Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Communal representation of 1848 - this country's bane

Maps indicate two of Ceylon’s administrative patterns to meet national interest.

The world's political history has been one of unification and disintegration of states. Sri Lanka too was not without its fair share of such. Nevertheless within that fold of 'historical shuttling' so to say federalism and 'unitary state' is evident.

Germany for instance says Colombo University's Senior Sociologist Professor S. T. Hettige at one time had many small kingdoms and it was so in other countries as well during the medieval period prior to its unitary existence. The crumbling down of the Berlin wall and Germany's unification also denotes the shuttling state referred to earlier not to forget Hitler's defeat when Russia divided Germany into east and west.

Alexander the Great established regional authority across Asia before ending up in Europe but it was not sustained. US is a federation of states with autonomous units except for certain powers vested with the Central Government.

Professor Hettige's delivery brought to this writers mind other global happenings of like nature and unfoldings in the homefront. The British Empire's authority collapsed not to mention the Holy Roman and the Islamic Empires for its moral and political incapability to sustain such.

The Indian states, the Swiss cantons, and the happenings in Quebec also tell us how centralisation has accommodated its people's aspirations by way of power distribution. Europe's unification is into a holistic and universal approach with 'boundary free' unbounded, unrestricted travel for its citizenry, a common currency and also a common parliament as well.

So the story goes - a paradigm shift from integration to disintegration and vice-versa. Past experiences in the homefront as well disclose such process. The setting up of administrative units, the shifting of capitals, of segmented monarchies is enough proof.

Ruhunu, Maya and Pihiti of the 2nd Century AD dismantled after 13th Century AD and the onset of the three kingdoms - Sithawaka, Kotte and Kandy, the existence of the Jaffna kingdom followed by the advent of foreign rule - particularly the British, that saw the entry of a socio/political/econ/cultural holocaust through the Colebrooke - Cameron reforms in 1848 turned the existing structural mechanism topsy turvy.

For the first time Ceylon made its debut in communal representation in the legislative council. Ethnicity surfaced and communal divides stronger - much to the Britisher's advantage of divide and rule. Running contrary to this was the Ratavasiya concept during the time of ancient kings - very much the all inclusive, wholesome approach of modern citizenship.

The expansion of colonialism, the creation of nation states, introduction of majority rule - certainly were all part of whipping up existing divides. However, much credit goes to the western parliamentary model of the Solbury Constitution that included section 29.6 as protection of minority rights.

To say that the autochthonous constitutional deliveries which ran contrary to whatever was homegrown made beggars of kings and kings of beggars or rather the somebodies that became nobodies and vice-versa is no exgeration. All this apart, that much overlooked constitutional guarantee of minority rights in section 29.6 that ushered in minority alienation was to become this country's bug bear.

To top it all the 1972 constitution fortified further the intensely centralised unitary state. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of 1978 certainly a vain attempt at decentralizing power in the form of provincial councils carried with it the concurrent list leaving no room for the provinces to realize its potential.

As a result of the centre's licensing power the functioning of these provincial councils as independent bodies was not realised.

Life they say lies in movement and a belief in the evolution spirit will also be consolidated by meeting the aspirations of communal entities that seek empowerment which is part of national development.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka

| News | Editorial | Financial | Features | Political | Security | Spectrum | Impact | Sports | World | Magazine | Junior | Letters | Obituaries |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor