Ways to Develop north and East

Published : 9:28 am  September 7, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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The thirty year war in the North has resulted in a stagnant micro economy. Since 2009 when the war was over, indications of progress towards growth in agriculture and fisheries have been recorded

Acknowledging that rail and roads have been re-constructed connecting the North, the base has been established to initiate various employment creation programmes.

Should progress be achieved at the given pace since 2009, it is likely to take another twenty years for the Northern region to reach the status of economic development prevalent in other parts of the country.

In fact, it may not be achieved with equity and fairness unless rapid and innovative programs are formulated and sincerely implemented in the North. The Eastern Province has reached a slightly higher level of development although similar issues remain to be resolved.
Issues and Opportunities

As at September 2015, youth unemployment in the North is more than double the figure in other areas, high suicide rates, increasing addiction to drugs and alcohol and mental health issues caused through post-war acute psychological trauma across the population have resulted in a community that is at subnormal levels in terms of mental health and socio-economic development.

Historically, the concept of Standardisation in 1969, closures of the Kankesanthurai Cement factory, CeyNor Fishery Project, Paranthan Chemicals Corporation and similar entities for various reasons and the fate of some other factories had provided some level of endemic dissatisfaction amongst the communities.

It is envisaged that rapid progress in the North via good governance (Yahapalanaya) towards integrated socio-economic improvement can lead to positive perceptions, improved self esteem, through hope of progress, growth and livelihood development.
This will result in improved lifestyles and pave the way for sustained unity and re-conciliation towards the majority Sinhala community that has been blamed by the Tamils for all the ill-effects in the North since independence.

The Muslim community along with the Burghers have also faced challenges which need to be addressed in order to establish cohesiveness and unity amongst all the communities in Sri Lanka.
When Sri Lanka was at its glory before 1965, it is pertinent to recall that it was mainly because patriotic Tamils, Muslims, Indian Tamil plantation workers, and Burghers and the Sinhalese tirelessly worked together for the economic development of Sri Lanka.
The sincerity and unity of purpose amongst all communities was what made Sri Lanka great at that time.
 Implementation and Benefits

Emphasis on the harnessing of traditional knowledge, possessed by the poorest sectors of the community, packaging and marketing it, can provide a rapid transformation in the economic status of the pro-poor population.
Such knowledge has been passed on from their ancestry. For example, Palmyrah pulp is prepared into a cake, juice or toffee. The exact process and additives being slightly different depending on the location of the villages. The sweet sap of the palmyrah known as sweet toddy for the Preparation of Palmyrah Jaggery, dried pulp (Pinaattu) with storage life upto 6 months is unique due to its nutritional and therapeutic benefits.

This approach can be applied in the South as well. For example the process of manufacturing ambul thiyal, can be marketed locally and overseas.
The major benefit of this approach is that this needs to be marketed by intellectuals since it involves the branding of traditional knowledge. Hence the role of high handed middlemen is minimised.

Second, the revenue from sales of the packaged knowledge can accrue directly to the owners of the knowledge (Intellectual capital) including those from the poorest segments of the population.
Third, if this marketing program is astutely handled and co-ordinated under the auspices of the central and provincial governments, there is a very high likelihood for the Tamil beneficiaries in the Northern villages for instance, to feel positively disposed towards the entire community represented by the Government.

For pragmatic reasons of implementation, this program could be implemented as a Public Private Partnership enterprise.
The Tamils would then be filled with gratitude and trust thus becoming ready to willingly co-operate and collaborate with the majority community on many other issues as well finally, paving the way for initiating a rapid process of reconciliation.

When reconciliation provides greater understanding and trust, this would logically result in a stronger sense of unity among the Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and the majority community who are perceived to be represented by the Government and the armed forces.
Past attempts towards reconciliation and good governance after the 1958 and 1983 riots have not yielded the desired benefits.
It was popularly perceived amongst policymakers that, “time  would contribute towards the healing process. Unfortunately, the anticipated “time based healing mantra” did not work, as evidenced by the Tamil militancy that blossomed after 1983.


The entire nation has suffered due to the militant rebellions that occurred post 1971 (JVP) and post 1983 (LTTE).
Therefore, at this juncture, after the January 8th and August 17th elections respectively when the electorate from the North and East along with the rest of the Nation have voted in good faith in favour of the proponents of good governance, it is prudent for the Government to sincerely reciprocate and it is seriously embarking on programs that can yield tangible benefits to the affected population within a short term time period, rather than resorting to procrastination as a strategy or ploy towards a promise for unity and reconciliation.

Hence, it would be worth embarking on the implementation of the TAMKE approach as a “Public – Private sector Partnership Enterprise” concept to achieve rapid poverty alleviation for the achievement of sustainable unity and reconciliation within Sri Lanka. The Australian enterprise MSKM, stands ready to provide the initial investment. Let us passionately implement this unique program together for the upliftment of all concerned. Let us do the right thing for our fellow citizens, because it is the right thing to do.

Majority of the Sri Lankan population is from farming communities. Development during the last twenty years around the country has resulted in creation of additional employment opportunities in sectors such as textile, spices, gems, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), food processing and other industries, tea, rubber and coconut plantations, tourism, except in the Northern Province.

The traditional knowledge based entrepreneurship based program for rapid poverty alleviation has been espoused by former UN/FAO expert Duraiswamy Kumaran Thangarajah.  He is the youngest son of Advocate Saravanamuttu Thangarajah, one of the founding Joint Secretaries of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).  

He is also the grandson of a former Speaker of the State Council of Ceylon and President of the British Empire Association, Sir Vaitilingam Duraiswamy.  A book on this approach was authored by him, published and launched in April 2014. In June 2014, a workshop was organised at Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HKARTI) with involvement of 30 of the top achievers amongst farmer leaders from the North by the University Grants Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, HKARTI, and involvement of the Northern Provincial Council. A Pilot project budgeted at Rs. 2,000,000 (Two million) needs to be initiated in the five districts.