21 May, 2022


A Tribute To A Dear Friend: Shanthi Anusha Sachithanandam

By Kumar Rupesighe

Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe

Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe

I had the privilege of having known Shanthi Sachithanandam since about the 1980s when she and her husband Mano would attend the many meetings and discussion circles which were going on about the crisis in the country as result of the pogroms unleashed by President Jayewardene after his massive election victory in 1977. JR. Jayewardene had won the elections with a four fifths majority and his first act as the President was to unleash a reign of terror on the SLFP and the left movement who had been defeated with only 8 seats in Parliament. True to form, he had given a promise that if he won he would give the police two weeks leave, so that revenge would be turned against the opposition.

Next in this sequel of events was when Jayewardene, turned on the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Amirthalingam, challenging him that “If you want war we will give you war and if you want peace we will give you peace! This clarion call by Jayewardene was an invitation to looters and thugs to create a reign of terror against the Tamil until 1983, when organized thugs in the guise of a curfew marked Tamil houses, the other set fire to them and the rest scavengers looted the property.

Shanthi Anusha SachithanandamIt was under these circumstances that I had the opportunity to meet Shanthi and Mano, both intellectuals in their own right and who were parts of the progressive intellectual class of the country. Their own house was attacked and their house desecrated and looted and who with their children had to flee to Jaffna in a ship. When they returned Shanthi and Mano were a familiar presence in seminars and gatherings. Shanthi was a vivacious lady who was a fighter for human rights and dignity for all. However she mingled with intellectuals easily and her wit and intellectual brilliance was a pleasure to watch and participate. Shanthi managed her life with quiet and dedicated purpose and was always engaged in working with the social movements in the North and the South. Viluthu was Shanthi’s creation, an organization dedication to service and to promote co-existence and the education of communities in the North and East. To quote from her statement in the prospectus of Viluthu “the lack of governance is at the core of the crisis facing Sri Lanka today. A highly centralized state which has spawned a civil war, widespread corruption at the highest political levels, stark human rights abuses and a dormant civil society count as some of the major reasons. No amount of development aid can put this country back on the road to recovery unless good governance is restored. In a country where war has been raging for over two and a half decades leading to high levels of militarization, civil society has not been able to speak out. In this context Viluthu finds it imperative to work with the civil society through the youth, through vulnerable women, through local government, the private sector and the media. Shanthi had a strong presence in Batticaloa where she also contested in the General Elections. She was in the forefront of the women’s movement and always fought for the rights of women. Some of her key involvements with her able team of colleagues can be summarized as follows.

Widow’s Charter – She brought the issues of War widows and Female Headed House Holds (FHHH) to the notice of the Government (nearly 85,000) and prepared the Draft Memorandum for a Widows Charter with the inputs of the affected   women. The draft was submitted to the and Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Provincial Councils of the North and East and North Western Provinces, NOGOO  and to the UN offices in Colombo and Batticaloa.

A Nutrition program (One dish meal) – Introduced a Nutrition program (One dish meal) in collaboration with Ms. Visakha Tillekeratne, Nutrition Consultant.  This has led to the establishment of “Sanjeevi” organic Food stalls in Muthur, Puttalam and some other places. This program has accepted and recognized as a model meal in South Asian Countries and the World Bank brought a group of persons from Bangladesh, Bhutan and India to understand the process. (Visaka has written about this in the Colombo Telegraph 29th August 2015). Women’s voices on War were compiled and Exhibitions were held in Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Moneragala, UK, Afghanistan, USA and Canada.

Women Representations in the Mediation Boards – Introduced Mediation Board concept through the Study Circle / Readers and helped the Mediation Boards Commission to increase the percentage of women taking part in the Mediation Boards in the North and Eastern provinces and Puttalam District. The all island average in 2012 was only 5%.

A cartoon booklet on Local Government was designed by her in Tamil to be used in the Training Programs. This has enabled women to approach Local government organizations and fulfill their needs. Example Thirumalpuram Village in Trincomalee district obtained their electricity connection. In 2014 the women who were thus empowered has collected approximately Rs. 70 million on their own in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Puttalam Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Mannar to meet their needs

Activating the appointment of Advisory Committees in LG System – Some of the local governments have included the people’s advisory committees into their systems with women’s participation.  Voter Education – Documentary “Speak through your Vote” in Tamil. “Vaakkuhalal Pesuwom” was prepared. These efforts led to the increase on voter turnout in the areas where they conducted the programs.

Political Participation. Joining hands with several women organizations she attempted to increase the women representations in Politics. Coached women on propaganda, getting organized and advertising etc. The name lists of willing women were sent to all political parties to choose them.

“One Billion Rising” of women in 2012 –    Joint hands on “One Billion Rising” of women in 2012,   A song in Tamil sung by Selvy her sister and Shanti at the “One Billion Rising” Rally is in the You Tube.

Advocacy program “No Run Tell” on Child Abuse.

Over the years I remember with nostalgia the many dinners and conversations our family had with Shanthi. Shanthi would always have her point of view. She lived amongst the Sinhalese but throughout her years she remained a Tamil, a radical to the core. She had differences with the LTTE but also with the old guard Tamil National Movement. Over time her intellectual curiosity grew to explore many dimensions of Spirituality which she explored with commitment and vigor. Her spiritual journey and meditation stood her in good stead to weather the storm and anguish which confronted her in her last phase of her life.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 20

    The song “one billion rising” protesting violence against women is a stirring masterpiece – with subtitles in English.


    We need many more ‘Shanthis’.

  • 20

    Thank you for writing this and the information. A life well lived in the service of her fellow human beings.

  • 18

    Thank you Mr.Kumar Rupesinghe,for this vivid essay about S.S.

    I was not aware that she had contested a General Election.Had she been elected it would have been a case of a Pearl amongst the Swines.

  • 9

    Your past with Marxist Chinese communist type ideology continues to bother me. Your blatant attempt to project yourself as a leader using your “Janaweygaya” platform when you were married to the VVIP first family was appalling. You were encouraging the govt, to default on loans by declaring a “moratorium”. You grabbed the NYSC post by hoodwinking the VVIP family. You projected yourself as a super intellectual with your basic British degree and showed off a lot. You benefited a lot by your family connections. I find it hard to believe or accept that you are genuine. Your Janaweygaya cult led to the split in the family. A lot of people felt you were A CIA plant.

    This article is great Kumar and you hit the nail on the head about JR and his dirty politics. But I have a hard time accepting you as a credible intellectual considering the substantial foreign funding you get and the extravagant lifestyle you and other NGOs like CPA indulge in.Sorry.

    • 4

      I totaly agree with you Tikiri. You have the criticism of KR and sametime appreciate what he said about Shanti. I also had some experience about his behaviour that time.

    • 1

      HE could not become another politician.

      Instead, he became INGO to live his life.

      Kanta suthathre.

  • 1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 0

      [Edited out]

      • 5

        Okay, Okay!

        I’ve just undergone an absolute conversion experience and now I absolutely agree with absolutely everything that Rupesinghe says in his absolute article.

  • 17

    I have known Mano and Shanthi for a considerable period and I admired Shantihi’s intellectual capability and often wandered why people of her caliber didn’t get a chance to represent the people in our Parliament. She would have contributed immensely and her voice would have heard louder and clear. Unfortunately this never happened.
    I was shocked to hear of her untimely death and may her soul rest in peace.

    • 7


      …..and we are unlikely to hear voices like Shanthi, because the National Lists that should bring such people into our first debating chamber is reserved for the ‘yes sir, no sir’ coat-tail hanging party bag carrier.

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1

    What ever said and done Tamil political class and political strategy the agenda is not confined to Sri lanka, it is global strategy of Tamil Eealm .

    This is paved the way for the integration of linguistic Tamils nationals that inhabit Sri Lankan and India into the process of realizing the idea of Tamil State.
    Tamil nationalism in India is heinous one but it is based on a belief in the historical reality of the lost continent of Lemuria, once the Tamils call great ancient Tamil civilization.

    But how ? we get know the such territory of the study of history both its rightful or its dubious claims. Indeed pseudo history of Tamils is out there and intelligent person can and should be able to identify of Tamils claim.

    This is concord politics of Tamils speaking classes that base on Tamil Eealm -state is first step to be process in Sri lanka.
    That is New Federalism by TNA and CM of North council agenda is which the so-called “genocide politics” created by Tamil political class in North.

    Neo Federalism arise that within an Island territory that is emerge of the conception idea of Tamil state arose from continuous battle between Tamil-Nadu and Sri Lankan Tamils. Tamil State is NOT secular one and non-democratic state. It is purely Tamil race only. Then later will enlarge into Tamil-Nadu India.

    Needless to add, the this battle will define the direction and content of the process back by Indian big capitalist class and US hegemonies forces of laid foundation of Tamil State in Sri lanka.

    New Tamil political class orientation is not only making for strange bedfellows among Tamils ,but is also beginning to bring together gun rule forces whose interest have not always coincided.
    We are witnessing the inkling of new Tamil political movement in world as well as Sri lanka.

    The post independent Tamil class and parties became very clear as it was serving the interest of US and Indian hegemony ,by itself weaken the very foundation of secular democratic Republic of Sri lanka.

    Well resounding vindicated by our own experiences of political struggle with TNA and LTTE during these six decades of Independence that provides communal forces split country by bullet or by ballot. Further more it was found that an external enemy forces against Sinhalese nation are with Tamil political class.

    Our democratic system of good governance want reassert of advancing the secular mode of democracy ,we must first an opposed Federalism is going to split an Island .It is obvious fact reclaiming secular democracy can enrich structure of political democracy by blow up inequality of capitalist plundering millions of masses.

    At last impact of Tamil communalism and casteism of political-social impact that really associated consciousness of per-capitalist formations that continues to dominate semi-feudal & underdeveloped social order in North.

    Tamil political parties and their classes are still backwardness to secular democracy, the efforts at imposing by neo-liberal of US and Indian hegemony.

    In growing UNP and CBK criminalization of democracy will serve for the ruling class of their parliamentary political-electoral perspectives.

    • 4

      Sirisena Yatawara

      “What ever said and done Tamil political class and political strategy the agenda is not confined to Sri lanka, it is global strategy of Tamil Eealm . “

      It is not clear from the above whether you are worried about
      Darth Vader the Tamil Lord (Sambandan) originally from planet Sith taking over the entire world/universe or a warning to the rest of the world of impending danger and existential threat.

      Please clarify.

  • 0

    Native Veddha…..

    Demand by Veddha that wanted know the definition of Federal state encourage, USA-CIA UK-Blair and Indian -RWA is new political game plan of hegemony, of occupied Sri lanka land.
    But this has nothing to do with that only right of self-determination of claim by ruthless Tamil Terrorist, which demand & support by LTTE and TNA. This forces push us to be open partition of our Island; two state one for Tamils and other for non-_Tamils.

    Bacially TNA and LTTE having path of slight differences of Tamil State for North Tamils and Tamil speaking people in Sri lanka.
    Only differences arise path of capture power by bullet or ballot for Tamil Eealm State? To achieve Tamil Eealm that TNA used both methods at once.

    First TNA, former TULF ,FP encourage and covered operation by support armed struggle ,when its come failure that LTTE lost the power of GUN, TNA turn into so-called methods of ballot.
    Local Tamil rough state NOT ONLY aspirations Tamils speaking in
    Sri lanka; but it has enlarge to Tamil-Nadu-India.100 million Tamils having no any land their own by themselves to run feudal-communalist state in the World Map. The road map of every single Tamils nationalist seek their mother land Tamil-Nadu should become their Home-land. But path is subvert and obstruct by Indian big Capitalist.

    It quite difficult Tamils in Tamil-Nadu by passed task to achieve go beyond and by passing Indian big bouegesios; why is that Indian big capitalist work for day and night build “Hindu Empire” to be replace US Empire.

    Likewise an political ideological current strategy of US hegemony is to a monopoly on the definition of DEMOCRACY to SUIT ITS HEGEMONIC INTEREST. Currently India hegemony and US both are applying similar tactics of democracy pattern in Sri lanka.

    Ongoing Federalism for the Tamil state in Sri lanka is upside down democracy suited Indian hegemony, which is “rough state for Tamils” prompted by interest of US and Indian hegemony the policy of pivot Asia.

    It seek in Sri lanka disarticulate democracy as an ideological concept from democratic revolutionary discourse with right perspective and to fix if firmly in a UNP type neo-conservative discourse so-called ‘good governed’ by the principle of monopoly capital of Indian and US.

    It plan for “federal state Tamils “coopt under its new global zone influence for the Indian Ocean countries which have recently since 2015 January 9th overthrown off so-called authoritarian rule ( concord story MR of progressive ruling class)by convening them under the rubric of ‘newly restored democracies’.

    The Tamil an opposition leader of TNA and JVP organizer of opposition party in Parliament is more successful the US and Indian-RWA hegemonic tactics and strategies are the more invisible their operates.

    So the eventual political and economic crisis are ascribed only to internal forces of UNP-RW, CBK and MS it taking into account.
    While long period US and Indian-RWA penetration and quite sabotage into the social fabric by inimical TNA- Tamil diaspora, NGOs, Civic operations and its societies, party leaders of UNP, SLFPs, as well as CBK & MS become agents of hegemonies.

    Their local agenda is to be setup New “Tamil Federal state” in NORTH of Sri lanka by rigging electrical mandate of parliamentary form of operation by channels of diplomacy.

    • 1

      Sirisena Yatawara

      Could you translate the above into Tamil, Sinhala or English.

  • 0

    I have correct word read as electoral mandate not as’ electrical’.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.