The Case for Devolution

Dayan Jayatilake makes it:

[..] there are intrinsic reasons as to why Sri Lanka should commit itself sincerely to the full and speedy implementation of the 13th Amendment. It is a simple matter of identity, autonomy and adequate space. This is true not only of ethnic communities but also of individuals. This is the basic case for devolution. It is not a question of a Tamil being elected Chief Minister. It is a question of devolving an adequate number of powers and functions to the people of those areas. No peoples like to be policed, patrolled, garrisoned and ruled by those of a different ethnicity and religion who do not speak their language. No one likes their areas of habitation to be dominated by others. This is why a measure of self-rule is needed, simply to make the people of certain areas feel stakeholders of the state, and to make governance secure. Let there be no mistake: governance and ruler-ship can be sustained only by consent of the governed. If those governed see no congruence between themselves and those doing the governing, they will resist and rebel, in one way or another.

The case for devolution is weaker if the state treats all communities – ethno logistic and religious as equals.  This is so in republican France. Indonesia’s population is over 90% Muslim (it has the largest Muslim population in the world) but it is a secular state. This is not so in Sri Lanka. But that doesn’t mean that those who are not of the dominant culture wish to live on the terms of that culture, which in effect means to live under it. It is in such situations that peoples require their own space where they are free from the linguistic and cultural dominance of others, and are able to administer themselves. [Daily Mirror]


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