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Solving Tamil problem is the way out of economic crisis: Rasamanickam



TNA MPs meeting Tamil diaspora in London

by Sujeeva Nivunhella

reporting from London

TNA Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran and Trincomalee District MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam were in London last week on their way back home from New York and met with British Government officials and members of Tamil and Muslim diaspora communities living in London.

Talking exclusively to the Sunday Island, Rasamanickam said that they had fruitful talks with British government officials and diaspora communities. Tamils in Sri Lanka have been aspiring for self-determination since independence and they are still where they were.

They are not looking for a separate state but a Quebec/Tamil Nadu style of administration within one country. If the government is willing to fulfill Tamil aspirations, they can easily bring foreign currency needed to escape the present debt trap.

Some excerpts of the interview:

Q: What is the purpose of your visit to London?

A: MP Sumanthiran and I had a four-day visit to the UK, when we met various groups including Lord Tariq Ahmad, Minister of State for South Asia in the Foreign and Commonwealth office and the Tamil and Muslim diaspora. We reiterated the need for a political solution in Sri Lanka because that is what is needed to uplift the country’s economy.

Representing my generation, I have a responsibility to ensure that Lankan youth remain in the country. There is a trend of people trying to move out with long lines outside passport offices. They want to leave in the context of the terrible shape of the country’s economy and this must be addressed. For that, we need a political solution to communal differences within the country.

This is something that has been unresolved for 73 years since 1948; and our party has been working on it for many years. We met the Muslim community because in the North and the East more than 90% of the population are Tamil speaking people and Muslims are a part of that group. This is not a separatist agenda.

If you take Canada as an example, despite special arrangements Quebec remains a part of Canada. In India, there is Tamil Nadu includes Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where the people speak Tamil. They have the right to exercise their franchise and retain their identity. We want to live as Sri Lankans but we don’t want to give up our identity.

During our visit, we talked about this at different levels, with three or four meetings with British Government officials and 10-15 with diaspora groups.

Q:  What kind of a political solution are you searching for?

A: A political solution that could be acceptable for all Lankans – Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim. A solution where Tamil people’s genuine interests are accepted. We don’t want to go into details but what we want is something acceptable to all communities. We are never going to do anything not acceptable to the Sinhala people. We are not seeking a separate state. We want to work with the Sinhalese. We want to work with the government and come to an amicable solution.

Q: Have you put forward your proposal to the government?

A: Well, the government of Sri Lanka denied us a meeting for almost a year and a half, since the present parliament convened. We are yet to meet the President. Hopefully, he will give us an opportunity to meet him now. British ministers want to meet us. US delegates want to meet us. Canadian delegates want to meet us but our own President doesn’t want to meet us. That’s the irony.

Q: You mentioned Quebec and Tami Nadu. Do you want a separate state?

A: No. We want a solution where our rights are respected. We want to be able to govern our people. We want to be able to have our own administration. That is within Sri Lanka as one country. No separatist agenda here. But we don’t want to lose our identity. Tamils are not refugees in Sri Lanka. The reason why I mentioned Quebec and Tamil Nadu is because a structure that has worked and proven exists there. We want to be in one united country but we want our political rights.

From 1948 since we gained independence from the British till 1978 there was no violence. For 30 years, our leaders and our community struggled for a political solution through dialogue. It was when that was rejected that the war started. When legitimate concerns are not addressed, people tend to resort to violence. We are against violence. But how long can we keep it that way? It’s already 13 years since the war ended. When we cannot offer a solution to the people, then they resort to other measures.

Q: You and MP Sumanthiran went to the USA and Canada and met some government officials and then came to England and met British officials too. Are you asking these countries to push the SL government to find a solution for you?

A: Everyone is fully aware of what the Sri Lankan government did. At the height of the war in 2009, all these countries helped Sri Lanka to end the war and restore peace in the country on the basis that all Lankans will be treated equally. But the SL government has failed to do that and those western countries now have a responsibility to ensure that the Tamil speaking people are not marginalized. Mahinda Rajapaksa promised devolution beyond 13A, now they are trying to get rid of 13A. Therefore countries like Britain, USA and Canada have a responsibility to ensure that Tamils in Sri Lanka have equal rights.

Q:  Does the Tamil community in Sri Lanka believe they still do not fit in with society?

A: Absolutely. Tamils in Sri Lanka are given second-hand treatment. We are treated like second-class citizens. Look at the President’s most recent address on the One Country, One Law concept. There’s no Tamil on the committee. Even if there was one, it doesn’t mean much. They are not even worried about the optics. At least they should have thought, we have to make sure there is a Tamil in the committee even as a namesake. The President did not bother. That is the best example of our being second class citizens in the country.

 Q: You first contested through United People’s Freedom Alliance in 2015 and in 2020 you contested through Tamil National Alliance. What was the reason for this switch?

A: I was the SLFP organizer in 2013. I joined Mahinda Rajapaksa. At the time I was only 22-years old. I joined on the promise that Tamil people will be given an equal place in the country. But he failed to do that. He promised to go beyond 13A. I even worked with President Maithripala Sirisena. TNA backed Sirisena at that election. But both these politicians fooled the Tamil people. I was driven to the TNA three years after I joined politics.

Q: Can you see any future Sinhala leader who may listen to the Tamil community?

A: I don’t want to mention names. But if there is no Sinhala leader who listens to the Tamil people, then there is no Sinhala leader who can bring Sri Lanka out of the debt trap. There is no way Sri Lanka has a future if there is no one willing to do that. If you leave Tamil and Muslim people out, there is no future for Sri Lanka.

Q: What do you think about the current economic situation in Sri Lanka?

A: We are facing a major economic crisis. We have got debt payments of USD 5 billion a year for the next five years. We have large budget deficit and no plans to fix it. The only alternative is to go to the IMF. But if you go there, they will impose very strict conditions on economic spending in SL making the government more unpopular – not that it is popular now.

The only option is to solve the national Tamil question and we can bring in money. It’s only USD 35 billion. If the Tamil people’s quest for their rights is resolved, we can bring 35 billion in five years. That is not a problem. We have so many friends and nations who are friends with Tamils who will help on the promise that Sri Lanka will be a human rights-respecting country. If they fail to do that there’s no future for this country. With the economic crisis so bad, the only way forward is this.

Q: My understanding is that the government wants the Tamil community to come and help them out.A: We will be happy to help them and have said so openly. We will support any government that can solve this problem.Q: Dr. Harsha de Silva recently said that good people from all political parties including the JVP and TNA should join together to form a future government. What do you think about that?

A: Dr Harsha or whoever else wants to do that need to articulate their position on the Tamil national question first. We don’t want to be always be in the opposition opposing everything.

Campaigning in Batticaloa I never promised to build roads or houses. I told the people that I will try to the best of my ability to create an environment where Tamils can live in peace in this country. That is why they voted for me. If someone thinks that there is a way to form a government including all of us, they first need to articulate their position on our issue. We are not going to support any government unless they are happy to solve our problems. Q: You keep talking of the Tamil National problem. What is your main problem?A: That there is no devolution of power. Our people are unable to exercise their franchise the way they want. In Sri Lanka, we are a minority but we must have all the rights everybody in the world should have.Q: If all the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people can live together in one country, why do you want to have a separate administration?A: Sinhala people are most welcome in the North and East. We love the Sinhala people.  In fact, my mother is Sinhala.  We are only opposed to the idea of trying to artificially de-legitimize our identity. District of Ampara was only created in 1960. Landless people from Matara and Galle were brought into Ampara and settled there whilst Tamil people in those areas were landless.

I heard that the government is planning to create a project of 500 houses a district, based on the national ethnic ratio. In Batticaloa out of 500 houses, 350 houses will be given to the Sinhala people when there are over 300,000 Tamil people in Batticaloa with no houses, how can they give houses to the people who came from outside?  Up to now, the Mahaweli Authority has given 95% of the land to the Sinhala people, 1.9% to Tamil, 1.7% to Muslim and 1.5% to Indian Tamils. We are not against the Sinhala people. We are against the government that is trying to divide us.

Q: How do you see the future of Sri Lanka?

A: The future is going to be very bleak unless they resolve this issue. We already see hundreds of people outside passport offices seeking to migrate to other countries. That is not because they don’t want to live in Sri Lanka. They can’t live in Sri Lanka because the economy is so bad.Q: Do you think Tamil people might take up arms again in the future?A: Well the world has moved from armed rebellion.  Violence is not something that we believe in. I don’t know about others, but as for me I’ll never encourage taking arms again.

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‘The endangered speeches’



by Usvatte-aratchi

That was the title of a short review of a book named Language City written by Ross Perlin. The review was written by Johnson, who usually writes to The Economist on language and appeared in The Economist of April 13. A group of scholars in New York City found that the citizens of that mega-city spoke 700 languages, roughly 10 percent of all languages alive now all over the world. That is probably true probably of London and Paris as well, who additionally have had an imperial past. What a boon, a veritable Tower of Bable.

Ross Perlin wrote about six languages, so spoken. One is Seke in Nepal, squeezed between Nepali and Tibetan. Wakhi in Central Asia is among Chinese, Persian and Russian. Nahuatl spoken by 1.6 million people in Mexico is under threat from Spanish. N’ko spoken in West Africa is in competition with French. Yiddish, spoken in southern Germany and later in New York, is giving way to German and English. Perlin picked up these languages from among the 30 that he came across in New York City. Little wonder that that medley irked Donald Trump, disturbed about his conviction by a New York jury.

Johnson went on to talk about 7,000 languages that are alive now. That number has been discussed for about 30 years now. The largest group among them is in Africa. Their survival strength lies in their isolation from more aggressive invaders. Another large cluster is in Papua New Guinea, where hemmed in between tall and thickly forested mountains, each group in a valley speaks a language unknown in the other. As these languages come into contact with more aggressive languages, they lose out and eventually die when fewer than ten people habitually use that language.

As Islam spread in North Africa, its language, Arabic replaced the local languages. Over centuries, Arabic in each country developed its own variation which is hard for a person in another country to understand. At regional intercountry meetings, officials go back to Koranic Arabic, which is not intelligible to the people at large. Latin, which was used by a small sliver of the population in medieval Europe, lost ground to rising vernaculars.

It remained supreme in learning and the church for several centuries, well into the 19th century. The vernaculars of the powerful rising nations replaced Latin in Europe and established themselves in colonies that the imperial countries conquered or populated. This is especially interesting because we find a language well-established for centuries, losing ground to upstarts. The special feature was that the new languages were vehicles of new knowledge that people found available to them. Martin Luther translated the bible into German in 1522. King James’s authorised version of the Bible in English appeared about a hundred years later.

The consequences were momentous. A contrasting feature emerged more recently when well-established languages carried new knowledge and threatened the survival of old vernaculars. Samskrt, a language that carried forward knowledge far and wide (Java, Cambodia) until about the 13th century, came to rest in backwaters, yielding place to the brash newcomer, English. An Indian scholar working on a problem in Panini’s work (Panini was a Samskrt grammarian in the 6th century.), found the solution in distant Cambridge while working with a professor, who was Italian.

The earliest of these ‘conquering’ languages were Portuguese and Spanish which subjugated indigenous languages in South America. Amazingly, people who inhabited that landmass from Manitoba in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south mostly lost their languages and now use 4 Western European languages: Portuguese, Spanish, French (All Romance languages) and English. ‘South of the border’ lies Latin America! However, some indigenous languages survived, especially in remote parts of Brazil, in parts of Mexico, Peru and in Reservations in North America.

Chinese, a source of fundamental innovations in the world did not find domicile in any cultures overseas, except among ethnic Chinese living overseas (hua quiao) in many parts of the world. We owe the discovery of gunpowder, the mariners’ compass, silk production, ink, and printing to Chinese ingenuity. The significance of these discoveries to the eventual rise of Western civilisation is immense. The wisdom of Kong Fut Ze (Confucius) and Lao Tze and Sut Tzun notwithstanding and that it is the first language of some 1.3 billion people, Chinese is not one of the leading international languages.

Sinhala, an ancient language continuously used by most people on this island, has changed much in the last hundred years. Read Guttila Kavya Varnana written by Pandit W. F. Gunawardena in 1920(?) and a book written by Sarachchandra, Gunadasa Amarasekera or W. A. Abeysinghe, a hundred years later and you realise the emergence of a new usage. The beginnings of that change came with Kumaratunga Munidasa and Martin Wickremasinghe and with the growth of mass literacy spread among all Sinhala users. More recently, the widespread use of Sinhala on radio and television has spread a new patio incapable of expressing none but the gross inanities that occupy the minds of their creators.

There wasn’t only a change in usage but also in the knowledge that the new usage carried. Again, the pioneer was Martin Wickremasinghe, soon followed by Kumaratunga Munidasa. Sinhala is in a battle against English for survival. English with its close cousin across the Atlantic has been at the forefront of forces that change our economies and ways of living. (Think of blue jeans.) Most talented young people begin to work in English at the end of secondary school. They often leave for other countries.

None of these bodes well for the growth of a vigorous language that not only carries new knowledge but also engages in discovering new knowledge. We must not only revel in kav silu mini kusa dava but also write a new vavuluva. We must not only marvel at Jetavanaramaya and Jayaganga but also take pleasure in writing a programme for a robot capable of complex new tasks. Celebrating mav basa annually is no substitute for the inventive use of a language.

‘Alut alut dae notanana jatiya lova no nangi
Hinga kaema bari vuna tena lagi gaya mara gi ’ Virit Vakiya.

That is no less true of a language than of a people.

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Lester , Underrated : Akkara Paha



Akkara Paha

By Uditha Devapriya

Akkara Paha (1969) contains perhaps the saddest and most poignant finale in any of Lester James Peries’s films. Ajith Samaranayake distilled it brilliant in his tribute to Madawala S. Ratnayake, who wrote the novel.

Here were dreamy young antiheroes seemingly without a purpose in life, fascinated by their own sexual urges but gripped by a sense of futility and self-pity.

Sena, the protagonist of Akkara Paha, is one such antihero. Poor but intelligent, sharp but sensitive, he finds himself in a totally different environment after securing a scholarship to an elite school in Kandy. Unaccustomed to life in the city, he strikes up a friendship with a girl at his boarding. The friendship later grows into a romance.

Eventually, he realises his limitations: he is far more intelligent than anyone in his class, but a bounder in their scheme of things. He responds to this by rebelling against his own inheritance, first by abandoning the girl he fell in love with in his village, and then by neglecting his studies and pining after the girl at the boarding.

This recklessness costs him everything and brings him no consolation. He does all he can to impress the girl, Theresa, played by Janaki Kurukulasuriya, even raiding into the family till and getting what little money his sister, played in her second film role by Malini Fonseka, has saved to buy Theresa expensive perfumes. Theresa initially humours him. Yet after a while she loses interest in him and begins an affair with a rich cousin.

His sexual awakening leads Sena to much disappointment, and he soon abandons his studies and tries his hand at manual employment. He finds a job at a sawmill. Yet having been shielded from hard work by his father – who has staked everything on him getting a middle-class education and securing a white-collar job – he becomes sick and is sent to hospital. It is there that his family discover what he has done with his life and to his future.

The ending unfolds in the backdrop of these tragedies, but it is not a tragic ending. Spurred by his father’s indebtedness, Sena’s family have by now moved to a State colonisation scheme. Sena’s sister has fallen in love with a neighbour. The two of them decide to marry. Meanwhile, Sena rekindles his romance with his village sweetheart, Sandha, and in doing so returns, in a manner of speaking, to the world he abandoned.

The final scene, played against a slow, haunting poem sung by Amaradeva, underscores this process of departure and return, of abandoning the past and returning to it. Sena and Sandha wave goodbye to Sena’s sister and her husband. The two of them then walk back, heads bowed down, uncertain of their future, but somewhat hopeful.

Rathnayake’s novel wraps up differently, with the sister talking about Sena with their mother after her wedding, and her revealing that he intends to marry someone. The mother is distraught: he has already ruined his life for a girl, and is worried he may ruin what’s left of it for another. She changes after hearing who his intended bride is: Sandha.

By only hinting at Sena’s reconciliation with Sandha and the possibility of their marriage, Lester Peries ends the story on a more poignant, subtle note. It is not like the ending in Golu Hadawatha, where the spurned lover forgives the girl who rejected him, or in Nidhanaya, where the husband finally realises his love for his wife. What makes Akkara Paha one of Lester’s better films – and one of his more sensitive works – is the lack of certainty about Sena’s fate. Ratnayake is more definite, concrete. Lester is anything but.

Akkara Paha was the second of a trilogy of films that Lester Peries did for Ceylon Theatres. The trilogy, taken as a whole, remains a landmark in the Sinhala cinema, because on no other occasion did a prominent director, of his standing, get such a lucrative offer from a leading film company. Until then the theatres had pitted themselves against his work: according to his biographer A. J. Gunawardena, they refused to lend his team lighting equipment for Gamperaliya because of fears that his work would undermine theirs. By the latter part of the decade, however, things had begun to change.

Ceylon Theatres’ arrangement with Lester showed what could be achieved if the resources of commerce were put in the service of art. Yet of the three films he did – the other two being Golu Hadawatha (1968) and Nidhanaya (1970), the latter acknowledged as his best work – Akkara Paha remains curiously neglected and underrated. Though it travelled to the West – it was one of seven films by Lester screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where among other things he met the formidable Pauline Kael – and won praise from foreign critics, it never got the reputation it deserved at home.

What makes this more curious is the film’s achievement. In no other work of his does Lester probe into the lives of the Sinhalese peasantry with as much poignancy as he does in Akkara Paha. While the film does exude what his critics saw as his bourgeois humanist tendencies – a charge levelled with equal vigour at his contemporary Satyajit Ray, who at the time was making his Calcutta trilogy, set against the backdrop of the Naxalite uprising in the city – it does not romanticise, still less glamourise, its subject.


All that, in turn, underscores an even more remarkable achievement. In the history of the Sinhala cinema, Akkara Paha may have been the first film to depict the contradiction between the material ambitions and the lived experiences of the Sinhala Buddhist rural youth. Lester does not really explore these tensions, or predict their unravelling in later years, particularly in April 1971. But compared with his other two Ceylon Theatres films – in particular Golu Hadawatha, which again delves into the Sinhala middle-class – Akkara Paha engages with the discontent and frustrations of the rural youth.

We do not really know what Lester’s response to the April 1971 insurrection was. What we do know is that by that point, a new and more radical group of filmmakers had begun to criticise him for what they saw as his bourgeois humanism.

Around this time the leftwing Bengali filmmaker Mrinal Sen was berating Satyajit Ray on similar grounds as well. Yet whereas Ray – who was as representative of the Bengali bourgeoisie as Lester was of the Sinhala bourgeoisie – made the Calcutta Trilogy – which underscored his sympathy for the radical youth in light of the Naxalite insurgency – Lester went his own way. At the time of the 1971 insurrection, while the likes of Dharmasena Pathiraja were making Ahas Gawwa, he was directing Desa Nisa.

In that regard, I see Akkara Paha as his most radical work yet, more radical than Yuganthaya, which as Pathiraja pointed out for me in an interview years ago was marred by a somewhat jaundiced view of politics. The film predicts the radicalisation of the Sinhala youth though it steps away from engaging with that completely. Like Para Dige, Pathiraja’s best work and in my view his most underrated, the protagonist does not face a clear future at the end: like the protagonist in Pathiraja’s film, he and his fiancée stare into the distance, although unlike in Para Dige they turn back and return home.

It is this act of turning back which, at one level, may have won for Lester censure from his more radical critics. I disagree with those who portray Lester as a conservative artiste. But that does not undermine their fundamental point: that at a time of great political ferment and artistic rebellion, his films seemed to be out of step with the times. Perhaps it is this led critics to perceive a drop in quality in his later work, starting from Desa Nisa. That this drop transpired immediately after his Ceylon Theatres trilogy is telling.

Whatever the reason may have been for the film’s lack of success, Akkara Paha marks an important point in Lester’s career. It is poignant, haunting, tragic, and redeeming. Between the romanticism of Golu Hadawatha and the nihilism of Nidhanaya, it occupies a twilight world. Admittedly, the story is optimistic, and in its ending, somewhat naïve: the novel is more concrete and direct. But it is suffused with a humanism that transcends its limitations. Above all, it is vintage Lester James Peries: life-affirming, ever hopeful.

Uditha Devapriya is a writer, researcher, and analyst who writes on topics such as history, art and culture, politics, and foreign policy. He is one of the two leads in U & U, an informal art and culture research collective. He can be reached at

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Religious nationalism suffers notable setback in India



People casting their votes in the recent Lok Sabha poll in India

Democratic opinion the world over could take heart from the fact that secularism is alive and well in India; the South Asian region’s most successful democracy. While it is indeed remarkable for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to win a third consecutive term as head of government in India’s recent Lok Sabha election, what is of greater significance is the fact that the polls featured a resounding defeat for religious nationalism.

Consequently, India’s secular credentials remain intact. Secularism, which eschews identity politics of all kinds, including religious nationalism is, after all, a cornerstone of democracy and secularism has been a chief strength of India. The defeat of religious nationalism, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, is a triumph for not only the democratic forces of India but for their counterparts the world over.

It was plain to see that the Bharathiya Janata Party under P.M. Modi was going the extra mile to placate Hindu nationalist opinion in Uttar Pradesh and outside through the construction of an eye-catching Ram temple in the state, for example, but the vote-catching strategy has visible failed as the polls results in the state indicate. For, the number of seats won by the BJP in the state has shrunk dramatically. In fact, the BJP was resoundingly defeated in the very constituency where the temple was constructed.

Constructive criticism of religious nationalism should not be considered an indictment of the religions concerned. Hinduism is one of the world’s most profound religions and it would sustain itself and thrive regardless of whether vote-hungry political parties champion its cause or otherwise. However, the deployment of any religion in the acquiring and aggrandizement of power by political forces calls for criticism since it amounts to a gross abuse of religion. Religious nationalism is an example of such abuse and warrants decrying in democratic states.

Unfortunately, religious nationalism is rampant in South Asia and it is most alive and well in Sri Lanka. And to the degree to which religious nationalism thrives in Sri Lanka, to the same extent could Sri Lanka be considered as deviating from the cardinal principles and values of democratic governance. It is obligatory on the part of those posing as Sri Lanka’s national leaders to reject religious nationalism and take the country along the path of secularism, which essentially denotes the separation of politics and religion. Thus far, Sri Lanka’s political class has fought shy of taking up this challenge and by doing so they have exposed the country as a ‘facade democracy’.

Religion per se, though, is not to be rejected, for, all great religions preach personal and societal goodness and progress. However, when religious identities are abused by political actors and forces for the acquiring and consolidation of power, religious nationalism comes to the fore and the latter is more destructive than constructive in its impact on societies. It is for these reasons that it is best to constitutionally separate religion from politics. Accordingly, secularism emerges as essential for the practise of democracy, correctly conceived.

The recent Indian Lok Sabha poll was also notable for the role economic factors played in the determining of its final results. Once again, Uttar Pradesh was instructive. It is reported that the high cost of living and unemployment, for instance, were working to the detriment of the ruling BJP. That is, ‘Bread’ or economic forces were proving decisive in voter preferences. In other words, economics was driving politics. Appeals to religion were proving futile.

Besides, it was reported that the opposition alliance hit on the shrewd strategy of projecting a bleaker future for depressed communities if the BJP ‘juggernaut’ was allowed to bulldoze its way onward without being checked. For, in the event of it being allowed to do so, the concessions and benefits of positive discrimination, for instance, being enjoyed by the weak would be rolled back in favour of the majority community. Thus, was the popular vote swung in the direction of the opposition alliance.

Accordingly, the position could be taken that economic forces are the principal shaping influences of polities. Likewise, if social stability is to be arrived at redistributive justice needs to be ushered in by governments to the extent possible. Religious nationalism and other species of identity politics could help populist political parties in particular to come to power but what would ensure any government’s staying power is re-distributive justice; that is, the even distribution of ‘Bread’ and land. In the absence of the latter factors, even populism’s influence would be short lived.

The recent Indian Lok Sabha elections could be said to have underscored India’s standing as a principal democracy. Democracy in India should be seen as having emerged stronger than ever as a result of the poll because if there were apprehensions in any quarter that BJP rule would go unchallenged indefinitely those fears have been proved to be baseless.

‘One party rule’ of any kind is most injurious to democracy and democratic forces in India and outside now have the assurance that India would continue to be a commodious and accommodative democracy that could keep democratic institutions and values ticking soundly.

Besides the above considerations, by assuring the region that it would continue with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India has underscored her ‘Swing State’ status. That is, she would take on a leadership role in South Asia and endeavor to be an inspirational guide in the region, particularly in respect of democratic development.

As for Sri Lanka, she has no choice but to be on the best of terms with India. Going forward, Sri Lanka would need to take deeply into consideration India’s foreign policy sensitivities. If there is to be an ‘all weather friend’ for Sri Lanka it has to be India because besides being Sri Lanka’s closest neighour it is India that has come to Sri Lanka’s assistance most swiftly in the region in the latter’s hour of need. History also establishes that there are least conflicts and points of friction among democracies.

However, identity politics are bound to continually cast their long shadow over South Asia. For smaller states this would prove a vexatious problem. It is to the extent to which democratic development is seen by countries of the South as the best means of defusing intra-state conflicts born of identity politics that the threat of identity politics could be defused and managed best.

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