Category Archives: social justice

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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Canadian Tamil Agitation against Sri Lanka and Canadian Sinhalese

Chandre Dharmawardene, in Island, 26 July 2020, with this title “Ontario’s Bill on Alleged Genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils”

It was interesting to read Lynn Ockersz’ posting in The Island titled “UN Genocide Convention and Social Peace”. What should rise to the top of the minds of most Sri Lankan readers when the word “genocide” is mentioned, is the allegation against the Sri Lankan state. The columnist states that “As is known, some sections have been flinging the allegation of genocide against the Sri Lankan state in matters arising from its 30-year war against the LTTE, but it is clear that, going by the UN definition, the Lankan state has not committed genocide“.

C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka, addresses members of the Tamil community in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on January 15, 2017. During his trip to formalize a friendship agreement between the City of Markham and district of Mullaitivu, Northern Province in Sri Lanka Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran spoke about the importance of issues of transitional justice and post-war development to diaspora Tamils in Canada……..Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s Lament: Underlining Sinhala Hate … and A Contrasting Moment

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s Interview …………. https://www.facebook.com/mfazmy/videos/4144706642222927

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Momentous Changes in Ceylon instituted by the Donoughmore Commisison

Leelananda de Silva, in Sunday Times, 5 July 2020

The Donoughmore Commission which came to Sri Lanka in the late 1920s made far reaching and far seeing recommendations, which changed the political, economic and social landscape of Ceylon. The present generation is largely unaware of its role and it is time that they refresh their understanding of the tremendous changes brought in by Donoughmore.

The Earl of Donoughmore

It was a commission consisting of three Britons — the Earl of Donoughmore, Drummond Shields and Burrows. They were political personalities well known in Britain at the time and were not colonial civil servants. They had the political and social vision to overcome the objections of both the colonial masters in Sri Lanka and the local dominant political personalities who were also not in favour of radical reforms.

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Free Education for Ceylon: Tales Missing

Prabhath de Silva, in Island, 11 July 2020, where the title is “Unsung And Forgotten Heroes of Free Education and Sri Lanka’s Missed Opportunities”

Much has been said and written about Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara for his role in the introduction of the Free Education Bill in the State Council (Sri Lanka’s legislature under the Donoughmore Constitution from 1931 to 1947) and implementation of the free education policy here. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to him but there are other unsung and forgotten heroes behind this story.

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Police Grillings in Lanka: Contrasts on Front and Back Pages of The Island, 3rd July 2020

The Back Page displays a masked Kumar Sangakkara emerging vigorously after a nine-hour session based on the patently spurious claims of one Aluthgamage

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