Category Archives: population

Extra, Extra: Population Figures for Sri Lanka

EDITORIAL News Item, News-in-Asia, September 2018

Sri Lanka’s mid year population as at 2017 was estimated at 21.444 million, a rise from 21.203 million estimated in 2016, latest official data showed here Friday.According to a report in Ceylon Today, quoting official data, since 2012, Sri Lanka’s population has increased by 1,019, million. The highest population increase was recorded from the capital Colombo District with a population of 2.419 million and the lowest was from Mullaitivu, in the north. with a population of 96,000.

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SBD de Silva: Marxist Scholar Extraordinary … Sharp Mind, Simple Life-Style

Gamini Seneviratne,  courtesy of The Island, 18 June 2018

SB who passed away last week at the age of 93 was undoubtedly the foremost analyst we have had of what his principal work defined as “The Political Economy of Underdevelopment”.  In that work, first published in 1982, as the blurb puts it, Dr. de Silva dealt with the theory of underdevelopment as he attempted a synthesis between the internal and external aspects of underdevelopment. In the Marxist tradition he focused on the impact of the external on the internal as the dominant reality.

Front Cover
RoutledgeMay 23, 2012 – Business & Economics – 646 pages

First published in 1982, this reissue deals with the theory of underdevelopment, as Dr. de Silva attempts a synthesis between the internal and external aspects of underdevelopment and, in the Marxist tradition, focuses on the impact of the external on the internal as the dominant reality.Viewing underdevelopment as a problem in the non-transformation to capitalism, this analysis is in terms of the character of the dominant capital and of the dominant classes. Underdevelopment thus encompasses the ‘traditional’ peasant economy and also the export sector where the ‘modernizing’ influence of colonialism was felt. The book finally considers how the contemporary internationalization of capital affected the economies of the Third World.

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Quaint By-Ways and Nature’s Ways in Colombo in the 1940s

Hugh Karunanayake, courtesy of THE CEYLANKAN, vol XXI/1, January 2018 where the title is “A Naturalist’s Paradise–Colombo in the 1940s”

Padda boats along the Negombo Canal

Growing up in mid twentieth century Colombo was a fascinating experience to any young person.  That was the era when urban growth was taking place  at a pace that afforded local fauna to thrive at will without any restrictions.  Colombo South  with its tree lined avenues  and  homes with spacious gardens  provided sanctuary to a wide range of fauna ranging from avi fauna to reptiles. As a five year old  just admitted to Royal Preparatory School  I was mesmerised  by the “golden beetles” that lived in the Andara trees that stood on the perimeter of the school grounds on Racecourse Avenue. Many of us five year olds fascinated by the shiny green gold sheen of the beetles, with great delight collected the beetles some of them dead and  others still alive and took them home. The live ones did not live long, they were away from their natural surroundings, and  we innocents knew nothing about their sustenance requirements. Also, keeping beetles was done in secrecy as our parents would not have countenanced it. Looking back on those childhood days I  believe that my interest in natural history may have had its beginnings in the school yard. Not long after my interest turned into rearing and breeding tropical fish. That interest  was abiding and lasted through my adulthood even into retirement in Australia where I  kept koi carp and other tropical fish for many years.

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How the Railways Came to Batticaloa

Shirley W. Somanader, from The Island, 6 September 2014

Travel Before the Trains: A measure of the efficiency of communication between a place and the outside world is the ease of accessibility to the Capital city. In terms of this measure, the isolation of the Batticaloa district, as late as the first quarter of the Twentieth century is expressed, by a person who had lived through the better part of those times thus: “A journey to Batticaloa was something of an adventure. It was long and tiresome and often risky. Before the introduction of the train service in 1928, there were only two means of communication with the outside world. One by sea, at first by sailing vessels, replaced later on by coasting steamers, which called once a week either from the south or north: The other by land across rocks and precipices of the Uva Province. The journey was done on horseback or bullock carts.”

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Filed under British colonialism, commoditification, cultural transmission, governance, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, population, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, transport and communications, Uncategorized

Reviewing “Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean”

Richard Fynes,  reviewing Marie-Françoise Boussac, Jean- Françoise Salles & Jean-Baptiste (eds.) Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean,  Delhi: Primus Books. 2016. ISBN 97893840820792  …………… in IIAS Newsletter,  Summer 2017

This edited volume delivers much more than is suggested by its title, since it includes discussions of emporia as far inland as Delhi, the time-scale covered by its articles extends from the 20th century BC to the 18th century AD, and since not only the Indian Ocean, but also the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea are discussed by the various authors. Given the wide range and disparate nature of the twenty-four papers in the volume, how should one orient oneself among them? Best to begin with Elizabeth Lambourn’s ‘Describing a Lost Camel’ – Clues for a West Asian Mercantile Networks in South Asian Maritime Trade (Tenth-Twelfth Centuries AD). The volume taken as a whole forms a contribution to the genre of world history and Lambourn provides a clear-eyed assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. Although Lambourn’s paper is primarily concerned with the two hundred years from the tenth- to the twelfth centuries AD, her masterly analysis of the sources and criticism of the various methodologies in which they are employed provide the reader with a prism with which to view the remaining papers in the volume. Lambourn begins her account with a review of the relevant archaeological and documentary evidence. It is salutary to learn just how insecure is the dating of many South Asian ceramic types and consequently of the archaeological sites whose dating has been largely derived from ceramic evidence. Lambourn notes the problems posed by pluridisciplinary character of the sources and their simultaneous use. Her paper focuses on the port of Sanjan, in the domain of the western Indian dynasty of the Rastrakuta, where, for the tenth century there is rare conjunction of evidence from archaeology, Arabic geographical writings and Indian epigraphy. Her discussion is rich both in evidence and insight, and she gives due acknowledgment to the work of Ranabir Chakravarti, whose work has led scholars to reformulate the questions they ask of the sources. Lambourn’s findings lead her to speculate on the nature of world history and the relationship between micro- and macro history, as she expresses dissatisfaction that she is “left with an eclectic collection of small insights and few satisfactory larger narratives.” Such honest appraisals of the conclusions of one’s research invite further questions and are thus a stimulant to further research. Continue reading

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Imminent Disasters? Exploiting Sri Lanka’s Mineral Resources

Ashley de Vos, in The Island, 16 August 2017, where the heading runs thus: “The exploitation of minerals of Sri Lanka”

If there is an asset, should it be exploited to the fullest in the shortest period of time? The traditional view would be based on very careful and controlled use. Today, in the global market place an asset is viewed very differently. As most investors in a business are interested in an ever increasing the bottom line question of eventual sustainability raises questions that need answers. Unfortunately, all exploitation has limits and if profit is the only criteria, whatever the pontification, it cannot and is not sustainable in the long term. It will always be a short term solution, to what could be a long term disaster.

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Barron’s Mss History of British Planters via Three Case Studies

Tom J. Barron … a typed Manuscript I discovered in my study; …. an article drafted in 1972/73 [see below]; …..an essay that does not seem to have appeared in print [see elaboration at the end] …Highlighting emphasis is the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

The history of British plantation enterprise in Ceylon is a relatively neglected topic. Most historical works on 19th and 20th century Ceylon mention the estates, but few have troubled to give them any special attention. In some ways the neglect is rather surprising for by the 1870’s. if not earlier, Ceylon was celebrated throughout the world as one of the most progressive and enterprising centres of tropical agriculture. The reputation of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and of its most distinguished director, Dr. G. H. K. Thwaites, extended far beyond Ceylon, and Ceylon’s contribution to the science of botany and to the study of agricultural economics was widely regarded as second to none. But, for reasons that are not difficult to detect, the planters have never greatly appealed as heroic figures to the historians of independent Ceylon. For the most part the estates were situated in the hills of the central highlands, remote from the affairs of the mass of her people; the capital and business organization which supported these enterprises were largely imported from Europe; the proprietors, superintendents and assistants who ran the estates were mostly British by birth; and the labour force was recruited principally from South India. There is another difficulty, too; considered from the standpoint of independent, nationalist Ceylon, the planters, who relied upon and openly supported the imperial political and economic systems, are not very sympathetic individuals. Dr. Bastiampillai speaks for many people in Ceylon when he refers to the planters, in his book on Sir William Gregory’s administration, as ‘petulant and peevish,’ ‘self—interested’ and ‘unreasonable.’ It is interesting to note, however, that recently some local historians (of when Dr. Lal Jayawardena and Dr. Michael Roberts are principal) have begun to challenge the notion of the ‘dual economy,‘ to question the theory that most Ceylonese were unaffected by the changes introduced by large-scale plantation agriculture, and to re-examine the achievements which the planters made. Continue reading

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