Category Archives: social justice

Ferment in Lanka’s Political Firmament: Three Tamil Voices — Philips, Moonesinghe and Somasundram

Rajan Philips:  “One more symbolic step: Wigneswaran’s audience with the Mahanayake Thera,” September 16, 2017

We need a break from the tedium, rather the opprobrium, of national corruption. To paraphrase Dr. Harsha de Silva’s public lamentation, the whole country is awash in corruption. The continuing non-promotion of people like Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickremaratne to full cabinet rank shows the depth of cabinet entrenchment by the corrupt and the crooked and the extent of exclusion of the bright and the honest. The government leadership has a lot to answer for its cabinet choices even as it has a lot of explaining to do about its highway contract choices.

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Filed under accountability, disparagement, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, NGOs, performance, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, TNA, world events & processes

The New Constitution is a Neo-Colonial US Project

Tamara Kunanayakam, being the full text of a talk entitled The new Constitution – a neo-colonial project!” at a Forum in Sri Lanka on 6th September 2017 .. with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi

As we meet here this evening, a radical overhaul is underway – of our political, economic, financial, social and cultural system. A new Constitution is being discussed, at the same time a plethora of radical reforms are being rushed through. The fact that many of these reforms are being challenged as unconstitutional indicates that the new Constitution is aimed at making what is un-Constitutional today, Constitutional tomorrow, making legal what is illegal by a simple trick of changing the Law!

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Filed under accountability, american imperialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, devolution, foreign policy, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, Left politics, life stories, military strategy, NGOs, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, propaganda, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes

Bracegirdle as a David taking on the British Plantation Goliath in 1937

Bernard Vancuylenberg, 

During the colonial period of the late 1930s, a tea plantation in the Madulkelle district Relugas Estate, was the place where what appeared to be a simple act of insubordination by an assistant superintendent, was to have far reaching consequences and wider ramifications not only for the company concerned, but for the colonial government of the time and a left leaning socialist political party called the “Lanka Sama Samaja Party” (The Lanka Socialist Party), popularly known as the LSSP.  The “David” in this case was a young assistant superintendent named  Mark Bracegirdle and the “Goliath” was the government of the day –  at first glance an uneven match.

 Bracegirdle with LSSP leaders at Horana– Colvin r de Silva seated and Philip gunawardena, Wilmot Perera and Leslie Goonewardena among those standing behind

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Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, press freedom & censorship, social justice, sri lankan society, unusual people, world events & processes

Speaking of the Self: Gender Issues in South Asia

Niroshini Somasundaram, in IIAS Newsletter, reviewing A. Malhotra & S. Lambert-Hurley. 2015. Speaking of the self: gender, performance, and autobiography in South Asia. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822359838

In the last few decades, scholars of South Asian history have disputed the notion that South Asian cultures do not possess the autonomous representation of the individual, particularly in documenting histories, compared to their European counterparts. To that end, the numerous ways in which self-representation has been practiced in this region in different forms and time periods have been increasingly explored in scholarship. The rich collection of essays in this volume, edited by Anshu Malhotra and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, challenge the existing boundaries and discourses surrounding autobiography, performance and gender in South Asian history by presenting a varied and fresh selection of women’s autobiographical writing and practices from the seventeenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The compelling choice of authors explored in the essays include Urdu novelists, a Muslim prostitute in nineteenth century Punjab, a Mughal princess, a courtesan in the Hyderabad court and male actors who perform as female characters. It moreover challenges conventional narratives in the field of autobiographical studies by relaying in careful detail the different forms which ought to be encompassed within the genre of autobiography such as poetry, patronage of architecture and fiction. Continue reading

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Probing Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s Background and Attainments

Darshanie Ratnawalli,  courtesy of the Sunday Island, 27 August 2017, where the title runs Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe –The man Vs the hero”

“Salagama? Certainly not”, Sumangala Thera of the Sugatha-Dakshinaramaya temple in Skelton Road refutes my speculation about Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s caste as authoritatively as only a Buddhist monk hailing from Kanumuldeniya, just two kilometres from Rajapakshe’s original village of Horewala in Walasmulla, and somebody who went to school with him, can. As political issues hotted up and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe became flavour of the month, the first public reference to Rajapakshe’s caste was made on 13 August by Badulla District MP Dilan Perera, couched as an admonition not to rely on the caste-ridden as well as chauvinistic Joint Opposition which, whichever Rajapaksa it welcomes, will not accept a Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

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Filed under accountability, Buddhism, caste issues, cultural transmission, education, electoral structures, governance, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, performance, politIcal discourse, slanted reportage, social justice, sri lankan society, unusual people

Sri Lanka in 2016: Professor CR de Silva’s Capsule Review

Chandra R. de Silva reviews the achievements of Sri Lanka’s new regime led by President Maitripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2016 for ASIAN SURVEY. He also assesses the challenges that lie ahead in 2017, as political divisions are likely to intensify over local and regional government elections, and foreign loans and inefficient state enterprises could disrupt the country’s positive economic outlook.

Two years after the defeat of the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the emergence of a coalition government consisting of the two major political alliances, Sri Lanka has made some progress but faces major challenges in 2017.The current government led by President Maitripala Sirisena, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe leader of the United National Party (UNP) has an overwhelming majority in Parliament. Although they lead groups which had long standing political rivalries, the two leaders have planned for a long-term alliance. One of their signal political achievements was the approval of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 2015. This provision circumscribed the power of the President by restricting the hitherto virtually unfettered power of the president to appoint a number of officers (such as judges of the Supreme Court) and also limited presidents to a maximum of two terms. In addition, the amendment prohibited the President from dissolving Parliament without its consent for four and a half years after the date of the last parliamentary election.

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Filed under accountability, island economy, life stories, modernity & modernization, parliamentary elections, performance, politIcal discourse, power politics, social justice, sri lankan society, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Teleology in Cricketing Rules

 Michael Roberts

Aristotle asserted that the intrinsic telos of an acorn is to become a fully-grown oak tree.[1] Kant dwelt on the concept of telos as a regulative principle, while it is said that teleology was foundational in the speculative philosophy of Hegel. Without much knowledge of these theorists’ exegesis, I nevertheless invoke them in criticizing the MCC for its failure to adhere to the principle of telos – or basic common sense – in insisting on Law 29 relating to the issue of whether a batsman has made his ground before being stumped or run out.

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