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13th Amendment Sri Lanka UPSC NOTE


What is 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka?

  • It was passed in November 1987, months after Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene signed the Indo-Lanka Accord.

  • The 13th Amendment is the only legislative guarantee of a measure of power devolution to the island’s provinces.

  • It provided for setting up provincial governments across the country — there are nine provincial councils.

  • Made Tamil, too, an official language, and English, a link language.

  • It was, in some measure, a counteract to the ‘Sinhala Only Act’ of 1956.

    • ‘Sinhala Only Act’ of 1956 is one of the most discriminatory laws passed targeting the island’s Tamil minorities, after the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 that rendered Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamils of Indian origin stateless.

  • It also sought to address the Tamils’ right to self-determination which, by the 1980s, had become a raging political call.

  • With the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom laying bare violent Sinhala majoritarianism and racism, it was hard for the world and India not to appreciate a legitimate demand.

Issues associated with it

  • Indian imposition : 

    • Sinhalese opposing it, the legislation is an “Indian imposition”, symbolising “too much power” to the Tamils at the provincial level and a threat to the central government in Colombo.

  • Very limited powers :

    • The Tamils, on the other hand, have maintained that the legislation, under Sri Lanka’s unitary Constitution, entails very limited powers that don’t amount to meaningful devolution.

  • Although the Amendment gave provinces legislative power over agriculture, education, health, housing, local government, planning, road transport and social services, the Centre is all-powerful, because of an ambiguous concurrent list and certain overriding clauses in the Constitution.

  • Some see it as a “starting point” in negotiating a more wholesome and durable political settlement, for the 13th Amendment is currently the only legislative guarantee of some power sharing, even if widely considered inadequate.

Indian involvement

  • India has historically been an arbiter on Sri Lanka’s Tamil national question.

  • Many in Tamil polity and community say both New Delhi’s interest in — and influence — on the issue are waning.

  • Critics argue that India, pre-occupied with countering Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, does little more than make customary statements on the need to implement the 13th Amendment.

  • India has always supported both political and economic stability in the island nation.

  • India called upon Sri Lanka to take the necessary steps to address the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil community, including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation and the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: 13th Amendment Sri Lanka UPSC NOTE
13th Amendment Sri Lanka UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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