acquired from which came to his benefit later in his political career. Following his father’s death in 1967, Rajapaksa is replaced as the SLFP candidate for the Beliatta constituency and was elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1970 as the youngest Member of Parliament at just 24 years old. In 1994 Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed the Minister of Labor under the incumbent president Chandrika Bandayanaike Kumaratunge. When he lost is position in the government in United National Party’s sweeping victory in 2002, he was appointed the leader of the opposition. Following the General Elections of 2004, Rajapaksa is appointed the 13th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and also the Minister of Highways.

Corruption, media- repression and violence

The deadly tsunami of 2004 hit Sri Lanka during Rajapaksa’s time as the Minister of Highways and Prime Minister. There are many strong allegations of tsunami aid embezzlement by the Rajapaksas, allegations which would very well explain Rajapaksa’s very expensive political campaign (and alleged rigging deal with the LTTE)   in the following year.  The Golden Wave by Michele Gamburd speaks very descriptively of the debate of the Rs. 83 Million of Tsunami aid that Rajapaksa transferred to three private bank accounts of his.  In Sri Lanka, however, these conversations have been very cleverly hidden away. Rajapaksa being a militaristic leader often used the power of forces as self-defense mechanism. Rajapaksa had the media on his hook.  The Sunday Leader was one of the few media sources that was fearless enough to question Rajapaksa’s extremely unethical and suspicious way of handling the tsunami aid. The Sunday Leader questioned Rajapaksa’s Helping Hambanthota project which he claimed he was using the international aid funds for.  It questioned why the aid meant for the entire countries rehabilitation was scheduled to be used only in Hambanthota, why the aid was transferred to private accounts, and why the signatories of the accounts were not government officials. Although the other local media corporations succumbed to Rajapaksa’s oppression, The Sunday Leader continued to speak of Rajapaksa and his administration’s allegations of corruption. Before long, the editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickremethunga was brutally murdered by four armed assassins riding motorcycles who broke into his vehicle breaking its window and shooting him in broad daylight amidst (high security zone) Colombo’s traffic. Lasantha is one of many journalists who have been killed, abducted or reported missing during the reign of the Rajapaksa regime. Almost all active mainstream media outlets that criticized the Rajapaksa regime were banned and attacked (Capital Maharaja, the country’s leading private media corporation was once burnt to the ground, invaded and attacked by 15 masked gunmen who destroyed their equipment another time)

From Democratic Socialist to Competitive Authoritarian

During his time as president Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to successfully transition Sri Lanka from a democratic socialist republic to a competitive authoritarian regime. Competitive authoritarian regimes are civilian regimes in which democratic public institutions exist and are generally viewed as the main means of gaining power, and those in power use their power abusively to gain an advantage over citizens, often creating elite capture.  Those in power in competitive authoritarian regimes have executive power over legislatures. Civil liberties including free and fair elections, the right to criticize the government are violated. Elected leaders of the Rajapaksa regime did not have the real authority or control. In his last year as president Rajapaksa resorted to promoting government driven internal insurgency by funding ethnic clashes between the Sinhalese and Muslims. He believed that this would reactivate his Sinhala extremist nationalist voter base.

Nepotism too was large defining element of the Rajapaksa Regime. Two of Rajapaksa’s   brothers held key executive branch posts as defense secretary and the minister of economic development, while a third brother was the speaker of Parliament.

The Last Act

After almost a decade as President, Rajapaksa was overthrown from his position in the 2015 election reaffirming the power of the people and the dominance of civil society. While the people are the most significant element of a nation’s politics it is important to identify the role of leaders and their methods of convincing the people of their vision. Some do this through well-constructed, organized political propaganda, others do it through a genuine exemplary lifestyle and personality. Most do it through a balance of both of these methods. However being a political figure merely driven through political propaganda is exhausting and often hits a dead-end after a while. Rajapaksa was a product of well thoughtout political propaganda.

Efforts of Reincarnation

Rajapaksa has plans to contest in the parliamentary election of 2015. Many argue this is an attempt to regain his Presidency. A valid concern: if Rajapaksa runs for Parliament and is by chance elected Prime Minister, he is one gun shot away from becoming President again. This has to be his agenda, and I will explain why.   

A retired president is entitled to the same privileges as a cabinet minister, i.e. he is entitled to:

  • A residence of his choice
  • Equal protection/ security as a Cabinet Minister.
  • Ninety seven thousand five hundred rupees monthly allowance scheme.
  • Official office and staff
  • A bulletproof official car and security vehicles
  • Fuel Allowance
  •  State sponsorship to pursue invitations from foreign governments.

As of right now, about 30% of The country’s voter-base is for the SLF and another 30% is for the UNP another 8-15% is committed to supporting other parties [2].   If Rajapaksa is to pursue his dream to be Prime Minister he has to contest either from SLFP or UNP, if not the chances of his appointment as PM are statistically little to nil.

When I see people blindly support Mahinda Rajapaksa, despite his corruption, racism and selfish unethical way of life, I understand it to some extent, because at one point in my life I was blind to it too. It is easy to be misled. I’ve realized that a lot of the time when people are scared of democracy, it is because they have seldom been exposed to it in their lifetime. What we can learn from the story of Rajapaksa is that when nations are vulnerable due to many reasons ranging from conflict to low standards of education, it is easy for its people to be manipulated by political propaganda. Moving forward we need to make sure that lessons are learned and the same mistakes aren’t repeated.

This post has been copied by several news sites and blogs under various headlines. This is the original version of this post.  

[1] http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2014/04/buddhism-sinhala-buddhism-and-rajapaksa.html

[2] Welikumbura, Ceylon.net

America’s Democracy Promotion Mechanisms

America is arguably the most powerful nation in the world. Its wealth and military capacity is almost incomparable with those of other powerful nations. For instance the United States’ annual military budget, is larger than the total of the world’s top 26 military budgets combined. With this great wealth and power comes great the responsibility of national security. This responsibility often entails eliminating all threats to the liberty of the nation, often by promoting external peace and stability to counteract the unstable political structures around the world that often give birth to and facilitate said threats.  Being a democracy, the United States sees the spread of democracy abroad quite beneficial to its own interests. Although not all autocracies are enemies of the United States, as Fukuyama  and McFaul point out “every American enemy has been an autocracy.”  One cannot disagree with the fact that the US efforts to transform former dictatorships such as Japan, Germany and Italy into democracies have served not just the US well, but also the world, making it more secure and peaceful. There is undoubtedly a great case for the United States promoting democracy around world. However, certain controversial means of doing it, mismatches and misestimating of situations in recent times have clouded the world’s opinion on the US ability to create a more peaceful, prosperous world through democracy promotion. The most important feature of democracy promotion is its inability to work as a fixed model for every country. Each country/ autocracy and situation is unique and has to be treated that way. The policies and means for democracy promotion abroad should be carefully designed according to the political, social and economical context of each country and how they affect its region and the United States. Although each case is unique and it is nearly impossible to standardize intervention strategies for democracy promotion, Peter J Schrader lays out seven prominent interventionist tools that the United States can implement.  In this post I hope to extensively analyze these seven strategies to explore how each strategy has been used by the United States in the past, their successes and failures, in the hope of conveying how each tool matches a different context.

The seven tools that Schrader describes are: classic diplomacy, foreign aid, political conditionalities, economic sanctions, covert intervention, paramilitary intervention, and military intervention. They are listed in the level of coerciveness, each more coercive than the preceding.   Classic diplomacy covers a broad range of democracy promotion activities from US authorities such as the President, Secretary of State using the powers of their office as a platform or as Theodore Roosevelt put it, a “bully pulpit,”   to speak up for democracy promotion in different parts of the world, to sending US funded teams to monitor elections and oversee the democratic conduct of them. Let’s consider the United States’ classic diplomacy efforts in Nigeria. In 2014 when 276 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist group, the First Lady of the United States among other senior government officials backed a campaign titled “Bring Back Our Girls”, demanding the return of the girls. This brought the issue to the world’s attention, causing a massive outpour of national leaders to speak up, pressurizing the Nigerian authorities to speed up the search. Governments of the China, Iran, Canada, Israel, the EU   and many others came forward with military and intelligence aid to support the Nigerian government in the search.   Earlier this year when Nigeria held its elections, the US funded a large election monitoring/ observation mission that helped maintain ingenuity of the election to a large level. The election saw Nigeria’s lowest reported number of election violence related deaths and was successful to a large extent.

Foreign aid is another effective tool of intervention that serves the US’ intentions of foreign policy and democracy promotion. Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively top the highest US aid receiving countries in the world. Although there’s much controversy and debate over how these countries use the billions of US aid allocated to them, in theory, the aid is meant to strengthen civil society and promote a pluralistic, vibrant political culture supported by a robust economy.  Being conflict-ridden countries, the United States’ relationship with them is strengthened through aid. This gives the United States an upper hand in conversations with the governments of these nations.

Political conditionalities are negotiated agreements between governments. These agreements demand for a change or sustenance of policies by certain governments in exchange for incentives such as investment in development, military aid, intelligence aid etc.  Pakistan is the third largest receiver of US aid in the world. Since 2001 the US has been pumping in over $20 billion worth of aid to Pakistan.

The US aid to Pakistan is built on a conditional relationship. US Congress has always made economic and security aid conditional upon Pakistan being an ally in its war on terror. Although this may seem more like the purchase of an ally than an approach to promote democracy the conditional relationship between Pakistan and the United States has done much good to Pakistan. For instance the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, promises $7.5 billion over the course of five years to help strengthen the young civilian government and the people. However Congress has raised questions about the loyalty of the Pakistani government following the incident of finding Osama Bin Laden residing in a location very close to a Pakistani Military base.  The U.S. already suspended $800 million after the Pakistanis deported American military trainers following the bin Laden killing.

 

Moving up the chain of least intensive to most intensive tools of intervention it is fair to say that political conditionalities definitely make a solid middle ground. It is not as invasive as economic sanctions, para-military or military intervention but gives just enough leverage to manipulate governments in setting up sustainable democracy promotion in their countries while bringing down the threats to American national security; a win-win situation. However in some cases political conditionalities alone do not work. You can’t clap with one hand and political conditionalities cannot be implemented without the corporation of both parties.

Covert intervention, involves using intelligence agencies in a covert manner to  disseminate specific information to advance foreign policy goals. Although United States Constitution prohibits, however, “the use of intelligence agencies to influence domestic media and opinion;” a massive contradiction and double-standard on the United States’ part.

Economic sanctions, arguably, is the most ineffective form of democracy promotion out the seven intervention tools. Economic sanctions isolate the countries that they are  imposed on and takes away the leverage that the United State previously had on it. It also brings down the said country’s economy, further derailing its chances of democratization. The population of countries with economic sanction impositions may feel abandoned by the so called “promoter of democracy” at their time of need and may have to rely even more on their incumbent autocracies, which could make the autocracies stronger than before. For example when the US imposed sanctions on Cuba against the Cuban government’s nationalizing America companies with no compensation, the US reaction did little to no good to both parties. If anything it let the United States feel dominant, through an impulsive reaction. The Cuban government’s losses due to the sanction add up to over 70 billion today. This has not only brought down the Cuban economy and the standards of living for its innocent civilians, it has also completely isolated Cuba from the United States, achieving the complete opposite of what democracy promotion tools are meant to achieve.

Military and para military intervention are two of the most disapproved forms of intervention. In extremely desperate cases of foreign conflict ( for instance when genocide or use of weapons of mass destruction are involved) the United States finds it their responsibility as the leading democracy in the world to intervene and restore democracy by means of military  intervention.    Para military intervention would involve the United States using a counter insurgency mechanism, such as using rebels, insurgents already in place in the conflict zone. The US could fund the rebel groups in non-democratic countries to overthrow the the existing autocracies, train, plan and fund local insurgents instead of sending in their own troops. The US  used counter-insurgency training to reduce violence in war-ridden Colombia.  Academics and political scientists argue that the intervention in Colombia is  “the most successful nation-building exercise by the United States in this century” Para military intervention processes also used to involve assassination plots. However in 1981 President Raegan banned the use of assassination plots as an intervention mechanism through executive order.

The US after September 11, 2001 found itself intervening militarily in Afghanistan to bring down the Taliban government. In 2003, the US in a multi-national coalition put boots on the grounds of Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s rule. To date Afghanistan remains under US military occupation. The Iraqi war came to an end in December, 2011. America still engages in drone warfare in West Asia. US has launched many  drone attacks on Pakistan and Yemen against suspected terrorist targets which have quite often taken the lives of innocent civilians, bringing the US foreign policy and democratic ethic into question and much unpopularity.

Democracy promotion is undoubtedly a worthy moral and strategic interest of the United States. However when choosing intervention tools it is crucial that decisions are made carefully and calculatedly. Tools such as political conditionalities can be very effective, with little damage to both parties, if well-negotiated. In order to make sure high levels of success are achieved, it is important that the intervention decisions are backed by robust support structures that ensure efficiency. In other words, aid much be supported by accredited auditing and observation teams to avoid mishandling of funds and resources, military and para military missions must be supported by intensive intelligence to avoid collateral damage and mission failures and even classic intervention tools must be used only after careful examination of each country’s political culture, under the advisement of regional specialists.  In today’s world, if any nation has the financial, military and intelligence capacity to establish sustainable democracy and world peace, it is the United States. It is both a privilege and responsibility that must be made use of wisely.

Sri Lanka’s Daughter

Originally published on Colombo Telegraph

Pic by chulie.wordpress.com

Before the protests, before this became a debate about race, political affiliations, and law, even before her body was found, happened something that happens every day in Sri Lanka. Something that we need to talk about. It doesn’t matter if she’s Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher. She’s a citizen of this country. She’s a daughter; Sri Lanka’s daughter. Every day an average of 18 girls are raped in Sri Lanka. This is an issue that has gone unaddressed for far too long. And it’s time we start looking for long term solutions to it.

Every 90 minutes a girl or a woman in Sri Lanka is forced to have non-consensual sex. This is no coincidence. In societies with education systems that promote male superiority, don’t address the concept gender equality and respecting women, or the ethics of sex, and the only sex education men and women get is through pornography and antiquated societal norms and gender stereotypes, of course there will be high rates of rape. We live in a society where girls are taught from a very young age that they have to be careful, and behave a certain way, unlike boys. Our culture is built upon disciplining girls, although, every day, it is mostly men who commit crimes against women.

While those responsible for the rape and murder of Vidya will be brought in front of the law, nothing can bring back Vidya or justice the inhumanity faced by the thousands of girls raped in Sri Lanka every year. The law can only prosecute, it cannot protect. I believe the only sustainable solution to this: is education. We, as a culture need to rethink the fundamentals of how we bring up our children and the education system that we put them through. Think about the gender inequality we promote through it, the way we carefully ingrain to the minds of society that women are inferior to men.

We neglect sex education to such an extent that Sri Lanka is ranked number one in the world for googling the term ‘sex’. Most of the porn industry is fundamentally dominated by the idea of objectifying women. It fantasizes situations like gang-rape. It promotes the concept of women being inferior, and mere sexual objects. In Sri Lanka’s culture, the objectification of women is at such a high level that “baduwa,” the Sinhala term used in our society to casually objectify women, directly translates to “object.” Why are we so reluctant to educate our children about gender equality and consent? Why are we so shy and resistant towards having open conversations with our children about respectful intimacy, the issue of sexual harassment and the unjust and inhumane nature of it? We shouldn’t just be educating children about sex as a means of reproduction (as our national school curriculum does right now). We should teach them about intimacy and the concept of consent and respect that it involves. We have been using “our culture” as a defense against sex education for far too long and it is girls like Vidya that pay the price for it every single day. The price has come to a point that we can’t afford.

It is too late to educate most men about gender equality. I learn this every day from the amount of sexism that I face and have faced since I was a child. But, this shouldn’t discourage us. Our goal must not be to fix the broken but to set up policies that ensure the safety of the unbroken, the unborn; those who are forced by society to be broken. Recognizing the fact that it is too late for some, that there are many who are too broken to fix, is the first step to accomplishing change. They should be our motivation, our stepping stone. If we start now, our children and their children may not have to experience the unjust, unspeakable, inhumane violence that Vidya did. Education reform is the only way.

The Lucky Ones

WIN_20150421_160900

 Originally published on Groundviews.

I wish it were easier not to care. I wish I could grow up to be a corporate lawyer or a banker and just be content with a “normal” life. Have small, easy dreams like a beautiful house, a flashy car, a happy marriage and kids, learn to find joy in the little victories in life. but when you belong to a generation of people who were born to and grew up with a war, when you’ve seen certain things, it changes you. it makes you a different person. Your entire idea of happiness , and life gets redefined. You are not “normal” anymore. You can’t be, even if you wanted to. It completely turns your world around, and no matter how much you try to run away from it, you can’t.

Civil wars can go on for decades, but when they do come to an end they are like thieves in the night. They just end, leaving entire generations of people orphaned, confused and traumatized. Everyone talks about the death tolls, and the war crimes, the winners and the losers, the heroes and fallen villains. But nobody talks about that invisible third party; the children. I know this, because I was one of them. And we were lost, abandoned, amidst more “important” things like bombs and bullets,  political propaganda and blind nationalism.

They said they were fighting for the nation’s future. Nobody stopped to think if they had gotten it all wrong. Weren’t the children the future of the nation? What good did the war give the children in return for their stolen childhoods, their abandoned education and the things they’ve seen, that will stay with them for a long, long time. Nobody cared. Nobody wants to talk about PTSD because the entire nation suffers from it.  We live in a world that tends to believe that if something hurts everyone it’s not a problem, there’s no significance to it.  There are no two sides. Just victims.  We were and still are all victims in denial. Victims of a system that makes us blind to the fundamental causes of our own errors.

You know how they say Wallstreet is too big to fail? that’s kind of how my country views its problems: too big to solve.  from the ethnic conflict to climate change to its education system we refuse to believe that these issues are penetrable if we start from their very fundamental causes.  An island just barely larger than the Maldives, we will most probably be one the first few to go under water. But hey, to us there  are more important problems, like “are we saying goodbye to being a “unified state” by letting our minorities have a decentralized local government in the Northern Province?” “Are we taxing the rich too much?”   And I won’t lie, sometimes in the utter madness of it all, I do feel that the problems may really be too big to solve. The people are too traumatized to believe again, to have faith in change or to fight for it.  They’ve fought enough already, for the wrong causes.

Sometimes I wonder if I should stay as far away as I can from home for anything to make sense, to not feel as broken as everyone else, to feel “normal”.   The more I travel, the more I expose myself to “normalcy”,  the more I want to makesure that my children will never be exposed to that unspeakable violence that my generation was exposed to. It almost seems a naive dream to have; to look for alternatives to war and violence through education.But I believe  it’s  worth a try. It may not turn the world around. It may not stop the racist and the religious extremists  from taking their inferiority complexes out on the country. It may not heal 30 years of trauma. But it will give my kids and their kids a fighting chance to what my generation never had.

 

I was one of the lucky ones. Not only did I survive, but I was privileged enough to receive an education. I mastered the evacuation drill (in case of an attack) that was a part of my middle school syllabus.  I learnt to pray to God, Jesus and Mary every morning although I was a Buddhist.  I pretended to be thrilled to do extra-credit projects for history class although I knew our textbooks were published by the government and were mostly just a chapter by chapter explanation of extreme nationalism justifying the need for war.  And I carried those history books and other belongings in a fully transparent schoolbag designed by the government “for my own security.”   I was asked by a nun in my school to memorize this prayer that we could say whenever we heard an ambulance. Police and ambulance sirens give me chills even to this day, and I hear my eight year old self say that prayer. What I find fascinating about this  is that even decades later I still remember that prayer, word to word. It reminds me that, what you’re taught as a child stays with you. And some children in the world are taught wrong things or nothing at all, and it stay with them. That wrong stays with them. That nothingness stays with them.  It haunts them, their communities, their nations, the industries they step into, the children they raise and the whole world they live in.  So if we want to fix our problems, if we want sustainable solutions, shouldn’t we start by educating are children about the fundamental causes of them?

I don’t want you to misunderstand me. My faith in education did not spring from my lack of one. Even with the little resources that were available,  I did learn the fundamentals. I learned to speak and read in three languages. I learned calculus and geometry. I learned to be fascinated by the beauty and vastness of science through biology, chemistry and physics. I learned to read literature and appreciate theatre. Despite all the chaos that surrounded it, my country’s education system taught me the basic skills I needed to communicate, to question, to calculate and to digest it all. It gave me the curiosity to read literature of other cultures, of peaceful societies. I read biographies of Mandela and Gandhi and also those of Hitler and Prabakaran (the leader of the separatist terror movement in Sri Lanka) I learned to empathize, to see the world through their eyes. As a teenager I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, the first book I fell in love with. While the ambulance sirens made the rest of Colombo lay sleepless at night I engulfed myself in the story of Santiago and his journey through the Sahara dessert. I was patient as he searched for his treasure for days and weeks. Through him I learnt that resilience pays off. And through Gandhi (as cheesy and overused a quote as it is)  I learnt that I should “be the change that ..(I).. want to see in the world.”   And Paulo Coelho assured me that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” If someone were to ask me what I would be most thankful for in my education, I would tell them them that I’m thankful I was taught to read. Because it is through books I learnt to understands and feel what I couldn’t feel or understand; to empathize, and to respect. My entire life was shaped by what I experienced and read as a kid. Most of my college friends in America lived their childhood in a peaceful country and learnt about war and violence through books, for me it was the opposite. And I’m thankful that I had the luxury of reading about peace, that I was able to familiarize myself with it.  because without the ability to read, I would have been just another child of war. And when the war ended in 2009 I would have been an orphan of war, lonely and craving for its warmth.

But once again, I was one of the lucky ones.

මම මා වීම. (Becoming me.)

644103_587716907936918_892128228_n1994දී තාත්තා උතුරු නැගෙනහිර සේවයට යන විට මට වයස මාස හයකි. අයියාට අවුරැදු දෙක ලැබුවා පමණි. සමහර විටෙක ඔහුට මසකට වරක්වත් ගෙදර ඒමට නොලැබුනි. අම්මා ඇගේ රැකියාව කරන ගමන් අයියාවත්, මාවත් තනිවම හදාවඩා ගත්තාය.  එවිට පනාගොඩ හමුදා නිල නිවාසයක ජීවත් වුනු අපි ඉතා අහිංසක,පුංචි පවුලක් වුනෙමු.  තාත්තාට කලාතුරකින් ගෙදර ඒමට ඉඩ ලැබුනු විට අයියාටත් මටත් වැඩිය සතුටූ වුණේ අම්මාය. ඇය තුල වූයේ සතුටටත් වැඩිය සැනසීමකි.  ඔහුගේ රැකියාවේ භයාණකකම දැන සිටි ඈ, ඔහු යලිත් පණ පිටින් දකින්නට ලැබීම ගැන දෙවියන්ට පින් දෙමින් සතුටූ වුණාය.

තාත්තාගගේ රැකියාව ගැන අපි වැඩිය කතාබහ නොකරෙමු ඒ මන්දැයි මට දැන් වැටහේ. අපිත් සමග සෙල්ලම් කල හමුදා නිලනිවාස වල ජීවත් වුනු අනිත් ළමුන්ගේ පියවරුන් මිනී පෙට්ටි වල ගෙදර එනු අයියාත් මාත් මිදුලේ සිට බලා සිටි හැටි මට තවමත් මැවී පෙනෙයි. පෝලිමට තිබු නිල නිවාස එකින් එක මලගෙවල් වනු අපි බලා සිටියෙමු. මගේ පළමු වසරේ ගුරුතුමී සිතා සිටියේ මගේ පියා ශල‍‍්‍ය වෛද්‍යවරයක් කියාය . මලගෙවල් වලදී අම්මාත් අනිත් හමුදා    බිරිඳෑවරුනුත් කරන කථාබහෙන් අපි තේරුම් ගත්තේ අපේ පියවරුන්“ඔපරේෂන්” බොහොමයකට සහභාගීවන බවය . ඔවුන් “ඔපරේෂන්” යනුවෙන් අදහස් කලේ යුධ මෙහෙයුම් පිළිබඳය . ළදරු අපිට මේ ගැන තේරුමක් තිබුනේ නැත .  තාත්තාගේ රැකියාව කුමක්දැයි ගුරුතුමී ඇසූ විට, ඔහු ඔපරේෂන් කරන්නෙකු යැයි පිලිතුරු දුන්නෙමි. තාත්තා සැත්කම් කරනා ශල‍‍්‍ය වෛද්‍යවරයෙකු යැයි ගුරුතුමී සිතන්නට ඇත . පන්තියේ අනිත් ළමුන්ට වඩා වෙනස් මානසිකත්වයක් මට තිබූ බවත්, යුද්ධය අනිත් ළමයින්ට වැඩිය මගේ ජීවිතයට සමීප බවත් ඇය දැන සිටියේ නැත . “මඩකලපුවට ගහලා,” “ඔෆිසර්ස්ලා ගොඩකටත් තුවාලයි” වැනි කථා හමුදා පවුල් අතර පැතිරුනු දින වල අපි රැ තිස්සේ නොනිදා සිටි බවත්, අවේලාවෙ දුරකථනය නාද වූ විට අයියාත්, මාත් තුරුල් කරන් අම්මා බියේ ගැසුනු අවස්ථා අප්‍රමාණ බවත් ගුරුතුමී දැන සිටියේ නැත. මේ සියල්ල තේරුම් ගෙන සිටි අම්මා මට කියා දුන්නේ තාත්තා වෙනුවෙන් කල හැකි ලොකුම දෙය හොදින් ඉගෙන ගැනීම බවය .වෙන ළමුගේ ජීවිත මට වැඩිය පහසුය . එය අම්මා පිලිගත්තාය . එහෙත් එය අධ්‍යාපනයේදී ඔවුන් තරම් මහන්සි නොවී සිටීමට හේතුවක් නොවන බව ඇය මට කියා දුන්නාය . ඔවුන් මහන්සි වෙන්නේ කොපමණක්ද මම ඉන් දෙගුණයක් මහන්සි විය යුතු යැයි ඈ මට තේරුම් කරදුන්නාය . මේ ඔවදන මම ජීවිත කාලයක් පුරාවට පාවිචචි කලෙමි. “ඔවුන් මහන්සිවන්නේ කොපමනක්ද මම ඉන් දෙගුණයක් මහන්සි වෙමි. හැකිනම් තෙගුණයක් මහන්සි වෙමි. මහන්සි වෙන්නාට ප්‍රතිඵල ලබේ. දෙගුණයක් මහන්සි වෙන්නාට දෙගුණයක් ප්‍රතිඵල ලබේ.” මම අධිශඨාන කර ගතිමි. අම්මා නිවැරදිය . ඇගේ ඔවදන් මගේ මුලු ජීවිතයම වෙනස් කලේය .

 පෙර පාසලේ සිට කොලඹ ශාන්ත බ්‍රිජට් කන්‍යාරමයේ ඉගෙන ගත් මා, කුඩා කල සිටම පාසලේ ආධි සිසුවියන් වන සිරිමවෝ බණ්ඩාරනයක හා චන්ඳ්‍රිකා බණ්ඩාරනයක කුමාරතුංග මැතිනියන්ට බොහෝසේ ඇලුම් කලෙමි. මා දේශපාලනයටත්, නායකත්වයටත් උනන්දුවක් දැක්වීමට දිරි ගැන්‍වුනේ ඔවුන් වැනි නිර්භීත කාන්තවන් නිසාවෙනි. ඔවුගේ දේශපාලන ආකල්ප හා තීරණ ගැන කිසිඳු දැනුමක් මට එවිට නොතිබුනි. එහෙත්, පිරිමි ආකල්ප වලින් ධාවනය වන ලෝකයක , පිරිමි බහුතර යකින් පිරි දේශපාලන සංස්කෘතියක , මේ එඩිතර කාන්තවන් (ලොව පලමු අගමැත්නී සහ ලංකාවේ පලමු ජනාධිපතිනී) කල නිර්භීත විප්ලවයට මම ගරු කලෙමි. අදටත් ගරු කරමි.

වයස අවුරුදු දහයේ පමන සිට මම කෙටිකතා ලිවීමට හුරුවුනෙමි. මම මා සමගම තරග කලෙමි. ගිය අවුරුද්දේ ලියූ කතා වලට දෙගුණයක් උසස් කතා මේ අවුරුද්දේ ලියන්නටත්, මේ අවුරුද්දේ ලියූ කෙටිකතා ලබන අවුරුද්දේ නවකතා බවට පත් කිරීමටත් උගත්තෙමි. මගෙ පළමු නවකතාව 2009දී මුද්‍රණය විය . ඒ පොත එලිදැක්වීමෙන් පසු මට ඇමරිකාවේ කෙන් යොන් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ මසක් ලේඛන කලාව හැදෑරීමට පූර්න ශිෂ්‍යත්වක් ලැබුනි. මේ පිළිබඳ ෆුල්බ්‍රයිට් ආයතනයේ ලංකා අධ‍්‍යක්‍ෂක ආචාර්‍ය තිස්ස ජයතිලක මහතා එවක ඇමරිකානු තානාපතිනියට දැනුම් දුන්නෙනේය . තානාපතිනිය 15 හවිරිදි මටත් පවුලේ අයටත් ඇගේ කාර්‍යාලයට ආරාධනා කොට සුබ පතුවාය . කොලඹ මුහුදු වෙරලට මුහුණලා වෙඩි නොවදින වීදුරු වලින් වට වී ඇති ඇගේ කාර්‍යාලයට යන මාර්ගය ඇමරිකානු මරීන් බටයන් කිහිපදෙනෙක් සහ අධිආරක්‍ෂක පිලිවෙත් වලින් අනූනය . තේ පැන් සංග්‍රහයෙන් අනතුරුව මට සුබ පතා ඇය පවස සිටියේ පාඨමාලාව හැදෑරීමට ඇමරිකාවට යෑමට එ්මට යන ගමන් වියදම් සඳහා ශිෂ්‍යත්වක් ලබා දෙන බවය . ඇය සමග එදා පටන් ගත් සබඳතාව බොහෝ දුර ගියේය . මා ඇමරිකාවෙ විශ්වවිද්‍යාල වලට අයදුම් කරද්දී මගේ නිර්දේශ ලිපිය ලීවේද ඇයයි.

මගේ පලමු නවකතාව ලියවුනේ 2008 අවසාන භාගයේය; ඒ යුද්ධයේ කුරිරුම පරිඡ්ඡේදයයි. Colombo Streets නම් මගේ නවකතාවේ මම යුද්ධය ළමයින්ට බලපෑ ආකාරය පිලිබඳ කතා කලෙමි. යුධබියට හා යුධදුකට ජාති ආගම් බේදයක් නැතැයි නවකතාවකින් තේරුම් කරදීමට උත්සාහ කලෙමි.එයට 2010 වසරේ හොඳම නවකතාවට හිමි රාජ්‍ය  සම්මානය ලැබුනි. ඒ 16 හවිරිදි මා ලොව ලාබාලතම  රාජ්‍ය සම්මාන ලාභිනිය කරමිනි. එදා අම්මාත්, තාත්තාත්, අයියාත්, මාත්  අරලිය ගහ මඳිරයේ පැවති සම්මාන ප්‍රධානෝත්සවයට ගියේ 40,60 හැවිරිදි අනිත් ප්‍රබුද්ධ ලේඛකයගේ පොත් සමග මගේ පොතද නාමයෝජනා වී තිබීම ගැන සතුටෙන් සිත පිරීය .සම්මානය මට ලැබෙනු ඇතැයි මම කිසිවිටෙක බලපොරොත්තු නොවුනෙමි. ඒ මොහොථ අදටත් මට හීනයකි. ජනාධිපතිතුමගෙන් සම්මානය ලබාගත් මා, අම්මාත් තාත්තාත් අයියාත් දෙස බලුවෙමි. තාත්තාගෙ මුහුණ පුරා කඳුලුය . ඉන්පසු දින ගණනාවක් ගතවන තුරු සතුටු කඳුලු නොහෙලා මා සම්මානය දිනීම ගැන කතා කරන්නට තාත්තාට නොහැකි විය .

අඩි හයක් උස , ජාතික මට්ටමෙන් රග්බි, පැසිපන්ඳු ක්‍රීඩාකල , ගැඹුුරු, ගරහැඩි කටහඩක් ඇති මගේ තාත්තාට ඇත්තේ ඉක්මනින් උනු වන හදවතකි. ඔහු තරම් සුන්‍දර, සංවේදී හදවතක් ඇත්තෙක් මම නොදන්නෙමි. ඔහු අවංක රාජ්‍ය සේවකයෙකි. හතුරාටත් ප්‍රේම කරන පිරිසිඳු කතෝලිකයෙකි. වචනයෙ පරිසමාප්ත අර්ථයෙන්ම අව්‍යාජ මිනිසෙකි.

මගේ උප්පත්ති ආගම බෞද්ධාගම වුනත් මා කතෝලික පාසැලක ඉගෙනුම ලැබූ නිසා ආච්චී (මවගේ මව ) මගේ බෞද්ධාගම් දැනුම පිලිබඳව සැලකිලිමත්වන්නට ඇත . මාව ඇය සමග නිතර විවිධ පන්සල්වල ලොකු හාමුදුරුවරු හමුවීමට එක්ක ගියේ එනිසා වියහැකිය . එවකට ඉතා වයස්ගතව සිටි හික්‍ෂු මධ්‍යස්ථානයේ මඬිහේ පඤ්ඤාසීහ හාමුදුරුවන් හමුවීමටද ආච්චි මා කිහිප වරක් එක්ක ගියාය . මගේ සම ආච්චිගේ අනිත් මුනුපුරුමිනිපිරියන්ගේ සමට වඩා කලු බැවින් මගේ සිත රිදුනොත් කියා ආච්චි මට සුදු නෝනා කියා ඇමතුවාය . මට මෙය කලක් යන විට තේරුනි. මම සුදු නොවීම මට ප්‍රශනයක් නොවන බවත් මම තාත්තගේ පාට බවත් මම ආච්චිට ආඩඹරයෙන් කීවෙමි. එහෙත් අච්චී මට දිගටම ඉතා ආදර යෙන් සුදු නෝනා කියා ඇමතුවාය . මඬිහේ හමුදුරුවන් ද මට සුදු නෝනා කියා අැමතුවේය . ආච්චිත් සමග මා ගතකල කාලය ඉතා සීමිත විය . වැඩි කලක් නොගොස් ආච්චිත්, හමුදුරුවෝත් මෙලොවින් සමුගත්තත් මා ඉගෙන ගත් ධර්මය එදා මෙන්ම මගේ සිතේ ඇත .

හාමුදුරුවරුන් කියා දුන් එක දෙයක් නම් “මහන්සි වෙන්නාට ප්‍රතිඵල ලබේ” යන්නයි. මට ගෙදරදී අම්මා කියා දුන්නේද , පාසලේ කන්‍යාවරියන් “තට්ටූ කරන්නාට දොර ඇරේ,” “සොයන්නාට සම්බවේ” යනුවෙන් කියදුන්නේ එයම බැව් මම දැන සිටිමි. එහෙත් හාමුදුරුවරුන් තවත් වැදගත් දෙයක් කිය දුන්නේය: “මහන්සි වෙන්නන්ට උදව් කරන්න.” මඬිහේ හාමුදුරුවෝ සෑම උදෑසනකම පන්සලේ මිඳුලේ සීනි වපුරුවේය . ඒ කූඹීන් ගේ ආහාරයටය . “කූඹීන් සීනි බෝතලයෙන් සීනි කෑමට දිවිපුදා මහන්සි වෙනවා. අපිට පුලුවන්නන් උන්ට දිනකට සීනි ඇට ටිකක් දෙන්න . අපි එය කලයුතුයි. එය කොච්චර පිනක්ද ? මහන්සි වෙන්නන්ට උදව් කරන්න. ධාර්මිකව උදව් කරන්න . ධම්මෝ භවේ-රඛ්ඛති ධම්මචාරී: ධර්මයේ හැසිරෙන්නා ධර්මය විසින් රකිණු ලැබේ.” මමත් ධර්මයත් අතර සම්බන්ධය පටන් ගත්තේ මේ කාලයේදීය .

2010දී මට රාජ්‍ය සම්මානය ලැබෙන විට මම පූර්ණ ශිෂ‍්‍යත්වයකින් කොලඹ බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය පාසලේ උසස් පෙල හදාරමින් සිටියෙමි. සම්මානයෙන් පසු මට නොයෙක් අන්තර්ජාතික ලේඛ්ක සමුලු වලට සහභාගීවීමට ලැබුනි. උසස් පෙලෙන් පසුපලමු උපාධිය හදරන්නට ඇමරිකවේ බෙනින්ටන් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයට පූර්ණ ශිෂ‍්‍යත්වයක් ලබුනි. බෙනින්ටන් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලය වසරකට සිසුන් සියයක් පමණණ ඇතුලත් කරගන්නා එම සියයෙන් සිසුන් දෙදෙනෙකුට පමණ පූර්ණ ශිෂ‍්‍යත්ව ලබා දෙන ඉතා සීමිත සහ තරගකාරී විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයකි. එහි උපාධියක් ලබා ගැනීමට ලංකවේ මුදලින් මිලියන 34කට අධික මුදලක වැය වේ. ශිෂ‍්‍යත්වයක් නැතිව මේ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයට යෑමට නොහැකි බව දැන දැනත් මම අයදුම් කලෙමි.මා තේරේවියැයි මම සිතුවේ නැත . ශිෂ්‍යත්වයක් ලැබෙනු ඇතැයි කොහෙත්ම සිතුවේ නැත . එහෙත් අයදුම් කරන්නැයි මගේ සිත කිවාය . ශිෂ්‍යත්වය ලැබුනු වග පැවසූ ලිපිය කියවමින් තාත්තා පැවසුවේ “මහන්සි වුනොත් කරන්න බැරි දෙයක් නෑ නේද ” කියාය . මහන්සිය නිසා මට බොහො දේ ලබී අැත , එහෙත් මේ මහන්සිය නිසා පමණක් මට ලැබුනු දෙයක් නොවන බව මම දනිමි. මෙය මට ධර්මය විසින් කිය දෙන පාඩමක් යැයි මම විස්වාස කරමි. “ධර්මයේ හැසිරෙන්නා ධර්මය විසින් රකිණු ලැබේ” හාමුදුරුවන් ගේ වචන මට මතක් වෙයි. මින් පසු මම ධර්මයට තවත් සමීප වුනෙමි. අවනත වුනෙමි. අධාර්මික දෙයට බිය වුනෙමි. හතුරෙකුටවත් වෛර කිරීමට බිය වුනෙමි. මෛත්‍රී භවනාවට හුරුවුනෙමි.

 ලංකාව දමා ඇමරිකාවට ගියේ වචනයෙන් තේරුම් කල නොහැකි හැගීමකින් සිත පුරවාගෙනය . ආදරය රැකවරනය පිරි නිවසක මුලු ජීවිතයම ගතකල මාහට ලොව අනිත් කොනට ගොස් තනිවම ජීවත්වීමටත්, ඉගෙනගැනීමටත් ධෛයය ලැබුනේ ධර්මය තුලිනි. මම මා වූයේ ධර්මය තුලිනි.

 මම දැන් බෙනින්ටන් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ තෙවැනි වසරේ දේශපාලන ආර්ථික විද්‍යාව හා අධ්‍යාපන ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ ක්‍රම පිලිබඳ උපාධියක් හදාරන සිසුවෙක්මි. මෙහිදී මම ලෝකප්‍රකට ආචාර්‍යවරුගෙන් ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය පිලිබඳ ඉගෙන ගනිමි. ජීන් ජාක්ස් රූසෝගේ පුරවැසි ධර්මය ගැනත්, කාල් මාක්ස්ගේ මාක්ස්වාදය ගැනත්, කොමියුනිස්ට්වාදය ගැනත්, ඇමරිකානු ෆෙඩරල්වාදය ගැනත්, නෙල්සන් මැන්ඩෙලා, ලී කුවාන් යූ, සෙරෙට්ස් කාමා, කෙමාල් ඇටටර්ක්, බෙනසීර් බූටෝ, අවුන් සාන් සූකී වැනි නායකනායිකාවන්ගේ දේශපාලන ක්‍රම ගැනත් ඉගෙන ගනිමි. ලිබරල් අධ්‍යාපනයේ මව ලෙස සැලකෙන එලිසබෙත් කෝල්මගෙන් අධ්‍යාපන ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණය ඉගෙනීමට භාග්‍යවත්වුනෙමි.

බෙනින්ටන් වැනි සීමිත පිරිසක් සිටින විශ්වද්‍යාලයකට යෑමේ විශාල ප්‍රයෝජනයක් නම් සිසුන්ට ලැබෙන සියුම් අවධානයයි. මගේ දේශපාලනය කෙරේ ඇති ඇල්ම දන්නා බොහෝදෙනා මා දේශපාලනය ආශ්‍රිත වැඩසටහන් හා ව්‍යාපෘති කරා යොමු කරයි. 2014 සෙනෙට් සභික අපේක්‍ෂකයෙකු වූ බ්‍රයන් කැම්පියන් මට හමුවන්නේ මේ කාලයේදීය . 2014 මහ ඡන්දයේ වැඩකටයුතු සඳහා සහභාගිවීමට මට අවස්ථාව ලැබෙන්නේ ඒ හමුවීමත් සමගය .බ්‍රයන් ඉතා විශාල බහුතරයකින් වර්මොන්ට් ප්‍රාන්තයේ සෙනෙට් අසුන දිනා ගනී. බ්‍රයන්ගේ ජයග්‍රහණය මට විශාල දිරියකි. ඔහු වර්තමාන ඇමෙරිකානු දේශපාලනයෙ සිටින විවෘතව සමලිංගික සෙනෙට සභිකයන් අටලොස්සෙන් කෙනෙකි. පීතෲමූලික සමාජයක කාන්තාවක් වන මා, සමාජයේ කොන්වෙන අසාධාරණයට ලක්වෙන පිරිසක් වීම ගැන හොඳ හැටි දනිමි.ඇමෙරිකාවේ සමලිංගික පිරිමින්ට වඩා සමාජ අසාධාරණවලට ලංකාවේ කාන්තාවන් මුහුණදෙන බව මම දනිමි.  එහෙත් බ්‍රයන් ඔහුගේ දේශපාලනයෙන් කරන සමාජීය විප්ලවය මට බොහෝ බලාපොරොත්තු ගෙනදෙයි.

 ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මිනිසුන් මුහුණදෙන සමාජීය හා ජීවන ගැටලු මොනවාදැයි ඇමරිකානු දේශපාලනඥයින්, මිතුරන් හා ආචාර්‍යවරුන් බොහෝවිට මගෙන් අසයි. එවිට මගේ සිත බොහෝ හැගීම් වලින් පිරෙයි. මුලින්ම මගේ හිතට එන්නේ උතුරුමැද පලාතය . අව්වට, නියගයට කුඹුරු පාලුවී, බොන්න වතුර සොයමින් ගවු ගනන් යන , ආණ් ඩුවෙන් වතුර බවුසර්, ආහාරපාන , එනතුරු සති ගනන් බලා සිටින , වැස්ස කාලෙට , ගංවතුරට මුලු සේසතම වතුරෙන් යට වෙන , මේ මිනිසුන් ගැන කඳුලු පෙරාගෙන සුදු සෙනෙට්වරුන්ට කියන්නට මට හිත නොදෙයි.  මම දකුණ ගැන සිතමි. ගිණි අව්වේ,පිටකොටූවේ හාල් කොට්ට උස්සන මිනිසුන් වෙන අප්‍රමාණ මහන්සියත්, ඔවුන් ගේ මුහුණු පුරා පිරී ඇති ජීවන බරත් මට මැවී පෙනෙයි. කොලඹ රණවිරු සෙවනේ, අනුරාධපුර අභිමන්සලේ සිටිනා, යුද්ධයෙන් අතපය , ඇස් පෙනීම , සියල්ල අහිමිවූ ඉතිරි ජීවිත කාලයම එක්තැන අඳුරේම ගතකරනා යුධ සෙබලුන් හා ඔවුන් බලන්නට කඳුලු පුරවාගෙන එන ඔවුඞේ බිරිඳෑවරුන් හා දරුවන් මට මතක්වේ.එහෙත් මේ සියල්ලටම වඩා මගේ සිත උණුවෙන්නේ උතුරේමිනිසුන් මතක්වුන විටය . ඔවුන් වසර තිහක් තිස්සේ තිබූ යුද්ධයෙන් දෙපැත්තෙන්ම බැටකාපු, පවුලේ අය ඇස් ඉදිරිපිටම නැතිවෙනු දැක ඇති, යුද්ධය නිමාවී බොහෝ කලක් ගෙවී ඇතත්, තමන් ගේ ගේදොර ඉඩකඩම්, හේන්කුඹුරු දේශපාලන ඩීල් කරුවන් ගේ අතට ගොස් ඇති නිසා තවමත් අනාථ කඳවුරුවල ජීවත්වෙන වචනයේ පරිසමාප්ත අර්ථයෙන්ම අන්ත අසාධාරණයට ලක්වූ ඉතාම අසරණ ලාංකිකයින් පිරිසකි. ගෙදර ප්‍රශ්න පිටට නොකීම සිංහල පුරුද්දකි.   ලංකාවේ ප්‍රශ්න ඇමරිකානු මිතුරන් හා ආචාර්‍යවරුන් සමග බෙදානොගන්නේ එනිසා විය හැක .

එහෙත් අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමවල ඇති ව්‍යූහමය ප්‍රශ්න බොහෝ රටවලට ඇති ගැටලුවකි. ඇමරිකාවටද ඇති විශාල ප්‍රශ්නයකි. ඇමරිකාවේ උසස් අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමය ඉතා උසස් තත්වයක තිබුණත්, ඔවුන් ගේ ජාතික පාසැල් ක්‍රමය ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණය කිරීම ගැන විශාල විවදයක් පවතී. පෝලන්තය , ෆිනලන්තය , දකුණු කොරියාව ඔවුන් උදාහරණයට ගනී. ඉතා අඩු පහසුකම් ඇතුව ලංකාවේ “නිදහස් අධ්‍යාපනයේ” යෙදෙන , අසාධාරණ හමුවේ, අයිතීන් වෙනුවෙන් විරෝධතාවේ යෙදුනුවිට විට කඳුලු ගෑස් කන , විශ්වවිද්‍යාල සිසුන් මට මතක් වෙයි.  ගුරුවරුන් ගේ විරෝධතා නිස සිසුන් ගේ අධ්‍යාපනය ප්‍රමාදවෙයි. අචාර් යවරුන්ට නිසි පඩි නොගෙවීම නිසා රටේ හොඳම අචාර් යවරුන් රටට නැතිවෙයි. ව්‍යූහමය ගැටලු නිසා ජාතික උසස් අධ්‍යාපන ආයතනවල ඉගෙනීමට ලැබෙන්නේ බොහෝ සුලු පිරිසකට බවත්,ජාතික අයවැයෙන් අධ්‍යාපනයට අයෝජනය කරන ම් ෞදල ඉතම මදි බවත්,රටේ සමහර පලාත්වලට නිසි පුහුණුව ලැබූ ගුරුවරුන් නොලැබෙන බවත් මම ඔවුන්ට පවසමි.

 අධ්‍යාපන ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණය වැනි විෂයකට මගේ හිත ගියේ ඇයිදැයි බොහොදෙනා මගෙන් අසයි. 2000 වසරේදී අධ්‍යාපන අමාත්‍යංශයේ ලේඛම් ටාරා ඩිමෙල් මැතිනියත්, ජ නාධිපති චඳ්‍රිකා බණ් ඩාරනායක කුමාරතුංග මැතිනියත්, රජීව විජේසිංහ වැනි අධ්‍යාපනඥයින් එක් වී ජාතික අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමයට ඉංග්‍රීසි මාධ්‍ය ය යලි හඳුන්වා දෙන ප්‍රයත්නයක් දියත් කලහ .මෙහි ප්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස , අයියාත් මාත් වැනි මධ්‍යම පන්ථියේ සාමාන්‍ය පවුල්වල දරුවන්ට ඉංග්‍රීසි මධ්‍යයෙන් ඉගෙනීමට ලැබුනි. ඉංග්‍රීසි මධ්‍යයෙන් ඉගෙනීමට ලැබීම නිසා මට කොතරම් දොරටු ඇරුනාද ? මා වැනි  කොතරම ළමුන් ගේ ජීවිත කොතරම් වෙනස් කරන්නට ඇතිද ? අයියාද ඉංග්‍රීසි මාධ්‍යයෙන් ඉගෙන ගන්නට පටන් ගත්තාට පසු, වයස අවුරුදු දහසයේ පමණ සිට වියනාව, බර්ලිනය, ජිනීවාව, නෛරෝබිය, රියොදජෙනයිරෝව ඇතුලු ලොව එක්සත් ජාතිගේ මූලස්ථාන රැසක සමුලු වලට සහභාගීවීමට ශිෂ්‍යත්ව දිනා ගත්තේය .  ඔහු අද කොළඹ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ අවසන් වසරේ අන්තර්ජාතික සබදතා පිලිබඳ විශේෂ උපාධියක් හදාරන ගමන්, එක්සත් ජාතීන් ගේ සංවිධානයේ ශ්‍රී ලාංකික තරුණ නියෝජිතයා ලෙස කටයුතු කරයි. අයියා නිව්‍ යොර්ක් සොවිධාන මූලස්ථානයේ පැවති සියලු රටවල නියෝජිතයින් අමතා කල කතාව බෙනින්ටන්සිට සජීවීව නැරඹූ මම, කඳුලු පුරවාගෙන සිහිපත් කලේ ඉංග්‍රීසියෙන් ඉගෙනීම අප ජීවිතවලට කොපමන දේ ගෙනාවාද කියාය. අධ්‍යාපනය කොතරම උතුම්, බලවත් දෙයක්දැයි මම දනිමි. අධ්‍යාපන ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණය තුලින් රටට කෙදිනකහෝ සේවයක් කිරීමට අධිෂ්ඨාන කරගත්තේ එබැවිනි.

අධ්‍යාපනයේ බලයෙන් බොහෝ දේ වෙනස් කල හැකි වුනත්, අප රටේ ජීවන හා සමාජීය ගැටලු අධ්‍යාපනයෙන් ඔබ්බට යන බව මම් දනිමි. අප රටේ දේශපාලන සංස්කෘතියෙන් ඇතිවන ව්‍යූහමය ගැටලු නිසා ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදයේ තෘප්තීන් ලබන්නෙත්, සාධාරනය ඉටුවන්නේත් ඉතාම සුලු මිනිස් කොට්ඨාශයකටය .  බොහෝ මිනිසුන්ට මහන්සිවන තරමට ප්‍රතිඵල නොලැබේ. ඔවුන්ඳ අර සීනි බෝතලයට නගින කූඹීන් වැනිය . ඔවුන්ගේ මහන්සියට කවදාහෝ ප්‍රතිඵල ලැබෙතැයි සිතා ඔවුන් ජීවන බර උසුලාගෙන බොහෝ වෙහෙස මහන්සියෙන් සීනි බෝතලයට නගී. විනිවිද වුවත් අප රටේ දේශපාලන හා සමාජීය ක්‍රමයේ ඇති ව්‍යූහමය ගැටලු නිසා කෙදිනකවත් වීදුරුව සිදුරු කල නොහැකි බවත්, සීනි මිථ්‍යාවක් බවත් කලක් යද්දී ඔවුන්ට තේරුම් යයි. සීනි දැක දැක බඩගින්නේම ඔවුන් ගේ ජීවිත ගෙවීයයි. ධාර්මික සමාජයක එසේ විය නොයුතුය . වෙන මහන්සියට ප්‍රතිඵල ලැබිය යුතුය . ධර්මික රාජ්‍යයක ධර්මයේ හැසිරෙන්නා ධර්මය විසින් රකිණු ලැබෙන්නාක් මෙන් ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදයේ හැසිරෙන්නා ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය විසින් රකිණු ලැබිය යුතුය. අවි ගත්තා අවියෙන්ම නැසෙන්නාක් මෙන් අවනීතියෙහි හැසිරෙන්නා නීතය විසින් නැසිය යුතුය. මගේ ජීවිතයේ ලොකුම යුතුකම කුඩාකල හාමුදුරුවෝ කියාදුන්නා මෙන්, මහන්සිවෙන්නන්ට් උදවු කිරීමය . කන්‍යාවරියන් කියාදුන්නා මෙන් තට්ටූ කරන්නාට දොර ඇර දීමය. රටවැසියන්ට සාධාරණ රාජ්‍යයක් ලබාදීමය .

ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය හා රටවැසියන්ට සාධාරණය ඉටු කිරීම ගැන කතා කරන විට අපට සුලු ජාතීන් හා ඩයස්පෝරාව අමතක කල නොහැකිය . අපි කොපමණ විවාද කලත් ඔවුන් ද අපේ රටේ කොටසකරුවෝ බව අප හර්ද සාක්ශිය දනී. ඔවුන් සමග තරහින් ජාතිවාදී මිත්‍යාවක් පිටුපස හඹායමින් අපි අපිවම රවටා ගන්නෙමු. දශක ගණනාවක් තිස්සේ ඔවුන් කොතරම් දුක් වින් දාද යන්න අප සිහිපථ් කල යුතු වේ. ඔවුඞේ අරගලය තේරුම් ගමු. මවුබිමෙන් පිට ජීවත් වීමේ දුක දන්නා මම සුස්දු නොවන මිනිසුන් අදටත් මේ ලොකයේ මුහුණ දෙන සමාජ අසාධාරණයන්ද හොඳින් දනිමි.යුරෝපයේ ගුවන් තොටුපොලවල රේශල් ප්‍රොෆිලින් නැමති ආරක්‍ෂ්ක පියවරට මුහුණදෙන ලාංකිකයින් මම ඕනෑ තරම දැක ඇත්තෙමි. එය මටද සිදුවී ඇත . සුදු ජාතී මගීන් කිසිම පරික්‍ෂාවකි තොරව පෝලිමේ ඉදිරියට යද්දී, දුඹුරු සම ඇත්තෝ පෝලිමෙන් පසෙකට ගෙන ඔවුන් ගේ මුලු ශරීරයම පරික්‍ෂා කිරීම ලන්ඩනයේ හීත්‍රෝ ගුවන්තොටුපලේදීත්, ජ්‍ ර්මනියේ ෆ්‍රැන්ක්ෆර්ට් හීදීත් ඕනෑ තරම් දැක ගත හැක .පොදු බස් හා දුම්‍ රියන්හී ගමන් ගන්නා දුඹුරු සම ඇති මගීන් විඳින පහත් සැලකීම් මම දැක ඇත . ගුවන් තොටුපොලවලදී මමද රේශල් ප්‍රොෆෛලින් ආරක්‍ෂ්ක පියවරට මුහුණ දී ඇත . එය කොතරම් අපහාසාත්මක වුවත් මම එය එතරම් සිතට නොගන්නේ එය මට මට මගේ රටේදි කිසිදිනක නොවන බව මම දන්නා නිසාවෙනි.එවිට මගේ සිතට එන්නේ ලංකාවේ සුලු ජාතීන් ගේ ඩයස්පෝරාවය . මවුබිමේදී නොයෙක් සමාජ අසාධරණ වලට මුහුණදී මවුබිම හැරදා පැමිණි විටද එවැනිම අපහාසවලට මුහුණදීම ඔවුන් කොතරම් අසරණ කරනව ඇත්ද ? ඔවුන් ගේ කෝපය අප තේරුම්ගත යුතුය . ජාතික සංහිඳියාවට ක්‍රියා පිලිවෙතක් සෑදීම ඔවුන්ටත්, අපේ රටේ අනාගතයටත් අපි සතු වගකීමකි.

 මගේ තාත්තා වැනි පියවරුන් සියදහස් ගණනක් නිසා (විශේෂයෙන්ම දිවිපිදූ හා ආබාදිත වූ සෙබලුන් නිසා) අද මාත් අයියාත් ඇතුලු ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන් මිලියන විස්සකට යුධබියෙන් තොර රටක් ඇත . ඔවුඞේ වෙහෙසට ප්‍රතිඵල ලැබී ඇත . අද අලුත් දවසකි අලුත් සටනකි. මම රටට බොහොම ණයගැතිය . ඒ ණය ගෙවනතුරු විශාල බරක් මගේ හිසමත ඇත . තාත්තා අයියාගේත් මගේත් අනගතය වෙනුවෙන් සටන් කලා මෙන් මම මගේ දරුවන් ගේ අනාගතය වෙනුවෙන් සටන්කල යුතුය . මගේ දරුවන් කවදාහෝ ලංකවේ ජීවත් වනවාටත් ඔවුන් මම මෙන්ම ලංකාවට ආදරය කර එහි සුන්ඳරත්වය විඳිනවා දකින්නට මම දකින්නට මම කැමැත්තෙමි. ඔවුන් මෙලොවට පැමිණෙනට පෙර ලංකාව වචනයේ පරිසමාප්ත අර්ථයෙන්ම ප්‍රජාතන්‍ත්‍රවාදී ජනරජයක් කිරීමට සටන් කිරීමට මම් බලාපොරොත්තු වෙමි, ජීවිතයේ සෑෑම දිනකම යලි යලිත් අධිශ්ඨාන කර ගනිමි.

 අද ඊසානදිග ඇමරිකාවේ ඉතා ශීතල දිනයකි. ජනේලයෙන් එලිය බැලූ විට සෑම තැනම හිමෙන් වැසී ඇත . මේ ගතවෙන්නේ ශීත ඍතුවේ දරුණුම කාළයයි. අද රාත්‍රියට උශ්ණත්වය රිණ විසිපහට පමණ බසිනි ඇතැයි අනුමාන කර ඇත . අද වැනි දිනවලට ලංකාවේ නොසිටීමේ පාලුව මට හොඳට දැනෙයි. එහෙත් කාලය ඉක්මණින් ගත වෙයි. ලබන සතිය වනවිට යලි ඉර එලිය වැටී පොලොව මතුපිට ඇති අයිස් තට්ටු දියවෙන්නට පටන්ගනු ඇත . හිරු පායන්නේ වසන්තයේ බලාපොරොත්තු ගෙන එමිනි. කොල හැලී ඇකිලී ගොස් ඇති ගස්වලට වසන්තයේ නව පණ ලැබෙනු ඇත . මඩවගුරු මල් පොකුණූ වනු ඇත . අප ජීවත්වන ලෝකය ඉතා බලාපොරොත්තු සහගත එකකි. නන්දා මාලිනියන කියනමෙන් අද පමනක් නොවේ අපට හෙටක්ද තිබේ. අරුනලු කැන්පිබිදී නව දිනක් ලබනු ඇත . අඳුරින් බර ආකර තුලද මැණික් දිලිය හ ැක .

ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදයේ වසන්තය හීනයක් නොව . ඇය ලග ලගම පැමිණෙනු ඇත . ඇය ඉතා අවංකය . කරුණාවන්තය . සියලුදෙනාටම එකසේ ආදරය කරන්නීය . මම ඇය වෙනුවෙන් සටන් කරමි. ඔබත් මා සමග ඇය වෙනුවෙන් සටන් කරන්නට ඔබේ අවි බිම තබා පැමිණෙනු ඇතැයි මම විශ්වාස කරමි. ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය වෙනුවෙන් සටන් කිරීමට කිසිවෙකු බියවිය යුතු නැත . මගේ සටන ධාර්මිකය . ධර්මය විසින් මා රකිණූ ඇත .