Category Archives: social justice

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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The Cumulus Cloud of Corona looming over Christmas

Elmo Jayawardena whose chosen title is “Christmas Beneath the Corona Cloud”

It looks like when the Silver Bells ring this year and Silent Night takes the air Santa himself will be struggling to do his rounds with possible curfew and lockdowns. Corona has tortured the entire world in absolute mean measures and is now getting ready for the final kill. The pandemic is going to ruin our festive season like never before. It is nobody’s fault but that is how fate had decided to throw the dice. Of course, in many countries the battle against Corona raged yo-yoing between winning and losing. Most preventive actions and Covid 19 treatments were more like Russian Roulette, the medical world was fighting against time to find a cure. The unknown menace was spreading and killing people. That has been the story of the year 2020 for most, a time of trauma and sorrow that completely engulfed the entire planet. Yes, there is hope in our current status as vaccine solutions are in the horizon. So are promising Ayurvedic treatment. Yet we got to pass the interim till Pfizer or its competitors find a ‘sure-shot’ cure to put the world back to normal.

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Muttukrishna Sarvananthan’s Independent Paths and The Point Pedro Institute

Muttukrishna Sarvananthan completed his postgrad studies in Wales and was attached to the ICES in Colombo when I met him for the first time. When subsequently coming to grips with the contentious political issues associated with the ‘liberation war’ pursued by the fascist organisarion known as the LTTE, I found that ‘Sarvi’ sustained his indepenedence. At thatstage he had one foot in Point Pedro and another in Wellawatte (the later being my home base arena) … so I did meet him off and on. When in late 2011 I decided to question Rohan Gunaratne’s absurdly low figures on civilian Tamil deaths (at a talk at the British Council). it was to such personnel as Saravananthan, Narendran Rajasingham and Noel Nadesan that I turned to for alternative estimates in this nebulous arena…. See “The Tamil Death Toll in Early 2009: A Misleading Count by Rohan Gunaratna,”  23 November 2011, http: transcurrents.com/news-viewa/archives/6285 …. Michael Roberts

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Robert Pape’s Blunders in Tigerland: Pape’s Muddles on ‘Suicide Bombers’ in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, reprinting here an article which appeared initially in November 2007  as Working Paper No. 32 November 2007 in the Heidelberg Papers on South Asian PoliticsISSN: 1617-5069 …. edited by Subrata Mitra. Insofar as this essay is being reproduced in 2020, I cannot overstress the point at which it appeared in the public realm — in 2007 well before the LTTE was defeated… [noting that, with the exception of the emblematic Picture at the start, all other illustrations appeared in the Heidelberg publication. These pictorial scenes, I stress now in 2020, are valuable data in themselves].

No study of the LTTE can afford to neglect Sri Lanka’s cultural, historical, and geographical backdrop, The lack of existential awareness of religious cross-fertilisation, the either/or foundations of Western reasoning and the absence of local knowledge bedevil the scholarship that incorporates Sri Lanka within the global surveys of suicide attacks. Pape’s Dying to Win is an example. Here, in Pape’s article, the LTTE’s multi-pronged capacities are poorly evaluated. Too much significance is attributed to the coercive success of SMs in bringing the government to the negotiating table at various moments. Religious persecution has not been the main reason for the Tamil struggle. Comparative references to SMs elsewhere are occasionally interspersed in this review of the Sri Lankan scene.

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Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, communal relations, cultural transmission, Eelam, ethnicity, fundamentalism, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, propaganda, religiosity, Saivism, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, social justice, sri lankan society, suicide bombing, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes

Remembering Jayantha Jayamuni De Silva and His Philisophical Messages

Malinda Seneviratne, in Daily News, 11 November 2020, ….https://www.dailynews.lk/2020/11/11/features/233326/jayantha-jayamuni-de-silva-weapon-wisdom

Almost 30 years ago, a bunch of young people, mostly undergraduates, spent a few days in a small temple in Matara. Anandaramaya, Pallimulla, Matara. They had gathered to discuss politics with a view to forming a political organization. Many things were discussed under various topics which included history, economics, philosophy and how these informed political practice.

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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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Caste, Ur and Tamilness among the Tamils in Metropolitan London

Jane Russell. reviewing article by Thanges Paramsothy entitled  “Caste Within the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora” in Anthropology Matters Journal, Vol.18 No 1 (2018)

I usually avoid reviewing academic articles. Many are derivative and ones that employ original research can be turgid and dull. But that is not the case with this article by Thanges Paramsothy, currently South Asia Program Scholar at Cornell. While replete with sociological and anthropological information about Sri Lankan Tamil caste groupings, both past and present, it is also full of revealing insights into a social system that has been a veiled inner sanctum to many outsiders.

a toddy tapper

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A Poignant Farewell at Vishvamadu in 2018: Rathnapriya Banda’s Work of Reconciliation

Shenali Waduge. in an article presented in June 2018 and entitled  “LTTE village & a Sri Lankan Military Officer show the world what Reconciliation & Peaceful Coexistence is all about” …. ith highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi

It was a farewell that has shocked & left plenty of critics speechless. It has put to rest & completely nullified the lies that have been spread against Sri Lanka’s Army. The culprits include foreign governments/envoys, INGOs/NGOs, UN & even the present government in particular the Tamil leadership & the LTTE diaspora who must be startled at the pictures emerging of an entire village weeping as they bid farewell to a military officer who had played the role of their mentor, their father, their brother, their advisor & virtually their leader. Col. Rathnapriya Bandu has done what Prabakaran, Wigneswaran, Sivajilingam, Sumbanthiran, Sambanthan or even Tamil Nadu politicians could not do & do not want to do. In a world that plays divisive politics of divide & rule he has shown that it takes a hero to unite & Col. Bandu is one hero that we must all salute. No former LTTE village would ever carry a Sri Lankan Military officer on their shoulders & weep as he bid goodbye if he was no hero in their eyes.

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Outreach ECSAT: Aid for the Totally Impaired

Michael Roberts

There are children who cannot walk and are totally dependent on family and others. When such families are encased in poverty as working-class people, their lot is that much harder. ECSAT assists a few of these families in the locality of Galle Town. I joined Roshan and Kumari Kariyawasam on one of their outreach visits (with Roshan’s daughter Padani as company) one morning in August 2020.

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Introducing ECSAT and the World of Disabled People around Galle

Michael Roberts

 In late 2018 I met Roshan Samarawickrema at Flinders University via my daughter Maya who is a senior staff officer there. Roshan had arrived to further studies in Disability Teaching. Via the vagaries of the covid endemic both of us found ourselves in good old Lanka in the second quarter of the year. A visit to my home beat of Galle Fort[1] in July-August enabled me to explore and ‘experience’ the work of ECSAT at its HQ in the old “Serasinghe Walauwwa” building at Wackwella [albeit in covid circumstances whereby school attendance was drastically low]. My readings via picture and tale will follow. I begin here with Roshan’s introduction to ECSAT with due emphasis on the initial impetus provided by Catherine Liyanage (nee Mole become Macleod).[2] …. Michael Roberts

ECSAT staff in 2020

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