Category Archives: working class conditions

The History of Civil Society Organisations in Sri Lanka

Vinod Moonesinghe

Although the role and importance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society organisations (CSOs) have diminished since January 2015, they continue to play a significant role. While the level of their co-operation with the state is fairly high, this has not always been so. The eruption on in July 2014 of a controversy regarding the political and media activities of civil society highlighted its long-standing friction with the state. Relations between state and civil society have been characterised by periods (of varying duration) of familiarity and of remoteness, of alliance and of antagonism.

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Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, charitable outreach, economic processes, growth pole, historical interpretation, island economy, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, working class conditions, world events & processes

Introducing Prophetic Indictments by Mervyn De Silva

Noel Ranjith

Regular readers of “The Island” newspaper over the twenty year period from the 1980’s will remember the almost weekly columns written by Dr. Mervyn D. De Silva, who was in those years a Deputy Director of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, followed by being appointed as the Director of the Ministry of Plan Implementation, and later becoming a Member of Parliament through the National List. His most profuse and provocative period was during the tenures of four Presidents from Mr. J. R. Jayawardene to Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. His writings covered a wide range of public and national concerns and took their cue from what the controversial American journalist I.F. Stone believed was the purpose of good journalism  –to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.

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Filed under accountability, charitable outreach, commoditification, education, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, land policies, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, sri lankan society, transport and communications, working class conditions, world affairs

Colonialism within Todays’ Humanitarian Agency Work

Janaka Jayawickrama, courtesy of Al-Jazeera, 24 February 2018, where the title runs “Humanitarian aid system is a continuation of the colonial project …. Note that emphasis via highlighting has been added and minor editorial changes have been made by the Editor, Thuppahi

Haitians wait to get food coupons in downtown Port-au-Prince following the 2010 earthquake that wrecked much of Haiti’s capital and killed as many as 200,000 people [Eliana Aponte/Reuters]

The global humanitarian community is again in confusion. The Oxfam sexual misconduct scandal has made headlines. Policymakers and humanitarian leaders everywhere talk about the need for change. Over the last 30 years or so, there have been many scandals, and much demand for reform. However, business just continues as usual. According to Reuters, during the last year the Save the Children Fund claimed they fired 16 staff members over reports of sexual harassment and Oxfam reported it dismissed 22 of its staff. There are similar reports by various humanitarian agencies. What is terrifying is that the same person who quit his role with Oxfam 2011 after being accused of using sex workers while working in Haiti, was engaging in similar acts in 2006 during his time working for the charity in Chad. Oxfam knew about this but went ahead and sent this person to work in Haiti anyway.

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Filed under accountability, american imperialism, charitable outreach, cultural transmission, governance, historical interpretation, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, social justice, working class conditions, world events & processes

Encountering Prejudice in Lanka as a Person of Mixed Descent

Krystle Reid, from Groundviews,  where the title is “A Welcoming Nation”

The following is a list of things I’m often asked or told, revealing of Sri Lankan perceptions about the Burgher community.

  1. Are you Sri Lankan?
  2. Can you speak in Sinhalese?
  3. ‘You’re a Burgher? You sure don’t look like one’
  4. ‘Sounds like a Las Vegas stripper name’
  5. ‘They get drunk every Saturday and go to church the next day, no shame’
  6. ‘Burghers? Parents must be divorced then.’
  7. ‘Lansi no? Probably got the job because of her English and the mini skirt’
  8. ‘Burgher…. like a hamburger?’

I could continue but the real point I was trying to make is that 70 years after independence, our ethnicity is still misunderstood. Continue reading


Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, democratic measures, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, education, education policy, ethnicity, female empowerment, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, modernity & modernization, performance, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, social justice, Sri Lankan cricket, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, travelogue, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, working class conditions, world events & processes

Neville Weereratne: the Artist and his Distant Homeland

Tony Donaldson

This essay on the life and art of Neville Weereratne is based on interviews recorded in Melbourne in July 2014 and from material collected during fieldwork in Australia and Sri Lanka.

 Neville Weereratne.

The artist and author Neville Weereratne died in Melbourne on 3 January 2018 at the age of 86. He was born in Colombo on 3 December 1931. A Sinhalese by descent and the youngest of five siblings, he began drawing at about the age of six. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Hulftsdorp, near to the Supreme and Magistrate courts, but their home was requisitioned by the civil authorities in World War 2 and so the family moved into a house in Dehiwela owned by the Peries family (Ivan and Lester).

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Colombo City in Singapore Style? Its Hinterland Trumps That Idea …. Witness: The Recent Elections

Wilfred Jayasuriya

I assume that the government is using the Singapore model of economic development, which focuses on services and not on agriculture or industry. In the 1970s when economic development or development economics became the favourite subject of politics and economics I was lucky to do a one year post graduate diploma in Oxford University for government officers. One question raised was “How valid is the Singapore model?” and the short answer given by Robert Mabro, an Egyptian academic who ran the course was: Singapore has no hinterland.

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Filed under accountability, economic processes, electoral structures, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions, world events & processes

Delhi Today and Yesterday: Entangled Urbanism

Sanjay Srivastava’s Entangled Urbanism

Cover for Entangled Urbanism

Entangled Urbanism: Slum, Gated Community and Shopping Mall in Delhi and Gurgaon

  • A timely study of the urbanization process of Delhi
  • Analyzes a wide range of issues
  • Discusses all aspects of the process of urbanization – from gated communities, to malls, to consumerism

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Filed under economic processes, environmental degradation, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes