Goa

Identity of a dominant group is not identity of a nation: Kumaratunga


Panaji, Dec 16 (IANS): Leaders must not superimpose the identity of a dominant group as the identity of a nation but instead acknowledge that diverse identities of all communities eventually shape the identity of a nation, former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has said.

The five-time President of the island nation was speaking at the India Ideas Conclave which got underway in the coastal state of Goa on Friday.

"And when I say specific identity of a nation, I do not mean only the identity of one group, the dominant group in a nation. I mean the collective identity of a nation, which is formed from the collective identities of all the communities, living within that nation," she said.

"With the recognition that each of the communities will have the right, the full right to equal status, to have the full right to their culture, their religions, their social traditions. But they must all come together in one nation recognising the national identity as one nation," Kumaratunga said.

"We have seen good leaders and bad leaders. Leaders who have used the diversity in their nations, exacerbated it to the point of conflict between different communities living within nations, who have been together for centuries, some time for millennia, for their own personal and political gains," the former President also said.

Recognising differences is essential in the modern world, she said, adding that in the past leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln had risen above their lot and had a vision to bring together a nation.

"A nation is comprised of all the communities living within the nation, through the recognition of diversity, and the respect of diversity of differences," she said.

"I would say this is essential in this moment, in our modern world. Many of the conflicts which we see around us, in our region, in the world may not have existed or could be resolved if we have leaders with such an agenda," Kumaratunga added.


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