Thursday, December 28, 2006

For a Sri Lankan Nationalism

Initally posted at Groundviews.

From time to time at various forums and speeches the idea of promoting a single Sri Lankan identity has been put forward as a factor in finding a solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. Rarely though, these sometimes passionate pleas to build a common Sri Lankan identity have proven to be anything more than lip service, or speech enhancers. Given the historic context of the evolution of the post-colonial Sri Lankan state, and its monumental mistakes of the post-independent era, there is a need to institutionalize or at least put in place institutional enablers which could prosper a common identity.

For lessons in cultivating a common national identity we need not look much further than across the Palk Strait and into the multicultural India. The Indian freedom struggle led by Gandhi and the Indian Congress managed to induce a form of Indian nationalism it seems out of nothingness. India at the time was nothing but a country put together by the British, and therefore the primary source of agitation the congress cultivated was based on ant-colonialism, not religion, ethnicity or language. The congress managed to put together sort of a Noah’s Ark nationalism which glued together India’s diverse population. Unlike in Sri Lanka, where whatever pre-independence multicultural cooperation was soon replaced by Sinhalese chauvinism, the Indian congress went on to create pluralist constitution in India despite the partition and the creation of Pakistan.

Mukul Kesavan, the author of secular commonsense and an opinion writer for the Culcutta Telegraph goes on to great detail on the topic here. I would take the time to just post a relevant extract when he goes on to deduce what would happen had India taken the majoritarian route :

The violence that India as a majoritarian state would have generated can be estimated by looking at a south Asian parallel in miniature, the example of Sri Lanka. In terms of social indicators, Sri Lanka, like Kerala, represents the best of south Asia. Yet, even in this oasis of literacy, female emancipation and all-round loveliness, the absence of a pluralist nationalism led directly to Sinhala chauvinism, Tamil disaffection and chronic civil war. And this in a small island nation with just two substantial ethnic communities: the violence that majoritarian politics would have created in a country as diverse as India, even a divided India, is unimaginable. [link]

It’s worth exploring some of these pluralist characteristics as well as the fallacies of the Sri Lankan state both in its structure and its being which hinder the formulation of a pluralist Sri Lankan nationalism.

Unlike in India the ideological premise for nationhood in Sri Lanka is and has always been Sinhalese Buddhism; and therefore Sinhalese Buddhists are made to feel that they are the sole proprietors of the nation, something which almost naturally results in the alienation of all other minority communities. This supremacy is both constitutionally guaranteed and practiced in earnest by the state and its various branches. Government officers, police stations and most other state institutions operate (for all practical purposes) in Sinhala, the spirit of Vesak is enforced by law, and the most visible monument built for the 2004 tsunami is a Brahmin Buddha statue. This of course is to say nothing of the more violent expressions of the ideology displayed so nakedly in the ’83 riots.

If one thing is clear, the Sinhalese-Buddhist ideology to carve out a Sri Lankan statehood is a failed experiment; to repeat it means to aspire to fit the very definition of insanity. If Sri Lanka is to build a sustainable pluralist nationalism, the state must be made secular. The state should not give precedence to any particular religion or any other cultural, ethnic or linguistic identity.

Another necessary condition is of course, is devolution of power. The current steps in that direction is encouraging, but these efforts should be backed by solid political will which so far has not been forthcoming.

These may not necessarily be pre-conditions for building a true Sri Lankan identity but something which goes hand in hand to formation of such. What may be a pre-condition to induce a true Sri Lankan nationalism is perhaps a ‘national grievance’; almost all nationalist movements was based on such a common grievance; the Indians found it in British colonialism, the Tamils in Sinhalese majoritarianism, and the Nepalese in undemocratic monarchism.

What is then, the truest most universal Sri Lankan grievance? I have no obvious answer. I can only wonder, perhaps if the state can be more accommodative to the minority communities, especially the Tamils, then such a grievance could be borne out of the ‘war’ and the current conflict itself.

The minority communities of this country, especially the ethnic minorities need to see a change of attitudes and practices of the state, and its institutions. They need to see real steps in a direction which ultimately results in equal citizenship and institutional protection both in word and in deed. Only then can we perhaps even speak about creating a true and a sustainable Sri Lankan nationalism.

Without these things, I’m afraid all pleas for a Sri Lankan nationalism or an identity would merely be cosmetic.

Friday, December 22, 2006

How to change the world

If there ever was a book on the subject you would think it would be a best seller, there is one – and it isn’t a best seller. Partly because no one wants to change world, and partly, because the book is about social entrepreneurs; a set of stories of people who have used entrepreneurial spirit to solve social problems. This post is not meant to be a review of the said book but to just put down a few thoughts on social entrepreneurship and a couple of trends which I thought were wonderful.

No doubt, the term ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ is a buzzword, but a bit more than that. Ashoka - whose founder Bill Drayton is credited for coining the term - defines social entrepreneurship as “individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.”

Around the world hundreds, If not thousands of people and organizations are engaged enterprising initiatives which benefits not only themselves but many more people around them. They are in every imaginable sector from education, health care, environment, finance and more. From Florence nightingale to Muhammad Yunus and Bono they have lived through the ages. Due to advances in technology, globalization, freer and more open societies, these social entrepreneurs along with the rest of the ‘citizen sector’ is getting more mainstream and more prominent. I wonder whether we are seeing a new phase of socially oriented capitalism. This may or may not be the case.

I would not take the time to go much further into whole concept of social entrepreneurship for more intensive exploration on the subject and an extensive collection of stories on different social entrepreneurial initiatives I’d recommend the book by David Bronstein of the same title as this post.

For the purpose this post I would just touch on two initiatives, or rather phenomena’s that I’ve found interesting.

One is the (Red) initiative designed to harness the power of consumerism to combat AIDS and other ills which plague the African continent. The initiative is led by Bono, the U2 lead singer and has support of people like Opera and Kanye West; it was also featured on the Google home page in recent the International AIDS day. The model works by companies creating specific (red) products such as iPods, phones, watches and Amex Cards, etc where portion of the profit is given to the global fund to combat AIDS in Africa. The campaign has so far raised more than $10 Million in Europe alone. The model itself is easily replicable and overcomes problems of similar models by having solid products that can’t be easily ‘pirated’. There is even room for it to be replicated for local causes within the Sri Lankan context. Will any Sri Lankan be that enterprising and committed remains to be seen.

The second phenomenon I’d like to touch on is Microfinance. The concept is nothing as new and has been around, it seems, for ages. Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus pioneered the concept of micro-credit in which his Grameen bank gave out loans for groups of poor people (mostly women) where each member is responsible for the due repayment of the others in the group, failure to make repayments in time would mean the whole group loses access to further loans, thus creating a sort of a social pressure in the absence of hard collateral, like say land, which is necessary in the case of traditional lending institutions.

Grameen is by no means alone, there are many other institutions offering similar programs elsewhere in the so called, developing world, especially in places like Africa where lack of formal property rights makes it impossible, for poor people to access traditional loans and thereby alleviate themselves from poverty. The key ingredient in all these initiative is localization, just because it worked in Bangladesh doesn’t mean it will work in Ethiopia, or Monaragala. Diversification is an another critical element, it may be the case that the need for a particular community may not be credit per se, but other financial needs such as insurance, or leasing. Microfinance institutions (MFI’s) have therefore developed microinsurance, microleasing and other innovative schemes to address the needs of that particular community. A good report on the subject is available at the Globalisation Institute, which is well worth a read.

I’m not sure of any Sri Lankan Microfinance initiatives, I suppose ‘grameeya’ Banks which are quite prevalent in some (somewhat rural) areas serve a similar purpose, but they are state-run and therefore inherently impotent, and I’m not sure of the extent they could be termed as microfinance institutions. There may be others, but I’m not aware. Perhaps the Sri Lankan situation is different that there may not be a dire need for Microfinance, for the uninformed inquirer (I confess I have no clue as to the proper numbers) it seems that Sri Lanka has comparatively stronger property rights and therefore have access to more traditional forms of credit and other financial services. This of course is a guess, in any case though, microfinance will have its place, and it has proven to be more effective and dignifying than traditional charity.

No one, including the very pioneers of Microfinance claim that it’s a silver bullet solution to poverty. It’s not. Roots of poverty fundamentally lies in ‘bad governance’, lack of property rights, over-regulation, corruption, I think we are familiar with the list. Addressing these issues is a must if any country seeks to ‘alleviate’ its citizens from poverty. But a more economically empowered ‘poor’ are best placed to demand more from their governments in terms of getting out of the way, as opposed to queuing for handouts of free-milk, or subsidized pohora (fertilizer). In most occasions people just need a hand-up rather than a hand-out.

Muhammad Yunus appreciates the fact when he says:

Grameen believes that charity is not an answer to poverty. It only helps poverty to continue. It creates dependency and takes away the individual’s initiative to break through the wall of
Poverty. Unleashing of energy and creativity in each human being is the answer to poverty.
The message could not be clearer – traditional charity, handouts and most other governmental or indeed nongovernmental good intentions sustain poverty. The best help therefore that anybody can give is not to throw the ‘poor’ scraps, instead create or help create systematic mechanisms which let people help themselves. As can be seen by many examples of social enterprise, given the right conditions, and structural requirements there are many individuals ready and willing to help themselves, their communities and others - at a profit.

Merry Christmas

Related Links/Reads

Gift of Giving
Microfinance Report - Globalisation Institute
How To change the world
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else By Hernando De Sato
[Any person feeling particularly charitable this Christmas are most welcome to donate this book to me ]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

To Delhi and back

I’ve been back for more than a month, but had this half-done blog post lying around, so I thought I’ll just blog it anyway, I’ve let these little things go without really penning keying my thoughts on them, it’s a worthwhile exercise to do, for my own recollection more than anything else.

If I find time, I might dwell on some of those past experiences, but that’s just a big ‘if’, ‘cos despite having this blog for about a year now, I’ve never really got in the habit of blogging. Which might actually be a good thing, but I’ve always had plenty of things to say, and not nearly as many people to listen to. So perhaps I would blog more.


The reason for the visit was a Beyond Borders Camp, perhaps the last major gathering of BB members before we wind up next year.


The UL flight we were supposed to be on, was Usually Late taking off from Katunayake and as such, our arrival in New Delhi was somewhat delayed. The Delhi Airport was all right, without being really great; you could probably rate it alongside the BIA.

Once the annoying paperwork was done, (btw, Airport procedures, worldwide - are crap. I just can’t understand why I have to fill in the same info a million times, within the same trip– it’s the 21st century for haven’s sake) we were greeted first by our chauffeurs then by a bald headed man, in a Ghandi-like suit carrying a fair sized rock who in no kind words asked us to bugger off to where ever we came from. Apparently there are some, ahem.. ‘Nationalist elements’ roaming about the airport. I found the whole thing funny, but a few of my female companions were a bit shaken. Obviously this man was a bit mentally handicapped (perhaps like most nationalists).

Our destination was about a forty minute drive from the airport. Delhi certainly has its own flavor, but bits of it reminded me back home, most of it is a mix between pettah and Flower road. Sometimes you’d see boutiques, sometimes gardens. The cars on the road were mostly Indian, Tuk-tuks are painted green and yellow, you could hardly see a Mercedes or a BMW, but they tell me it’s more common than it used to be. Cable TV means most of the Indian brands and even products, are familiar. I could even hum the Airtel tune if I wanted to. The roads though, are invariably better than back home.

The Sanskiriti Kendra, the location of our residential camp was situated at the very outskirts of Delhi, the Kendra a very calm sort of place, a sanctuary for artists and the likes, wonderfully landscaped with cottages, trees and ponds. The place serves 100% vegetarian food, now this was an experience I’m going to remember. Thankfully though the food was good, and I liked the change.

Food-aside, I was looking forward to meeting the BBites. Some of whom I’ve met before. Beyond Borders worldwide is a one big family of sorts, I’ve never met a bunch of people who are as vibrant and accepting as these ones. Sadly, BB Bangladesh, and Pakistan were not in attendance for the camp. This was pretty much a Delhi-Mumbai-Colombo affair.

The Sessions

Beyond Borders, as a project under the British council was initiated under the themes of Identity, Diversity and Active Global Citizenship. Abstract nature of these themes, means there’s room for much exploration within these concepts, and the sessions at the camp dealt with these concepts, some times in an abstract sense and mostly in their practical manifestations. Some of the sessions were on topics such as secularism, social entrepreneurship, public policy, gender stereotypes, media for social change, faith, and many more. A thorough treatment of all these would mean a kind of a report on this blog, something I’m not prepared to do. Therefore I would touch on a few sessions I really liked, and perhaps blog about the rest in more detail later.

I most enjoyed the session titled Public Policy, conducted by Dr. Parth J Shah from the Centre for Civil Society, a leading think tank and an advocacy group based in Delhi. Part of the workshop involved coming up with policy solutions to common problems. Our subgroup focused on the problems of the Indian three wheeler (or auto-rickshaws as they call it) industry, I was ecstatic since I was finally given a chance to put my tuk-tuk observations to the test. Sri Lankan three-wheeler industry is a shining example of the how industries without regulation can prosper, compared to the Indian scenario, where the industry faces heavy regulation, which serves neither the drivers nor the consumers.

Dr. Shah has is the founder and president of CCS is an organization which promotes freedom, both in people and in markets. I was truly inspired by the work of CCS and Dr. Shah, and the amount of minds their advocacy can change. It made a believer out of me, change truly is possible. I only wish they could do some of their seminars in Colombo.

Another wonderful person I met is Mukul Kesavan, a professor of history from the Jamia Millia Islamia (National Islamic University), in New Delhi who led a session on ‘Secularism, Religion and Conflict’. This was one of the most thought provoking discussions I’ve had for along time, as well as being a more than a relevant topic to the times we live in.

The discussion touched on conflicts around the world from religious to ethnic, we discussed at length about religious secularism around the world, from the form of secularism practiced in India, to the separation of church and the state in the US to the French model of secularism, to various comments made by Inzamam, Dean Jones, Jack Straw and of course the Pope. The discussion also focused on the types of nationalisms, based on linguistic, ethnic and religious identities and the formation of nation states purely on the said identities, he discussed at length about the Indian partition and the creation of Pakistan, to a fruitful discussion on the Jewish state of Israel, as well as the conflict in the Middle East. In particular he kept referencing with ease and at length to the Sri Lankan conflict, and the Tamil demand for self-determination.

This was refreshing as I’ve never met a foreigner having such deep understanding about the Sri Lankan conflict. Later over lunch in a conversation which touched on Kumar Sangakara as well as Mangustine, Mukul explained that ‘Sri Lanka’ is in fact, a quite a frequent topic in Indian academic circles.

There were few more interesting people and sessions worth extending this already extended post. One was a bloke called Arijit Roy of Jagran who led the session on Media for Social Change, blogging was mentioned in passing, but it would be stretching the imagination a little to suggest that blogs can be considered a serious tool for social change. Surely it would come along, but certainly its not there yet, not in the developing world at least.

Arijit’s choice of media was the mime theatre, where Arijit’s organization, - Jagran - uses it to explore difficult issues such as rape, sexual health and HIV. It was encouraging to note that Jagaran work with the Delhi police, who have taken a keen interest in the theatre as a medium to communicate with the general public, especially in cases of rape (sometimes by family, and extended family) which rarely gets reported.

We ended the sessions with a wonderfully colorful BB alumni night, where all of the BBites from past to the present was invited BB, I even had to dress up in the Mahinda Chintana outfit…ahh.. the things I do for my country..

Delhi Shopping

After winding up in Sanskirti Kendra we returned back to central Delhi, where we had a day and a little more for whatever we want to do. We haven’t done a whole lot of sight seeing except, a evening visitto the India gate. But my companions wanted to just shop.

Shopping in Delhi (like most places in the world) is more of a ‘woman-thing’, there’s the posh kind of malls you’d expect from a city and then there are like literally hundreds of boutique kind of shops which sells anything from pajamas to perfume and everything in between. In addition there are dozens of street-hawkers trying to sell stuff like socks, handkerchiefs and even books. Most buggers were annoying, they just don’t go away, so much so, that I felt like buying some of the stuff just to send them away. Stuff they have, of course are dirt cheap, but obviously inferior in quality. There are some useful ‘hawkers’ though, I managed to find a cheap copy of seven habits by Covey. Something I always wanted to pick up. All in all, Delhi’s probably not exactly my kinda place for shopping, there’s not a lot of electronic stuff, and the malls are kind of spread out. But it’s all right, especially if your after sarees, jewellery, cotton and traditional sort of stuff; I was obviously not, so while all the women were having a field day at these boutiques, and Saree shops I headed off to Ansal Plaza, the only sort of proper mall I had time to drop into, the mall is home to most international brands, like Lacoste and Marks & Spencer. There are also some music stores and watches and whatnots you’d also get the food outlets, with all the usual suspects and stuff like Subway, which you don’t get here.

All good things, as they say, have to come to an end. When all the good byes, and the hugs were done we had to fly back home. It was a wonderful experience; I’d never thought I’d actually miss India. Most of all I miss the Indians, and the sort of kick you’d get from being with like-spirited people. One moment you’re just singing some Hindi song, and the next you could be having a passionate debate on religion or language homogeneity. Good times.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Good bye Friedman

Its not often you hear a loss of a person whom you’ve never met, and feel such a sense of deep grief, as I do now. Not many people have that ability, that effect on people. The 20th century’s leading economist, free-market theorist and Nobel laureate- Milton Friedman is no more. Loss of Friedman, to me, is a loss of an idol, one who confirmed and solidified my capitalist leanings. His writings such as the Capitalism and Freedom provided me with the intellectual foundation for much of what I hold true in economics.

Milton Friedman will leave behind decades worth of intellectual firepower that could bring down yet another soviet empire. He could very well claim a stake in the first one as he is seen as someone who heavily influenced both the Reagan administration as well as Lady Thatcher’s government. I do not know how many Sri Lankans have read Friedman, or know of him but I could distinctively remember sometime back, Sirasa Tv screened a series documentaries titled, Commanding Heights which prominently featured Friedman.

Achievements of Milton Friedman are plenty but there would be little point in repeating them here, since that has been readily done by many others. One thing I wish for on behalf of this country is that someone would take the initiative and translate some of his works into Sinhala and Tamil so as to liberate Sri Lankans from its current leftist retardness.

Let me end with the words of Edward H. Crane, President of the Cato Institute, (whose emailed informed me of Friedman’s demise)

“Here's a guy who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in monetary theory and he was a great Chicagoan, a great empiricist and theoretician of economics. But ultimately, what Milton believed in was human liberty and he took great joy in trying to promote that concept....Milton would say, 'Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it.' ...In my view he was the greatest champion of human liberty in my lifetime, certainly in the 20th century. And he didn't slack off in the 21st century.”

May he rest in peace.
Related Links

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dead Man Walking

Much has been written about the death sentence of former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. Some say it’s a good thing, others say its not, and some others like me, are stuck somewhere in between. For now though, Saddam may still be walking, But the Saddam to a lot of people is dead; he has been for a quite some time.

The Saddam Hussein the world knew in pre-occupation Iraq was a different man from the court-house maniac that he has become, from the days of his military salutes to his one-handed shooting antics; the public persona of Saddam Hussein was one of strength, control and obedience from his people. Weather anyone would acknowledge it or not a tyrants induce a sort of admiration by at least some people of this globe if not most people. Their very existence is based on their image of respect and absolute unquestioned power. Stalin, Mao, and even Hitler are still adored by their supporters (and sometimes by non-supporters) for their god-like personas. When Saddam Hussein appeared from a rat hole in December 2003, looking like a pre-Christmas Santa clause, appearing on TV in hand cuffs and being examined by an American medic, he gave up membership of that elite club of dictators. He was no more the great Saddam, he was dead then and now we are just having the ceremony.

That said, ceremonies conducted by the US-backed Iraqi court seemed to be somewhat flawed, and genuine concerns whether or not the justice in its purest sense was served is an open question. I do think some justice was served, but I have reservations as to the way it was served - Including the invocation of the death penalty, something which I’m fundamentally opposed to. Much of the reaction from the world over seems to follow those lines, opposing the death penalty imposed on Saddam whilst upholding the fact that he was a brute.

In this vein, I read with amusement, a small box story in the front page of the Daily Mirror on Monday (Nov 6, 2006) with the title ‘Muslim leaders condemn verdict’ in which the body of the story goes on to say Alawi Moulana (Governor, W.P) has told the Mirror that the ‘entire Muslim world would rise up’ against the sentence. Obviously Mr. Maulana was unaware of the fact Iran has already come forward in support of the verdict, and called for Saddam’s execution. Its interesting that Maulana would use the term ‘Muslim world’, because the Baath Party, or should is say The Baath Arab Socialist Party which provided the political foundation for the Saddam-dictatorship was not terribly Islamic, in fact it was more fascist, in both philosophy and operation also inspired by the JVP-like Arab nationalism and European socialism. Iraq then, (contrary perhaps to the reality on the ground which we now see) was seen somewhat more secular societies in the Arab world during the Saddam regime; probably due to the fact that Saddam favored guns over religious clerics for obedience. So it’s a bit surprising to me, why the so called Muslim World would ‘rise-up’ against this decision. It must also be said, however, that conduct of Muslim leaders of this country deserves a lot of praise, and I would not exclude Mr.Maulana from this list. They seemed to have managed to attain the correct balance and not let things slip into religious fanaticism like some parts of the world. If statements like this one, and some limited action (like burning up bush-dolls and American flags) is part of what keeps things in check, then so be it.

Coming back to Saddam’s case, there has always been conspiracy theories thrown about with regard to the case it self, and the capture of Saddam. Some claim the Santa-like figure who appeared from the rat hole is an impostor and the real Saddam is either in exile or dead ( as in physically). Some others believe the court’s decision to announce the verdict was to cushion a Republican defeat in the mid-term elections that are currently under way in the US. I’m usually not so big on conspiracy theory, for I would reject both these claims.

But whatever said and done at the end of the day, a Saddam execution may have little impact on the situation in Iraq, but a GOP defeat, which is now certain in the US House of Representatives and possibly even in the Senate might have a bigger impact on the Bush policy, and therefore the lives of people in Iraq.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Conflict Resolution through Forum Theatre

Core group members of the Beyond Borders, a project attached to the British Council is organizing a one day workshop on “Exploring ways to tackle assumptions about (the ethnic) Conflict through Forum Theatre” at the British Council on Saturday 4 November 2006.

The project members believe that the process to dismantle the protracted nature of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka should involve concentrated advocacy for greater inclusion, recognition of diversity and promoting the need for greater critical analysis of our assumptions and prejudices relating to the conflict.

As a tool to explore and understand these prejudices more clearly and as means to explore conflict in general we propose the use of forum theatre- A form of theatre where scenarios are designed to stimulate and encourage audience participation through discussion, interactive role-playing and shared experiences.

The event is divided into two main sessions; the first session would be on acquiring key skills relating to Conflict Resolution. Mr. Sanjana Hattotuwa (Coordinator/Media Unit, Centre for Policy Alternatives and Head of the ICT and peacebuilding at Infoshare) would be conducting this workshop.

The second session would involve a discussion on forum theatre led by Mr. John Martin (Artistic Director, Pan Centre for Intercultural Arts, UK.) and a Model Forum theatre presented by the Beyond Borders Core Group.

Date : Saturday 4 November 2006
Time : 09.30 a.m. – 04.00 p.m.
Venue : British Council Hall, 49 Alfred House Gardens, Colombo 03

For registrations, please visit the following link and fill in the necessary details.

You may also email your registrations to with your name, age and contact details.

Please note:

- All participants are expected to be in the ages from 16 to 25.
- The deadline for registration is Friday 3 November 2006.
- Admission is free but registration is mandatory since only limited places are available.

Related Links :

Event Flyer
Further information about the event and its objectives.
More on Beyond Borders

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Whores, Brothels and the JVP

Photo by indi

The JVP and the SLFP has accused each other of engaging in ‘the world’s oldest profession’, a somewhat politically correct way of saying both parties act like a bunch of whores.

The first ‘blood’ of the now unraveling saga was drawn by the JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, evidently upset that the SLFP is engaging in a dialog with the UNP accused the SLFP of acting like a prostitute waiting to be picked up by anyone who comes along the way. A somewhat honest statement, but a one that perhaps his supporters wish was never made. The Rebuttal came a bit later at another public rally by the SLFP general secretary, Maithreepala Sirisena who said that the JVP would have had to engage in the “world’s oldest profession” had the president called for general elections after the pathetic showing by the JVP in the Local Council elections. The marriage, or rather the ‘living-together’ era of the SLFP and the JVP has never seen such troubled times in recent years but no one should speculate a permanent rift as long as the President Mama is in office.

If the two main players in this rather unexpected but highly entertaining drama is the SLFP and the JVP, the third player is none other than Sirasa TV or rather the whole Maharajah network who for past few days has given extensive coverage of the issue and added some fuel to the fire by getting interviews from other leading SLFP men including Anura Bandaranaike.The keen interest taken by the Sirasa seems to stem from a larger, multi-facet battle fought between the Maharajah group and the JVP. In recent times the battle has intensified with the JVP-run ‘Lanka’ newspaper accusing the Maharajah boss of having links with the LTTE, claiming that his brother in London is a LTTE-funder (or something to that effect).

In a strange twist to this already twisted tail, the authorities have cracked down on a Brothel with links to a member of a ‘certain political party’. Sirasa, promptly carried this news item two days on a trot, right after it traditionally reports the Amarasinghe-Whore story. In its report Sirasa virtually threatens to give out the details of the member which fuels speculation that this ‘certain political party’ could well be the JVP. The Sirasa-JVP media battle can be seen as a type of a David vs. Goliath battle but the story might not quite end as in the bible.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BlogCamp - Sri Lanka ?

Recently India had their largest ever blogger ‘unconference’ in Chennai, TamilNadu which apparently is the home to the largest number of Indian Bloggers. An ‘unconference’, is type of a conference driven mainly by the attendees rather than the speakers which supposedly generates to a lot of creativity and new ideas.

The event, named 'BlogCamp' took place on the 9th and 10th of September and seems to had an attendance of about 200 Indian Bloggers discussing various topics related to blogging, documented in detail here in the BlogCamp site. All in all the unconference seems to have been a success. So, why not a Sri Lankan version of it?

A Colombo BlogCon, or UnCon as the case maybe, is not a too distant reality. My guess is it’s an eventuality, someday someone’s going to have the idea of having a ‘BlogCon’ and most of us would flock in. The question is, are we ready now? Is the community sizable enough? These questions are worth examining. Undoubtedly the core of Sri Lankan blogging can be found at which currently tracks 150 or so Sri Lankan Blogs. But it’s a mistake to equate the size of kottu the SL Blogosphere. There is a good number of other blogs (the exact number is hard to guess) not syndicated at kottu, due to either, not knowing that Kottu exists, not knowing how, or simply not wanting to get their content syndicated. There is a great deal of SL blogs in MSN spaces in particular which are hardly ever syndicated at kottu or any of the other kottu spin-offs.

Quite apart from blogging, the general population of SriLanka-Online is reaching sizable proportions. Hi5, arguably the most popular social-networking site among Sri Lankans hosts about 86,000 profiles of Sri Lankan residents. Shihan Mihiranga included.

With numbers like that, its possible to envision something along the lines of a Bloggers Conference, even if it is to.. ahem.. ‘raise awareness’.. among the general public about the whole blogging phenomenon. How, and who would take the initiative is another matter. Ultimately there has to be enough commitment within the community for something like this to happen. Maybe this post will serve as a viral injection of sorts to get things started. maybe it won’t. Who knows these things.


Related Links : []

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A National Government?

It’s one of those things that have always had much ‘public support’ in this country, but many times when such an opportunity has presented it self, Sri Lankan politicians has shied away. It remains to be seen whether this latest opportunity will be examined in earnest or paid only lip service. I am quite expecting the latter.

A potential ‘National Government’ has many benefits, one being the possibility of a much eluded national consensus (and not necessarily a ‘southern’ consensus) on the ethnic conflict; another of course is the availability of expertise and skill currently idling in the opposition from Prof. GL Peris, to Milinda Moragoda to the big fish himself, Ranil Wickramasinghe. Yet another advantage would be the annihilation alienation of the obstructive JVP/JHU parties.

The request itself by His Excellency, much like most things in his administration, is not without its ambiguities. The official word seems to be the president requested the UNP, and other parties to ‘Support’ the government in its efforts to solve the ethnic conflict. Now, ‘support’ can be tendered in various ways and not necessarily through the potentially dramatic step of a ‘National Government’. The local press though, seems to be of the view that the request is along the lines of a National Government.

Whatever the case, the country and its government are in need of clear and direct action along the avenues a negotiated settlement to the present crisis situation. The Rajapakse administration has proven that it’s incapable of handling the situation anything short of all out war. In this light, Ranil Wickramasinghe as the Prime Minister may offer hope in breaking this spate of violence and forcing the LTTE into negotiations once again. His methods might not be terribly inclusive, but he - at least when in government, has proven to be a GTG (Getting-Things-Done) politician, very much a breed in demand. After all these supposedly ‘inclusive’ initiatives like the APC (All Party Conference) and that advisory council of experts has achieved nothing much tangible. Their very existence, particularly of the APC, seems to be for mere cosmetic purposes than for any honest effort to solve the larger or the immediate conflict.

Despite these facts, the UNP is likely to demand the government spell out its parameters for solving the ethnic conflict before saying anything remotely closely to ‘I Do’. It’s always safer to get a concrete compromise out of the President than to just commit blindly for the sake of greater good. Additionally I’m sure, like any ‘good’ party, they would consider factors like the number of cabinet portfolios in the offering, and the bigger picture of the war situation Mahinda has created, which in time may be beneficial for the UNP.

The ‘war’ may be popular and even easier to start but is not so easy to sustain, both in itself and in terms of its popularity. When the heat of the war enters Colombo and the surrounding suburbs, and when the prices of everything from petrol to peppermint inflates, and when the government tries to squeeze for every penny, rupee and dollar to save itself from bankruptcy, and when the ‘masses’ who voted in favor of the present president find that the fertilizer subsidy is no more, they will think twice, thrice and many times and may heed to a future UNP plea to make things right, once again.

The above thinking of course, is along extreme partisan lines and hopefully the UNP is above that. If in fact this offer from His Excellency is to form a National Government, and is genuine, and if (and only if) the government is willing to compromise on some its positions and drop its fake nationalist rhetoric, and if it is genuinely willing to solve both the immediate and the larger conflict, then I think the UNP has a duty to accept it.

However, His Excellency and his government must realize they cannot have all things their way; it’s a pipe dream to think of a National Government if they still wishes to be in bed with the JVP. The government must make a solid decision on which way it wants to take this country. If the government decides to take the JVP route, then it will be a matter of time before they strangle themselves.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gizoogle-it yo

I've been around online for a while now, and this just has got to be one of the coolest things i've ever come accorss, ive discovered it like a few hours ago, and cant seem to stop playin' with it.. scrap google dawgs, enter gizoogle..

gizoogle is google, and therefore da web turned snoop-doggy speak. it connverts any webpage into what it calls 'jive' it's probably not new, but for those of you who didnt know it, go check it out, you'd have a blast.

This is part of my last post gizoogled..

Mobbin' tha GOP

"I don’t really like Republizzle Two years of B-to-tha-izzush presidency has seen tha United States playa on most th'n ‘American’. From tha war in Iraqta spy'n on its citizens President Bush has done a pretty lousy job. But this isn’t `bout Biznush, Cheney or Schwarzenegga this pizzy is `bout our own Grand Ol Party – tha UNP . Drop it like its hot."

Here's the link to the whole site gizoogled (got to add a permanent link )

and the CNN headlines :

# srael sez 100 Hezbollah targets hit before diznawn
# Rockets shizzot back fizzy Lebanon, po-po say
# Haifa now like ghost ghetto baller Hezbollah attacks
# Tony Blair seeks U.S. support fo` U.N. resolizzles

they do have, a images page but if they jive tha images, heres wizzle dat red-jinglin boi t-ilvin wud look like.

i cud go on, but hell go C-H-to-tha-izzeck it out. pez out.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Reforming the GOP

I don’t really like Republicans; Two years of Bush presidency has seen the United States falter on most things ‘American’. From the war in Iraq to spying on its citizens President Bush has done a pretty lousy job. But this isn’t about Bush, Cheney or Schwarzenegger this post is about our own Grand Old Party – the UNP.

It has been almost eight months since the loss of the last presidential elections, and the promised reforms for the party are still to be seen. From then and now the UNP has lost yet another election, lost a few key members, made a joke out of the Colombo Municipality and now the good President is poaching away more of its MPs almost at will.

Ranil Wickramasinghe, for his part seem to adopt a rather unique philosophy of problem solving - ‘Do-Nothing’; this philosophy seemed to have worked for him in varying degrees, especially in the recent leadership crisis where he seemed to have ridden the storm with only minor injuries, the victory in 2001 general election too seem to adhere to this philosophy of ‘let them strangle themselves while I do nothing’, which is an eventuality in all forms of socialist and populist administrations. But if ever the UNP has any designs of regaining power then party reforms are a necessity. These reforms should be based on objective analysis of the political atmosphere and not brought on to accommodate certain people or groups of people.

There seems to be (or was) a ‘dissident group’ within the UNP, who call for a change of leadership; Presenting Karu Jayasuriya, the current deputy leader as the replacement for Wickramasinghe. Although a fair enough substitution, I really don’t see how anyone can expect this to solve UNP’s problems. Karu is much like Ranil, a principled man with adequate skills and vision but like Wickramasinghe hardly a good orator, and his waving and clapping seems as awkward as his incumbent leader. But one thing I can agree on is there should be changes.

I would propose reforms somewhere along the lines of creating an executive chairman who would have to be elected by the members for a set period of time. The chairmen will be in charge of all party activities including appointments and nominations at all levels, fund raising, promoting party policies, election strategy, and grassroots organization. A good person for the post would be S.B. Dissanayake, the fact that he’s popular, organized, and not in parliament are definite advantages. The ‘party leader’ can be someone else who will be in charge of policy and direction of the Party, Ranil himself is a good choice for this position. Both chairmen leader and other front liners could be in a central committee where their inputs can be taken for both policy and strategy.

More immediately, the UNP should get official spokespersons for specifically for Defense and Economic issues so as to stop the mixed signals they seem to be sending, they must be having someone better than Tissa Attanayake in sirikotha, Also the debaters, especially in TV must be asked to be a bit more focused and strategic in their arguments, currently the UNPers seems to be engaged in a verbal fights with the JVP/JHU while the government politicos are sitting pretty.

The UNP must learn to focus on its strengths, rather than trying to minimize its weaknesses. It’s credited for having the better people, so much so that even the current government is almost run by former UNPers - Rohitha Bogollagama, Keheliya Rambukwella, Tyronne Fernando, Ajith Nivard Cabral combined are almost both the engine and the face of the government. But the people still on the UNP side of the fence (albeit ‘on’ the fence) seems to be hiding away for some unknown reason. They have got to come out, and get some logic and credibility going in the UNP noises. They should also de-demonize things the UNP stands for: from free-market economics, to specific policies of privatization, to their rather liberal stand on the ethnic conflict.

Finally, the UNP should take advantage of the multicultural support base. I frankly think Ranil should have run as the ‘Sri Lankan president’ because he was truly the only leader who could reach out to all communities, that was his strength - Didn’t use it. Besides, really -how many Sinhalese Buddhists with the superiority complex would vote for him any way.

What’s done is done, UNP has lost elections it should and could have won. But with the right people in the right places and with a coherent strategy coupled with the self-destructive nature of socialist-inspired governments the grand old party could be restored to its former glory. If reforms are not pushed, however, I’m afraid the UNP will remain as it is: Grand, Old and Obsolete.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


The post entitled ‘Enough’ by a certain Mala in Moju may symbolize the beginning of known form of Internet Activism in Sri Lanka. If all goes well, there should be a group of people sipping expensive coffee at approximately 1700 LKT at Barista’s in Colombo 03 with the purpose of doing ‘something’.

While initially I was a strong proponent of defining the ‘something’ in which we were supposed to meet, I have increasingly come to accept the fact that meeting for something is better than no meeting at all, and hopefully there WILL be a meeting.

The various types of things any activist or a group of activists can ‘do’ are limited only by their individual and collective imagination. What is important though is to clearly define what any such group seeks to achieve- in clear, specific, unambiguous terms. Broad, generic desires such as say, ‘peace’ are very hard to not only achieve but to measure success, no matter how sincere that desire may be.

On the subject of ‘what-to-do’, it is justifiable to say that Blogging itself, especially on issues that matter, is a form of activism. In the current context of course, impact of blogs are rather subdued, mainly because of comparatively poor internet penetration in Sri Lanka and because many people, even online, are not aware of this phenomenon. That is not to say that the internet is useless as a form of activist campaigning, it is estimated that there are approximately close to 300,000 Internet users in Sri Lanka (without of course the SL expatriates) , those numbers are only going to up in the coming months and years.

The problem is those users - at least the ‘active’ ones, are currently segmented into various ‘online spheres’. There is of course the SL blogosphere, which most who would come to contact with this post should be familiar with, then there are these various communities, or forums most notably ClubLK which boasts a respectable 24,000 members. Then there are social networking sites such as Hi5 where there seems to be quite literally tens of thousands of Sri Lankans networking, sharing kinky comments and the likes. This structure of social networking, which is very similar to real-world social networks have huge potential to be transformed into viral marketing initiatives especially if the cause is good enough, and is sold properly.

There is already a presence of politics these forums and in Social networking groups more on that later, in another post.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Now what?

I didn’t blog about Kebithigollewa massacre, because I didn’t think I had anything new to say. But now, with the increase of terrorist activities has led many, including acclaimed journalists to believe that we are indeed heading towards yet another war, so I am compelled to write something on a potential way forward, if again (god forbid), all hell breaks loose

I believe, if there is a resumption of direct hostilities between the LTTE and the government then the government must make a paradigm shift towards how it view the conflict. In the past any resolution of the ethnic conflict was tied with negotiations with exclusively, the LTTE. Now it’s time the people and the government tries to go around the Tigers if that’s what’s required to achieve progress.

What this means in essence is the Sri Lankan government must take steps to create a legitimate and acceptable political solution to the ethnic conflict even while fighting a war against the LTTE.

The CFA, despite its shortcomings (I’ve yet to come across a document without) resulted in a climate which created unique situations that didn’t exist before. For the first time there are a few groups which can claim to effectively represent the Tamil people other than the LTTE; from Karuna’s followers to Mr. Anandasangaree, to other anti-LTTE Tamil voices in Europe. There is now, new room to take a new view of the process.

So the government must, in the event it fails to re-start negotiations with the LTTE form a sort of a council given full authority to come up with a draft constitution to bring a lasting political solution. The council must comprise of the willing Tamil academia, other interest groups including the Karuna faction, and of course representation of other ethnicities via representations by political parties.

If the LTTE continues to refrain from engaging in talks and continues to engage in violence like in Kebithigollewa, or tries to blow up the whole coastline, as they seemed to be doing now this may be the only solution we are left with.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Face-lift and some kottu, moju buttons

I had a pretty jobless couple of days, so finally got around to give my blog a much needed face lift. Nothing major, just a little editing of colors, and a little image here and there, at least it doesn’t look like, I donno, millions of other blogs anymore.

Also, got around to creating these Kottu and Moju buttons. A little something to have on your blogs and stuff if anyone would care to use. No licensing or any shit like that. Just go ahead and use them if you want to, a zip file with all the buttons can be downloaded at :

Or just right click and save these..

Does anyone know a good, Free direct link file host btw?


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Devils and Angels

First of all This posts isn’t about Angels, it's not about Devils in fact it's about nothing. There are of course more substancial things to blog about but i don’t quite feel like having another session of mahinda-bashing/bitching. His time will come, a post like this would sure to charge me up, who the fuck does he think he is anyway, playing nanny to the rest of us on his mahinda-knows-best policy, huh.. to speak of the devil.

Speaking about the Devil though, yesterday was 06/06/06 the day of the devil. No real satanic things though, except for the little fact that when i wanted to post something yesterday about 666, Blogger wouldn't log me in, probably the Damien is working at Google now (blogger is owned by Google). so much for 'don’t be evil' policy. I wonder if there were anything related happening in Colombo, i know there is (was?) an anti-Christ church in colombo. I had a couple of friends who were worshipers back in school, Their stories were tempting enough to go check out the place, especially parts about lots of black-lipstick clad HFC chiks come there and do all sorts of crazy things. But you had to do some crazy things to get in, and to be honest i was a little chickened out, and then there's Morality issues and of course going against J.C is not a comfortable concept anyway. Most of these 'worshippers' are doing it coz they really want to be 'baad' and do the whole heavy-metal thing rather than any belief, in fact some of them are not Christians to begin with. I wonder if they had anything though, like a chicken-sacrifice. I wonder if someone can write an expose' on the papers. Probably not, The Sri Lankan media is increasingly disappointing me; Especially the papers, it seems no one can get past the LTTE and report on something a little interesting. For example Sri Lanka had it's Gay Pride recently nobody even reported it,

it's almost as if it never happened. Sri Lanka probably could do with a more youth-oriented paper perhaps, or even a more liberal one. Which takes about issues of sex, trends, and i donno.. whatever need being talked about.

oh well this post is going nowhere so I’m just stopping. Just felt like blogging today.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Da Vinci Code - Banned!

His Excellency has decided to ban all public screening of the now infamous movie Da Vinci Code due to the pressure applied by the Catholic Church.

One could hardly expect anything less from a president whose whole political philosophy seemed to be nothing more than simple populism, add to that the possible repercussions of not heeding to church pressure on an issue where there is no counter pressure from any other religious element.

It’s the Catholic Church who should be criticized for their unjust curtailment of freedom of expression not to mention the pure stupidity of not understanding the move would only be counter productive as this would result in otherwise unprovoked curiosity which could and probably will result in increased DVD sales of the movie which are already available as ‘camera-copies’. The church should have learned that from the whole ‘Hollywood Buddha’ protests that the Buddhist elements once organized some years ago even after film-maker removed the controversial poster and apologized.

On a more personal note, I, myself being a practicing catholic don’t think anything depicted in the movie (or the book) will change my prospective on the religion I was brought up on. The fact that Jesus could have been married and had children with Mary Magdalene is irrelevant to the philosophy of Christianity I believe in.

The Da Vinci Code is just a good story, many of the so called ‘facts’ in the book have been since proven to be inaccurate. However the best way the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka or elsewhere should have handled this issue is to have not handled it at all.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

War, Peace and all the bullshit

Colombo is pretty much charged with a ‘lets-nuke-em’ mentality more than ever before, and who can blame them? The average blissfully apathetic Colombian has now had a taste whatever that was going on in that far eastern province. It’s not so much the number killed, it’s not so much the person targeted but it’s the way that it was carried out. The method, the location, the aftermath brings back memories long desired to be forgotten and forgiven. Many people at this point in time see the issue in black and white; they identify a clear enemy - a fascist terrorist outfit and call for its destruction based largely on the incident a few days ago coupled with the build up of activities to that day and after.

To me the problem must be considered in a larger sense, what led to these circumstances? Whose fault was it? Obviously one party at fault is the LTTE but certainly there are others, fault must be found in the leaders of this country past and present, and of course the people who brought them into power by either voting for, or not voting against those leaders. Ultimately we are all at fault, either by action or inaction to the sorry state of this nation.

It must be realized however, that the Sri Lankan government is not the white sheep it pretends to be, it merely is the lesser-evil, by a long way in immediate comparison but evil nevertheless. Evil because of its inability to find and propose a practical solution to the ethnic conflict, evil because of its inability of clear, unambiguous and decisive action resorting instead to selling off the conflict in the political stage for petty reward of power and political mileage.

It is very much apparent when looking at short history of this peace effort, the parties concerned have failed, despite the rhetoric, to ‘go the extra mile’ for peace. Initially when the ISGA proposals were put out during the latter part of 2003 there was a desire for both parties to start on with the stalled dialogue, but the then Prime Minister refused to hold talks without holding the control of the Ministry of Defense at which point in time Her Excellency has taken under her tender care. After some time the Prime Ministers and the governments changed, and in time, when the next chance for peace was offered the Red Comrades, then in government refused to support the effort on the basis of an ISGA proposal and hence that chance was lost. The pattern continued from that to the Join Mechanism and beyond. It would have happened to Geneva if not for the urgency with which the talks were required, midst the claymore mines.

The road to peace if ever there was one is bumpy, there will continue to be crisis. Some small, some uncompressible and seemingly unforgivable but how we negotiate them will measure the true strength and spirit of our leadership, our people and our nation. It is a mistake to think there is an easy solution out there, and that one sudden spectacular moment or action can bring an end to all ills of this country. You won’t wake up one fine morning and find peace at your door step. You got to work for it. You got to give it every chance, every inch, all the time.
And as some of us now call to fuck for virginity. We got to ask our selves, have we given it all?

Deane J.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mahinda, The Great

Last week’s LC polls results signifies an important twist in the pathetic tale of Sri Lankan politics, now it seems that the all powerful president has received a commanding mandate to carry forward his ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ and all that without the firepower of Wimal and his red clowns. At this point in time, Mahinda Rajapakse seems tall, towering and mighty. He seems to have beaten the odds, done the impossible and now seems to be in-tune with the will of the masses. My mind goes back to the time not so long ago when the name ‘Rajapakse’ meant little to the very people he now seems to command.

The year was 2003; one Ranil Wickramasinghe was in the Temple Trees, I and a cousin of mine was asked to deliver a package of fish on behalf of my uncle who happens to be the chief organizer for SLFP in one pro-UNP district. I recall browsing around the streets of the much envied part of Colombo, asking directions for a ‘Mahinda Rajapakse’ residence, some people hardly knew the name, let alone the residence. Yet after barely two years after the incident, Mahinda have gone from the leader of the opposition back then, to the prime minister, and then to the all-mighty president. His escalation from a political nobody to THE political everybody is truly extraordinary and for that fact alone he should be respected.

However, the title of this post is misleading; the man himself has a long way to go before begin called ‘great’. If he wishes to get there, then he must subscribe to some other sort of philosophy, because ‘Mahinda Chintanya’ is not designed to get him there. ‘Mahinda Chintana’ and other type of these rata-perata-type supposedly pro-poor ideologies are in essence – fake. When put into practice these so-called pro-poor chintanayas or ideologies are nothing but a set of block policies of no-privatization, fertilizer subsidies and other goodie bags to please the masses, all the while trying desperately (at least by some) to follow a sort of a free-market economy. The mahinda chintanaya as a philosophy too is fundamentally flawed; it tries to instill great national pride by calming to promote local industries and enterprises by restricting foreign imports, but what it really says is that Sri Lankans and its entrepreneurs cannot face the global challenges and we must run away from those challenges instead of facing them head on. So the mahinda chintana can be appropriately named as ‘ponna-chintana’ without damaging the underlying philosophy.

Unfortunately though, the leader of the grand green party or his merry men fail to use these in their campaigns, the United National Party has become an entity which has no brand, or anything at all that is sellable to the masses. It is a sad plight, to a party and its leader who at least in my opinion led the most successful government of free Sri Lanka. It must be accepted however that the UNP faces a tough challenge. It’s hard to argue a case against a program that aims to give a glass of milk to poor school kids, or a program that promises jobs for unemployed youth or indeed to make a case for a Cease Fire Agreement, when it’s been brutally violated time and time again.

But the challenge should be taken up; it should be taken up because it’s the right thing to do so, and because if these populist policies are stopped and lasting peace achieved, there is no telling where this country can go. Therefore the UNP must focus on its strengths rather than trying to minimize its weaknesses. If the multi-ethnic vote base is the strength then go for it, come up with slogans, logic and find people to carry the message. Focus on strengths, and then perhaps one day the giant can be tackled. It is an eventuality it’s just ‘when’ that remains to be seen.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Beyond BORDERS Festival : SEE. THINK. ACT.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this post on moju about a 'British council Youth Festival', since they posted a sort of a press release, i wont repeat the exercise. instead i'll give you some info on the actual workshops.

The Festival will be happening on the 28th and 29th March at the BMICH committee rooms A & B. Registration is Free.

i'm one of the organizers of the festival. the project itself is the reason for my absence in the blogosphere and at the blog-meetup.. actually i could have made the meet up.. i was somewhere near (BC) but tired.. and not exactly dressed for the occasion.

anyway if any of you guys consider urselves young (16 -24, or can pass urself to be in the range ) then drop us an email at slbeyondborders AT gmail DOT com or call Hanim on 0773067347.

lots of skools have already registered. so hopefully loads of chiks will show up..

the workshops are probably going to be good, the Forum theatre thing , which is a sort of an interactive form of drama, where they first show the audience the drama, and the audience gets to change it around to change the outcome. The forum theatre on Conflict resolution is directed by Nimmi, (saw a post on kottu about her recently.. cant remember who posted it)

and the guys from Sage training, Robert & lalith are simply the best self-development guys in the business. 'citizenship – who cares' is a must see workshops.

oh and before i forget, there is a concert happening in conjunction with festival called 'junction', sunera foundation, Bathiya and santhush, the Fusion drummers from nomad will be there. tickets are rs.200 available at the British council. the concert will be on the 28th at 7.30 Pm at the HNB audi. tickets wont be available for long, so if u wanna come, get to it tomorrow or day after or email me : deane034 at gmail DOT com. (i wonder if that prevent all.. ne way irrelevant)

The following is part of the official write-up.. or at least one of the drafts :)

FORUM THEATRE ON HIV & AIDS and Conflict Resolution

This theatre form was developed in Latin-America in the 1960's as a special kind of performance, where the distinction between reality and theatre is lifted by inviting the audience with their ideas on stage. The aim of Forum Theatre is to
change the spectator from a passive to an active participant and to encourage people to get active and engage in dialogue about issues of concern within a given society. At the festival we focus on two themes on Conflict Resolution and HIV & AIDS.


Conflict is part and parcel of our daily existence as human beings. They are built into our human relationships. The Workshop will deal with such practical aspects on conflict resolution and will give an introduction into how this tool can be used to better our lives. Mr. Harsha Fernando of the Attorney General's Department, a seasoned trainer in Conflict management will
conduct the workshop.


Adolescent Reproductive Health is a topic that all young people should have knowledge on to lead a healthy life. This workshop will focus on the human effects that Sexually Transmitted Diseases including HIV AIDS have on people's lives and will also open you into practical elements of how to lead a healthy sexual life. An experienced activist in the field of HIV
and AIDS will lead the workshop.

Public Speaking

Public Speaking is an important tool that all of us should have and is not a quality expected and limited to those who want to be 'leaders'! This workshop brought to you by experts from the Colombo Toast Masters Club will give you tips and pragmatic inside information on how to become a good public speaker

Youth Activism

Young people are not just leaders of tomorrow but are being increasingly recognized as development partners for today. This workshop lead by Mr. Sanjana Hattotowa, a civil society activist will give you an introduction on how you can contribute to positive social change.

'Vision Passion Action'

This workshop will help you to streamline your passions to cultivate your vision and translate your vision into action.

'Citizenship- who cares?'

Active Citizenship is one of the three themes of the Beyond Borders Project. The workshop run by Robert and Lalith from Sage Trainers will focus on means and ways to be a pro-active citizen and will question some of our misconceptions, fatalist attitudes and perceptions!

Substance Abuse – A burning problem of our day

this session run by Prof. Ravindra Fernando, a medical professor from the University of Colombo will deal with the social effects that Substance Abuse brings about and will also deal with the Pharmacological aspects of the problem.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A glimmer of Hope

The waiting is over, the news from Wanni has arrived - there will be talks.

After weeks of bloodshed, doubt and fear finally there is a cause for celebration and a reason for hope. Hope that whatever happened during the past weeks, months and indeed yesterday will be behind us and a path to a more resilient peace will be before us.

So let us first wish the current administration of the Government of Sri Lanka, all the very best and god’s good graces in perhaps their greatest undertaking yet. Let us hope with all their inadequacies of appropriate leadership and skill, they will somehow be able to pull it off. Equally importantly Let us also be thankful to the man they call the ‘white tiger’, for this particular mission, nobody else could have done. Let us also be thankful to that other man they called the ‘traitor’ the ‘don juan’ and so many other horrible things, for what he has practiced and preached for years has been realized today.

When the man signed the agreement of the ceasefire, they said he was giving away the country; today they are desperate to implement it. When his delegation started the negotiations, they said the terrorists must first lay down arms; today they just want them to stop using arms. When the talks were held in Oslo and Bangkok, they said he was touring with the terrorists and talks must be held within the ‘motherland’, today they have agreed to hold talks in Geneva, no, not part of the ‘motherland’. When the man lost the reins of power, he asked them to engage in dialogue irrespective of its basis; they said the dialogue must be based on a final solution, today there is no basis mentioned. He said the country would slip into war if the talks didn’t resume. They said no. but he was right and ‘they’ were wrong. Lives could have been spared, time could have been saved, and things would have looked brighter. Yes, it’s a shame he’s not leading this country, but that’s our loss, not his own.

Despite this bit of good news, in the current way of things it is easy to justify war; it is easy to condemn terrorism, and condemn the terrorists, it is easy to say that to attain an ‘honorable peace’ we must first wage war. But that’s the easy thing to do. We need leaders today who can do the difficult things, the difficult thing as of this moment would be the commitment for peace, it is difficult because of all it’s complex underpinnings, because of it’s history and because all those who dared to tread the path of peace have failed to date, the only person to have tasted partial success could last long enough in the temple trees to attain his goal. That indeed is one of the hurdles; the path of peace and dialogue would not only require the resolve to tame the warmongers of the north, but also the resolve to tame the warmongers of the south, armed with their words of hate, which at times are more efficient than bullets and bombs.

Come what may, let the middle minded Sri Lankan know that this conflict can only really end by way of dialogue and diplomacy and not through claymore mines and paramilitaries. For those who think that permanent peace can only be achieved by dialogue there is no other way, for those who question, rightly, about the sincerity and the commitment of the ‘rebels’ then all I can say is that the best trap that we can lay for them is that of peace and not that of war. May that be realized.


p.s – on a total different topic, today also saw the crossing over of two ‘ dissidents ‘ from the ‘green party’ to the government, reports say there is more to come. The reason given is that the MPs need to ‘offer their skills’ to the serve the people and country rather than wasting them in the opposition. Cutely put. But I strongly believe sirs that the right to serve your country and your people must be won, not surrendered. Ideals and beliefs cannot be traded, bought or exchanged.

Oh and yea.. about the whole post .. I was kinda feelin a little speechy :)

~CC~ AKA Deane J

Saturday, January 07, 2006

That belated New Year Blog

Meant to blog this long time ago but so far this has been one hell of a year. I got stuck at home on 31st night doing an assignment for college, only to find out the next day they have shifted the submission dates from 2nd to the 6th, of Jan. now how crap is that? Anyway that is probably a sign of things to come; I thought this college thing was going to be a breeze but it has been hell so far, and it doesn’t seems to get any better. Academics a side, it’s not that great socially either, I’m stuck in a class with NO girls (I’m serious), and here’s the clincher - majority of the ‘politically opinionated’ are Mahinda supporters (actually JVP, hence Mahinda).

I’ve been schooled in two schools in my life, yet I can actually name the three SLFP supporters we had in our class (and yeah, they so got bullied) so this is a whole new experience. Despite this at the core of it they are pretty nice people, although some of them do subscribe to groups like the SL patriotic group which sends out shit like this, and some of them openly resented the Christmas party, and all it's fund raising in protest, But most of them mean no harm. At least knowingly.

Another thing that hit me was by the end of this year, i will no longer be a teenager. now that sucks. just caught me by suprise that one, i just loved being seventeen and i had my reasons. must say i had a blast the last three years, doing what i like, met some wonderful people, of course most of them left the country as soon as they finished ALs. more will leave this year while i will be stuck here in mahinda-land for at least a few years. should have left when i had the chance, now i'll have to live with it.

another aspect of loosing the whole 'teen thing' is giving away of Sri Lankan Teen Central (SLTC), i'm officially asking someone to take over, which closes another chapter of my life. It was nothing more than a msn group, but those days back in 2002, there were hardly any sri lankan ones. in fact some time ago it was (albeit on loosely scientific accounts) the largest Sri Lankan community, a title it has lost to many other sites now, and belive me it was good while it lasted, met some of my closest friends through that site and the stories of SLTC deserve it's own book.

My resolutions for the year, well.. they are kinda private so no blogging them. Apart from that everybody’s blogging about the security situation, and how the war will start but that will be another blog. So that’s it for this one, need to get back to more assignments; hope everyone else is having a good time… oh and happy new year