Category Archives: working class conditions

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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Fashioning Sri Lanka’s Development: A Retrospective Overview

Godfrey Gunatilleke, being the final chapter entitled  “Hindsight and Retrospect – A Brief Commentary” in a new book Towards a Sri Lankan Model of Development, 2017 Marga Institute, ISBN 978-955-582-134-6 ….publications@margasrilanka.org

 

Introduction

“History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors”  This line from Eliot’s Gerontion is a good  starting  point to begin reflecting on Sri Lanka’s development after independence .  Retracing the development path that Sri Lanka took and pausing at every twist and turn to ask “What if we took another turn?” is always a fascinating  exercise . How useful it is in guiding us in our future actions is another matter. There are always lessons to be drawn from the successes and failures of the past. But when this is done we need to recognize the inherent limitations of an effort to learn from the past and project past trends to the future.  Eliot as a poet and Schumpeter as an economist found knowledge derived from past experience to be of limited worth in predicting how the future would unfold and enabling us to take control of it.  Eliot pointed out  that the past imposes a pattern and can falsify one’s vision of the emerging future as  “the pattern is new in every moment and every moment is a shocking valuation of all that we have been”   Schumpeter perceived how innovations and discoveries which were not  foreseen led to historic and fundamental changes  and  based his model of growth on the “creative destruction”of the past . Their insights about the “unpredictability” of the future has important implications and challenges for development policy and planning. Continue reading

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Ceylon Tea and Its Surrounds: Richard Simon’s Tour de Force

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Sunday Times, 16 July 2017, … http://www.sundaytimes.lk/170716/plus/an-invigorating-draught-250066.html

  

Sri Lanka. Aerial view of tea estate hillside.

Ceylon Tea is a must-read, must-absorb work of art. Its review of the history of tea in Sri Lanka is set in deep context – context historical, context political and context social. As such, it is a tour de force.   Continue reading

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Sydney is now a Chinatown?

Rose Brennan, in the Daily Telegraph

AUSTRALIA’S greatest city is now more Chinese than British — with yesterday’s Census data revealing how much the incredible boom in Asian ­migration has changed the face of Sydney. In the past 25 years, the percentage of overseas born ­migrants in Sydney residents from China has risen an ­incredible 500 per cent. And for the first time ever, the greatest proportion of ­migrants in the Harbour City are from China rather than England.

 Paul Wong was just 18 when his family came to Sydney from Hong Kong

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Alleged ‘Land Grabbing’ by the Security Forces in Sri Lanka

Gerald Peiris, … an essay that is part of  Chapter 11 in a forthcoming monograph titled Sri Lanka: Land Policy for Sustainable Development, by G. H. Peiris, currently in the press (as a Visidunu Publication, 471 Lake Road, Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka) [1]

In view of the significance accorded in recent public debate and discussion on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ in several conflict-ridden countries of the Third World it is necessary to devote attention to a series of facts that are of crucial relevance to a balanced understanding of the related  situation in Sri Lanka.

Gerald Peiris Bhavani Fonseka  Mirak Raheem

Land Grabbing: Concept and Empirical Application  

The phenomenon referred to as ‘land grabbing’ lacks definitional clarity. In many writings of recent times (Keely, 2009; Borras, et.al., 2011; Deininger & Byerlee 2011; Rulli, et. al., 2013; Brimayer & Moon, 2014; to name only a few), especially those sponsored by civil society organisations, this phrase has been used exclusively in the specific connotation of large-scale acquisition of land in the poorer countries by foreign governments and private firms that are based in the politically and economically powerful countries. Estimates of the extent of grabbed land worldwide vary. The prestigious journal, The Economist (21 May 2009) placed it at 15-20 million ha. According to the World Bank, it is as high as 45 million ha, with an overwhelmingly large proportion of it in the less densely populated areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America and Southeast Asia. In a major World Bank sponsored study (Deininger & Byerlee, op. cit.) ‘land grabbing’ has been portrayed as a phenomenon of both positive as well as negative impacts which nevertheless requires effective regulation. But more generally, this process is perceived as an exemplification of neo-colonial economic exploitation that has adverse consequences on the local people in the form of violation of fundamental rights, incitement of inter-group conflict, mass impoverishment and environmental degradation. What should be noted here is that in none of the research writings on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ as a global phenomenon do we come across a specific reference to Sri Lanka as a country that has been seriously affected by this phenomenon.[2] Continue reading

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The Ambalama: Blending Serenity and Beauty … amidst Poson Activities

Danya Udukumbure, in The Island, 23 June 2017, where the title runs 

It was the Poson weekend, actually a long one if one skipped work on Friday. Just perfect for an impromptu adventure! A quick call to my friends in Wariyapola and I was behind the wheel. It was still dark outside, but the road was dotted with white clad folk hurrying to the temples to observe sil. I revelled in the peaceful Poson spirit in the air. It seemed that the spirituality was weighing heavy as we were dealing with the aftermath of the catastrophic monsoon floods which left death and destruction in its wake in several districts. ‘Anichchai, Dukkai, Anaththai’. The whole country was in a lacklustre mood, or so I thought.

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