Category Archives: island economy

Jane Russell on Sri Lankan Political History in Debate with Kumarasingham’s Readings

From London the historian and scholar  Jane Russell has entered an extensive set of comments on Harshan Kumarasingham’s Heidelberg essay of 2013 –reprinted in Thuppahi in 2014. Given its length and Russell’s background (see below) it deserves wider exposure in the hope that debate will be promoted. I am therefore deleting its original location and posting it as a separate item.

 Russell  Kumarasingham

  1. HARSHAN kUMARASINGHAM”s “The Deceptive Tranquillity surrounding Sri Lankan Independence: ‘The Jewel of the East yet has its Flaws’,”  is an interesting paper with which I broadly agree, despite a tendency by the author to sacrifice judgement in favour of rhetoric. However, Dr. Harshan Kumarasingham has gone for the elegant historical narrative rather than seeking to explore and analyse some of the more nuanced, underlying factors that may help to understand the spiralling of Ceylon, cited by the British as ‘ the Premier Crown Colony” at independence in 1947, into Sri Lanka, characterised by the west at the turn of the 21st century as a terrorist-riven semi-failed state. I hope the following will help to redress this.

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China’s Transcontinental Pathways … and Indian Ocean Issues for Lanka

Philips and Kurukulasuriya … and other items

I > Rajan Philips: “One Belt-One Road from China, but no Bridge to India: Lanka’s Development Dilemmas,” Island, 20 May 2017

Even as he bade farewell to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of his Vesak visit, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was all but ready to take flight to China to attend the economic summit of the 21st Century. This was Beijing’s big splash on the world economic map, and one that India chose not to officially attend. Japan was another boycotter. A number of Indian business and think-tank figures went to Beijing as ‘unofficial delegates’, and they were critical of their government’s decision not to send at least an official delegation. 130 countries marked their presence at the two-day (May 14-15) event in Beijing, including 29 state and government leaders. Even the Trump Administration, despite its spiralling turmoil in Washington, was represented in Beijing.

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Nuvara Yugayē Sinhala Bava reaches the Bookshelves

  bearing ISBN 978-955-665-161-4 in the year 2016 … with the translation being the result of the labours of Anura Hettiarachchi and Ananda Wakkumbura. The original work is entitled Sinhala Consciousness in Kandyan Period, 1590s-1815, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2004

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The Forgotten People: Malaiyaha Tamils of the Plantations and Hill-Country

Meera Srinivasan, from The Hindu, 18 May 2017, where the title runs The long journey of a forgotten people”

“Sri Lanka’s hill-country Tamils want to be seen as rightful citizens, not passive beneficiaries”

 Estate workers in late 19th century

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally on May 12 with Sri Lanka’s hill-country Tamils, on the second day of his two-day visit to the country, was a success, if you went by conventional markers such as the crowd he drew or the cheers that arose from it. But its real outcome is rather limited compared to the wide-ranging needs of the historically neglected community. That an estimated 35,000 people from in and around the central highlands converged on the small town of Norwood – many walking over 5 km since buses clogged the narrow roads — partly reflects the affinity the Tamils feel for India, from where their ancestors moved to Sri Lanka about 200 years ago. Moreover, hill-country politicians put in their might to mobilise workers, campaigning widely across the tea estates that employ a fourth of the over one million-strong community.

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Appreciating Galle in Its Quietness and Its Pastness

Joe Simpson, in a  review of GALLE AS QUIET  AS ASLEEP penned in 2006

Never to be confused with the American best-selling romance novelist of the same name, Norah Roberts, who survived well into her nineties, was born near Colombo in 1907, one of fourteen children from several marriages of T. W. Roberts, an Anglo-Barbadian Ceylon Civil Servant, Oxford scholar and cricketer par excellence who became District Judge in Galle. After severe hearing loss in her late twenties drove her from teaching, Norah ran the Galle Fort Library (est. 1871) for four decades until she retired in 1982. I clearly remember first meeting Norah, then in her late sixties, one hot and humid morning in September 1973 when, as a newly-arrived V.S.O. English teacher at Richmond College, I paid my dues to become a member of the quaint old library on Church Street, next to the Fort Post Office. (Judge Roberts, then still alive in his nineties, had long migrated to England). It was only a couple of years before she finally “retired” in her mid-seventies that the tireless Norah (who never married) began her self-appointed Herculean task, never before attempted, of writing the “compleat” history of Galle from its earliest days. It would dominate the next ten years of her life.

 Galle in the 1890s — a rare image in the Australian National Gallery Collection, Canberra

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Empowered Women rise from the Ashes of Sri Lanka’s War

Avani Dias,  courtesy of ABC Net, May 14 May 2017, where the title runs  Border Girls: Women in Sri Lanka take on male roles to help recovery from brutal civil war,” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-07/border-girls-help-sri-lanka-recover-from-civil-war/8499728

Women and girls whose male relatives were killed in Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war are now helping the country recover, taking on roles formerly reserved for men and heading to schools and universities to complete their education. The so-called “Border Girls” mostly come from towns and villages which formed a human buffer zone between the opposing sides during the 27-year conflict, which ended in 2009 and left tens of thousands of civilians dead, many of them killed in the war’s bloody final phase. The majority of border girls, who are from the Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim ethnic groups, lost their partners, fathers, and brothers in the war, which pitted government troops against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas, also known as the Tamil Tigers. Now these resilient women want to independently lead a change in Sri Lanka by pursuing their education and altering community attitudes so women have a leadership role in the traditionally male-led society.

Saroja Dilrukshi, 16, lost most of her family during the Sri Lankan civil war

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Kandy’s Landscape under Sunday Observer’s Eagle Eye

Sunday Observer Team, 17 May 2017

The Sunday Observer has launched “Cityscape” where our intrepid reporters will visit cities around the country, probing the shortcomings and asking the questions no one dared to ask before. In this segment of Cityscape, our staff journalists, Maneshka Borham and Husna Inayathullah are visiting the Hill Capital Kandy, the country’s second largest city, seeking answers to a host of issues including, but not limited to, garbage, air pollution and the lack of parking spaces.

 Kandy – mid 19th century overview    Kandy Today

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Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, economic processes, governance, heritage, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions