(February 05, 2011, Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka celebrated the 63rd Independance Day at Katharama, with retarded elegance. The dusty road, the hurriedly half painted lamp posts with newly pasted election posters on them and the shabbily clad ordinary sectators depicted the under-development of the area.
The writer cannot guess what this country could look like now if it did not come under the British colonial rule. Perhaps, Sri Lanka may look like present Bhutan. However, the fact is a non-entity since the geographical and economical aspects relative to Sri Lanka might never let it be isolated like Bhutan. But one thing is definite. Sri Lanka faced a drastic change in this period and it is a rapid development under the modern concepts and terminology.
British brought Ceylon under one rule. By the beginning of the 15th century when Sri Lanka was invaded by Portuguese, the island was under at least five rulers, three in western side, one each centering Kandy and Jaffna.
To ascertain the unitary nature of the state, British rulers built a network of roads and railway that connected the various parts of the island. They turned Colombo to the administrative and economic capital of the country. For that, they bore a massive expenditure as well, i.e. a big portion of wealth they geberated from the island.
They brought Ceylon under single judiciary system, developed a legislature and introduced a modern development political structure later.
During the latter part of the colonial times, the leaders of the people of apparently accepted these things positively with a constructive criticism.
Anyhow, by the times Ceylon achieved independence, or better say, by the time the ruling powers were transfered to local elite, Lanka was an upcoming, democratic, developing state that was potential to build up as a Lankan nation
However, the rulers that came to power after the independence were prey of the voters that had not understood the core values of superimposed democracy and compelled to initiate measures that hindered the progress of the nation.
Disregarding the provisions compiled by the colonial constitution experts to prevent measures against minority communities, both indigenous Sinhala and Tamil leaders united to disenfranchise the Indian origin plantation worker community. Before long, the Tamils of Northern and Eastern Provinces also had to pay for their folly as the majority Sinhala leaders made the Tamils second class citizen through legalizing Sinhala only as official language in 1956.
Ethnic problem remains the major barrier to nation building and development even after 62 years from independence.
Was colonial rule so bad according to the modernist thinking pattern, sans the fact the King was from a far away nation? If it was so bad, what good we achieved following the so-called independence?
Can anybody explain how the exploitation under present system changes from the plunder in colonial times?
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