Let me first put this in to perspective, I am a huge follower of Dr. Abdul Kalam. After reading his books and listening to some of this speeches like millions of others he is a role model for me. He is a big source of inspiration and one of the reasons for me to have respect towards India as a nation, is because people like Kalam, Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and AR Rahman call/called it their home.
Secondly I do not believe that this Tri lingual initiative is any kind of solution to the problem at hand. I am a firm believer that English language can only be the most practicable bridge between the two communities and lets make English language learning a compulsory exercise and draw up a 10 year plan for that. I do not see real incentives for people to learn each others language and in the scheme of life, when you look among the priorities, for a Sinhalese to learn Tamil is a very low priority thing and for a Tamil living in a Tamil area learning Sinhala is a low priority thing. Do not take my word wrong, but for argument sake even if you assume that majority of the people in both communities like to learn each others language; when it comes to priorities among thousand other things this would always remain a "liking" and would not make much progress as it has been the same way for more than 50 years. I already stirred the pot on the same topic some time back you can read it here
So when the news articles said Dr. Kalam was here to kick start the tri lingual initiative I was curious to study his opinion and perspective on how this could be the solution. Hence I googled to find his explanation. I came across an email interview he has given to The Hindu (click here to read the interview). Quoting from it,
How significant is the ‘Trilingual Initiative' and what kind of a change do you think it can bring about in Sri Lanka ?
Abdul Kalam: This initiative has to be a start for inclusive growth in Sri Lanka. This initiative will enable the students to learn their subjects better in their mother tongue. For example, I learnt in my mother tongue, Tamil up to tenth class. Also, it can bring cultural and civilisational unity. Above all, the individual languages can enrich each other.
Sir, I guess you had got this wrong. Unlike in present day India, we can and most of us already study the subjects in our mother tongue, this initiative doesn't have anything to do with giving an opportunity for students to learn subjects in mother tongue. Its supposed to be an initiative to encourage people to learn the 'other' communities language. Sir the issue here is we have given little prominence to English hence we do not have a common medium of communication between the two communities at grass root level. Just get people to learn two languages (Their mother tongue and English) and we do not need three.