Two weeks ago (July 1) in the Nation, I wrote of the violent events at Dambulla and Wanduramba exploring the similarities and differences of the terrain of concepts which framed the events. Dambulla was about sacred space, there I said, an idea we owe to British archaeology and its nationalist appropriation, and Wanduramba to another modern idea of false belief that is tied to mass consciousness.
Tuesday night found me in a television studio. The discussion programme I was invited to, TNL’s Ellchchi (which means light or awakening), is an exemplary one – conducted both in Sinhala and Tamil, its aim is to broaden the understanding of issues that Tamils face, by directly addressing the Sinhala people. Dayanandan and Sudath Jayasundara who anchor it, together, but also in Tamil and Sinhala respectively, are very good. I am not a regular of course; this was only my second visit.
I have been asking myself, again and again, my question of last week, and other weeks in different ways – why is there a demand for an inquiry into the final stages of the civil war, but no demand for an inquiry into previous moments of the war. In fact, when the evaluation of the Norwegian peace efforts was published, I asked a similar question; why was the lack of a war crimes inquiry in 2002 not criticised now as a major failing of that peace process. There has been no reply.
In a statement issued in response to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, the government of Canada says, “Canada remains concerned that the report does not fully address the grave accusations of serious human rights violations that occurred toward the end of the conflict.
Since I was very little, I have been listening to cricket commentaries. At first, between my school and S. Thomas’ College when once I was too ill to go for the Big Match. Then, between what I took to be my team, the newly named ‘Sri Lanka’ and whoever it played with. Those matches were rare, sometimes played here, but mostly over there.
I wrote last week of the conference on the social sciences and humanities I attended at Peradeniya; my account was of one set of insights I gleaned there – that helped me understand my own world better. Often, we think of intellectual pursuits of having little relevance to practical things, and I would think understanding Facebook better, as I tried to in my previous column would be an antidote to that. This week, I want to offer a taste of even more practical, useful social science research that was presented at that conference by Dr. Suresh de Mel, a senior lecturer in Economics there, and also, an old and good friend from my school days.