High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Austin Fernando discusses Radicalization in South Asia 

13 September 2019

By Srimal  Fernando

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Jindal Global University (JGU), a significant milestone in the history of Indian Higher education. Coinciding with the university anniversary day the Diplomania Society of the Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), a series of panel discussions themed on Radicalization in South Asia was organised. 

Photo: Dr Seshadri Chari (r) and High Commissioner Fernando (l)

The participation of His Excellency Austin Fernando, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India as a panelist in front of a large audience at   the university was an important moment that offered some fresh insights into the radicalization of youth in Sri Lanka during the past   thirty years.

During his speech at the Jindal  Global  University,  H.E Fernando spoke openly  about valuable perspectives based on Sri  Lanka’s past experiences of ethnic conflict  and  later reflected on  radicalization  that  occurred  at some point during the post conflict  period.  Similarly he explained about the circumstances that led to the Easter Sunday attacks that happened five months ago.  Possibly generalizing beyond the context of this youth conclave the most important lessons, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner explained, was about the emerging patterns that lead to radicalization. Re-visiting the recent events that occurred in Sri Lanka High commissioner assessed   the challenges and limitations on this complex subject.   Illustrating on the same point H.E Fernando further explained that the outcomes of such de-radicalization initiatives need the involvement of broader community engagement.

In slightly different ways he also spoke about social media and it’s influence on the world as a whole and how Sri Lankan authorities managed the use of social media  during and after the crisis occurred . Other  than  H.E  Fernando some well-known panelists such as Global  Affairs Analyst Professor  Sreeram Chaullia, the Dean  of the Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA ) , Dr Seshadri Chari ,  Dr. Indramohan Jha, moderated by  Professor Sripathi Narayanan  shared their  experiences  and reflected on  encouraging  insights about  this  complex issue.   

The discussion was wound up after a long fruitful exchange of views from the students and the panelist   On behalf of the Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA) Professor Pankaj Jha  delivered a special vote of thanks and  also presented  JGU appreciation  mementos  to panelist in recognition of their  valuable contribution  during the panel discussion.

Srimal Fernando is a Doctoral Fellow at Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), India and Global Editor of The Diplomatic Society for South Africa. He won the 2018/2019 Best Journalist of the Year award in South Africa.