Sri Lanka, whose material treasures and spiritual values had acted as a magnet to travellers from around 350 BC, was known by many names such as Taprobane, Simundu, Salike, Sila-Diva, Serendib & Zeilan .
By 1932 Ceylon was half way on the road to a complete independence from the British Colonial rule. The Donoughmore Constitution by this time having given the country an elected legislature - the State Council - universal adult franchise had appeared to stay permanently . However, in certain Sri Lankan circles there was a belief that Sri Lankan politicians were not ready at the time for independence.
Ceylonı politicians derived a training, both legislative and executive functions, from the State Council. A noteworthy factor during this period , however, is that some British planters and business hierarchy became instrumental in influencing Sri Lankan politicians to become masters in their own country. Thus, history was beginning to repeat itself - like in the case of Britons against the Romans.
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 for freedom. It is therefore acknowledged that the political leaders of Sri Lanka during the 1930s and those who preceded them have rendered an immeasurable service to the country in restoring the self respect of a nation which had been crushed under foreign boot of Portuguese, Dutch and the British over four centuries. Finally, on 4 February 1948, dawned a new day for Ceylonı when it changed from the Colonial rule to an independent Island.
Ever since this historic day, Sri Lankans, along with the Government in power, have been celebrating the anniversary of this independence. This exercise has been going on for nearly for four decades now, and on 4 February 1997, it is the 49th anniversary.
At this juncture a question mark is bound to pop up from a certain quarter of the Sri Lankan society in posing the question - independence for whom and on what ?
After nearly 50 years of independence, it is reasonable to assume that those who were born before 1948 and were under the colonial boot would have felt the true meaning of the word independence. Yet, today, there exists a different scenario for a generation that has grown into manhood during the post 1948 era. For this new generation, the word independence will not mean anything as they have been born into a completely free country governed, whether they liked it or not, by their own kind of different political hues, with numerous promises for a better tomorrow.
If one were to delve a bit deeper into this question and analyse the situation critically and rationally one does not need to be a political pundit to comprehend that from early 1970s the post independent generation has had a bitter experience during their budding years of life. While looking at the past records of the country the post independent generation is bound to point the finger at the politicians and leaders who promised the sun moon and stars from the day of independence of the country, and ask to what extent have they given independence to the people. They will undoubtedly say what they have been constantly witnessing is only the abuse of power by the powerful, gagging the freedom of the press and expression by the rulers, witnessing strewn dead bodies all over, and in some cases decapitated human bodies burning on road sides on spikes, while fetid yellow liquids draining out in the form of melting human body oil, which have played havoc with the digestion of any onlooker, or how official uniforms could turn another human being to a savage to the extent of killing his own kind, without batting an eye lid, or even to drag an innocent women, rape , lacerate her and leave her bleeding and having to put up fire of anger and pain circling inside her .
Political leaders of Sri Lanka, from the day of the independence, have been promising the nation the democratic existence. During such promises, especially during election times and even after coming to power some have been engaged in criticising their predecessors instead of getting down to business with their own election pledges. Born into a so-called independent nation, the post independent generation has only seen violence, war, loss of life, injustice, corruption and many of their age groups getting killed or floating on rivers and lakes. In such circumstances, will the word independence mean anything at all for them is a million dollar question ?
The ordinary citizens do not expect much except their great urge to lead a contentious and an independent life by looking after their families with their blood sweat & tears in working for a decent living. The majority does not expect to run about in Pajoroes or live in air conditioned palacious houses or have Swiss bank accounts. They are not interested in acquiring power nor do they want to kill each other to come to power by hook or by crook . Any sensible personıs dream would be to have a roof over his head, a decent job to bring bread and butter home, at the end of the day or month, and to live in a just society free of corruption, intimidation or harassment.
Looking back at 49 years of our independence, therefore, the time has come for all our politicians and leaders in Sri Lanka to open their eyes wide and to be realistic in their promises and most importantly to be united in issues where national interest matter and to restore and maintain the independence we received from the British. Undoubtedly our forefathers who fought and redeemed our country without shedding a drop of blood will otherwise be cursing us from their graves when after 49 years of independence we are still killing and shedding blood of our own brothers and sisters !