Preserve the Core AND Stimulate Progress
“The pessimist sees difficulty in
every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty”
In a book called Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, James Collins and Jerry Porras have examined eighteen exceptional and long lasting companies and compared each with one of its closest, but less successful competitors, in order to discover just what has given the edge over its rivals. The comparison includes Hewlett-Packard vs. Texas Instruments, Boeing vs. McDonnell Douglas, Ford vs. GM and 3M vs. Norton.
book offers some invaluable insights into the current impasse in the
negotiations between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government.
These insights, if used effectively, may drive the parties
concerned to an amicable settlement of the current impasse, may allow
them to move forward towards a final settlement and may bring prosperity
to the people of the island.
the book, the authors use the yin/yang symbol from the Chinese dualistic
philosophy. Preserve the
Core and Stimulate Progress is the theme which runs throughout the book
to distinguish visionary companies from their competitors. Core Ideology
is defined as “the enduring character of an organisation – its self
identity that remains consistent, transcending time and individuals.
Drive for progress arises from a deep human urge – to explore,
to create, to achieve, to change, and to improve.
and Porras assert that “We’ve consciously selected the yin/yang
symbol to represent a key aspect of highly visionary companies: They do
not oppress themselves with what we call the 'Tyranny of the OR' – a
rational view that cannot easily accept paradox that cannot live with
two seemingly contradictory forces at the same time."
“Tyranny of the OR”, the authors state, pushes people to believe
that things must be either A OR B, but cannot be both. It makes
such proclamations as “You have change OR stability”. Instead of
being oppressed by the “Tyranny of the OR,” highly visionary
companies liberate themselves with the “Genius of the AND”- the
ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same
time. Instead of choosing
between A OR B, they figure out a way to have both A AND B.
and Porras caution that they are not implying a “Balance” between
the two contradicting forces. A visionary company excels in both A and B; it does both to
an extreme. In short, a highly visionary company does not want to blend
yin and yang into a grey indistinguishable circle that is neither highly
yin nor highly yang; it aims to be distinctively yin and
distinctively yang – both at the same time, all the time.
above logic and thinking pattern offers the Sri Lankan government and
the LTTE alike a platform to offer an innovative solution to not only
the Interim Administration issue, but also in reaching a final
an ideology-driven liberation movement, has articulated its Core
Ideology loudly and clearly. The movement even has a Theoretician or Ideologist in its
ranks in Dr. Anton Balasingham, signifying its commitment to its core
am not referring to the “Thirst of the Tiger is the Tamil Homeland”
slogan. I am referring to
the three core principles which the LTTE believe is the crux of ethnic
problem; namely Self-determination, Tamil Homeland and Tamil
LTTE’s supremo, Mr. Prabakaran, articulates the core ideology of the
liberation struggle magnificently in his 2002 Heroes day message.
He says, “Tamils constitute themselves as a people, or rather
as a national formation, since they possess a distinct language, culture
and history with a clearly defined homeland and a consciousness of their
ethnic identity. As a distinct people, they are entitled to the right to
self-determination. The right to self-determination has two aspects:
internal and external. The internal self-determination entitles a people
to regional self-rule”.
prove that this ideology is not something which Mr.Prabakaran has
invented in 2002 and have transcended time and individuals, let me go
back 18 years to highlight the Thimpu Principles, which formed the basis
of negotiations for the all Tamil Liberation movements in 1986,
including the LTTE. The
Thimpu Principles are as follows:
Mr. Prabakaran’s definitions fit well with that of
the experts in the field. A Nation
is a group of people with a strong cultural and political identity that
is both self-defined and acknowledged by others. Nations are defined as
those groups who have exercised
political control over their destinies at some point in the past and
still see such control as a possible future strategy (J N Clay: 1989).
has stuck to its positions right throughout the peace negotiations at
Thimpu, the Indo-Lanka Accord, and talks with Premadasa, Chandrika, and
now with Ranil Wickramasinghe’s government. Its clear consciousness about its core ideology provides it
with adequate advantage to make compromises and make progress in
negotiations. This is
contrary to the view many people hold, who believe that the LTTE is not
the 3rd round of Peace talks in Oslo, the Government and the
LTTE agreed to “explore” a federal model within the unitary
framework of Sri Lanka as a final solution to the ethnic problem.
The decision was described as a major breakthrough in the
negotiations. The global media portrayed this as a major concession made
by the LTTE, which have been fighting for a separate country. The Sri
Lankan government was able to gloat about this decision, which was
welcomed by the US, the UK, Japan and Norway, all but India.
they failed to take note that the LTTE was able to “Stimulate
Progress” AND “Preserve the Core” at the same time.
In his opening remarks at the press conference, following the
Peace talks, Dr. Balasingham remarked, “The decision, as far as the
LTTE is concerned, is in line with the policy that we have been
advocating for the last two decades or more. That is, a regional
autonomous model based on the right to internal self-determination of
our people in the historical areas where the Tamil and the Muslim people
Balasingham was repeating his leader’s Hero's Day message delivered
just a few days before. Mr.
Prabakaran in his message declared that he would favourably consider a
political framework that offers substantial regional autonomy and
self-government to the Tamil people based on their right to internal
important feature of this core ideology is that the masses have endorsed
this ideology in two elections in the last 26 years.
The 1977 General election victory of the TULF is the endorsement
for a separate Tamil Eelam (which incorporates Self-determination,
homeland and Nationhood). The
recent election victory of the TNA, whose election manifesto explicitly
stated that they endorse the LTTE as the sole representative of the
Tamil Nation, is also a public endorsement of this core ideology.
is tragic that the International community, which is so vociferous about
warning and demanding the LTTE renounce violence and join mainstream
politics has conveniently, ignored these two election mandates delivered
by the people of NorthEast.
is therefore evident that the LTTE has adopted the “Genius of the
AND” approach to negotiations in Stimulating Progress at the
negotiations, whilst Preserving its Core ideologies. This is a demonstration of the organisation’s commitment to
the peace negotiations and its willingness to find a solution by
Sinhala Nation and Ideology
Sinhala Nation never had an ideological movement with a core ideology,
in the sense of a unified framework which is offered as a solution to
the National Question.
election manifestos of the two parties which have ruled Sri Lanka in the
past 56 years is not the best place to find the core ideology as they
have failed to transcend time and people. Therefore, I have sought
asylum in the proposals offered by the Sinhala nation to the
consideration of the Tamil Nation over the last 50 years to find whether
there was any trace of a core ideology.
Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact for Regional Councils
July 1957, the Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam Pact made provision for
direct election to Regional Councils and also provided that the subjects
covered by Regional Councils shall include agriculture, cooperatives,
lands and land development, colonization and education. The Pact however
did not survive the opposition of sections of the Sinhala community led
by Buddhist priests and which included the opposition Sinhala United
National Party led by J.R.Jayawardene
Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Agreement for District Councils
upon the 1965 Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Agreement, the UNP
government declared that it would give 'earnest consideration' to the
establishment of District Councils. In 1968, a Draft Bill approved by
the Dudley Senanayake Cabinet was presented as a White Paper and this
Bill provided for the establishment of District Councils. This time
round, the opposition to the Bill was spearheaded by the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party which professed to follow the policies of the late S.W.R.D.
Bandaranaike who himself had in 1940, 1947 and again in 1957, supported
the establishment of Provincial/Regional Councils. Because of strong
opposition, the Dudley Senanayake government withdrew the District
Councils Bill in July 1968 and the Federal Party then withdrew from the
Presidential Commission for District Development Councils
August 1979, Sri Lanka President J.R.Jayawardene appointed a
Presidential Commission to inquire and report on the creation of
District Development Councils. The Commission included Mr.Neelan
Thiruchelvam and Professor Alfred Jeyaratnam Wilson who both had the
support of the Tamil United Liberation Front. However, though the
Presidential Commission had been touted as a body which would address
the issues arising from the ethnic conflict, in the event the Commission
concluded that the scheme that they had envisaged "would be
applicable to all of the 24 districts in the Island irrespective of
their ethnic composition" and was "not intended to provide a
different political or administrative structure for any particular part
of the country."
Annexure C Proposals
Jayewardene Government presented proposals in the form of a draft 10th
Amendment to the Constitution and a draft District and Provincial
Councils Development Bill. The Sri Lanka proposals merely extended the
scheme of decentralization at District level to the Provincial level
with limited co-ordination. The TULF rejected these proposals and the
All Party Conference collapsed.
At the Thimpu Talks, the Sri Lankan Government presented proposals, which were in substance, a repetition of the proposals by the Government to the aborted All Party Conference in Colombo in December 1984. These proposals had been rejected by the TULF and the action of the Sri Lankan government in placing similar proposals once again at the Thimpu talks called in question the good faith of the Government and its commitment to seek a just solution at these talks. The intent of the proposals that were presented by Sri Lanka at Thimpu was clear.
The unit of devolution was not even the province but the district. Further, the District Councils were without executive power. Their limited legislative power to enact subsidiary legislation was made subject to the control and approval of the President. Finally, the funds to be placed at the disposal of a District Council were to be determined at the discretion of a commission appointed by the President. The proposals evidenced the intention of the Sri Lankan government to manage and control the Tamil people even in the relatively insignificant functional areas where the District Councils were given some jurisdiction. In the end, the Thimpu Talks collapsed because even as the talks continued, Sri Lanka renewed its military offensive in the Tamil homeland.
Indo Sri Lanka Peace Agreement
The Indo-Sri Lankan Peace Agreement was signed on the 29th of July 1987 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene The Agreement did not recognize the existence of an identified Tamil homeland and resorted to the subterfuge of a referendum to evade facing the issue posed by the demand for a merger of the North and East.
In August 1987, the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the ancillary Provincial Councils Act and claimed that the enactment of these laws fulfilled the promises made in the 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Accord, to 'devolve power' on the Tamil people.
However, the 13th Amendment and the ancillary Provincial Councils Act was a constitutional comic opera which created Provincial 'Ministers' without executive power and at the same time a Provincial Governor, appointed by the Sinhala President, who would exercise executive power in respect of provincial matters. Provincial Governor would also be the administrative head of the provincial public service and had control of the Provincial Finance Fund.
On 3 August 1995, Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga released a 'Devolution' package with the stated objective of ending the ethnic conflict in the island. At the same time, she reaffirmed her intention to wage war against the LTTE and launched a genocidal attack on the Tamil homeland in the north of the island of Sri Lanka. The 'Devolution Package' appeared to be no more than a peace mask to Sri Lanka's war face.
'new' proposals once again, refused to recognize the existence of the
Tamil homeland, rejected an asymmetric approach, continued to treat all
the provinces in the same way and insisted on a unitary state
Nation’s Core Ideology
A 'golden thread' runs through every single set of proposals from the 1957 Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Agreement to the 1995 Kumaratunga package. It is the Sinhala Nation’s rejection of an asymmetric approach and the insistence that whatever 'devolution' or 'decentralization' that was on offer was equally available to the Sinhala provinces (which had never struggled or demanded 'devolution' or 'decentralization') and to the Tamil areas in the North and East of the island.
The record of broken pacts, dishonored agreements and evasive proposals reveals the Sinhala Nation’s consistent refusal to recognize the existence of the Tamil people as a "people" with an historic homeland and the right to freely determine their political status - the right to freely determine the terms on which the Sinhala people and the Tamil people may associate with each other in equality and in freedom.
Successive Sinhala governments have sought to divide the Tamil people into smaller units and so eventually assimilate and 'integrate' them into a homogeneous Sinhala nation - an assimilating path which had led to confrontation and which had culminated in the armed struggle of the Tamil people against that which they rightly regarded as genocide.
This leads me to conclude, in the absence of any
published documents, which specifically state the Core Ideology of the
Sinhala Nation, that following is the Core Ideology of the Sinhala
It is these Core Ideologies of the Sinhala Nation which
is causing major roadblocks to peace and prosperity. The Sinhala Nation is struck with the ‘Tyranny of the
OR”. The Sinhala
Nation’s thinking is in the line of “The whole Island is Our
Homeland OR the Tamil Peoples'” and “If you give them the
North and East, they will then capture the South as well”. They have
been bogged down with over cautiousness to Preserve their Core Ideology
resulting in less room to be flexible and make concessions at the
The Sinhala nation and its government have oppressed
themselves by their addiction to their Core Ideology. This addiction has denied them an opportunity to take a
rational view of the ground situation and the legitimate concerns of the
Stimulate Progress: Onus on the International Community
Therefore, it is clear that the Core Ideologies of both
the Tamil Nation and the Singhala Nation are at loggerheads.
However, it is only the Tamil Nation, which has made it Core
Ideology public and is endeavoring to adhere to it.
The Singhala nation has an implied Core Ideology, which is
negative in outlook and is not acceptable in today’s civilized world.
Ranil Wickramasinghe and his Chief Negotiator Prof.
Piries are trying their best to portray to the international community
that their hands are tied (not that their minds) because of the
constitution as an excuse for not offering an Interim Administration to
the LTTE. What the world
needs to realize is that they are hiding behind the veil of the above
three Core Ideologies when they make these pronouncements.
The International Community had made it a habit to pressurize the LTTE to be flexible.
Uyangoda, one of the negotiators in the 1995 Peace Talks, in his recent
analysis called “Sri Lanka's peace process: from crisis to paradigm
shift?” recalls the three concessions or acts of flexibility offered
by the LTTE.
Firstly, they signed a ceasefire agreement at a time when the Government had no resources to fund the war, due to economic bankruptcy. Secondly, they unilaterally announced, at the second round of negotiations, that they were seeking a settlement on the principle of internal self-determination. Thirdly, they entered into the 'Oslo Consensus' with the UNF Government committing themselves to explore a federalist framework within which to find a political settlement.
If the International Community is so serious about solving the ethnic problem, they need to pressurize the Sinhala nation to abandon their negative thinking; destructive Core Ideology and positively embrace the Tamil Nation’s Core Ideology. The result will be rapid progress both at the negotiation table and at the ground level as well. That will also pave the way for an innovative interim administrative structure for the North East and a final solution within reach in the near future.
International NGO’s need to conduct Peace workshops not in Jaffna and
Batticola, but in Hambantota and Kandy to change the attitude of the
Sinhala Nation’s grassroots to adopt a positive looking core ideology
in the following lines; which will then enable a progressive political
party in the next general election to gain a two third majority (of
course with the help of the Tamil and Muslim parties) and change the
current constitution for prosperity
Tamil People are “a people’ with a distinct language, culture
and history with a clearly defined homeland
Tamil People’s right to Self-determination is acknowledged.
3. The North East Provinces of the country is acknowledged as the Traditional homeland of the Tamil People.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dwell in the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” – Lord Buddha