Perhaps prematurely there has been a spate of articles, papers and magazine issues devoted to the question of what the future holds for Sri Lanka once the Tigers have been defeated. I fear that the conflict is far from over yet and that we will see the loss of many innocent lives before it is. It does, though seem like a good time to reflect on the situation. I have been prompted to post this by February’s issue of Himal magazine http://www.himalmag.com which has a number of thoughtful articles devoted to this topic. One key point to emerge is that the focus on militant (hot) Tamil nationalism has diverted attention from its Sinhala counterpart. As Kadirgama argues:
‘The post-Tigers period will have the potential to reshape the political landscape of Sri Lanka, just as the post-war periods in many other countries have transformed politics. But then, there are also those who argue that the post-LTTE period will only serve to further entrench majoritarianism. They argue that this would be read as a victory of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, and note that the victors in war rarely spare the loot. Such an unfortunate hijacking of the polity would actually mean the decisive end of the national question, with its resolution indefinitely shelved.’
Clearly, the policies adopted and processes followed in the advent of a cessation of hostilities are absolutely crucial. Unless a resolution that bring Tamils and other minorities into the polity can be devised we will have cause to echo Billig’s warning that banal nationalism is not necessarily benign.