A good conversation among diasporals. I got no beef.
Sanjana (as Groundviews) has responded to my post on the war being over by bringing up personal email/phone conversations and trying to blacklist me with the Knight Foundation and Ashoka News. Which is, well, rather petty and besides the point. London Lanka, by contrast, has responded with something much more intelligent.
The quote he took issue with was:
The war is over and the only people that can’t really accept it are either abroad or facing abroad.
He responded, saying:
When people in the island talk about the war being over and say that people should move on, it’s a wholly understandable view. As is that of the diasporic people who can look at a wide ranging picture, one that takes little or no account of the finer, but very important, details that affect people every day.
It’s not actually about where you live, it’s about how much you know and how much you care.
On his broader point, I agree. The diaspora has a right to participate in the conversation and ‘abroad facing’ people (like me) are also welcome. I personally was really impressed by this conversation with young diasporals from Canada. On the same level, even Kumar Sangakkara has to go abroad to speak his mind and be heard and what matters is the ideas, not the location. Word.
So, that’s not what I meant. What I do mean is that people in Sri Lanka really do think and live like the war is over and that the perspective abroad – due largely to media – is very very different. We’re still in the news mainly for war (sometimes accountants) and it does get a bit old. Many diasporals did leave due to war and that’s still their reference point. But that’s not Sri Lanka anymore.
Some Data On What People Are Searching
Let us compare some search/news data.
Search and news traffic for: sri lanka war, sri lanka jobs, sri lanka education, within Sri Lanka
As you can see, Sri Lankans pretty promptly moved on to bread and butter concerns after the war, though this data is obviously not insanely robust. I don’t often type in ‘sri lanka war’ but I don’t often type in ‘sri lanka education’, so I’m assuming the samples are comparable. Also note that the news traffic basically never covers jobs or education, which are important to people.
Search and news traffic for: sri lanka war, sri lanka jobs, sri lanka education, within United Kingdom
Then compare it to similar data from the UK. It’s definitely less war, but the Channel 4 video spike is there. That also led to a spike in searches for jobs for some reason, but there still isn’t the same focus on ground level concerns. Because they’re not on the ground.
So, I’m not trying to say that people that bring up the war or call for investigations or boycotts or whatever are even wrong. I’m certainly not saying that all people in the diaspora are the same. What I am saying is that these questions are almost nonsensical from a local perspective, which is ultimately what matters on issues of Sri Lanka. Especially for the working poor or middle-class, of any race.
For example, the first question the Jazeera chaps asked, ‘Is Sri Lanka recovering from a prolonged civil war?’ Well, yes, obviously. The war is over. Most people in Sri Lanka are not dwelling on it and are focused on putting food on the table and getting the kid to school. I’m not saying that anyone outside (or inside) is dumb or shouldn’t talk. I’m just saying that’s where I am and where most people in this country are, as far as I can see. The war is over. Tell your friends.
Also, read London, Lanka and Drums.