Sri Lanka was granted Independence in 1948 and exactly a year later after the country gained independence the independence Remembrance Day was held with Sinhalese and Tamil yet to be declared as official languages of the country and since then in the past 72 years many generations have grown unaware of the asset they possessed and without appreciating the value of freedom. In that seven decades, the country had stagnated in development compared to other countries in Asia, as the result today, the quality of life of Sri Lankan people lags behind countries as Malaysia, Singapore that received independence after Sri Lanka with around USD 4,000 per capita income. Though considered a middle income country and yet Sri Lanka has not seen enough development as other middle income countries. On all counts the country has not developed in the areas of health, education, public transport, housing, disability support and job market sectors areas; in spite of the fact that health and education were free for the people even before the country gained independence.
Earlier, at the inauguration of the independence memorial building at Torrington Square, the national anthem was sung on February 4, 1949 in both languages, refer to official notification displaced above; yet no fuss from policy makers in the parliament or others as then people were contended with life in their motherland, then called Ceylon. As years passed the rulers adopted an exclusive majoritarian policy singing of the national anthem in both languages ceased and the policy makers in parliament instead of serving the people were pre occupied as development agents to earn extra income. These divisive politics played a very large role to prevent proper development of the country and pre occupation of law makers’ increased corrupt activities caused many uprisings from the ruled that were all supressed successfully by the rulers, the last was to end the civil-war in 2009, at a heavy cost to the ruled and the country. With a change of wind in 2015 and confirmation of both Sinhalese and Tamil as official languages of the country, the practice of singing on Independence Day celebrations the National Anthem resumed from that year.
Today, Sri Lankan rulers have to serve their country with a large aging and disabled population that came out of three decades long costly civil-war incurring heavy debts and with many war related issues of the Tamils not resolved. In addition in the past decade, the rulers are facing many challenges in terms of development; climate change and its effects has ranked the country as the second vulnerable country in the world. These main challenges remaining on Sri Lanka is preventing it from becoming a true sovereign multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual country. While all the sufferings the people in the North and East regions of the country faced during the three civil-war decades to 2009 and beyond with negative peace years to 2015 resulted in many generation growing without knowing the lyrics of the National Anthem, refer to the Lyrics in Tamil displaced below. It was copied from present day school text book, confirmation that the present generation of Tamils would sing the national anthem with full feelings as the lyrics are in the language they understand.
Paradoxically, the President as the ruler is taking all efforts to make the celebrations of the 72nd Anniversary of Independence on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 an occasion to ponder for the ruled. Yet, there have been a lot of coverage in the media about a particular law maker, who entered parliament during the troubled civil-war years and rose to prominence expressing views that the National Anthem should only be sung in Sinhalese Language at this year’s Independence Day celebrations on February 4, 2020. Regrettably, this law maker is not aware that his view is in conflict with the constitution of the country; and if rulers comply would only help to reinstate the feelings of ‘them’ and ‘us’ in the minds of the Tamil minorities and would certainly be negative to the efforts of the President to unite the people in groups scattered in the country.
In the past neither the rulers nor the ruled were ready to confess that the nation has lost its greatness; as majority of its citizens are corrupt no matter which political alliance hold power, corrupt activities had gone unabated. Today, the little island nation is divided not by nationality, sex, religion or from which part of the country they belong, but is divided into two large alliance of political parties representing all communities that has shared rule between them for many decades at a great cost to the ruled. Sri Lankan have thus failed to see the value of freedom and in retrospect lost it. The little island nation that was once a paradise, today have billions of foreign debts to settle and with many basic unresolved issues for the people; particularly the minorities in North and East are left with many unresolved civil-war related issues.
In this scenario, all citizens must be inspired to put the country before self and help their motherland Sri Lanka to regain the lost freedom. Perhaps possible with a change in mindset by inducing the people to respect the National Flag and sing the National Anthem in the language one understand. No matter when or where the National Anthem is sung it needs to be done with real feelings in the mother tongue of the singer and it was with that in mind the lyrics were well composed in both official languages in the days the country enjoyed real freedom. Let all Sri Lankan work for the real freedom to unite the country than keep the Sri Lankan communities divided for petty politics gains of rulers!