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Metadata of State Reform in Sri Lanka

J. Jeganaathan

Edited by Jayadeva Uyangoda and Sanayi Marcelline
2013, Rs. 1500.00


At a time when Sri Lanka is going through a political transition with the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the recently concluded national elections, it is important to revisit the unsettled agenda of political solution to the ethnic question in the island nation. It is time to realize that the ethnic polarization in Sri Lanka was due to systemic political exclusion and alienation ingrained in the Constitution. The political debate in Sri Lanka after the elimination of the LTTE has been focused on issues of ethnic reconciliation, post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction of its society. But the real crux of the matter lies at the heart of state reform, or more specifically, constitutional reforms necessitating accommodation of ethno-linguistic diversity, which has been overshadowed due to political violence in the last few decades. As such, political reform has been a severely contested topic in postcolonial histories of the South Asian countries, as most of the present political crises between and within states are believed to be a manifestation of the fragile polities that emerged at the end of the colonial era. The incomplete agenda of state reform, which was loosely defined at that time and faced resistance due to ethno-national politics, requires viable democratic practices entwined with a strong and visionary political leadership for any substantive progress. The political crisis in Sri Lanka also reflects the same dilemmas faced by postcolonial nations. Yet, it is also significantly different in form as the political struggle for a federal structure envisioned at the time of independence was reduced to ethnicity based internal struggles in the Sri Lankan polity. In the book under review, Jayadeva Uyangoda and Sanayi Marcelline have prepared an annotated bibliography of selected literature in order to discern the political characteristics, debates and discourses that shaped the trajectory of state reform in Sri Lanka. One must understand that this was no easy chore especially on a topic like state reform and what makes the work distinct is the compilation of selective resources that are seminal and pertinent to the topic. The bibliography is arranged in an alphabetical order with a brief synopsis. It includes both primary and secondary sources which can help the reader to form a dialectic thread on state reform. For instance, one of the sources that the authors have cited presents the critique of the Interim Report of the Sinhala Commission, which advocates continuity of the unitary nationalistic aspect ...

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