Though this policy is in place, shortfalls in implementation mean that individuals and communities across the island face various struggles with daily life and basic administration. Commitment to ensuring equality of language rights is required at a national level. At the moment, politicians are lacking in knowledge of the gravity of the issue – this was illustrated in the case of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s statement that Tamil should not be brought in as an administrative language, ignorant of the fact that that 2009 policy enforced just that.
Across a wide range of government and even private sector offices, forms and printed material are initially available in Sinhala, on the assumption that everyone speaks the language. If the individual were to request Tamil forms, they would be presented with them but if this request isn’t made, the individual has to resort to working with a language he is not familiar with.
The 1956 hotline to the National Languages Commission was set up to take in complaints on language-related matters and the implementation issues of the Policy. The Commission is overseen by the Ministry of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages. Minister Mano Ganesan regularly speaks on the need to address language issues yet meaningful progress seems slow.