Category Archives: language policies

Individual Subjectivity in the Appraisal of 70 Years of Independence: Explorations in Groundviews

What does it mean to be Sri Lankan?

70 years after independence, our identity is defined mostly along majoritarian lines, which can be traced back to the divisions created under British rule. These divisions have contributed to violence and war, in the years since 1948.

To this day, there are communities who feel that what is commonly projected and defined as the Sri Lankan identity does not reflect their reality, or themselves. Looking at this, Groundviews produced a series of videos exploring identity and belonging in a country emerging from war, but not yet out of conflict.

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Three Clowns at Election Corral! Sri Lankan Politics in a Nutshell

Rajan Philips, in Island, 3 February 2018, where the title runs thus “Lanka at 70: Political circus interrupts the country’s constitutional odyssey”…. with highlighting here being the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

As the country marks the seventieth anniversary of independence, its principal political leaders are out-clowning one another and turning the whole political system into a circus of clowns. There is no other charitable way to describe what the President, the Prime Minister and the former President are doing in a desperate three-way shootout – to either produce the best scorecard or avoid the worst scorecard for their respective parties and alliances in the local government elections next Saturday. The scorecard that will be used for political bragging and the commentaries that will go with it will have two lines: the national tally of votes and the number of local bodies won, with special mention for trophy municipalities – Colombo being the big one.

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The Early Phase of Sinhala-Tamil Rivalry in Ceylon, 1931-70s

Michael Roberts[1]

The factors promoting political agitation among the Sri Lankan Tamils since the 1920s, particularly the developments after Sri Lanka secured independence in 1948, have inspired a large literature.[2] Three turning points in the temporal progression of this agitation have often been marked: one in 1956 when an electoral transformation helped enshrine Sinhala as the language of administration and placed the majority Sinhalese peoples in a dominant position in the political dispensation; secondly, in the early 1970s when militant Tamils placed secession at the forefront of their demands; and, thirdly, in July 1983 when an anti-Tamil pogrom in the Sinhalese-majority regions that involved state functionaries as well as people from many walks of life alienated the mass of Tamils and sparked an expansion in the militant separatist struggle.[3]

  Bandaranaiake in rhetorical mode

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Catalan Today. ITAK Yesterday. A Call to Reflection

Carles Puigdemont Chelva & Amir

Michael Roberts

The demand for independence from a segment of the Catalan Spanish peoples has the potential for a domino effect not only within Spain but also in Europe where the EU already faces the complications arising from the Brexit vote. Apart from the potential inspiration to other provincial dialects within Spain, The French Republic may have to keep a weather eye on their Occitan-speakers in the south –with their well-developed sense of being Occitan  and a claim to the region known as Langue D’Oc.

Any such move could then spark the provinciality of the Breton peoples! That is just one potential instance of what is called “The Domino Effect.” Listen to Joseph Borell at http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/31/europe/catalonia-independence-spain/index.html

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Struggling for Sinhala at US University: Anne Blackburn et al

Namini Wijedasa, in Sunday Times, 29 October 2017, where the title “The battle to keep Sinhala alive in an American University” ….Academics running the programme seek financial assistance from Sri Lankan Govt. and expat

Scholars at the Cornell University, USA, are fighting to keep alive a decades-old Sinhala language programme that is facing closure owing to funding cuts  Cornell, a renowned private Ivy League institution, is the only university outside Sri Lanka to offer a full curriculum of study in Sinhala. About half of the funding for the course is external, primarily from the US Government’s Department of Education. The rest is from the university.

Anne Blackburn

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Shirley Somanader’s Historical and Literary Works

Shirley Somanader

DANIEL AND HIS DESCENDANTS – VOLUME I

2009 1st edn., A5 size, 64pp., 200 copies printed.

This is a biographical work. The book contains a collection of a series of articles on the Christian witness of Daniel Somanader, his wife Angelina and his children, especially two of their daughters.  All the articles were written Mrs M. E, Rigg, the wife of Rev. Edmund Rigg, Methodist Missionary in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) between 1865 – 1870 and they first appeared in the ‘Christian Herald’ , a newspaper published in the Wesley Press, Batticaloa at that time, except one  article which was written in by Rev. James Gillings, the then Superintendent Methodist Missionary in Batticaloa and appeared in the’ Wesleyan Juvenile Offering’ of July   1859. Continue reading

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Sinhala Extremists: No Middle Path Ever! Thus sponsoring Tamil Extremism

Dayan Jayatilleka, courtesy of The Island, 25 October 2017 where the title is “The Sinhala far right’s political final solution”

Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young, died violently or were maimed, and tens of thousands disappeared, and unknown numbers were tortured, in the less than four decades between April 1971 and May 2009 on this small island. Something must have been wrong; something must have gone wrong, somewhere, for all this horror to result among so much natural beauty and tranquility. We are all implicated in different ways and in different degrees. The least we can do is accept that there were huge mistakes and seek to rectify them through reform. For this, we must turn the searchlight inwards and not content ourselves with pointing the finger outwards.

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