The Sunday Leader

New Year

The election was auspiciously timed. We enter the New Year with new clothes, a bit of money and a new Government. It is fitting that this new hegemony emerges at the Sinhala/Tamil New Year and not the western one. This seems like the end of the post-colonial era and the start of something new.

It’s not Christmas, but it is the Sinhala/Tamil new year

Pre History

This may be a crude summary, but the British left an English speaking elite in charge. They failed to develop the country or provide enough government jobs, and a demographic bulge of unemployed youth started multiple insurrections. This violence nearly tore the country apart, until Mahinda Rajapaksa established a new largely Sinhalese hegemony. This was part will, part ruthlessness and part demographic and historical circumstance. But it has happened. And here we are.

You can still see the last vestiges of the English elite, but they are fading. Former big shots like Rohitha Bogollagama and Milinda Moragoda have lost out to the likes of Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawaka. While still powerful in business, the English elite is increasingly isolated, as the government becomes more and more Sinhala. And, to an extent, Tamil. The UNP failed to win any district in the last election while the TNA at least prevailed in some. That Tamil party is now looking like the Opposition.

History

And that is, perhaps, how this history begins. It’s a bit unpleasant for English speakers like me, but this time had to come. As useful as English is (and as much as average people want to learn it) it is not the language or the culture here. As much as I (and many) take liberal democracy as an article of faith, these truths may not be self-evident.

This new hegemony is the dominance of a largely Sinhala polity, a new feudalism with many aspects of democracy. Some of the people seem a lot less intelligent than the old elite, but one hopes that they will acquire polish with time. That is, the opportunity opened up by thugs and fighters may be taken up by intellectuals in time of peace. One hopes.

Pre-Destiny

In a sense, it had to happen. The old order may have had tangential benefits (the UNP was certainly good for the economy) but it never felt right. Mahinda looks and sounds right, though what he’s doing is often wrong. These new politicians may not be the most qualified, but they are survivors, and they do get votes.

So this is the stability we get. War has killed of many visionaries and left survivors, and it looks like this Government will survive. Our democracy is hacked beyond recognition, but it seems to exist. This is not what many I know consider the best sort of development, but that sort of liberalism was always predicated on people accepting wisdom from above. At least now they can get mediocrity from the middle. Perhaps that’s what the system can take.

New Year

To quote the Simpsons, I for one welcome our new overlords. I think our governance could be way better, but it could be way worse. I’m not especially connected but I am relatively free. I think a lot of people are getting hurt, but perhaps a lot less than before.

This New Year I found that I wasn’t thinking about politics at all. The Government seems relatively stable, so I basically gave up and went swimming. And that is nice. I wonder if I’m ignoring major injustices, but things somehow seem set now. Which is, somehow, settling. I guess I can live with that. It’s not Christmas, but it is the Sinhala/Tamil New Year. I hope it treats you well.

6 Comments for “New Year”

  1. VINTAGE VOTER

    HOW FOOLISH THE SINHALAYAS IS SHOWN FROM THE FACT THAT , THEY
    DO EVERYTHING ACCORDING TO AUSPICIOUS TIMINGS, AND END UP
    AS FAILURES. EVERY POLITICAL LEADER AND POLITICIAN CONSULTS AN ASTROLOGER. THEN HOW IS IT THAT ONE WINS AND THE OTHER LOSES ?

    ANY EXPLANATION ? NO ONE WILL ATTEMPT TO GIVE AN EXPLANATION AS HE TOO HAS TO CONSULT THE ASTROLOGER!!!!!!!!!!!11

    • P.Riyad

      Like all things ‘vintage’, they have a lifespan, after which they are useless..the fizz has gone out. So adieu to you and yours, and hail to the new generation. No fears, they do have the intelligence though the old elite don’t think they have..just watch them and how they perform..nothing foolish about them! And what’s wrong with astrology..it is a proven science though the west will not accept.

  2. billy

    nice article n sums up the pathetic mindset of the colombo clan, they rather live under a white man than a man who think as a local n do what is best for the locals!

  3. jayalal

    Country become Singlish than English is a welcoming factor but it s relation to Mahinda Rajapaksha can not be justified since some english elite like G.L.Peris
    <Mahinda samarasinghe are sstill the memeber of ruling party

  4. [...] (Sunday Leader) April 20th, 2010 | Category: Social [...]

  5. Gabriella

    Life is not a straight line (think about it – my youthful friend). Everything in life is circular (as it was in the beginning , so shall it be at he end). You may swim or
    ” sit -back’ and wait for the wheel to turn full circle. But turn it will ! Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history , are condemned to repeat past mistakes. Those who have failed to learn this lesson, have been confined to the dustbin of history. The Sunday Leader should also make note of this fact.

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