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Text of a presentation by Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP, at the Kotelawala Defence University seminar on August 22, 2012

I intend in this paper to look at the different areas in which social integration can be promoted in Sri Lanka, and in particular the manner in which institutions such as the Kotelawala Defence University can contribute to this process. I do so because, in the first place, it is clear that Reconciliation in Sri Lanka requires better social integration than we have at present. Secondly, while those who, in my view, do not have Sri Lanka’s better interests at heart criticize additional responsibilities being entrusted to military personnel, I have no doubt that better and more systematic use of the capabilities the military have evinced in the last several years will in fact contribute to better integration.

Unquestioned, even by the hostile, in this regard is the need for greater minority participation in the armed forces and the police. Though it has been argued that the minorities were deliberately excluded from the forces, this has not been the case, except in the period immediately following the abortive coup of 1962 when there were suspicions, not against the minorities, but against Sinhalese Christians. Tamils and Muslims continued to be recruited, and Christians too though in smaller numbers.

In the nineties the situation changed, more because the LTTE discouraged applications, though it is true that, following the desertion of a Tamil army officer, the military was more cautious about recruiting Tamils. Those who were in service however continued to be deployed in vital positions, though not ones that exposed them to LTTE violence. I have myself worked with two Tamil officers in senior positions in the Military Academy, which is obviously considered a plum posting, given the other distinguished personnel, such as the Vice-Chancellor and the Commander and Chief of Staff of the army now, who were there when Sabaragamuwa University ran the academic component of the new degree programme.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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