KM de Silva’s Biographical Routes to the Recent Past

Sri Lanka: The Recent Past by Kingsley M. de Silva is now on the bookshelves in Sri Lanka.

The doyen among the contemporary historians of the island has deplye personal biographical expirences and his considerable reserch material to pen biographical tales that can illuminate our history, Editor, Thuppahi


Abbreviations and Glossary                                                                                                   vii-ix

Preface and Acknowledgements                                                                                            xi-xii

Part One : Prime Ministers and Other Eminent Persons

  Chapter One               Dudley Senanayake                                                                             3

  Chapter Two               Sir John Lionel Kotelawala                                                              12

  Chapter Three            Sirima Bandaranaike                                                                        17

  Chapter Four              Elina Jayewardene                                                                            29

Part Two : Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, 1853-1924                        

  Chapter Five               National Leader; The only Tamil public figure to enjoy that

status in his day and up to the present                                              33

Chapter Six                 Arunachalam as Administrator                                                        42

Chapter Seven            Arunachalam’s Political Career                                                       49

Chapter Eight             Arunachalam’s Political Outlook                                                     52

Chapter Nine              Arunachalam – Politician                                                                 58

Chapter Ten                Arunachalam’s Political Initiatives                                                  66

Part Three : Fissures and Rivalries                                                                       

Chapter Eleven           The Tamils as a Minority                                                                 85

Chapter Twelve          Sir Razik Freeed – Muslims as Challengers to the Tamils               91

Part Four : State Construction

  • The Economy and Administration

Chapter Thirteen        Ronnie de Mel                                                                                  97

Gamani Corea                                                                                   102

C. P. de Silva                                                                                    104

A. G. Ranasinha                                                                               107

C. Loganathan                                                                                  110

  (b) Education         

Chapter Fourteen       P. de S. Kularatne                                                                             115

Peter Harold Nonis                                                                           118

Father Peter A. Pillai                                                                         122

Part Five: The Socialist Challenge

Chapter Fifteen          Dr Colvin R. de Silva                                                                       127

Dr N. M. Perera                                                                                129

Dr S. A. Wickramasinghe                                                                132

Part Six : The Strange Case of Caste in Sri Lanka’s Public Life           

   Chapter Sixteen          Introduction                                                                                     137

George Edmund de Silva                                                                142

R. S. S. Gunewardene                                                                 145

Part Seven : Epilogue – Potential Political Leaders – Lost                                 

   Chapter Seventeen     Lalith Athulathmudali                                                                      151

Gamini Dissanayake                                                                    154

Ranjan Wijeratne                                                                             156

Index                                                                                                                                      159


This book is dedicated to two Sri Lankan scholars, Prof. G. H. Peiris (Gerry) and Prof. K. N. O. Dharmadasa, former colleagues of mine at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Peradeniya; both of them are dedicated scholars – an endangered species in Sri Lanka – whose assistance I have often sought in the course of my writing and research.  That assistance was generally given with little or no hesitation.  

© International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), 2018

ISBN 978-955-580-226-0

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.  All rights reserved.  Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

First published in August 2018

Cataloguing-in-Publication Data approved by the National Library and Documentation Services Board.

de Silva, K. M.  Sri Lanka: The Recent Past – Brief Essays in History and Politics, Kandy, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, 2018.

   ISBN 978-955-580-226-0

954.93031 DDC 23 ii. Title:

Sri Lanka – Recent Past – Prime Ministers and Eminent Persons

Cover page photograph

At a formal ceremony organized by the staff of President J.R. Jayewardene, Sir John gifted his mansion at Kandawala near Ratmalana, a suburb of Colombo, along with a very large extents of buildable land, to the state and through the state to the army.  President Jayewardene accepts this gift on behalf of the state.

Enquiries should be addressed to the publisher   International Centre for Ethnic Studie

554/6A Peradeniya Road, Kandy, Sri Lanka…………Tel: +94 081 2234892; 2232381…… Web: ww

*******  *******

SOME PERSONALITIES pictured within the book

Fr Peter Pillai RSS Gunewardene   P de S.. Kularatne

  Ronnie & Mallika de Mel

About the Author

 K. M. de Silva was educated principally, if not entirely, in Sri Lanka during the last stages of British rule in the island, at Kingswood College, Kandy and the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya. The emphasis on independent study or studies which formed a key feature of education at Kingswood helped, in later years, to stimulate his interest in history, and especially in the history of the island. From Kingswood he went on to the University of Ceylon where he was a student in the history department of the Faculty of Arts, graduating with first class honours in 1955.

During his years as an under-graduate at the University of Ceylon, his interest in historical research was stimulated as much by the demands of the teaching programmes for his first degree, the BA, as by the rich resources of the university’s library for under-graduates.  From the University of Ceylon at Peradeniya, it was smooth sailing to post-graduate education at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London where he earned his Ph.D.

The next phase was his work as the author of a single-volume History of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, something that had not been done before or since.  This single volume History of Ceylon/Sri Lanka contributed greatly to the D.Litt. he earned from the University of London in 1991.

He received professorships and fellowships from many universities and research institutions in Britain and the USA; most notably a fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. in 1990-91.












Filed under British colonialism, British imperialism, Buddhism, economic processes, education, education policy, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, life stories, modernity & modernization, parliamentary elections, politIcal discourse, power sharing, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, teaching profession, unusual people, world affairs

2 responses to “KM de Silva’s Biographical Routes to the Recent Past

  1. Hugh

    A historian should be objective. This man’s political bias is obvious. Any credit due to his research capabilities are just drowned in his fawning adulation of people like JR and proven rogues like Ronnie de Mel

  2. Pingback: Professor KM de Silva’s Publications | Thuppahi's Blog

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