New dawn for East
According to an
inside page news item in our edition yesterday quoting
Vocational Training Minister Dayasritha Thissera more than 60
per cent of youth recruited for vocational training this year
are from the newly liberated Eastern Province.
Speaking at an event in Paris organised by the SLFP Paris
Branch the Minister noted that Tamil youth in the East were keen
to get the maximum advantage of the training schemes of his
This certainly is an encouraging trend that would enable us
to harness the talents and skills of this segment of our
countrymen who remained only on the fringes of national
consciousness all these years. Of course the raging conflict
prevented any noteworthy attempt to draw in these youth into the
mainstream of events. They thus languished with their talents
untapped and potential unrealised. Today the situation has
changed offering a place in the sun to these hapless youth
giving them a chance to pick up the pieces of their lives.
The East today is undergoing transformation at a frenetic
pace and as another Minister remarked is the envy of the rest of
the country. All credit is due to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by
making this possible by liberating the Easterners from the grip
of terrorism. Now that the sounds of guns have fallen silent
they could divert the attention to productive pursuits and
improving their lot with the opportunities provided.
Their talents which were lying dormant during the long years
of conflict would now be brought to the fore and put into use in
the massive infrastructure development projects earmarked for
the East, transforming their lives from being mere spectators of
the passing scenario into active participants in the country's
It is no exaggeration that these youth had been long
neglected over the years. No Government was able to implement
any permanent scheme for their benefit that would have realised
their true potential under the conditions that prevailed.
There is no knowing how much the country may have lost in
terms of skills and expertise as a result. We say this because
it is commonly accepted that youth from the North-East are an
industrious lot, their perseverance and drive almost legendary.
In the past some of the best known intellectuals and
professionals who hailed from the North and East made a great
contribution to the country's advancement. The recent emergence
of a winner of a scholarship exam from among inmates of a
refugee camp, hailing from the East is testimony to this unique
spirit. Now that the guns have fallen silent creating a
conducive climate for academic activities there is no knowing
how many such genuineness would emerge from the region.
The country could only be richer by their contributions. The
shocking revelation in today's edition of how one of four female
Tigers captured by the Security Forces turned out to be a
Government English teacher shows how much of this talent is
wasted and diverted towards evil. It is known that all fighters
in the LTTE are brainwashed. There is no knowing how much
brilliant minds have been perverted and distorted in this
fashion. How many talented and skilled youth have gone astray.
The eagerness of the Eastern Youth to join in the Vocational
training programmes is certainly an encouraging sign which ought
to be seized upon by the authorities for the country's benefit.
Hopefully the war would be brought to an end soon so that the
Eastern scenario could be replicated in the North where no doubt
there would be immense talent lurking to be tapped.
Not stopping at this the Government should supplement these
skills development programmes by increasing more and more people
to people contact with our brethren in the East. The recent
arrival to Colombo of a cricket team from the East is an ideal
start. More such programmes should be organised to improve
fraternity and brotherhood with our brethren in the North-East.
The idea mooted for an International Cricket stadium by world
cup winning Captain Arjuna Ranatunga too should be pursued with
vigour. It is by such projects that this segment of our
population who were once living in isolation could be integrated
into the national polity. Our artistes too could undertake
visits to the East.
Now that the region is returning to normal it could be an
ideal site for film location with its beautiful beaches and a
host of other attractions. Steps should also be undertaken to
rebuild all abandoned and destroyed cinema halls so that
Easterners could indulge in their favourite pastime. The bottom
line is to bring normality to the region on par with the rest of
the country. If this is done there would be no more accusations
of discrimination that gave rise to the present divisions. This
and steps to mend fences on all other fronts would bring about
the national unity that we all yearn for.