Sri Lanka has embarked on a historic pursuit to change its constitution. And none from Tamil Nadu has spoken about it. So much for the welfare of SL Tamils.
The current constitution of SL does not lend itself to be accommodative of all ethic groups. Incremental changes were built into the constitution starting with the Sinhala Only Act of 1956 and The Standardization Act of the 70s. The Bandaranayaka couple and the subsequent Presidents ensured that the ethic minorities were kept subdued. And the Tamil and Sinhala hardliners ensured that the fires started in 1956 were kept burning.
The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace agreement could have ensured fair justice to the Tamils. But LTTE’s intransigence ensured that the accord failed. The provincial government of Varadaraja Perumal was extinguished and the ethic strife was kept alive thanks to monetary shots given by diaspora SL Tamils.
The Indo-SL agreement’s achievement of trying to integrate the North and East has been stopped by SL’s Supreme Court as un-constitutional.
President Sirisene has rightly understood that the Constitution was the hindrance and is forming a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution for the island nation.
Now is the time for all the stake holders to come together in this effort to document a just and equitable constitution for the strife torn nation. India’s role in this new effort, though kept under wraps for the moment, should be substantial and long lasting. With 65 years of democratic governance, India should depute its constitutional experts and statesmen like Soli Sorabji, Fali Nariman and Parasaran to help Sri Lanka frame its guiding document.
As an Indian Tamil who has been a student of Sri Lankan Tamil issue from 1985 , I have the following suggestions for President Sirisene for the new constitution. Please ensure that :
- All ethnic groups feel valued and equal
- All 3 languages are recognized and are equal
- Executive Presidency is abolished
- Sedition becomes anti-national
- Diaspora Tamils return home
- The constitution is secular
- Ethnic or racial tension mongering is punishable
And let the Tamil politicians in TN continue to fight their petty politics, for it is this lot that is the loser in case peace returns to Sri Lanka.