YI: If we are to believe reports that the decades-long civil war will soon come to an end, what is your opinion of the challenges of a post-conflict recovery? How to make people think of a united country now that the war is over?
Ananda Galappatti: I think the challenges after the warfare has ended are quite considerable, especially in the context of when you have chronic conflict. I think it's useful to think about the possible continuing violence. War may be ending but you still have small conflicts, you still have got ways of doing things that evolve in conflict zones that have been going on over decades, that are difficult to change. So, most likely you will have issues of humanity becoming more of a problem, such as women remaining within in the domestic sphere in rural communities. There are still a lot of issues to work through. The other effects of the conflict apart from the violence, are the lives and livelihoods, regaining some in fellow villages or neighboring villages, from the other side that may not have come your aid at the time of war. The issues are quite considerable. I think we will need intervention in a number of levels. Obviously, the messages that leaders provide, the programs they endorse, provide a symbolic level of importance that people can latch on to for a sense of hope for the future. But I think, more so, we will need an actual level of public services and the way we organize things and show how quickly people can depend on, including who are marginalized. And this is not just a cross the divide, but within communities that have been in conflict at one time or the other, but within boundaries.
YI: Do you think they will be involved in this rehabilitation and recovery program?
Ananda Galappatti: I think everyone has a role to play. Whether you are a professional or just a citizen, I think one has a responsibility to examine what effects conflicts have on your community, on your village or on yourself and learn how you deal with other people in your lives.
YI: Anand, this is the last question. Sri Lanka, like many countries in Asia, is a pluralistic society. As a psychologist, as a person who has dealt with many disasters and problems in war-torn areas, do you have any suggestions on how to maintain the pluralistic elements of a society?
Ananda Galappatti: I think the problem on how to maintain pluralism and strengthen it is the challenge faced by many countries in Asia. In retrospection, I think we haven't been particularly good at finding ways of celebrating the diversity that we have and in many ways have refused that diversity over the years.
I think we might be able to work with people affected by conflicts, that has divided so many people in this country. I think the potential is perhaps not in working cross boundaries. One would think there would be more emphasis on all those women who have lost children to various aspects or the results of conflict, sharing each other's loss without labeling the other person as somehow on another side, or somewhat different from them. And through the kinds of small interactional level, I think there is a shift in the way in which people perceive one another. And through that they try to get an intimate step in relating and multiply or amplifying the true incarnation. That I think is the big challenge, respecting your way in the end but actually on top of everything, you do have to get some get inspiration from people who perhaps have lost them all and who are able to emphasize, to reach out to those who are different than the other.
YI: Well on that note, thank you Anand for that very informative presentation. I wish you luck.
Ananda Galappatti: Thank you very much, I think I will need it.