4 October, 2022

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How Tamil Leadership Failed Sri Lanka

By Vishwamithra

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.” ~ Maya Angelou, poet, civil rights activist.

Our first Prime Minister DS Senanayake described Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan as “the greatest Ceylonese of all times”. When Ceylon was under the British Raj, trying to break away from the shackles that bound them to everything British, from language, religion, race to Victorian decorum, in order to gain independence from such intended serfdom, the upper classes of Ceylon, educated abroad and based mainly in Colombo and its outskirts, formed themselves into an exclusive club and established what came to be known as Ceylon National Congress. The Ceylon National Congress (CNC) was a Nationalist, as against racist or ethnic, political organization, which was formed in Ceylon on 11 December 1919. It was founded after nationalism grew quite passionately in the early 20th century during the British Colonial rule in Ceylon. It was formed by members of the Ceylon National Association (founded in 1888) and the Ceylon Reform League (founded in 1917). The Ceylon National Congress played a crucially influential role, they say, in the attainment of Sri Lanka’s independence later in 1948. Nevertheless, in the writer’s view, Ceylon’s independence was chiefly due to India’s ‘Swaraj’ movement spearheaded by the Gandhis, Nehrus and Patels and their timeless efforts for a free India; the British had no option but to agree to ‘free Ceylon’. 

Coming back to the Ponnambalams, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan contested the 1911 legislative council election as a candidate for the Educated Ceylonese seat and was elected to the Legislative Council, defeating eminent physician Marcus Fernando of the so-called Kaurawa caste (fisherman’s caste); both DS Senanayake and Justice Eugene Wilfred Jayewardene (JR’s father), invited Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, (hailing from Vellalar caste, which is equivalent to Govigama caste amongst Sinhalese) to contest. Caste, this obscene social classification, is now, more or less, an anachronism, I believe. 

However, earlier in 1879, Ramanathan was appointed to the Legislative Council of Ceylon as the unofficial member representing Tamils, replacing his maternal uncle Muthu Coomaraswamy who happened to be the first Asian to be knighted by the British Empire. When Ceylon was granted universal suffrage in 1931, Ramanathan opposed extending voting rights to the people and urged reservation of franchise only to men of the Vellalar caste. Some argue that Ramanathan realized that after universal suffrage is granted to Ceylon, the legislative branch will be represented by an overwhelming Sinhalese membership resulting in a majoritarian rule, which it did.

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam (Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan’s younger brother and the first Civil Servant of Ceylon, a way before C Sundaralingam), was the founding President of the CNC. Amongst prominent Sinhalese leaders of the Congress were Sir James Peiris, FR Senanayake, DS Senanayake, Sir DB Jayatilaka, EW Perera and CWW Kannangara. Sir Arunachalam was one of the founders of the Ceylon National Congress (CNC) in 1919 and in fact, served as its first President from 1919 to 1920. Arunachalam left the CNC in 1921 following disputes about communal representation in the Legislative Council, which Arunachalam opposed, and the connivance of Sinhalese politicians which resulted in no Tamils being elected from Western Province at the 1921 legislative council election. He founded the Ceylon Tamil League in 1923. Though the Senanayakes and Ponnambalams were close social acquaintances, their political fissures began their gradual widening after the departure of Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam from the CNC.

The Ponnambalam brothers, however, notwithstanding their total commitment to the Tamil cause, both in public and in private conduct, had very little to do with the average Tamil who lived in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country (Ramanathan founded two schools in Jaffna). They were elitists, both in thought as well as in action, akin to our Sinhalese pukka sahibs. As much as the Sinhalese leaders who started pontificating from the public platforms about patriotism and cultural awareness, the Ponnambalam brothers too confined themselves to elitist political discourses and as a result hardly made any effort to identify themselves with the uneducated and poor majority of their respective ethnic segments. Their class and caste-superiority was well portrayed in the aforementioned contest for a seat in the legislative Council in 1911. Caste identity mattered even more than ethnic denominations at the time. 

Yet, Ramanathan was responsible for the release of the Sinhalese leaders who had been arrested following the 1915 Ceylonese riots, travelling to the UK to make their case. He was re-elected at the 1916 legislative council election, defeating Justice Sextus Wijesinghe Jayewardene, this time JR’s uncle. But one singular quality of the then Tamil leadership was their ability and willingness to identify broadly with the Ceylonese nation as a whole instead of thinking narrowly about their own community preferences. This broad identity they so created helped them being recognized by average Sinhalese Buddhists as a national group not setting them apart from the ‘Ceylonese’ national agenda and the ‘Ceylonese’ national dialogue. Nonetheless, the Ponnambalam brothers, more than once, together and sometimes separately, transcended not only partisan party politics but also partisan communal/ethnic divisions. They broadly represented the Ceylonese ‘nation’ as against their ethnic community.

Limiting cooperation only to the elitist leaders of the two communities is hardly a way for the majorities of respective groups to comingle and make lasting acquaintances among each other. All you need, in order to create an explosive breakaway, is a demagogue to appear on the horizon and drive a devastating fissure between the two peoples. That one man, spearheaded by Buddhist Monks was Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike. Bandaranaike, instead of uniting the country as one single nation, drew a sharp line between two major ethnic groups. The ill-effects of that effort by SWRD to polarize a unified ‘Ceylonese’ nation are still being felt, even after the cessation of a thirty-year-old ethnic war.      

Upon entry into Ceylon after successfully completing his education in England, SWRD Bandaranaike was one time a Joint Secretary of the Congress. In order to promote Sinhalese culture and community interests, Bandaranaike founded the Sinhala Maha Sabha in 1936. Yet it was the Senanayakes who provided leadership to the Sinhalese segment of the Congress and after the untimely demise of FR Senanayake, DS became the supreme leader of national politics in Ceylon. While FR was a Cambridge-educated savant, DS was a one hundred percent (100%) local product, having passed just the 8th Standard in St. Thomas’ College, Mutwal. However, in 1918, the school moved away from the “dusty environs” of Mutwal, which was near the Colombo harbor, to a more scenic location near the sea in Mount Lavinia.

While Sinhalese leaders (SWRD included), began resorting to ethnic politics, Tamil leadership, having endured the futile demagoguery of GG Ponnambalam (no relation of the Ponnambalam brothers), followed suit. They graduated from the Ponnambalam brothers to SJV Chelvanayakam Q. C. and Naganathan to Amirthalingam and Velupillai Prabhakaran to Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. From twentieth century, in a short span of one hundred years, Tamil leadership, which was a hallmark of intellectualism and political tolerance, grew into one that was viewed by Sinhalese Buddhists (writer not included) as a collection of minds rendering unto modern day terrorism and extreme racism. A political prism that was created by Buddhist Monks, some extreme-minded Sinhalese academics and politicians willingly led by SWRD Bandaranaike, became the sole barometer by which way the political winds were blowing.

Apart from ethnic tensions that dominated the political landscape at the time, there were many other crucial issues, especially economic hardships endured by the whole population in the early seventies under SWRD’s widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the current crisis, both economic and political, that should have received equal attention by our Tamil leadership. Yet that Tamil leadership is still playing into the ethnic tensions and trying to ask for their pound of flesh.

In a time when the country needs to be united as one single nation of Sri Lankans, if any party, whether it was Tamil-led or Sinhalese-led, makes it their priority to reap an unholy harvest that comes after inflaming communal division and violence, such entities deserve the unequivocal condemnation of all.

It is not too late for Sampanthan and Sumanthiran, leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to stretch their closed arms and embrace the modern need for inclusion instead of exclusion. But that must come from Sinhalese leadership too, especially Buddhist Monks who are supposed to follow the eternal message of tolerance and compassion of the Greatest of all teachers, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. 

There is no doubt that our Tamil brethren have been wronged in the past. It is true that, especially during the last seventy five years of our history, Tamils have been discriminated against as much as Sinhalese, in their own closed mindsets, ponder about reverse discrimination. Fractures can be mended; disagreements can exist while a compromise also could be reached in order to unify divided segments of our population, nation of Sri Lankans. What is necessary, in fact, essential, is to forge a new approach. Headlines have not changed; scarcities are everywhere; soaring prices and lengthening lines are continuing and power-cuts are defining our day’s work. If our Tamil and Sinhalese leaders can agree upon a new vision for the country, political, economic and cultural, such sublime visions may mean something beyond the suffering for the masses of all communities, Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher alike. It is not a futile effort to dream such sublime dreams. One may not know what comes after, until one wakes up from a disturbed sleep.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com      

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Latest comments

  • 5
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    “If our Tamil and Sinhalese leaders can agree upon a new vision for the country…………” yes-‘IF’. Mr. Vishwamithra, you are chasing behind a mirage sir? What has not happened since 1920, not 1948 (Ramanathan/Arunachalam) days, can it happen now?

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      viswamithra,

      Did it not clear that Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam erred in leaving Ceylon National Congress and forming the Ceylon Tamil League in 1923?

      In hindsight, it could have been argued that Sir Arunachalam could well have continued to be in the Ceylon National Congress in spite of slight indignities suffered by a handful of racist elements among the Sinhalese community.

      It is a personnel affront to him alone, why should he communalize the issue?
      It may be due to grab personnel power by some rival power hungry element.

      On the other hand he could have formed a rival Ceylon National Congress along with likeminded Sinhala Buddhists nationalists and guided the entire nation on a nationalistic path.

      Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, by reacting to one single unfortunate incident to take action that had become a precedent to every Tamil leader subsequently to outbid the racist Sinhala leaders on every occasion and bring the Tamil Community to the present plight..

      Tamil leadership has failed Sri Lankan Tamils!

      • 3
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        It was not a personal affront but the beginning of the attack on the Tamils. Unfortunately, Ramanathan despite his powers did not bring this matter to the notice of the British Government – maybe for ‘personal’ reasons. If he had done it, well and truly, the fate of the Tamils would have been different. Ramanathan’s, footpath was followed by other Tamil leaders too-particularly GGP. And today, the Tamils are on the path of no return………….

      • 0
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        “slight indignities”
        It was no personal indignity– slight or not
        It was breach of trust that dented PR’s credibility.

    • 1
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      “not 1948 (Ramanathan/Arunachalam) days”
      Some mix-up?

      • 1
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        I meant the problem for the Tamils started with Ramanathan and Arunachalam in 1920 onwards when they were sidelined by the Sinhala leaders.

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          What was said is not quite what is said to have been meant.
          *
          Ramanathan was a conservative Hindu Tamil ‘nationalist’ if there was any such them. He attacked Muslims in defence of Sinhala Buddhist bigots. He was adored for that. Caste was also a factor in his political success.
          Arunachalam was a totally different character. He spoke for the oppressed. His thinking was not parochial.
          You seem to trivialize the issues as some personal offence.

  • 4
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    It is an Ideal to be sought, undoubtedly with earnest, so that Sri Lanka moves forward as a Prosperous country!
    However, 64 million dollar question to ponder is, “Who will bell the Indomitable Cat to achieve it?”

  • 9
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    “What is necessary, in fact, essential, is to forge a new approach. Headlines have not changed; scarcities are everywhere; soaring prices and lengthening lines are continuing and power cuts are defining our day’s work.”

    Mr. Vishwamithra,

    There has to be soul-searching and fundamental change in mindset among the Sinhalese first. Deeds, not just words. Without that, the Tamil people, who lack any real political power, will see any ‘new approach’ as simply selling old wine in new bottles. Any appearance of change that is simply situational, based on the country’s current predicament, is hardly convincing.

    • 3
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      The topic should have been “How SriLankan leadership failed Tamils / minorities” ( it’s own citizens). What about Muslim leadership which did not fail SriLanka??? is the community any better today.

  • 7
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    “The ill-effects of that effort by SWRD to polarize a unified ‘Ceylonese’ nation are still being felt, even after the cessation of a thirty-year-old ethnic war. “
    I simply do believe that though the physical war is over the Tamils desire to be treated equal to the Sinhala Buddhists has NOT been achieved. Tamils do STILL carry their wounds mentally.
    It could only be HEALED by a REAL Sinhala Statesman who has got the courage to say SORRY to the Tamil speaking SL Citizens for all the sufferings inflicted on them over several decades.
    Tamils are not asking for a pound of flesh but asking for EITHER a PROVINCIAL COUNCIL that has a land and police powers for a combined North and East of SL OR Canadian or Swiss model of rule.

  • 3
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    Vishwamithra takes a personal responsibility to his view that our independence was chiefly due to India’s ‘Swaraj’ movement to free India; the British had no option but to agree to ‘free Ceylon’.
    I do not think that the option of the British to continue keeping Ceylon within its wings ran out completely. (The preference was to ‘free Ceylon’, I’d concede.)
    .
    Caste is not dying. It has lost its potency. Stating otherwise is just a convenience.
    .
    One singular quality of the then Tamil leadership was their ability and willingness to identify broadly with the Ceylonese nation as a whole instead of thinking narrowly.
    This sentiment, I totally agree with.
    Aren’t Tamils being punished for their patriotism … ?
    ,
    Bitten many a times, Tamils will be cautious to stretch their arms. They are watching to see if the arms on the other side indicate any likely movement!

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      “our independence was chiefly due to India’s ‘Swaraj’ movement to free India; the British had no option but to agree to ‘free Ceylon’? our independence was chiefly due to India’s ‘Swaraj’ movement to free India; the British had no option but to agree to ‘free Ceylon’.

      Although British was a declining power after the end of Second World War, she was still among the big five- USA, UK, Soviet Union, China and France, and and still they had security interest east of Suez.

      . The British wanted to continue a special relationship with Ceylon., they did not simply grant independence to Ceylon just after granting independence to Indian subcontinent.
      That is why there is 1947 united kingdom-Ceylon defense agreement and that was unilaterally abrogated by SWRD in 1956..

      It is incorrect to say that the British had no option, but to grant independence to Ceylon after Indian independence to Indian peninsula.

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      Was not any Tamil who spoke in terms of the whole country branded a ‘traitor’ ever since the rise of the FP?

  • 3
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    Many times, the writer invented fruitless talk like this here in CT. Author says in tough times like this Tamils have to sacrifice further on his call for “Compromise”. Author tries to show that he is honest in calling for Tamils’ compromise, saying the invitation to unification has to come from Sinhala Leaders, first. Comedy Thamai! What a fruitless cunning proposal! But the author is an imbecile because he is not aware it is the same leaders the Protesters are trying to eliminate for the last six months, in order to change the political culture of the country. Author is unmasking his mental stand that he was one in the Sinhala Intellectuals who advocated against protesters’ victory, with an excuse of Anarchy going to set in, and they crowned Foxy Ranil as Evil Emperor, who was the one set fire for CBK’s solution which was accepted by TNA (TULF), that time. The Evil Emperor has declared that he will not talk on the Tamils’ problem or other political settlement until he solves the economic problem. In other words, he openly says that he does not care about Tamils problems, but he will solve only the Sinhalese economic problem and, if Tamils want, they can go to hell, whether they like to help Sinhalese or not.

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    Then, is there an invitation coming from Sinhala Political leadership to talk? Has the TNA said it will oppose all solutions for economic recovery? In fact, TNA raised its hand for all Evil Emperor’s Rapist Army modernization budgets. We, the diaspora, are in a different mode:” We have unconditional support for protesters winning and reorganizing their (Sinhalese) politics. Unlike the author’s technique of trying to buy Tamils’ support to Sinhalese to solve Sinhalese problem and one more time to ditch the Tamils, our promise has nothing to do with the current economic condition or any limitations like occasions or time. The protestors can be suppressed by Aanduwa now and they can return years later with the same intention of cleaning the Sinhala Viyathmaga politics, then again, they will get our support. That support is not pecked to any conditions; free standing. If any time a government comes to power not plagued with Sinhala Intellectualism or UNP-SLFP prodigy or hereditary, we will offer them for a negotiated settlement. If that is going to be the current protesters group, then so be them for the negotiation.” We are not asking Appe Aanduwa any more to start an investigation into the Genocide war. We will keep that with only the UN, UNHRC and international community.

  • 1
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    The Evil Emperor government has said that their constitution has no space to carry out an investigation that matches the UN prescribed standards. But the Evil went against the UN resolution 1373 to prohibit Tamil democratic organizations. Their 6th armament prevented Tamils openly discussing what solution that they needed. This Ranil was brought to power by the “Anarchy Advocates” groups like the author, only to play games showing the grim time which they created by spending $400B on the war to annihilate Tamils. Until a revolutionary, democratic, and not an elected-majority- chauvinist- dictator government comes to power we have no intentions to negotiate with the Evil Emperor, Hitler King, or any other Rowdy Royals. We will continue to agitate the world to investigate the Genocide, account the 150,000 missing and recognize our right exercise Tamils sovereignty.

  • 5
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    From the time of independence, it has been the Sinhalese who have been ruling the island. Their economic and racist, religious chauvinistic policies and actions have ruined and bankrupted the nation. It created two uprisings, one by largely downtrodden, Sinhalese rural youth from the lower castes and classes, and the other by the indigenous North Eastern Tamils to win their just rights. Trying to equally lay blame on the Tamils and their politicians for all this economic and political debacle is a bit rich when Tamils had no part in the decision-making. Even a much smaller religious minority like the Muslims were deliberately given more power and opportunities to partake in the decision-making as a deliberate move to isolate the island’s Tamils. Asking for your just rights and to be treated equally is not demanding your pound of flesh. Maybe for many Sinhalese who has now been brainwashed to think that Tamils do not deserve any rights. What the Tamils are asking is very reasonable, equal status, to safeguard their language, lands, federalism and land/police powers. What is so unreasonable about this to call it a pound of flesh?

  • 3
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    The appropriate heading to this essay should read as…….

    How Sinhala and Tamil leadership FAILED Srilanka.

  • 6
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    The writer while being liberal in his approach gets facts mixed up from what several writers have quoted from second hand sources. Arunachalam never in his days until August 1921 identified with a ‘Tamil cause’. His early proteges since 1913 were T.B. Jayah and Natesa Iyer. He was drawn into protecting Tamil interests only because the seat in the Western Province which Arunachalam did not ask for but acted only a mediator, was refused by the Sinhalese gentlemen who had pledged it. Arunachalam simply retired in August 1921 and did not want to get involved except for stating that Pieris and Samarawickreme reneged on their pledge given to him about a Tamil seat in the Western Province. The Tamil Maha Sabha was formed just after on 15th Aug 1921. Arunachalam was no doubt invited and attended as a matter of courtesy but did not speak, nor was he listed in any of the committees. He formed the Tamil League in 1923, two years later only after a highly provocative petition to the Colonial Secretary, the Duke of Devonshire, by the CNC on 23 May 1923, when it was in the doldrums facing an attack from Goonesinha’s strike in February 1923 which paralysed Colombo. There is strong indication that the gossipy allegations in the letter were not endorsed by the majority whose names appeared. An allegation was that in presumably 1921 Arunachalam had encouraged the Tamils to boycott the Sinhalese.

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      Rajan Hool;e,

      Thanks for a well articulated, gap-filling comment.

      This period from 1915 to1930 is a crucial period in the history of inter- racial relationship in Ceylon.

      This is the period when communalism had become visible and raised its ugly head for the first time.

      Up to this time, politics was more or less elitist and overall nationalistic sentiments prevailed.

      The first seed of racism entered the national discourse when communal representation was introduced by the British in the mid 18th century.

      Was there any demand for communal representation from any of the communities or was it arbitrarily introduced by the British as part of a divide and rule policy?

      Then why it was overturned with the Donoughe Constitution 1931-1947 with national adult franchise along with abolition of communal representation and introduction of territorial based non- communal representation came into being.
      .
      Was there any widespread agitation to do away with communal representation to have national franchise among any of the communities
      .
      British played havoc with communal relations in Ceylon on their patrician initiatives in their own interest!

      History of Sri Lanka would have been different, if not for the colonial period.

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        Thanks RH
        There are people clutching at straws to defame one of the most honourable and socially caring leaders of the time.
        You think that you have set the record right— but the same lies will be repeated time and again.

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        “History of Sri Lanka would have been different, if not for the colonial period.”
        400+ years of it!
        A world record I think.

  • 5
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    Vishwamithra -failed to list a single up country Tamil leader.
    Are up country Tamils not Tamils
    Or is that the up country Tamil leaders did not fail Sri Lanka. ?
    The Thondamans etc always sucked up to Sinhala leaders and not seen as a failure by Vishwamithra

  • 1
    1

    Vishwamithra, in my book, is an excellent historian of Ceylonese/Sri Lankan politics. In all his submissions to this Forum, he has documented the evolution of the political landscape from pre-independence times to present Sri Lanka.
    In this commentary, he recounts the role played by the Tamil leadership from the times of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan – and the role of caste and Colombo-centric thinking of the Tamil leadership. One cannot run away from the historical facts laid out here.
    He points out that the leadership’s high level of education and intellect did not translate into fair-minded political thinking with equity for the people they governed. Oxford Educated S.W.R.D Bandaranayke’s disastrous Sinhala Only policy is a case in Point. On the Tamil leadership front C. Suntharalingam (C.S.) stands out in my mind – an Oxford-educated Professor of Mathematics, a lawyer, and later a member of Parliament representing Vavuniya. As a high school student in Jaffna in the 1960s, I witnessed C.S. in the forefront of Maviddapuram Hindu Temple, blocking worshippers from a “lower caste” from entering the temple.
    The failure of the Tamil leadership lies in the lack of unity among them. Leadership is the reflection of the people they represent. The Jaffna Tamil mindset is that of cynicism and one-upmanship towards everyone around them, be it Tamil or Sinhala.

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      Kumar,

      Well said!
      You could have elaborated a little more!

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      ‘Sinhala Only’ was first mooted by JRJ in the State Council around 1940.
      When SWRDB tried to repair the damage it was again JRJ to the fore to obstruct with his March to Kandy.
      KC, do not cast whole communities in one mould. There is something called class and class interest that guides human conduct.

  • 2
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    What a disappointing analysis from a ‘liberal’. While the post-independence Tamil leadership is certainly not faultless for the current predicament of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, the responsibility of the current economic and political crisis lies with the Sinhala leaders. Who has held power in Sri Lanka since independence? Who was responsble for introducing ethno-nationalism and majoritarianism into Sri Lankan politics? The answer to both those is, Sinhala leaders. Tamil nationalism grew as a defensive move in response to majoritarian politics of the Sinhala leadership. If the Sinhala leaders had reached out to the Tamil people as equals to the Sinhalese at the start, they would have won their votes and made any Tamil nationalist leader irrelevant. But they didn’t. The ongoing attempts to suppress Tamil culture and history by some Sinhalese is evidence that little has changed and the Tamil people will have continue to protect themselves through Tamil nationalism.

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    Continued from above:

    I can say with first-hand knowledge and experience that the Jaffna Tamils looked down upon Trincomalee Tamils. Batticaloa Tamils and the Upcountry Tamils.

    Prabakaran may have eradicated the caste issue from the mindset of the Jaffna Tamil people – who, out of sheer fear, fell in line and complied. But with his death and the end of L.T.T.E., the caste issue is alive and well in Jaffna.

    I am not naïve to say that the Tamils were not discriminated against by the policies of a majoritarian system which gave numerical advantage to Sinhala-dominated governments in power.

    The current status of Sri Lanka as a failed State is a collective failure of the political System, the Sinhala leadership, and the Tamil Leadership.

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      KC
      “Jaffna Tamils looked down upon Trincomalee Tamils. Batticaloa Tamils and the Upcountry Tamils.”
      You are confusing the attitude of a certain social class with a certain caste identity for that of a whole community, which was mostly a victim of that elite group.

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      It is not that the Jaffna Tamils looked down on other Tamils, but the other ‘Tamils Looked’ Up to the Jaffna Tamils for guidance, may because of their education. Thus the Jaffna Tamils, it appears took the upper hand.

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        “I can say with first-hand knowledge and experience that the Jaffna Tamils looked down upon Trincomalee Tamils. Batticaloa Tamils and the Upcountry Tamils.”
        Now that is deconstructed to read as “It is not that the Jaffna Tamils looked down on other Tamils, but the other ‘Tamils Looked’ Up to the Jaffna Tamils for guidance,”
        *
        Sorry to say that the Batticaloa Tamil did not look up to anybody in that fashion.
        Theirs was a different social order. They resented a certain class that lacked respect.
        The Hill Country Tamil could not care less because of the way many Jaffna Tamils who served in the plantations as teachers conducted themselves. Some were employment agents for child labour. On the other hand the educated Hill Country Tamil almost worshipped dedicated teachers whom they held in high regard.
        It is not education that counted, but what one did with it.

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    It was Ponnambalam Arunachalam who initiated self=government for Ceylon. The Sinhalese leaders were never interested about self-government till the enactment of the Donoughmore Commission which proposed adult universal suffrage. It dawned on the Sinhalese leaders that because Sinhalese constitute the majority (68%) political power will always remain in their hands.

    The Donoughmore Commissioner was aware the island was riven by power struggles between Sinhalese and Tamils; hence it devised a system of executive committees that would control all government departments. It rejected the principle of communal representation. Every member of the State Council would sit on one of these committees, ensuring that no one ethnic group could control all levers of power and patronage. All executive decisions would require a measure of consensus among the different ethnic representatives. The Commission was proved wrong by subsequent development.

    DS Senanayake and their Communal-minded Sinhalese contrived to obtain a majority in each of the Executive Committees and elected a chairman of their choice. It was claimed that Dudley Senanayake worked out the permutations and combinations of the exercise. They succeeded in capturing the ministerial positions and formed a homogeneous Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers.

    Likewise, the Soulbury Commission thought the inclusion of Sec.29 of the Soulbury constitution will safeguard the interests of Tamils and other minorities. Section 29 was ditched altogether by the enactment of the 1972 Republican constitution by courtesy of Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

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      ” They succeeded in capturing the ministerial positions and formed a homogeneous Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers.”
      Wonder who prepared the master plan for that. Would you care to know?
      You should know that it took a mathematician of repute to work out the “permutations and combinations of the exercise”
      *
      How come that in 1948 more Sinhalese MPs voted against the Citizenship Act than Tamil MPs?

  • 0
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    It is not that the Jaffna Tamils looked down on other Tamils, but the other ‘Tamils Looked’ Up to the Jaffna Tamils for guidance, may because of their education. Thus the Jaffna Tamils, it appears took the upper hand.

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      They must have been standing on different platforms.
      By that token, should not the Hill Country Tamils have been looked up to?
      *
      Patronizing other folk is not easy.

  • 0
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    //How come that in 1948 more Sinhalese MPs voted against the Citizenship Act than Tamil MPs?//

    The following are the results of the parliamentary elections held in 1947-
    nguage along with much of the administrative system put in place by the British along with British officials.

    Party Votes % Seats
    United National Party 751,432 39.81 42
    Lanka Sama Samaja Party 204,020 10.81 10
    BSP-BLP 113,193 6.00 5
    All Ceylon Tamil Congress 82,499 4.37 7
    Ceylon Indian Congress 72,230 3.83 6
    Communist Party of Ceylon 70,331 3.73 3
    Ceylon Labour Party 38,932 2.06 1
    United Lanka Congress 3,953 0.21 0
    Swaraj Party 1,393 0.07 0
    Independents 549,381 29.11 21
    Total 1,887,364 100.00 95
    Total votes 1,701,150 –
    Registered voters/turnout 3,048,145 55.81

    It will be seen the LSSP, CP won 10 and 3 seats respectively. They managed to win several electorates due to the support extended to the Left parties by Hill Country Tamils. This was one of the reasons why DS Senanayake deprived the Hill country Tamils of their franchise.

    //You should know that it took a mathematician of repute to work out the “permutations and combinations of the exercise”//

    The mathematician referred to above is C.Sundralimgam. We don’t know exactly who did the permutations and combinations that led to the formation of the pan-Sinhala Board of Ministers leaving the Tamils in the cold.

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