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After the Lankan Elections

Sri Lankan politics has a way to go before the democratic gains of the 2015 elections are consolidated.

Sri Lanka After the Presidential Election

The January presidential election campaign as well as the post-election developments in Sri Lanka indicate quite clearly that the dominant political class of the country is deeply and antagonistically divided. The tragedy of electoral democracy in Sri Lanka is that elections do not seem to help the political class to negotiate and settle their contradictions and resolve problems in the polity. Rather, elections compel the factions of the political class to resort to false agendas and, in turn, to invent and pursue enmities. Although the civil war is over, the trajectory of the island's post-civil war politics is still in the process of being formed. One thing though seems clear. Neither the ruling party nor the opposition (not even the minority parties) are going to place the rights of the minorities at the centre of their political agenda.

Sri Lanka sans the LTTE?

With the impending total defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, this secessionist group will cease to be a political force in Sri Lanka. But will there be a political solution to the ethnic conflict in the aftermath of the government's military success? Events in the coming weeks and months will show the extent to which President Rajapakse can open up a new political process to lay the foundation for a new polity in which the majority as well as the minority communities can live in dignity, equality and coexistence. However, in the short run it is difficult to envisage a situation where the government will give priority to any extension of the existing devolution framework towards greater regional autonomy. Usually, one-sided military victories are not followed by major political reforms.

After the Mumbai Tragedy

Indian and Pakistani political establishments should deal with the post-Mumbai crisis with greater prudence than they seem to demonstrate at present. Both countries should realise the immense dangers awaiting them if one country, Pakistan, avoids its responsibility towards India's security and the other country, India, globalises the threat from militants operating from Pakistan. There are signs that sections of the Indian political class are eagerly awaiting closer military cooperation with the US under Obama with the hope that India would be the sole beneficiary of the new south Asian war against terrorism. That would be a fresh invitation to greater disaster.

Sri Lanka: The State Changes Face

During the course of the 25-yearlong civil war, the Sri Lankan state has changed character, which is now manifest very sharply. Sri Lanka has become a national security state where civil and political rights remain suspended where the civilmilitary relationship has changed and the military has been accorded greater say. The ethnic communal and majoritarian nature of the state is also now very apparent. The idea of Sri Lanka as a multiethnic and multi-religious society is one which the establishment refuses to accept.

Pakistan and Nepal: Concerns of a South Asia

Pakistan and Nepal offer contrasting scenarios in a transition to democracy. Both countries are going through a period of painful transition with significant specificities. The complicated power-sharing arrangements in Pakistan and the Maoists' task in Nepal of integrating their own parallel institutions with the state apparatus and managing a transition in a "bourgeois democracy" are all difficult jobs to carry out. South Asians watch with both anxiety and hope at the two experiments, especially in Nepal.

Sri Lanka's Conflict at the Crossroads

In the seemingly unending search for a solution to the ethno-political conflict in Sri Lanka, the Rajapakse administration has come up with a new strategy. The course of action calls for pragmatic political deals with the non-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Tamil militant groups and no place for negotiations with the LTTE, which the government treats as an "absolute enemy" that must be militarily defeated.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Split

The radical, Sinhalese nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has split, the real reasons for which are not yet clear. Among the various possible reasons are the mainstream jvp's unease with a breakaway faction's Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalist project and the collision of the Sinhalese nationalist and class struggle lines within the party. It is also a dispute about coalition strategies that has spilled on to the domain of personal relations. For now, the Rajapakse administration is the beneficiary.

The Discreet Charm of India

The idea of Sri Lanka integrating with India seems far-fetched, but not in the view of Kumar David, a left-wing academic who seems to think that the political and economic integration that India has already achieved would be a powerful impetus to manage the Sri Lankan majoritarian as well as minoritarian politics of mutual enmity within the larger framework of a nation state.

LTTE and Its Separate State Project

The ltte's separate Tamil state project faces a "quasi-state trap" in which the group finds that only by war can it defend the state-like entity it has built over the years. But the defensive war it has been engaged in exposes the vulnerability of its state-like behaviour. The ltte's "state" is also overdeveloped militarily but grossly underdeveloped in civilian governance. Making matters more difficult is one fact (the Tamil group has never built a strong and autonomous political movement) and one trend (globally the legitimacy of minority nationalisms is in decline).

Search for the Indian Model

T he Indian model of devolution as a political solution for resolving the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has for sometime been the basis of deliberations in the country. However, the dominant political classes have certain perceptions about the minorities and they are apprehensive that the establishment of power-sharing institutions may lead to unintended consequences.

The Tale of a Monk and His Mercedes in Sri Lanka

In recent weeks, the story of a Buddhist monk member of parliament of Sri Lanka importing and selling a Mercedes Benz has provided much entertainment in a war-weary country. But beyond its spectacle value, the episode also tells us a lot about how politics and society are changing in Sri Lanka.

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