Category Archives: land policies

The Looming Death of Kulams in Mannar … and Thus ….

Jeremy Liyanage

Mannar is a sand island perched on a limestone base. The hydraulic pressure of the groundwater in the kulams keeps the sea water from intruding. As significant areas of Mannar Island are targeted for mineral sand mining, working to a depth of 12 metres, the result will be widespread sea water intrusion which will then contaminate the groundwater supplies –promoting the destruction of agricultural livelihoods.

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PUL ELIYA Comments reviewed critically by Ceylon Civil Servants for ROHP

“PUL ELIYA” QUOTATIONS AS PRESENTED to the CCS and other personnel

I quote some passages from a book by Dr. E. Leach entitled “Pul Eliya A Village in Ceylon” (Cambridge, 1961). He is a socia1anthropologist who lived for several months in Pul Eliya, a Dry Zone Anuradhapura area village, in the mid 1950’s. There are some interesting passages pertaining to Government regulations and their practical implementation. While these views pertain largely to the 1940’s and 1950’s they are, both implicitly and explicitly, held to apply to most of the 20th century for he has also delved into past records. I present some for your comments.

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Under Scrutiny: Edmund Leach’s PUL ELIYA

Michael Roberts

In late 1965 I set out on an oral history exercise interviewing retired British public servants[1] about their experiences in Ceylon. This work has been clarified earlier in two Thuppahi Items.[2] Because of my strong interest in colonial agrarian policies, I was familiar with the books produced by two outstanding Cambridge University scholars: BH Farmer and Edmund Leach. Farmer’s book on Pioneer Peasant Colonization in Ceylon (1957) reviewed British efforts to develop the dry zone of Sri Lanka via irrigation projects emulating the captivating efforts in ancient times. As such, it focused on DS Senanayake’s inspirational role in this set of enterprises. Leach’s detailed ethnographic experiences in a village arena in Anuradhapura District provided detailed ground-level data and interpretations in this field.

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Introducing PUL ELIYA by Edmund R. Leach

This is a ‘servicing item’ introducing an anthropological study in the North Central Province which appeared in 1961 and, as such, is an essential preliminary to an impending item that was one aspect of the Roberts Oral History Project of 1965-69, namely. the comments on some of Leach’s findings from several British and Ceylonese public servants with some experience of the Dry Zone and its villages and/or colonization projects…. with thanks to Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Colombo environs for her typing work.

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The ROHP in Ceylon, 1966-70: Interviews and Select Transcriptions

Michael Roberts

The Roberts Oral History Project involved many stages and a range of tasks. The interviewing process has been clarified in two items –embracing personnel in Britain and thereafter in “Ceylon” (yet to become “Sri Lanka”): https://thuppahis.com/2020/12/04/the-roberts-oral-history-project-in-the-1960s-origins-outcomes/#more-47446 AND https://thuppahis.com/2020/12/06/adelaide-university-initiatives-a-michael-roberts-oral-history-project-1965-68/#more-47494.

While this work was in progress a partial consolidation was pursued by transcribing the spoken word into written typescript. The ‘engine’ for this process was my wife Shona Roberts. Looking at some dates I find that some of this work began at Bath Place Oxford itself. The bulk of the work, however, was undertaken in Sri Lanka when we were living in an annexe at Siebel Place off Peradeniya Road in Kandy.  I could not type then, so the task was wholly Shona’s — a difficult job managing the spools and demanding rewinds often. I chipped in by listening and correcting the typed scripts [which then had to be re-typed]. All this was seen to in the period April 1966 to mid-1970 – a stage that saw the birth of our second child Maya Samantha in February 1967 and also involved child-minding and housekeeping tasks.

It would not be amiss to cast Shona as the “Heroine of Siebel Place.” The Adelaide University records indicate that there are a total of 1720 pages of transcripts!

Shona with Kim and Maya

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Adelaide University Initiatives-A: Roberts’ Oral History Project 1965-68

VISIT https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/83263 ………………. Michael Roberts. Oral History Project :  303

154 interviews by Michael Roberts of retired public servants who had served in Sri Lanka (mainly in the Ceylon Civil Service), politicians and other notables.

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The Case for Metric Land Measurements in Sri Lanka

Asela Atukorala, in The SBlog,26  December 2017 …. ………………… https://aselaatukorala.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-case-for-metric-land-measurements_26.html

Sri Lanka adopted the metric system in the 1970s, yet (with the exception of square kilometres) land is usually measured the imperial way of square feet, perches, roods and acres instead of the metric way of of square metres and hectares. In this article, I will say why I think Sri Lanka should use metric units for land measurements giving its benefits. I will also give information on the sizes of square metres & hectares and list the metric land sizes of famous landmarks in Sri Lanka.

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Insights into Victorian Ceylon’s Westernized Bourgeoisie via the Jeronis Pieris Letters

Yomal Senerath-Yapa,“Family sagas and a peek at Victorian Ceylon’s westernised bourgeoisie” in  www.elanka.com.au/tag/yomal-senerath/ AND https://www.pressreader.com/sri-lanka/sunday-times-sri-lanka/20201108/282222308278502 …. 12 November 2020 = a REVIEW of the second edition of Facets of Modern Ceylon History -Through the Letters of Jeronis Pieris by Michael Roberts

Few voices of the early 19th Century bourgeois Ceylonese have survived straight from the horse’s mouth to-date. Who were this new elite? What were those first English-educated generations like? How did Macaulay’s “class of people who can act as intermediaries between us and the millions we govern — English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and intellect” fit in?

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Jeronis Pieris Letters in Coffee Table Book: Insights into 19th Century Ceylon


F
acets of Modern Ceylon History through the Letters of Jeronis Pieris … originally published in 1976 by Hansa  [on Bandaranaike era paper] and now presented as a coffee table book with  a host of striking photographs that recapture the mid-nineteenth century era of capitalist expansion with all its pluses and minuses.

Cost is Rs 6400 via the website www.pererahussein.com using VISA or MASTERCARD. The Registered Airmail postage rate to different countries in the world is calculated automatically by the website and added to the cost of the book. Foreign currency rates will thus be equivalent to the Rupee price but will vary slightly depending on the daily Forex rate. Foreign currency rates will thus be equivalent to the Rupee price but will vary slightly depending on the daily Forex rate.

ISBN = 978-955-1723-49-1 .…………….The book is available at : Barefoot, Cargills book city, Sarasavi, Vijitha Yapa, JamFruitTree, Kalaya, Pendi and Urban Island.
 
Jeronis in mid life … & Alfred House in its Prime in mid-19th century

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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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