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Category Archives: language policies
I. Frances Bulathsinghala: “A glimpse into the saga of Sri Lanka’s constitutional reforms,” South Asian Monitor, 24 February 2017,
The attempts by Sri Lanka’s National Unity government to draft a new constitution in order to seek a permanent solution to the long drawn Tamil ethnic question is afloat in the grey skies of ambiguity.
Although six subcommittees on various subjects had submitted their reports based on wide scale public consultations and the Steering Committee had drafted its own report based on the recommendations by the sub committees, plans of presenting the report to the Constitutional Assembly which comprises the current members of parliament, has been stalled.
Muralidhar Reddy, in Frontline, Vol 26/20, Sep. 26-Oct. 09, 2009, a review article
Michael Roberts’ collection of essays on Sri Lankan identity is a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere polluted by callous accounts.
SRI LANKA, a country of 20 million-odd people of distinct identities, is witnessing a series of momentous events in the post-Prabakaran period. Michael Roberts’ latest book is a collection of 13 analytical essays, most of them written by him an d others edited by him, on the much-debated issues of collective “Sri Lankan identity” and the cultural roots and ideology of the majority Sinhala and minority Tamil nationalisms, and a detailed study of the projects of Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), a staunch Sinhala Buddhist who made a conscious effort to swim against the tide and launched a full-throated campaign against British rule and Christian missionaries.
Current conflict in Sri Lanka is explicable by nothing less than an analysis of Sri Lanka’s entire history. But “all history becomes subjective; in other words, there is properly no history; only biography. Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself,” says Emerson. In his article “Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism” Dr. Michael Roberts presents a broad but concise ‘culturalogical’ perspective of the development of Sinhala consciousness between the 16th and 20th centuries. This helps us to better understand today’s events in Sri Lanka that are mostly justified in the name of history and culture.
There was a continuing force of oral story telling and poetry among Sinhala people until the mid-twentieth century. However, faced with the task of superimposing capitalism on a feudal (or Asiatic type) set-up, the British colonialists proceeded with building infrastructure needed for the capitalist economy, bringing the country under one administration and making English the language of administration. Against this background, Michael explains how various communities such as Burghers, Jas, Yons and Ceylon Tamils came to occupy niches in that socio-economic order.