Category Archives: commoditification

James Taylor and the Ceylon Tea Industry

Ceylon Tea Board on the occasion when the James Taylor Monument wa sunveiled n 29th January 2017

The commercial cultivation of tea in Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then known, is acknowledged to have commenced in 1867 at Loolecondera Estate, Hewaheta, in the Kandy District, by an enterprising young agriculturalist, James Taylor, a redoubtable Scotsman, of which extraction were most of the  pioneers of the Industry.

james-taylor Taylor in the 1870s


Taylor, the son of Michael Taylor and Margaret Moir, was born on March 29, 1835, in a cottage called “Moss Park” on the Monbodde Estate, near Laurencekirk in Kincardineshire. On being recruited as a Coffee Planter on Narenghena Estate, he arrived in Ceylon on February 20, 1852. Following a brief posting there, he was transferred to Loolecondera Estate, where he spent the rest of his life and eventually expired on May 2, 1892, at the age of 57 years, of dysentery, while still in service. Continue reading

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World’s Principal Shipping Routes ….. with a Ranil Cavil



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Murali as a Sri Lankan Treasure

Upul Wijayawardhana  in The Island 29 July 2016, with title Murali is no traitor 

What cricketers do in retirement is their business; some take to politics and do a very bad job; others create Ministries, not of government but, of crab and make a great success of it; most do coaching, many of our cricketers having successful coaching careers. It looks as if it is the norm for most teams to have ‘foreign coaches’. Well, it was so even in 1996 when we won the World Cup; our coach was Dav Whatmore who though born in Sri Lanka, migrated to Australia and played test cricket for Australia but helped us defeat Australia in the finals. Murali should be free to coach any team that pays him well and we have no right to object at all if we never offered to employ him.

Unlike many Sri Lankans I am no cricket fanatic, may be because the first time ever I faced a cricket ball, in my schooldays, I ended up with an injury, though minor, to my right thumb diminishing my enthusiasm for the gentlemen’s game. I say I am not a fanatic because often I find that my English friends know more about our cricketers than I do. However, I have been a great supporter of our cricket team and have been very proud of their achievements. I have proudly failed the Norman Tebbit’s ‘Cricket Test’. For the sake of those who are too young to know what it is, I should reiterate what the Conservative politician said in 1990:”A large proportion of Britain’s Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It’s an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?” Fortunately, my English friends are more understanding than Lord Tebbit and, in fact, many of them are ardent supporters of the Sri Lanka team, except when they are playing against England.

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Striking Railway Photographs from the 19th Century

The construction of a road and rail network was one of the dimensions of British imperial activity in Sri Lanka. Directed in part by the need for military control in an ear when potential rebellions were at the back of their mind, the goals of surplus appropriation as well as administrative action guided the locale and pace of these developments. Some energetic souls have deposited a treasure trove of photographic images in my email box and I reproduce them here with some from my own collection.

We can begin with what I term “the hard yards of railway construction” — as seen in the two images below and in “A steamengine rounding the bend at “Sensation Rock” in Kadugannawa.

38a+b=colombo-kandy-railway-line 38a=constructing r-way line LION' MOUTH From #IMG 394 & #IMG366 at the British Library Board Continue reading

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The Seductiveness of Indian Women: Cricketing Stars in Love

Sudatta Mukherjee, writing about “SEVEN  foreign cricketers who married Indian women” …

ckting stars

tait plusAustralian speedster Shaun Tait tied the knot to Indian model Mashoom Singha on June 12, after a four-year courtship.  Continue reading


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Ballhatchet on the Colebrooke-Cameron Papers

Kenneth Ballhatchet, from Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies, [??] pp 407-08  reviewing G. C. MENDIS (ed.): The Colebrooke Cameron Papers: Documents on British Colonial Policy in Ceylon, 1796 -1833. 2 vols: lxv, 404 pp.; ix.116pp. London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, Indian Branch,1956.

Though all history may not be the history of ideas, even the closest followers of the Namier tradition in historical writing would hardly deny that there have been movements of thought which have strongly influenced the world of action. But unless philosophers are kings, or at least civil servants, historians will often find it a difficult if also a challenging task to establish connections between philosophies of life and policies of governments.

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Cinematic Hindutva: “Mohendajāro” monkeys with history

Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta, on 28 June 2016 with title “Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Mohenjo Daro’ Falls Prey to Hindutva Horseplay”… and the pointed note: “The Hindu right’s worn-out, archaeologically-baseless argument that the Harappan civilisation and Rig Vedic age coincided, may get a new lease of life through the film’s poor depiction of history.”

MOHNEDAJAROA still from the trailer of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro, featuring lead actor Hrithik Roshan and showing the horse seal.
It seems that Ashutosh Gowariker’s quest for good cinema ends with humongous sets and big stars. While there seems to be a sudden – and welcome – urge among Hindi filmmakers to make historical epics, their lack of attention to historical facts leaves the discerning audience with a bad taste in the mouth. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani recently portrayed Bajirao as an indefatigable Hindu warrior, one whose only mission was to hoist the saffron flag in India by defeating his Muslim opponents, the Mughals. That the modern Indian state was yet to be born and that the Mughal empire was no caliphate, are facts disregarded by him.Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Mohenjo Daro’ Falls Prey to Hindutva Horseplay

Yet again, a historical film seems to be catching public attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Gowariker, of Lagaan (2001) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008) fame, recently released the trailer of his much-awaited Mohenjo Daro, which is being touted as not just his magnum opus but the greatest film ever made in India. Unfortunately, the trailer gives us nothing but a twisted idea of a civilisation that seems far from real. Mohenjo Daro, which was the name of one of the biggest urban townships of the Harappan or Indus Valley civilisation, is the story of one of the first cities of the world. Gowariker gets the date right – 2016 BCE, which the trailer announces – but apart from this, he gets almost every other aspect of the ancient civilisation grossly wrong. Continue reading

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