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Sunday 17 June 2012

Asymmetry in international affairs

It is unfortunate that Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse has to give interviews to the BBC and other western media who parachute to Sri Lanka as international media personnel. It is not only the Defense Secretary but even the President of the country has to be involved with these so called international media from the western countries and also from India. I am not sure whether Sri Lankan journalists interview the English Prime Minister at number ten Downing Street or the American President in his Oval office. Occasionally Sri Lankan media personnel would interview the Indian Prime Minister but even that is a rarity. Then we have the “good fortune” of listening to the words coming from the wisdom of western and India diplomats in Sri Lanka representing their respective countries. However, I have never heard of Sri Lankan diplomats in those countries expressing their views on the internal matters of the countries where they represent Sri Lanka. It was not long ago that we had Dixit and Gladstone who acted as if they were the viceroys of Sri Lanka. This asymmetry in what they call international affairs clearly shows how much independent we are after forty years of becoming a so called Republic.

As I have said on many occasions this asymmetry is verse in economic and cultural fields. We are dictated by the western economic relationships and structures and have to adjust our policies to suit them and follow their so called development models, which are about to ruin the world. It is the culture that dictates finally that all these relationships have to be asymmetrical. Education is part of culture and the cultural colonialism could be found in the university senates of the country more than anywhere else. In the name of maintaining so called international standards which are nothing but western standards the universities have to teach and engage in peripheral research which is nothing but applying western theories to solve a very mundane problem. We are so much dependent on the western knowledge that includes western science some of our scholars try to demonstrate that Buddhism is scientific! They would claim that Kalama Sutta embodies the so called scientific attitude without of course reading or understanding what I would call the second part of the Sutta that advised the Kalamas to follow the Vinnus (the knowledgeable people) in their day to day affairs. Then there are others who would try to interpret Buddhism in such a way that it would be acceptable to the westerners.

Buddhism is not (western) scientific and is not a rationalist theory. Western Science is inductive more than anything else, and I would say that all the western scientific theories are products of induction, even deduction including syllogism and Aristotelian logic is based on induction as has been shown elsewhere, whereas Buddhism does not appeal to induction and is based on “prathyaksha”. There is no suitable word for “prathyaksha” in English, and it is not empiricism, perception or any other concept found in western philosophy. Budunvahanse is never referred to as “maha pragnyananvahanse” (the great intellectual) but as “mahakarunikayananvahanse” (the most compassionate) and karunawa is not an outcome of pragnava. Our colonial mentality is such that when a non Buddhist “scholar” says that karunawa is an outcome of pragnava there are some prominent Bhikkus who would agree with the former. It has to be mentioned that they are no theories in original Buddhism as theories are products of induction. The terminology such as Karmavada Dharmavada was not of Budunvahanse though the word karmaya has been used.

However I am more concerned with the western diplomats and journalists who come to this part of the world thinking that they have to be listened to by us without challenging them. It is true that Sarath Fonseka the newly found hero of the TNA and the west and the western funded NGOs has also declared that the army camps in the northern and eastern provinces have to be withdrawn. He may have forgotten that after the defeat of the LTTE he wanted the government to expand the army. It may be that he wanted the army to be confined to barracks but he never said so while he was in the uniform. However Sarath Fonseka appears to be more democratic and diplomatic as far as international affairs are concerned he has not asked England (called Britain or UK depending on the thickness of the colonial mentality) to withdraw their camps in many foreign countries including Northern Ireland.

However, the “British” High Commissioner in Sri Lanka has challenged the Sri Lankan President and has tried to intervene (yes it is intervention) in our affairs as far as at least the army camps in the northern and eastern provinces. Our High Commissioner in London would never think of challenging the English Prime Minister, and I wonder what would have happened if he were to do so. The “British” High Commissioner should be reminded that even after we got our limited independence the English kept their naval and air force camps in Sri Lanka until Mr. Bandaranaike on behalf of the common people, and not of the top hat types requested the English to close the camps. English on their own would not close camps in any part of the world but the “British” High Commissioner in Sri Lanka thinks that he has to be respected when he expresses his “viceroy” comments on our camps in our country. There is only one course of action that the Sri Lankan government should have followed and that is to make Rankin a persona non grata.

Then we have that journalist from the BBC who interviewed the Defence Secretary on Tamil homelands etc. The Defence secretary has replied him well as there are no Tamil Homelands or habitats if we are fond of Indian diplomacy more than of western diplomacy as all these have been shown to be myths. The anti Sinhala and especially the anti Sinhala Buddhist bandwagon may think of these concepts when they want to attack what they call Sinhala Buddhist supremacy totally ignoring that they are using these western and Indian concepts which are the products of colonialism. Would the “British” High Commissioner in Sri Lanka arrange an interview for a journalist from the Rupavahini with the Defence secretary in England (do not tell me that there is no country called England), whoever he is, on the Irish problem or on Falklands?

There are some pundits who claim that it is internationalism and not the sovereignty of a country that matters in the twenty first century of the westerners (it is our twenty sixth century). I am not prepared to accept it even with symmetry in international affairs. With asymmetry in international affairs we should not listen to these pundits who are imitating the concepts and theories of their masters and mistresses in the west. This concept of internationalism and not sovereignty does not apply to western countries and the concept together with so called human rights R2P etc., are themselves have been coined by western colonial intellectuals who are paid by their governments to come out with this type of concepts as and when necessary. It is time that the non western world (India is a weak country in many ways that cannot survive without the west and I am not thinking of them as long as they have western dependent governments) think of this asymmetry in international affairs and try to change the political, economic and cultural structures in the world, which are essentially colonial. The non western world should try to regroup and breakaway from the clutches of western colonialism with more trade and cultural ties among themselves. Let us think in terms of a self sufficient non western world with respect to politics, economics and culture. SARC is not such a regional get together as India on behalf of the west is trying to dominate the region. I am also not thinking of so called exchange programmes involving so called intellectuals of the non western countries as they are not independent of western concepts and theories and in general of knowledge. Let us learn from each other through the common people and not through the western educated intellectuals.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva