Author: Partha S Ghosh
Publisher: Sage Publications
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0761997717
This book constitutes a comprehensive and in-depth study of federalism and devolution in the Sri Lankan context. The author leads us on a journey of discovery spanning various phases of the evolution of the problem, from pre-independence Sri Lanka to the victory of the Kumaratunga government in 1994, and its subsequent failure to implement the much promised federal structure for the country.
For the last two decades, Sir Lanka has been plagued by an acute and intractable ethnic problem that has threatened to destroy the territorial integrity of the country. The island's constitutional history has been dominated by the question of sharing political power between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, and a fierce debate continues to rage over the appropriate model for devolution. While one school of thought argues for federalism as a solution to the nation's ethnic crisis, the other argues against it believing it would lead to dismemberment of the country. Neither of these arguments can be ignored and therein lies the cause of the intractable nature of the problem.
How and why the Kumartunga government failed is the main topic of this book. Partha Ghosh skillfully presents the various proposals of that government, including the draft constitution meant to convert the unitary state of Sri Lanka into a federal one. He discusses the issues involved in the debate the deals with the devolution discourse, both at the political and the intellectual level. The broad theoretical premises that govern the concept of devolution in an ethnically divided society are also examined in detail. The author concludes with an analysis of the current situation - in particular the on-going peace talks.
Objective, incisive and sympathetic, this skilful examination of a complex situation will be of interest to students, scholars and journalists. It is relevant for readers not only in Sri Lanka and South Asia, but also in other parts of the world coping with the destructive pressures of separatism where devolution is recommended as a solution.
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Devolution or Evolution?
Evolution of the Debate - I: Pre-Independence
Evolution of the Debate - II: Post-Independence
Chandrika Kumaratunga's Devolution Proposals
The Ethnic and Political Responses
The LTTE Factor
The Devolution Discourse in Perspective
>From Eelam to Virtual Eelam: A Postscript
About the Author