The Young Researchers’ Collective, Sri Lanka

Youth Voices in Post-War Sri Lanka: Challenges,
Aspirations and Opportunities for Transformation

Proceedings of the Young Researchers’ Forum 2012







20
th
& 21
st
January, 2012
The Western Province Aesthetic Resort, Colombo 7



The Young Researchers’ Collective, Sri Lanka


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ISBN 978-955-0899-00-5







Colombo, Sri Lanka
2012




Table of Contents
The Young Researchers‘ Collective? i
Youth Voices in Post-War Sri Lanka ii
Introducing the Young Researchers‘ Forum iv
Full Program for YRF 2012 ix
About the Presenters xiii
Acknowledgements xix
Education and Empowerment
A Degree for Sale (?): Can Private Higher Education (Dis-) Empower the
Sri Lankan Youth?
-Rusiru Kalpagee Chitrasena 3
õ. Oõç.._ e e u e. ¸. e ..e. oOe-. .. c_ -¸ e..e õç..u .r o...u.r
(er._® õ. Oõç.._e. ..e u c.. o,e ecu )
- M.G.L Mahesh Premaratne & Nirosha Ruwanpathirana 8
Development and Progress
The Importance of Public-Private-Non-Profit Partnership at Sub-National
Level for Post-War Regional Development in Sri Lanka
- N. Sivakumar, H. U. S. Pradeep and S. Rasnayake 13
Issues in Post-war Indo-Sri Lanka Relations: A Sri Lankan Perspective
- Thiyagaraja Waradas 19
Youth in Sri Lanka
The Youth Vote: A Hope For Democracy
-Navam Niles 25
Capturing Gandhiji's Attention: A History of a Youth Movement
in Colonial Ceylon
- Niyanthini Kadirgamar 28
Minorities: Place and Belonging
Life Changes of Migrants
- I.D.G. Dharmasinghe 31





Violation of individual rights of persons from Plantation Sector in obtaining
personal documents: a case study from the Badulla District
- Fahurdeen Sajeed Ahamed 34
Environmental Concerns and Challenges
The impact of the War on Water Resources in Post-War Sri Lanka
- W.A.Upul Wickramasinghe 39
Youth Voice: The Missing Link in Sri Lanka‘s Environmental Discourse
- Thiagi Piyadasa 45
Representation and Articulation
Performativity and Performance: An Analysis of the portrayal of gender
identity of women in plays written by Sri Lankan Playwrights
- Sabreena Niles 49
The Sri Lankan IDP: A Portrayal by the Media
- Sachee Ranaweera 53
Crime, Violence and Justice
The Romanticization of Crime on News Broadcasts in Post-War Sri Lanka
- Dinidu Karunanayake 57
(In)Justice in Sri Lankan Society: Alternative Understandings of Justice
in Sri Lanka
- Shashik Dhanushka Silva 59
Inclusion, Politics and Participation
Tamil Moderate Politics and Discontent among Tamil Youths in Sri Lanka:
Some Introductory Notes on their Relationship from 1948 to the Present.
- Kumarvadivel Guruparan 63
Seeing Double?: Contesting Visions of Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka
- Andi Schubert 65
The Personal and the Public
Youth and Facebook: The Impact on the Private Public Distinction
- Tharindi Udalagama 69
The Collusion of Three Identities: Sri Lankan. Muslim. Woman.
- Hyshyama Hamin 73
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
i

The Young Researchers’ Collective, Sri Lanka
The Young Researchers‘ Collective is an association of young
researchers. It functions as a space and an opportunity for young
researchers who want to link their research with advocacy and
activism. The YRC is working to develop and equip the next
generation of research activists and public intellectuals in Sri Lanka. It
was started in 2010 by a group of young researchers.
The YRC is working to link research done by young people with
advocacy and activism on issues affecting their lives and
communities. We are working towards this by
 encouraging more grounded research by young researchers
with a commitment to transforming the power structures and
realities of people‘s lives.
 equipping young people with skills and knowledge to advocate
on the issues affecting their lives.
 promoting a culture of informed activism by developing
resources and providing intellectual and strategic support to
interventions being made by young people.
 advocating for and promoting belief in the capacity of young
people as researchers, policy makers and leaders who can take
action on issues affecting their lives.

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
ii

Youth Voices in Post-War Sri Lanka: Challenges, Aspirations &
Opportunities for Transformation
It is with great pleasure we announce the first Young Researchers‘
Forum (the YRF) which will be held in January 2012 under the theme
―Youth Voices in Post-War Sri Lanka: Challenges, Aspirations &
Opportunities for Transformation.‖
Why Youth?
In many discussions on youth and young people, there is a tendency
to limit youth issues to education and employment. However as
young researchers we understand the concept of youth issues as
being ―issues affecting the lives of young people and their
communities.‖ This is because we understand that issues and
concerns are not self-contained but intersect and cross cut across
identities and locations.
Why youth voices?
The year 2011 has been the year of the youth revolution. Educated
young people who were disillusioned with the status quo in Tunisia,
Egypt and a number of other countries, took to the streets to protest
and demand change. Many of these movements were organized
using twitter and facebook and utilized the power of technology to
both mobilize and organize.
In a number of other countries around the world ranging from Yemen
to the United States of America young people have been at the
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
iii

forefront of movements for change in 2011. All of this suggests that
young people are more aware of the issues and challenges that they
face and are finding new ways to speak out about these challenges,
the opportunities that are open to them and their aspirations for a
better tomorrow.
Why post-war Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has known a great deal of conflict and turmoil over the past
40 years. As Sri Lanka seeks to deal with this legacy of violence it is
important to understand both the concerns of the past as well as the
aspirations for the future.
Young people have been closely involved in the violence that
engulfed Sri Lanka over the past few decades. Young people felt
excluded, frustrated and desperate. What took place over the past 40
years has shown that there is a strong possibility of a recurrence
unless these feelings are expressed and the underlying reasons for
these feelings are addressed.
We believe that young researchers can play an important role in
bringing to the fore not just the issues facing young people but also
the concerns faced by their communities. The YRF presents an
opportunity for young researchers around the country to share their
views on the challenges, opportunities and aspirations that are
shaping the lives of young people in their communities today.
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
iv

Introducing the Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
The Young Researchers' Forum is a space and an opportunity for
Young Researchers to present their work, share their ideas, and
engage in discussions in order to develop their understanding of and
solutions to issues that are important to them and their communities.
You may have realized already that the structure, concept and
outlook of YRF 2012 are somewhat different from most academic
conferences. In a nutshell, YRF 2012 is an experiment in
democratizing the process of knowledge production.
As young researchers who have presented at academic conferences it
is impossible to miss the power dynamics that undergird and
intersect the space of the academic conference. In seeking to build our
own space we wanted to draw on our own experiences and ideas to
create a space that is an alternative to the traditional academic
conference. In the next few pages we will introduce you to this
alternative space.
At the YRF we encourage you to move from audience to participant;
actively shaping and contributing to the outcomes of the Forum. We
see this as an experiment because many of these ideas are being
attempted for the first time in Sri Lanka. We understand the word
―participant‖ broadly and we hope we are able to continue to engage
with you both online and offline, hopefully before and even after the
Forum is over.
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
v

The space of the Young Researchers‘ Forum is heavily influenced by
the thinking of Harrison Owen and Open Space Technology (OST).
1

The goal of OST has been defined as being to ―create time and space
for people to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern
to them.‖
2
One of Owen‘s key insights in his work as an organizer of
conferences was the fact that most of the productive and interesting
discussions of a conference take place during the one item on the
agenda that cannot be extensively planned for: the meal/tea breaks.
The work of OST is an attempt to focus more on drawing these spaces
and discussions into the main agenda of a conference or in this case
the Young Researchers‘ Forum 2012.
For many of the young researchers who will present at YRF 2012 this
will be their first experience of an academic conference. Almost all of
them are yet to secure a post-graduate degree and while we do not
mean this as a way of making excuses we suggest that this be kept in
mind when engaging and discussing with the young researchers
presenting at YRF 2012. In planning and preparing for YRF 2012 we
recognized the importance of this kind of open discussion and
dialogue on any research paper and the role this could play in
bettering the work of a young researcher attempting to construct new
knowledge.
In order to achieve this, there are five principles guiding YRF 2012:

1
For further details see Owen, H. (2008). Open Space Technology: A User's Guide. San
Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
2
http://www.chriscorrigan.com/openspace/whatisos.html
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
vi

1. The “Work in Progress” Principle
Unlike many other academic conferences which emphasize the
presentation of more or less completed work, YRF 2012 seeks to
present work in progress. As young researchers there is much to be
learnt and understood about research and knowledge production
processes. We believe that this can be done through more discussion
and input into our ideas and work. The first draft principle holds that
our work is a presentation of work in progress; a first draft rather
than a completed product with neat solutions to all questions that
have been raised through our research. We are eager to hear your
thoughts and input as to how we can better our work.
1. The Informal Presentation Principle
During the course of the Forum you may also notice that the
presentations take on a less formal tone and are not as rigid as a
presentation at an academic conference. This is not because we are
treating the subject matter lightly but because we are focused heavily
on engendering discussion and debate in order to improve our work.
We also believe that the rigidity and formality of language used in
formal academic presentations may at times work to exclude and
alienate most people from their research. Due to this we have
suggested to the presenters that they approach their presentations as
a more informal presentation that, among other styles, is similar to
the kind of presentations that take place during TED conferences. The
emphasis of this principle is the presentation of interesting ideas in a
simple and accessible presentation.
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
vii

2. The Discussion Groups Principle
We believe that knowledge is best produced through collaboration
and discussion. At YRF 2012 we are attempting to create as many
spaces and opportunities as possible for discussion and dialogue on
the issues that are raised through the Forum. In order to do this the
presentations will follow the following format – Each presentation
will take place as a plenary session. However after the completion of
all presentations the audience will be given a few minutes to decide
and then move in to a smaller group with a presenter of her or his
choice in order to further discuss the ideas or issues that they found
interesting during that particular presentation. A moderator/
facilitator will be announced for each group in order to facilitate the
discussion. We have also strongly recommended to the presenters
that they include some form of acknowledgement to the members of
their group in their final paper.
3. The Storehouse Principle
YRF 2012 seeks to build a knowledge base that can be shared widely
with people around the country and the world. We believe that as the
internet spreads, it will change how knowledge is disseminated and
shared but also how knowledge is stored as well. With this in mind
we are hoping to upload many of the presentations that take place
during the Forum on to youtube and share it on other platforms such
as our website, facebook and on twitter with a view to both storing
and spreading these ideas widely.
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
viii

4. The Idea Incubator Principle
We hope that the Forum will spark ideas. But often ideas that are
sparked remain just that – a spark. For the best ideas to stay alive they
may require a short stint in an incubator. For this we suggest you
make use of our idea incubator to post any ideas or opinions that you
may have. We want to hear and find out more about your ideas and
there may be a number of other people who have similar ideas or
would like to discuss your idea with you at some point of time. Please
make use of our idea incubator area to post any ideas or thoughts that
occur to you during the Forum. You could also use this as a way of
giving us feedback on how you feel about the conference and how we
can improve on your experience.
The Law of Two Feet
Open Space Technology only has one law – The Law of Two Feet.
This law holds that if you feel you are not learning and not
contributing get on your feet and shift to somewhere else. Maybe you
could join the other discussion group. Perhaps you could have a look
at our Idea Incubator and post some ideas yourself for further
discussion.
We present these principles as a way to introduce you and guide you
through the concept of the Forum. We want you to know that the real
space of the forum belongs to you – our participants and presenters
and not us.
THE YRC
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
ix

Forum Program
Program - 20
th
January - Morning
8.30am-
9.00am
Registration
9.00am-
10.00am
Opening Ceremony
10.00am-
10.15am
Tea
10.15am-
11.30am
Session 1 – Education and Empowerment
A Degree for Sale (?): Can Private Higher Education
(Dis-) Empower the Sri Lankan Youth?
-Rusiru Kalpagee Chitrasena
õ. Oõç.._ eeue. ¸.e ..e. oOe-... c_-¸ e..e
õç..u.r o...u.r (er._® õ.Oõç.._e. ..eu c..
o,eecu)
- M.G.L Mahesh Premaratne & Nirosha Ruwanpathirana
11.30am-
12.30pm
Session 2 – Development and Progress
The Importance of Public-Private-Non-Profit Partnership
at Sub-National Level for Post-War Regional
Development in Sri Lanka
- N. Sivakumar, H. U. S. Pradeep and S. Rasnayake
Issues in Post-war Indo-Sri Lanka Relations: A Sri
Lankan Perspective
- Thiyagaraja Waradas


The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
x

Program - 20
th
January – Afternoon

12.30pm-
1.15pm
Lunch
1.15pm-
2.15pm
Plenary Discussion- Being Young and Being a
Researcher
2.15pm-
3.15pm

Session 3 - Youth in Sri Lanka
The Youth Vote: A Hope For Democracy
-Navam Niles
Capturing Gandhiji's Attention: A History of a Youth
Movement in Colonial Ceylon

- Niyanthini Kadirgamar
3.15pm-
3.30pm
Tea
3.30pm-
4.30pm
Session 4 - Minorities: Place and Belonging
Life Changes of Migrants
- I.D.G. Dharmasinghe

Violation of individual rights of persons from Plantation
Sector in obtaining personal documents: a case study
from the Badulla District
- Fahurdeen Sajeed Ahamed
4.30pm-
5.30pm
Plenary – Linking Research and Action


The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xi

Program - 21
st
January – Morning

9.00am-
10.00am
Session 5 – Environmental Concerns and Challenges
The impact of the War on Water Resources in Post-War
Sri Lanka
- W.A.Upul Wickramasinghe
Youth Voice: The Missing Link in Sri Lanka‘s
Environmental Discourse
- Thiagi Piyadasa
10.00am-
10.15am
Tea
10.15am-
11.15am

Session 6 - Representation and Articulation
Performativity and Performance: An Analysis of the portrayal
of gender identity of women in plays written by Sri Lankan
Playwrights
- Sabreena Niles
The Sri Lankan IDP: A Portrayal by the Media
- Sachee Ranaweera
11.15am-
12.15pm
Session 7 - Crime, Violence and Justice
The Romanticization of Crime on News Broadcasts in
Post-War Sri Lanka
- Dinidu Karunanayake
(In)Justice in Sri Lankan Society: Alternative
Understandings of Justice in Sri Lanka
- Shashik Dhanushka Silva
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xii

Program - 21
st
January – Afternoon

12.15pm-
1.00pm
Lunch
1.00pm-
2.30pm
The Future for Young Researchers & Young Researchers for the
Future
2.30pm-
3.30pm

Session 8- Inclusion, Politics and Participation

Tamil Moderate Politics and Discontent among Tamil Youths
in Sri Lanka: Some Introductory Notes on their Relationship
from 1948 to the Present.
- Kumarvadivel Guruparan
Seeing Double?: Contesting Visions of Reconciliation in Post-
War Sri Lanka
- Andi Schubert
3.00pm-
3.30pm
Tea
3.30pm-
4.30pm
Session 9 - The Personal and the Public
Youth and Facebook: The Impact on the Private Public
Distinction
- Tharindi Udalagama

The Collusion of Three Identities: Sri Lankan. Muslim.
Woman.
- Hyshyama Hamin
4.30pm-
5.30pm
Closing Ceremony

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xiii

About the Presenters
Rusiru Kalpagee Chitrasena has an academic background in English
Literature and Linguistics from the University of Kelaniya, and Legal
Studies from the University of London. His research interests include
education, language, linguistics, literature, and culture.
E: rusiru.chitrasena@yahoo.com
Mahesh Premarathne graduated from the University of Colombo and
his interests include research on medical sociology, social work,
education, development sociology, urban, and environmental
sociology.
E: lalantha0@yahoo.com
Nirosha Ruwanpathirana holds a BA (Hons) in Sociology from the
University of Colombo. Her research interests include gender and
women, migration, climate change adaptation, medicine, rural and
urban studies, psychology and patron client relationship.
E: lakminiruwanpathirana@gmail.com
Sanjaya Pradeep, BA (Hons) Peradeniya, MPPG (NOMA) Dhaka, is a
lecturer in Political Science at the Department of Social Science,
University of Sabaragamuva.
E: sanjayapra@yahoo.com

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xiv

N. Sivakumar holds a BA (Hons) and MA from the University of
Peradeniya. He is presently reading for a MPPG (NOMA) at the
North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Thiyagaraja Waradas holds a BA (Hons) in International Relations
from University of Colombo. He is a visiting lecturer in International
Relations at University of Colombo and is a Research Assistant at the
International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) Colombo. His research
interests focus on post-war development in the North and East of Sri
Lanka.
E:thiyagarajawaradas@yahoo.com
Navam Niles is currently in the process of completing a Bsc.
International Relations. The focus of his work is to understand the
dynamics that connect the socio-economic conditions in Sri Lanka to
the realm of international politics.
E: navam.niles@gmail.com
Niyanthini Kadirgamar is a researcher and also works in the
Management Consulting field. She is also the Treasurer of the YRC.
She has studied at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and is a
student at The Open University, Sri Lanka. She has been involved in
research relating to state reforms, identities, gender and youth.
E: niyanthinik@theyrc.org
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xv

Geethika Dharmasinghe holds a BA (Hons) in Sociology from the
University of Colombo, where she is also presently reading for a MA
in Sociology. She is a Research Assistant at the International Centre
for Ethnic Studies (ICES) Colombo, working on issues of disability.
E: geethikadharmasinghe@gmail.com
Fahurdeen Sajeed Ahamed is an Attorney at Law working with the
Equal Access to Justice Project - a joint project between the Ministry
of National Languages and Social Integration and the United Nations
Development Programme.
E: Sajeeds304@yahoo.co.uk
Upul Wickramasinghe holds a BSc in Chemistry and Micro Biology
from the University of Kelaniya and is presently reading for an MSc
in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Colombo. He works as a
Chemical Analyst at SGS Lanka Pvt. Ltd and is currently engaged in a
research on Water and Sanitation in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
E: upulkw@gmail.com
Thiagi Piyadasa holds a BA (Hons) in International Relations from
the University of Colombo, and is presently reading for a LLB at the
Open University of Sri Lanka. She is attached to Oxfam Australia as a
Programme Officer, and is the Secretary of the YRC. Her research and
activist interests include gender, women‘s rights, development,
economic, social and cultural rights and youth issues.
E: thiagip@theyrc.org
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xvi

Sabreena Niles completed her BA (Hons) in English at the University
of Kelaniya and is currently employed at the English Language
Teaching Unit at the University of Kelaniya. Her teaching and
research interests range from diverse forms of drama and poetry to
postcolonial literature, American literature and Sri Lankan fiction and
her theoretical interests include feminism, psychoanalysis and
postcolonialism.
E: sabreenaniles@gmail.com
Sachee Ranaweera is a Temporary Assistant Lecturer at the English
Language Teaching Unit of the University of Kelaniya. She has a B.A.
(Hons) in English and is currently reading for her Masters in
Linguistics from the University of Kelaniya. Her research interests are
English language teaching, sociolingusitics and applied linguistics.
E: sacheerr@hotmail.com
Dinidu Karunanayake holds a BA (Hons) in English from the
University of Colombo. In 2009, he participated as an exchange
student at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He is currently
an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of English, University of
Kelaniya.
E: dinidukarunanayake@gmail.com

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xvii

Shashik Dhanushka is presently attached to the Applied Research
Unit of UNOPS, having previously been attached to Social Indicator,
CPA for 5 years. He has completed a Diploma in International
Relations at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS)
and is presently reading for an ART Degree at the University of
Kelaniya.
E: shashikdhanushka@yahoo.com
Kumaravadivel Guruparan is an academic lawyer who teaches at the
Department of Law of the University of Jaffna. He studied at Jaffna
Hindu College and the University of Colombo and more recently at
the University of Oxford. His research interests lie in the vast domain
of political and constitutional theory and more particularly in the law
and politics of self-determination and plurinationalism.
E: rkguruparan@gmail.com
Andi Schubert is a researcher and activist. He is the co-founder and
coordinator of the YRC. Andi graduated with a BA (Hons) in English
from the University of Kelaniya. His areas of work and academic
interest are broadly identity and conflict, youth issues and education.
Apart from his work with the YRC, Andi is also a visiting lecturer at
the English Language Teaching Unit at the University of Sri
Jayawardanepura.
E: andis@theyrc.org

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xviii

Tharindi Udalagama holds a BA (Hons) in Sociology from the
University of Colombo and has also completed her Professional
Qualification in Human Resource Management from the Institute of
Personnel Management, Sri Lanka. Her research interests include
new media in the post modern world, bioethics, public health and
comparative religion. She is a visiting lecturer at Aquinas University
College, and a Research Associate at the Faculty of Medicine,
University of Colombo.
E: tharindi.udalagama@gmail.com
Hyshyama Hamin holds a BA in Development Studies from the
University of Kathmandu. She has been working on gender based
violence (GBV) and women's rights issues for the past 6 years both in
Nepal and Sri Lanka. She is currently engaged in a project seeking to
address GBV and women and peace building issues in Sri Lanka.
E: hyshyama@gmail.com
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xix

Acknowledgements
Thank you for being a part of the Young Researchers‘ Forum 2012.
We truly are happy to have you here and hope you will be able to
learn and contribute to the discussions at the Forum.
We want to thank all our presenters for the time and effort they have
put in and hope that they will benefit through their participation in
YRF 2012.
We wish to express our profound thanks to Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda
for his support, patience, encouragement and willingness to support
us when the concept of the YRC was still in its embryonic stages. Our
thanks is also due to Mr. Pradeep Peiris for his support and guidance
especially with regards to our training in conducting survey research.
We must also thank the Social Scientists‘ Association for
accommodating us and hosting the training sessions that have been
conducted thus far.
We place on record our appreciation of Beyond Borders Sri Lanka for
partnering with us and enabling us to put together this program.
The YRC expresses a sincere thank you to Prof. Neloufer De Mel,
Prof. Maithree Wickramasinghe, Dr. Kumari Jayawardena, Dr. Harini
Amarasuriya, Dr. Nishan De Mel, Mr. B. Skanthakumar, Mr. Mirak
Raheem, Ms. Bhavani Fonseka, Mr. Sanjana Hattotuwa, Ms. Lucy
Holdaway, Ms. Chulani Kodikara and Ms. Dinesha Samararatne for
the advice and guidance that they have provided to the Collective.
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
xx

The YRC also wishes to acknowledge and thank the American Centre
for their generous assistance and support for our project through the
Youth Empowerment Grants program. A special thank you to Mr.
Christopher Teal, Ms. Niambi Young, Mr. Hector Gonzalez, Mr. Jeff
Anderson, Ms. Sina Jones, Ms. Samanthi De Costa and the staff at the
American Centre for their help and assistance throughout the course
of this project.
To Hanim Abdul Cader and Shamanthi Rajasingham: a big thank you
for their stunning work and the design support that they have
provided. We also wish to acknowledge the invaluable contributions
of Sanjaya Senanayake, Rehan Fernando, Manikya Kodituwakku and
Jaliya Wijewardene for their help with documenting YRF 2012.
Thanks is also due to Chathuri Dissanayake and Marisa De Silva for
their help with media and publicity for the Forum and to Sabreena
Niles for her help with the momentos.
The YRC also thanks Thilini and the staff at the Western Province
Aesthetic Resort for their support for YRF 2012. A thank you also to
Mr. Phillip of Big Bird Printers for a great job with the printing.
Thanks also to Mr. Suresh for his support in securing translators and
translation equipment for the Forum.
Finally thank you to all the volunteers and friends who contributed in
so many different ways to making this a success. We truly do
appreciate it.
The YRC
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
1










Extended Abstracts

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
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Education and Empowerment








The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
3

A Degree for Sale (?): Can Private Higher Education (Dis-)
Empower the Sri Lankan Youth?
Rusiru Kalpagee Chitrasena
rusiru.chitrasena@yahoo.com
Introduction:
A significant majority of academics, professionals, students and
members of the public severely condemns the use of higher education
as a commercial product and the legitimization of a trade-oriented
definition vis-à-vis the government‘s intention to strengthen private
universities/ higher education industry in Sri Lanka. This paper
intends to examine, from the perspective of the Sri Lankan youth,
whether and how private higher education could empower or
disempower the Sri Lankan youth as claimed by parties who strongly
advocate and condemn it.
Although private educational and higher educational institutes are
not a new phenomenon in the country and has been a controversial
subject throughout, the government plans to increase support for the
establishment of private universities and the reluctance of the
professional medical bodies to grant approval for the newly
established private medical college in Sri Lanka has given rise to a
great deal of heated debate. However, there is an explanatory gap in
the discourses advocating and opposing private higher education in
Sri Lanka for they seem to be obsessed with logistical and monetary
aspects of the problem.
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
4

The present study advocates a philosophy of empowerment through
education and taking ‗empowerment‘ as the basis for analysis; it
intends to answer the question posed in the title: Can private higher
education (dis-) empower the Sri Lankan Youth? However, my
concern is not singular based on the understanding that what could
empower one segment in any community could dis-empower another
segment of the same community. To suggest this, in my title, I add
the prefix ‗dis‘ within brackets before the word ‗empower‘ and a
question mark is added within brackets to the phrase, ‗a degree for
sale‘, a reflection of the popular Sri Lankan ideology of perceiving
private higher educational institutes as upadhi kada.
The present research comes under the sub-theme of ‗Education and
Empowerment‘ of the conference and while seeking to give voice to
the youth perspectives, it examines challenges, preoccupations,
aspirations and opportunities put forward to the Sri Lankan youth by
private higher education.
Methodology:
The methodology of the present research features a series of semi-
structured interviews with 60 randomly-selected young Sri Lankans
between 16-30, of which 37 were female and 23 were male. Most of
the respondents were from urban and semi-urban areas of the
western province although other provinces were also represented.
The framework for the interview was compiled in English and the
interview was originally meant to be conducted in English. However,
since some respondents had problems in their English language
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proficiency, I had to conduct some interviews in Sinhalese as well.
The research sample seeks to represent a cross-section of the Sri
Lankan youth including school students, undergraduates/graduates
and post-graduate students from state/private higher education
institutes in Sri Lanka, professionals without university qualifications,
unemployed school leavers and graduates, prospective entrants to Sri
Lankan universities, and prospective clients of private higher
educational institutes. In addition, as a secondary research option,
reference will be made to a selection of published statistics and
articles from popular and academic sources. As far as research
limitations are concerned, it was strongly felt that, that the rural
youth was not adequately represented, and due to my limited
proficiency in Tamil, I was not able to interview any monolingual
Tamil speakers. As a researcher who believes in methodological
pluralism, I will present and analyse my data both quantative-ly and
qualitatively in an attempt to remain the ‗best‘ of both approaches.
However, there is a natural bias for qualitative analysis especially
because my sample is relatively small.
Results:
Although the research is ongoing and this extended abstract is based
on an unfinished analysis, there is a clear indication that private
higher education has a considerable potential to empower the Sri
Lankan youth especially given the extremely limited opportunities
available at the state universities. Among my informants, those who
were students/products of the state university system were hostile
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towards the opening/legitimizing/strengthening of private higher
education system mainly on the understanding that it could result in
the deterioration of the quality and the standard of education
provided by the state universities thereby disempowering the
students of those establishments who enter them though an
extremely rigorous and competitive process. A fear as to the loss of
privileged status enjoyed by the Sri Lankan university graduate
community is also implicit. While some of the criticisms of private
higher education remain unwarranted, others remain valid especially
the doubt as to whether the commercialisation of education resulting
from privatization could lower the overall academic standards of the
Sri Lankan higher educational qualifications.
Discussion:
The discussion segment of the research will feature further analysis of
the various perspectives. The core argument will be that the private
higher education will empower the Sri Lankan youth as long as
quality in teaching and research is maintained and as long as there is
close monitoring of how these institutions operate. At the same time,
the government should address the danger of a feasible decline in the
academic standards of government universities resulting from the
strengthening of the private higher education industry. Interestingly,
various informants, throughout the course of interviews, asserted
their disillusionment with the deficiencies in the public
administration of the country including the higher education and
doubted the extent to which ‗quality assurance‘ would work in the Sri
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7

Lankan context. However, on the whole, the findings of my research
can be used in future policy making in Sri Lankan higher education
especially because it seeks to document the perspective of the
students which seems to have been largely ignored at the moment in
planning higher education policy. In other words, the preoccupations
and the constructive criticism of the parties concerned can be made
use not only in policy making for private higher education but also in
educational policy making in general.

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o3. 5. o_. .e:e ec.cuu සහ
lalantha0@yahoo.com & lakminiruwanpathirana@gmail.com
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:,r..

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Development and Progress

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Importance of Public-Private-Non-Profit Partnership at Sub-
National Level for Post-War Regional Development in Sri Lanka
N. Sivakumar, H. U. S. Pradeep and S. Rasnayake
sanjayapra@yahoo.com
Date of research: August 2011 – December 2011

Introduction
The last three decades has been the bloodiest in Sri Lankan history.
The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka turned into a full-fledged civil war in
1983 came to an end with the military defeated of the LTTE in May
2009. The war incurred the toil of the many thousands of deaths and
immeasurable human suffering. Also it damaged and destroyed the
infrastructure as well as other economic structure too. There are many
development activities need to be done in war ravaged areas. For this
purpose proper decentralization and adequate resources are pre-
required at sub-national level. But, there are ongoing debate related
with devolved power at sub-national level. Indeed many countries
adopted public-private-non-profit partnership as an approach to
achieve the regional development. Through this study researchers
found that, the public-private-nonprofit partnership at sub-national
level could be an alternative solution meant for post-war regional
development in Sri Lanka.

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Statement of the Problem
Aftermath of war many service are expected from North and Eastern
Provincial Councils. Undeniably, among those expectations post-war
regional development is the most important one aftermath of the war
in ravaged area. Proper decentralization, political commitment as
well will and sound provincial finances are essential components of
post-war regional development. Then only provincial council can
take necessary and effective actions to getting things done. Indeed,
previous studies noted that, the effective, powerful and decentralized
local government has not yet evolved in Sri Lanka. For instance, very
recent study on ―Twenty Two Years of Devolution‖ (Amarasinghe,
Bandara, Wickramaratne and Gunawardena, 2010) pointed out that,
―…fiscal devolution was introduced and practiced within the
framework of centralized planning and budgeting rules and
procedures. It failed to establish an appropriated fiscal
framework to support devolution...Provincial Councils are also
handicapped in the use of powers legitimately assigned to
them on account of not having a system of provincial
administration which is totally under its control‖
In this background, can North and Eastern Provincial Council
successfully contribute for post-war regional development? Indeed, it
is debatable. So there is a necessity to find an alternative approach to
deal with post-war regional development. Can public-private-non-
profit partnership be an alternative measure? Are there any credible
evidences from other countries to support the approach? Taking these
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matters into consideration, this study tried to find the answers to
research question of why public-private-non-profit partnership
important at sub-national level of Sri Lanka meant for post-war
regional development?

Objectives
1. To explore the importance of public-private-non-profit
partnerships in term of post-war regional development in Sri
Lanka.
2. To produce the credible evidence from globe in relation to
importance of public-private-non-profit partnerships meant for
regional development.

Significance of the Study
Without peace there cannot be sustainable development; meaning it is
very difficult to establish enduring peace without proper
reconstruction and development in war ravaged areas. Indeed, post-
war regional development seems as governance as well political
issues in Sri Lanka. Very limited studies done related with this issue.
This study aimed to file the gap also intended to propose alternative
approach meant for post-war regional development in war ravaged
provinces in Sri Lanka.


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Research Methodology
The study used the qualitative method to analyze and interpret the
data. The Non-probability sampling (purposive sampling) has been
used for primary data collection. The data gathered by using primary
and secondary sources. Primary data collected from think-tank
(Academician and Lawyers) using in-depth interview. Content
analysis took place intended for secondary data collection.
Accordingly data collected from the relevant existing literatures such
as books, previous research works, seminar papers, reports, journal
and relevant official website of provincial council, private and non-
profit sector.

Findings and Core Argument in Brief
The concept of decentralization is not new phenomena in Sri Lanka.
Numerous attempts have been undertaken over the years. Though
effective, powerful and decentralized local government has not yet
evolved in Sri Lanka. Indeed, sub-national governments are expected
to work on post-war regional development meant. Adequate
resources, institutional capacity are pre-required for this agenda.
North and Eastern Provincial Councils are unable to deal with the
post-war regional development agenda without assistance from
bottom-level as well top-level too. Many reasons are behind in this
scenario. Among those reasons limited resources is key one.
Therefore, the Provincial Council has to adopt an alternative
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approach to make arrangement to getting thing done towards post-
war regional development. Accordingly specially designed projects
with specific objectives are being implemented in the eastern
province with the assistance under international economic
cooperation in collaboration with relevant stakeholders at national
and provincial levels to getting things done towards regional
development.
Public-private-non-profit partnership implies a common
understanding of shared goals, a willingness to repartition
responsibilities for their achievement. Since the 1990s, there has been
a rapid rise of public-private-non-profit partnerships across the
world. Indeed many developing countries have initiated public-
private-non-profit partnerships in various sectors including
infrastructure, manufacturing and services. Public-private-non-profit
partnerships do not end with players only from the public sector or
government agencies. Rather, management of public sector programs
involves a wide range of players from both the for-profit and
nonprofit sectors. Therefore, this partnership can be contributed for
post-war regional development in war ravaged areas in Sri Lanka.

Recommendation or Freshness of Idea
1. In reality, the model adopted in the devolution of power in Sri
Lanka places the centre in a dominant position in the context of
Centre – Provinces relations.
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2. The central government has to provide adequate institutional
capacity to sub-national government to deal with post-war
regional development.
3. Public-private partnership as well as public-private-non-profit
a partnership also has to promote at sub-national level meant
for regional development.
4. Institutional capacity is pre-required to effectively deal with
public-private-non-profit partnership. Therefore, institutional
capacity (fiscal, human, physical resources) has to provide to
provincial council. Political commitment as well political will
also needed.

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Issues in Post-war Indo-Sri Lanka Relations: A Sri Lankan
Perspective
Thiyagaraja Waradas
thiyagarajawaradas@yahoo.com
Date of Research: July 2011- January 2012
The Specific Issue
The study examines the efforts taken by different stakeholders to
solve the issue between Sri Lankan Northern Fishermen and Indian
Fishermen. These issues emerged due to the threat posed by Indian
trawler net fishers poaching in to Sri Lankan waters soon after the
end of the war between Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Ealam.

The Core Argument
There are three approaches in practice to solve the issue. Firstly, state
level intervention initiated by India and Sri Lanka called the Joint
Working Committee. Secondly, fishermen to fishermen dialogue
initiated by Sri Lankan fishermen and they signed an agreement with
their counterparts in South India with the support of civil society.
Thirdly and the most recent approach is to establish an Interactive
Joint Working Platform (IJWP), which accommodate both two levels
in one platform.
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All these approaches suggest autonomous and isolated manner of
intervention. These separate isolated attempts inherently reduce the
strength of its capacity in solving issues which are rooted in different
levels which seeks multilevel interventions. The first two approaches
are less sensitive to the political and economic factors of the conflict.
State level intervention is not linked with the grass root level needs of
the people. Moreover, all of them are lacking a strong implementation
mechanism.
It is crucial to take in to account the following factors in any attempt
to find a solution. It includes regional and extra regional relations of
these countries and their regime‘s relationship with their citizens,
economically, regional capitalism with neighboring small powers. An
environmental aspect is also important to ensure the future of fishing
and marine resources.

Importance and Relevance of the Research
About 2000 Indian trawler boats engage in fishing within 210
kilometers coastal line in Palk Bay. Due to this Sri Lanka is losing 5
billion Sri Lankan rupees of annual income from its marine resources.
This is not only an economic and political issue, but also it destroys
the entire marine wealth of the country by using banned trawler nets.
It threatens the future livelihood of 30,000 fisher families in Northern
Province of Sri Lanka.
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Indian Trawler fishermen damage equipment of Sri Lankan
fishermen and prevent them from fishing. Vulnerability created by
this situation is directly related to post-war peace building and
reconstruction of war torn region. The Indian trawler fishermen issue
has became an urgent and crucial issue that needs to be addressed by
both respective governments. Therefore, this paper would focus on
Indian Trawler fishermen issue and Indo- Sri Lankan relations in a
post- war era.

Innovativeness or Freshness of the Idea, Solutions and the
Approach
The issue requires a multi-track program. It includes a link between
subalterns and the state, strong implementation mechanisms and
political solution of both countries. This may draw a road map to find
a gradual solution, which is based on the real economic, political and
environmental needs of the people of both countries. Thus ensuring
the grievances of the Northern Fishermen are being heard and build
more trust in democratic way of peaceful conflict resolution. In other
words this is neither top bottom approach nor bottom- up approach.
It suggests a multi-track approach which includes a collective team
play of all kinds of stakeholders.

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Methodology
This study involves positivist and post- positivist methodology which
includes both qualitative and quantitative research methods. It is
based on data collected through qualitative interviews of
stakeholders in different levels, such as, policy makers, activists,
community leaders and subalterns and an archival research.

Potential Impact of the Current Research for Change
The research widens the existing debate on the issue by articulating
the Sri Lankan fishermen‘s perspective. Moreover, it contributes the
policy dialogue through the suggestions arrived at through the
research.

References
Books
Jayasinghe, W.T. (2002). Indo-Ceylon Relations: The Politics of
Immigrant Labours, Stamford Lake, Pannipitiya, Sri Lanka.
Jayawardene, A. (2004). Documents on Sri Lanka‘s Foreign Policy
1947 - 1965, Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo, Sri
Lanka.
Nissanka, H.S.S. (1984). Sri Lanka‘s Foreign Policy: A Study in Non-
Alignment, Vikas, New Delhi, India.
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Sahul Hameed, A.C. (1988). Foreign Policy Perspectives of Sri Lanka:
Selected Speeches 1977-1987, Lakehouse Investments Limited,
Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Vernon, L.B. (1983). Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka from earliest times
to1965, Tisara Prakasakayo Limited, Dehiwela, Sri Lanka.
News Papers
Sunday Observer, 2010.08.22 and 2010.08.29,
Lankadeepa, 2011.03.16.
Websites
Suryanarayan, V. (2010). ‗India‘s Bilateral Agreements and Centre
State Relations –A Perspective from Tamil Nadu‘, South Asia
Analysis Group,
http://www.southasianalalysis.org/%5Cpapers37%5Cpaper3655.ht
ml (accessed 03.03.2011)
Other Documents
Petition submitted to the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka on
15th March 2011 by Alliance of Northern Province Fisher People‘s
Text of Agreement between Indian and Sri Lankan Fishermen
representatives who met at St. Thomas Mount, Chennai, India, From
20th to 22nd August 2010.
Vivekanandan, V. (2010), Multi-level dialogue to find solution to
trans-border fishing on the Indo-Sri Lankan border, SIFFS, India.
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Youth in Sri Lanka

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The Youth Vote: A Hope for Democracy
Navam Niles
navam.niles@gmail.com
This research paper will focus on the importance of youth voting and
the involvement of youth in policy processes in Sri Lanka. The post-
war situation in Sri Lanka has provided the youth voting bloc - those
between ages 18 and 24 - with the opportunity to play an important
part in the social, economic and political priorities of the nation.
Previously, discussions regarding key socio-economic issues were
crowded-out by various other concerns, especially that of national
security. However, as the nation begins changing its priorities
towards economic and social development, youth participation is not
only important but essential for the demographic in particular and
the nation in general. The current economic indicators are not very
encouraging as youth unemployment remains relatively high while
the education system in the country struggles to empower youth with
the necessary skills for a globalised economy. Moreover, the faith of
youth in social and political institutions is also arguably decreasing
and this sentiment is reflected in the country‘s poor international
rankings in areas such as corruption, economic freedom and political
stability. Therefore, it is important to focus the attention on two key
areas of study: firstly, the factors that could influence the mobilisation
of the youth demographic with regard to greater involvement in
political discourse; secondly, the key programmes that could be used
to enhance the youth participation in the political processes. This
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paper will examine the existing body of literature concerning the
voting behaviour of the youth and the various international
programmes initiated by particular countries and international
institutions such as the United Nations (UN) to facilitate greater
youth participation in political activities. The objective would be to
identify and evaluate methods relevant to Sri Lanka. Accordingly,
this paper will seek to argue that the main reason for the lack of
enthusiasm on the part of youth with regards to voting and political
participation is not so much the lack of interest in political affairs, but
the lack of information and opportunities to meaningfully engage in
the social, economic, and political discourse. Moreover, it will also
argue that the failure of political parties to engineer political,
economic and social policies that appeal to a wider youth
demographic will almost invariably lead to political instability and
increasing levels of political extremism within the youth
demographic.

Bibliography
Central Intelligence Agency. (2011). The world factbook - South Asia - Sri
Lanka. Retrieved 1 5, 2011, from CIA:
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
factbook/geos/ce.html
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Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. (n.d.). IDEA voter
turn out . Retrieved 12 5, 2011, from IDEA:
http://www.idea.int/vt/country_view.cfm?CountryCode=LK
Lintelo, D. t. (2011). Youth and Policy Processes. Future Agricultures.
Ray Carlos, D. D. (2004). Youth Voting Behaviour. Indiana State
University .
The Heritage Foundation. (n.d.). Sri Lanka. Retrieved 12 5, 2011, from
Heritage: http://www.heritage.org/index/country/SriLanka
Transparency International . (2011). Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 .
Transparency International .



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Capturing Gandhiji's Attention: A History of a Youth Movement in
Colonial Ceylon
Niyanthini Kadirgamar
gracekadirgamar@gmail.com

The history of Sri Lanka in the last century is rich with many youth-
led struggles. Commencing with the upsurge of a resistance to
imperial rule in pre-independence Ceylon, the youth have organized
themselves to lobby for change in the political, economic and social
spheres of the country. Whilst what was envisioned and
enthusiastically propagated by these movements as desirable
conditions for the country, were never achieved in their entirety and
even brutally crushed in certain instances, the youth have shaped the
course of the history of this country.

This paper is part of an ongoing research on the history of the youth
movement in Sri Lanka and focuses on the early years of youth
activism in colonial Ceylon. It explores why the youth of that time
decided to take on a different path to that of their older political
leaders during the final struggles for independence from colonial
rule. It also looks at how it shaped public opinion and created an
impact on the politics of that time. Particular focus is given to
Gandhiji‘s visit to Ceylon in 1927 and the events surrounding his
visit.

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When signs of communal rifts started showing within the older
political leadership of the country in the early 1900s, the youth began
organizing themselves into leagues to express their discontent of the
older political leaders and to pave the way for the establishment of a
Ceylon of their dreams. Focusing on the Youth Congress, Jaffna and
youth leagues in the South, this paper discusses the issues that were
taken up by the youth and the ideologies that propelled them to do
so. While the youth were in the forefront of the Nationalist Movement
at that time, greatly influenced by the Gandhian Movement in India
they refused to go along the lines of communalism that was
developing amongst the older generation. Instead there is an
interesting convergence when many of them formed and joined the
Left Movement at that time.




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Minorities: Place and Belonging

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Life Changes of Migrants
I.D.G. Dharmasinghe
geethikadharmasinghe@gmail.com
Date of Research: January 2009 January -2011
Specific Area of Research
This study focuses on the changes in lifestyle of the Tamil internal
migrants who moved from Jaffna to Wellawatte (Colombo) since
2005, as a result of the war. The research examines how they have
shaped their lives in the new social and economic context.

Core Argument
Traditionally, the fates of displaced and migrant populations have
been shaped either through government assistance or through their
own means. In this paper, it is my intention to highlight the efforts
made by the latter category to rebuild their lives following protracted
migration. In general, instead of integrating into existing
communities, the migrants seek to establish separate spaces which are
socially and culturally distinct.
I will focus on the ways and means through which the Tamil
population from Jaffna has placed their lives within the new context,
which has been shaped by various factors and internal changes in
their lives. Specifically, I will engage in an analysis of the notion of
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―Home‖ and the potential for ―return‖ within the context of
migration or displacement in Sri Lanka‘s post-war social settings.
I argue that the efforts made by these internal migrants who settled
down in this environment in order to avoid facing changes, have
resulted in a new order in the Wellawatte area and their lives. Even
though the opportunities in this new environment have prevented
them from returning to where they came from, they still maintain
their sense of ‗home‘- ‗Jaffna‘ whilst living in little Jaffna
(Wellawatte).

Importance and Relevance
In Sri Lanka, there are thousands of people who have migrated
internally during the war. Some people have migrated to urban areas,
and others to rural areas. However, with the end of the war, a ‗return‘
to normal life is expected from everyone in the country.
(Re)settlement plays a major role in the context of post war
reconciliation and it has been articulated as ―returning home.‖
Therefore, it is important to focus on resettlement due to the complex
and varying factors in lives of the migrant population who have
directly suffered from the war.
In this context, it is known that the current regime is engaging in
development projects claiming that development is ‗the answer‘ for
the North and the East. Conversely, there is a discourse that holds
that large scale destruction has taken place in certain areas in the
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name of development projects which has resulted in the removal of
memories which are symbolic of a ‗Tamil homeland‘. This action
eliminates the one particular force that challenged the Sinhala idea of an
imaginary homeland, a notion referred to as Lakdiva. In this context, it is
important to examine the opinions and perspectives of the affected
people with regard to to ‗return‘ and what it signifies to them.

Methodology
This study is based on an extensive review of literature and in
particular, on the findings of the research conducted for my BA
degree in 2009. After the war I revisited the areas in question and
conducted interviews in order to gain an understanding of matters
relating to ‗return‘. The sample of the study was 30 Tamil people who
moved from Jaffna to Wellawatte after 2005; and I interviewed them
using the snow-ball sampling method. The interpretive approach will
be deployed as the methodology of this research. Accordingly, this
research tries to improve our knowledge of the social world based on
the understanding of people and the explanation given by them to
phenomena through their inter-subjective experience.

Potential Impact
A main objective of this study is to expand the existence of socio-
political knowledge on internal migration.
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Violation of Individual Rights of Persons from Plantation Sector in
Obtaining Personal Documents: A Case Study from the Badulla
District
Fahurdeen Sajeed Ahamed
Sajeeds304@yahoo.co.uk
Brief Background of the Problem
It is a common scenario in the plantation sector that at least 25% or
more of the people are neither not in a position of Personal
Documents, most importantly Birth certificates. There are two
methods adopted by the government to register the birth, death and
to provide NICs. Due to the non availability of personal documents
many of the youths, including the adults do not have the right to
vote, to obtain a proper employment, difficult to obtain the services
and welfare facilities provided by the state. Compensation, rights of
land and property, to enter in to schools and education schemes are
among them.

Core Argument in Brief
The one of the main reasons not to be in possession of the personal
documents is because of the structure of the plantation sector and the
current laws and procedures related to personal documents. The
method used for the registration of birth in the plantation sector is
different from the other and the process is more difficult compared to
the other. It‘s discriminatory that the citizens of one state treated in
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two different methods, with regard to the same service. Thus the
procedure makes it more complicated to obtain those documents and
due to the collapse of the original estate mechanism, i.e. closure of the
estates, which made it difficult to track the history of records due to
loss of records.

Importance and Relevance of Research
The problem is there for a long time and due to this problem many
youths, especially females are living in the estates, uneducated and
they have less opportunity to enjoy their rights and there are many
instances of violation of their rights. In the post conflict context,
where there is a primary focus is in developing the country, I think
there is a need to address the issues of these people who have many
problems in accessing the welfare schemes proposed by the
government.

Innovativeness or Freshness of Idea, Solution or Approach
Through the identification of the causes of the problem the people
will have the opportunity to enjoy their civil and political rights
without any hindrance. This will enormously benefit them in
supporting the country, building trust and confidence in the system
and ultimately for a better country.

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Methodology
The primary data will be collected through face to face interviews
with the people in the estates (approximately 50 people will be
interviewed) and government officials. This will be more of a
qualitative analysis of the issue.

At the same time, questionnaires will be also used to get the feedback
from the people. Approximately 50 people will be interviewed. (This
will be a more of a quantitative approach)

A library survey will be undertaken. The existing domestic laws and
procedures will be evaluated. Further, a comparison will be made
between the domestic laws and the international obligation. Experts
on the subject will be interviewed too.

Data analysis: The primary data and the secondary data will be
analyzed with the Human Rights and constitutional standards to
assess whether the individual rights to obtain personal documents of
the people in the plantation sector of the country has been violated

Policy Recommendations If Any
It is planned to recommend the Government and other stakeholders
about the changes that is required to be made to the existing law and
to improve other conditions to ensure that each individual is in
possession of the documents.
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Potential Impact of Research for Change
A proper mechanism for the registration of births and to issue other
personal documents will be introduced in the plantation sector. All
the youths in the estates will have personal documents through this
initiative.

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Environmental Concerns and
Challenges

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The Impact of the War on Water Resources and Its Implications for
Post-War Sri Lanka
W.A.Upul Wickramasinghe.
upulkw@gmail.com
Date of Research: September 2011 to January 2012

The specific issue: The effect of the war on water resources and the
quality of the water in the Jaffna district.

Core argument:
Research has shown that water resources such as tanks, wells,
streams etc have been severely damaged during conflict. This has led
to the lack of water which can be used. Also deforestation and
damage to natural flora and biota was generally observed, which may
have a long-term effect on water resources. At the same time, due to
the armed conflict, potable water is polluted due to the presence of
mines as well as due to the release of chemicals in to the environment.
The return of refugees to their places of origin has led to an over-
exploitation of resources to meet food and energy needs.
Furthermore, munitions that have not been defused and unexploded
mines contaminate the soil and water in the long run. The pollution of
rivers and lakes also occurs when the human bodies that are
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deposited in them begin to decompose. Unofficial reports suggest
that close to 40000 people were killed during the final stage of the war
in Sri Lanka and due to this there is a large possibility that this will
result in the above mentioned impact on the water resources in
Northern and Eastern provinces.
The resettlement of internally displaced people in their places of
origin and the provision of necessary facilities and infrastructure has
been a huge challenge for the Government in post-war Sri Lanka.
However, environmental considerations fall by the wayside and as a
result poorly placed or badly designed latrines or medical facilities
contaminate water and soil. In some cases, the environmental impacts
of these practices come become apparent only a long period of time
after the dismantling of refugee camps. Thus it is essential that policy
makers consider potential environmental impacts when planning and
implementing the solutions.

Relevance to theme:
In the context of post-war, the economic and environmental
governance in war-affected areas has collapsed or is malfunctioning.
This will lead to the breakdown of waste collection arrangement
which in turn will result in the contamination of water resources and
the risk of contracting infectious diseases. Generally because of the
human‘s behaviors, environment gets severely damaged. The
situation would be more serious in the post-war context with the
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additional impact of the war. Thus the protection of environment
would be very important but at the same time would be a huge
challenge.
The damage of these processes will have a larger impact on the future
generation rather than the present one. In other words youth and
children will be the main victims of this. Moreover it is widely
acknowledged that any social group has a right to participate in the
decision-making processes on issues that affect them. Therefore,
particularly youth voices are more progressive in producing
alternative ways to address this issue. Thus empowering youth
participation would be a further step in social transformation.

Relevance to the Post-war context:
Most of the scholars, analysts, researchers and activists are analyzing
and criticizing the political, social and economical impacts of the war.
But it is hard to find the analysis or critics about the environmental
effects of the war in Sri Lanka. Careful analysis shows that there are a
number of impacts of war on the environment: water, air, soil and
natural flora and biota. Among the disastrous consequences of the
war; the destruction of infrastructure, the pollution of water supplies,
the poisoning of soils and fields, the destruction of crops and forests,
the over-exploitation of natural resources…etc can take place. The
effect of these changes can be either short- term or long-term.
Destroying the environment means destroying ourselves, since the
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existence of the humans and environment is interdependent. After
the armed conflict, assessments about the damage to the human
beings and properties are carried out, but unfortunately the
assessments of the impact on the environment are yet to be
considered seriously in Sri Lanka. There are lot of examples that can
be found from all over the world about the negative influence of war
on environment such as, conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, armed
conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon…etc.

Innovativeness and Solutions:
The most important thing is, within this two and half year period of
time (post-war period), there has been no comprehensive research
that has been carried out to assess the impact of armed conflict on
environment particularly on water resources. So that, as the first thing
it is essential to carry out a comprehensive and in-depth research
which covers all the water resources in the affected areas.
Then it is possible to carry out a comparative analysis with the other
areas of the country and if possible with the previous research which
has been carried out in the same areas before the war.
Ensure more Northern youth participation in decision-making
processes and reforming mechanisms of participation accordingly.
This would build trust in democratic process among Northern youth.
Thus there will be no room for undemocratic ways of emancipating
politics.
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Methodology:
This study involves both positivist and post-positivist traditions of
knowledge productions. Methods such as sample analysis, statistical
analysis, Interviews and archival research have been used in this
research.

Policy recommendations:
Draft and declare a comprehensive National policy on water resource
management. This policy should encapsulate voices of marginalized
groups including youth.
Take steps to raise the awareness among individuals about the
quality of water.
Make more accessible portable water to public.

Potential impact of research for change:
This study is a contribution to the existing knowledge of water
resource management.
Raise public awareness about the finding of the research by sharing it
with different social groups.
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Ensure that the youth voices are been heard in research on issues
which affect them.
Provide an alternative vision for marginalized ideas to mobilize for
better water resources.

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Youth Voice: The Missing Link in Sri Lanka’s Environmental
Discourse
Thiagi Piyadasa
thiagip@theyrc.org
This paper is part of an ongoing research that aims to understand and
evaluate the role of young people in Sri Lanka‘s environmental
discourse. In a context where economic development is presented as
the keystone to reconciliation and reconstruction that can be achieved
by promoting and strengthening specific industries such as tourism,
environmental concerns emerge as critical issues for consideration
and action. Therefore, the first part of this paper analyzes the
‗National Strategy for Sri Lanka Tourism 2009-2012‘ in light of a claim
made by the same document aiming to make tourism the largest
foreign exchange earner ‗benefiting the stakeholders‘ of tourism and
the peoples of Sri Lanka
1
.

The paper specifically looked at two key tourist development projects
in Kalpitiya and Negombo, to determine to what extent these projects
have benefited the stakeholders of tourism and the peoples of Sri
Lanka. The analysis found that while the strategic plan highlights the
‗sustainability‘ of all tourist projects, issues relating to employment
generation, land grab and compensation, displacement of homes and
livelihood are some of the negative by-products of these projects.

1
National Strategy for Sri Lanka Tourism 2009-2012, p. 10.
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There are several issues that have to be resolved, for it is not clear
how the State understands and applies the concept of sustainable
tourism, neither have they made it clear as to who the ‗stakeholders‘
of tourism are. In practice it appears that the local community has
been excluded as stakeholders. The analysis is also informed by
scholarly work which shows that while tourism usually promises to
provide employment to the local community, the jobs that are created
are mostly unskilled, menial and poorly paid, partly due to the issue
of structural inadequacies within developing countries to ensure that
benefits of tourism and development trickle down to the masses
2
.

The second part of the paper, which is ongoing, aims to look
specifically at the role of youth in environmental law, and what
implications this would have on the environmental discourse in Sri
Lanka, especially in light of the issues raised in the first part of the
paper. International instruments governing environmental law
emphasis the need for sustainable
3
consumption and utilization of
resources. Viewed from a rights perspective, this paper seeks to argue
that the emphasis on the rights of the future generation within
environmental law and principles, inherently make it the business of
young people to take a more active role in voicing concerns on
environmental issues, and taking action regarding the same.

2
Britton 1982: 336 in Martin Mowforth and Ian Munt. Tourism and Sustainability:
Development, Globalisation and New Tourism in the Third World. Routledge: New
York, 2009. p.53.

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The lack of opportunity for youth engagement in environmental
issues is a gap in policy and practice that should be addressed at
formal and informal levels. As the country emerges from a protracted
war, it is imperative that all citizens‘ feel they have a role to play in
determining their future. Deprivation and competition over limited
resources could, if not controlled at the onset, lead to renewed conflict
between communities competing for limited resources.

Research methods included literature reviews of policy documents,
existing documentation of campaigns, websites and news articles,
information materials used to raise awareness among the local
communities in Negombo and Kalpitiya, and presentations, talks and
interviews by activists and the local community.

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Representation and Articulation








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Performativity and Performance: An Analysis of the Portrayal of
Gender Identity of Women in Plays Written By Sri Lankan
Playwrights
Sabreena Niles
sabreenaniles@gmail.com
‗Performativity and performance are both social and artistic concepts
that function in dance, theatre and drama‘ (Kolk, 8). This statement
extracted from the article on Performing Gender in Arabic/African
Theatre concisely presents the basis of this research paper and also
sheds light on the interest of the researcher in theatre and particularly
plays written by Sri Lankan playwrights.
According to Richard Schechner‘s Performance Theory, drama is not
just something that occurs on stage, but something full of meaning
operating on many levels in everyday life (Wetsel). Therefore, the
performance on a stage is a reflection of life itself, and the roles
assumed within the space of a theatre also portray the function of
gender roles in society.
Thus the stage, or the space in which an actor/actress performs,
becomes the platform for the depiction of the different aspects of the
play, and in a broader context, the representation of life itself.
‗Theatre is a public institution, a theatre-performance a public event.
On stage the theatre-makers offer their vision on the cultural and
social conditions of a society and negotiate, so to say, with their
audience (changing) norms and values of this society‘ (Kolk, 8).
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Thus this research paper analyses the manner in which Sri Lankan
playwrights have portrayed the gender identity of women in their
plays. The primary data included in this research are plays written by
Ruwanthie de Chickera, Senaka Abeyratne and Sivamohan Sumathy.
This paper limits itself to analyzing the written plays as the research
finds its relevance in the content of the plays and the attempts made
by the playwrights to utilize the stage to present the gender identity
of Sri Lankan women.
This research article bases itself on the premise that Sri Lankan
playwrights, who contextualize their plays within Sri Lanka and
utilize Sri Lankan characters in their plays, would portray gender
identity, particularly, of Sri Lankan women. It is also assumed that
the playwrights would attempt to establish a link between
performances and performativity in order to delve into the nuances of
an identity that is influenced by the cultural, political, economical and
social aspects of Sri Lanka and therefore perhaps portray a gender
identity that is authentic to Sri Lankan women. In exploring this
hypothesis the researcher hopes to address the following questions;
How do the playwrights portray the gender identity of Sri Lankan women on
stage?
How do the playwrights employ various theatrical techniques used in a
performance in order to bring to surface the nuances of performing gender
identity in society?
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Judith Butler in her Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of
Identity discusses the manner in which ‗for feminist theory, the
development of language that fully or adequately represents women
has seemed necessary to foster the political visibility of women‘ and
proceeds to emphasize on how the ‗the very subject of women is no
longer understood in stable or abiding terms‘ (2). Thus this research
paper finds its significance in viewing the theatre as a medium and a
‗language that fully and adequately represents women‘ in which the
‗subject of the woman‘ is portrayed while acknowledging that it is ‗no
longer a stable or abiding term‘. This argument is further developed
through the opinion that ‗image and self-image can come together
and identity is no longer a fixed phenomenon but a pluralistic
concept, fluid and continually shifting in a changing cultural
landscape‘ (Kolk, 7). Thus the gender identity of women is subject to
change, as the roles performed by women are reflective of the
perceptions and attitudes of society which contribute to the
development of the multifaceted and multifunctional role played by
women.
Judith Butler, in defining her concept of performativity, argues that
―gender proves to be performance—that is, constituting the identity it
is purported to be. In this sense, gender is always a doing, though not
a doing by a subject who might be said to pre-exist the deed‖ (Salih,
55). This research expands on this concept of performativity and its
link with performance or portrayal of gender roles in the theatre.
Kolk Mieke contributes to this argument, particularly in terms of
gender roles, and opines that it is ‗these forms of agency, that are
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searched for and reflected in drama and theatre: in subversive forms
of femininity and masculinity and in the crossing of boundaries of
what can be made visible in a cultural community‘ (9).
The research also employs feminism, post-colonialism,
psychoanalysis and other sociological theories relevant to the field of
study. Therefore this interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary
approach will be utilized to enhance the exploration of the hypothesis
and research questions which will in turn enrich the research as a
whole.
The researcher hopes to engage with the presentations of gender
roles, stereotyping, traditional representations of women, power
relations and other aspects imperative in the analysis of gender
identity and its portrayal on a stage. This research paper seeks to
analyze plays that deal with disparities based on class, ethnicity and
economic status and other features that can be identified in society.
The plays selected for this research delve into contemporary issues
faced by youth and the struggles and also challenges present both
during the ethnic conflict and in the post-war context. The research
attempts to examine the manner in which the gender identity of
women is portrayed within a framework of this nature which brings
to surface issues which are relevant to Sri Lankan audiences.
Thus this research grapples with concepts that contribute to the
making of gender identity of women in Sri Lanka through grasping
the essence of the plays and thereby the significance of performances
both on stage and in society at large.
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The Sri Lankan IDP as Portrayed by the Media in Sri Lanka.
Sachee Ranaweera
sacheerr@hotmail.com
The Sri Lankan civil war which lasted over 20 years ended in May
2009. As a nation, Sri Lanka has been waiting for this moment in
history and at a time such as this, the focus of the public was on the
media for reports of the war. As the reporting was being done, one
group of people highlighted were the Internally Displaced Persons
(IDPs). This paper is an attempt to bring out their identity/identities
as portrayed in the media. Sunday Observer, Daily News, Daily
Mirror and Tamilnet.com have been used as primary data sources, in
order to analyze the ways in which the identity of the IDP has been
portrayed in the media.

This paper is an attempt to analyze the primary data using a multiple
analysis. Moreover, it attempts to answer the research questions, how
and why the IDPs have been portrayed in a particular way. It is a
research which was conducted between August and September 2010
and it was done solely, to create awareness on the various identities
―given‖ to the Sri Lankan IDPs by media.

This research falls under the category of "Marginalization and Social
Justice" because it is about a group of people who are marginalized in
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post war Sri Lanka. As found by the researcher, IDPs were portrayed
mainly in five different ways. They are, ―IDP‖ as ―victim‖, IDP as the
‗Other‘ , IDP: the gender identities, the female IDP and the ―Trapped‖
IDP. However, the research also addresses the topic of the ―the voice
of the IDP‖ in which the IDP has been portrayed as someone
desperately ―in need‖.

The study also digs deep into the ways in which media has portrayed
"The Post-war State" of Sri Lanka because as Bertrand Russell states,
―War does not determine who is right - only who is left‖
4
; and post
war Sri Lanka should be about those who are ―left‖. This paper
therefore, was written so that those who are ―left‖ would be given a
‗voice‘. The IDPs in both the North and East were given prominence
but it has deteriorated today. This paper would remind the reader
that there is much to be done in Sri Lanka. Not just in terms of
infrastructure development, but in terms of building up the people.

The research provides no solution, only the awareness that this
limited portrayal has not done justice to who they are. It is almost
impossible to portray the IDPs in a way that would justify who they
are as human beings (multi-dimensional persons), because whatever
identity imposed on them by the media, fails to bring out every

4
Russell, Bertrand. ―Quotes.‖ Antiwar.com, 2010. Web. 23. Aug. 2010.
<http://antiwar.com/quotes.php>
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aspect of their identity both individually and collectively. Therefore,
the study consciously limits the identity of the IDP, in order to bring
out how vast it really is.

Though the research has been done with the information based solely
on the media, the researcher was also able to go to the North and talk
to some people now re-settled. Though this research is seemingly a
minute step toward creating awareness about the IDPs, it was done
with a great hope that this would change perspectives and reconcile
people groups in some way.

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Crime, Violence and Justice

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The Romanticization of Crime in News Broadcast in Post-War Sri
Lanka
Dinidu Karunanayake
dinidukarunanayake@gmail.com
With the end of the thirty-year war between the Sri Lankan
Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in May
2009, a tendency is seen in Sri Lankan media to romanticize crimes.
This is very obvious in the practice of news reporting in television
channels, both state and private. Evening news broadcasts that attract
a majority of viewers seem to prioritize graphic depictions of crime.
This study intends to focus on the treatment of crime in the ‗Live @ 8‘
news telecast that is reportedly very popular among Sri Lankan
television viewers.

Despite their appalling nature, reports on death and destruction in
the war oftentimes seem to provide a form of voyeuristic pleasure to
readers/audiences. This was evident in Sri Lankan television viewers‘
reception of war reporting in the audio-visual medium-television. In
spite of the fact that news of death and destruction is received with
apparent grief and woe, viewers seem to respond to such news with a
sense of fascination as well.

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The abrupt end to the war and the consequent drop in reports of
death and destruction in the battlefield however have resulted in a
void for the Sri Lankan television viewer. In responding to this
vacuum in entertainment, television stations are keen about
romanticizing crime, and this is becoming a crucial social political
issue in the present post-war Sri Lankan milieu. Romanticization of
crime can be best understood as a panacea for the mindset of Sri
Lankan television viewers who are grappling with the remnants of a
war mentality.

The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
59

(In)Justice in Sri Lankan Society: Alternative Understandings of
Justice in Sri Lanka
Shashik Dhanushka Silva
shashikdhanushka@yahoo.com
According to John Rawls "Justice is the first virtue of social
institutions, as truth is of systems of thought‖. However, justice is not
an absolute concept but rather a socially constructed phenomenon.
Therefore, justice has many meanings and depends on the historical
and political experience of that society and the term justice is ascribed
varying levels of importance and different meanings. Unlike in the
liberal societies conceptualized by Rawls, the meaning assigned to the
word justice in the illiberal societies could be quite different.

Understanding what justice means to the Sri Lankan community is of
paramount importance for many reasons. Amongst them the fact that
uncovering the paradox of why injustice (extra judicial methods) is
tolerable if not appealing to our community, as a means of achieving
justice, is certainly a million dollar question. The recent events of
executions of accused (summary killings) held in police custody,
community reactions to ‗Grease Yaka‘ incidents, demonstrate the
appeal for the use of apparently unjust methods in order to in
achieve justice. This phenomenon can be observed even in the village
community where people tend to punish the accusers of various
wrong doing at their discretion rather than looking to the rule of law.
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In this context, I would like to study my own village to understand
how communities perceive justice and how they pursue it in their day
to day life. In this research I like to examine the following problem
and questions:

Problem: Why people tolerate, if not approve the practices of
extrajudicial means of achieving justice? People often complain about
the prevalence of injustice in society and yet nevertheless either
tolerate and at times even pursue unjust methods in order to seek
justice for wrongs committed against them.

In order to examine the above problem I would like to explore the
following questions:
1. What are the meanings that people assign to the word
‗Justice‘?
2. Their knowledge and attitudes about the formal institutions
that deliver justice
3. How they seek justice for injustices that they face in their daily
life?

I will be using a mixed methodology to pursue this study. I will be
conducting a series of interviews amongst villages to understand
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their life experience and their attitudes toward justice. In addition I
will study few selected case studies in the village that demonstrate
the paths that villagers have taken in seeking justice for the injustice
that they have faced. In addition I will be using available secondary
data through the survey reports and other publications.

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Inclusion, Politics and Participation

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Tamil Moderate Politics and Discontent among Tamil Youths in Sri
Lanka: Some Introductory Notes on their Relationship from 1948 to
the Present.
Kumarvadivel Guruparan
rkguruparan@gmail.com
The gap between the revolutionary-nationalistic rhetoric of Tamil
moderate politics and its political praxis and the resulting tension
between the younger Tamil polity and the older Tamil moderates has
been a permanent feature of Tamil politics in post-independence
Ceylon/Sri Lanka. This was definitely the case between 1957 and
1983 - from the days of the Banda –Chelva Pact to the times when the
TULF accepted and contested the District Development Councils in
1981. During this period Tamil moderate politicians were perceived
to be employing nationalist rhetoric for popular consumption but
were engaged in deal-making and ‗practical‘ politics in their
engagement with successive Governments. Post-1983 with the rise of
Tamil militantism the pendulum swung the other way around with
the younger sections of the Tamil polity now in firm control of their
politics. In 2000 a significant shift in Tamil politics was engineered by
the creation of the Tamil National Alliance, whose founding objective
in the words of one of its founders was to breakdown the dichotomy
between the moderate and extremist elements of Tamil nationalism
and to thus prevent the expolitation of the existence of such dichtomy
by third parties. With the demise of the LTTE in May 2009 the armed
avatar of the ‗extremist‘ elements of Tamil nationalist politics became
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non-existent and the founding need of the TNA was rendered null
and void. The TNA has possibly now gone back to their role as
moderates and taken Tamil politics to its pre-1981 state of affairs. Two
years since, despite successive electoral feats, discontent amongst the
younger sections of Tamil polity against the TNA is becoming more
evident. The objective of this paper will be to compare this emerging
trend in contemporary Tamil politics with that of the politics of the
yesteryear and to then draw lessons for the direction that Tamil
politics can take today to prevent a slide down to a more violent form
of politics.
Key Words: Sri Lanka, Tamils, Nationalism, moderates, extremists,
LTTE, TNA, TULF


65

Seeing Double?: Contesting Visions of Reconciliation in Sri Lanka
Andi Schubert
andis@theyrc.org
Since the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) declared the end of a
nearly three decade long ethnic civil war in 2009 and the defeat of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the GOSL has focused more
on the consolidation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s regime than
on attempts to reconcile with the Tamil polity (Uyangoda, 2011).
1
In
spite of the appointment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission (Sri Lanka‘s equivalent of the South Africa‘s Truth and
Reconciliation Commission), there appears to be very little wide-
spread public concern or belief in the need to address the root causes
of the conflict or reconciliation between the major ethnic groups in Sri
Lanka. As a result relationships between the major ethnic groups
remain as fraught as they were during the last stages of the war and
as a corollary to this the possibility of developing a long-lasting
resolution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is diminishing fast. It
appears that Sri Lanka is on the brink of squandering its best
opportunity to effectively deal with its ethnic conflict. This is perhaps
best seen in the deadlock that appears to have developed viz. talks
between the Government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
In this context I wish to pose the question as to why the political
leadership of a country that that has experienced tensions between

1
Uyangoda, J. (2011). Sri Lanka in 2010. Asian Survey , 131-137.

66

ethnic communities over more than 60 years and known nearly 30
years of armed conflict, continue to find it difficult to effectively
reconcile our polarized political communities. Central to this
question is the understanding of the term ―reconciliation‖ by various
actors. In the current context it takes on a political life of its own and
may be articulated in different ways by different individuals and
these articulations also embody different visions of reconciliation.
A vision for reconciliation will lay the foundation for any future
course of action undertaken by a group and so would have significant
impact on the approach adopted in responding to any reconciliation
process. However there has been very little work done especially by
students of Sri Lankan affairs to document the different visions of
reconciliation that have currency with key actors in post-war Sri
Lanka. There has been even less analysis of the impact this has and
will have on any attempt at reconciling different communities. My
research seeks to intervene in this situation by documenting and
analyzing visions of reconciliation and the impact of these visions on
the success/failure of reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka. The
hypothesis I wish to explore is as to whether rather than resistance to
reconciliation, there are in fact multiple projects simultaneously
seeking to achieve different visions of reconciliation.
In order to conduct this phase of my research, which will form part of
a larger study on understandings of reconciliation, I propose to
conduct a close reading of five of what I call Sri Lanka‘s post-war
texts – speeches and documents made by various actors in Sri Lanka

67

after the end of the war. For this purpose I will examine the ―texts‖ of
two main actors – the Government and the Tamil National Alliance
and the stances that they have taken in Post-war Sri Lanka. In this
paper I propose to examine two key texts of the Government – H.E.
the President‘s speech to Parliament on the ending of the war
2
and
the Mahinda Chintanaya 2010 and three key texts of the TNA – the
TNA statement on the release of the Report by the Panel of Experts
appointed by the United Nations Secretary General
3
, the first S.J.V
Chelvanayakam Memorial Lecture delivered by Hon. M. A.
Sumanthiran
4
and the TNA statement on the LLRC Report.
5
These
texts are selected with an understanding that they represent key
moments in Sri Lanka‘s post-war trajectory.
The relevance of this research in post-war Sri Lanka is the
examination and contribution it makes to understanding the current
reticence viz reconciliation in Sri Lanka. It would also be relevant to
young people as the conflict and the prospects for meaningful
reconciliation directly impact their future well-being. This paper will
seek to produce a new way of understanding Sri Lanka‘s current
situation and will be the first paper to study the way in which
reconciliation is articulated in Sri Lanka.



2
See HE President Rajapaksa‘s speech to Parliament on the 19
th
of May announcing
the end of the war - http://www.president.gov.lk/speech_New.php?Id=74
3
http://transcurrents.com/tc/2011/04/tna_statement_on_unsg_advisory.html
4
http://transcurrents.com/tc/2011/04/a_lasting_political_solution_t.html
5
http://t.co/4h8PJAmc

68








The Personal and the Public


69

Youth and Facebook: The Impact on the Public Private Distinction
Tharindi Udalagama
tharindi.udalagama@gmail.com
The society as we know it is changing rapidly, the speed of change is
beyond comprehension as the speed of information is governing
every sphere. The developments in information processing, storage
and transmission of information technologies in everyday life has
made society highly networked with the convergence of
telecommunication and computing that links banks, homes, offices,
factories, shops and the like (Nayar 2004). As John Naisbitt suggests
(1984; cited in Nayar 2004: 48) ―computer technology is to the information
age what mechanization was to the industrial revolution‖. Information
networks link together different locations within and between offices,
a town, a region, a continent even the entire world (Webster 2002).
The constraint of the clock and distance have been radically relieved,
organizations as well as individuals are capable of managing their
affairs effectively on a global scale. It is understood that Information
and Communication technologies have dominated and reshaped
society in a manner that social change is inevitable. The effects of
these changes have affected the formation of private and public
spheres especially in the lives of the young. The forte of this paper is
to unravel its impact on the formation of the public and the private
spheres, especially in the lives of its young users in Sri Lanka, with
the findings of a conducted qualitative inquiry in the years 2009-2010
on the web based social network called ‗Facebook‘.

70

The totality of human interactions can be distinctively recognized in
the two spheres of public and private domains. The earliest
discussions of the division between public and private spheres date to
ancient Greece, where ‗public‘ referred to the realm of politics and
‗private‘ to the areas of family and economic life. The first recorded
uses of the word ‗public‘ in English identifies the public with the
common good in society whilst ‗private‘ was used to mean
privileged, at a high governmental level (Sennett 1992). By the end of
the 17th Century, the opposition of ‗public‘ and ‗private‘ was given a
meaning that we use to date. ‗Public‘ meant open to the scrutiny of
anyone, whereas ‗private‘ meant a sheltered region of life defined by
one‘s family and friends (Sennett 1992). ‗Public‘ came to mean
interactions outside the life of family and close friends with complex
social groups in the capital city whereas ‗private‘ meant the
interactions with one‘s family and close friends within the limits of
what could be termed as the‘ inner social circle‘.
Sennett (1992) correlates the changes in the definitions of the two
terms ‗public‘ and ‗private‘ with the conditions of behaviour and
terms of beliefs in the 18th Century. He states that as the cities grew,
and the developed networks of sociability independent of direct royal
control, places where strangers might regularly meet grew up. This
era saw the building of massive urban parks as an attempt to make
streets fit the special purpose of pedestrian strolling as a form of
relaxation. During this Century coffee houses, cafes and coaching
inns became social centers and the theater and opera houses became
open to a wide public through the open sale of tickets rather than the

71

older practice whereby aristocratic patrons distributed places. Urban
amenities were diffused out from a small elite circle to a broader
spectrum of society, so that even the laboring classes began to adopt
some of the habits of sociability, like promenades in parks, which
were formerly the exclusion provinces of the elite, walking in their
private gardens or ‗giving‘ an evening at the theater. The changes of
social conditions of behaviour and beliefs of an era determine the
regulation of the ‗public‘ and ‗private‘ spheres. In the contemporary
age of information, a similar change has occurred in determining the
‗public‘ and ‗private‘ spheres with the spread of Information and
Communication technologies.
In today‘s context the most talked about Information and
Communication Technology are the web-based social networks;
Twitter, Facebook, My Space, etc. Preliminary observations revealed
that the most popular social networking site among the computer
literate Sri Lankan youth with access to the internet is Facebook. The
founders of Facebook created a new means for friends and family to
keep in touch and share information about their lives, that is
popularly defined as ‗digital map‘ of people‘s real world social
connections. But, the users have found new methods to use this
technology to accomplish their goals in life. For example, almost all
FM radio channels and TV channels in Sri Lanka have Facebook
pages to inform their fans of their events. And in the global context
we have witnessed the use of social networking sites such as Twitter
and Facebook for organizing and enforcing revolutions against
totalitarian governments in the Middle East.

72

Facebook has become a common parlance in contemporary society,
especially among the youth. With a generation of youth growing up
in front of computer screens glued to the Facebook, the division of the
two spheres; public and private is very much marred. There are
specific norms and values governing each sphere. In the age of the
internet, this public-private distinction is constantly violated due to
the speed in the exchange of information. This paper will illuminate
how these two spheres have overlapped on Facebook and how this
overlapping affects the social life of the youth of Sri Lanka, the paper
will also situate Facebook as a ‗Public sphere‘ that was widely active
during the presidential elections in 2010, which is maybe the closest
comparison to the middle-eastern revolutions in the Sri Lankan
context.
REFERENCES
Nayar, P.K., 2004, Virtual Worlds: Culture and Politics in the age of
Cybertechnology, Sage Publications: New Delhi
Sennett, R., 1992, The Fall of the Public Man, W.W. Norton: New York
Webster, F., 2002, Theories of the Information Society. 2nd ed. Routledge:
New York


73

The Collusion of Three Identities: Sri Lankan. Muslim. Woman.
Hyshyama Hamin
hyshyama@gmail.com
The paper explores some of the core issues women face within three
identities. Firstly, in the very context of being women and having to
deal with the impacts of unequal power relations and patriarchy and
resulting consequences of gender based violence. Although society
perceives the reasons for gender based violence in numerous ways,
the root cause of it all is power relations and inequality – the
underlying notion that males of a society have more power than
females. This premise sets tone for gender roles to be designated to
men and women and has for centuries spurned the practices of
society through - the patriarchal ideology which together with
power inequality has resulting impacts ranging from control and
discriminations to violence and abuse against women and girls.
One of the main factors that strengthen and compound the
patriarchal ideology is religion, practiced in many forms around the
world. Religion has been used as a perfect disguise under which to
serve the masses certain principles, norms and values not necessarily
derived from the belief in a Creator/process of creation, or the
founders of that particular religion. And thus a very effective
mechanism through which to impose patriarchal ideology and
practices often with serious violation of rights and freedoms of
women. Thus the paper explores the second identity in the context of

74

Islam and that of a Muslim woman, having to deal with the
challenges and struggles of Islam‘s constantly changing and evolving
discourse of religion and practices of Muslims with influences from
related cultural and traditional settings.
Here the paper points out two major issues/points of contention
(among others) when it comes to religion and women particularly in
the Islamic context, firstly the raw religion and its stance on its female
constituency and gender roles between its members and secondly
how religion has been taken, changed and altered to suit the
patriarchal ideology. While the former point of contention requires
in-depth study, research and a good knowledge of theology and
religion, the latter is more easily detectable, obvious and glaring in
daily life situations. It is also on this point of contention that it is often
observed that even the practices ‗forbidden‘ under the particular
religion is practiced by the community because it benefits men.
And thus thirdly the paper explores the identity of a Sri Lankan
Muslim woman and how ‗Islamic‘ law and cultural norms are
practiced in Sri Lanka, under the disguise of religion, having serious
consequences on women and questioning the very base on which
Muslim marriages and families are founded here. The paper and
presentation questions these issues and the stresses need for Sri
Lankan Muslims to look at and address the practical issues of how
religion and religious law is followed and implemented in Sri Lanka
in light of international norms on equality, rights and justice.




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