16 October, 2021

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Is History Repeating Itself In Sri Lanka?

By S. Gnanarajan –

Dr. S. Gnanarajan

According to Spanish philosopher George Santayana “History shows that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.  Sri Lanka seems to be on its path towards repeating its history. After a tumultuous period of about 40 years, in 2015, a government formed with the support of all the communities. The last time this had happened was in 1965; Dudley Senanayake formed a government with the support of the Federal party led by SJV Chelvanayakam.

The author of the article was a small boy. Regardless, he remembers the time as the normal period, or in the current language, the old-normal period in the country. At the end of the old-normal period, a left coalition government was elected in 1970 with a two-thirds majority for the first time in the country’s independent history. This government brought the republican constitution, which did not address the grievances of all the communities in the country leading to the civil strife. The period 1972 to 1975 was economically the most difficult period faced by the ordinary Sri Lankan people due to the shortage of necessary goods. This was partly due to the 1973 Middle East war which resulted in a sharp increase in the oil price. However, the troubling relationship with the west was another factor in the government’s inability to obtain the foreign credit needed to purchase the necessary items for the people of the country. The author vividly remembers the days that he had to set an alarm to stand on the queue for bread.

Is history repeating itself? The current government was elected with the two third majority after a new-normal period of 5 years, as in 1970. The government elected in 2015 had the support of political parties from all communities. However, the current government is facing serious foreign credit problems. Like in 1970s, a black market is developing for the foreign currencies for the supposedly called floating rupee. In the 1970s, there was no floating rupee and there were hardly any foreign remittances from workers and expatriates from overseas. How have we arrived at a similar situation after 50 years? Instead of the oil crisis, now we have the COVID-19 crisis.

The Indian astrological calendar has a cycle of 60 years, which is the lowest common multiple of 12 and 30 years, the orbital periods of the large planets Jupiter and Saturn. The author does not believe in astrology. The simple fact that history is repeating itself in Sri Lanka because the country has not learned from its own history. If a large defence force can protect the country, the Soviet Union would not have crumbled. The government needs the support of all the communities, and for that, the government must address all its key issues. This will allow them to reduce its unnecessary overhead costs, as well as fix its relationship with other countries.

*Dr Gnanarajan was a lecturer in Physics at University of Jaffna during one of the difficult periods of 1989 to 1994. He was one of the first batch of physical science students who entered U of Jaffna in 1975, completed his BSc special degree, completed his postgraduate studies in North America and returned to Sri Lanka in 1989. He migrated to Australia in 1994 and became a scientist at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). He left CSIRO a few years ago and has been working as a consultant. He has been a keen observer and activist of the Sri Lankan political situation.

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  • 5
    24

    Repeating the same old humbug blaming Sinhala politicians and Native Sinhalayo. Racist separatist Tamil politicians that emerged in 1930s are responsible for ruining the relationship between Sinhalayo and Tamils, peace and economy in Sinhale/Sri Lanka. The Republican Constitution or Sinhala only policy were not the cause for civil strife. The foundation to civil strife was laid by Tamil politicians even before the country gained Independence. I have discussed this on several occasions in this forum. So, there is no need to repeat. Blame your politicians for what went wrong for Tamils in Sinhale.

    • 17
      3

      Blind Eye

      “This link of past to present has often been translated into the notion of the
      Sinhalese as rightful ‘heirs’ to the island,26 while Tamils were portrayed as latecomers or outsiders. The reasoning behind this partially originates from colonial
      interpretations of Sri Lankan history. As well as endorsing the Mahāvaṃsa as
      history, Tennent equated the Pulinda with the modern communities of huntergatherers or väddās, often described as the aboriginal inhabitants of the island;
      the Sinhalese as the civilized creators of the architectural and engineering masterpieces of the northern plains or the Rajarata; and finally, the Tamils as the
      ‘debased’ destroyers of that civilization.27 These views became mainstream historical opinion, although other scholars sought to attribute a much deeper antiquity
      to the Tamil communities of the island,28 with some suggesting that sites such as
      Mantai were part of a separate early Tamil trading civilization,29 or that an early
      Dravidian population was already present on the island at the time of the Vijayan
      colonization.30″
      https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1557938/1/Sri-Lanka-at-the-Crossroads-of-History.pdf

      • 5
        1

        RP
        when are you doing your DNA test?

      • 4
        1

        One of the authors of this article is Prishanta Gunawardhana.

    • 11
      2

      Hello Eagle Eye,

      In 1505 Portuguese came in when the three sons of King Wijabaku invited them to solve their issues with their father.

      In 2020, Chinese came in when three brothers (+1) invited them to come in and solve the debt issues.

      In both cases Colombo harbor was given away. We know what happened in the first and we know what is going to happen in the second.

      When that happens you will say, yes history repeats itself. Good luck to your country that never willing to share itself with the Tamils but now have to share it with China, Us and perhaps India.

      Already, a Buddhist monk, invited the Jaffna Tamils to come out to fight against the Chines colonization in the north but the response he received was; we are indifferent to Chinese or Singhalese. The former may be better as it is richer than the later and so you have to blame your own politicians if the North go away with one of these big powers as you will have to fight to safeguard yours at the end.

    • 9
      1

      Eagle Blind Eye

      “Repeating the same old humbug blaming Sinhala politicians and Native Sinhalayo.”

      There is neither native Sinhalayo nor native Demelas whose ancestors came from South India on Kallathonies.
      The only natives are my Veddah people.
      Stop repeating the same old humbug claiming Sinhalayo being part of Native people , which you very well know is travesty of history. Ask your mate SJ.

      “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. – BBC 26.10.16

    • 1
      12

      Eagle eye,

      These Tamils keep repeating the same thing over and over again. What else is left for them. Deep down they also know the sinhalayas are the owners of this land and their homeland is Tamil Nadu. Burgers accepted that this is the land of the sinhalayas and since they could not accept the changes they left the country. Tamils are different. They create trouble where ever they go. My friends in Mumbai describe the characteristics of Tamil nadu people and I said they are exactly the same in Sri lanka. Both in Mumbai and Bangalore the Tamil areas got attacked during riots.

      • 8
        1

        Ravi Perera/Evil are sure it is yours and not Chinese owned ???? DAN SEPADA. You seems to know all those racist where ever they exist. (Bangalore and Mumbai ) For your information outsiders were never attacked by locals in Tamil Nadu. Doesn’t it say a lot about them and you.

      • 7
        1

        Ravi Perera – Portugese
        You are the one repeating the lies.

        • 6
          1

          Anpu

          “Ravi Perera – Portugese”
          The Sinhala Speaking Demela, whose family also arrived from South India recently and converted.
          The purpose of having a Portuguese name is to cover up his ancestry, fit in with the thugs.

      • 6
        1

        Really? When the Sinhalese had issues with Muslims, they needed Sir Pon. Ramanathan. When the Indian army was here, it was brave Pirabaharan, who safeguard the nation’s freedom and sovereignty, so said the President of the country, Premadasa. When the issues with Tigers go beyond a certain point, It was Kathirkamar who again helped by going to western countries and get it banned. But the Sinhalese wanted to keep all with them. Now the nation is shared with Chines dragons which are going to eat all, but if history teaches lessons to Tamils, they will turn a blind eye to whatever happens in the South.

        Because for then, it is like, Rama or Ravana: whoever rules us, we don’t care!! But please look after your part of the country. You will regret all that has happened since 1948.

      • 2
        1

        The island belongs to the Vedas, the native people. The Singlaese Vijaya and 700 friends came in from Bengal areas and the fake Mahavamsa story of the Sinhala race as the descendant of an animal Lion and a human princess makes you believe even more and talk nonsense like these. Get a life mate!

      • 6
        1

        RAVI PERERA
        The Sinhala Speaking Demela

        You fellows living in your own completely different reality and different sets of facts.
        I welcome that.

        Recently scientists have researched and discovered that “‘Alien abduction’ stories may come from lucid dreaming, study hints” – https://www.livescience.com/.

        One day if and when you wake up you are going to see the problem that Dutta Gamani imagined, it will hit you hard that North is occupied by the Hindians, South by the Chinaman, the east is by uncle Sam.

        Then get in touch with Hindians and ask them what went wrong. They will blame you for sleeping too long, like the mythical Kumbhakarna and electing families of crooks and murderers.

    • 8
      0

      The author was not making a communal point. But history is not repeating itself. A lot more has happened. As with several expatriate writings, one wishes the author had shown a greater sense of personal responsibility for what has happened to the country and people that were once his. Our tragedy is presented too often as species in a laboratory eating each other up for their on survival

      • 6
        2

        Rajan Hoole, yes history is not repeating ,the country itself is now HISTORY. Lot more has happened in so called highly literate country since independence, family dynasties two insurgencies, 30 years of civil war, Tsunami, Easter mayhem and yet we have a whole family in power. I believe expatriates are in better situation to understand this “country like no other, miracle of Asia, vistas of misery, poverty, scarcity with splendor. If species in lab is too harsh may I suggest Pavlovian Conditioning as alternate. Just read some of the comments here to realize those species in Labs are not rabid as these.

      • 2
        0

        RH
        Agree.
        As for the last statement “Our tragedy is presented too often as species in a laboratory eating each other up for their on survival”, don’t you think that quite a few here are doing their mighty best to affirm that impression?

    • 4
      1

      Where are you Blind Eye?
      Are you doing the DNA test?
      “According to Dr. Paul E. Peiris, an erudite scholar and historian, Thiruketheeswaram in Manthai was one of the five recognized Eeswarams of Siva in Lanka very long before the arrival of Vijaya in 600 B.C”

  • 2
    16

    “According to Spanish philosopher George Santayana “History shows that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
    —-
    What George Santayana said was right.
    Dravidians invaded Sinhale 53 times from 3rd Century BC to colonize this country but failed. During European colonial rule Dravidians did no invade this country but after Europeans left, Dravidians who came to work for colonial rulers started a campaign to colonize part of the country to create a separate State based on a bogus claim ‘Traditional Homeland’ and declared war against Sinhala Nation in 1976. The war dragged on for three decades and ended with a humiliating defeat for Tamils in 2009. Tamils did not learn a lesson from history and repeated it!

    • 14
      2

      Blind Eye
      If you are not a Dravidian origin – why dont you do a DNA test and prove it.

      • 11
        1

        Anpu

        “If you are not a Dravidian origin – why dont you do a DNA test and prove it.”

        He is worried the DNA test will prove he is not only a Kallathonie convert but a recent arrival. His claim being a bona fide citizen of this island will be challenged as he might not be able to furnish proof of his three generation ancestors birth in this island.

        • 2
          1

          NV,
          .
          He is scared of a test of DNA, becuase that could reveal lot more about him and his pedigree.. I have no doubt, even pig genes and dog genes and all kind of more info would come out.

    • 4
      1

      Poor you, get the Chinese out or you will lose all. The Tamils are happy that either US or India will step in because of China in the south.

  • 6
    0

    Dr Gnanarajan,

    It was Karl Marx who said that history repeats itself, first as a tragedy, then as a farce..

    We can observe a cycle as rightly pointed out by the Author.

    1965 national government t was followed by 1970 government with 2/3 majority and then 2015 national government was followed by the present government .

    The similarities are striking.Yes a cycle !

    Will 2024 usher in another grand coalition with another outsider as President with the support of all communities?

    Most likely!

    But it will fall in the shortest possible time as in 2019.

    The cycle is being shortened and a crisis situation will materialize.

    A period of chaos will follow creating a vacuum.

    A military takeover is unlikely.

    Only mass mobilization of all democratic forces under a fearless confident strong leadership with support from all communities backed by India and the international community is a possible scenario that could break the cycle and usher in prosperity.

    • 8
      0

      srikrish, This sounds a little bit like astrology too. Do we have a fearless, confident, strong leader to break the cycle. He needs to be morally sound and full of justice and integrity too.

      • 3
        0

        D,
        Well, I do not make any astrological predictions and not expect any leader or political party for salvation!

        i personally do not have any faith in any of the present leaders in government or opposition or to wait for the elections to throw the rascals out! The elections only change the faces, so that the same corrupt, nepotistic polices will go on.
        Democracy, human rights and good governance are sine qua non for a caring government.
        Leaders are not born, but emerge from the people. The present situation is so chaotic and this is an ideal time for the disgruntled citizens to opt for a change..
        Let us have a team of honest, realistic and dedicated citizens to lead the country.
        2015 is a lesson for all of us not to believe in miracles!

      • 2
        0

        davidthegood, all the fearless, confident and morally sound leaders are dead. I’m not feeling very well either.

        • 5
          1

          Paul

          ” all the fearless, confident and morally sound leaders are dead”

          Could you name them.

    • 9
      0

      Thanks, Dr. Gnanarajan,
      .
      You are only a few years younger than me, but with greater foreign exposure. The other huge difference is that I’ve been a stay-at-home Sinhalaya, whilst you sound like a Tamil who wanted to live in Lanka, but forced out, not just by the civil war, but by the little bits of discrimination that I fear that all Tamils face on a daily basis within Lanka.
      .
      No quick fix for the ills that beset our country. We have to bring up our children with an acceptable history of our land. In its own way, I think this 47-minute Youtube lesson is brilliant:
      .
      https://youtu.be/DH3lEbQkOzk
      .
      I see these “faults”:
      .
      1. the garbled pronunciation of Lankan names;
      .
      2. Didn’t the Dutch capitulate to the Brits, with only a lone Napoleon-faithful Frenchman attempting resistance – and paying for it with his life
      .
      3. Rajiv Gandhi wasn’t the President of India.

      Otherwise, a good outline history, taking account of the Mahavamsa. I paused the video at 23:59 and studied the Nissanka Malla inscription in early Sinhala. It can be deciphered only by a trained antiquarian.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela, (NIC 483111444V) aka “Sinhala_Man”

      • 12
        0

        Thank you Sinhala man.
        ” Tamil who wanted to live in Lanka, but forced out,” many Tamils did not want to leave Ceylon including myself. We all are forced out. We see people leaving their country because of the worsening situation in their homeland.

      • 6
        0

        Sinhala_Man

        Have you ever heard of “A Post Turtle”?
        Interesting one.
        Please read below:

        A Post Turtle
        Dr. David Weinstein decided to move his practice from the city to the country because he liked the slower pace of life and the down to earth nature of the locals. He particularly liked the unique perspective of some of the local farmers. One day, Dr. Weinstein dropped in on old farmer Higgins. They got to talking about politics.

        Farmer Higgins said, “Well, ya know, that candidate is a ‘Post Turtle’.”

        Not being familiar with the term, Dr. Weinstein asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.

        Farmer Higgins said, “When you’re driving down a country road you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.”

        Farmer Higgins saw the puzzled look on the doctor’s face so he continued to explain.

        “You know they didn’t get up there by themselves, they don’t belong up there, they don’t know what to do while they’re up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put them up there to begin with.”
        https://www.aish.com/j/j/509497231.html

        • 1
          0

          Thanks for the story, which I hadn’t heard, but I get your point.

        • 4
          0

          My dear Native,
          .
          Thanks for bringing this term to this discussion. Srilanka’s post turtle makes every effort to save his bum.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfMkNyFytTw
          :
          What happened to GOTABAYA, alleged war cirminal in Presidency in SL ?

    • 3
      0

      Dear oc,
      .
      I agree that those 47 minutes are in many senses “amateurish”.
      .
      There’s much more that must be said about it. Although it’s asking for support for the “Estate Tamils”, the history it relates is one which the Sinhalese will be happy with. This has been brought home to me by emails coming from Tamils!
      .
      Going on what’s stated there, we, Sinhalese, remain essentially noble Aryans!
      .

      Rishi Sunak – Chancellor of the Exchequer (a North Indian who has integrated into British Society). 5 minutes:
      .

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glz-DjY4i-s
      .
      This is Sunak in greater depth. 45 minutes
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5NGxf9A_I0
      .
      Tamils view of themselves: 26 minutes
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh4RNP4bMWk
      .
      Tamil Diaspora (Canadian) Also 26 minutes
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjY-C7NRLhU
      .
      The question is, how do we reconcile those views that the Tamils have of themselves, with our view that this island belongs only to us. And, of course, we were the victors of the War.
      .
      It’s now beginning increasingly to look as though we are the defeated in the Peace that ought to have followed.

      • 2
        0

        At least two people have seen what I wrote “two days” ago. It is unlikely that anybody, other than the author, will see these comments – four days after this article first appeared. That is an indication of how little our shallow readers care to remember what they read, unless they have some agendum of their own.
        .
        For the record, I linked you to Rishi Sunak to show how comfortable a minority guy feels in Britain today. Why? Ponder on the fact that he was allowed to take his oaths on a copy of the Bhagwat Githa! There are the caveats. Incidentally, I listened to all those Youtubes, but it is humanly impossible for us to listen to everything that is “up there” now. Those who believe in “eternal life” may discover that such facilities are provided in heaven; Old Nick is unlikely to provide comparable facilities in “the other place”.
        .
        At the end of the next video you will see the Brits blamed for 19th century poverty in Tamil Nadu. That is what brought all these “unnecessary” Estate Tamils here. Isn’t it funny how we all want to shift the blame on to somebody else?

      • 2
        0

        PART TWO
        .
        That ought to bring us back to the purpose of this first video I proffered for you, and particularly its ending.
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH3lEbQkOzk
        .
        The Canadian video has Chelvanayakam’s grand-daughter as one of the participants. They have all changed with the efflux of time; they all say that they are essentially Canadians. They are the much hated “Tamil Diaspora”.
        .
        The “Sinhala Diaspora”? They don’t exist. Technically speaking, the youngest three of the seven siblings who, fifty years ago, constituted our family ought to belong to it, but they went abroad as economic migrants and don’t give a damn as to what happens in Lanka. Whether they have integrated as well as Rishi Sunak, I don’t know.
        .
        Did the Buddha live?
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ijZrPIRlhw
        .
        Moses?
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptYz-Vu0dxY
        .
        Jesus?
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRfFLjWLybA
        .
        And there’s more in the series.
        .
        However, old codger who, despite anonymity, seems more of a scholar than this GambadIskoleMahaththaya, has pointed out the relative ignorance of the white Canadian Jew who has produced those quite interesting programmes that I’ve been listening to today.
        .
        tbc.

        • 2
          0

          S.M,
          It’s true that the Sinhala diaspora doesn’t exist as such. The Sinhalese easily shed their cultural attitudes by the second generation, and as you say, “couldn’t care less” about what their parents took so seriously, like respect to the Sangha/ parents/ Tooth relic, or New year traditions etc. That’s what a broad education does.

      • 2
        0

        PART THREE
        .
        I suggest that you examine this carefully.
        .
        https://tamilnation.org/books/eelam/indrapala
        .
        He is one of our own “brownies” who hasn’t been listened to enough. I gave the link here as well:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-letter-to-the-us-senate-committee-re-the-resolution-on-recognizing-traditional-tamil-homeland-in-sri-lanka/
        .
        I keep repeating, since I don’t know much.
        .
        One thing that does seem certain to me is that we must delve into our History in such a way as to be able to unite our people, whose physical appearance indicates that when we go back a few centuries what we have in common is much more than our supposed ethnic differences. Let us focus on the present reality that we must get rid of the worst government in the world that we have foisted on ourselves. I’m convinced that the polling on election day, and the counting thereafter, faithfully reflected how the men and women of Lanka foolishly voted. All of us, users of English, who imagine ourselves superior to the vast majority of citizens who are monolingual (I know that everybody below the age of 50 knows the English alphabet) should ask ourselves what we even tried to do to achieve a different result.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

      • 4
        0

        Thanks, Anpu & old codger,
        .
        The links given by both of you work, but now I’m handicapped in a different way! I’m working on a brand new computer, and I’ve got to get used to it.
        .
        This is the first time I’ve bought a new computer since 1990, when I bought my first – an 8088 it was called; I can’t even remember whether I ever got on the Internet with that.
        .
        Since then, I’ve been working with refurbished machines and pirated Windows of various vintages.
        .
        Now this has got a properly licensed Window 10 and all that. But no Office package. I must wait for midnight, then download this:
        .
        https://www.libreoffice.org/download/download/
        .
        That is free but it works well; something that few Lankans want to learn about.
        .
        Don’t you think that you guys ought to congratulate me on at last becoming an honest man?

        • 1
          0

          S.M,
          If you had managed to get on the Internet with an 8088 in 1990, you would have to be a genius!

          • 0
            0

            Dear oc,
            .
            I rather fear that had I claimed to have read your brilliant comments in 1990, I wouldn’t have been hailed as a genius by you.
            .
            You’d have called me a bloody liar!
            .
            I have googled as instructed by you:
            .
            https://puppylinux.com/
            .
            Yes, interesting, thanks. However, I think that I’ve got quite enough on my plate. I hope that some others, who are squandering the little money that we have, take note.
            .
            One of our problems is that when we are asked to do something quite simple, we stubbornly refuse to.
            .
            So, thanks oc. But can we please know what the hell you’ve been doing all your life to know all these things?

            • 2
              0

              S.M,
              “But can we please know what the hell you’ve been doing all your life to know all these things”
              Well, to put it briefly, many things. If I don’t understand something, I find out. That includes, by now, computers (since 1984), microwaves, practically anything electronic, cars, plumbing, cooking, history to name a few!

              • 1
                0

                SM
                Another little thing for the benefit of any fake patriots reading this. I once personally analysed the mechanism of an LTTE “talking bomb” left in a railway station.

        • 0
          0

          S.M,
          You could Google “Puppy Linux” , and download it. It includes the alternative Office packages.

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