Freeing a society shackled to reliance | Daily News

Freeing a society shackled to reliance

Sri Lanka, similar to many other counties, had been titled a 'developing country'. It seems ridiculous as the whole world, including developed countries, are constantly developing. However, a negative connotation was given to our rate of development and worse, belittled by the adjective 'third world'.

Interdependent social structures

The phrasing of statements evolves with our understanding of society. We replace ‘deformed’ with ‘differently-abled’, though the physical nature remains the same. ‘Religious tolerance’ is a replacement for ‘religious acceptance’, yet the conflict of interests prevails. Then, what of the ‘developing country’ instead of ‘colony’? This last example is far-fetched and contrived. If examined with the eye of reason, the colony and third world are interdependent social structures.

This has an ultimate relationship with social sciences. The third world sphere of the globe relies heavily on financial sponsorship of first world institutions. Such a situation is akin to a colony where the coloniser finances the inveterate polity. What we paid in tax earlier, is now converted into an interest premium.

The coloniser’s investment had transformed into a bank loan granted by first world institutions. Notably, the third world claimed its sovereignty, owing to the right of making decisions, especially on development. Ironically, that was subjected to first world sanctions. Developing countries must bypass a western approval-based process. These countries are baptised in the name of sovereignty, though not at all independent.

Modern concepts of globalisation and neoliberalism had raised the first world into a higher pedestal, making the third world reliant. This predicament, which the third world is compelled to endure along with manipulation, affects the equilibrium of the global order.

Evolution of civilisations

A civilisation is a state of development where culture or cultures within a set boundary have an economy. This evolves scientifically. Ceylon, as a colony, was an extension of the British civilisation. Its development was directly proportional to approvals made by the Crown. By acquiring Independence, the Ceylonese were unshackled from foreign intervention. This point is debatable.

By the time the British left, they had already signed and grouped the Ceylonese into the Bretton Woods system and the United Nations. This deprived the Ceylonese of any opportunity to discuss terms that would benefit their indigenous lifestyle. In fact, Independence came to Ceylon with a few strings attached.

That observable fact swerves us from the illusion of being independent. The generous aid flows steadily from right-wing Europeans and the left-wing orientals. Local politicians are at home with initiating dialogues to generate funds. Funds make the country extremely dependent on both parties; no politician of this generation would admit to this. Whether they admit or not, this would certainly burden future decision-makers.

Ceylon became Sri Lanka. The transformed country continues to obtain loans from the first world. Then how could it be called a civilisation? Is Sri Lanka still a de facto colony of the first world? This is proven further as the country’s development heavily relies on external influence.

Analysing art

Art is civilisation’s way of expressing its inner turmoil and proud adventures. Analysing art, historians and anthropologists are able to define cultures of forgotten civilisations. It is through this understanding that art and civilisation intertwine. Analysing art, one could derive from a reverse process if a past society was civilised or colonised.

All art is imitation. Artists imitate the nature around them to create work worthy of presentation. The imitation is copying art from art, or rather, copying art from another civilisation to gain recognition and fame.

On the other hand, every human being is equipped with an intellectual capacity to appreciate art. If not, the profession would be obsolete. Quite mistakenly, everyone wants to be an artist. A good trend, but it shall not be forgotten that art too, is a profession. To become an artist, you must create without imitating. A high level of commitment is necessary in this backdrop.

Sri Lankan art enthusiasts, in general, contaminate the creative process with imitation. It looks like an offshoot of the colonised lifestyle, which means we are dependent on something to prop ourselves up.

Western influence on theatre

On a different note, art should not be confused as a ritual. Both art and rituals share similar characteristics, though the former finds expression through cherishing humanity's strength over nature. Rituals are about nature’s power over man. In rituals, outer-world spirits are summoned to empower humankind, whereas art empowers humans to conquer the obstacles before him.

Sri Lanka does not produce adequate art. This does not come as a surprise, as art is a reflection of society. Similar to politicians depending on foreign aid, artists depend on foreign art as well as aid. Investments in art are considered a waste of money. This is prevalent in the Sri Lankan theatre as well.

Theatres rake in money from foreign movies. On certain occasions, film titles had also been changed to put on a western appearance. This has reached a point where youth grow up with foreign movies. This uprooted generation indicates a dearth of confidence. Music is no exception. Another hilarious existence is the reference to spring (wasanthaya) and snow (hima) in vernacular songs, though such elements bear a distant familiarity to a tropical country such as Sri Lanka. Old European movies and Tamil films have flooded the local theatre as remakes.

A waning industry

Art is not simply an expression. It is rather an institution within a civilised framework which must be considered a profession. Sri Lanka is currently at a loss for proper storytellers. The industry has been crippled owing to the charity approach undertaken by non-government organisations (NGOs) and foreign aid programmes.

Certain NGOs appear to play the role of the saviour of Sir Lankan art; this is not true. The whole purpose of foreign individuals volunteering to help us is shrouded in mystery. One of the first NGOs in Sri Lanka was the East India Company that eventually liaised with the traitors who stripped the Ceylonese of proper Independence. Another deadly element that had also gripped art during this country, are the NGO-funded pseudo art festivals and competitions. Societies involved with NGOs have their own cultural revelry, while cherishing an ignorant and uprooted lifestyle.


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