Rajiva Wijesinha, in Island, 13 June 2017, where the title is “The Troika and the importance of individuals” with the highlighting being the work of The Editor, Thuppahi
I have read with interest the accounts by Lalith Weeratunge and Dayan Jayatilleke of the way in which a Troika managed relations between India and Sri Lanka during the war period. Lalith’s account is most illuminating, in explaining how our three representatives, Lalith himself and Gotabhaya and Basil Rajapaksa, ensured the confidence of the Indians, even though the latter were nervous about possible reactions in Tamil Nadu.
But I believe Dayan is correct in drawing attention to the policy commitments underlying the very positive relationship they nurtured in those crucial years. And I think Dayan is also correct in noting that we need to look also at what happened afterwards, and how the benefits of what the Troika achieved were squandered. Continue reading
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Simon Meeds with Joe Simpson**
In September 1973 Joe Simpson had my first encounter with the man who, 120 years after his birth, is still referred to as “Small of Richmond”. Joe remembers the moment clearly. It was a typical morning for the south coast of Sri Lanka at that time of year, already hot and rather humid. Joe was a newly-arrived Cambridge University graduate, a teacher from Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). He had heard about Rev. Small from his VSO predecessor, another Northern Irishman who had served at Richmond a few years before. He remembers feeling wonderment on learning that not only had the Rev. Small been Principal as long ago as 1906, but also that at the age of 90 he still resided at the School.
Walter Joseph Tombleson Small
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The burning political question of the day appears to be who and how many Parliamentarians received money from Perpetual Treasuries Ltd (PTL) for their respective election campaigns. In a political season marked by scandalous memory-loss some have claimed that they didn’t always know who was depositing money in their accounts. Meanwhile the full list of beneficiaries is proving to be elusive; first it was said that PTL had funded the campaigns of 116 politicians, later the number was upped to 166 and now it stands at 186.
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Chandani Kirinde, in Sunday Times, 27 August 2017, where the title is “A Historian Looks Back”
Kingsley Muthumuni De Silva’s fascination with history began at the tender age of ten, when, on a visit to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, he first came face to face with the country’s great classical civilization. The colossal architectural and engineering feats of the island nation’s forefathers left a lasting impression in his young mind. Years later as he travelled the world having established himself as a leading historian, K.M. De Silva discovered that the building techniques adopted by the Lankan builders of yore were far ahead of anything he saw in many countries in the west.
K.M. De Silva: Still writing at 85. Px by Indika Handuwala
“After my first view of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, I came back thinking what a lot these people have done. In the unique architectural styles seen in the Brazen Palace to the moonstone slabs, there is something quite remarkable about the imagination of the people who created them,” said De Silva.
While seeing this living laboratory of the country’s history set in motion his lifelong passion for the subject, there were several of his teachers both at his alma mater Kingwood College, Kandy and the University of Colombo, Peradeniya who helped hone his skill as a historian.
In his recently released memoir aptly named, “The making of a historian”, K.M. De Silva gives a glimpse of his teachers who helped develop his love of history and guided him. Among them were Sydney Perera and Ainsley Samarajiva, two of his teachers in the upper classes at Kingswood, the former a stimulating geography teacher, the latter “who took teaching of history to a much higher level than it had been so far in school.”
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Cenan Pirani: “Widening the study of military organization in the early modern South Asian context: an examination of the Sinhala Hatana Kavya”, in South Asian History & Culture, Vol9/2, April 2018, pp. 207-24.
ABSTRACT: This essay highlights the under-represented subject of military organization in the context of early modern Sri Lanka. Military organization is a topic well covered in North Indian studies of the Mughal State, and this essay borrows certain thematic concepts from that historiography to examine the Sri Lankan context. Specifically, it considers the existence of a ‘military labour market’ from which both European and Asian kings and generals recruited base soldiery between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Such an economic market can be found through a reading of Sinhala sources known as the Hatana Kavya (‘war poems’), which document warfare and conflicts between the Portuguese and Sinhalese kings in this period. Information in these poems also notes the clear connection between territorial authority and efficient military organization, where authority was dependent on the loyalty of one’s military force. The essay attempts break from previous scholarship, which usually assumes military conflict in the period is the result of ideological conflicts (i.e. religion and ethnicity) between foreign, European, and native island elements. It does this by showing how military leaders of both groups were essentially required to gain the services of the same base soldiery through material incentives.
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