|Wednesday, 2 June 2004|
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Indo-Lanka warmth stepped-up
The importance of continuous cordiality and goodwill in the Indo-Lanka relationship has been underscored by Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who met his Indian counterpart Natwar Singh in New Delhi recently for talks centering on matters of vital interest to the two countries.
This visit to New Delhi the first by a foreign dignitary after the new Government took office comes close on the heels of another the Lankan Foreign Minister undertook to the Indian capital recently, when the BJP- led coalition was in power in India.
These visits serve to underline the value Lanka places on sustained, warm ties between India and Sri Lanka and establishes the centrality of India in Lanka's foreign policy thinking.
What is of paramount importance to Sri Lanka is mutual cordiality in Indo-Lanka ties and this positive orientation in the relationship needs to be sustained irrespective of which party wields power at the Indian centre. Therefore, Minister Kadirgamar's friendship - consolidating diplomacy augurs well for the future of the Indo-Lanka relationship.
The unchanging nature of India's Sri Lanka policy was further underlined when Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh reiterated that India supported a negotiated settlement in Sri Lanka which satisfied the legitimate interests of all communities in Sri Lanka, within a united, geographically intact country.
Thus one could expect the even tenor in India's policy on Sri Lanka to continue and also expect a qualitative upgrading of our ties with India.
Besides, India has offered to help out in the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort in Lanka's North-East. This pledge of support was initially made by Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Nirupen Senn and was reiterated by Foreign Minister Natwar Singh during his meeting with Minister Kadirgamar. Sri Lanka could also be glad that defence cooperation talks between the two countries would continue and that there is a growing consensus between the countries on defence issues.
The bridges of friendship between India and Sri Lanka could be expected to be further strengthened by the centrist economic policy being adopted by the countries. The recent electoral verdicts in the two countries could be considered a vote against the market-centred approach to development.
This policy fattened a few in both countries while the majority of the people - the poor - were left out in the cold. Both, India and Sri Lanka were heirs to a mixed economy where the State and private sectors played and equal role and the recent electoral verdicts are signals from the people that what is needed in both countries is pro-people growth and not elite-centred wealth-generation.
This consensus on economic issues is also bound to bolster Indo-Lanka ties. We call for a continuous dialogue between both countries on these matters of mutual interest.
Film lovers are breathing a sigh of relief after the authorities ordered stopped the screening of two near-pornographic films at two Colombo cinemas. Culture Minister Vijitha Herath and his officials deserve the plaudits of all right thinking citizens for this commendable move.
The two films - The Driver and Italian Bodies - contained lewd scenes which had apparently not been shown to the censors. Stern action must be taken against the management of these cinemas for breaching film exhibition rules.
That said, a question arises as to why these trashy movies were passed even without the offensive scenes. A casual glance at the movies column in daily newspapers shows the abysmal depths to which our exhibitors have sunk. Evil Instinct, Cave Girl Island, Kaama and Emmanuelle 3 were among the shoddy movies doing their rounds last week in Colombo. Needless to say, these are heavy on sex, with a very flimsy storyline.
There should be a ban on these junk movies, ostensibly advertised with the 'adults only' tag. In reality, they are open even to schoolboys. The import of films has been liberalised, but it is no reason for allowing in near-pornographic movies for public exhibition. The Ministry of Culture and the National Film Corporation (NFC) must exercise some control over the import and distribution of films.
An overview of the film exhibition scenario indeed leaves a lot to be desired. Only a couple of local cinemas are showing quality Hollywood/Bollywood movies. The authorities should consider using the cinemas which currently show trashy films for exhibiting mainstream movies.
Film lovers here yearn to see Oscar-winning blockbusters such as Monster, Cold Mountain, Mystic River and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The NFC should take the lead in giving them that opportunity. Film buffs must also be given a chance to see the gems of world cinema. Films from France, Iran, Sweden, Canada, Korea, China, Japan and Australia have received rave reviews recently.
It is also disheartening to note the tendency among certain producers of Sinhala films to create copies of third-grade English films. Again, the accent seems to be on sex. Cultural authorities must formulate strict guidelines on the production of Sinhala movies.
The possibility of 'screening' scripts and storylines before production must be explored. Nevertheless, this must be done in a manner that does not stifle creativity.
The filmgoer certainly deserves better fare. We wish success to the Ministry of Culture and the NFC in their quest to crackdown on obscene films and give film lovers a chance to see excellent creations.
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