The Marga Institute: Debating Sri Lanka’s Way Forward …. From Way Back

 Uditha Devapriya, in The Island, 10 March 2023, where the title reads “A visit to Marga” …. and where the highlighting embodies editorial intervention by Thuppahi

 Sri Lanka’s oldest development think-tank, Marga Institute was formed in 1972, at a time of deep social unrest.

“The ideological direction of the journal will be radical in that it will unremittingly question the values and systems that hinder development. It stands for an equitable and humane social order which will eradicate social and economic privilege and which will leave no room for the concentration and arbitrary exercise of power in any form.” ………. “About Marga”, Marga Journal, Volume I, 1971

photo by Uthpala

A random jaunt in Borella took me and my research assistant to Marga Institute, in my old hometown at Kotte. Sri Lanka’s oldest development think-tank — and Sri Lanka’s oldest such institution — Marga was formed in 1972 to promote and facilitate research into the island’s socioeconomic problems. That its founding coincided with the first JVP insurrection is not fortuitous: as Gamini Samaranayake would point out, the insurrection proved for the first time that an armed group could threaten the State. Among other commentators, Gamini Keerawella, Gananath Obeyesekere, Fred Halliday, and Hector Abhayavardhana grappled with the JVP’s origins, what it was doing, and where it intended to go. It was in the midst of these often-fiery debates and discussions that Marga came to be. This essay is an attempt at framing and understanding these debates, and how Marga emerged from them.

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Don Bradman at Cricket in Ceylon in 1930 …. Yes, 1930

Rex Clementine in The Island, 5 March 2023, where the title reads  “New book says Bradman played at CCC in 1930”

All of us cricket nerds have heard stories of Sir Don Bradman’s visit to P. Sara Oval. There are a couple of images too; one where he strides out to bat and another where he walks alongside Ceylon skipper Mahadevan Sathasivam for the toss.

 

There are other famous stories as well about how the greatest batsman the game has seen appreciating the scoreboard at The Oval and him finding out the inadequacies of the pitch. Some even believed that P. Sara Oval was the only ground in Asia where Bradman had played.

However a new book ‘An Island’s Eleven’ by British writer Nicholas Brookes reveals that Bradman had played at Maitland Place in 1930 en route to England for the first time. Brookes’ book is a well researched document on Sri Lankan cricket and gives a vivid description of cricket in the island in the pre- Test era. The writer has spoken to many stalwarts of Sri Lankan cricket from S. Skandakumar to Kumar Sangakkara and elaborates how the game evolved.

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Extra! Extra! …. A Russia-India-China Pact Emerges

“X” commenting on a Telling Interview served up by SERGEY LAVROV in India, ……. with the highlights being impositions by Thuppahi

FILE PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in Moscow, Russia February 10, 2022. Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

This is a very good interview in English with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the G20 in India on 4 March 2023, though the Indian interviewee was annoying in the way he kept cutting Lavrov off before he could finish answering a question.

Lavrov sets out the context and history of Russia security concerns that led to the war in Ukraine, how the US does business with countries in the Global South by bullying these countries to vote in support of the US in the UN. He also raises the big challenge for the Asia-Pacific, which is not China, but the US, QUAD and AUKUS.

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Meditations: Jihadist Assailants, Flaming Suicidal Protest & Gandhi Within the Same Frame

Michael Roberts

Early in the month of February 2023, I was invited by a young friend, Dr Geethika Dharmasinghe, to deliver a Zoom Video Lecture to a small class of her students at Colgate University in New York. These students were following her course on “Religion and Violence in Asia.”

Gandhi speaking and Zahran Hashim in pact with fellow Lankan jihadists …. Zahran was one of the two suicide bombers at the Shangri La Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday 2019 where where 36 people died

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The Tall and Short ‘Storeys’ in Cricket Commentary

Tony Greig and Sunil Gavaskar take to the field with A ‘Mike’

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The Mudaliyar Class Goyigama Family Combine in Colonial & Independent Sri Lanka

Mevan Pieris serves up a Synopsis of his Book prior to Its Launching

Synopsis of the book on The Communityto be launched at The Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Independence Square, on 21st March, at 6 pm, with Professor GL Peiris as Chief Guest, and S. Skandakumar and Warden Marc Billimoria as Guests of Honour.

‘The Community” is a historical account of the Mudaliyar Class Goyigama Family Combine, the existence of which has been already reported by several eminent writers, and about which Michael Dias, the celebrated Law Don of Cambridge, has written to say, “the precise relationship from amongst the complex family affinities that made the extended Community………. defies simple definition”. This work has not only attempted to shed much light on the evolution of the Community, but has also portrayed its Master Spirits to provide a greater appreciation of the stupendous contributions made by them to society in various fields and ways.

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Reviewing Horowitz’s Analysis of the Aborted Coup D’etat of January 1962

Michael Roberts, presenting his review article on the study of the abortive 1962 coup plot by elements in the Sri Lanka officer corps by Donald Horowitz: namely, Coup Theories and Officers’ Motives. Sri Lanka in Comparative Perspective, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. This essay was entitled “Brown Sahibs in Universal Suits” and went through a refereeing process and appeared in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 1983 vol 6, pp. 62-77 …………… while the pdf version was converted/retyped for me by Nadeeka Pathuwaaratchchi in the Colombo metropolitan area.

The year 1956 is rightly regarded as a major junction in Sri Lankan history. At the general elections that year, a coalition of parties known as the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), in which the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was the major partner, achieved a landslide victory. This victory marked a populist upsurge of the vernacular educated and under-privileged mass of the population against the privileged few- a minority which was regarded as being both Westernised and conservative. In particular, the SLFP saw itself as the vanguard and instrument’ of “the common people of [the] country, the rural people” – that is to say, the rural Buddhist Sinhalese-speakıng masses.[1] Interlaced with this movement against privilege was a virulent expression of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. Its demand for a rapid switchover to Sinhala as the language of administration was at once a symbolic statement and an instrumental blow against the old structures of discrimination.[2]

 Mrs B and Felix Dias Bandaranaike                                                                                                                                            

 

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“The Last Drop of Ukrainian Blood” — A Russian Propaganda Film

 

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Heated Debate in Australia on the Ukraine Crisis

One “Mr Z” has sent me the news items below and added his thoughts at the end

A = Ruan Zongze: “China seeks peace in Ukraine crisis,” The Weekend Australian, 1 March 2023  

On February 24, as the full escalation of the Ukraine crisis reached its one-year mark, were leased China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. Overall, the response of the international community toward the document is positive.

Many countries welcome and support the document, acknowledging China’s constructive role. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, says: “The plan put forward by the Chinese government is an important contribution.” However, some Western countries suspect China’s position and purpose, claiming China can’t be an “honest co-ordinator” due to its close relations with Russia.

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The Pioneering Female Cricketers in Ceylon: Facing England in 1948

KKS Perera, in Daily Mirror, March 2023, where the title reads thus: “three Johnians in First International Womens’ Match vs England in 1948

Sri Lanka Cricket with [its] record profit of Rs 6.3 billion made in 2022 could easily allocate more funds for developing women’s cricket.  Times have changed. The gentlemen’s game is not only meant for men; today it is the ladies’ game too.


The Ceylon Times headline on November 2, 1948Ceylon team goes down fighting.‘ [while also referring to ] ….a catch which any first-class cricketer would have been proud to make, a brilliant one-handed effort above her head with which Beverly Roberts ended centurion Hide’s innings.”

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