Category Archives: British colonialism

Koggala in the Western Imperial Design in the 20th Century, 1931 onward

Michael Roberts

The recent political debate on SOFA, MCC etc (see Roberts 2019)  highlights the place of KOGGALA in the Western imperial map of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The British airfields at Katunayake Trinco and Koggala were part of the imperial defence system – a geo-political ensemble that became even more significant after the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in WW Two marked vulnerabilities not envisaged till then.

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Hard Times and Bleak Prospects for Malayaha Plantation Work Force

Meera Srinivasan, in The Hindu, 5 October 2019, with this title A bitter brew: For Sri Lanka’s tea estate workers, fair wage is still elusive”

Often described as the backbone of the economy, close to 1.5 lakh tea estate workers have been agitating for fair wages for the last three years. Ahead of Sri Lanka’s presidential election in November, which the labourers see as another season of empty promises, Meera Srinivasan reports on how they view their struggle

“Half the blood in our bodies is sucked by these leeches. Can’t someone find some medicine to keep them away?” At first it is hard to locate the voice that is emerging from the bushes. A few feet off the road margin, at a slightly higher elevation is a worker, with her head alone visible over the lush green leaves. “They get all over us even if we smear a packet of salt,” the worker says, as she continues to pick leaves at an estate near Hatton in Nuwara Eliya district of the Central Province in Sri Lanka.

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The Sri Lankan Army in Its First Decade, 1949-59

Jayantha Somasundaram, in Island, 10 October 2019, with this titleSri Lanka Army At Seventy: Recalling The First Decade”

Under the terms of the Defence Agreement, signed in November 1947, between London and Colombo, a British officer, the Earl of Caithness was seconded, in 1948, as military advisor to the Government of Ceylon. During World War II, Brigadier James Roderick Sinclair, 19th Earl of Caithness CBE DSO, had led his regiment the Gordon Highlanders, through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany.

Earl of Caithness

Brigadier Caithness proposed to the Ceylon Government, that the soon-to-be formed Army consist of an infantry battalion, an artillery regiment, signal, supply, ordnance, electrical and mechanical, and medical units; a works services engineering detachment to maintain buildings, a military police section and a training depot. Such a modest military establishment would only require one per cent of total government expenditure, and its personnel would, initially be drawn from the Ceylon Defence Force (CDF), the volunteer Army that had existed since 1910.

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DS Senanayake’s Life and Times by KM de Silva … hits the island roads

Press Release from the ICES at Kandy

The ceremonial launch of two publications of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES, Kandy) titled, respectively, as The Life of D. S. Senanayake (1884-1952): Sri Lanka’s First Prime Minister, by Prof. K. M. de Silva, and its Sinhala version,  D.S: Sri Lankaway Prathama Agraamaathya, by Professor K. N. O. Dharmadasa, was held in Kandy on 3 October 2019 in the presence of a large gathering invited by Prof. Upul Dissanayake, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya, who sponsored the event in collaboration with the staff of the ICES.

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The Crushing Sway of the English Language in 20th Century Ceylon

Vinod  Moonesinghe, ….. responding to a passing ethnographic note by Chandra Fernando which ran thusUnfortunately, Mr Bandaranaike, who had Oxford Education, was not intelligent enough to know the value of English to Ceylonese. When we received telegrams, the postman could not read them, so we had to go to Mabole 3 miles walk either way where Wattala Post Office was to get it read from Postmaster.”

In reply to Chandra Fernando’s statements about English, it is not SWRD Banadaranaike he should blame, but the British imperial power. The British created a tiny circle of elite schools, to create a stratum of English-speaking civil servants and compradores, to serve their needs. The vast bulk of the population were left uneducated. Vernacular schools did not teach above the 8th grade, and you needed to go to an English-language school to get your SSC. By 1956, only 5% of the population could speak English.

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Composing THE BROKEN PALMYRAH: Rajani Thiranagama’s Rigorous Oversight … and Her Insights

Rajan Hoole, whose chosen title is “Thirty Years After: Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama’s Lasting Impact”

Text of Speech delivered by DR. Rajan Hoole at Trimmer Hall, Jaffna, on 21st September 2019 to mark the 30th anniversary of Dr.Rajini Thiranagama’s assassination [by the LTTE] …. presented first at http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/65690

Ever since Rajani was killed, on 21st September 1989, many around the world have seen her as a heroic figure that stood for human values, not in a legalistic sense, but in the full-blooded sense that evokes an emotional and intellectual response; that moves those around her to commitment and action that is contagious. Accepting that we are living in a world that is not pacifist, her activism was towards solutions that avoided violence. The other view of Rajani was simply that she is a traitor. For those who felt helpless when the Tigers carried all before them, she inspired them as a symbol of resistance to the emerging fascist order, where to dissent was to court death.

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The Venerable Upstairs Domain of the Dutch Burgher Union

Courtesy of Fabian Schokman whose interest in Sri Lankan affairs is as deep as searching — the fruits to be seen soon I trust. ………And it all began with the Thuppahi item on Sister Aloha — courtesy of Myrna Setunga

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