The second phase has begun:
Sri Lanka celebrates her 62nd Independence Day anniversary today with
renewed hope. This is because this Independence day is different to all
others that preceded it.
On all other occasions Independence Day was observed routinely with
the customary ceremonies, the event assuming little significance to
most. But today there is bound to be a new awakening and stirring among
For today the country can proudly claim that it is celebrating
independence in a real sense. It will mark a clear line of distinction
that will separate the past six decades with the new era of true
It will also mark the defeat of the last bastion of resistance by the
colonial powers who although leaving the country 62 years ago were still
making their presence felt meddling into the country’s internal affairs.
Sri Lankans today are really a proud people.
Separatist terrorism that ravaged the country for over three and half
decades is a thing of the past and Sri Lanka has succeeded in shedding
its ‘developing country’ tag to emerge into the ‘middle income‘ bracket.
The country stands tall in the international arena winning acclaim
for being able to humble the mightiest terrorist organization in the
This at a time when powerful nations with all resources at their
command are still grappling with global terrorism.
With the war over the country has also embarked on a massive
development drive particularly targeting the North and East which was
isolated from the rest of the country all these years.
For the first time since independence there is a real prospect for
reconciliation between the various communities and ethnic groups harking
back to the times of the immediate post Independence era when unity and
concord existed among all groups.
This new found unity has also opened the door for realising the true
potential of the country with all its sons and daughters putting the
shoulder to the wheel to lift the country out of its gloomy past.
A new impetus has also been given for the country’s revival with
President Mahinda Rajapaksa winning a second term in office. It is due
to his unyielding stance that the debilitating separatist war was
brought to a decisive conclusion.
If not for his steadfast refusal to bow down to the dictates of the
West the country would never have emerged from the mire it had sunk into
all these years. Herein lies the very essence of Independence wherein a
ruler refuses to take orders from any outsider particularly if it is
their former masters.
There is no denying that although the country received dominion
status in 1948 it could not entirely shed the patina of colonialism and
most of its features including the adminstration and education set up is
still based on the structures left behind by the British.
What is worse this hangover also led to the rulers of the past to
make concessions to the requests and demands by these imperialists who
had designs on the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity that
made the war drag on indefinitely.
This meddling and the capitulation by our leaders demonstrated the
hold which the West had on the country even after departing it over 60
years ago. This is why the current phase of the country assumes a
special significance in that the present leader has firmly resisted
these overt and covert threats and steered the country on course to a
truly independent State.
This does not mean that we have thrown out all colonial facets lock
stock and barrel. We still retain the beneficial characteristics of that
era. For instance English has been retained as the medium of instruction
in schools as it was in the immediate post independent era and there is
Government sponsored programs to promote and foster teaching the
language to a wider segment of the population. Cricket has been the
defacto national sport of the country.
For all that we have managed to preserve the country’s heritage and
ethos and clung on to our original roots despite the various external
influences threatening our value system. This while excelling ourselves
in all fields of endeavours internationally and bringing honour and
glory to our country.
But there is still a long way to go before the country is to achieve
its desired goals. It is not that we lack potential but we are wanting
in initiative. To begin with Sri Lankans though a talented lot and
filled with enterprise are notorious for their poor work ethic with a
majority of them, particulary our Government servants, the worst
offenders. It is hoped that the fresh beginning would galvanize them to
give of their optimum to this second and most decisive phase of our
It would be worth recalling that at the time of Independence in 1948
we were economically well ahead in the Asian region which prompted even
a Prime Minister in the region to recommend that his country follow our
What went wrong will be the subject of debate ranging from party
politics to ethnic divisions. But it is a sad indictment on the part of
our collective conscience that we allowed the country to regress instead
of seizing on the opportunity to march ahead.
We have now been presented with the ideal opportunity to make amends
and seize on the new opening that has presented itself with the country
free from terrorism and reconciliation being gradually forged.
The country has turned a new leaf with the major impediment that
thwarted its progress now removed. Already there are signs of new
stirring among the population reminiscent of the first Independence over
six decades ago. It signifies the stirring of a country from a slumber
ready to pick up the pieces and forge ahead into new vistas breaching
President Rajapaksa said he would make this country count among the
world’s powerful nations.
The dawn of this second phase of the country’s independence is as
good a time as any to make a start towards realizing this goal.