Consider the following statements about power-sharing arrangements in Belgium and Sri Lanka. A) In Belgium, the Dutch-speaking majority people tried to impose their domination on the minority French-speaking community. B) In Sri Lanka, the policies of the government sought to ensure the dominance of the Sinhala-speaking majority. C) The Tamils in Sri Lanka demanded a federal arrangement of power-sharing to protect their culture, language and equality of opportunity in education and jobs. D) The transformation of Belgium from unitary government to a federal one prevented a possible division of the country on linguistic lines. Which of the statements given above are correct? (a) A, B, C and D (b) A, B and D (c) C and D (d) B, C and D

Answer: The correct answer is option (D) – B,C, and D are correct.

Situation in Sri Lanka

  • The Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and struggles for the recognition of Tamil as an official language, for regional autonomy and equality of opportunity in securing education and jobs. But their demand for more autonomy to provinces populated by the Tamils was repeatedly denied.
  • Protecting and fostering Buddhism was stipulated by the new constitution.
  • A series of MAJORITARIAN measures were adopted by the democratically elected Government, to establish Sinhala supremacy.
  • By virtue of the majority of Sinhala community, the leaders of this community wanted to have dominance over the Government.
  • To favour Sinhala applicants for government jobs and university positions, preferential policies favouring one community was followed by the governments.
  • Disregarding Tamil, in 1956, an Act was passed to recognise Sinhala as the only official language.
  • The feeling of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils increased gradually as all these government measures were implemented one after another.
  • Sri Lankan Tamils felt that sensitivity was not shown towards their culture and language by the major political parties which were led by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders.
  • They felt that the government policies and constitution ignored their interests, discriminated against them in getting jobs and other opportunities and denied them equal political rights.
  • It soon turned into a CIVIL WAR. As a result thousands of people of both the communities have been killed. Many families were forced to leave the country as refugees and many more lost their livelihoods.

Situation in Belgium

The Belgian leaders took a different path.

  • The existence of cultural diversities and regional differences was recognised by the Belgian leaders.
  • Belgian leaders worked out a very innovative and different arrangement when compared to any other country.
  • To enable everyone to live together within the same country, to work out an arrangement, the constitution was amended four times, between 1970 and 1993.
  • There will be an equal number of French speaking and Dutch speaking ministers, as per constitution.
  • To make sure that unilateral decisions are not made by one single community, the support of a majority of members from each linguistic group is needed as per some special laws.
  • The state governments are not subordinate to the Central Government.
  • Many powers of the central government have been given to state governments of the two regions of the country.
  • As the Dutch-speaking community has accepted equal representation in the Central Government, the French speaking people accepted equal representation in Brussels 
  • Brussels has a separate government in which both the communities have equal representation.

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