Gems and Nuggets within the Commentary on SINHALA MINDSET: Reflections

Michael Roberts

A chance event led me to study the comments responding to “Sinhala Mind-Set,” one of the signature ‘tunes’ introducing my web-site thuppahi.wordpress.com – the other being WHY THUPPAHI. The present collection of responses has been cast in spasmodic fashion between 2009 and 2013. They are from Sri Lankans for the most part, with Mel Glickman, Jane Russell and one “Duque” being the only personnel outside this specific ‘embrace’ of nationality. Several facets of the information and thinking inscribed in these comments are pertinent to the situation facing Sri Lanka in the 2010s. I have therefore presented them again with significant segments highlighted to assist or stir readers, while proceeding to add reflections of my own in this companion piece. The aim is to promote provoke debate.

1364002696fea9-4 ssinhala-ness

Readers should attend to the circumstances that surrounded and grounded my original presentation of Sinhala Mind-Set. This context has been clarified in a previous article in Thuppahi  entitled “Hardline Ethnic Mind-Sets” (2016) which should be viewed as a companion-piece to this post. I stress here that the site Thuppahi was launched at a time when my research work was heavily focused on the devotion to the cause of liberation revealed by the Tamil Tigers. However, the various strands of SL Tamil opposition to the state dating from 1949 cannot be comprehended without reference to the ideological strands and political forces which they were addressing. Clearly, the intertwining of the main protagonists, and the further complications arising from Muslim Moor interests within the island and the interplay of geo-political dimensions from outside, must inform analysis.

01-ganesh-with-bullet Lord Ganesh holed by a cannon. Nothing is sacred! — Pic by Dominic Sansoni

So: what do I have to say about the comments presented by the handful of people who were inspired to comment on “Sinhala Mind-Set”? Since these remarks are fragmentary in their character, it follows that my presentation will be organized as FRAGMENTS in point-form.

A. When in November 2013 Tissa Wellappili presented a commonplace view in Sinhala nationalist circles to the effect that the British educational system favoured the Tamils,[1] Andy Sergie aka Ananda Dias Jayasinghe[2] challenged the sweeping character of this thesis. He did so on the solid grounds provided by his research work among missionary archives. This enables him to claim that the principal goal of the missionary denominations in the 19th century “was not education but conversions.” He thereafter refers quite pertinently to the outcome of the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms of 1832 and the British colonial master’s need for local administrative functionaries in the middle and lower echelons of the bureaucratic order they had set up. Taking a further step, Jayasinghe contends that the limited commercial and agricultural paths of self-improvement in the northern regions encouraged the Tamils of the north (that is, in my interpolation, the higher castes in the Jaffna Peninsula) to utilize the educational channels of advancement into the ranks of the bourgeoisie and middle class in greater measure than the Sinhalese people down south. A2. These thoughts have much to commend them. They need to be complemented by attending to (a) the specific channels of class formation in the British period clarified in the works of Kumari Jayawardena 2001) and myself (1982 & 1997); and (b) a prevailing cultural evaluation among the Sri Lankan peoples that placed inordinate value on the field of government employment so that social clout accrued to those segments of the indigenous peoples who were prominent in this field; (c) how the ‘capture’ of specific arenas of employment by Burgher, Vellalar, Goyigama, Karāva and other blocs tended to promote a snowball effect and bring benefits to these clusters so that over time specific ethnic blocs were visibly prominent in some government departments — for e.g. Customs and Excise (Burghers, Tamils), Railway and Irrigation (Tamils). (d) Thus, in the crucial third quarter of the 20th century, the intelligentsia neglected the degree to which capital and its power resided within significant blocs of Sinhalese and Indian Tamil personnel located in the fields of plantation and commerce. Rather the vocal activists stirred or supported the one-sided complaints of the Sinhala nationalists who eventually mounted the “Sinhala Only” campaign of the 1950s.

B. Intervening in February 2010 “Duque” indicated that he was “just a foreigner” who had spent three weeks in the island and met Tamil business leaders in Colombo, while also visiting Trinco and Batticaloa. This note prefaced a claim that there was no issue of reconciliation and the further remark that many Tamil firms were in “the forefront of business in Sri Lanka” and that these enterprises had continued to thrive over the last 30 years. Duque’s first assessment is as sweeping as unsustainable. However, there must be a qualified attentiveness to his second observation. Despite the major pogrom of July 1983 and mini-pogroms before that in 1977 and 1958, Tamil enterprises at the highest, middling and lower levels have sustained themselves, proliferated and even thrived in the Greater Colombo locality and in several outlying towns in the western, central and southern regions of the island. Conversations with Tudor Silva (see Silva 2015) encourage me to pinpoint the fact that many of the leading enterprises in the gold and jewellery trade, rice and condiment trade and moneylending – typically centred on Sea Street in the Pettah in some lines of business—have been of “Indian Tamil” origin.[3] The point here is that in several instances these lines of business have been their power centres for perhaps five generations. The economic and political clout of these personnel should not be underestimated. Nor should we bypass the fact that several migrant families from the north became leading members of the middle class in Colombo by the 1930s and wielded considerable clout in the legal and medical fraternities, alumni associations and sporting clubs in that hegemonic centre of the island. Significantly, many of these lineages retained their ancestral links up north and thus had two feet in Colombo and one foot in Jaffna. But — an important but this – they were (are) also attached to their roots and ethnic identity. However, they were vulnerable to attack during riots and pogroms. Such experiences as well as the threads of discrimination encountered in the public service once the Sinhala language programme was pressed in the public services by NQ Dias and others after the 1956 political shift alienated many SL Tamils in the southern reaches of the island. In broad generalization subject to caveats, what we can say is that within the south west and especially in Greater Colombo one finds a body of Tamil people with deep loyalties to their identities[4] and people, and profound suspicions about the fairness of the Sinhala-dominated political order. In some instances, there is reason to surmise that these loyalties involved close bonds with the LTTE intelligence, military and assassination operations – with one example being the participation of the Gnanakone family of Wellawatte and VVT in the Tiger sea-logistics enterprise.[5] Such circumstances meant that Colombo and its environs were home to a substantial body of people who, in wartime conditions, were the nucleus of a fifth column. The paradox within this complex situation is that during Eelam War IV there were (and are) several well-connected and affluent SL Tamil families residing in the relative safety of Colombo’s most salubrious suburbs who were staunch Tiger sympathizers, but who would never have considered residency under Pirāpaharan in Thamililam.

C. Perhaps the most significant series of blog-comments have been presented by one “Flloyd” in February and April 2013. C1. His first comment is a qualified questioning of “Duque” and the second seems to be an outright rejection of a sweeping claim by “Shalala” (23 January 2013) that her/his “personal survey” enabled the conclusion that the “Tamil people” felt that they were “treated good” after the war and “are more happy now… [because they] can live in peace … [and] are treated on the same level as everyone else in the country.” Flloyd is not a Tamil extremist or liberal/radical extremist insofar as he emphasizes the fact that (a) the “country is diverse and not a monoethnic place;” (b) castigates “intolerance and [the] lack of knowledge of others’ cultures;” and (c) favours devolution as a political modus vivendi that is “compatible with the interests of the bigger state and current situation of the country.” C2. In Flloyd’s political vocabulary “devolution” is different from “self-determination.” The latter involves the goal of “an independent state.” He affirms that it is not wrong for anyone [presumably, in this context, any Tamil] to assume such a goal. That goal “only became dangerous when rebel groups formed to make it happen due to the non-existent political space at the time and [it] will be dangerous [now] if people talk of the emergence of such a group again.” C3. Flloyd, in my reading, is a bloke with whom we could engage in political discussions quite usefully. However, he is not free of sweeping statements himself. While validly observing the fact that there is such a process as “state terrorism,” he emphasizes the fact that (a) there is “no more rebel activity due mainly because the people of the North and East are weary from the war;” and (b) “the intense supervision and meddling of the military and government into the public and private lives of [the Tamil people].” C4. It is on such grounds that he concludes with a striking set of perceptions that is intimately entwined with the topic of Sinhala thinking that I have addressed: “[t]he presence of an organized rebel group is no more, but the Tamils continue to be tortured, raped, and killed by the state. Many still mention the brutality of the rebels, but in no way can that justify the current situation, as the rebel activity is gone. Ah Sinhala-mindset. Ah humanity.” C4. Yes, liberal modalities of thinking need to take deeper root within the political discourse of Sinhalese people. Yes, the merger of the Sri Lankan whole within the Sinhala part must be abandoned.[6] But can it be said that the SL Tamils were being tortured, raped and killed by the state in 2012/13 to the degree implied by Flloyd? A few swooping eagles do not a hard winter make.[7] I speak here on the foundation of impressions from afar, albeit conditioned by brief visits to the north and an appreciation of the massive effort – involving, governments agencies, NGOs, INGOs and a handful of private do-gooders[8] – that assisted those housed in the detention centres for IDPs from mid-2009 till recent times.[9]  C5. So, I seek concrete data here: evidence of rape, torture, killing by state agencies in the years 2011-13 and especially in the twelve months preceding Flloyd’s generalization. The request is for bibliographical references and/or specific tales that provide concrete data of the sort that a Rukie Fernando,[10] a Kusal Perera,[11] a Mirak Raheem, a Narendran Rajasingham, a “Watchdog[12] and a Basil Fernando would provide. C6. There also must be a fair balance sheet. Any horrors perpetrated by the state institutions in that period (or even the wider period June 2009-2013) must be set beside the considerable programmes of welfare and betterment promoted by the government within the same time-span. However tough the government forces were with the 12,000 odd Tiger captives at the outset in mid-2009, a rehabilitation programme was initiated from late 2009 with aid from the IOM.[13] The degree of success attributed to this programme by governmental circles must be re-examined critically in appropriate detail; but journalists and others who jet in and out of the island have no excuse for cursory surveys which bypass such efforts. Again, apart from some housing schemes, the rebuilding of roads, railways and buildings was supported by several new bridges, including some that replaced ferries and a lengthy one at Pooneryn that spans the lagoon and links mainland to Jaffna Peninsula — thereby reducing the time required for the journey from Jaffna to Colombo by an hour or so and assisting the marketing of goods produced by the industrious Jaffna farmers. Anecdotal information suggests that the cultivators of the northern Vanni are prepared to invest in fertilizers far more readily and profusely than farmers down south.[14] One needs to tap into pertinent socio-economic survey or mount such projects to test the relative investment capacities of selected localities from north, south, east and west to gain deeper understandings of the capacities of the north.

D. The responses include that by “S. Mahinda” on 2nd July 2012 which told readers that I am a protagonist for the Tamil Tigers. His political stance demands repetition in the full: “If readers would like to know the truth from all the LTTE propaganda reinforced by the likes of Michael Roberts, the English PRESS in Sri Lanka and around the world then please read “Sri Lanka The War Fuelled by Peace.” This 600-page book by Palitha Senanayake is simply brilliant and for the first time tells in ENGLISH the plight of the hapless Sinhala people marginalised in their own country as well as throughout the world. When only 6% of the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities as a whole could speak, read or write English at the time of Independence it would have been a travesty of justice to maintain English as the language of administration in SL. SWRD Bandaranaike rectified this grave injustice against all 3 communities in 1956 when he allowed all of them to use their mother tongue in matters of administration. He reminded the Tamil community that they too have a proud language which they can use instead of ENGLISH. Tamils were blissfully happy to carry on doing everything in English and had forgotten that they too have a language called Tamil until 1956 when SWRD kindly reminded them of their mother tongue to which they paid their gratitude by calling him a racist and an extremist.” palitha-s-book

The barb directed at me personally is of little consequence.[15] But Mahinda’s is a significant comment for two reasons. It points us towards Senanayake’s book as a treatise that probably embodies the “Sinhala Mind-Set” and/or contemporary strands of Sinhala extremism. It is now on my future reading list. (and thanks to Hiran Halangode I gather it is available at Vijitha Yapa Bookshop and bears ISBN 9789555296502).  Secondly, it serves up a distilled justification for the Sinhala Only manifesto of the 1950s: that is, Mahinda birches the British colonial order for foisting the power of English on the island peoples – the kaduva as this force was depicted in the JVP metaphor of protest from the 1960s. This is one version of a common complaint from pro-Sinhala writers and is often linked with accusations that the British favoured the SL Tamils and the Burghers. The complaints are guided by the degree to which there were manifestly disproportionate numbers from the Tamil  community in many government departments (including ‘visible arenas’ such as the Ceylon Government Railway and the Survey & Irrigation Departments).[16] This grievance was quite one-sided because it passed over the degree to which the emergent capitalist classes in British Ceylon were dominated by Govigama, Karāva, Salāgama and Durāva families[17] – a partiality that was (and is) founded on the cultural overvaluation of white-collar employment in the 19th and 20th centuries (if not today as well).

E. The commentary is also interspersed by sorties into the ancient past[18] to either justify claims to political legitimacy (for the Sinhalese) or to deride such claims. Of course, this arises from the powerful currents within intellectual and popular debates which dwell on the evidence of the Mahavamsa as well as epigraphic and architectural sources to mark the establishment of a remarkable civilization in the first millennium AD with roots going further back into the last centuries BC. This is embodied often in popular references to “2500 years” of history. This current of thought has been assailed in recent years as “Mahavamsa thinking” by intellectuals espousing political correctness. Such criticisms at times go overboard in throwing the baby out with the bathwater – underestimating the significance of the inscriptions and artefacts for instance. That debate now demands a careful and grounded academic symposium engaging skilled technicians from several disciplines (including the sanctimonious personnel who parade their political-correctness). However, the commentary on “Sinhala Mind-Set” is noteworthy for its emphasis on origins as justification, albeit in challenging ways. Thus “Maha Kaira” (17 November 2010) asserts that “the Sinhala are as much interlopers as the Tamils” and the “land really belongs to the Veddahs.” A person with the pseudonym “Outlook” then (20 August 2011) asserts that the Sinhalese never “came from India.” Rather, he insisted: the “Sinhalese identity and language developed entirely in Sri Lanka [and] they are as much sons of the soil as the Veddahs are.” This process of reaching back in time promotes infinite regression: Flloyd interjects that “the Sinhalese did not emerge from the soil of that island, neither could have the Veddahs, they too have immigrated from India thousands of years ago probably from a proto-Dravidian stock. To say who has “right” to the land based on arrival and what not is completely absurd.” However debatable,[19] his assertion is directed towards the sensible contention that we should concentrate today on moving towards tolerance and the creation of space for each ethnic group’s place in the island-sun.

firstness

F. Perhaps the most incisive blog-comment comes from Jane Russell on the 19th March 2012. Agreeing with my depiction of the Sinhala Mind-Set, she adds, “it takes two to tango… the Jaffna (and to a lesser extent East coast) Tamils also have a similar mind-set. At their back they feel the power of 60 million or so south Indian Tamils who give them assurance that they too can turn a part of Sri Lanka (the north-east) into a whole — a Tamil whole. Thus we had the claims of 50-50 before independence … And later so many of the Eelamists produced maps showing almost half the land mass and even more of the coastline to be “Tamil homelands”. Even now so many Tamil fundamental nationalists claim that Negombo is a Tamil town. This is all just a fruitless foray into a political cul-de-sac down unresearchable paths of forgotten and probably bloody history.” Thereafter, in response to a comment from Chandre Dharmawardena,[20] she elaborates thus: “there are absurdly unrealisable and positively dangerous options posited by extremists within the Sinhala Buddhist warrior camp as well as by the Tamil warriors of the LTTE et al which each camp then takes seriously and thereby can justify their equally crazy antithetical position. It is “50-50” in terms of who can out-trump the other in going more and more into the realms of political fantasy. However, the victims of this assault on the rational instinct are the political moderates who understand that mediation and compromise is the only the way forward and also the civilians who are sacrificed to this warrior mentality.” In effect, Russell douses us in an icy cold shower that demands movement into warmer realms of political moderation. A fuller elaboration of this comment is already available on web in the Thuppahi site and I urge readers to pursue this hyperlink and take note of the extensive bibliography attached to it. Let me repeat that Jane Russell completed her Ph. D at the University of Peradeniya in the early 1970s[21] when I was teaching there. Moreover, her extended stay in the Jaffna Peninsula in that period gave her deep insights into it socio-political structure. It enabled her to provide me with a critical piece of information on the thinking of the Tamil youth in the early 1970s. Some young men had told her: “The Tamils in Colombo have let us down. As far as we care concerned, they can all die.” In brief, some youth had moved to the ultimate extreme. Guided by other events and stray anecdotes I took this evidence to heart. It became one ingredient in my conclusion then – in 1973 – that the die was cast and that the Sinhala-Tamil divide was a chasm that needed addressing. In this manner, then Russell served up one of the ingredients that inspired the Ceylon Studies Seminar cluster at Peradeniya University to mount a complicated logistics operation and convene a whole day symposium on “The Sinhala-Tamil problem” in Colombo one day in early October 1973 with Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe, Senator Tiruchelvam, V. Karalasingham and Nissanka Wijeyeratne as among the keynote speakers. That tale has been spelt out in Thuppahi already and I encourage reads to -re-visit the account (Roberts 2016). It goes without saying that the discussions that day in Colombo did not have any impact on the evolving ethnic divide …. and became another footnote in the story of failures in reconciliation.

G. Let me reiterate here a disturbing trend in recent years if not decades. In concluding the collection entitled “Hardline Ethnic Mind-Sets” I noted that “a friend in London [Neville Jayaweera if my memory is right] with links across all ethnicities had this to say: “I am aware however that even onetime moderate or liberal Tamils, as distinct from the pure LTTE rump, have of recent become quite paranoid and look on anyone trying to maintain some sanity as being opposed to them, or as being apologists for the government. “Anyone who is not with us is against us” is what they are saying. However, given the hardening pro – Sinhala line within the South, and the apologetic stance taken by many onetime liberal Sinhala intellectuals in the South, such an extreme countervailing reaction from the Tamils is understandable .….. What is happening now is that the confrontation is widening and the middle ground is fast disappearing.” Robert Perinpanayagam’s recent outburst (directed at myself) is an indication of this process. So too are Charles Sarvan’s writings over the years.[22] To the degree that this process is taking hold in the island as well as abroad, such a tend is extremely serious

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mike-vietnam

A LIMITED BIBLIOGRAPHY …. A more comprehensive listing of items on “Disappearances” and/or “Missing Persons” is in the pipeline

 Croos, Fr. J., Deanne Uyangoda and Ruki Fernando 2011 “Threats, Harassments and Restrictions on Former Detainees and Their Families in Vanni,” 11 May 2011, http://www.globalpeacesupport.com/ globalpeacesupport.com/post/2011/05/14/

Fernando, Basil 2010 Sri Lanka. Impunity, Criminal Justice & Human Rights, ISBN 978-962-8314-48-5

International Truth & Justice Project: Sri Lanka 2016 Forgotten: Sri Lanka’s Exiled Victims, June 2016, https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/justice-accountability-the-case-of-sri-lanka-tickets-25670536265.

Jayatilleka, Dayan 2010 “Charles Saran’s War,” 28 November 2011,  http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/11/28/charlie-sarvan%E2%80%99s-war/

Jayawardena, V. Kumari 200 Nobodies to Somebodies. The Rise of the Colonial Bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka, New Delhi LeftWord.

Kanagasabathypillai, Dushi 2013 “Sons and Daughters missing, missed, forgotten: LLRC’s Failure in Sri Lanka,” Groundviews, March 2013, http://groundviews.org/2013/03/17/sons-and-daughters-missing-missed-forgotten-llrcs-failure-in-sri-lanka/

Ministry of Defence 2012 “A Factual Analysis of Disappearances and Abductions,”  http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=factual_analysis_of_disappearances_and_abductions_20120720_05, last modified 26/7/2012

Narendran, Rajasingham 2014 “Harsh Ground Realities in War: Decomposing Bodies and Missing Persons and Soldiers,” 28 January 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/11702/

Perera, Kusal 2016 Unearthed: Ten Years in Sri Lanka – 2005-2015, Sri Lanka, Ravaya Publishers

Roberts, Michael 1982 Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of a Karava Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500 1931,  Cambridge University Press.

Roberts, Michael 1997 “Elite Formations and Elites, 1832 – 1931” in Collective Identities,  Nationalisms     and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Colombo: Marga Publications, pp 191-266.

Roberts, Michael 2001 Primordialist strands in contemporary Sinhala nationalism in Sri Lanka: Urumaya as Ur Colombo: Marga Monograph Series on A History of Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: Recollection, Reinterpretation and Reconciliation, Colombo: Marga Monograph Series, No 20.

 Roberts, Michael 2005 Firstness, History, Place & Legitimate Claim to Place-as-Homeland:in   Comparative Focus, Colombo, Unie Arts Pty Ltd for ICES, ISBN 955-580-099-5

Roberts, Michael 2010 “Challenges Today: Weevils in the Mind,” 22 May 2010, http://groundviews.org/2010/05/22/challenges-today-weevils-in-the-mind/

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Turning Former LTTE Personnel into Sri Lankan Citizens?” https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/turning-tiger-personnel-into-lankan-citizens/

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Mental Health Facilities for the Tamils at the IDP Camps and Now for ThoseBeing Resettled. Reports from Manori Unambuwe,” 9 September 2011, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/mental-health-facilities-for-the-tamils-at-the-idp-camps-and-now-for-those-being-resettled-%e2%80%a6-reports-from-manori-unambuwe/

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Mixed Messages and Bland Oversimplification in President Rajapaksa’s Independence Day Speech,” 11 February 2013, http://groundviews.org/2013/02/11/mixed-messages-and-bland-oversimplification-in-president-rajapaksas-independence-day-speech/

Roberts, Michael 2012 “Mahinda Rajapaksa: Cakravarti Imagery and Populist Processes,” 28 January 2012 https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/mahinda-rajapaksa-cakravarti-imagery-and-populist-processes/

Roberts, Michael 2012 “What is missing in those “Missing”? Issues relating to the statistics on enforced disappearances in Lanka,” 30 May 2012, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/what-is-missing-in-those-missing-issues-realting-to-the-statistics-on-enforced-disappearances-in-lanka/

Roberts, Michael 2016 ‘Hardline Ethnic Mind-Sets: Jane Russell’s Findings and Reflections,” 20 April 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/hardline-ethnic-mind-sets-jane-russells-findings-and-reflections/

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Embittered Tamilness as a Problem for Reconciliation in Sri Lanka,”  3 August 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/embittered-tamilness-on-display-the-case-of-robert-perinpanayagam/

Russel, Jane 1982  Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution, 1931-47, Dehiwala, Tisara Prakasakayo..

Silva, Tudor 2015 “Ethnicity and Religion as drivers of Charity and Philanthropy n Colombo: Implications for Social Harmony in Sri Lanka,” draft article in press.

Watchdog 2012a “New wave of abductions and dead bodies in Sri Lanka,” 26 Feb, 2012, http://groundviews.org/2012/02/26/new-wave-of-abductions-and-dead-bodies-in-sri-lanka/

Weliamuna, JC 2012Discovering the White Van in a Troubled Democracy: An analysis of ongoing “abduction blueprint” in Sri Lanka,” 28 April 2012, http://groundviews.org/2012/04/28/discovering-the-white-van-in-a-troubled-democracy-an-analysis-of-ongoing-abduction-blueprint-in-sri-lanka

ENDNOTES

[1] “It is in record how educational opportunity was heavily in favour of the Jaffna’s small minority from 1820 onwards in the classic divide and rule techniques” says Wellappili of the British colonial period.

[2] Ananda is known to me personally (in part because his father was my revered cricket coach at St. Aloysius College Galle) and indicated that I could reveal his name. He is also the author of Forgotten History of Rcihmond College – see https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/the-forgotten-history-of-richmond-rolls-the-years-back-courtesy-of-ananda-dias-jayasinha/

[3] This will be made clearer when a draft article by Tudor Silva entitled “Ethnicity and Religion as Drivers of Charity and Philanthropy in Colombo. Implications for Social Harmony” appears in the public realm.

[4] That is to the sense of being Sri Lankan Tamil or Malaiyaha Tamil (Indian Tamil) as each case could be. Re the term “Malaiyaha Tamil”, see Daniel Bass 2001.

[5] One of the Gnanakone brothers (now deceased) brokered the discussions in Singapore with Ranil Wickremasinghe which led to the ceasefire agreement of 2001. The Gnanakone interests included shipping and it is not too fanciful to conjecture that they had a vital role in the shipping logistics of the LTTE set up by KP Pathmanathan. Donald Gnanakone in USA has been an active spokesman for the Tamils on internet— though one suspects that the association which he claimed to represent was basically a one-man front.

[6] I have been hammering this argument home in several essays in recent years on the foundations provided by an article I penned in the 1970s with the thinking displayed by Anagarika Dharmapala as my leading illustration for this contention (Roberts, “Sinhalese Perspectives,” 1978). Several of my articles target Mahinda Rajapaksa as a powerful repository of this failing. In particular, see Roberts, “Weevils,” 2010; Roberts, “Mixed Messages,” 2011; and “Mahinda Rajapaksa,” 2012. It is a sad but not unexpected indictment of political dialogue that several internet bloggers see me as a Rajapaksa sycophant. It is more depressing to find that a moderate Tamil such M. Sarvananthan does not seem to be aware of these articles.

[7] Also note Missing Person Commission 2014 … http://lk.newshub.org/m/missing-persons-commission-denounces-exaggerations-by-journalists-daily-news-online-5256929.html.

[8] By way of examples I refer here to such individuals as Renton de Alwis, Manori Unambuwe and Myrna Setunga who live in Sri Lanka and to whom I can easily refer you for reports. For preliminary information, see Unambuwe 2009; Roberts, “Relief Work in Aid of Mothers and Babies among the IDPs in 2009,” 28 Sept. 2012, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/relief-work-in-aid-of-mothers-and-babies-among-the-idps-in-2009-myrna-setungas-reports-to-her-donor-pals-then-in-2009/; and both the data and pictorial illustrations in Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014: 190-206 and Roberts, “Towards Citizenship ..,” in Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Essays,, 2014: 155-68.

[9] My evaluation of this programme was summed up in a public power-point seminar at the ICES in  Sri Lanka  where the slides can now be seen at http://www.scribd.com/doc/202053396/IDP-Camps-2009-Humanitarian-Work-in-Midst-of-Propaganda-War-by-Dr-Michael-Roberts.

[10] See https://www.york.ac.uk/cahr/defenders/past/ruki/

[11] See Perera 2016 and http://lankanewsweb.net/news/press-release/item/4393-stop-enacting-laws-violating-democratic-and-fundamental-rights

[12] See Watchdog 2012a “New wave of abductions and dead bodies in Sri Lanka,” 26 Feb, 2012, http://groundviews.org/2012/02/26/new-wave-of-abductions-and-dead-bodies-in-sri-lanka/ and 2012 “A disappearance every five days in post-war Sri Lanka,” 30 August 2012, http://groundviews.org/2012/08/30/a-disappearance-every-five-days-in-post-war-sri-lanka/

[13] For starters, see Robert 2011 “Turning Former LTTE Personnel into Sri Lankan Citizens?” https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/turning-tiger-personnel-into-lankan-citizens/ and Sackur, Stephen 2010b “Former child soldiers rebuilding their lives,” Hard Talk pod cast, in three parts,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf5U5NB9Mk0 … and pursue the literature referred to in the former.

[14] Information conveyed by Amar Goonetilleka of Marga on the basis of his work with Hayleys.

[15] Ironically I have criticized by several commentators for being a Rajapaksa-stooge or pro-Sinhala – among them Charles Sarvan and Laksiri Fernando. The latter and recently Mark Salter have even devoted whole articles in Colombo Telegraph to my work (without having read even one half of the relevant lot). Others, such as one “Fitzpatrick”, have used the cover of pseudonyms or Christian names to indulge in assassination work via denigrating comments directed at person rather than content in responses.

[16] Ironically, one of the studies that happened to feed this reading was by SJ Tambiah (“Ethnic Representation in Ceylon’s Higher AdministratIve Services, 1870-1946,” University of Ceylon review, 1955, vol. XIII: 113-34).

[17]  For details, see Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of a Karava Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500 1931 (Cambridge University Press, 1982) and Roberts, “Elite Formations and Elites, 1832 – 1931” in Collective Identities, Nationalisms and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Colombo: Marga Publications, pp 153-213.

[18] Cf.” if someone chooses to wage a war which reminds the Sinhalese or any other community anywhere in the world for that matter, of ancient challenges and threats, even the modern response is garbed in ancient robes and references….” Dayan Jayatilleka 2010).

[19] Such a radical position would in effect deny the Aboriginal peoples in Australia, the Inuit and like others in Canada and the remaining Native American ‘tribes’ a special place and any rights in the present. It would dent the master-stroke in Premier Keating’s time: the acceptance of the concept “First Australians.” Here, then, one sees Floyd’s political correctness moving to the extremes. It indicates that the present world order is not only sundered by ethnic and/or nationalist extremists and Islamic extremists but also by rigid political correctness of a secular kind.

[20] Chandre Dharmawardana is a Physics Professor who was at one time Vice-Chancellor of Vidyodaya University. He leaves in Canada and is among those with whom I interact regularly on internet. His research interests extend to work on place names in sri Lanka –see http://dh-web.org/place.names/

[21] Both Russell and Janice Jiggins were in Lanka at the same time and presented a paper on the Dedigama by-election for the Ceylon Studies seminar. They were also present at the symposium on “The Sinhala-Tamil Problem” held in Colombo in October 1973. Russell’s dissertation was published locally in 1982 and she continued to abide by the island for many years thereafter till machinations prevented her from settling down as a migrant citizen.

[22] Charlie Ponnadurai nee Sarvan probably sees himself as a reasonable Tamil German moderate. He certainly believes me to be a Rajapaksa stooge and a fallen liberal.

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Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, devolution, discrimination, economic processes, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, island economy, language policies, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, rehabilitation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes

One response to “Gems and Nuggets within the Commentary on SINHALA MINDSET: Reflections

  1. Pingback: Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Achchaaru … or Racial Pickle | Thuppahi's Blog

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