50 Something

Sri Lanka´s best-known cartoonist, Wijesoma, neatly encapsulated what 50 years of Independence has meant for his homeland in a savagely effective cartoon published in the run-up to the 4 February golden jubilee.He showed a grinning, bloated politician in national dress, standing on a flag-draped dais being saluted by a parade of thugs, muddlalis (local moneybags) and assorted criminals swaggering by with hooch, knives, flaming torches and crude handguns. One of the marchers also has a politician in his pocket.

The point need not have been belaboured, but, for the record, it must be said that the United National Party (UNP), which claims credit for winning freedom for the country and which has governed Sri Lanka for most of the last five decades, has identified the "disease of politicisation" as the root  of the country´s present ills. The party, which, as much as anybody else, must plead guilty for being responsible for this sorry state of affairs, says it is looking for a new political culture to set matters right. And nobody would dispute its conclusion that "the people are disenchanted with the process of democracy itself".

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Himal Southasian