سال انتشار: ۱۳۸۶

محل انتشار: چهارمین کنفرانس آسیایی و دهمین سمینار بین المللی مدیریت مشارکتی آبیاری

تعداد صفحات: ۸

نویسنده(ها):

Kalinga Tudor Silva – Dean, Faculty of Arts and Professor of Sociology University of Peradeniya

چکیده:

The practice of shramadana is so widely defused in Sri Lanka nowadays that it is often used as a synonym for voluntary community action of any kind2. Not many people realize that it is indeed the Sarvodaya Movement led by Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne that introduced this development practice in Sri Lanka. While he emulated “Shramadan campaigns” by Mahatma Gandhi and his followers in India, the specific contribution of
Dr. Ariyaratne lied in adapting it to the Sri Lankan context building it on certain customary self-help mechanisms firmly rooted in rural Sri Lanka. While shramadana is a new practice its long-term continuity and effectiveness have a lot to do with its affinities with customary labour sharing practices in paddy cultivation and irrigation systems that sustained paddy cultivation for many centuries. Dr. Ariyaratne developed shramadana as a central component of the Sarvodaya development strategy and demonstrated its relevance and applicability in community development in a wide variety of settings in Sri Lanka. The continued popularity of Shramadana in rural as well as urban Sri Lanka within and outside the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, so named because of the central importance of shramadana as a hallmark of this social movement that began as a campaign for involving school children and youth from the capital city in voluntary service in disadvantaged communities in rural Sri Lanka, in spite of many changes in the country over the past five decades must be seen as a major tribute to the ingenuity, adaptability as well as cultural rootedness of ideas and practices introduced by this pioneer development worker. As understood in the Sarvodaya Movement in essence sharmadana involves collective mobilization of voluntary labour of a varying number of committed individuals towards building or renovating a tank, road, a well, a community hall or any such facility beneficial to the whole of a segment of a community. “Shramadana” literaily means “donation of labour” (shrama=labour, dana=giving, donation). Since “dana” (giving, donation) is a fundamental aspect of Buddhist moral code, participation in shramadana is understood not only as a communitarian act expressing one’s dedication towards collective goals and concerns but also a meritorious act. Through contribution of one’s own physical labour towards meeting a felt need in the community a person expresses one’s community spirit, fellowship and dedication towards achieving collective goals. As implied in the well known and highly evocative statement of Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, “We build the tank and the tank builds us”, in the Sarvodaya Movement Shramadana is
not just a means of mobilizing free labour for development of physical infrastructure but also a means of promoting community spirit and social harmony. This paper seeks to trace the origin and development of shramadana in Sri Lanka, its continuity and, at the same time, discontinuity with traditional mutual help mechanisms in rural Sri Lanka and critically assess the significance of shramadana from the angles of participatory development in general and participatory irrigation management in particular.