Category Archives: island economy

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

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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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Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE www.lrb.co.uk

prabha-with-pistol-2   prabha-tiger

Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

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February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

Caste, Democracy and Social Justice: ICES Conference in Late November 2016

atudor Tudor  a-obey Gananath

Tudor Kalinga Silva

This conference was held at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo on the 19/20th November 2016 with the participation of over 60 researchers from Sri Lanka and abroad. The objective of the conference was to review recent research on caste in Sri Lanka from the angle of democracy and social justice in line with the broader ICES interest in identity politics in Sri Lanka. The specific issues discussed included possible theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues relating to understanding caste and caste-like phenomenon in Sri Lanka, caste dynamics in Sinhala society, caste in historical context, caste issues in Northeast Sri Lanka, post-war transformation of caste, migration, caste and ethnicity, caste and religion and policy framework for addressing horizontal inequality and promoting social justice. The keynote speakers in the conference were Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere, Dr. Kumari Jayawardena, Dr. John Rogers (from the American Institute of Sri Lanka Studies) and Prof. K. Tudor Silva who also convened the conference on behalf of ICES. Continue reading

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Elmo Jayawardena in Anguish for His Beloved Land

Elmo Jayawardena, in The Island, 30 January 2017, where the title is “Cry the Beloved Country”

elmo-11I have borrowed the title of this article from the heart-wrenching book by Alan Paton. He wrote about South Africa under the Apartheid regime in 1948. I write about what we face today in Sri Lanka amidst the trumpets that blow heralding progress.

The South African problem was immense and tore the very soul of a country divided by the colour of a man’s skin. It was hideous, to say the least, nothing but modern-day slavery where basic human rights were denied to the majority of a country by a minority that ruled it. That is sadness at its zenith.

parl-buildings  The Parliament of Sri Lanka aka “Diyawanna OOya” in Catain Elmo’s sarcastic and cuastic evalautin of this island’s parliamentary figures over many decades

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A River! A River! A River for the Jaffna Peninsula

Thiru Arumugam,  from the Sunday Island, 30 January 2017 where the title reads “Desalination — Or a Reive for Jaffna?” 

In 2010 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a total loan facility of 130 million US dollars for the “Jaffna and Kilinochchi Water Supply and Sanitation Project”. The local costs of 26 million dollars were to be met by the Government of Sri Lanka. The project involved providing safe drinking water for 300,000 people in Jaffna Town and surrounding areas and sanitation facilities for 80,000 people in Jaffna Town. The source of raw water was to be Iranamadu Tank in Kilinochchi. Water was to be pumped from here to a treatment plant near Pallai in the Jaffna Peninsula, and treated water distributed to consumers from there.

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Gal Oya: Addressing Errors in Ajit Kanagasundram’s Recollections

Gerald H. Peiris

gal-oya-11-the-island

Michael,

I knew Ajit at the time he was an undergraduate at Cambridge, and remember meeting him on and off at the ‘Arts Theatre Restaurant’ at lunch-time. The image that comes to mind is a mild-mannered and gentle youth  ̶-  younger than my circle of post-grad ‘Ceylonese’ pals  like Uswatte, Mahes, Shan, Gunda or Dharmawardena  by, say, 6 or 7 years. I haven’t met him since that time, but it seems from what he has written that he has not lost his gentleness, and has remained almost entirely free of “racial” (ethnic?) prejudices, probably impelled by personal experiences since that time.

While I particularly like the ‘autobiographical’ segment of his essay, I have to refer to several errors  ̶  some, important, others trivial  ̶  that could be attributed to excessive reliance on memory and ignoring what serious researchers have documented. These I specify below under sub-headings numbered 1 to 7, referring in red to highlighted extracts from his essay.

gal-oya-44 Pic from Sumal Fernando Blog wordpress

 

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Looking Back at DS Senanayake and the Gal Oya Project

Ajit Kanagasundram, courtesy Sunday Island 18th & 25th September 2016, where the title is “The Gal Oya Project 60 years on” … an essay supported by personal experiences and his father’s key role in this pathfinding development project. ALSO  go to http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2016/10/10/the-gal-oya-project-60-years-on/ for the same essay and significant blog comments therein. … Emphasis by highlights is my imprint Editor, Thuppahi

Not many people today remember the Gal Oya Project but for 20 years it was the showpiece of modern independent Ceylon. It was later overshadowed by more grand (grandiose?) projects like Mahaveli where billions more were spent but the Gal Oya Project remains the standard by which all other projects should be judged. The Gal Oya Project, moreover, stands as an exemplar as to how things should be done under ideal circumstances. The project was done and paid for within our own resources, managed by local administrators and completed on time and all major objectives relating to the clearing of forest, settlement of colonists and irrigation of land were accomplished.

kanagasundramK. Kanagasundram Continue reading

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