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Learn Tamil, don’t employ Tamils

The Sri Lankan government is to apparently pay incentives to state employees to learn ‘local languages’, such as Tamil, to “reduce the communication gap with people of Tamil origin,” the Indian Express reported.

The move "aims to reduce the communication gap between those in the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern parts and the rest of the Sinhalese-majority country.” 

Sounds like a good idea, moving towards bringing together the peoples of the island. That is until you read another piece of news – one that did not make it into any of the English language publications.

The Sri Lankan government has just released the list of those shortlisted for interviews after the 2009 exams for jobs with the Sri Lankan Administrative Service – the top civil service jobs in the country.

Of the 257 people shortlisted, not a single one was educated in the Tamil stream, according to a report in TamilWin. This is a repeat of the previous year, where of the 32 selected, again all had been educated in the Sinhala stream.

Thus while the Sri Lankan government publicises the actions that suggest moves towards reconciliation, the reality is that the Tamils are being excluded from senior government jobs, and any real say in how Tamil areas are administered.