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Sunday, 29 January 2012

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Making Sri Lanka a trilingual nation by 2020


The members of Maha Sangha invoked blessings on President Mahinda Rajapaksa who completes two years of being re-elected Executive President of the country. Here the President with members of the Maha Sangha. Picture by Chandana Perera

In 1971, a young Parliamentarian announcing his vision for a united country explained to the legislature the importance of Sinhalese and Tamils learning each other's languages to have a better understanding between the two communities.

He requested the then government to have a policy to teach the two languages to the two communities. Though the request echoed in Parliament, the authorities turned a deaf ear to this important proposal which could have prevented most of the issues that cropped up during the last 30 years.

Today, that young MP gradually rose up the ladder and has taken over as Head of State and has now taken several meaningful measures to bridge the gap between the two communities and to turn the country into a united and peaceful nation where colour, race or creed has no place."If this materialised in 1970's the country would not have faced such serious problems and many problems today would have solutions.

Employment

I also proposed to implement a system to grant employment to rural youth in their own villages, but this did not come into effect", said President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Deranabhisheka ceremony to distribute Ranbima deeds to 10,000 landless families in the Moneragala district.He said the government had taken steps to teach each child three languages -Sinhala, Tamil and English-under the initiative for a Trilingual Sri Lanka that will enable youth to achieve cultural and socio - economic unity and to make Sri Lanka a trilingual nation by 2020.

President Rajapaksa said he was committed to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity and he would not hesitate to take any decision to protect the people and the country from any threat. "Interested sections still sling mud on the initiatives of the government to develop the country and also to safeguard Sri Lanka from evil forces but I and my government will face any allegation and mud slinging for the sake of Mother Lanka.

We will not compromise our efforts to protect the country and its people from any forces", he said.President Rajapaksa, said “I am the President of those who voted for me and of those who did not', after he won the second Presidential election on January 27, 2010 and now, has marked his second year of the second tenure this week.

In the election held two years before the end of the President’s first six-year term, he won with 57.8 percent of the votes cast, in an election where nearly 70 percent of 14,088,500 registered votes were polled.The period President Rajapaksa was re-elected for a second term in office has been most significant in terms of economic progress and consolidating the hard won peace.

During the past year, the number of Internally Displaced people to be resettled has come down to 7, 163 from nearly 300,000.

The last remaining group of over 700 former LTTE cadres out of 11,900 who surrendered to the Security Forces during the last stages of the Humanitarian Operation will be reintegrated into society by mid-2012.The report of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was tabled in Parliament in December.

Sri Lanka maintained a steady growth rate throughout the year, recording an 8.4 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the third quarter of 2011.

During 2011 Sri Lanka's per capita income rose over $ 2,000, placing Sri Lanka in the mid-income level country status for the first time in its history.Sri Lanka has been ranked among the biggest gainers in the world in the '2011 Index of Economic Freedom' conducted by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington's pre-eminent think tank.

India and Sri Lanka will lead

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospect Report of June 2011 said that “India and Sri Lanka will lead the South Asian growth path -reaching 7.9 percent in 2013.” It said that the “Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Sri Lanka remains buoyant, GDP growth in 2010 (calendar year) registered eight percent and has been strongly underpinned by the peace dividend following the end of the decades-old conflict.”

Sri Lanka's foreign exchange reserves rose to $ 7 billion, for the first time in its history. Remittances from Sri Lankans employed overseas crossed the $ 05 billion mark for the first time in 2011. During the year, earnings from tourist arrivals rose at a healthy rate of 44.2 percent to $ 830 million compared to last year.

Tourist arrivals increased by 30.8 percent to 855,975 compared to that of 2010.Foreign exchange earnings from tourism had increased considerably to $ 497.4 million in 2010 as compared to $ 326.3 million in the previous year, amounting to an increase of 52.4 percent. Earnings through exports grew over 12 percent compared to the previous year.The Southern Expressway, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, was opened by the President turning a new chapter in road development in the country.

The development of bridges, roads, irrigation systems and rural development continued unabated. Special emphasis was laid on health and education.

The President last week declared 2012 as the Year for a Trilingual Sri Lanka' and launched 10-year National Action Plan which aims to make the country a trilingual nation by 2020.Sri Lanka remained an important member of the international community during the past year.

Addressing the 66th Session of the UN on Sept 23 President Mahinda Rajapaksa said whilst the clash of ideas, opinions and values continues we have clearly to recognize that dialogue, deliberation and consensus offer only the viable means for resolving differences.

The might of powerful nations cannot prevail against justice and fair play. Sri Lanka was also present at the biennial meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Australia, the SAARC Summit at the Maldives and the Bali Economic Forum in Indonesia.

In Geneva, the Sri Lanka continued to make a strong and effective case against attempts to call for an international probe into allegations of war crimes and violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Concerted action

This success was despite the concerted action against Sri Lanka by the pro-LTTE Tamil groups in the West, the heavy propaganda of media institutions such as Channel 4, and continuing efforts of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group to keep Sri Lanka in focus among the western nations to serve the interests of the “Tamil “Diaspora”.

However, there were successes in the legal action taken against LTTE organizers in the Netherlands and France, continuing action against the LTTE in the USA and India’s refusal to give in to regional pressure to lift the ban on the LTTE.

As the year drew to a close the country saw the opening of the first Centre for the Performing Arts, the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, which was a gift to the people of Sri Lanka from China, emphasizing the new opportunities for cultural renaissance in the country.

President Rajapaksa attended a series of religious ceremonies including a Bodhi Pooja Pinkama held at the Gangaramaya, Hunupitiya, held to invoke blessings on him, the War Heroes and the country to mark the President's completion of two years of the second term in office.

President Rajapaksa has also opened the newly built public market complex and the bus stand at Buttala town. The project costing Rs. 78 million was funded by the Local Government and Provincial Councils Ministry and built under the supervision of the Uva Provincial Council.

After the opening ceremony President Rajapaksa inspected the public market complex consisting 69 trade stalls and exchange pleasantries with the people gathered at the venue and he appreciated the vast development activities implemented in the Uva Province under the Mahinda Chintana.

It was the fifth Anniversary of the Defence Service College Colombo and the President opened a new building for secondary classes at the school to mark the event.

The school was established on a concept of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the objective of establishment of the Defence Services College is to see that the children of war heroes become citizens by enjoying the new freedom and become citizens suited to the 21st century.

President Rajapaksa after unveiling the commemorative plaque admitted four students to grade one of the College.

Inspected

The four students were children of Security Forces’ personnel representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police and he also inspected class rooms of the new building and visited the educational exhibition at the College premises.

After officially launching the FM DSC radio, the President posed for a group photograph with students and staff members of the college.

The newly opened building is equipped with facilities for students from grade six to Advanced Level. It consists of a laboratory and a computer laboratory.

The Defence Service College also has a library, swimming pool, gymnasium and many other facilities for extra curricular activities.President Rajapaksa, who was the chief Guest at a felicitation ceremony in honour of former Gampaha district MP cum General Secretary of SLFP S. D. Bandaranaike who turned 96, held at Temple Trees said the veteran politician Bandaranaike is a honest and hard working politician.

"The respect with which the people hold him has not diminished over the years", he added. The President also said that SD had been a tower of strength to the party and its leaders during his long career in politics. He was a politician who was very popular with the youth. He tried to lead the young generation in the correct path.

Even during the troubled times of '89-'90 he tried his best to help youth" he said. The President said 'SD' had built a close rapport with Chinese political leaders during the time and it helped to strengthen relations between the two countries.

He presented a special memento to SD and the veteran politician presented his autobiography to President Rajapaksa.

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