Category Archives: language policies

Today’s Bureaucratic Subservience in Sri Lanka: The Tale of Its Emergence and Entrenchment

H. L. Seneviratne reviewing Your Obedient Servant: The Fate of the Bureaucrat in Sri Lanka by Suren Sumithraarachchi, Sarasavi Publishers 2019 …. Courtesy of Colombo Telegraph = https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/book-review-politics-the-bureaucracy/

This book deals with the higher bureaucracy in Sri Lanka, and its focus is bureaucratic behavior. It is about local bureaucrats, not those of British origin — bureaucrats who historically inhabited the bureaucratic terrain with decreasing density as colonial rule waned. It considers loyalty to a set of rules, rather than to a person, the marker of ideal bureaucratic behavior, one that the vocabulary of sociology calls “rational-legal”.

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The Medium of Learning in Sri Lanka for Sri Lanka: Journeys

Wilfrid Jayasuriya, in Daily Mirror Epaper, 18 January 2020, where the title is “English as the medium of modern education”

We are glad that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hit the nail on the head about the meaning of education. Not a promising opening sentence? I do not wish to get into a harangue on education but just want to say there is an alternative to the education modus operandi which we practise by and large for more than a century. That alternative is the United States’ system as opposed to the British colonial model which was the foundation of our lay education for the last two centuries. Suffice to say that in my own family history, my maternal grandfather was a postmaster who worked in the English medium and my paternal grandfather was a school teacher who practised in Sinhala and English media. My father passed the Senior School Certificate in both English and Sinhala media and my mother passed the Junior School Certificate in English medium. I have both certificate documents and they are signed by the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University because education in Ceylon had been allocated to Cambridge University!

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Becoming and Being Sri Lankan: The National Anthem in Our Mother Tongues

Eranda Ginige, on in Lanka News Web, 6 January 2020, where the title is “The Language of the National Anthem”

The Dominion of Ceylon was formed on 4 February 1948 with the singing of Britain’s national anthem “God Save the King” and it continued to be the anthem for another four years

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The Decline of the LSSP in 20th Century Sri Lanka: Sivasambu’s Question

Fr l-to-r= Philip, Colvin R, NM and Reggie Perera

ABOUT Nathan Sivasambu: Nathan Sivasambu is an old-school Trotskyite and a Sri Lankan to the core. After his undergraduate degree from the University of Ceylon in the 1950s he migrated to England. He has sustained his interest in island politics as well as the literary world associated with the Bloomsbury Group and Leonard Woolf. His batchelor-flat near Russell Square placed him close to the Bloomsbury arena in London… and the British Museum as well as SOAS and its Sri Lankan stock of books.

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Violence in Sri Lanka: Slipshod Scholarship

Michael Roberts

I recently circulated a whole set of articles by some Muslim scholars (located in the Eastern Province and abroad) as well as a few others in Western universities — mostly written in the 2011-19 period. I am beginning to go through them slowly when I can carve out time for this set of tasks. A few have focused on the incidence of crime and communal violence in the post 2009 period.

What strikes me on reading these ventures is the limited degree of reading of past works that has been pursued and the appalling gaps in their background – lapses which also impinge on their comments on the death toll in the last stages of Eelam War IV.

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Waduge’s Summary Survey: USA’s Hands in Sri Lankan Politics, 1950s-2019

Shenali Waduge, in LankaWeb. 1 November 2019, where the title reads “US in Sri Lanka since 2015 – turning Sri Lanka into a Neo-Colonial Military Base”

Ever since a regime change was choreographed in 2015 January, the US has been using its lackeys in government to exert tremendous influence in 3 areas – Sri Lanka‘s economy, Sri Lanka‘s Parliament and Sri Lanka‘s armed forces. Based on media articles, press releases and whatever other information has been made available to the public, an overview of the extent to which Sri Lanka’s sovereignty has been compromised can be deduced. Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation and Sri Lanka must uphold that sovereign status. Any new government must understand the fundamentals of what it means to be sovereign and ensure national policy is drafted to ensure that and for any gain that sovereignty is not compromised.

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Sinhala Buddhist Storm Clouds in the Present Presidential Race

ACL Ameer Ali, in Colombo Telegraph, 25 October 2019, … and Financial Times, 26 October 2019, with this title, “Political Buddhism, Presidential Race & Minorities”

Although the origins of political Buddhism in Sri Lanka goes back to the 19thcentury, it was harnessed as an election winning tool in the 1950s by the founder of SLFP, SWRD Bandaranaike. It was from him that even the CIA is said to have learned to politicise Buddhism to entrench American power in Southeast Asia (Eugene Ford, Cold War Monks, Yale University Press, 2017). From the 1950s onwards, political Buddhism has become a permanent feature of in Sri Lanka’s ethno-democracy. In a sense, political Buddhism adopted a military face during the Rajapakse regime between 2005 and 2009 when it confronted an armed nationalist Tamil militia, and the absolute victory in that confrontation added an element of pride to politicised Buddhists. 

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