Renaissance of the North
Exhibition “Future Minds of Jaffna” to be held in Jaffna at the
end of this month it is hoped will be the beginning of similar
such programmes to realise the full potential of the Northern
youth who had been languishing in the dark all these years while
the world moved on in giant leaps.
That these unfortunate youth were cut off from mainstream
activity for decades was due to no fault of theirs has been
realised by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa which
is making every endeavour to redress their plight.
Already several projects and programmes have been earmarked
to integrate the Youth of the North into the national
This process in already taking place in earnest in the East
where recently several schemes were started to train its youth
to be equipped for overseas employment. Such initiatives existed
only in the realms of fantasy in the past when death stalked
their every movement.
According to an inside page report in our Weekend paper the
Sunday Observer the exhibition, on the initiative of the Jaffna
Commander Major General G.A. Chandrasiri, will provide
opportunities for schoolchildren, school leavers and unemployed
youth to learn the latest technological developments and avenues
for job opportunities.
In addition new technology for farming industries will be the
highlight of this exhibition together with new trends in
information technology and in the field of telecommunication.
Such initiatives by the Government is indeed laudable and
will be seen as a positive step in the renaissance of the North
and its integration with the mainstream activity as well as its
entry into national polity.
It will certainly provide these youth with means to make up
for the missed opportunities which the climate that prevailed
all these years denied them as well as a means to once again
make use of the talents and skills of the Jaffna citizens of
which the country was well served in the past.
We nostalgically recall the times when the country’s
administrative service as well as the professions were enriched
by the talents of the natives of Jaffna who were also well known
for their enterprise and drive.
Even some of the best mathematicians, accountants and members
of the medical profession hailed from the North contributing
their mite to the country’s forward march. Then there was no
rancour or bitterness and all served as one cohesive unit under
one mother Lanka. The time has come to reinvent the wheel.
It is only to be expected that these youth with their
traditional enterprise and verve would be more than equal to
their task and blossom out as worthy successors to their
brilliant forefathers who made their mark in multifarious fields
in the country’s professional and academic landscape.
The country could well do with their contribution at this
moment of time when the Government has launched on multifaceted
development projects in the East and poised to do so in the
North with the imminent liberation of the entire North from the
clutches of LTTE terrorism.
This in turn would ensure the speedy development of the North
and its gradual integration into the national veal. This would
indeed be a huge boost to the national economy which was
deprived of the fruits of both the human as well as economic
resources of the North for well over four decades.
The Government should also move to take other measures that
would facilitate in allaying suspicion and bitterness between
the two major communities implanted in them by outside forces.
Such bridge building measures should include more and more
interactive programmes such as sports and cultural exchanges.
The recent welcome accorded to a cricket team from the North in
Colombo is a good example.
It is gratifying to note that several such measures are
already in operation such as the “Friendship Train” that took
off on a journey to the North recently. Such gestures are only
bound to help in the healing process and a gradual integration
across the divide.
This fence mending exercise should be undertaken in earnest
now that the people of the North are responding positively to
the good-will shown by their southern brethren. The recent
demonstration by Jaffna youth following the Army’s capture of
Pooneryn was a demonstration of this trend.
The Government should build on this goodwill to break the
barriers of rancour and bitterness that divided us as a nation
and left it bleeding by a wasteful and fratricidal war.