Category Archives: governance

Barron’s Mss History of British Planters via Three Case Studies

Tom J. Barron … a typed Manuscript I discovered in my study; …. an article drafted in 1972/73 [see below]; … essay that does not seem to have appeared in print [see elaboration at the end] …Highlighting emphasis is the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

The history of British plantation enterprise in Ceylon is a relatively neglected topic. Most historical works on 19th and 20th century Ceylon mention the estates, but few have troubled to give them any special attention. In some ways the neglect is rather surprising for by the 1870’s. if not earlier, Ceylon was celebrated throughout the world as one of the most progressive and enterprising centres of tropical agriculture. The reputation of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and of its most distinguished director, Dr. G. H. K. Thwaites, extended far beyond Ceylon, and Ceylon’s contribution to the science of botany and to the study of agricultural economics was widely regarded as second to none. But, for reasons that are not difficult to detect, the planters have never greatly appealed as heroic figures to the historians of independent Ceylon. For the most part the estates were situated in the hills of the central highlands, remote from the affairs of the mass of her people; the capital and business organization which supported these enterprises were largely imported from Europe; the proprietors, superintendents and assistants who ran the estates were mostly British by birth; and the labour force was recruited principally from South India. There is another difficulty, too; considered from the standpoint of independent, nationalist Ceylon, the planters, who relied upon and openly supported the imperial political and economic systems, are not very sympathetic individuals. Dr. Bastiampillai speaks for many people in Ceylon when he refers to the planters, in his book on Sir William Gregory’s administration, as ‘petulant and peevish,’ ‘self—interested’ and ‘unreasonable.’ It is interesting to note, however, that recently some local historians (of when Dr. Lal Jayawardena and Dr. Michael Roberts are principal) have begun to challenge the notion of the ‘dual economy,‘ to question the theory that most Ceylonese were unaffected by the changes introduced by large-scale plantation agriculture, and to re-examine the achievements which the planters made. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, population, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions, world events & processes

Mahinda Gunasekera challenges the President from Canada

Mahinda Gunasekera, 84 Tambrook Drive, Agincourt, Ontario, Canada  M1W 3L9
July 26, 2017

 President Sirisena–Pic from C’bo Telegraph

His Excellency, Maithripala Sirisena
President of Sri Lanka, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka

Copy to: Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Prime Minister

Your Excellency, Honourable Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Elected MPs,

Confusion prevailing in respect of Reconciliation, Constitutional Changes and UNHRC Resolution

The messages coming from leading members of your government tend to be confusing as they often contradict each other, and usually lack any form of consultation with the general public who will be affected by such policies. If there has been any consultation at all, it is with select individuals representing foreign funded NGOs or other special interest groups closely linked to the ruling political hierarchy.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, devolution, governance, historical interpretation, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, truth as casualty of war, UN reports, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Revisiting Jaffna and the LTTE in mid-1999 guided by Mark Corcoran and the ABC

Michael Roberts


In mid-year 1999 during the ongoing Eelam War III, Mark Corcoran of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) visited Sri Lanka and composed three film documentaries of fascinating breadth. They were

Sri Lanka. A Close Encounter with Arthur C. Clarke …. 6 June 1999
Sri Lanka Tigers at the Gate …… 29 June 1999

Sri Lanka. Extreme Surfing ……… 13 July 1999

I have yet to see the first and third of these film documentaries, but find the topics chosen very much in my line of interest. It so happened that I watched TIGERS AT THE GATE in Adelaide then.[1]  I then had the temerity to send a Letter to the ABC and Corcoran with some criticisms of the coveragedeploying an University of Adelaide letterhead so as to secure attention. This exercise had completely slipped my mind till I came across my typescript and Mark Corcoran’s reply (dated 5th July) among my manuscripts when indulging in some archival sorting. In reproducing my Memo and placing this exchange within the inter-net ‘bar,’ I stress that my memories of the documentary NOW are zilch and that i have not been able to study it again. However, I suspect that it would be very useful for analysts to revisit this documentary. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, anton balasingham, atrocities, australian media, authoritarian regimes, devolution, ethnicity, Fascism, fundamentalism, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, suicide bombing, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, TNA, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes

The Scam and Spam World of Neo-Liberalism, 1977-2917

Sumanasiri Liyanage,   in The Island, 3 August 2017, which has the title  Reflections on four decades of neo-liberalism: 1977- 2017″”


Senani and Kalpa, two of my former students, gave me a wonderful gift when they returned to Sri Lanka for a summer vacation from the New School of Social Research in New York. The gift that is a copy of Arundhati Roy’s second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, provided me loads of thought on the subject that I intend to deal with in this essay. Of course her narrative is about India. The following quotation appears to be equally applicable to Sri Lanka’s journey in the last four decades through neoliberalism. On page 105, she writes: “The summer of the city’s resurrection had also been the summer of scams-coal scams, iron-ore scams, housing scams, insurance scams, stamp-paper scams, phone-licence scams, land scams, dam scams, irrigation scams, arms and ammunition scams, petrol-pump scams, polio-vaccine scams, electricity-bill scams, school-book scams, God Men scams, drought-relief scams, car-number plate scams, voter-list scams, identity-card scams- in which politicians, businessmen, businessmen-politicians and politician-businessmen had made off with unimaginable quantities of public money.” If one wants to Sri Lankanize the list she may do some additions and subtractions like karunka scams, pepper scams and of course bond scams. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, export issues, foreign policy, governance, heritage, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, world events & processes

The Jaffna Peninsula Plus: Fundamental Water Issues

Jeevan Thiagarajah,  courtesy of Daily News, 31 July 2017, where the essay is entitled “Jaffna: Dead or alive”

Many things can be inferred in the title today! The intent is to say Jaffna can become an arid dessert if it runs out of water. The Jaffna Peninsula is unique in geology and aquifer conditions. The limestone is an important aquifer, and together with thin sand layers form an extensive cover providing a source of drinking water and irrigation across the Jaffna Peninsula. The suitability of water for any use is determined not only by the total amount of salt present in the water but also by the type of salt that is present.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under economic processes, energy resources, environmental degradation, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, land policies, landscape wondrous, legal issues, politIcal discourse, power politics, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real

Teleology in Cricketing Rules

 Michael Roberts

Aristotle asserted that the intrinsic telos of an acorn is to become a fully-grown oak tree.[1] Kant dwelt on the concept of telos as a regulative principle, while it is said that teleology was foundational in the speculative philosophy of Hegel. Without much knowledge of these theorists’ exegesis, I nevertheless invoke them in criticizing the MCC for its failure to adhere to the principle of telos – or basic common sense – in insisting on Law 29 relating to the issue of whether a batsman has made his ground before being stumped or run out.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under atrocities, authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, charitable outreach, cricket for amity, cultural transmission, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, human rights, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, slanted reportage, social justice, world affairs

Hambantota Port Deal from Many Angles

PTI Item: “Sri Lanka, China sign USD 1.1 bn Hambantota port deal” Jul 29, 2017

Sri Lanka today signed a USD 1.1 billion deal with China to sell a 70-per cent stake in the strategic Hambantota port to a state-run Chinese firm, a move that could raise security concerns in India.  The deal had been delayed by several months over concerns that the deep-sea port could be used by the Chinese Navy.
Cash-rich China has invested millions of dollars in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure since the end of a brutal civil war in 2009.  As part of the deal, the stake in the loss-making port has been sold to China’s state-run conglomerate China Merchant Port Holdings (CMPort).

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under China and Chinese influences, commoditification, disparagement, economic processes, foreign policy, governance, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, world events & processes