Ethnic Conflict and Security Crisis in Sri Lanka
by S.S. Misra
Kalinga Publishers, Delhi, 1995
Most of the ongoing 60 wars in the world are internal and. in most cases, ethnic. Whereas the Cold War conflicts had been managed, with relative success, through balance of power, detente and dialogue, ethnic conflicts defy political and economic rationality familiar to political science. Ethnicity is beyond strategising, that theoretical basis of Cold War scholarship. When ethnic conflicts challenge the very notion of nation-state, ethnicity poses a serious challenge to political science That is where help has to be sought from anthropology, the discipline which has long been ignored as a “tool” for colonial administration.
In Ethnic Conflict and Security Crisis in Sri Lanka, S.S. Misra examines the territorial dimension of the Tamil ethnicity in Sn Lanka, especially its regional variations that engendered inequalities over time The author considers how the post-colonial state’s lop-sided policies on language, education and employment might be responsible for the Tamil demand for a separate state.
One of the major obstacles to ethnic conflict transformation is the rigid orthodoxy of state sovereignty. Post-cold war mono-ethnic states have to be rid of the obsession with the 19th-century idea of sovereignty if they sincerely desire to resolve ethnic crisis for ethnic conflicts are often belated multi-dimensional democratic struggles demanding rights that have been historically denied.
In the case of Sri Lanka, Mr Misra recommends a “peace dialogue” that is “more broad-based in nature to explore the modalities of the solution.” The Lankan government should, he suggests, bring “all the Tamil parties to the negotiating table with a host of alternative proposals for wider acceptance.” He urges Tamil militants on their part to “abjure violence and enter the peace process in a democratic manner.”