Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka
Posted Date: 31-Mar-2009
Sri Lanka emerged as an independent country in 1948.The leaders of the Sinhala community sought to secure dominance over government by virtue of their majority. As a result, the democratically elected government adopted a series of Majoritarian measures to establish Sinhala supremacy.
In 1956, an act was passed to recognize Sinhala as the only official language, thus disregarding Tamil. The governments followed preferential policies that favored Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs. A new constitution stipulated that the state shall protect and foster Buddhism.
All these government measures, coming one after the other, gradually increased the feeling of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils. They felt that none of the major political parties led by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders were sensitive to their language and culture. They felt that the constitution and government policies denied them equal political rights, discriminated against them in getting jobs and their interests. As a result, the relations between the Sinhala and Tamil communities strained over time.
The Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and struggles for the recognition of Tamil as an official language, for regional autonomy and equality of opportunity in securing education and jobs. But their demand for more autonomy to provinces populated by the Tamils was repeatedly denied. By 1980s several political organizations were formed demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
The distrust between the two communities turned into a conflict. It soon turned into s civil war. As a result thousands of people of both the communities have been killed. Many families were forced to leave the country as refugees and many more lost their livelihoods. Sri Lanka had excellent record of economic development, education and health. But the civil war has caused a terrible set back to the social, cultural and economic life of the country.
All this has happened because the majority Sinhala community did not respect the views of the minority Tamils. And also they did not take the decisions that are in the interest of the Tamils.
MORAL: Imposing the will of majority community over others may look like an attractive option in the short run, but in the long run it undermines the unity of the nation.
Ethnic communities in sri lanka
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