Sri Lanka Times: Nations and Narratives

Post-Script as Preface: Who is a Citizen Politician?

Susantha Goonatilake & Aaranya Rajasingam 28 April 2014 Rizio Yohannan Raj 24 April 2014
National and international observers are watching with considerable interest the post-conflict efforts of the Sri Lankan government to reveal the roots and possible horizons of the Sinhalese-Tamil tension. Are the ethnicities ready to buy the narratives of the chronicles, invoked to assert the multi-ethnic character of the nation? Would an internal political negotiation ring true, or be just, in view of the more recent scars? What can lead to a balanced give-and-take in the poignant acts that make the play of nation building? Inter-actions brings you the second debate on Sri Lanka, with two voices from the country. Susantha Goonatilake unearths interesting chronicles from the island’s chequered past, and presents multi-ethnic Colombo as the future template for a space that has been at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean traffic for millennia. Aaranya Rajasingam brings out the other side of the picture by highlighting how, in the country, diverse discourses have been intimidated into silence. She ponders the necessity of an objective, open-ended outside intervention to ensure justice.Read button
India 2014. Through the election fever, the Citizen Politician arrives in our midst on the heels of shame — a spring of revolution, an “awful daring of a moment’s surrender, which an age of prudence can never retract.” Bearing witness to the astounding churning that follows, it comes home to us: yes, by this, and this only, the human race has truly existed. Undoubtedly, the most enduring revolutions in the country’s political history have indeed been testimonies to the revolutionary potential of the poignant experience of shame. The disgrace you feel in your bones could fling you into a strange hope, and fill you with an abandon that could in turn draw up a march of humanity for the sake of change. Hence did shame connect Gandhi and Ambedkar as citizen politicians, in a way more profound than the separation their individual self-assuredness had imposed on themselves and their times. We have numerous lesser known instances of the seminal role shame has played in shaping our history. But let us cut to a 2014 parliamentary poll campaign in the Barmer constituency in western Rajasthan…Read button

Governance: Miles to Go

Indian National Congress: In Safe Hands?

Kumar Shahani & Rizio Yohannan Raj 21 April 2014 Tarun Gogoi & Teesta Setalvad 14 April 2014
Reflecting on the art of thinking, Havelock Ellis observes that “in reality we only have succession and existence, and the ‘force’ is something we imagine.” The role of imagination in defining the power play among various processes of life must be treated with the gravity it deserves. In these techno-intensive times burdened by the deadweight of rationality, it is but hard to bring home to the citizens of such a fast-changing country as India, the crucial need to evaluate the imaginary of governance. Yet, such an evaluation alone will equip one to engage responsibly with one’s political context and arrive at a viable means of understanding and channelling powers towards action that transforms lives, thus shifting the equations in politics humanward. This is the primary responsibility of a Citizen Politician. In a lucid transpolitical exposition, filmmaker and philosopher Kumar Shahani discusses the possibility of evaluating the category of the imaginary. In her response, writer Rizio Yohannan Raj reflects on the ways to evaluate power in the political context of India.Read button
Even as India has gone to the polls, the UPA government and the Congress banner have come under severe scrutiny for reasons ranging from non-inclusive growth and corruption to ineffectual leadership and caste-based politics. Has the party mislaid its ‘moral authority’, which Gandhi had held to be its ‘only capital’? Should the Congress hand be written off as too weak to clasp our secular democratic dreams? Or, with the onslaught of the media-boosted Modi wave, is it essential that this party reorganise itself to evolve development and communication strategies pertinent to the sustenance of its core ideology in these times? Such a reimagining seems possible only if the wobbly central leadership of the INC opens itself to learn from the rather stable regions. Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam, presents a sustainable model of governance. In this east-west dialogue, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, draws our attention to the profoundly secular role the Congress party must urgently play to stop the fascist forces from taking over the nation.Read button
grey guys2

See Lanka Today:
Trapped Between Footprints and Voices?

Cheran Rudhramoorthy & N Sathiya Moorthy 7 April 2014
Again we are talking of a war-torn country and “the blood in the streets”. The ethnic question in Sri Lanka has taken yet another labyrinthine turn with the United Nations Human Rights Council voting for a “comprehensive investigation” into alleged violations of human rights, and with the UN General Secretary insisting that Sri Lanka “must cooperate with the International community” and take its ‘assistance’. Many questions highlight the irony of the situation: what does the term ‘international community’ mean when there are 12 ‘no’ votes and 12 abstentions in a 47-member council? How far must/can such an agency intervene in matters concerning the sovereignty of a country? And how can any external agent heal Lanka’s profound wounds, caused by an internal war of more than three decades? In the true Nerudan tradition, poet Cheran’s moving testimony ‘explains a few things’ about being a Tamil in Sri Lanka. N Sathiya Moorthy indicates a policy direction, where the UN could step back and actively encourage internal resolution.Read button
guys grey

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the writers are their own. LILA Inter-actions will not be responsible for the views presented.

may blank june blank
july blank august blank september blank october blank november blank december blank
april white
july blank

Spread the word…

… follow LILA!

Knowledge is power, and our intention is to bring the power to you. We have initiated a thought movement that aims to strengthen democracy by bringing to you direct voices of important trailblazers and pathmakers, and reclaim deep and patient reflection as an important seed for relevant and sustainable action! Help us take this movement forward. Support Inter-Actions today for as little as Rs. 100.
Donation to LILA is eligible for tax exemption u/s 80 G (5) (VI) of the Income Tax Act 1961 vide order no. NQ CIT (E) 6139 DEL-LE25902-16032015 dated 16/03/2015