Opinion Article
Development, Multiculturalism and Ethnonationalism in Sri Lanka - Part I

The ploy of ‘development’

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 December 2008, 00:07 GMT]
What is perhaps needed as a prerequisite for development in the context of the island of Sri Lanka is only a bold solution providing outlets to the national questions of the Tamils and the Sinhalese. But in their arrogance and greed, the international development enthusiasts are in such a hurry that they think of thrusting upon ‘development’ from the above, bulldozing the national question militarily. In the process they invite unwanted deep antagonism of a people who in fact are prepared in all other respects to welcome the development ventures of them, writes opinion columnist Chivanadi, in the first part of an article, Development, Multiculturalism and Ethnonationalism in Sri Lanka.

The latest Bond film Quantum of Solace may not satisfy the vintage Bond viewers' appetite for Sean Connery, romance and aesthetics, but this film of the era of postmodernism and deconstruction certainly drives hard into the heads of the viewers, two profound realities of development and international politics.

The old generation Bond movies made one feel aghast at the climax by seeing weapons of destruction of the dimensions to blow up the whole world, or thrilling space ventures – all for capturing global power.

The climax of the intelligence mission in the latest Bond film is not an excitement of the old kind, but a hard truth of the kind faced by all people all over the world.

It is just the drinking water of the common people, not even oil, what the global power seeker wants to capture.

And, then, there is no demarcation between heroes and villains: both are together.

It is timely that the film globally exposes the game of development and geopolitics unfolding today, because the talk of development is the rhetoric of the times we live in, especially in large parts of the world in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Everyone, from top to bottom, accept the word development in its abstract sense, applying their imagination of what they mean by progress.

Thus development is not a single phenomenon having a single face, just as truth need not be one and could be many.

What is development for one could be the misery of another.

A disastrous undercurrent of our times is the monopoly of the concept of development by a section of the world, which casts an image that it is already ‘developed’.

The Truman Doctrine of postwar America proclaimed for the first time the global responsibility of the USA in protecting political systems of its choice all over the world. In order to implement it, the then US Secretary of State conceived a policy of ‘Aid’, which became known as the Marshal Aid Programme.

The process evolved to manifest the current norms that it is the duty of the so-called developed world to extend development to the not so developed.

The image thus created in a part of the world is that development is something that is initiated from the ‘outside’ and is given from the above.

The scholarship of the academic institutions of the ‘developed’ world as well as the ‘fund-receiving’ scholarship of the ‘developing’ world and the bureaucracy of the international organizations are geared to justify this ‘civilizing’ outlook and to research on strategies and tactics of implementing it.

Who actually benefited by this process of six decades, known by various phrases ranging from neo-colonialism to globalization, and what prospects and problems it has created to the peoples of the world, including the ‘developed’ world, are self-evident.

Development has become an effective tool of an international system designed primarily for its own survival. In a way development is a weapon in fighting wars locally and globally. Therefore who handles it is important.

The simple principle of development induced from outside is that facilitators benefit more than receivers. Potent, enlightened and clever receivers may aspire for a better deal but rejection could result misery.

Development can also be counter productive in a particular country or a society if that country or society is not vigilant or powerful enough to adopt that development to its benefit.

The contemporary world has seen how small countries fell in line fast to the development agenda of the developed. Even big ones didn’t escape the vortex. The ones managed to emerge out and are confident of their newly developed status have become strategic partners and behave in the same way of their peer group, in outlook.

The pathetic side of the story was that those who resisted to the monopoly of the development model either perished or were forced to fall in line.

The outlook for ideological alternatives is challenging: there is the classical Marxist model of international socialism which the developed world think has been vanquished; another ideological position has been interpreted as clash of civilizations, resulting in the sanction of a considerable section of the world as perpetrators of 'international terrorism' and the last is the conventional nationalist model of development, which is considered outdated today and is either getting redefined fast or is being prodded to do so.

However, the disposition of tendencies as it stands now in the island of Sri Lanka whether from the Tamil side or from the Sinhala side is in no way seems to be of the nature of the above said challenges for the international development enthusiasts to get panicked about.

What is perhaps needed as a prerequisite for development in the context of the island of Sri Lanka is only a bold solution providing outlets to the national questions of the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

But in their arrogance and greed, the international development enthusiasts are in such a hurry that they think of thrusting upon ‘development’ from the above, bulldozing the national question militarily.

In the process they invite unwanted deep antagonism of a people who in fact are prepared in all other respects to welcome the development ventures of them.

(To be continued...)


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