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Dismantling a Colonial Mindset - Page 2

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Dismantling a Colonial Mindset
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All decisions were taken by the ‘authorities’ and you complied, (and dared not complain lest worse befall you).  The ‘authorities’ of course, was the Government, that almighty power over and above us, generally perceived as both omnipresent and omnipotent.  This was driven home to the extent that it killed whatever initiative the people had to do anything.  Roads were not repaired; irrigation channels not cleaned; breached bunds not filled, or anything else done.  All was left to the almighty Government, the ‘aanduva’ to do at its will and pleasure and in its own good time.

When internal self-government became a reality after universal franchise was granted in 1931, people looked forward to a sea-change.  However, nothing happened.  Many ‘nobodies’ became ‘somebodies’ and stepped into the White Man’s shoes and continued as before.  Not exactly, because, corruption and malpractice began to raise its ugly head and the bad example began at the top with these new men at the helm.  Hope, of course, is ever present and the people, now enthused at the prospect of ‘independence’ expected a change from what were a basically oppressive structure and its systems in force.  Well, 1948 came, and nothing really happened.  Then, 1956 came and the only apparent change was that Western attire was exchanged for National dress!

Politicians are an insecure breed because they exist by lying on one hand and sycophancy on the other. And their insecurity breeds more and more arbitrariness, more and more authoritarianism and they become pocket-despots.  This is demonstrated in talking with a humble villager who said, wistfully, that the governance of the British was far superior to what now obtained.  He went on to say that the British were fair-minded and not vindictive.  They did not take revenge because one had voted for the party that lost the election!  But, of course, there were no elections when the British Raj prevailed and the villager’s point was that they were better off under the alien yoke!

Now, we come to the raucous and discordant protests mounted by the Opposition, one coalition partner and a host of private sector representatives about CEPA.  This has happened simply because governments (this and the previous ones) have no political culture whatsoever about democratic consultation and consensus.  They have inherited a legacy or arbitrary rule and that pernicious attitude permeates the entire bureaucracy—passed on from generation to generation of public service officials.  Government decides, period.  Public servants carry out, period.  Others aren’t to be consulted.  Stakeholders?  What stakeholders?  The People?  The Private Sector?  Rubbish!  They’re there to vote when elections are called.  The Private Sector is there to bankroll political parties when called upon to do so.  They import, they export, they distribute, and they pay taxes, period.  Isn’t this the actual scenario?  Isn’t this why we have such controversies raging over our heads with various groups and individuals trying to get some mileage out of it?

The Government should learn telling lessons from all this.  It is NOT a power unto itself because it derives its power from the Sovereign People, you and me!  Therefore, it should consult the People through concerned Civil Society bodies, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, importers & exporters associations, and Opposition political parties.  The proposed agreement should be scrutinised by all these representatives of the People.  They should discuss and debate the objections raised.  All that is the duty of government working in a transparent manner.  Every agreement with any foreign government should go through this same process and be adopted (or rejected) consensually.  That would be the democratic way.  Why do we have to handcuff ourselves to an arbitrary colonial frame?  We should now dismantle colonial ways of thinking, colonial structures, and colonial systems and adopt what is best for us.  We must think in terms of ONE Nation if we want to survive as a viable political entity.

 

~ www.island.lk ~ By J.B. Müller