29 November, 2022


The Story Of The Failure Of Separatism

By Mahesan Niranjan

Mahesan Niranjan

Mahesan Niranjan

Any discussion on the politics of Sri Lanka has separatism as its background. Try saying that the Tamil people who live in the island have certain specific problems because they are Tamils and you will immediately be called a separatist. That you may not be inspired by that idea will be irrelevant. We have been conditioned by our political masters and authoritative texts of history that any issue to do with this part of our population is about ganging up with their mates across the Palk Strait and pushing into the sea what is a unique culture and religion not to be found anywhere else in the known universe. That the last time a fellow from Tamil Nadu came across to fight the Sinhalese was several hundred years ago does not feature in that calculation. True, the Sri Lankan Tamil rebels found safe havens there every time they were on the run, but we forget that this was more to do with the failure of Colombo-Delhi diplomatic relationships than any desire on the part of Tamil Nadu folks to beat us up.

“Believe me, machan (buddy), separatism does not work,” my friend Thevaram, the Sri Lankan Tamil fellow said to me during one of our drinking sessions at the Bridgetown pub. He had made up his mind on the subject, overhearing a conversation between his father, Sivapuranam, and his friend Kara.

“The negotiations failed because the Tamil fellow gave in too soon, machan,” Uncle Kara had lamented in that conversation.

Who is Uncle Kara and what were the negotiations about?

Kara is short for Karapigngna Aarachcige Percival Umbalakada. He was a close friend of Sivapuranam from their Hilltop university student days. You will recognize from the structure of his name, particularly the “ge” at the end of the second token that he is of Sinhala ethnicity. Kara was a teacher and a trade unionist from the negotiating team of the Ceylon Teachers Union.
Note the use Ceylon in Ceylon teachers Union. This story is from the period October 1971 to January 1972, around the time when Queen Bee – the then Prime Minister – was putting the final touches to the Republican Constitution to be enacted a few months later.

Let me tell you a story about the token Umbalakada in Uncle Kara’s name (of course the name is not real. I don’t want to reveal his true identity). Back in 1956, the then Prime Minister King Bee introduced what was known as the Official Languages Act – passionately dubbed Sinhala Only Act by those at the receiving end of it — in Parliament within 24 hours of being elected to office.

Those days, we were more efficient and time was measured in hours (compare with modern practice of measuring time in blocks of 100 days), and our politicians also kept some selected promises made to the electorate.

An uncle of mine in Jaffna studied the official language in order to enhance his employment prospects. After a few weeks of learning theory, he moved to the beautiful town of Haputale in the hill country and put his knowledge to practice. But be warned. The difference between theory and practice is more in practice than in theory, have you not heard?

One day, at a restaurant where he went to have breakfast, he thought of trying a dish he was told was exceptionally tasty: Umbalakada Sambol.

He asked for umbalage kade sambol.

Now Umbalakada sambol is the tasty dish made of a particular kind of dried fish. The inadvertent little “ge” in the middle changes the meaning of the phrase into a rather rude “dish from the shop of you buggers.” Note how that tiny morphological change leads to such profound semantic difference.

It is possible that such a rude demand from a Tamil fellow might have carried the political connotation of “one day I will gang up with my mates from across the Palk Strait and push you chaps into the sea” in the perception of the recipient. No wonder my uncle was thrown out of the shop without being served any breakfast.

Let’s get back to our main story about the trade union.

Ceylon being a country with majority Sinhala and minority Tamil, the committee and negotiating team of the teachers’ trade union, chosen by a democratic process – rightly so, as the majority of us will say– was dominated by Sinhalese.

Tamils felt they had no place there. They solved the problem by separating from the union and started their own trade union.

Initially called the Thamiz Aasiriyar Sangam (Tamil Teachers Union), it was one of the earliest inventions of separatism in the country, as historians would note.

But they had a problem with the name.

Centuries ago, teaching and learning Tamil language was fashionable. Tamil poets of the Sangam period, for example, created magnificent literature in that language, exceptionally rich in style and semantics, thoroughly enjoyable to this day.

In modern Jaffna, however, it was Physics and Applied Mathematics that earned you bigger dowries. Teachers of Tamil language were kind of seen as considerably lower in that social hierarchy.

So just in time before letter heads were printed, the new union changed its name to Thamizar Aasiriyar Sangam (trade union of ethnic Tamil teachers). Note how the tiny morphological modification (Thamiz to Thamizar) has such profound semantic change. They had their own committee and negotiating team, all of Tamil ethnicity. Problem solved by separatism, some might think.

Teachers across the island were in dispute with Queen Bee. There were generic problems that mattered to all teachers in Ceylon. Examples include low pay, nepotism in making appointments and political victimization.

Then there were problems specific to Tamils, because they were Tamils.

For example, everyone wanted to teach in just the five popular schools in Jaffna and disliked being transferred to the tea-estate schools in Haputale, where you had to teach children of Tamils of recent Indian origin. The purpose of educating them – the people who we have so unfairly kept under semi-slavery conditions even decades after the suddha (white man) left – was never explained to anyone. Of what use is Physics in plucking “two leaves and a bud” of tea?

To try and solve the industrial dispute, the negotiating teams of the Ceylon Teachers Union and the Thamizar Aasiriyar Sangam were invited to a meeting with Prime Minister Bee.

Now Queen Bee had travelled widely and made many friends. While Messrs Castro and Tito were also among her circle of friends, it was the friendship she cultivated with Mrs Gee in India and Mr Chou in China which were important for our little island. In India, she had picked up a new word “chai” (tea) which she mispronounced as “cha.” Premier Chou had presented her with some nice china in return for the baby elephant she gave him.

MNWe can imagine conversations in the Prime Minister’s household, can’t we?

Putha (son), you want some cha, darling?”

“No ammi (mother), I have some stuff in the imported bottle, no!”

At the negotiating meeting, Mrs Bee served chai in the posh china from Chou of China, which the Thamizar negotiator was particularly impressed with.

Cha,” he said.

What he meant was “sha” (an exclamatory expression meant to express how cute something is), but in classic Tamil phonetics, there is no difference between /sha/ and /cha/. He was so impressed with the china that every time he looked at the tea-pot, he said /cha/.

Mrs Bee thought he wanted more tea!

You cannot blame her. She had just picked up the word from India, which is where she understood these Tamil people had come from. Just like in the story of the Trojan horse, one day they will bring their mates from India and dump her tribe into the sea, she had studied in authoritative books of history. Clearly, it was diplomatic to show off the word she had recently learnt to make this guy feel welcome! And that was having an effect, too.

So, every time he said cha she poured more and more chai into his cup – of lovely china from Chinese premier Chou.

Those familiar with positive feedback will know this is an unstable situation. As he drank more of the stuff his bladder was getting filled and the pressure down there was far more urgent to deal with than any Thamizar-specific problem he had come to solve.

The negotiator capitulated.

“We will do as you say, Madam,” he said triggering the collapse of that round of negotiations, much to the disappointment of Uncle Kara of the Ceylon Teachers Union.

Teachers of Ceylon continued to be paid a pittance. Nepotism in appointments and political victimizations continued. Thamizar teachers continued to be transferred periodically to estate schools of

Haputale where they wondered: “Of what use is Physics in plucking two leaves and a bud?”

“Problems are not solved by separatism, machan,” said Thevaram.

Sha,” I said, showing off my perfect phonetics of the “Northern language” (vadamozhi), which I had acquired in the South of Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Why not stick to pubbing instead of writing about issues you don’t have the talent or ability to conceptualize or even write about?

    • 5


      “You do not have the talent or ability to conceptualise or even write about”

      Did you ask yourself whether you have the ability to be a critic?
      I like his style of writing because it is reminiscent of my past living among the sinhalese seeing the good, bad and the ugly.

      If you feel strongly about his criticisms on, tamils, then come out with coherent argument or narration.

      • 3

        Ken Robert

        You are expecting the gamayas to “come out with coherent argument or narration.” Even old Banda knew Sinhalas are retarded – that’s why he passed the law Sinhala Only in 24 hours.

        They will always remain nothing, unless they are spoon fed and given priority over all others. Their politicians too are of the same grade, and they love taking what belongs to others. Reason: that’s easy.

        You may have read today that, JVP nominated MP Mayadunne, an exception to the rule, resigned from Parliament, because the general population (meaning Sinhalas) prefer illiterate crooked morons to represent them in Parliament. Remember Booruwanse got over 300,000 votes in Colombo? And that lowyer Namal something? But, the animus revertendi prevails, and he did not realize that’s the exact reason why he should have remained.

        You must have fun, like when you visit the zoo. Otherwise Sri Lanka is not the place for you!

        • 3

          Fun lover
          I do have fun admiring my own foolishness. But I was fed up with the livestock ( both Sinhala and Tamil)and left my motherland.

          These rascals ( modawanse and Lowyer) needs to be castrated first. We can resolve the rest of our foolishness by taking bitter medicines. Resigning is probably not going to be helpful.

          • 5

            Ken robert

            “These rascals ( modawanse and Lowyer) needs to be castrated first.”

            Castration will not stop them from raping both men and women.

            They can still use hot iron rod, baton, barbed wire covered sticks, plastic pipes,…. in the front or at the back.

        • 4


          “Their politicians too are of the same grade, and they love taking what belongs to others. Reason: that’s easy.”

          So why do they burn down houses, business premises, motor vehicles, …. library and its entire collection of books 96,000 during periodically orchestrated riots?

          • 2

            Reason for burning houses, business premises: To take over the land and build may be a resthouse with a room specialized to showcase what living as a tortured prisoner was like.

            Burning cars: to make the Tamils poorer.

            Books: that’s the interesting one. Deprive Tamils the education: they will be reduced to the same grade as Sinhalas. It’s then EASY TO TAKE the jobs that would never have been theirs. Compare the schools in Jaffna today with those that existed in 1970 and earlier. Dont’ forget the adjusted results of exams for University admission. This is serious stuff my friend. Don’t you think killing them Tamils off would have been more kind?

            Surprised, that with your native wisdom and all that, you could not figure this out yourself .

            • 3


              “Surprised, that with your native wisdom and all that, you could not figure this out yourself .”

              Probably because all my conventional teachers were either Tamils or Sinhalese.

              The books I refer to were old ones, mostly not related to school curriculum.

              Regarding burning of other things, you should spend some time talking to people. Find out whether this destructive nature is embedded in their gene or motivated by being part of the mob/herd and earning war trophies, or driven by jealousy or denying the others what the mob doesn’t possess or unleashing 500 years of colonial anger, or letting others know who is in control, …….

              Now you have a lot of research to do. Come back and let us know your findings.

              • 0

                Native, of course we have to do all the research. What do natives do. They are fit only to lie back on their arse and day dream. Native veddahs did nothing. But how come they had fair skinned children? That’s because we had to do that thing also for their women. Maybe you are one of those who came from our labour. No need to look at your hands; yes they are fairish. We didn’t mind, of course. It was really fun, being of service.

                • 2


                  “What do natives do.”

                  Where do I start?

                  For a start, we preserve environment without which you haven’t got a chance to breath, wash, drink, farm, …………….

                  We don’t need expensive foreign medicines nor complicated treatment. Its a fact that we are healthier people than your lot. Here is the proof:

                  Proper dietary habits lead to a healthy life: Veddah Chief


                  Veddah Chief Uruvarigelage Vanniyale Ettho said one must be cautious of his dietary habits and be a nature lover to live a healthy life. He said a recent survey conducted by the western and indigenous medical specialists had found that no-one in the Veddah community suffered from renal diseases or diabetes although many others in the Redeemaliyedda division were victims of such ailments.

                  He said people of Dambana, Henagigala, Ratugala, Pollabedda Veddah communities were subject to medical examinations and they were not suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or renal ailments.

                  “The doctors inquired of me why the people in my community were healthy. I explained to them that we lived with the nature from our childhood and depended on forest resources. “One must be cautious against the evils of dietary habits if one wants to live a healthy life. Many food stuffs sold in the market are detrimental to health. It is better to prevent illnesses than seeking treatment,” He said. (Palitha Ariyawansa)


                  “But how come they had fair skinned children?”

                  Have you checked your colour in the mirror. Your people are much darker than yours, it is because you are from the same dark Dravidian stock.

                  • 0


                    70 percent veddahs are black, i.e.very very dark skinned. Source: National Geographic. The 30 percent fair skinned is due to the labour of the migrants in Veddah territory. Source: Fun & Frolic Magazine. Why are you obsessed with the skin colour of Rajnikant and his cousins? Your women begged even Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta, and Constantin de Saa to service their ebony wares.

                    By the way, your eating habits were conditioned by availability. They had only raw or burned meat and vegetables. They even ate dead garden rats and rattle snakes during lean times. Nothing to boast about in that department. Ever heard of gourmet cuisine?

    • 3

      Hey Pairees

      Why the compulsion to be a spoil sport? You hate Tamils so much? Or are you that frustrated? Use the hand, man. That, or kill yourself.

      And to think of four buggers who gave you thumbsup….. What morons!!!

      Oh Sri Lanka, land of the malicious dumb.

  • 3

    I am a Tamil…. and my advise to Sinhalese….If you don’t wipe out Tamils from the Island, you’ll always have trouble.


    • 9


      To help the Sinhalese achieve their dream which has eluded them for 2500 years why dont you lead by example and commit suicide and reach iraivanadi first. Once you are in safe heaven ( designated by GOSL ) warn the almighty that Immigrant Crisis is about to get worse. 100 Million to be exact.

      • 1

        “…why dont you lead by example and commit suicide…”

        Each one was given a cyanide capsule for that purpose but NONE used it. Bad luck. They surrendered for three meals a day.

        • 3

          somass kantha

          “They surrendered for three meals a day “

          Both men and women are probably grateful to you for providing one meal a day but hate you for gang raping them probably all day, every day, …. also with iron rods, sticks, batons, ….

  • 10

    Its a nice story. So Tamil teachers went and created their own union did they?

    Similar thing happened with a Cricket festival in the UK. Various old boys associations got together and setup a festival. Tamil schools as well as Moslems schools were invited.

    Although in the end Tamils went their own way and created their own Cricket festival. Moslem schools did not follow suit.

    Its a theme that seem to occur right across Tamil society it seems. Even in politics it was the Tamil who broke the unity creating ACTC then ITAK Tamil ethnic parties.

    I think Tamil Eelam is also a manifestation of this dynamic. The problem is however the land in not physically separable as you do with Ceylon Teachers association. Its not separable because its a multi-ethnic like England.

    I think Tamils need to come out the Ghetto and learn to co-exist. Put it this way. Other cultures are open and inviting because they inherently know they did not choose their culture when they were born. They do not go to another ethnic ghetto when they pass either.

    So the best practice with these things is learn to co-exist. Other cultures teach these things to their children. Its a kinder lesson there.

    • 6

      “I think Tamils need to come out the Ghetto and learn to co-exist.”

      Co-exist with the likes of you? Certainly not!

      You have no idea as to how the cricket festivals evolved in london. As usual you have conducted something to bash the Tamils! You are a complete looser! You live in London, why don’t we meet; I will take you around to meet people to enlighten you?

      Have you heard of Sinhala Maha Sabha? Have you read the racial writings of Anagariga Dharmapala?

      The Tamils had no problems co-existing; Tamils have never been in power to undermine the Sinhala; it has been the Sinhala exercised power to promote them and not the other way round. get it imbecile?

      • 4

        Vibushana, has strayed into an area he clearly knows little about. The Festival of Cricket in London enjoyed a healthy spread of schools, including one ‘Muslim’ school, and many of the best schools from the north, until 1995. The break by the northern ‘Tamil’ schools to go their own way is neatly summarised by Dr Michael Roberts in ‘Wunderkidz in a Blunderland:tensions and tales from Sri Lankan cricket’ within the book ‘The Changing Face of Cricket: From Imperial to Global Game’ edited by Dominic Malcolm, Jon Gemmell, Nalin Mehta. From what I know, there were heavy hearts on all sides as the association over the years had been mostly cordial with much goodwill, and socialising. Nothing should be read into the decision of the ‘Muslim’ school to remain with the Festival of Cricket. Indeed there are now two northern ‘Tamil’ schools playing in the Festival, and a Muslim team plays in one of the many Tamil leagues that have mushroomed in London.

        Now, as for the “””I think Tamils need to come out the Ghetto and learn to co-exist.””” Can you blame our Tamil brethren for not coming out and spreading themselves more thinly when all we have to offer them is a regular pogrom? Perhaps, after all these years the lessons have been learnt and enlightened times lie ahead.

        Hope, as always, springs eternal.

        • 3

          Spring Koha,
          I was the President of FOC in 2013, the silver jubilee year. I have clearly stated below what had been happening in FOC. Tamil schools left for good reasons to safe guard their dignity from Sinhala racist attack. At the time they left FOC, Sinhala racists were powerful. I feel that they should not have left and fought their case. Unfortunately I was not there to give them support. Read about my fight against Sinhala racists in FOC. If they had remained, with my support they would have regained their self respect. In 2010, well meaning people like the then Chairman of Bank of Ceylon, Gamini Wickremasinghe of Ananda and ex country Manager of Srilankan Airlines in UK, Chanaka Olagama of Royal tried their best to bring Tamil schools into FOC. Again hell broke out opposed by Sinhala racists and it had to be shelved. Your statement that there are two northern schools now in FOC is wrong. There are no Northern schools still, but three Batticaloa schools, St. Michael’s joined in 2012 and Batticaloa central and Shivananda joined in 2014.
          NB : If you wish to have the FOC silver jubilee souvenir, give me your e-mail address, I can send the electronic version to you.

          • 3

            Dr Paskaralingam

            Firstly let me apologise to you (and other readers) for classifying the Batticaloa schools as ‘northern’ schools. Of course they are not, Batticaloa is in the Eastern Province. I should have written ‘predominantly Tamil schools’. Still, I cannot claim any originality as many others before have sought to amalgamate the North and Eastern provinces.

            When I wrote my response to Vibushana, your response hadn’t been logged. Now, with the benefit of having seen what you have written, I would like to add a couple of points.

            1 The primary reason for keeping numbers to 10, and then 12 schools, in the early years was the logistics of the operation on the day. Those early Festivals were held in Worcester Park, a delightful location but with no more than 3 pitches at the maximum and it was an achievement at the time to complete the days events in decent light. In later years, and on many subsequent occasions the final games have ended in near darkness.

            2 Apropos racist comments, sadly, I remember such comments not just in the final but in several games in those yearly years. Unwarranted and unsavoury and totalling unbecoming of the founding spirit of the Festival.

            3 The events that denied Joe Navin, Ana Thevadasan and Ravi Raveechandran were particularly unedifying. The likes of Lucky Lekamge, Dr Nanayakara and Sumal Fernando were indeed just the tip of an iceberg.

            Finally, I would just like to say that I admire and salute your stand against the many obstacles you faced, and for your success in keeping the show going on, against all odds.

            It would be a sad day indeed if this excellent Festival that was meant to be a an unifying event flounders on the success of those who will continue to preach and virulent and divisive racism.

            • 2

              Dear Spring Koha,
              You have got my name wrong.
              Secondly, the decision to keep it at 12 was regarding permanent members only. All other OBAs had to take part in a qualifying tournament and out of them 04 OBAs played on the final day.
              Decision not to admit any further OBAs as permanent member is not racially motivated, but by sheer elitism of the first 12 members.
              In Worcester park days from 1989 to 1994, the number of OBAs were about 20 only. In 1995 we moved to Norman Park Bromley which had four pitches but the situation remained the same. 1995 was the last year Tamil schools participated. My point is the rule of not admitting any further OBAs was breached the very next year after Tamil schools left, When Dharmaraja was admitted. The FOC if had been wise they would have admitted at least two Tamil schools in 1995 and prevented the exit of Tamil schools. Sadly racism won over wisdom in FOC. After holding FOC in Norman Park for 07 years, FOC moved to Shenley CC for 03 yeras, which had only two pitches and there were 22 teams. This was the same in Chiswick CC which had four pitches. Since 2007 we had FOC in Winchmore Hill CC for 06 which had only 03 pitches and the number of teams increased to 24 in 2008 and 26 in 2012. So the argument that Worcester park was not adequate does not look sound. In 2013 I moved FOC to Merchant Taylors school grounds which had eight pitches and this year FOC was held in Hainault RC which also has eight pitches. So for the last three years we are having a comfortable tournament with round robin method in first stage. As I had stated MT School ground is the largest and picturesque with room to park over 2000 cars and a hall to entertain VIP guests. It is also situated in Harrow/Watford area, around which majority of Srilnkans in London live. Naturally my opponents got jealous and started their sabotage activity.

            • 2

              Thanks Spring Koha for the praise.
              Since you have some interest in FOC, I wish to share with you a poem I wrote for the silver jubilee which appeared in the FOC souvenir. When I submitted to FOC committe for approval, no one objected. I have used cricketing jargons to sing praise of FOC.
              Here is the poem titiled ” Eulogy for Festival of Cricket”:

              Matched by energetic and devoted powers
              At circa nineteen hundred and eighty nine
              To the cheers of flanelled cricket lovers
              Whence forth had their alma maters shine.

              Opening the innings with six players alone
              Swept boards striking one score and eight
              Carried the bat through the times bygone
              Crossing boundaries for a towering height.

              Wooden blades battling spherical leathers
              Facing those creased up old boys in plenty
              Hooked the unpredictable British weathers
              Covering turfs over years five and twenty.

              Worcester, Bromley, Shenley with Chiswick
              Winchmore to Northwood thence is pitched
              Tossed around chasing for fun and frolic
              Taken guard to hold spectators bewitched.

              Colours of blue, maroon, green plus gold
              Or strokes of black silver white cum red
              Padded flags point at their crests so bold
              Swinging on and off, and show a leg ahead.

              Gloved bouncers gated to catch oddballs
              Stewards on outfield keeping wide glance
              Band delivery sounds that slip above walls
              Throwing in Baila and Pops for the stance.

              Hoppers and Kothoos to bail out our drive
              Beers and Whiskys that turn us into a spin
              Cutting and rolling do tradesfolks thrive
              Making extra runs to pull on kith and kin.

              Thus proudly we declare a bowl of praise
              Bringing us together for expatriate relish
              Follwing on your partnership at this pace
              Long stint at the wickets to thee our wish.

              After reading the peom, you will know what I have done in FOC. None did so in the past and none is likely to do so in future.

              • 2

                Dear Dr Gnana Sankaralingam

                My profuse apologies for getting your name wrong. I hope you accept that no slight was intended on my part, and suffice to say that haste often leads to horrible mix-ups.

                My interest in the FOC goes back to the early years when the late Elmo Rajasooriya was its secretary. I have followed its fortunes ever since, besides attending a few of the Festivals in the early years when I had the opportunity. The founders had noble ideals of combining expatriate community fellowship and our ubiquitous Sri Lankan love of cricket, so it is a shame to find racist elements occasionally hijacking the event to satisfy their selfish devious designs.

                And finally, I did greatly enjoy reading your excellent paean to the FOC, beautifully crafted and full of wit. Thank You, and please accept my good wishes for the future.

          • 6

            Dear Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,

            YOU are the racist with whom I crossed swords a few days ago after you claimed that Tamils had intelligence superior to the Sinhalese. Please learn from Prof. Mahesan Niranjan, whom I have never met. However, from my many meetings with his brother, Prof. Nirmalan of Manchester Medical College, and and other members of his family, too, (at Kahagolla, Diyatalawa – not far from Haputale) I know them to be very different.

            You, Gnana, had studied for free at Royal College, where a hundred times (perhaps even a thousand times) the money spent on an estate child is squandered. Niranjan’s father, Mr Mahesan, taught English at St. Joseph’s, Bandarawela, which at that time enabled Estate Tamil students to enter the University even for Science. Niranjan’s late mother I met last year; she taught at St. Mary’s. Both were government free schools at that time. May I update? Racist Sinhalese gradually moved Tamil students out of St. Joseph’s in to the other school which is now designated “Bandarawela Tamil Madya Maha Vidyalayam”. Apartheid, acknowledged by an “ashamed Sinhalese”.

            As for Niranjan, he attended the Anglican run private school in Bandarawela, for which his parents paid fees with their meagre government teacher salaries. And they further paid private tuition fees for the sons to be taught Sinhalese.

            I myself was educated at three of these private schools (one the famed one “by the sea” – Thalassa in Greek!), my father having been a teacher in the school at Bandarawela. The guys whom you refer to were all sponging on society in state schools. Mind, I’m glad that Royal, D.S., St Anthony’s (Katugasthota), continue to educate Sinhala and Tamil students together, but I’m sorry that our money was spent to educate a worm like you! Respond please!

            • 1

              Dear Sinhala Man,
              Please reveal your name so that I could check the authencity of your claim from Prof. Mahesan Nirmalan, whom I met only yesterday at a function to felicitate the past presidents and founder members of Srilanka Medical and Dental Association in UK, organised by the current committee on whcih he is the President. He praised me for the correct and candid views that I have expressed in these columns regarding Sinhala racism. Please read the comment by Spring Koha appearing above. Unless you tell me who you are, it is no point in my wasting time with you. You are a coward and an abject racist who is unable to accept truth. I do not know why a great institution by the sea ever accepted you. Incidentally I was a past President of Royal OBA in UK.

              • 7

                Dear Dear Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,

                Prof. Mahesan Nirmalan knows that I write as “Sinhala_Man” and he knows that there is no stouter critic of racism than I. However, I’m an older man, and not the computer wizard that his brother, Niranjan is. So, I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to post email addresses on this website. Anyway, here goes: paniniedirisinhe@gmail.com. Please note that there is no letter “g” in the spelling of my surname.

                Having said that, let me once more take you to task regarding your sweeping comment about the “Sinhalese being less intelligent than the Tamils”. There could be genetic differences between “races”, but I hold the common sense view that there has been so much miscegenation in Sri Lanka that there is no “pure” group. And as for Sri Lankan (i.e. Northern and Eastern) Tamils, and the Sinhalese, I think my sweeping statement that the two groups are nearly identical would be true.

                As a medical man you ought to know that there can be some truth in the sort of abhorrent theories that Hitler and the Nazis held on race – but they had got it all distorted from certain things that Nietzche said about the “Übermensch”. Obviously all this of too great a complexity for us to discuss on this sort of site, and in any case I have hardly the specialist knowledge necessary. Nor do you.

                Intelligence, and its testing – you ought to know that even that is too complex for naive generalisations to be made. If a valid I.Q. test has been devised for Veddahs, we will all fare miserably. However, your I.Q. can’t be very high if, in the face of all the little details that I had given, you imagine that I can be an impostor. For instance, you could ask any Mt Lavinia Thomian about the office building (near the sea) being known as “Thalassa”. They may not necessarily know how Xenophon records the cry of the weary Greeks when they spy the sea. The word sounds so Sinhalese.

                Nirmalan may have been polite to you, but obviously you are pretty dumb (whatever Medical exams you may have passed) to have imagined that I was recording untruths. As for many of you guys, (I exclude the Mahesan brothers who have made a tremendous contribution to human knowledge) you are now sponging on various “white Western developed societies” instead of making a proper contribution in the land of your birth.

                I will desist from saying things more insulting than that until I hear from you. I’m being fair; I won’t castigate further without giving you the chance to explain yourself.

                • 6

                  Sinhala man, Dr GS

                  Apologies for hijacking your discussion. Interesting fact I read on IQ tests is that south asians in general have low IQ in comparison with Europeans, Chinese, Mexicans or east asians.
                  I agree with your opinion on tailoring the IQ tests for Individual population. Genetic studies support Srilankan Tamils and Sinhalese are of similar make up. I believe academic excellence of Jaffna Tamils is learned behaviour than their genetic make up.Finally Prof Mahesan Niranjan is not only a wizard in artificial brain but also possess the healing touch desperately needed by all Srilankans.

                  • 5

                    Thanks, Ken Robert, whose come out of nowhere, and appreciated the comments Dr GS and I have been making. I mean, with a name like that you could either be a Tamil Christian or a White Man. As for the Mahesan brothers, they are, of course, Hindus.

                    I’m a bit surprised about some source saying that South Asians have low IQs. I had the general impression that for the last four or five decades resentment has been building up in the United States against the browning of America. Just now I’ve looked for some supporting material:


                    It so happens that my youngest sister is in North Carolina, her husband having done a very good computer software PhD in precisely Chapel Hill University. But then (a) his mother – still living in Colombo – is Austrian, his father “Sinhalese” – a close relative of Junius Rex Jayawardena whom I once admired, but by the time of the wedding I’d begun to hate because he was responsible for July 1983. All bloody Royalists! (b)They don’t think much of me because I’m a “villager” whose lived all my life in the hills of Uva.

                    But you see how difficult it’s going to be to correlate IQ and genetics! They say that JRJ & Co had a good deal of “Muslim” and “Colombo Chetty” blood. Yaaawn! Who gives a damn.

                    But meanwhile poor innocent people suffer – in the ghettos of Haputale estates! Dr GS has to be responded to later. You are easier to address since there’s a lack of dogmatism in you.

                • 2

                  Dear Panini Edirisinhe AKA Sinhala man,
                  You have a wrong view about me. I am fiercely opposed to any form of racism from what ever quarter it comes from. I was in the committee of General Medical Council for Black and Minority doctors for 10 years as a representative of Srilankan doctors.
                  None have said that there are no racists in Tamil community, but the root cause of the problem in Srilanka is not Tamil racism but Sinhala racism. Since independance Tamils have suffered. We are talking about white racism, but there is black racism also. You could ask your Sinhala friends how many have been racially abused by Blacks in UK, for which they could do nothing about. This is the same plight of Tamils. In any country minorities do not start racism first as it will be detrimental to them. It is only when the majority start racism, they react to protect themselves.
                  I had clearly told you that the best way to compare IQs of Tamils and Sinhalese is for the Srilanka government to carry out an assessment. There are brillaint Sinhalese, but when you take the average, Tamils are ahead in intelligence. At Royal where all facilities are equal and merit was the criteria for selection, in my batch 10 out of 32 Tamils became doctors while only 05 out of 75 Sinhalese did so. Does this not go to prove my point. The Tamils in North have an inherent quality of hard work, which is tilting the balance in their favour. You cannot blame Tamils for that and deny their right to equality in education. If you say that Sinhalese are ahead of Tamils in sports, how can I find fault with you. Your staement that I am sponging on variuos western societies instead of making a proper contribution to land of your birth, shows your ignorance about me. Please do not come to conclusion without knowing the truth. You are praising Mahesan brothers, how many years did they serve in Srilanka. They had come running here soon after finishing five years. In my case I served Srilanka from 1971 to 1990, having worked in Matara, Polonnaruwa, Colombo and Jaffna. It is only when things became dificult for me to live as a dignified citizen in srilanka purely because of my ethnicity, I left the land of my birth, sacrificing my pension right after working for 18 years, seeking asylum in UK at the age of 44 and starting a new life all from the start. Does this not satisfy you to remove your hatred. Even in UK, I have contributed money through the Medical Association to poor medical students in Srilanka irrespective of race or religion. If peace returns to Srilanka, where I can live in dignity and safety, I will come back and give my service to the people.

                  • 6

                    Dr Sankaralingam, ‘Sinhala Man’ Ken robert, et al

                    I have read with interest your responses and, with the benefit of eight decades of lived experiences, wish to add the following.

                    1 Racism is a global pandemic, just as likely to be found in the hallowed halls of Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Monash, the Sorbonne, Peradeniya etc….as in the outer fringes of Bintenne, Wellawatte, Alice Springs, Tucson,and Newcastle-on-Tyne etc.

                    2 The world’s peoples can be calibrated broadly into two tribes; the good, and the bad. The universal characteristics of the ‘Good’ are humanity, understanding, generosity and fairness. The ‘Bad’ display irrationality, selfishness, evil and a tendency to destruction.

                    3 Early education in our 2500 civilisation was confined to temple and pirivena. How revolutionary was it then when our British masters offered education for all; yes, even the unwashed. Alas, it was our astute Tamil brethren who first spotted the huge opportunities that it offered, and they were rewarded with a slew of good schools, and a head start in English education. It took decades before the rest of the island caught up, and the Buddhist in particular needed the leadership of Olcott and Higgins before they saw the light.

                    Our Sinhalese never recovered from that setback. They blamed the British, they blamed the Tamils. Anybody but themselves and their inherent parochial thinking and distrust.

                    It all ended in tears. An internal civil war is never one that has a winner or loser. The present absence of violence is just another (final?) opportunity for all of us – those born Sri Lankan through no choice – to forge a new society on one that accepts fairness and respect for all, capitalise on our common strengths, and realise that when anyone of us does well, we all grow strong.

                    O for the day when asylum seekers come to Sri Lanka looking for the promised land.

                    • 3

                      Spring Koha

                      Spot on except “as in the outer fringes of Bintenne,”.

                      Keep writing we got a lot to catch up with “good” old codgers.

                      Good and bad analysis is okay however there is a lot of gray area and ugly do exist.

                  • 8

                    Dear Dr G.S.,

                    Why don’t we put a stop to this discussion? What is important is not scoring debating points but improving our country. “Spring Koha’s” comments surely put us to shame.

                    However, I must say this: that you are too concerned with making sure that you are understood to be a decent guy, not guilty of racism etc. Also, I think that we really should stop talking about our Old School Ties, and our OBAs, especially if our schools are relatively high profile or prestigious. I’m personally pretty fed up with Facebook and other social networks, but it’s O.K. posting things for your school-mates to see, However, when discussing serious social and political issues I don’t think that you should be referring to the past glories of Royal College. It is the present students who matter as far as schools go.

                    The majority of the population obviously couldn’t have been to a few select schools. Bragging about the greatness of a handful of schools surely creates resentment among others – and I think rightly so. It is the same with the use of English. It’s fine to speak the language with a polished diction, but we must clearly understand that its public value must be confined to its utilitarian uses. I’m no longer ashamed that my Sinhala doesn’t measure up to the level of President Maithri; I wish it did! But these are means of communication. Of course language has higher uses, but that again is something which must be mellow and quiet.

                    I certainly try not to talk about my “alma mater” – S. Thomas’. You may find that my references to it tend to be oblique, and I try to confine it to places where it is necessary. Actually, I happen to have unthinkingly purchased a car sticker which says “Proud to be a Thomian”, but I’ve decided not to use it. I’ve got myself another with just the College Crest and Motto – it may be that I will put it on – but humbly, just establish my identity and then forget it. I wish we could do that to our ethnic identities as well – and certainly not come up with theories about genetics and IQs, except in specialist journals. Such talk just rouses passions and gets us nowhere.

                    I saw your response this morning, then had a phone chat with my Jaffna classmate, Rajan Hoole. He was “Michael” to me fifty years ago. We have all suffered much; it doesn’t do much good whining about the “injustices” done to us all. Let’s put an end to the hatred which largely stems from the nasty competition that prevails in today’s society – worldwide.

                    Yes, I agree on all counts with “Spring Koha”.

            • 2

              I have said in my comment above that Niranjan’s father had taught at St. Joseph’s etc. Well, I discovered today, from one of his classmates that Niranjan had entered the University from the “government school” that still exists as S. Joseph’s, although the family had, thereafter, moved back to Jaffna and Nirmalan has told me that he was at Hindu College, Jaffna for A. Levels.

              I met a class-mate of his, Devarajan Kirubhaharan (phone 077 346 9484), who has been supplying me with things like fertilizer from his shop Ceylon Forage. They had been at both S. Thomas’ and St Joseph’s together, and Niranjan had always been first in class. Incidentally, Kirubhaharan has just one son who’s been studying computing in India. Kirubhaharan didn’t know that Niranjan has made such a name for himself in the U.K.

              There is much to be said for spending a few years in an average State School. Kids get used to interacting with peers from a variety of backgrounds – and, most importantly, there were both Sinhalese and Tamil students in both the schools that Niranjan had been in.

      • 3

        If you see a comment below which I have just posted (in response to a Dr Sankaralingam) but hasn’t yet been approved, you will see that I acknowledge that there is Sinhalese racism and consider it my duty by the human race to counter it.

        Why don’t you guys admit that there is Tamil racism?

        Taking the discussion to a higher plane, is it not true that we who congratulate ourselves on being more enlightened than the rest of humanity may not be aware that we ourselves may muddle-headed and be actually obnoxious to others.

        • 1

          Dear Dr Gnana Sankaralingam,

          Rarely have I got in to such a tangle as I have with you – over the most trivial of issues! I may be a humbler guy than you (never been to Europe), but there are a few dialectical conclusions that you could draw by juxtaposing what I’ve said here with a few observations that I’ve just posted on another blog:


          I don’t think that those comments are all in one place. However, taken as a whole, doesn’t all that fuss over a little walk-about that a kid has taken, show how petty we can become?

          As I’ve already said, let us be thankful that we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, walked towards that light, and now we are out in the open. Let’s sing a song of thanks – like the peasants after the storm in Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.

          And please don’t tell me I’ve got all my metaphors mixed!

    • 7

      ”multi-ethnic like England”

      You mean multi-ethnic like the UK?

      OK, whatever.
      You cannot have favouritism there.
      They have devolved powers to Wales, NIreland & Scotland.

      But here, ….. , ….., they had NPC elections just before CHOGM2013.
      Everybody has seen dead Prabhakaran in underwear lying on the beach surrounded by hordes of soldiers.

      How many know that EMV Naganathan, a former Tamil MP, was stripped to his underwear when the Tamil MPs did satyagraha in 1956 in front of the parliament protesting Sinhala Only? Ask your grandparents.

      North began to be militarised in early 60s when they did satyagraha in front of Jaffna secretariat because NQ.Dias thought that it would lead to armed struggle in 25yrs. That militariasation seeded the armed rebellion?

    • 7


      “I think Tamils need to come out the Ghetto and learn to co-exist.”

      Great comment.

      That is exactly what Tamils, Hindus, Sinhalese, Buddhists, Muslims, and all others are trying to do, come out of Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto.

      If you live in it you can’t see beyond your nose.

    • 2

      Another racist rant from Vibhushana.

    • 4

      Dear Vibushana,
      Since you have mentioned festival of cricket UK, I have to give the correct picture. I was the President of Festival of Cricket in the prestigious silver jubilee year of 2013. I had been a representative of Royal OBA for more than 10 years, and Royal OBA nominated me in 2013 for the post of President. Hell broke loose as some did not want a Tamil to be the President in that important year. Out of the members I was the most senior person at that time and had a vast knowledge of organising an event of this nature as well as proven efficiencey, much better than my opponent. Despite that what happened is a disgrace. FOC does not invite any OBA, and it is up to the OBAs to apply to join.

      One preson from Ananda wanted to be the President and a vicious racist e-mail campaign was launched saying that most of the OBAs did not want me. Despite this I was brave to go ahead, and despite all the racist attacks mounted by my oponent, I won by 14 votes to 10. If you see that voting pattern, all the Sinhala schools voted against me, while all the multi-ethnic schools including the solitary muslim OBA of Zahira voted for me. There were no Tamil OBAs in the association.
      All the top schools Royal, St. Thomas’, Wesley, Trinity, St. Peter’s, St. Joseph’s,St. Anthony’s and St. Benedict’s and six others voted for me, while none of the schools south of Colombo voted for me.

      Even after I won, there were attempts to topple me. The Secretary from Rahula OBA and Treasurer from De Mazenod OBA took the side of my opponet and worked against me. Just imagine the plight of a President when the Secretary and Treasurer are undercutting the President. As I had the capability and knowledge they could not do anything to me. I sidelined the Secretary and got the help of Vice-President from Trinity OBA to help me. I checkmated the Treasurer and got his work done as I was also a signatory to the bank account. I used thuggery to silence all these racist jokers and organised a successful event, in terms of quality and financial success. In UK there is a level playing ground where Tamils and Sinhalese are treated as equals, and thus no Sinhala racist can openly harm a Tamil without falling foul of the law.

      My opponents were hell bent to sabotage the event. With diifculty I got a new picturseque grounds assisted by my vice-President, double the size of any previuos venues. During negotiations we kept it among ourselves and when deal was complete informed others. Within a few days of going public, a petition was sent to the owners of the ground not to give us the ground as we are unruly people. I had to waste about two months to rectify it and gain confidence of the owners. After that two more petitions were sent, one to Police and one to the local council not to allow the festival to take place due to public safety. My Vice-President, Our lawyer also from Royal OBA and myself kept all the matters regarding application for licence, confidential. People thought that nothing is happening and spread the rumours that there will be no event this year. Bank of Ceylon was lobied to divert their sponsorship to Cricketrs dance, which I managed to convince the CEO ensuring the taking place of the event. Even on the day a csll was given to Police that people have come with chiili powder to create trouble and the public was told not to come as there will be fights. During the year a no confidence motion to oust me was attempted by my losing opponent for no reason, which we thwarted it by using thuggery.

      Your statement about Tamil schools leaving needs to be clarified. In 1989 when FOC was started, there were only six schools. Subsequently Jaffna Central and St. John’s Jaffna joined and in 1990 there were 12 schools. Due to reasons better known, the members decided to limit the number of schools to 12. First Tournament was won by Ananda but the next four years were won by Jaffna Central consecutively. This did not go well with Sinhala racists, and in the Finals when a Jaffna school was playing a Sinhala school racist remarks were made. Despite that in 1995, St. John’S Jaffna won the tournament, their last year.

      FOC had always been a racist organisation. In 1995, when a Tamil, Joe Navendraraja was nominated by Royal for the post of President, a racist campaign was mounted by his opponent Laki Liyanage of Ananda, and Joe Navin got fed up and withdrew from the contest. In 2000, when Ana Thevadasan was nominated by Wesley for the post of President, a racist campaign was mounted by his opponet Dr. Sena Nanayakkara, and at the contest Ana lost by the toss of a coin as votes were equal. In 2009, when Ravi Raveendran was nominated by St. Benedict’s for the post of President, a racist campaign was mounted by his opponent Sumal Fernando, and at the contest Ravi lost by 10 votes to 07. But in 2013 for the disappointment of the racists, they failed in their attempt.

      FOC also raises money for charity and it is donated to Cancer Hospital Maharagama. When Tamil schools asked part of the money to be given to cancer unit in Jafffna, it was refused, with racist comments such as “Ask Prabaharan” and “We can give money to build toilets”. Do you think that any self respecting OBA should remain in such a racist organisation. Also there was some disappointment about some Tamil schools not being admitted as permanent members. All these made the Tamil school to exit and form their own organisation. Unfortunately for Sinhala racists they could not get the army to prevent them from seceding. Your statement to the effect that Tamil OBAs deliberately left is wrong. Only Muslim school to be a member is Zahira, and your statement that all Muslim schools remained is not true.

      I had been tough and kept all the Sinhala racists at bay. In 2009, the then President Sumal Fernando made a false allegation against me and I got him kicked out of FOC. In 2013, I threw out Isipatana OBA for creating trouble backed by my opponents, despite their Colombo branch coming to their support. Also Leslie Gunaratne the Secretary of 2013, who tried to cause harm to me was punished by god and got thrown out. In my year I took FOC to a very high level supported by my confidantes with best grounds, best souvenir in terms of quality and revenue and the most profitable hospitality suite. I am glad that the standards set by me is being followed by my successors who are taking me as a role model. So please do not spread wrong information about FOC in order to justify your racist agenda.

  • 3

    As long as there is a cause for it the separatism will thrive.

  • 1

    I met a Thamilized Sinahalese in Jaffna in 2002. He had been the houseboy of the quarters of a government servant from Jaffna serving in Matara and when the master took this boy of 12 to Jaffna when he got a transfer. In Matara he was Jayapala and in Jaffna he was adopted as Jayabalan. He was converted to Chistianity and after he completed his education had started working as an Assistant to a shopkeeper who was a relative of his master. He got married and started a business of his own. When I visited Jaffna after RW-VP Peace Accord, the OIC of Jaffna Branch of the state organization, which I worked for then, had reserved rooms for my team to stay at this Jayabalan’s residence. With my smattering of Tamil I tried to explain that the rooms had been reserved for us. Mr. Jayabalan politely said, “Sir, speak in Sinhala. I am from Matara.” That was one for Vande Mataram.

    In the morning I was watching the activities of the house from the compound. Mr. Jayablan’s single storied house had five bed rooms and two office rooms in the veranda. Three rooms were available for rent. In one office room there was a Communication Agency and in the other a Travel Agency. On One side of the compound there was a yard for producing RCC pre-fabricated paving slabs and cement blocks. On the other side there was a small garden plant sale. All managed by the family under the supervision of Mr. Jayabalan. So a group of companies headed by a Thamilized Sinhalese from the South was having good business.

    • 9

      The Professional

      So the moral of the story is that all Sinhala/Buddhist must convert back to Tamilians and prosper in business with hard work.

      Those who converted to Sinhala/Buddhism can stay in politics and ruin the country.

      Am I right?

      • 1

        “Those who converted to Sinhala/Buddhism can stay in politics and ruin the country.”

        Whatever do with their own country is their business.


        • 2

          somass kantha

          “Whatever do with their own country is their business.”

          Of course they are free to do in their own country, which might be in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Kannada, Andhra, Bihar, …..

          This country essentially belongs to future generations of Tamils, Sinhalese, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, …. and others.

          Its time Sinhala/Buddhists recognised the fact that there is no place for their Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto in this island. We have no objection to you having it elsewhere.

          • 0

            “This country essentially belongs to future generations of Tamils, Sinhalese, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, …. and “”others””.”

            So the NV also has changed after 17th August 2015. Now he accepts that the country is not only for Veddahs.

            Good. Let my buy you another drink. Pl name it.

            • 2

              The Professional

              “So the NV also has changed after 17th August 2015. Now he accepts that the country is not only for Veddahs.”

              Don’t be silly, this is not the first time Native Vedda said this and won’t be the last. As long as the state recognises the fact that there exist multiple nations in this island everything is fine, I have no objection. Multiple nations do not mean multiple countries, need creative thinking which my Elders say completely absent as far as they could remember.

              However the the Sinhala/Tamil speaking people must recognise the historical fact that Veddah people are the first nation which is of course non negotiable.

              “Good. Let my buy you another drink. Pl name it.”

              Thank you for your offer. You will be surprised to hear that I am a practitioner of Teetotalism.

              I hope I have made it clear that your offer of drink has no bearing on my principled position (not that I have many). Also hope one day we could share a peace pipe.

      • 1

        Ha Ha Ha

        Let my buy you a drink. What do Native Veddahs drink? Toddy? Arishta?

  • 3

    Mahesan Niranjan

    [Edited out] I can see how MS, RW Mangala and last but not least MR all slipped through the net. Once you answer I will analyse your Article and redefine the meaning of Devoid.

  • 1

    Queen Bee is said to have asked Chou “How often do you have elections”?
    He had reportedly replied, “Evelly day”.

    • 1

      It’s not fun having to read everything twice. Its not justice to force CT readers to do that. Please be kind; just be mum if you have nothing to add.

  • 2

    Strange what happened to the uncle who wanted to eat umbalakada sambol.
    Usualy sinhalese don’t take it seriously when Tamils or others mispronouce sinhalese words.They simply laugh at it and correct.

    • 2

      Really NAK? Don’t you know of experiments done to test
      if someone was Tamil or not in 1958, 1977, 1981, 1983?

      • 2

        And a few Sinhala health aficionados also suffered in Beruwala after being put through the tip-cut test.

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