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One country – but whose?

Sri Lanka's national anthem will only be in Sinhala from now on and the Tamil version will no longer be played at any official or state functions, the Cabinet decided on Wednesday, according to the Sunday Times.

President Mahinda Rajapakse told the cabinet meeting that there could not be ‘two’ national anthems, and that this was a ‘shortcoming’ that must be rectified.

(See this on state ethnic policy also.)

The logic? "We must all think of Sri Lanka as one country."

The President cited an instance where then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike had walked out of a function in the island’s north where the national anthem was played in Tamil.

Mrs Bandaranaike’s rule is best known for tearing up the British-supplied liberal constitution and replacing it in 1972 with today’s Sinhala nationalist one, including changing the country’s name from Ceylon to today's Sinhala one, Sri Lanka.

See the 2007 study by the US-based East-West Centre on how "Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist ideology is now fully embedded and institutionalised as state policy."

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