Thinking outside the box is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective, often refers to novel or creative thinking; to look further and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking of the things beyond them. A clear out of the box thinking is the current economic diplomacy undertaken by the Unity Government done in the national interest is better late than never to happen at all. But the Bitter truth about Sri Lanka is that all past political leaders have wasted 70 years of independence and there are still few of them left in the legislature wanting to put the clock back. These reactionary leaders dream of the ‘good old days’ would like to see them again by putting the clock back, to return to a situation that used to exist, as the present situation is unpleasant for them, should realize that TIMES CHANGE.
Sri Lanka was divided into many kingdoms before it was made it into a single nation by the British who at independence in 1948 drafted a constitution explicitly fit for the country of multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities. Bitter Truth is with independence there arose the North and South distinction, as the leaders of Sinhala Buddhists majority community began committing ethno-religious supremacy over Tamils and Muslims minorities with no place at all for other communities, in particular Christians or Catholics lived in the Southern parts of the country in silence, while the upcountry Tamils were left out in the cold. Though all four religions practiced in Sri Lanka teach their followers to be tolerant of those who are different and to have compassion, whereas the past leaders ruled without any collective consciousness concentrated their efforts to put the clock back to pre-colonial era. Since independence, the rulers gave a higher rate of prejudice towards Buddhism, which become an institutionalized religion and very influential as they focused more on social and political aspects of religious events. As the result throughout the independence history there have been periodic riots and other forms of violence motivated by hatred on other religious believers. Finally, later who devote themselves to their beliefs without prejudice, began to resist the state and a civil-war broke out lasting three decades causing many massacres and untold destructions to properties never seen before in the country.
At the same time the political leaders with no global connectivity concepts in mind, as rulers de-globalized the economy and thereby ignored the development needs of the little island nation; and within the first decade the country failed miserably to keep its leading nation position in the region. Further without realizing that times change the rulers worked outside the constitution, first made the minority community of Indian origin working in the plantation industries stateless and deported most of them in later years back to India. The rulers concentrated their efforts to encourage subsistence food production for a swelling population; with an upsurge in consumer demands increased cost of imports. At the same time the rulers ventured into nationalising many export industries caused a reduction in export earnings resulting in a growing trade deficit. On the political front the rulers proceeded to oppress the minorities by making Sinhala as the official language overnight, without giving a grace period to learn the language that drove a wedge between the majority and the minority communities and the European origin community bolted out of the island. Final nail on the coffin for the deceased unity was replacing the neutral constitution with a republican constitution biased towards the majority community to make the minority communities a second class citizens in their own country. Thereafter periodic conflicts resulted between the majority and the minority communities leading to many uprisings to a civil-war causing heavy loss of lives and untold damages to properties. With lack of employment opportunities impacting those economic minorities mushroomed mainly in the rural areas around the little island. It was the poor southern youths that began uprising against the state first and was followed up more vigorously by the poor northern counterparts, with a difference for as Tamils had an ethnic zest. They were encouraged by their political leaders with their own mission to put the clock back to pre-independence era, when under British rule had benefitted their people. All these happened because, the leaders of the Buddhist majority community, as past rulers have silently forgotten Lord Buddha’s teaching that hatred begets hatred; convincingly poisoned the minds of their people to rid of the unity that existed with others. The rulers once again changed the constitution to introduce an executive president system of government with all the negative discriminatory clauses against the minority communities. The new executive president rushed into an open market economy policy without the necessary reforms in place and with ethnic conflict not resolved did not produce the anticipated economic boom. But did cause a new change where the urban areas got busy with activities, while the rural areas got neglected and in no time the wealth produced too got divided unevenly. The open market global connectivity concept brought in more imports to meet consumer demands, but the export oriented industries failed to keep phase, because the prevailing situations of conflict gave negative signals to shy away investors in addition to poor business setting of closed economy that was yet to be reformed for open market system. The government did however managed to get many infrastructure works done, there too the biased philosophy was applied. Over time this trend destroyed in total the harmony in diversity that had existed for centuries between communities and steered the country to a bloody and cruel civil-war that lasted three decades. Finally with foreign intervention the civil-war was brought to finish in 2009, but issues remained unresolved between communities, with more issues added due to the prolonged war and the rest is history.
The Unity Government formed in 2015 with yet another foreign intervention that was mandated by the people to resolve all these issues and take care of life-sustaining necessities as food, shelter and health care; to raise the standards of living of the population by meeting their economic and social needs. But unlike in the past the political parties of all the minority communities supported the government and it was done with the hope there would be a wind of change to make a fresh beginning and reduce fear from the minds of a population that came out of civil-war and wasted six negative peace years. Unfortunately, the government had to live with the same former administration serving them that had supported by disposed previous rulers. With many from the previous regime serving the new government the going was tough to say the least in the past three years having to first put right a corrupt system of administration that had over many decades accumulated heavy foreign debts, with their ministers picked from the same pool of legislators including many who played key role in the previous regime that had left behind many loss making venture at the time they were disposed in 2015.
True the government has steadily progressed with programmes and strategies to put country’s economy on track by 2020; but have received a lifeless reactions from the legislators representing the minorities living in North and East Provinces the prevailing situations has not been very encouraging and has only increased the sufferings of these communities as minorities in their own country. These representatives have given unconditional support to the government saving it from collapsing many times in the past three years, yet they are guilty of not taking up the issues of their voters to the government, while their leaders were helping with the preparation of a new constitution for all.
Sri Lankans was unified in 1948 as one nation by a balanced constitution with safety measure to protect the minorities. But in the seventy years without any collective consciousness the ruling lager majority community has failed to produce a shared identity to bind the population. Now in 2018 the Unity Government in power has steadily progressed with programmes and strategies to put country’s economy on track by 2020; but have received a lifeless reactions from the legislators representing the minorities, because of past failure of such schemes. But could succeed with the plan if the rulers could neutralize first all poisoning minds of any hate-mongering orators in and out of parliament and then with collective consciousness all legislators should think out of the box to resolve all people problems and approve the new constitution in draft stage to create unity in diversity before the next General Election in 2020.