CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


The Type of Leadership The Country Needs


Although decisive presidential elections are only nine months away political mobilization is not taking place at the mass level at the present time.  This accounts for the fact that the main sideshow for the past several weeks is about the detection of large consignments of narcotics and the arrest of drug dealers, most of whom appear to be the agents of others who have still to be apprehended.   There is the added distraction of a parliamentarian going public and alleging that several of his fellow parliamentarians are themselves taking drugs. Instead of mass mobilization for political victory, the political meetings being organised are on a small scale and meant for party cadres who will take the propaganda messages to the people when the time comes.  

In the absence of mass mobilization events the political events that have been highlighted have been the felicitations of politicians who have notched up decades of service to the public.  The felicitation events for Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Tourism Minister John Amaratunge were attended by virtually all party leaders and received considerable media coverage.  Former US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, who was the keynote speaker at Minister Samaraweera's felicitation was widely quoted in the media. Giving a glowing testimonial to the minister she said that all over the world, democracy seems to be under attack, highlighting in particular the episode of Sri Lanka's constitutional crisis.  

Former ambassador Power also recognised the key contributions made by civil society, the judiciary, journalists, and political leaders in overcoming the challenge to Sri Lanka's democracy. She said that although Sri Lanka's institutions were under severe stress, they were not breaking. This is comparable to the situation in the United States, where President Donald Trump has been acting in a populist manner which is out of sync with the traditional ideals of that country.  But he has been restrained to a significant degree by strong institutions that are not buckling under pressure.  At a time when the Constitutional Council, which is meant to strengthen public institutions, is under attack by the opposition, this is a salutary reminder that in Sri Lanka too, the task is to strengthen institutions, such as the public administrative service, the judiciary and the various independent watchdog commissions, such as the Human Rights Commission, Police Commission and Bribery and Corruption Commission.  

HAVING SPACE    

However, an even more significant speech was delivered at the felicitation for Minister Amaratunge by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of the Catholic Church.  He made pronouncement on national issues that require a sure grasp of the complex political realities in the country.  Addressing the gathering, which included the top political leadership of the country that was seated in the front row, including President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, he said the country needed a transformation of its political life.  He called for each ethnic and religious community to be given the space, freedom and rights to grow and flourish.  He pointed out that the political basis for decision making in a multi ethnic and multi religious society was multilateralism and not majoritarianism.  

Last week the National Peace Council launched a report that presented the findings of a Religious Freedom Index (RFI) conducted across the 25 districts in the country. The Religious Freedom Index is a survey study based on public expert opinion on the status of religious freedom in their respective areas.  This study, undertaken by Dr Pradeep Peiris of Colombo University was to enable policymakers, law enforcement authorities, religious leaders and the general public to become more aware of the social, political and cultural context within which religious freedom exists.  An important finding was that religious freedom and inter-religious tolerance by and large already exists within the community.  What is needed is to protect it from ill motivated intrusions from outside the community.  

Sri Lanka is fortunate to have the basic ingredient for social cohesion, which is the willingness of people to readily engage with those of other communities and to take them as opportunities to be hospitable to those from outside who have come  into their midst.  One of the most readily observable features of any community level inter-religious or inter-ethnic interaction is the goodwill that resonates throughout the activity and is readily visible.  When asked about religious freedom in the areas in which they live, the great majority of respondents in the survey claimed that they can practice their religion freely. For example 83.5% stated there is no obstacle at all to practice their religion in the area they live.  However, these same respondents also believe that the situation in the country as a whole is more precarious for religious freedom.   

TRUSTED LEADERSHIP    

The religious freedom survey showed that the communities harbor various insecurities about the future.  Even as they feel that they enjoy freedom in the present, they are very concerned about the freedom to practice their culture and religion, and their demographic strength in the future. They also felt that the sense of security that they experience in enhanced where there is a good understanding between the religious leaders in their area.  The main reasons for this would be the fact that the religious leaders are better able to intervene as community leaders in any internal breakdown of social harmony.  What they could not control however was the interventions that came from outside and more powerful than they.  What is needed therefore is a national level leadership that permits each ethnic and religious community to have the freedom and rights to live as empowered citizens and to protect their own spaces.

On the one hand there is the vision of a polity that is essentially Sinhala Buddhist because a big majority of 70 percent of the people belong to this community.  Catering to the sense of history of this majority and to the fears and insecurities that accompany it, was a winning formula put forward by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and members of his political alliance during the decade of his presidency.  On the other hand, there is the countervailing vision of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious polity in which each community has its own sense of history and fears and insecurities.  The present government has been seeking to stand for this vision. 

The real political focus at the present time is in identifying the political direction for the future with an emphasis on building of political alliances.  Even as the country closes its first decade after the end of the war, the issue that is likely to be uppermost in the minds of the people will be to whom the country's future be entrusted to.  The basic requirement that will be sought in the selection of the candidates will be to identify who can be trusted to stand by a set of values and obtain the vote of the majority of the electorate. There is a short list of candidates on both sides.   Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses.  The final decision will be made after a careful calculation as to who will be able to present the vision that summons up the support of the majority of the voters.    

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy
  •