By Thilak S. Fernando

4 February 1948 dawned a new day for 'Ceylon' when it changed from the Colonial rule to an independent Island. A unique factor during the struggle for independence was the Sri Lankan politicians' approach not to shed a single drop of blood in their struggle. This very factor was recorded as an immeasurable service rendered to the country by a few patriotic political leaders in restoring the self respect of a nation which had been crushed under the foreign boot of Portuguese, Dutch and the British over four centuries. Since this historic day Sri Lanka has been celebrating the anniversary of her Independence on 4 February every year. Today all over Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans living abroad, in many parts of the world, are celebrating fifty years of this great achievement - The Freedom.

Where do we go from here in the next fifty years? To understand this, one needs to trek back a good five decades to know how far we have progressed or deteriorated as an independent country. If one were to start from the post-independent era one thing which is crystal clear is the existence of an entirely new generation - a generation born to a completely ' Indepdendent' country.

The next fifty years progress or regress will, therefore, be very much dependent on how this new generation will look at things and conduct their affairs to shape and restore Sri Lanka's rich cultural and traditional heritage and a civilisation spanning over a thousand years.

Many believe that in the new millennium re-shaping of the world will take place through a strong and powerful spiritual revolution. In that context Sri Lanka, no doubt, will have her fair share of cleansing up. This could lead towards a positive style of governance in the country by a set of spiritual leaders who will be able to understand the human misery and dedicate their work towards alleviation of suffering of the masses. For fifty long years, people in this so-called 'independent' Island have heard, seen and witnessed their own kind,from different political hues, promising the sun and the moon and a better 'tomorrow'. A few, who will be living in the next millennium, will have lingering memories of the preceding fifty years' memories to relate to their grand children about the level of freedom they enjoyed. In such true to life stories they will be relating how freely rulers abused power, gagged the freedom of expression, how they witnessed decapitated human bodies burning on road-side-spikes with fetid yellow liquids draining out in the form of melting human body oil !

If all predicted theories in the world are to come true i.e. the emergence of Maitree Buddha from Buddhists, coming of the Messiah according to Christianity and Islam, Golden Age according to Hinduism and an Era of Unity, Understanding and Tranquillity which Sri Sathya Sai Baba advocates in his third and final incarnation on human form as Prem Baba - at least benefits of such a spiritual revolution in the world should also have its fair share on Sri Lanka as well.

When this period dawns and tranquillity prevailing in Sri Lanka,the Officers in Uniform could turn away from their barbarity of killing their own human kind or refrain from dragging innocent women, raping, lacerating and leaving the helpless bleeding only to put up fire of anger and pain circulating inside them.

With the opening of the 'spiritual eye', politicians may give genuine promises during election time and even after coming into power. Once in power, their conscience will force them to get down to business and implement their own election pledges without wasting time, energy or becoming engaged in criticising their predecessors.

The 'new generation', born to the second stage of Independence, will be shocked to read about their past ancestors' history of violence, war, loss of life, injustice, corruption and fail to understand how their own brothers and sisters were murdered and made to float on rivers and lakes.

The ethnic war will either be deepened or settled. In the event of human qualities prevailing with the dawn of the golden age the main three races Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim will be sharing everything, like in the pre Independent days of late 1940's - power, government, administration, the country and the men and women alike. Human beings will once again begin to respect each other. All religions will merge to form a powerful Inter-faith lobby. Teachers will turn professional eliminating the private tuition masters. Clergy will confine to their temples, churches and mosques in propagating their individual religious beliefs. Buddhist priests in their capacity as advisers will be guiding the rulers and, perhaps a Sangha Nayaka may contest elections to be the Executive President of the country. Dharmistic people of the country will respect their Sangha President. Perhaps with few religious cabinet ministers there will be no necessity to waste money on commissions to investigate fraud and bribery.

On the negative aspect the ethnic war becoming aggressive Jaffna might become the Capital of Sri Lanka, either through devolved power or Prabhakaran having bought the Sinhalese with off-shore tax free dollar accounts. With financial Aid from the EU, Jaffna and Trincomalee could be transformed into fashionable and sophisticated towns like London and Paris with advanced economy, technology and underground railways, metros and channel tunnels to Singapore, Tamil Nadu and Maldive Islands. There won't be any expatriate Tamils left in the West and the refugee problem for Western governments will be a thing in the past. Like D.S. Senanayake, Bandaranaike, Duddley and Premadasa's statues for Sinhalese folk today in Colombo, Prabhakaran's, Thondaman's and other LTTE martyrs' statues could be seen erected in Jaffna and Trincomalee as heroes who fought and shed every drop of blood to fight for their cause and a new kind of freedom.

On the whole, the ethnic war might also bring better results in fifty years time - either through victory by either party or by peaceful settlement making Sri Lanka a role model for peace and harmony. King Parakramabahu's advice to make use of every drop of water before it is allowed to drain away to the seas might become a reality once again with irrigation developed to an advanced state that Sri Lanka will be restored to its legendary Paradise Island state. The only fear then would be that those who ruled and left this earth might take a good glance at it from the heavens above and might try to come back once again to take hold of the reigns once again !