Category Archives: power politics

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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Democracy under the Gun in Sri Lanka

Jayadeva Uyangoda, in Sri Lanka Guardian 24 September 2020, where the title is “The End of Sri Lanka’s Democracy”

The debate on the proposed 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution is gathering momentum. The proposal, which has been published in the Government Gazette, is indeed a constitutional bombshell, literally. Its provisions are very destructive in their objectives as well as consequences. 

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Lanka’s Measured Diplomatic Appointments in Key Capitals

Daya Gamage, in Asian Tribune US Bureau Diplomatic Note, Septmber 2020, with this title “Sri Lanka enters into rational foreign policy with key dip. appointments”

  Sri Lanka administration under the Rajapaksa brothers has given a strong indication that it is moving toward formulating a rational foreign policy taking serious note of the emerged international order in the past three years that brought Washington and New Delhi into an unprecedented military bond,  on-going military thrust toward Indo-Pacific region, the relevance of the Quad – US-India-Australia-Japan – India’s Modi administration’s special emphasis that Sri Lanka maintain closer working rapport with it, the acceleration of political-military and economic rivalry between US-India combination and China in announcing key diplomatic appointments to New Delhi, Washington and Beijing.

Moragoda and Modi in 2008 –“Minister of Tourism Milinda Moragoda in President MahindaRajapaksa administration met with India’s Gujarat Chief MinisterNarendra Modi in Capital City Gandhinagar 08 October, 2008”

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Confronting Tamil Distortions: Webinar in Their Face Sunday 27th September

Global Webinar to Combat Baseless Propaganda of Tamil Tiger Agents

A group of Sri Lankan professionals have teamed-up for a two-hour Webinar on Sunday, 27 September at Sri Lanka time 7:30 in the evening which will go globally live for a presentation of cogent facts and data to combat the still-prevailing misinformation campaign undertaken by the former Tamil Tiger agents now operating within the Tamil Diaspora worldwide.

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Chinese Ambassador Hu Wei in Q nd A with Kelum Bandara

Acting Chinese Ambassador Hu Wei speaks to Daily Mirror about the present status of bilateral relations. He responds to questions about controversial issues involving China with India and the United States at the moment…. 14 September 2020

  • Debt moratorium from China to Sri Lanka might only solve a small percentage of existing problems but with huge prices.
  • Some subsidiary companies of China Communications Construction Company are blacklisted
  • China never says China First and force Sri Lanka to choose sides
  • Legacy of “Rubber-Rice Pact” Safeguards China and Sri Lanka’s Cooperation against Foreign Threats
  • China provided  a loan of  US $ 500 million in March when  Sri Lanka needed some urgent loans to settle external borrowings and fight the pandemic 

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Language of Governmentality: An Incisive Comparison

Chandre Dharmawardana, in a COMMENT directed at the moderate voice of Daya Wickramatunga in Thuppahi Commentary, 5 August 2020  …. here raised in status because of its salience and wisdom

Daya Wickrematunga is said quoted to say:  “Our Constitution should include that amendment. The 13th amendment that prescribed equal powers to the provinces, with equal status to the Sinhalese and Tamil languages, was aimed at that. It went to show that the ‘Sinhala Only’ policy of SWRD was wrong.”

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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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Milinda Moragoda’s Heavy Burden in Delhi and the World-Around

Shenali Waduge, in her Facebook Page, 11 September 2020, https://www.shenaliwaduge.com/can-moragoda-deliver-a-sri-lanka-first/ fbclid=IwAR0ENoSao7UVsWL5vdkIb0fLN61HCL_Sn49DJldGZ8MgQqI5gfaXj5UCnm8 .… where the title is “Will Moragoda deliver a ‘Sri Lanka First’?”

With much thought and strategy Sri Lanka has appointed Moragoda as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Delhi iced with cabinet ranking, the first such fringe benefit afforded to a high commissioner. No doubt, Sri Lanka is thinking the Moragoda magic will provide much relief to Sri Lanka, given the appointment is being made against tremendous objections.

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