Ethnicity and power have been closely related in Sri Lanka since the country’s independence in 1948. The majority of Sri Lankan citizens (around 75%) are Sinhala, who are mostly Buddhist, while the minority population consists of Tamil people (mostly Hindu) who make up around 13% of the national population. Historically, there has been a persistent tension between these two ethnic groups due to unequal access to resources such as education and employment opportunities which have led to deep-seated grievances between them. This has created an imbalance of power where the Sinhalese have had preferential access and representation within government institutions at both local and national levels. There is also evidence that authorities often use their power to suppress those from minority backgrounds, resulting in institutionalized discrimination against minorities including Tamils over many years.
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami further highlighted inequality within Sri Lanka as it was found that certain areas with high concentrations of Tamil populations were far more likely to suffer severe destruction than non-Tamil communities, largely due to a lack of preparedness for disaster mitigation despite being in coastal regions considered most vulnerable to tsunamis. Although relief aid was sent by governments globally after this devastating event, much less attention was paid towards Tamil areas because they lacked influence or political strength relative to other parts on the island nation. The result was that distribution efforts were concentrated on Sinhala dominated areas instead – leading some scholars argue that aid distribution following disasters can be ‘ethnically biased’ – whereby those with higher standing receive more assistance than those without political influence or clout.
Explain the connection between ethnicity and power as evidenced in Sri Lanka. How did this alter the impact of the tsunami on various groups?
What was particularly painfully evident here is how ethnicity has shaped responses following natural disasters within Sri Lanka: while some parts received little attention from international organisations or NGOs due to pre-existing socio-political divides between different ethnicities; others received greater support thanks largely thanks to their closer connections with governing bodies – highlighting how power dynamics influenced disaster mitigating processes in this case study instance.
It would be wrong however not give credit where it’s due: despite differences amongst various communities prior to 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, we also witness examples solidarity across ethnic lines during its aftermath– as countless individuals put aside personal interests for volunteer work– providing much needed help during crisis situations like this one.. It can thus be argued that although ethnicity plays an important role when considering instances of power inequality; ultimately our shared humanity trumps any form discrimination we may experience due external factors beyond our individual control such race/ethnicity