Category Archives: commoditification

The Plantation Economy in British Ceylon: The Downtrodden Indian Tamil Labour and the Dispossessed Kandyan Peasantry

Uditha Devapriya, in SAT MAG” of The Island on September 19 and September 26, 2020.

PREFACE: This essay does not present a complete history of plantation slavery, which anyway has been covered many times before by scholars of repute, including Professor Asoka Bandarage, whose Colonialism in Sri Lanka went through a second edition recently. Rather, it counters Sinhala nationalists and those opposed to Sinhala nationalists who equate the position of African-Americans with that of Tamils and Muslims, indicating a failure to distinguish between minority communities which thrived under conditions of colonialism (and neocolonialism) and those which suffered under those conditions. It also counters certain “Marxist” and rightwing academics who see the plantation system as capitalist, and who, while either sympathising with the plight of Estate Tamils or ignoring them outright, single out Kandyan Sinhalese peasants for what they allege to have been their innate laziness under British colonialism, a myth demolished by S. B. D. de Silva in his underrated and unread magnum opusThe Political Economy of Underdevelopment.

Tea Plantation labour in Ceylon – circa 1890s

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How Robert Knox’s Opus took shape in 1681

Anna Winterbottom, in The British Journal for the History of Science, Volume 42Issue 4., December 2009 , pp. 515-538 where the title is Producing and using the Historical Relation of Ceylon: Robert Knox, the East India Company and the Royal Society”

Abstract: Robert Knox’s An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon was produced, published and enlarged through the collaboration of the author with scholars including Robert Hooke and financial support from members of the East India Company. The Relation should be seen in the context of a number of texts collected, translated or commissioned by the East India Company in cooperation with the Royal Society during the late seventeenth century that informed and shaped both European expansion and natural philosophy. As well as circulating between European intellectual centres, often reorientated in the process of translation, these texts served as practical guides across settlements and trading posts abroad. Comparing written accounts with experience led to annotations and borrowings that served as the basis for further writings. Company records and Knox’s own unpublished works reveal how the Relation was used as the basis for bio-prospecting for naturally occurring drugs and food sources and in efforts at agricultural transplantation spanning the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Through the reports of seamen like Knox, such experiments contributed to contemporary theories concerning the effects of latitude on plant life.

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The Eastern Regions of Sri Lanka in British Times

Michael Roberts

My D. Phil dissertation at Oxford in the early 1960s centred on British agrarian policy in the mid-nineteenth century and therefore included the British efforts to revive the tank irrigation systems of the Sinhala past. Several British colonial personnel as well as visiting dignitaries were captivated by the ruins of the Anuradhapura/Polonnaruwa periods which they observed during adventure trips. A few saw it as a challenge for their imperial capacity. Some British governors, notably Ward, Gregory and Gordon, took up the prospect.

 Sir Henry Ward and SJV Chelvanyakam

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The Ahikuntika …. Roaming Gypsies of Sri Lanka

Pujitha Wijetunge, in http://www.lankalibrary.com/cul/gypsy.htm ….where the title is “Ahikuntika: Roaming Gypsy Clan”………. alas, no date given

Clad  in a sari and with a red mouth that showed signs that she was chewing beetle, Lili didn’t look any different from those fortune-tellers or palm readers who were a common sight in the streets few years back. But the next generation, Lucki, looked very much like those village boys, wearing a sarong and a gold painted wristwatch.

Lakshman with his dancing cobra.

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The Carpentry Trade in the Rise of the Karāva in British Ceylon

Professor Sanath Lamabadusuriya

The Dutch period opened up several new economic opportunities for the locals, and the British period that followed opened up even more. Carpentry was one of them. Colonial economic activity in the maritime provinces required large buildings with extensive woodwork, Carts, boats and ships for transport, barrels for storage and European style furniture. These demands created a new and thriving carpentry industry.

A Coopering Factory …. Such products as arrack and coffee (and later graphite) were packed into barrels for transhipment. The demand would have been considerable so that entrepreneurs who set up coopering concerns would have been among those who became scions of the indigenous capitalist class.

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Colombo Port City via Chinese Alliance

News Item in Colombo Times, 18 September 2020, with this title “Colombo Port City … has attrcted 16 billion dollar investment ….”

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said the Colombo Port City Project will become the main source of income for the country and the project will generate more than 83,000 employment opportunities.

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Jitto Arulampalam ‘s TBG Diagnostics at the Frontline inCovid TestKits

News Item in Ozlanka = http://www.ozlanka.com/2020/05/26/australias-tbg-diagnostics-headed-by-sl-entrepreneur-receives-ce-mark-for-covid-19-test-kits-looking-for-manufacturing-facility-in-sl/

TBG Diagnostics Limited (TDL), a global molecular diagnostics company, headed by Sri Lankan entrepreneur Jitto Arulampalam, announced that its subsidiary, TBG Biotechnology Corp, has received CE Mark approval for its COVID-19 Nucleic Acid and Antibody Rapid test kits.

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French Nude contaminates Sacred Bridge in India

ONE: BBC News Item …. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-53965747

A French woman has been arrested in India for making a video of herself naked on a sacred bridge in the northern city of Rishikesh. The video, shot on the Lakshman Jhula bridge, was posted on social media. The woman faces charges under India’s internet law, and could be sentenced to up to three years in prison if found guilty, AFP news agency reports.

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Ceylon Tea, Planting Clubs and Cricket over the Years

David Colin-Thome: “The History of Tea and Cricket in Sri Lanka,” at https://www.elanka.com.au/the-history-of-tea-and-cricket-in-sri-lanka-by-david-colin-thome-2/

“You will think I write a lot about the scenery, but if you saw it you would not think I said too much” – James Taylor (Pioneering tea planter describing Ceylon in a letter to his father in Scotland in 1858)

In Sri Lanka, the relevance of tea to the game of cricket extends further than that of a twenty-minute break that separates lunch and the end of a day’s play. And while tea to the Western world is but a tiny item in a crowded shopping trolley of groceries, in Sri Lanka, it is the trolley itself.

THE HISTORY OF TEA AND CRICKET IN SRI LANKA - BY David Colin Thome

Source: history of ceylon tea

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Rejuvenating Sri Lanka’s Economy: The BCC Path

Vagisha Gunasekara, in lsland, 27 July 2020, where the title runs “Breathing new life into domestic production: BCC’s plan for the next hundred years”

The need to turn the current economic crisis that was pushed off the edge by the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to reconfigure national economies is the topic of many policy discussions, both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

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