29 October, 2020

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The Transformation Of Sri Lanka & The Indian Ocean

By Asoka Bandarage

Dr. Asoka Bandarage

Dr. Asoka Bandarage

Following the 2015 elections and change in political leadership, Sri Lanka is experiencing major policy shifts at the national, regional and international levels. The confluence of these shifts has significant political, economic and cultural implications for the island as well as the Indian Ocean region.

In a seeming return to the ‘dominant minority’ position they enjoyed during the British colonial period, Tamil elites have been appointed to some of the highest positions in the Sri Lankan state, including Chief Justice and Governor of the Central Bank. A Tamil politician was appointed as the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition even though his Tamil National Alliance party won only 16 seats as opposed to the much larger number of seats gained by the United People’s Freedom Alliance.

Notwithstanding the decisive military victory of the Sri Lankan government over the separatist LTTE in 2009 and efforts to increase Tamil participation in the Sri Lankan government, the Tamil demand for constitutional change continues. The demand is for political devolution and transition from a unitary to a federal form of government. The proposed constitutional changes which are backed by the Tamil Diaspora, India and the ‘international community’ are likely to lead to ethnically based balkanization and destabilization of the island, reigniting violent conflict.

The Sri Lankan constitution gives ‘foremost place’ to Buddhism, the religion of 70% of the island’s population referring to the duty of the state to protect and foster Buddhism. At the same time, the Sri Lankan constitution asserts that “Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice”. Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society with long established traditions of mutual co-existence and harmony. The country has allowed extensive Christian evangelical and Islamic Wahabi proselytization and conversion that are not permitted in Islamic and many other nations. Still, there is vociferous demand backed by the ‘international community’ for western style pluralism and secularism and the elimination of the ‘foremost place’ given to Buddhism in the proposed new constitution. The severance of the historical relationship between Buddhism and the state would undermine the culture of the Sinhala majority and the identity of the island as a Buddhist nation. The attempted change has already given rise to resistance and inter-religious conflict.

Ethno-religious tension and conflict generated by proposed policy shifts are likely to be aggravated by developments at the regional level. These include efforts by the government of India to integrate Sri Lanka (as well as other smaller neighbors like Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan) firmly within its sphere of influence. Unlike earlier bilateral trade deals with India, the proposed new Indo-Sri Lanka Trade deal, the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) covers trade in services, especially IT, marine, shipbuilding and engineering. The ETCA proposal is yet to be made public. However, given the asymmetry in size and economic and political power of the two countries, it has generated tremendous opposition from professional bodies in Sri Lanka. They are fearful of inundation of doctors and other professionals from India who could displace Sri Lankans in their own country.

The charges of ‘Indian invasion and colonization’ are exacerbated by India’s plan to build a sea bridge and tunnel, at a cost of over $5 billion by the Asian Development Bank, to connect the southern tip of India with the north west of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and unique cultural heritage were maintained historically through her physical separation from its large and powerful neighbor. There is fear that the easy influx of Indians, Hindus and Muslims, into Sri Lanka through the planned bridge would change the demographic makeup of Sri Lanka turning the Sinhala Buddhist majority into a minority. In the long term, the bridge could well threaten the territorial integrity of India itself by providing the basis for the long held Tamil separatist dream of ‘Greater Eelam’ combining Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka.

Adding to the tensions at the local and regional levels is growing geopolitical competition over access to oil and other resources. India, China and the USA are all struggling for influence over Sri Lanka which is strategically located in the heart of the Indian Ocean. Sea lanes of the Indian Ocean are considered to be the busiest in the world with over 80 percent of global seaborne oil trade estimated to be passing through them. Sri Lanka is central to China in its massive import of energy and export of goods. The U.S. backed political leadership in Sri Lanka tried to break ties with China upon coming into office in 2015. However, faced with the necessity of Chinese economic support, the Sri Lankan government signed a new economic deal with China in April 2016. Despite India’s concerns over Chinese encirclement, Sri Lanka committed itself to active participation in the Maritime Belt and Silk Road initiative (formerly known as the ‘string of pearls’), China’s extensive network of ports and maritime facilities connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Indian Ocean (along with the Western Pacific), is expected to become ‘the center of future world politics, strategy and economics’ and one of the most strategically contested regions in the world. Two US military ships have visited Colombo this year and in August 2016 the first joint operation between the US and the Sri Lankan military took place in Jaffna with participation of TNA politicians at the launching. In September 2016, the United States signed a partnership with Sri Lanka allowing the US House of Representatives to ‘work with’ the Sri Lankan Parliament. It seems that the island is being incorporated as a base of operations in the U.S. military strategy to curtail Chinese expansion across Asia and the world. Is Sri Lanka being turned into a theater for the foremost geopolitical struggle of the 21st century?

To protect the Indian Ocean from militarization and warfare, the countries in the region need to collectively uphold the principles of non-alignment and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. To avoid the emergence of new forms of ethnoreligious violence in Sri Lanka, local communities have to transcend their differences and the divide and conquer approaches of external powers. They have to come together to protect themselves and their beautiful island, ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’.

*Dr. Asoka Bandarage, Author of The Separatist Conflict in Sri Lanka, Colonialism in Sri Lanka and many other publications on Sri Lanka and global political economy

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Latest comments

  • 7
    2

    //”The proposed constitutional changes which are backed by the Tamil Diaspora, India and the ‘international community’ are likely to lead to ethnically based balkanization and destabilization of the island, reigniting violent conflict.”//

    likely or just your Sinhala nationalist paranoia?
    Wounds will heal themselves when Tamils are given some space and freedom to determine their own destiny without being occupied and coerced into an unwanted relationship which only makes reconciliation difficult.

    • 2
      7

      Sinhala Propaganda
      It is the having the cake and eating it by the Tamil politicians that has created this atmosphere. The want the whole of Sri Lanka. Not only that the tamils have carved out areas based on the divide and rule policies of the British to be theirs with no historical background. With this mind set this problem will not be settled unless the Tamils with their colonial masters push the Sinhalese into the sea.

      • 7
        1

        vas

        “Not only that the tamils have carved out areas based on the divide and rule policies of the British to be theirs with no historical background.”

        Could you explain what you mean by “historical background” and actually who has it, since when?

        “With this mind set this problem will not be settled unless the Tamils with their colonial masters push the Sinhalese into the sea.”

        Don’t rely on your colonial masters.

        I am dying to kick both Kallthonies out of my ancestral island back to their homeland in India. Its only a matter of time both are kicked out.

        Come to think of it, in fact I do not need to do anything at all knowing full well you will do it yourself.

    • 2
      0

      “The Sri Lankan constitution gives ‘foremost place’ to Buddhism, the religion of 70% of the island’s population referring to the duty of the state to protect and foster Buddhism. The severance of the historical relationship between Buddhism and the state would undermine the culture of the Sinhala majority and the identity of the island as a Buddhist nation.”

      This happened only in 1972 under the republican constitution which was not accepted by the minorities.

      The state religion of Sri Lanka should be both Hindu and Buddhist (Buddhism/Buddhagama and Hinduism/Devagama) or do not have any state religion at all.

      None of the religions practiced in Sri Lanka originated from Sri Lanka. Either they should remove religion completely from the constitution or give all of them equal status. If the Christians (Cardinal Malcom Ranjith) and Muslims are not interested, at least give foremost place in Sri Lanka to the two ancient religions Buddhism and Hinduism. Islam and Christianity are still new to the country, they can be considered later.

      Sri Lanka is a Hindu-Buddhist society/culture and civilization right from ancient time. Buddhism and Hinduism/Brahmanism are the two main religions that existed and flourished in Sri Lanka from the very early period. Even today if they excavate the archaeological sites they will find not only Buddhist but also Hindu artifacts. The Buddhist archaeological sites in the Tamil speaking North & East, or the Hindu archaeological sites in the Sinhala speaking south are not strange phenomena in the island because both Sinhalese and Tamils practiced Buddhism and Hinduism.

      It is interesting to note that the Sinhala-English Kandyan Treaty of 1815 refers to Buddhagama (Buddhism) and Devagama (Hinduism/Brahmanism). Buddhagama and Devagama can be considered the forerunner of present day Sinhala-Buddhism, which has a history going back to more than two thousand.

      Prof. N.K. (Nira) Wickramasinghe from the History and Political Science Department of the Colombo University in her article titled “Some Comments on Dress in Sri Lanka” explains about the puritanical influences that came with Western colonial rule and the imposition of Judeo-Christian culture on the liberal tradition of Hindu-Buddhist culture that prevailed in ancient Lanka.

      Even today, if we visit any Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, there is always a Hindu Devale/temple with Hindu Gods inside the Buddhist temple. Many Sinhalese are still practicing Hindu religious traditions openly. For example, auspicious times is a Hindu concept, Buddhism has no concept of auspicious times. The Hindu element is patent in the lifestyle of every Sinhala-Buddhist. They pray with great piety to Hindu gods, perform rituals, break coconuts, tie the pirith noola, surei, do important things at auspicious times, light the khoodu for Bhairava, hang ash pumpkins in a newly built house to avoid evil befalling any member of the house-hold, carry kavadi, walk on red hot cinders, chant Seth and Vas kavi, etc. Even on poya days, Buddhists offer poojas at Kataragama to God Murugan, and offer poojas to goddess Saraswaty. They observe Hindu New Year Day, April 14, (according to Hindu Solar and not Buddhist Lunar calendar) as their New Year Day.

      The strong hereditary Hindu element in Dutugemunu (present even today in all Sri Lankan Buddhists) made him a devotee of the Dravidian God Murukan at Katharagama. It is said in the Mahawamsa that Dutugemunu invoked the blessings of the God Murukan to endow him with strength to defeat King Elara in battle. The Mahawamsa also says there were Hindu temples for Lord Ishwera in Lanka from pre-Buddha times (623 B.C.) such as Nakulesweram in the North, Thirukketheesweram and Munnesweram in the West and Konesweram in the East. Hindu kovils in the deep south for Lord Murukan at Katharagama and for Lord Vishnu at Devi Nuwara still exist due to continued patronage by Sinhala-Buddhists.

      Hinduism is much older than Buddhism in Sri Lanka and is still followed by not only Tamils but also Sinhalese and Veddas. Tamils, Sinhalese and Veddas worship the Kataragama God Murugan at the ancient Hindu temple in Kataragama. At every Buddhist temple (including the Dalada Maligawa) you find Hindu Gods (according to Buddhism, a Buddhist should not pray to any god). If you go to the Hindu temples like Katharagama or Muneshwaram, you find more Sinhala devotees than Tamil. On the other hand, even today if you go to the Naga Vihara Buddhist temple in Jaffna town (not the Nagadveepa), you will be able to see some locals (Tamils) worship the Buddha/Dagoba, it is a practice among some Tamils.

      There are Hindu temples from ancient days in Kandy, testifying to a high concentration of Hindus in the Central part of Lanka. The temple for Nath (Siva), according to H.W. Codrington, is over 600 years old. The other temples, being for Murukan, Vishnu and Goddess Pattini, Robert Knox was of the view that Maha Esala Perahera in Kandy was celebrated from ancient times exclusively in honor of the Hindu deities. The Tooth Relic was taken in the Perahera for the first time during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Raja Singha at the request of the Siamese Monk Upali, to give a Buddhist touch to the festival. That practice was later stopped. These days only the empty casket is mounted on the elephant.

      It may not be incorrect to assume that in the hoary past, Lanka was, from North to South, East to West and the Central highlands the homeland of Tamils of the Hindu faith. With the arrival of Arahat Mahinda, thousands of Tamils of the Hindu faith embraced Buddhism. With the mixture of Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit languages, evolved the Sinhala language during 8 A.D. Though more than 80 generations have rolled by, these converts have not given up their Tamil Hindu culture and practices. They still indulge in Hindu prayers and rituals.

      Today the Sri Lankan Buddhists are Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Hindus are Tamils but that was not the case in the ancient past. In the past, not only there were Tamil Buddhists but also Hindu Sinhalese. The Buddhist archaeological sites in the Tamil North & East, or the Hindu archaeological sites in the Sinhala South are not strange phenomena in the island. The Sri Lankan Tamils had been living in all parts of Sri Lanka for many centuries. It was only after the Jaffna kingdom was formed in the 13th century, the Tamils were confined to the North and East. However, the Sri Lankan Tamils do not go and demographically claim Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa (a capital built by the Cholas), Padaviya, Kurunegala, Kandy, Kotte (Colombo) or the Dondra Head (the southernmost point in the island), citing the presence of Saiva (Hindu) sites there like the Sinhalese claiming the North & East citing the presence of Buddhist sites.

    • 3
      0

      Where was this author all these days. She says that the fear among Sinhalese that by large scale migration of Indians particularly Tamils will make Sinhalese a minority, is a justified one. This is exactly what Tamils have been saying for the past 60 years regarding Northern and Eastern provinces where large scale state sponsored Sinhala colonisation coupled with state sponsored ethnic cleansing of Tamils have made Tamils a minority in Eastern province and border areas of Northern province. How can the rule be different to Sinhalese and Tamils especially when Srilanka government is shouting from roof tops that there is no racial discrimination. The main problem in Srilanka is the majority of Sinhalese at 75% where they could do anything even unjustifiable to satisfy their supremacist agenda.

      A good example of ethnic balance is Malaysia, where Malay Islamic racism is kept under check by the power of the minorities. If similar picture emerges in Srilanka where Sinhalese Buddhists will become a manageable majority of 55% as in Malaysia, then Sinhala Buddhist racism can be kept under check. Large scale settlement of Tamils from India particularly in Northern and Eastern provinces is the answer. Sinhalese who say no one can stop Sinhalese being settled in large numbers in Northern and eastern province to alter the demographic pattern, cannot object to settling Dravidians in large numbers to bring back the original demographic pattern in these provinces, as it is now proved beyond doubt that first settlers in Srilanka are Dravidians, thus any of whom have the right to settle here.

    • 2
      0

      Asoka Bandarage has been living in the USA for a very long time, but hasn’t learnt a thing about how multi cultural, multi racial societies function.

      Would she consider the fight of the black people in the US for equal rights as a case of the blacks fighting for a dominant minority status?

      I see this pathetic attempt as a case of trying to uphold Sinhala nationalism whilst being comfortably ensconced by everything that is foreign overseas. Her head – all these years – has been well above the clouds.

      She should have got married to Mahindapala or Sumanasekera and lived here, possibly at Ohlums Place in Borella.

  • 0
    2

    To protect the Indian Ocean from militarization and warfare, the countries in the region need to collectively uphold the principles of non-alignment and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean.

    Above is only theory.

    Only thing that did not happen in the Indian Ocean regions is the war because it is an important sea Taffic and China is dependant on that route.

  • 5
    1

    DR AB,

    “Following the 2015 elections and change in political leadership,”- nothing has happened if you are to go by the picture of mutual friendship and camaraderie between the old guard (blackguards) and the new leadership shown at the wedding of My3’s nephew.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/wheels-within-wheels-gota-at-dudley-sirisenas-sons-wedding/

    Secondly either you want a secular democracy or a skewed Buddhist version where one religion is favoured more than others. Basically a Sinhala Buddhist nation can never be a secular democracy.

    Thirdly during the colonial period there was no ‘dominant minority’. The colonials were dominant and all others including the ‘Sinhale’ were living on the colonial handouts and better grovelers of all communities doing better than others.

    Fourthly your so called professionals are just the medical fraternity only who are fearful of ETCA. Needless to say they are worried that they will lose their health service monopoly and abhorrent money making enterprises.

    • 7
      0

      BBS Rep

      I think you are reading too much into her bigotry, but it amounts to nothing really.

      Has this typists said anything new apart from repeating the same old paranoia?

  • 8
    1

    Asoka Bandarage

    Apart from the usual Sinhala/Buddhist paranoia I don’t see anything new, refreshing nor substance.

    Let me have some time to respond to your typing. I need to consult my 10 old neighbour on your typing to see if he could read between the lines.

    Thanks for wasting your time as well as mine.

    • 0
      0

      Native,

      You mean ‘NO THANKS FOR WASTING YOUR TIME AND MINE’?

  • 6
    1

    These are the fears expressed by some Sinhalese professionals in Sri Lanka: loss of majority status, religion, economic well-being.

    Tamils in Sri Lanka would say they have the same fears: loss of their majority status in the North, religion and continued economic stagnation.

    Aren’t these issues 2 sides of the same coin? Fear of the “other”, some based on conspiracy theories, others more real such as the geopolitical push-and-pull, and growing resistance across the world to globalization and neo-capitalism.

    Can we allay these fears and create a stronger Sri Lanka that can stand up to international “super powers” (AKA “Thugs”) without resorting to petty nationalism? Such nationalism in the hands of Sri Lankans has been violently disastrous to the majority of people on the island who are not English-educated city elites.

    Why can’t educated people like Wigneshwaran, and even this lady promote our commonality and shared problems rather than foster more division?

    • 8
      1

      sinhalese buddhist

      “Why can’t educated people like Wigneshwaran, and even this lady promote our commonality and shared problems rather than foster more division?”

      Education is not synonymous with wisdom.

      As I have said many time before and say it again, if you don’t treat your family well strangers/neighbours will grope your women folks.

      Have you heard of anyone who suffered paranoia and been cured?

      Parochial nationalism is the first enemy of the people. It seems Asoka Bandarage is another person who does not believe in secular democratic country. I suspect she is working enemies of Sinhalese and Buddhists.

      Beware enemies are within.

      One more thing just because she types what you stupid people want to hear, does not make it a great write up, simply a recycled bigotry.

  • 0
    5

    Where are you from, dear Madam?..

    I am flabbergasted,

    This is the first time I have come across an Elite Lady, who can write in the Elite Dialect too, to explain the current sorry state which our country has plunged in to, and equally sorry plight of the 70% Sinhala Buddhist inhabitant population are faced , in our 2500 year old Mahavamsa Land.

    Thank you Madam..

    • 3
      0

      Dear KAS,
      “This is the first time I have come across an Elite Lady, who can write in the Elite Dialect too,”
      Really?
      Have you not heard of Sanja De Silva Jayatillaka?

      • 0
        0

        Dear Old Codger,

        Who is Sanja De Silva J…

        Has she written anything good about the 70 %, who are the rural poor Sinhala Buddhist battlers?.

        If she did or has done, please convey my kind regards to her on behalf of the Dalits…..

        • 1
          0

          Dear KAS,
          Sanja is Dayan’s wife. She has taken to writing on CT to protect her husband from all those nasty comments he seems to attract.

    • 4
      1

      Let me repeat what I have observed and said before,

      Weather it is Sinhala elite educated in Royal/Ananda, Peradeniya/Colombo, Oxford/Cambridge, Harvard/Yale, etc. or the uneducated Sinhala village coconut plucker/toddy taper or trishaw driver, there is hardly any difference when it comes to habits, attitude, behaviour, and thinking. They all have the same low mentality and narrow mindedness. Sometimes I feel that the coconut pluckers are much more clever/intelligent than these so called ‘Educated’ with ‘Dr.’ titles. It is their inherent nature I believe.

      This so called ‘Dr.’ Asoka Bandarage is another good example, no different than any other Sinhalese.

      • 0
        0

        Perfect analysis, Sinhala Elite, PERFECT!

    • 2
      0

      Who is this Dr. Asoka Bandarage? What kind of Dr. is she? Vet nary? Or a Pseudo-scholar like Dayan?

      Unfortunately, due to foolishness, the Sinhalese (irrespective of their educational background) is the ONLY race (tribe) in this entire world that believes that the majority race in a country is the sole owner of that country and all others (minorities) are aliens.

      These people (Sinhalese) are brainwashed right from birth with the Mahavamsa mind-set to believe the myth that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala-Buddhist country and the non-Sinhala Buddhists (Tamils and others) are invaders and outsiders who do not belong to Sri Lanka.

      Sinhalese like Asoka Bandarage are not only living in unfounded fear/suspicion but also instilling fear in the minds of the other Sinhalese.

    • 0
      0

      [Edited out]

  • 0
    4

    My mates say their relatives in South India pay peanuts to the poor women and young girls who work as domestics in their households.

    Some even work for left overs and get a couple of Ruppiahs..

    Will our Yahapalana Colombo Madams take cue from South Indian moneyed Mamas and import poor South Indian girls under the ETCA and pay them peanuts .

    • 2
      0

      KASmaalam KA Sumanasekera

      “My mates say their relatives in South India pay peanuts to the poor women and young girls who work as domestics in their households.”

      No wonder they also say they share Sinha Le, and their ancestors were born out of bestiality.

      • 0
        0

        Dear Native,

        I have heard enough argy bargy about our ancestry.

        Now you come up with another silly comment, to tell us that Lions copulated with Hindian women .

        It is a poor attempt to cover up the fact that your beloved Nadu Hindians pay peanuts to poor Dalits.

        Your buddy,single Malik is in a big rush to sign ETCA on behalf of Batalanda Ranil, to put Bacon on the Table for Colombo Elite, Anglicans and the Vellalas.. ( Do the Velllas eat Bacon? )

        Any way you know what the latest theory regarding our ancestry.

        There were no Sinhalese in Srilanka until 6 Century AD.

        And guess what.. This theory comes from Vellala Wigneswaren who made it the Srilankan Supreme Court and now is parked very close to the Premiership of the very first Federal Thamil Eelaam which Batalanada Ranil is going to give Sambanadan.

        • 2
          0

          KASmaalam KA Sumanasekera

          “Now you come up with another silly comment, to tell us that Lions copulated with Hindian women .”

          I don’t need to creatively think, this is in Mahawamsa, the Sinhala/Buddhist bible, constitution, and family law. The so called eminent Sinhala/Buddhist professors too believe the Mahawamsa myth. If you are a true lion blooded Sinhala/Buddhist you too should believe in it.

          “Any way you know what the latest theory regarding our ancestry. There were no Sinhalese in Srilanka until 6 Century AD.”

          Was there?

          It was your Tamil Nadu ancestry that you continue to deny. Check your DNA which will confirm your ancestry without a shred of doubt. It will cost you less than $125. I assure you I won’t make fun of your ancestors.

  • 4
    1

    Whats the matter with this lady.by building bridge or tunnel you get influx of indians-joking do they really wants to come to racist paradise for what.we rely on India from onion to satellite.count on the roads how many Indian vehicles are there and to put fuel you get IOC (Indian oil co) soon we have to import tea as well from them.

    You worry about your profession GMOA and BBS are same.how it’s going to be danger for Buddhism Budha Vijay all came from where.

    Greedy doctors and thuggish politicians running the country.how many poor families have to sell their home to have treatments.its better to open up competition for the benefit of the sick.

    Tamils are in govnt top positions are they merit or ethnically selected.this war would have been won very long time ago if you all have accepted or treated everyone as sri lankans or rather accommodated.

    In the past send war ships armoured cars and bombers to Jaffna for what purpose.JVP already started well before LTTE.have they used cannons in the south.

    Now LTTE may gone but still leaving for ISS and Tamil uprising.am not sympathiser for LTTE but don’t make way for them.

    Think as Sri lankans if we really wanted to live in peace.

    Dear Dr don’t worry about the Indians Dr’s but dont stir people now VP may gone but dont bring another wirst monster.

    Look at your MP s now either parliament or courts/prison how is going to prosper.

  • 3
    1

    There is a fundamental confusion in Bandarage’s position. On the one had hand is very disturbed that a Tamil is now the Chief Justice and another is the governor of the Central Bank and yet another is the Leader of the Opposition.
    Then she opposes regional autonomy and federalism for the Tamil-majority areas.
    Ms. Bandarage,don’t you realize that once substantial regional autonomy is established you can get rid of these pesky Tamils and thereby eliminate their chances of continuing as a “dominant minority” and becoming chief justices and governors?
    On the other hand if you want to have the current state system, only thing you can do now is to return to the island and start a movement to impeach the Chief Justice and the Governor and insist that no Tamil should be appointed to any high position hereafter!!

    “gained by the United People’s Freedom Alliance”

  • 1
    1

    Dr. Asoka Bandarage,

    You have not touched on the issue of majority of the Buddhists from SriLanka visiting places like Buddha Gaya ,
    Saranath, Lumubini, Nalanda University in their life time.

    Don’t you think if there is a sea bridge and or underground tunnel, it will make the travel to these places cheaper for the not so rich ordinary Sinhalese Buddhists and the clergies.? Even Anagarika Dharmapala chose to live in India during his last days.

    On another note if geographically small UK can conquer India and small Israel can control Middle East, small Japan can conquer Korea and parts of China, why can not SriLanka invade India from the South with the help of China and conquer India in the future ?

  • 1
    4

    Good piece of writing. I will add a few things.

    Moslems in the subcontinent weren’t in conflict with the Hindu’s before the British arrived. The British artificially create powerful Moslem demography to keep the majority Hindus in check. It just colonial state-craft.

    Although the affected Moslem minority wish to continue enjoying the privilege even after the colonial period has ended.

    The privilege cannot be enjoyed unless India is broken-up. It cannot be enjoyed in a democratic India where the majority Hindus will object to Moslem demands. India vs Pakistan and North vs South Ireland emerged as after-effects from British policies.

    When a powerful minority did not exist they created it artificially. In Sri Lanka they created this demography bringing large numbers of Tamils into the country. I think Sri Lanka was lucky to avoid the initial breakup but the challenge emerged in the latter years.

    I think the violence was inevitable. The challenge would always come and turn violent and it had to be dealt the way it did.

  • 4
    0

    Ah! the true colours of Asoka Bandarage revealed.

  • 8
    0

    The smiling face of bigotry!

    Let’s just check what the ‘learned’ doctor has written.

    1…In a seeming return to the ‘dominant minority’ position they enjoyed during the British colonial period
    Well yes, our colonial masters couldn’t give a fig for caste or religion. They went for something old fashioned called merit. They used us all. Do NOT forget the many Sinhalese who took top positions and thrived. Like Maha Mudaliyar Solomon Banda who loved the colonial master so much he christened his No 1 son West Ridgeway….and smart young SWRD promptly saw the light and became an ‘Orient Club’ Buddhist the moment the old bulldog went home. I cannot see the logic of your argument Dr Bandarage. When Sri Lankans (including Sinhala Buddhists) emigrate to other countries we expect equal opportuninity BUT at home equal opportunity is reserved first and foremost for the Sinhala-Bauddha class, (sub-class caste too). How hypocritical.

    2…The proposed constitutional changes which are backed by the Tamil Diaspora, India and the ‘international community’ are likely to lead to ethnically based balkanization and destabilization of the island, reigniting violent conflict.
    Oh I say! then we had better work quickly to stop that. Firstly, I suggest the powers that be take a firm hand to those who would KEEP us DIVIDED. I am thinking now of the odious BBS and their ilk. The fuckers like Gnanasara who have hijacked the robes to hide behind and propound their evil message of hate and division. There are as much evil to decent Buddhists as to the others they terrorise.
    With them out of the way, we can and must get down to serious reconciliation. To hijack Hilary Clinton’s slogan ‘Together Stronger’ will be a good start.

    3…The Sri Lankan constitution gives ‘foremost place’ to Buddhism, the religion of 70% of the island’s population referring to the duty of the state to protect and foster Buddhism.

    Does Buddhism really need to be protected (and patronised) by a motley crowd of cunning Sinhala politicians. The Buddhism I know is perfectly mature and capable of standing on its own. Nobody is going to steal Buddhism but believe me, the Noble Message will be dragged through the mud by the likes of the BBS and their sub-human proxies.

    4…The charges of ‘Indian invasion and colonization’ are exacerbated…
    I hooted when I read this piffle, and wondered what ‘Native Vedda’ would say. Let me recap again of the surge of the ‘kicked-out’ who escaped southwards in their thousands to frighten the indigenous veddas and defoliate this land as they sought refuge from the irate at home in what is now Mother India. Then in a moment of madness, the Noble One is supposed to have turned up and entrusted his special message to the reprobates who had hijacked what must have been, truly then, the Pearl of Indian Ocean. What was the Noble Prince thinking?

    5…To protect the Indian Ocean from militarization and warfare, the countries in the region need to collectively uphold the principles of non-alignment and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean……
    THIS WAS so good for the 70’s and 80’s Remember our friends YOGOSLAVIA? LIBYA? EGYPT? CUBA? and all the time our best Sri Lankans were emigrating to the US, UK, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND and every else but. Wake up Dr Bandaragama, this is the 21st Century, and the name of the game is collaboration and cooperation. Keeping old friends and making new. Boxing clever (NOT slapping clever) on the diplomatic front. Promoting the best people to look after our interests – and those should not clouded by nationalist or bigoted considerations. We must rise above that.

    Dr Bandaragama, I wish you well, and most of all I wish you will join the march of us all, every Sri Lankan, into the inclusive world of the 21st Century.

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      Another point that needs comment is
      ….The country has allowed extensive Christian evangelical and Islamic Wahabi proselytization and conversion……

      Well Dr Bandarage, let me take you into a secret. The Christians and the Muslims have been trying for a thousand years and after all this time they have only got 8% each. I wouldn’t call that success, would you? At this rate, IF the Buddhists stopped reproducing, it will take till the year 8000 to get anywhere near the situation you foresee. AND that is only IF Buddhism is reviled by its own. This danger exists in the form of the evil bastards of the BBS who are now giving Buddhism a bad name at home and overseas. It is reprobates like Gnanasara and ilk who will bring down Buddhism.

      In reality, these days, a person is shackled by the religion of their parents. So proselytisation has limited success.

      AS for the Muslims, we musn’t gloat but (haven’t you heard?) they are killing each other big time in wars all over the Middle East.

      AND, don’t forget that Buddhism itself is winning new adherents all over the world. So we must be careful.

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        Spring Koha

        Do you think Asoka Bandarage really understands your comment?

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      Spring Koha

      I completely agree with your above response to Asoka Bandarage’s typing.

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    “Still, there is vociferous demand backed by the ‘international community’ for western style pluralism and secularism and the elimination of the ‘foremost place’ given to Buddhism in the proposed new constitution. The severance of the historical relationship between Buddhism and the state would undermine the culture of the Sinhala majority and the identity of the island as a Buddhist nation. The attempted change has already given rise to resistance and inter-religious conflict.”

    KSA constitution mentions Islam at least 300 times. Sri Lanka constitution mentions Buddhism less than 10 times. But, these Westerners who depend on oil to run their mega-billion economies, will never mention the KSA constitution. Just like the UN is asking Sri Lanka to investigate “mass killings” from 9 years ago, whereas the UN is totally silent about the on-going massacre of Houthis in Yemen by KSA.

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    Indian IT professionals, Engineers and science graduates are working for minimum wages. Once Sri lanka signs the ECTA, they will be in Sri lanka in thousands.

    Right now Sri lanka imports vegetable, rice and everything from India. The trade deficit is hugh and is in favour of India.

    Already, south Indian unskilled labourers are working in Sri lanka on tourist visa.

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      Dear Jimmy,
      “Indian IT professionals, Engineers and science graduates are working for minimum wages”
      Can we also get a few rocket scientists, car designers, physicists, university lecturers and judges too? The tree-climbers and gardeners can come later.

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      Careful Jim

      Only the other day we had a clutch of Sri Lankans deported from Japan after working while on Tourist Visas.

      There are so many other instances of Sri Lankans working in Europe, Canada, the US and Australia while on holiday visas.

      An old aunty told me ‘people who live in glass houses should not throw stones’.

      Let us just hope that we have politicians and administrators good, and strong enough to protect and safeguard our interests.

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    In Sinhale, Majority political power is with Sinhala people. Yet they are not achiving. It is the Tamils who have gained.

    See how the political establishments in other countries have delivered. Sinhale – political establishment need to be changed.

    Even at present, the most burning issues in Sinhale are; for some it is to getting back into power, and for others to stay in power. People are divided over that. Journalists are writing lies either to protect or destroy these two groups.

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      Dear Jimmy,
      “In Sinhale, Majority political power is with Sinhala people. Yet they are not achiving.”
      Perfectly true, Jimmy. Now, whose fault can it be? Is it something to do with square pegs in round holes? Like an IGP who thinks he got his job beacause he worshipped a tree every day for a month?
      Did you forget your pills today Jimmy?

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    Dr. Bandarage,
    You say: ” The country has allowed extensive Christian evangelical and Islamic Wahabi proselytization and conversion that are not permitted in Islamic and many other nations.”
    Oh, really? Since when has this country been such a paradise of religious freedom? Is it possible for an Evangelical pastor to set up a church even in his own home without permission? A buddhist monk can appropriate any Bo tree he fancies. As an example, do go and look at the monstrosity in the shape of a ship at the junction of St. Joseph’s street and Bandaranaike Mawatha in Grandpass ,that occupies the whole pavement. It did not exist 20 years ago. Can a non-Buddhist clergyman get away with this?
    Are you not aware, Dr.B. that even Mahayana Buddhism is not allowed to be propagated?
    “the ETCA proposal is yet to be made public. However, given the asymmetry in size and economic and political power of the two countries, it has generated tremendous opposition from professional bodies in Sri Lanka.”
    These “professional” bodies are mostly the GMOA, is it not? Coupled with their objection to SAITM, it is obvious that they are afraid of losing their bargaining power and their ability to rip off the poor patients. Why should this tie-wearing mafia be allowed to dictate terms to us? Let them migrate if they want to.
    “The severance of the historical relationship between Buddhism and the state would undermine the culture of the Sinhala majority and the identity of the island as a Buddhist nation. “
    If 300 years of partial colonization and 150 of total subjugation did not eradicate Buddhism, why would it need protection now, madam?

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      old codger

      Asoka Bandarage types:

      “culture of the Sinhala majority “

      Could you find out from her if she really understood about “culture of the Sinhala majority”

      No one who champion Sinhala/Buddhist culture has ever define this phrase simply because no one knows what it is.

      This imagined identity and myth of origin had devastated this country for nearly 100 years. The culture of the Sinhala majority like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and shouting “I found it!”.

      Or is it the case of blind men and an elephant?

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      Dear Old Codger,

      300 years of Colonisation and 150 years of partial Colonisation didn’t eradicate Buddhism..

      That is why Batalanada Ranil wants to do it ..no.

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      Evangelical christianity is a cult and it is not a religion. Because, christians want to establish enterprises in the name of religion, they should not be allowed to destroy countries and their cultures. Tamils are a greedy lot. All the christian cults should be removed.

      Sri lanka should define what religions are.

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        Dear Jimmy,
        “Evangelical christianity is a cult and it is not a religion.”

        Is Buddhism a religion? Yes or no, please.

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    Enjoy the actions of our Colonial Lord master nation. We are second class in Britain and France but we are superior in Ceylon.

    https://www.rt.com/uk/360972-racist-attack-schoolboy-edinburgh/

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      PetrolShedEelamist

      “Enjoy the actions of our Colonial Lord master nation. We are second class in Britain and France but we are superior in Ceylon.”

      What do you have to say about the Aryan Master Race in this photo?

      http://transcurrents.com/
      news-views/archives/2414

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        N.V,
        Your link doesn’t work.

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    Dr. Asoka Bandarage where is your doctorate from and in what subject did you buy it?

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      >where is your doctorate from and and in what subject did you buy it?

      Bryn Mawr College in 1973. In 1975, she received a master’s degree in Religion from Yale University and in 1980, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asoka_Bandarage

      I went to an ethnic reconciliation meeting in NY (early 90’s). I think Fordham Uni, was dragged to it by a Uni batch mate.

      The internationa heavy/light weights were there, Rudrakmaran, Gnananath Obeysekara, two names I remember

      The only sentence I still recall from that conference after 20 odd years:
      The LTTE has killed more Tamils than Sinhalese,
      The Govt has killed more Sinhalese than Tamils

      And she was the prettiest of the lot at the conference.

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        Bandarage:
        Bryn Mawr College in 1973. In 1975, she received a master’s degree in Religion from Yale University and in 1980, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University.
        This doesn’t mean anything. Many of Hitler’s henchmen were well trained scholars too as were his defenders and propagandists. Closer to home, many of the more ardent Sinhala fascists too have doctorates from prestigious universities. Indeed it seems that a training in academic pursuits gives them the tools to carry on with their reactionary nation-destroying work

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    One must congratulate Ms. Bandarage for the stylish way in which she was able to condense ethnic bigotry, religious fanaticism, cultural and political paranoia and specious reasoning into one relatively short essay!
    Bravo, Bandarage!

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      Careful Karl,

      There’s nothing ‘stylish’ about the vituperation dripping from the pen of Dr Bandarage. As for Yale, it has some control over those it admits, but afterwards their alumni are just as capable of losing their way as those from any other institution or none.

      But Karl, I do agree with you that the ‘doctor’ does not miss out any of the contents of her bigoted mind.

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    AB is is playing a double game. Most Sri Lankans get hoodwinked by this these type of patriot who live and earn Dollars in the West and then preach to us suckers.

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    I prefer to be with Chinese than Indian invaders. India is more worried about Sri Lanka, I am sure India will provide jobs for our people. At least most Chinese worship Buddha and there is no harm from Chinese and they will be there for us and they will not drop Parrippu from air

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    The Writer articulates the concerns of the Sinhalese in a pseudo-patriotic partisan way. I am afraid the fears expressed are illusionary.

    The Vietnamese, Filipinos have similar fears of China. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal suffer imaginary fears of fastly developing India 24×7. The ideal example for us to follow is that of Singapore – bordered by larger Malaysia and Indonesia – also long subject to a siege mentality. But little Singapore used her perceived threats as opportunities and as disaster. She went on minding her own business from 1965 – and to what stupendous success. As LKY named his book “From 3rd world to 1st” is the net result. That is the way to go. LKW’s advantage was that he did’t have Buddhist priests crossing his path on the way to developing his little City State. The religious-tolerant Singapore saw to it that the faith-community stayed where they ideally should – within the confines of their places of worship.

    The Sinhala Buddhists, who form about 75% of the country have no reason to fear the Tamils, Christians or Muslims as suggested by the Writer. Their dominant position, religion, language and culture are not under real threat at all. They never were – even under the Dutch/British or ever since. Therefore, the sudden introduction of the “Special place for Buddhism” in 1972 was calculated to hurt the susceptibilities of those adherents of other religions – quite unnecessarily. This created more division within the once united country.

    The Writer’s comment Tamil elites have been appointed to some of the highest positions in the Sri Lankan state has to be viewed by reality. Compared to decades ago, the opportunities available to Tamils in State services – their traditional main stay that remained high earlier, is now negligible. The Writer only refers to a few positions held by Tamils to prejudice the Sinhala mind. One of the chief reasons for the Tamil insurrection was the deliberate act of denying them State employment through the instrument of the divisive Sinhala Only policies.

    The giant post-1947 India has not posed any threat to us at all, in real terms. Demagogues in the political landscape create nonexistent fears in the minds of the vulnerable Sinhalese – only for political advantage. What benefit has the Buddhist-priest lead campaign brought the Sinhalese since 1956. Only catastrophe. The Buddhist priests, who should be within the walls of temples meditating in peace, are now themselves are now openly in politicking. Many of them in the pursuit of filthy lucre through devious means – a blot on Prince Siddartha Gautham – the Buddha.

    When the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement was proposed in the 1990’s there was hue and cry all over our small, medium businesses and industries will collapse. It was suggested Indian businesses will totally swamp us into nonexistence. No such thing happened. The reality was the trade between the two countries saw a leap by many folds. While certainly India’s trade volume with us increased so did our own with them. India’s increased share of trade under the Agreement only worked detrimentally to those from Japan and the West – whose products were far more costlier than those from India. Consequently, it was a net gain for us even where imports from India were concerned. As former IHC NN Jha eloquently said “you get 3 from India for the price of 1 you paid to Japan and the West”

    The details of ETCA are closely scrutinised by the Lankan side and any clauses unfavourable to us will not be proceeded with. As to the Services sector, we have to look at it from the angle of benefits to us from India’s own that has seen epic growth in the past two decades. There is much scope for the Sri Lankan educated young to benefit from the huge potential in India’s highly developed IT industry – all covered under ETCA.

    This imaginary fear of “Tamil separatist dream of ‘Greater Eelam’ combining Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka” is a non-starter – calculated to deceive the Sinhalese. Tamilnadu is now firmly entrenched as one of the more vibrant and successful States, economically and politically, within the Indian political union. They are not imbeciles to join with a part of Sri Lanka – a recent war-torn country often referred to as a Failed State. The vast majority of people in Tamilnadu have no desire of joining hands in a political union with the Tamil North-East of Sri Lanka.

    I expect the Writer to engage in discussions in these columns on the future of Sri Lanka bringing home her learning and knowledge – rather than introduce fanciful fears. The latter has been tried by many other ambitious men and women in our political landscape – all eventually ending in failure.

    The way forward for the Sinhalese is through workable and genuine reconciliation and not domination- which was tried and failed since 1956. This State-sponsored surreptitious programme has failed us so very badly so far. As that once anti-Tamil extremist like the late Ven. Maduluwewe Sobita Thero realised, it is now time to try different political strategies to unite and economically develop Sri Lanka. One positive way is to treat the Tamils like brothers and partners instead of enemies.

    Backlash

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      Backlash, well said!

      Just to follow that last line.

      When the majority Sinhalese can accept that the way forward is cooperation and collaboration amongst ALL who inhabit our magical island, then the way will open for a brighter future.

      In the 21st Century, it is not to ask when and how you got here but how and what you can contribute to the national challenge.

      The Sinhalese have nothing to fear but themselves.

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      Backlash:Yours is the best riposte to Bandarage:Factual,well reasoned and based on history.
      I hope either she or one member of the Sinhala nationlist coterie respond to your comments.

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    [Edited out]

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    Asoka Bandarage is a leftist bigot who does not belong here. CT, please do not publish her. She causes many people much distress

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      Yes, remove her from this forum; she does not belong here. She can go to leftist website

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      Dear Umm.
      I don’t think Ms Bandarage is a leftist, though she is a bigot. However, we should listen to her views. CT would be as boring as the Daily News a few years ago if all contributors said the same thing.
      You’re here because CT is interesting, aren’t you?

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    She is dangerous to the country of this unity. Nip her in the bud. Also stop her from ever coming to Sri Lanka

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    [Edited out]

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