Sustaining cultural diversity | Sunday Observer

Sustaining cultural diversity

The prudent leader Nelson Mandela once explained ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head, but if you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart”. This has been well understood by the two instructors at the Tamil language training school set up at the Special Task Force Training Academy, Katukurunda. I met up with Sub Inspector Ravi Silva who counts 25 years of service in the STF.

He explained to me ‘I learnt amil language when visiting Hatton. Even as a child I realized the importance of communicating with other communities”. Today, Silva speaks, reads and writes Tamil with much ease.

During the years of conflict he was one of the key persons engaged in intercepting coded transmissions (electronic warfare). His ability to understand Tamil saved the lives of many military personnel and civilians.

At the Katukurunda academy the dynamic Director of Training, Superintendent of Police Athula Daulagala realized the potential opportunity to use the language skills of Ravi Silva, and with the concurrence of Commandant Senior DIG Latiff they set up a language course which lasts 10 weeks.

Over the years, the Tamil course has many eager students: both, officers and other ranks. Almost 300 apply each time the course is open which shows the interest these men and women have to really bridge the gap and better understand Tamil culture. SI Silva said “Our 10 weeks’ syllabus covers reading, writing and speaking. We also teach them about Hindu religious traditions and festivals. We take the officers to kovils and engage in poojas.

Apart from this we stage dramas and interactive dialogue. At the end of the course they receive a valid certificate”. I was able to see the colourful course books designed by the STF Training Branch. The STF has a wide experience in working with the civil populations of the North and the East. The STF has set the benchmark to have better relations with the Tamil speaking public and enhance productive policing. This training program is a radiant beacon of friendship and sustains peace.

- DJ