Prashanth Kuganathan** whose title runs thus: “Social Stratification in Jaffna: A Survey of Recent Research on Caste”
A SYNOPSIS: Since 1983, war has dominated the perception of Sri Lanka. This has affected scholarship on the country, such that the subjects of an overwhelming number of research proposals and publications have been on the war and the prospects and prescriptions for peace. This survey paper is an attempt to locate the system of caste in transition in the Jaffna Peninsula by reviewing recent literature written after the commencement of the war. While detailed ethnographies of caste in Jaffna may have temporarily come to a halt, caste practices have not and remain a salient part of everyday life among the Tamils in Sri Lanka. As the war ended in 2009, it is therefore important that social scientists on Sri Lanka revisit the topic of caste, that is an integral part of not just Tamil culture or society, but being Tamil itself. As the study of caste is dominated by research in India, a microanalysis of Jaffna and Sri Lanka, particularly the nuances of this system in transition due to war and militancy, could contribute to the macro-study of caste at a sub-continental perspective.
Sri Lankan civil war drama lifts joy above traumThis play by the xcreaators of the Helpmann-winning Counting and Cracking shows people living and loving despite danger, but sometimes minimises the horror.
Blindfolded matriarch Gowrie (Anandavalli) and her firebrand daughter Abi (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) in The Jungle and the Sea at Belvoir St theatre in Sydney.Photograph: Sriram Jeyaraman
The Thuppahi items on the Assassination of Rajiv Gandhihave recently attracted a range of “Hits” …. that is, visitors/viewers. I am puzzled as to why; but list them below – with added reference to the first hit on Rajiv on 30th April 1987when a Sinhala nationalist seaman from Ratgama attempted to assail him for imposing what is known as the “Indo-Lanka Pact” on Sri Lanka in a conscious move to assist the Tamil liberation movement. Wijemuni De Silva’s blow in fact hit Rajiv’s shoulder in a glancing blow because of the Prime Minister’s quick reaction. It could have been fatal (see “Clobbering …….…,” at https://thuppahis.com/2019/08/08/clobbering-rajiv-gandhi-as-chastisement-in-1987-a-guti-dheema/).
Padraig Michael Colman is an experienced journalist and writer who pursued his trade in England and Europe before moving to Sri Lanka with his vivacious Sri Lankan wife Tiny and a coterie of dogs. They settled down awhile in Uva district; but have moved to the outskirts of Colombo in more recent times…. and have since moved back to Great Britain.
Induction of Tiger recruits into fighter ranks with receipt of the kuppi containing cyanide
Tiger soldiers relaxing in camp with cyanide kuppi around their necks — Pix by Shyam Tekwani
Understanding the role of religion in the Tamil insurgency requires an understanding of Sri Lanka’s cultural mosaic and of the development of modern nationalism before and after independence from British colonial power. Sri Lanka is a geographically small yet culturally rich and complex island, with numerous ethnic, linguistic, religious, and caste subgroups. The majority of the population identify as ethnically Sinhala, and they speak Sinhala, an Indo-European language. The great majority of the Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhists who live mostly in the south and central regions of the island. A small minority of Sinhalese are Catholics, and some also belong to evangelical Christian churches. The largest minority group in Sri Lanka is the Tamils, who speak Tamil (a South Indian Dravidian language) and comprise several subgroups. The largest of these are the so-called Sri Lankan Tamils, who traditionally have lived in the north and east. The so-called Indian Tamils are labor immigrants from India who were brought in by the British to work in the plantation sector in the highlands. The majority of Tamils are Hindus of the Śaiva Siddhanta tradition, but there are also a significant number who are Catholics and a few to smaller Evangelical denominations. The Tamil Muslims identify based on religious belonging, not on a common ethnic identity, and they speak Tamil. Historically, the Muslim communities are scattered throughout the island; they form a stronghold in urban trading centers in the south but are also farmers in the Tamil-majority Eastern Province. Social stratification based on caste and regional identities was strong in precolonial Lanka, and then the colonial classifications of the island’s inhabitants produced new identities with intensified religious and racial signifiers. These were reproduced in the emerging Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms of the late 19th century.
Compiled by Kumar Kirinde, Retd Officer of the SLAF, whose chosen title was as follows:“The Air Tigers: The Air Wing of A Terrorist Organisation” …… with information and images sourced from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Tigers and Google Images)
Pirapaharan (ext. left) with Anton Balasingham on his left and KP Pathmanathan in front and Shankar on the extreme right in the Vanni jungles circa 2001(?) … Shankar was in effect the Air Tiger chief
Vijitha Yapa, reviewing The Extra Mile …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor Thuppahi
The ‘ethnic conflict’ in Sri Lanka had another side to it: writers in uniform whose existence was known only by a name in some instances have come forward to record their memoirs. General Kamal Gunaratne, now Secretary of Defence, led the way with his classic Road to Nandikadal. The book established records and remains a bestseller as he wrote not only about victories, but also mistakes made – and what really went on in the army.
However, the book authored by Dr. Gamini Goonetilleke explains how he didn’t fight the same war with guns, but syringes and a surgeon’s skills instead.
On the 25th of April, ANZAC DAY, Australia honoured its war dead in ceremonies large and small throughout the country. This moment has been marked every year –beginning with a ceremony in London in 1916 which recognised the deadly toll and the bravery shown on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey where so many colonial Aussies fought … and died … on behalf of the British state (their “mother-country” to many Aussies then).
The book, Dare to Differ,is a short account of the long struggle of the Tamils to establish a separate state. It is written from the point of view of a Tamil expatriate living in Australia. The author is well equipped to write this account as he was an active member of the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora which was the second front opened by the Tamil separatists. The Australian branch of the Tamil diaspora was a leading contributor to the cause. As a political activist and sympathiser of his people, he had close access to leading members of the LTTE. This has enabled him to give an insider’s view of some of the events that shaped the movement. His interactions with the Tamil leaders are revealing. His narrative runs smoothly. It is a MUST read for anyone interested in understanding the role played by the Tamil diaspora in the LTTE struggle.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.