Category Archives: unusual people

The Variation in the Diffusion of Electrical Power

SWR de Samarasinghe[1]

Thanks for sharing the very informative map — in  your piece “Dark Nights in Sri Lanka: The Incidence and Spread of Electricity.”[2] The relative deprivation of north outside the Jaffna Peninsula is striking but not surprising. Sparse population, poverty and the war are key explanatory factors. Economics plays a role to the extent that the overhead cost of supplying a single dwelling or a business in these areas will be higher than in more densely populated areas and the expected income for the CEB lower. The solution is a government subsidy for the CEB. My understanding is that such a subsidization has been government policy for a long time. The social benefits are substantial and in the long term it pays off economically as well.

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“We will get You ….” American Threat at the UNHRC in Geneva in September 2011 .

Tamara Kunanayakam, in Email Memo dated 26th September 2019 responding to my two-fold query: “When precisely was it that Eileen O’Donahue (?) spat out “WE WILL GET  YOU” when you passed each other in the Geneva corridors ….  date? which building? etc….. and the impending circumstances? AND  “who were the local niggers in the woodpile who got you transferred out of Geneva? …. Michael Roberts

It was at the September 2011 18th session of the Human Rights Council. At the time, the US was not a member of the HRC and Washington had asked Canada to sponsor a draft resolution on Sri Lanka that would place the country on the agenda of the Council’s 19th session, in March 2012. The draft resolution called for an interactive dialogue on Sri Lanka at the session.

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The Crushing Sway of the English Language in 20th Century Ceylon

Vinod  Moonesinghe, ….. responding to a passing ethnographic note by Chandra Fernando which ran thusUnfortunately, Mr Bandaranaike, who had Oxford Education, was not intelligent enough to know the value of English to Ceylonese. When we received telegrams, the postman could not read them, so we had to go to Mabole 3 miles walk either way where Wattala Post Office was to get it read from Postmaster.”

In reply to Chandra Fernando’s statements about English, it is not SWRD Banadaranaike he should blame, but the British imperial power. The British created a tiny circle of elite schools, to create a stratum of English-speaking civil servants and compradores, to serve their needs. The vast bulk of the population were left uneducated. Vernacular schools did not teach above the 8th grade, and you needed to go to an English-language school to get your SSC. By 1956, only 5% of the population could speak English.

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Spreading Knowledge via Light: Anduren Eliyata That Sydney-based Charitable Enterprise

Michael Roberts

ANDUREN ELIYATA was initiated as a charitable organisation by 71-year old Chandra Fernando in Sydney in 2014 with a focus on providing solar-powered units to needy families and schoolchildren in Sri Lanka. Its successful outreach has now prompted the organisers to consider similar endeavours in Fiji.

Though nurtured near Wattala on the western coast of Sri Lanka in the mid-20th century Chandra Fernando had to study “under a bottle lamp” till he reached the age of twenty and this experience has motivated his charitable outreach. In this endeavour his guiding organisational principles were ‘simple’: “We are all volunteers.  No office.  No clerks. No Rent. No allowances. No travel expenses nor hotel accommodation in Australia when travelling Interstate. This helps us to donate more Solar Powered Lighting Packages to the poor and needy students in Sri Lanka.” – as he noted in an email to me.

Recipients in Kilinochi   ….. in Iranateevu

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Dark Nights in Sri Lanka: The Incidence and Spread of Electricity

Michael Roberts

Way back in the md-1990s when I was in Sri Lanka working on the Anti-Muslim “riots of 1915” and other such topics and driving up to Kandy, I gave a lift to a youngish man waiting for a bus at Nittambuwa. He was a SL Army soldier in civilian clothes heading home to his village off Matale[1] and I dropped him off at Warakapola. He was now engaged in office work; but that was because he had been invalided out of fighting duties. In fact, he was the only survivor of a wire-guided landmine ambush on 30th July 1995 that killed Lt Genl Nalin Angammana[2] and all the others in the vehicle. Suffering major injuries, his recovery had been aided by the generosity of Nalin Angammana’s widow, who financed his flights to USA for major operations – her act of dāna (almsgiving).[3]

Lt Genl Nalin Angammana

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Composing THE BROKEN PALMYRAH: Rajani Thiranagama’s Rigorous Oversight … and Her Insights

Rajan Hoole, whose chosen title is “Thirty Years After: Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama’s Lasting Impact”

Text of Speech delivered by DR. Rajan Hoole at Trimmer Hall, Jaffna, on 21st September 2019 to mark the 30th anniversary of Dr.Rajini Thiranagama’s assassination [by the LTTE] …. presented first at http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/65690

Ever since Rajani was killed, on 21st September 1989, many around the world have seen her as a heroic figure that stood for human values, not in a legalistic sense, but in the full-blooded sense that evokes an emotional and intellectual response; that moves those around her to commitment and action that is contagious. Accepting that we are living in a world that is not pacifist, her activism was towards solutions that avoided violence. The other view of Rajani was simply that she is a traitor. For those who felt helpless when the Tigers carried all before them, she inspired them as a symbol of resistance to the emerging fascist order, where to dissent was to court death.

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ANDUREN ELIYATA in Sydney: Its Energetic Distribution of Solar-Power Units to Households in Sri Lanka

ANDUREN ELIYATA first came to my attention when it was the beneficiary of the AUSTRALIA SRI LANKA ASSOCIATION of ADELAIDE’s charitable hand in 2019 after a successful evening of dancing and joli-kireema. It is based in Sydney and has been operational since 2014 and focuses on the donation of solar-powered units to outlying and needy households in Sri Lanka via a circuit of schools, religious dignitaries and do-gooders. Its principal hands and aides receive no payment.

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