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Building a new society in Sri Lanka based on equality and justice

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Hello Friends,

Last month I posted on this Blog a letter written by a grand uncle to his grand nephew. The grand uncle was none other than the well-known trade unionist and human rights activist Upali Cooray.

This former stalwart of the Ceylon Mercantile Union was an active member of the Lanka Sama Samaaja Party (LSSP) who later broke away from it.

Upali Cooray a lawyer is now resident in Britain. He is senior lecturer in Law at the Metropolitian University in London. He is also involved with the centre for democracy and justice.

A vulgar and cruse exhibition of triumphalism was let loose in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Cooray’s young grand nephew was also one of those engulfed by the triumphalist tide. Observing the jingoist and triumphalist remarks posted by his grand nephew on his facebook the grand uncle wrote him a letter.

Stating “it is obvious that you have been swept by the chauvinist fever” Upali proceeded to point out precisely in the letter the inherent dangers of this misplaced triumphalism.

To his credit the grand nephew was not offended by his “podi Seeya’s” missive. Understanding the wisdom outlined in the latter he wrote back thanking Upali Cooray and also said around twenty of his friends had also changed their opinion about the war as a result of the letter.

This letter was first posted on this blog and evoked tremendous response. Subsequently Upali wrote a lengthy response to one of the commentators.

This too was posted on this blog.

Now the Grand uncle has written a second letter to his grand nephew. In this Upali Cooray exposes many of the myths and fallacies surrounding the so called “racial divisions” among Sinhala and Tamil people of Sri Lanka.

He also urges a break from the unfortunate past and calls upon the people of Sri Lanka particularly the younger generation to build a new society based on modernity, prosperity, equality and justice.

Upali also appeals to the people to unite and fight for their deprived rights.

I do think that this letter is well worth a read and have posted it here.

Once again I invite your responses and express the hope that an interesting, informative discussion would commence.

Here then is Upali Cooray’s second letter to his grand nephews-DBSJ
Menik Farm: Through Tarpaulin Walls
Manic Farm: Through Tarpaulin Wallspic: indi.ca

In PDF File: Building a new society in Sri Lanka based on equality and justice-By Upali Cooray.

Letter to a Grandnephew (2)

Dear Grandnephew,

1. When I wrote my first letter to you I was extremely ill. I had a rare infection followed by a knee operation; my knee was extremely painful and swollen and I was generally unwell. I could not walk or sit near a computer. Most of the day I spent in bed. In fact I had to dictate that letter I sent you and Samantha kindly typed it for me. I left out many issues, and perhaps, I could have argued some of the issues I raised in a more cogent manner. Nevertheless, I believe that I was able to get across the essential points I wanted to make. My letter and your response were published widely and there were a large number of comments about its contents. Your response demonstrated that you are a very responsible, intelligent and a compassionate young man and I must say that I am proud to have a grandnephew like you. In one website alone (This blog) there were some 138 responses to my letter. Most of those comments were quite positive but there were some peanut brains that even accused me of being an LTTE supporter. Since you know about my standpoint on the LTTE, my steadfast commitment to democracy, pluralism and human rights and my implacable opposition to militarism and recruitment and deployment of child soldiers, I do not think it is worth responding to such imbeciles. However there were other issues I would have liked to deal with in my first letter and hence my decision to write you this second letter.

Lack of material

2. It is unfortunate that today, most young people in Sri Lanka have little critical material to read and study about our history and culture. The net result is that there is a lot of misinformation that is peddled by the media. Ultra-nationalists-both Tamil and Sinhala-feed on this misinformation, myth and legend. Rarely are these misconceptions challenged. Take for example the concept of race. Often people in Sri Lanka believe that Tamils and Sinhalese are two different races. I can still remember the day I applied for my first passport. In the application form there was one section where you had to specify your race. Although I guessed the purpose of that question was to ascertain whether I was Sinhala or Tamil, I knew that neither were distinct racial groups. Therefore I filled in that section by writing ‘human’. The clerk, who took the passport application from me, hit the roof. He got hysterical and shouted at me and said what do you mean ‘human’? Are you Sinahlese or Tamil ? Although I tried to reason with him and explain that we are not distinct races, it fell on deaf ears. He took the form, deleted human and wrote ‘Sinhalese’. Such lack of scientific and critical outlook permeates all aspect of our society.

DNA profiles

3. Recently, in England, a researcher interviewed a number of people who believed that they were of pure English or of Caucasian origins. Thereafter he carried out DNA tests on them. Most of these people assumed that they were either from good Anglo-Saxon or Norman stock or at least had North European ancestry. Surprisingly, in most cases their DNA indicated that they were not from North Europe. They had Mongolian, Moroccan and Turkish DNA. You will probably find the same if we carry out DNA profiles of some of the most upbeat chauvinists of Sri Lanka in order to determine which part of India or some other part of the globe his or her ancestors originated from. People in Sri Lanka are quite mixed. For instance the Karawas (caste) are descendants of South Indian mercenaries who were brought to our shores by Sri Lankan kings. They later settled on the western coastal belt. The same is true of Salagamas and the Durawas. They all have their origins in South India. If you think Kandyans are pure Sinhalese, you will be disappointed. A number of our later kings and queens were from South India. Although the King had an official wife (Queen) he could sleep with any woman he found attractive. That was his privilege. Those days there was no birth control and the illegitimate children of the king were called ‘Bandaras’. There are an awful lot of Bandaras about. That is not all. During the British period, a Kaffir Regiment was brought from South Africa. They gradually settled and married local people and became a part the population. Later on, Malays from Malaya (now Malaysia) settled in our country. There were also Malayalee Toddy tappers from Kerala who came and settled and inter-married the locals. We are also mixed with Portuguese, Dutch, British, etc. The same is true of Tamils. Amongst them is caste called the ‘Koviyars’. They were in fact Sinhalese prisoners (goviyars) captured in war and later became integrated into the Northern community. Moreover, the repression of the 1848 rebellion was quite ferocious. The British raj killed many people who rebelled against their rule. Thousands of others who escaped repression, fled to Wanni and settled there. Thus some of the people who later came to settle in the Wanni are most probably descendants of the Sinhalese who fled the 1848 repression.

Buddhagosha was a Tamil

4. It is equally stupid to argue that the existence of archaeological evidence of Buddhist temples in the North and East indicates that these areas were always inhabited by the Sinhalese. During those early years of our history, Buddhism was the religion of not only the Sinhalese but also the Tamils. For instance, one of the greatest Buddhist theoreticians, Buddhagosha, was a Tamil.

5. Obviously, there are linguistic and some cultural differences between the Sinhala and Tamil. But here too we must not exaggerate. There are lot of words that are common to both languages. In reality Sinhalese and Tamils have many more common features than differences. Ultra-nationalist on both sides of the divide want to exaggerate these differences and does so for ulterior motives. That is why remarks of some people to the effect that ‘all Tamils are from South India and they should return there’ are extremely stupid. And how would these charlatans treat Lord Buddha ? He was not a Sinhalese-He was from Varanasi in northern India.

Sinhala Buddhism is a contradiction in terms

6. Equally the concept of ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ is a contradiction in terms. Buddhism is a universal philosophy and cannot be confined to a particular group of human beings. Buddha did not recognise a ‘chosen race’ or a ‘chosen ethnic group’. To the extent one attempts to ‘Sinhalise’ it, Buddhism loses its validity and its rationale. Such a tribal ideology has nothing in common with Buddhism. This corruption of Buddhism has not stopped there. It has further degenerated into a division along caste lines. Thus we have the Siyam Nikaya for the Goigamas, Ramnnaya Nikaya for the Salagamas and the Amaapura Nikaya for the Karawas. Such provincialism and tribalism has nothing in common with the tenets of this great philosophy. In Britain Christianity in the form of the Anglican Church became a tool of the rulers. Buddhism has also been corrupted as ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ to serve the needs of the dominant ruling class and in doing so has robbed it of its core values. It is unnecessary dwell on these matters at length because you are conversant with my antipathy towards the parasites that live off hard working people in the land. Yet try to dictate to the world how we should behave and even what we should think.

Denying the grievances of Tamils

7. Hiding behind these erroneous and patently illogical concepts of race and religion, ‘Sinhala’ Ultra-nationalists assert that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are aliens or recent immigrants and that their grievances all imaginary or concocted complaints to preserve their privileges. Like the holocaust deniers they try to minimise the impact of pogroms of 1977, 1981 and 1983, the widespread torture, murder and disappearances of Tamil youths between 1978 and 2009 and the repression and discrimination some of them have suffered on a daily basis. They ignore or minimise the impact of the Sinhala only policy, which Tamils perceived as an attempt to deprive them of their fundamental rights.

Tamil nationalists also fail to see the reality

8. On the other hand Tamil ultra-nationalists erroneously consider that it is only the Tamils in the North and East who have suffered repression, discrimination and marginalisation. They ignore the repression and exploitation the rural poor in Sri Lanka have had to endure over decades. For instance in 1988-89 over 60,000 mainly Sinhala youths were ‘disappeared’ by the Premadasa government. (The irony is that one of the leading members of that government-Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe-is now one the most vociferous ‘defenders of human rights’ ! However, to date he has not apologised or show any remorse for the vile and abominable crimes his government committed in 1988-89 ). Tamil nationalists fail to recognise that the majority of Sinhala villagers in Sri Lanka live in dire poverty and have much more restricted educational opportunities than most Tamils who live in Colombo or Jaffna. Tamil nationalists also ignore the numerous problems that Tamil plantation workers have to endure. It would not be an exaggeration to say that in fact, the most disadvantaged people in Sri Lanka are the plantation workers the rural poor (Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim) and women. They have always had a raw deal.

In 1958, I went to Karandeniya Central School to teach. I was appalled by the fact that most teachers in this school felt that the children of this (so called low caste) locality should not be taught because if they get educated they will become uppity. Even today the situation is not very different in many rural areas. In Pussellawa there are Sinhala and Tamil children who do not go to school because they cannot afford to buy a pair of shoes. Recently the organisation I work with, gave some money to a local welfare organisation in Pussellawa to buy shoes and school bags for a few children in that area. The help we gave was a drop in the ocean. There are tens of thousands of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim children who are malnourished; they are lucky to have two meals a day. That is not all. People who live in rural areas suffer other disadvantages. For instance they can rarely get justice from the police or the courts. There are about 100,000 plantation workers who do not have birth certificates or have birth certificates that provide wrong information. Fort that reason they cannot obtain an identity card and if they are caught walking around without an ID card they get arrested and locked up. Equally many women in our society suffer discrimination, domestic and sexual violence. The days when a lone woman could walk from Hambantatota to Point Pedro.
unmolested’ are gone for ever.

Identity and culture

9. Ultra-nationalists-both Sinhala and Tamil have a jaundiced view of the reality. Each in their own way distorts and misrepresent the reality. In doing so they fail to see that there are many sections of the population that suffer exploitation, repression and discrimination. They compel us to see everything from the narrow prism of ethnicity. Apart from our ‘ethnic’ origins we have many identities and interests. We are not merely people who speak Tamil or Sinahala. We are also scientists or economists or lawyers, students or factory workers, musicians or cricket or football enthusiasts, archaeologists etc. Amratya Sen, the Noble prize winning Indian Economist, in his book Identity and Violence, rightly points out that we have several identities and we do not look at the world merely from the narrow framework of ethnicity or religion.

Living in the past

10. Furthermore, both Sinhala and Tamil nationalists live in the distant past. They hark back to an imaginary golden age in the ancient or medieval history. They seek to idealise a non-existent golden age of the yester years. For this very reason their ideology is backward and retrogressive. They are like frogs in the well that have little understanding of the enormous scientific and technological progress that are being made in the world. They ignore the massive struggles working people all over the world have made in order to win even limited rights we enjoy today. People are no longer tied to the land of the feudal overlords or have to work 14 to 16 hours a day. Through struggles the toilers of the world have broken some of the chains. It is the inward looking ideology of the ultra-nationalists that resulted in 30 years of death and destruction. Although the Sinhala chauvinists are now dancing in the street in a frenzy of triumphalism, they fail to recognise that the rise of separatism is a direct consequence of the failure of our ruling elite to build a Sri Lankan nation.

In 1989 I was called to chair the funeral of an EPRLF Member of Parliament, Mr. Yogasangari, who was murdered by the LTTE in Madras . Since his wife and family lived in the UK, his funeral took place in London. One of the persons invited to speak at his funeral was an important political leader who later became the President of Sri Lanka. She sought to commiserate the wife of Yogasangari by saying “madam, your people and my people have both suffered from terrorist violence”. Although the speaker and Mrs. Yogasangari were both Sri Lankans, she found it necessary to make a distinction between Sinhalese and Tamils. That was quite inappropriate and unnecessary. On the other hand, in neighbouring India, the ruling elite has successfully built an Indian nation. That is a unique achievement in a country where there are many ethnic groups and over 300 languages and dialects. Inhabitants of India, whether they are from Kerala, or Bengal, Punjab or Maharashtra will always call themselves, first and foremost, Indians and not as Malayalees, Sikhs, Bengalis or Maratis. Until recently the President of India was a Muslim. Today the Prime Minister is a Sikh, the Interior Minister is a Dravidian, the Speaker of the Parliament is a Harijan and the leader of the ruling party is an Italian. They have achieved a unity in diversity which we can only dream of. We have failed because of the narrow and provincial outlook of our ruling elite.

11. Ultra-nationalists want us to dwell on traditions that have outlived their usefulness. They fail to understand the need to adapt ourselves to the needs of the 21st century. It is not by accident that the constitution of one of these ultra nationalist ‘Sinhala’ parties debars women form holding office. They think women are only good to bear children and do household chores even though, from the point of view of academic excellence, Sri Lankan women have proved that they are as good or better than their male counterparts. In reality most of these ‘ultra nationalists’ are hypocrites. While preaching Sinhala only to the masses, many send their children to universities in USA, UK and Australia. Their real objective is to perpetuate their elite status.

12. We must combat these backward and outdated ideologies and look to the future and not the past. Today we are witnessing a massive shift of economic power from the West to the East. China and India have become the new power houses of economic growth. In the next 10 to 15 years, the two most affluent countries in the world would be China and India. Within the next few years China will replace Japan as the second largest economy and by 2020 it is expected to overtake USA. India too is following closely behind and today some Indian firms are major players in the global economy. India has also taken a bold step to abolish the rural debt, provide a minimum of 100 days work per year to the rural workers and has consistently achieved growth rates of 7% or over.

13. We could either equip ourselves to benefit from this “eastern economic miracle” or be left behind dreaming about the ‘golden age’ of yesteryears while engaging in more internecine violence and ethnic conflicts. In one sense we are better placed to modernise and achieve a high level of prosperity than our neighbours because our literacy rate is much higher than theirs. The literacy rate of Sri Lanka is nearly 95% as opposed to 55 to 66% in Pakistan and India . Our greatest wealth is human capital. Yet we do not make optimum use of our literate and educated youth. Today, after 62 years of independence we are not able to provide university education even for 10% of those who qualify to gain entry to a university . Although some of those who do not gain entry into the universities may enrol on accountancy and other professional courses, nevertheless the number of students who are capable of pursuing higher studies but unable to find places in institutions of higher education is extremely high. This is a criminal waste of our human capital.

Lagging behind our neighbours

14. While India and China is developing rapidly we are lagging behind. Most professions-lawyers, doctors, teachers etc-have not modernised in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century. For instance the legal system of Sri Lanka today is more akin to the state affairs that Charles Dickens described in Bleak House (Jarndyce vs Jarndyce) than a system suitable for a modern democracy. Legal disputes that can be resolved in six months or a year, drag on for years or even decades. The only beneficiaries of this system are the lawyers.

Most doctors are only interested in amassing wealth rather than ensuring the well being of patients. Often, even after paying a hefty fee, most doctors would compel patients to queue outside their surgeries like cattle, hours on end. There is no effective regulatory system of these professions and there is no effective statutory body, which supervise their conduct. Teachers do not regularly update their knowledge or adopt more modern methods of teaching. There is an urgent need to regulate these public services, increase their efficiency and ensure that they serve the interests of the public and not merely those of the service providers.

We can study the provision of medical services in a small country like Cuba and observe the difference. Cuba, with a population of 11 million educates over 5000 medical students each year . Cuba has eliminated diseases such as malaria, diphtheria, chicken pox, measles, whooping cough and dengue. In Sri Lanka while there has been a proliferation of private hospitals and clinics, mostly money-making enterprises, the medical care in government hospitals have deteriorated very substantially. We must modernise our transport system and make it more environmentally friendly. We must outlaw the prevailing ‘tuition’ racket where teachers mint money by giving private tuition to the very children they should be teaching during school hours. We must insist that the licence to practice their profession, be they lawyers, teachers or doctors, will depend on their readiness to update their knowledge through a programme of continuing education.

The list of what we have to accomplish is endless because our ruling elite have been both lackadaisical and incompetent.

Men without a vision

15. Unfortunately, the older generation, including most of our political leaders lacks foresight and vision. They fail to recognise that the riches that can be made by modernising our country, is hundred times greater than the crumbs they are now able to exact by engaging in petty corrupt practices. They have little interest or inclination to modernise our country. For instance while many middle class young men and women are able to communicate through the internet ( chat, blog and twitter), most of our lawmakers, teachers, public servants and lawyers are totally computer illiterate. They have miserably failed to adopt the vast array of modern technological facilities to improve their service or provide better living conditions, or to create new job opportunities.

Modernity and prosperity

16. There is little doubt that with our literate and educated population, we are best placed of all the South Asian countries to benefit from the ‘Asian Miracle’. However, mediocre leaders and outdated ideologies are holding us back. We must sweep away all the hurdles that are holding us back. We must overhaul over system of governance and make it more accountable and transparent. We must sweep away feudal attitudes and practices. The president of the United States is usually addressed as Mr. President. It is the same in France and Russia.

However, in Sri Lanka even the Ministers of the State address the Sri Lanka President as ‘His Excellency’. Presidents, Ministers and members of Parliament are servants of the people and are maintained by taxpayers. There is no earthly reason why we should deify them or treat them like demi-gods. Such sycophantic practices are inimical to good governance because those who wield power often fall victims to the flattery of such sycophants and lose touch with the ordinary people who have elected them.

17. Good governance and transparency apart we have to modernise every aspect of our daily life. In a short letter of this nature I cannot detail all the measures we should adopt in order to modernise our society and utilise the full potential of the people. I could give a few examples of some of the steps we could adopt in order to meet the needs of the 21st century. For instance it is obvious that the modernisation of our system of education is long overdue. It is imperative that we must raise our standards so that our graduates are able to compete with those who pass out of the best universities in the world.

Firstly, this would involve training all teachers in computer skills, teaching computer skills to all students beginning with nursery school children , the establishment of computer centres in every rural school and making competency in IT skills a compulsory subject in all institutions of higher education. Secondly, we must ensure that every university graduate should have a high level of proficiency in at least one foreign language-either English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish or Russian. Thirdly, we must rapidly expand the training and education of doctors, engineers, accountants, linguists etc so that in future we will send abroad highly skilled migrants and not housemaids. If a small country like Cuba could educate more than 5,000 medical students a year, it is difficult to see why Sri Lanka cannot educate even one fifth of that number.

Similarly it is impossible for a society to be modernised without overhauling the legal system. Legal procedures should be changed to prevent interminable postponement of cases and the abuse of process involved in lawyers asking for dates at a drop of a hat or engaging in long and irrelevant cross-examination of witnesses. In criminal cases the procedure rules should be amended to compel the accused to specify the nature of his defence once he is in possession of the prosecution evidence. The police should be trained and equipped to adopt scientific methods of investigation rather than resorting to third degree interrogation, exacting ‘confessions’ under duress and staging false encounters leading to the death of suspects ‘trying to escape’ from police custody.

The need for a new movement

18. All this, of course, means sweeping away the corrupt and inept political structures and building a new movement that could campaign for a better Sri Lanka and a better world. The leaders of yesteryears and the nationalists of all hues have failed to resolve any of the major issues facing our people. The ultra-nationalism and militarism of the LTTE was a costly and wasteful detour. In many ways the militarism of the LTTE had a negative impact on the struggle of the oppressed. It led to the enactment of draconian laws and imposition of massive restrictions on human and democratic rights. The LTTE and it backers erroneously believed that they were invincible and that the Sri Lankan army could never defeat them. The disastrous strategy of the LTTE not only disenfranchised and politically disarmed the Tamils but it also strengthened the chauvinist and obscurantist elements amongst the Sinhalese. They turned their guns not on the ruling class but ordinary working people.

Equally, On the other hand, even after living through 30 years of ethnic conflict, the ruling elite has not recognised the need to take any meaningful and decisive steps to address the grievances of Tamils. Even today they offer only the same failed policy-i.e. placing total reliance on a few string-puppets who will dance to the tune of the southern ruling elite. That is their ‘home grown solution’. The APRC was mere eyewash designed to fool the naïve liberals. It is highly unlikely that the Rajapakse regime ever intended to offer anything other than the familiar ‘puppet show’ that we have witnessed since the days of the D.S.Senanayake regime.

We need a new movement

19. We must break decisively with those failed policies of the LTTE as well as those of the Sri Lankan ruling elite. Instead we must build a new and a bold movement that could unite all those who have been exploited, disadvantaged and marginalized. Like the Suriya Mal Movement and the LSSP, which spearheaded the fight against caste oppression and British imperialism in the 1930’s, today we need a new movement to spearhead the struggle for modernity and to drag our country from the economic and political quagmire that the failed prophets of the yester years have led us into. Unfortunately, the LSSP lost its clout and its mass base by entering into an opportunist alliance with the SLFP. We must learn the lessons of that debacle and make sure that the poor and the oppressed will always maintain its political and organisational independence.

It is important to remember that nowhere in the world have the poor, the oppressed and the exploited ever won anything by begging, pleading and imploring the ruling elite to do the right thing. It is futile to ask the ruling class to serve the people, plead that they behave like gentlemen or appeal to their good sense. Those who advocate that we must appeal to the good sense of the ruling elite in order to protect the rights of the oppressed or the minorities are like good old village priests who preach morality to brothel keepers and implore that they give up their sinful habits and lead godly lives . The poor, the oppressed and the minorities can win their rights only if they are able to build a strong and a united movement that can challenge the bankrupt politicians of yester years. We need not be intimidated or bedazzled by the power of the ruling elite. Even the most powerful men and governments on earth have been brought to their knees by the united action of the people.

It is the disunity of the poor and the oppressed that creates the impression that the ruling elite is invincible. Time and again history has shown that the seemingly invincible and powerful rulers can be defeated when the people unite. Of course, the task of uniting the people is no easy undertaking. Although I cannot compel you to join me in this onerous task, I am hopeful that there will be many young men and women who will recognise the need to break with the backward and reactionary policies of past and dare to dream and have the courage to build a new society based on modernity, prosperity equality and justice. The history of social progress in the world is the history of the struggle of the poor and the dispossessed for equality and justice. That is why, with Bob Marley, we must say in unison ‘Get up stand up, stand up for your rights, don’t give up the fight, stand up for your rights’!.

Yours affectionately

Upali Cooray

Podi Seeya
(Grand Uncle)


1. Women are often doubly or trebly oppressed. They suffer sexual harassment and domestic violence, they are compelled to shoulder most of the household chores and have to shoulder the major, if not sole, responsibility for bringing up children. If they are employed, then they have to fulfil these tasks while doing a full time job. Thus they suffer a double oppression as a woman and a worker. If she belongs to a minority, she may suffer threefold oppression.

2. On that occasion the LTTE murdered some 13 odd EPRLF members including its leader Padmanabha in Madras.

3. The literacy rate in Sri Lanka in 2009 was 91.5 (Males 93.2 and Females 91.6), in India 66% ( Males 76.9 and Females 54.5), in Pakistan 54.9 (Males 68.7 and Females 40.2), in Bangladesh 53.5 (Males 58.7 and Females 48) and in Nepal 56.5 (Males 70.3 and Females 43.6)-Source : MSN 2007. The literacy rates for 2009 provided by the Guardian (UK) are Sri Lanka 90.8, India 65.5, Pakistan 54.2, Bangladesh 52.5 and Nepal 55.2.

4. In 2006/7 the total number of students enrolled in all the Universities were 10,463. In 2006 the number of students who sat A Level examination and qualified to enter a University was 119,867. Moreover only about a third of these students were enrolled on science, medicine, Dental and Food science courses (Source: Statistical Abstract of the Sri Lankan government).

5. This figure is based on Fidel Castro’s response to a question by his biographer Ignacio Ramonet-See Fidel Castro-My Life.

6. It is an established fact that, in general, young children can learn computer skills faster than adults.

7. This myth was also peddled by the ‘peacenicks’ such as Jehan Perera and Kumar Rupasinghe, who consistently failed to condemn the human rights abuses of the LTTE.

8. I have borrowed and suitably adapted this phrase from Lenin.

9. This one of ob Marley’s songs, which the Amnesty International has adopted as its anthem. The lyrics of this song are as follows:

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

Preacherman, don’t tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don’t know
What life is really worth.
It’s not all that glitters is gold;
‘Alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. Come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,

14th July 2009

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

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  1. Hats off to Upali Cooray for another excellent letter from a granduncle.Very informative,thought- provoking article.

    It is not an accident that some of the most fierce,narrowminded racists in Sinhala community come from Salagama, Karawe and Durawe castes. Most of them as Upali has correctly stated are of South Indian origin. In order to cover up their recent Indian origin they pretend to be ardently devout Sinhala Buddhists and champion the Sinhala hegemony over other communities.

    Some good examples are LH Mettananda, FR Jayasuriya, Nalin de Silva, Gunadasa Amarasekera and of course our army commander Sarath Fonseka

  2. A thought provoking article. The big question is ‘Who is going to bell the cat?’. Today Sri Lanka is bereft of good leaders and statesman. Thanks to the LTTE and successive despotic governments we have managed to kill many of our leaders as well as stifle the voice of dissent and silence any opposition in this country. Hence Sri Lankans today can only grin and bear the consequences of the actions of a set of self seeking parasites.

    Politics has, thanks to JR’s constitution, become a business where thugs and thieves rule the roost. Fat salaries and perks, pensions to boot, have served to attract the scum of society into the higher echelons of power. Mahatma Gandhi enunciated 7 deadly sins, one of which was ‘Politics without Principles’. Today politicians live on the taxes, the blood and sweat of people, whereas they are exempt and above any pain or suffering. The writ of the politician has even invaded the public spheres of religon, education and culture. Our Clergy, Intellectuals and Artistes have surrendered to the power and influence of politicians. It is a really sickening and hopless state of affairs.

    It seems doubtful if some young Lochinvar will emerge in the near future to redress the sufferings of the masses. Unless our political masters have a change of heart nothing can be done. Can a leapord shed its spots or a Tiger change its stripes? In the present context it is only the incumbent President who can make or break it. History will judge.

  3. One of the best analysis I have read at this site.Every Tamil newspaper published in Toronto,London,Paris and Oslo should carry the translation of this letter as soon as possible.It will serve as an eye opener to those Tamils who consider each and every Sinhala person as an enemy.

  4. man what an enlightening piece …. not meant for the young but also for the generation of “yesteryears”….. I remember a verse from bible “( my) people are ruined because they lack knowledge (Hosea 4:6) ” how true is it in this sense too.

  5. I am a Sinhalese because people who call themselves Tamils, Muslims, Burgers etc call me a Sinhalese.

    Mr. Cooray stands accused of stealing my thoughts , word by word.

    This writeup should be called ” 2009 Manifesto of Modern Sri Lanka”.

    It will be compulsory reading material for my children and grand children.

    Thanks DBS for taking the initiative to publish this.

  6. Excellent analysis by UC from the leftist point of view. There are salient points to ponder for all Sri Lankans:

    – Good governance and transparency
    – modernize every aspect of our daily life
    – It is highly unlikely that the Rajapakse regime ever intended to offer solution to the ethnic problem, anything other than the familiar ‘puppet show’
    – Last but not least calling for the struggle of the poor and the dispossessed for equality and justice

    I hate to sound pessimistic but in reality, does anyone think that the above proposition can ever be effectively implemented to the present Sri Lankan society?

    Will Rajapkse or Ranil rise to the occasion to become the statesman of the country?
    Will the leftist movement in Sri Lanka rise from the ashes to unite the masses?

  7. Couple of references

    a) Gender equality
    Apparently SL has one of the least gender inequality #12 (for comparison UK#13 US is #27 and nearby India #113)

    b) Genetic Similarities
    1) Wiki: Sinhalese people

    1. Kshatriya, G.K. (1995). “Genetic affinities of Sri Lankan populations”. Human Biology (American Association of Anthropological Genetics) 67 (6): 843–66. PMID 8543296. summary of this article
    2. Papiha, S. S; Mastana S. S, Jayasekara R. (1996). “Genetic Variations in Sri Lanka”. Human Biology (American Association of Anthropological Genetics) 68 (5): 735. PMID 8908798.

  8. At the moment there is not a single honest politician in Sri Lanka who is capable of wresting control of Sri Lanka from the saintly thugs who are running riot now. All Sri Lankans are at the mercy of the set of thugs who are in power now. They crushed the murderous terrorists and got the licence to enjoy the riches and guide the countries destiny. Sri Lankans have are now faced with a situation that they are forced to endure the good or the bad that they will be dished out to them by their heroes as Sri Lankans have no other choice. A few of the surviving old brigade are making feeble attempts to obstruct the chief of the robbers from ignoring all ethics and swindling the country but there is no apparent mass upheavals due to well organized repression. The opposition is in disarray and they are not capable of harnessing the support of the masses by exposing the massive corruption that is eating into every artery of the country.Thuggery and murder is the order of the day and the helpless citizens could only watch and wait. It was really a massive task to eradicate the most inhuman terrorist outfit that plagued the country for three decades and now it is an equally massive task to get rid of the most corrupt ,greedy, murderous set of people that replaced it. The most venerable Mahanayakas were happy to get rid of devils that cared not for spiritual life but now they will soon find themselves confronting the devils farther .

  9. After all this genocide, you suddenly want Tamils forget everything join hands with singalese to adapt the sri lankn identity.

    This can only happen if singalese also suffere the same as tamils. Then one another can understand the pain of
    lost lifes and limbs.

  10. I will not deny the existence of Tamil nationalism. I will not deny that it certainly has its vindictive side. On the other hand, I will point out without hesitation the following: that at the time of Independence, the British left power in the hands of the Sinhalese. Forget LTTE, forget JVP, forget Banda-Chelva pacts, forget peaceful Sinhalese hiding Tamils in cupboards during 83…. if we just focus on this ONE fact, everything else will fall into place.

    The servant can kill his master with one stroke of the sword, but only the master can abuse the servant day after day. Only the master can control the livelihood of the servant. Only the master can decide if the servant’s children will go to school or not… now you see, the LTTE did raise the sword for which it paid the ultimate price. But it does not resolve the main issue: the freedom of the servant. To do that, we need to go back to 1948. Perhaps we cannot rectify every mistake… the way things are, for example, it is unreasonable to ask that the civil service be staffed with a large number of Tamil civil servants. For the British it was nothing since their only concern was the most efficient administration. The Sinhalese may see it differently. In which case, we have before us irreconcilable differences. Thus, it is best that we part ways… if not in the form of a separate state, then at least by way of a federal solution. There is no need to go on believing we (Tamils and Sinhalese) are part of some God-given union (unitary state). Just because we live separately, we need not despise each other. There is a Buddhist monk who lived for decades in LTTE territory. Let me say it again: we are humans. We have our differences. Accept those differences part ways, and move on. The days of British-created, Michael Ondaatje’s carefree Ceylon are long over.

  11. “Wow” I am speechless. This is one of a kind article ; very touching, instilling hope on every Srilankan inspiring to contribute to the future of the country.

    “Upali” has clearly demonstrated “knowledge is power” and not vise versa. He has made many of us look very ordinary ,if not fools.

    Readers, please pass it on to your friends and voice it in the Lankan media, educate the younger generation and be a part of the change that our future geneartion will ever be grateful for …. !

    Thaks to DBSJ for posting this “gem”

  12. Thank you DBS for publishing this letter from Mr Upali Coray. This letter must be reproduced in all Sri Lankan media Sinhala Tamil & English. Sri Lankan media has a bigger role to do in rebuilding the nation than find themselves as busybodies.

  13. UC, you have extracted the hidden thoughts of most logical and unbias Srilankians, An excellent artical.
    My only question to you: Is it practical to yet again have another movement to spearhead change, and invariably infect itself with corruption, rather we insist that current government deliver as promised, afterall it is they who delivered us from evil.
    Once again, Thanks UC’

  14. Whenever we talk about the situation in Sri Lanka, one of our (both ethnics) unique attitudes is rather than finding any common ground, we some how identify our differences first.

    When people from Sri Lanka are in trouble we only express our support based on the ethnic background of the victims.

    However, when we are in trouble, we expect help from anybody.

    Only a very few percentage of people from Sri Lanka are genuinely standing up for the rights of Sri Lankan.

  15. What a GREAT article.

    Mr. Upali Cooray,

    You are doing a great service to our nation by bringing out such wonderful facts. This should be translated into both Sinhala and Tamil and published in the news papers.

    Unfortunately, most of the Sinhalese and Tamils (especially the younger generation) are totally ignorant because what they read mostly is racist propaganda to separate the two races instead of uniting.

  16. Excellent article.
    Let the silent majority in both communities stand up and say “We are one” and mean it.
    I remember attending a pirith service at the Budhist temple in London with a good friend of mine (a Sinhalese person) . When my wife went up to the monk to have the thread tied on her wrist he asked her “Are you from India?”
    My friend standing next to my wife said” Aren’t we all?”
    The monk was embarassed, he replied “That’s true”.
    My good friend is no more with us but his immediate response still rings in my ears.

  17. First, Can you just eliminate nationalism?
    If Mr., Cooray completed his passport application race as a human, he is a fool.
    There are different nationals is this world.
    That is the human nature.
    I respect my good Tamil friends as Tamil Nationals.
    And I respect my self as a Sinhalese.
    There are lots of Sinhalese people who chosen to live as Tamils.
    They have adopted the Tamil culture and day to day living habits of Tamils.
    After couple of generations there descendants will become Tamil nationals.
    This is thru for all races.
    It has nothing to do with DNA.
    It’s what you believe in.

    Second, Do you really believe in all these.
    He’s talking about children without shoos and casts and so on hiding behind a well earned luxury living in UK.
    Anybody can talk and preach.
    That’s what has happened to our country.
    These people got there education from our poor tax payers money and left our country on the first chance they got.
    If you are willing to make change please come back.
    Let’s get together and start punching all these politicians.
    Lets get together and do something.

  18. Thank you so much for publishing such a thought provoking article. We really do need scholars like you to show the reality to the world. I was fascinated how you analysed the attitudes and perceptiones of the different castes.
    I want to add one more point Sir. According to history, both Sinhalese and Tamils are from India. In India, both these groups consider themselves as Indians, while keeping their cultural values and identities seperately. I wish we can do the same.
    As you said Sir, it is not only the Tamils suffer. Poverty is something without borders, it includes people from all races, religions and communities. Most of us forget poverty associated with unemloyment, denial of education, discrimination (discrimination due to race, religion, caste, social status, sex, lack of english knowledge…. can be anything) are some of the main contributors for most struggles in the world. Therefore, if we want to resolve a problem, clear understanding of the root cause is critical.
    It is obvious that we cannot live in the past. Past is gone and future has not come yet. As Lord Buddha said, we are here today due to our past actions, and we are the ones who decide where we will be in the future. Therefore, now we all have to act consciously to make this country a worthwhile place to live for all communities.

  19. To: Radalaya Bandarage

    How dare you call all racists are from Salagama, Karawa and so on….. You elam supporters are all radala Kandyan Govigama (you think this is supirioir to other castes)
    You people thei coorays and lBandarage’s are the racists who bring up this caste system to this blog. Unlike tamils sinhalese people are not petty caste mided.
    Don’t ever bring up this again, you racist.

  20. It is surely the best thought provoking article, i ever come acrossed in this site.Author is very well understood
    the current srilankan scenerio and he is trying to find a solution honestly. I appreciate his efforts.
    He showed india as an example for Unity in diversity. Being a indian, i would like to share some of my thoughts regarding

    The main reason for the success of Indian model is, due to the acceptance of the truth. Indian leaders understood and accepted that
    India was not a single country, from the beginning. They accepted the diversity.. They accepted that, India is made up of
    several states and each state is having their own culture,language and that particulat state is home land for the people
    living there. On top of all these differences and diversities, Leaders proposed the unity and benefits of unity.

    So which comes first? Acceptance of Diversity automatically recogonizes all the people and their culuture..So no one in india feel low
    or feel depressed.. If everybody feel equal , then do you think people will ask for a separate country?

    I would like to share more here. I will do that ASAP

  21. Cooray’s young grand nephew was also one of those engulfed by the triumphalist tide…

    Not ONLY him, DBSJ, I am too!

  22. So what you are suggesting is that:

    Since there is
    2.Sinhala is a derivative of Tamil

    Therefore ALL should become Tamil.

    Therefore, NO ETHNIC PROBLEM.

    Although, you start talking about Tamil and SInhala in one sentence WHOLE of your article is AMIED at ridiculing the concept of Sinhala. ANd the Sinhala-Buddhists.

    Of course Buddhism does NOT require Sinhala people or any one for that matter.

    It is the SInhala people that have benefited from Buddhism NOT Buddhism from Sinhala people.

  23. I would like to show one more Indian approach towards minority community. In India, we too have Minority races, religions and castes. There are backward communities in india, in which, we can count the number of Graduates and post graduates.
    All due to the merciless caste system, which was practiced in the olden days.. So what we did to them? We introduced reservation system for them..Even if students from Backward community, scores less marks, we gave them seats in universities..We gave them Jobs based on reservation system. Slowly we bring them to the common path. We did the social justice.

    Tamils are minority in srilanka. They are in very poor conditions..They are affected by continuous war and suppression. Any srilankan Government, ever thinked about introducing any such system to improve their condition?
    Current Indian prime Minister is from Sikh religion, which is a minority religion in india.. Two Sikh policeman killed Indira Gandhi (Indira Gandhi ) for taking revenge for the actions she took to catch the sikh Separatists. Still Congress government made a Person from that religion as a Prime Minister of India..
    Can we expect same kind of Magnanimity from Srilankan Leaders? Do people from sri lanka will accept the same scenario in their country? If not, what is stopping them? Reason is, Sri Lankan leaders never gave recognition to Tamils. Tamils homeland was never accepted by Srilankan leaders. From the beginning, they tried to show tamils as aliens. Unless and until Sri lanka accept this truth, unity is only a dream.

  24. Mr Cooray,s letter is very illustrative and imprtant too.But the problem is Specially the politicians in Sri lanka are deaf and dumb .and they do not simply listen to any body but do what they think to do despite the wiil of ordinary people.Innocent people are helpless .they just vote them and wait for a better future which has so far become just a dream.Main suspectct ofa murder has been apponted as the minister of social and cultural affirs by the incumbent President.What ill be the future of Sri lanka.lies in the hands of political figures rather than ordinary people.

  25. Excuse me being scarstic – there is a vacany under King MR
    for the 105th Consultant! Weeratunge will contact you or
    even a white-van may be at your door steps!

    Should not some do-gooder in S.Lanka have this full
    Blog translated in the Sinhala/Tamil Newspapers, now that they have lots of space with LTTE News out-dated?

  26. congratulations mr. jeyaraj! by far this is the best article i read in your blog. it’s really thought provoking and i forwarded it to all my friends, sinhalese and tamils alike.

    our politicians (both sinhalese and tamil) will be victors forever as long as we, the common people, don’t identify our common enemy. the everyday hardships we face will not be solved if the opposition comes to power or if a political solution is given to N&E. we need massive reforms in every sector. but unfortunately most people and politicians don’t realise it. they don’t understand that sri lanka is lagging behind in the international level. our people have the capacity to do lot more better than this.

    what is the IT education given in schools? i wonder whether it goes beyond MS Word and Excel. are our students urged to use internet for any educational purposes or are such facilities available in schools? internet is a luxury in sri lanka. those students who have access use it only to watch pornography or socializing. still people go to the bank to pay utility bills or roam around shops to buy the cheapest tv set available. people are not used to modern information technology. still we are fighting over issues of the past, without understanding where we are heading. people shouldn’t forget the past and they should learn from past mistakes. but arguing over those issues we are heading backwards. our politicians will be very happy as long as we do so, since they don’t have the trouble to bring forward any reforms.

    recently dubai police informed residents via media that those who are leaving the country for summer vacation for an extended period of time to inform that to the police via their web site so that the police can keep an eye on those houses in the absence of the owners. can we get anything done by our police, even if we go to the police station by our selves, if we don’t have any powerful connections? crimes happen in every country, difference is the way crimes are tackled.
    the sad truth is those living inside sri lanka have no idea about their own situation. they are proud of their high literacy rate and think they can compete with any country. they have no idea that education in sri lanka doesn’t produce people to the international market. they absolutely freeze if anybody speaks about setting up a private university. they still think universities in sri lanka (at least colombo university) has a high rank in asia. most people have no idea that their is a global recession. may be they don’t feel the effect since sri lanka had financial crisis anyway. either people are systematically fooled or their minds haven’t evolved around changing dimensions of world politics and economy.

    we need a visionary leader who can bring about true reforms, democracy and justice to the country. but is there one or if there is one, will our people be able to recognize him?

  27. UC has not only laid down the facts correctly he has also set the guidance for a better future. As he says there should be a new movement to campaign for a change. People with similar thinking should join to launch this campaign. How should we do that.

  28. This is one of the best writings I have read in DBS blog. But in practice everyone in the past and present fail to educate the reality to the masses of Sri Lanka. In my own opinion people are trying to fight for economic survival they shut their brains and try to avoid the truth.
    We have to find novelty ways to bring the people together

  29. Excellent write up. Just one addition. Buddhagosha, the Tamil, was from Kanchipuram, a town located 45 km from Chennai (Madras). In those days, Kanchipuram was the seat of Buddhism and Madurai was the seat of Jainism. Nagapattinam was also a prominant seat of Buddhism. Two tamil epics , Silappadhikaram and Manimekalai talk about Buddhism. These two epics are dated approximately to 3rd century AD and 4th century AD respectively. Interestingly, Manimekalai narrates of visits of Tamil Buddhist monks to Yazhppanam (Jaffna) in Lanka.
    Additionally, many talk of DNA tests of SL people. Is it possible to cite some references to the results of such tests? Till date, a clear picture on the origin of Sinhalese from Indian coast has not emerged. The Vijaya episode confuses the dates.

  30. We want more bridges like this to build both communities together.

    Great work Sir

    You have done your part as a good citizen of SL

  31. Mr Upali Cooray, I am a dreamer. As hopeless as it seems I knew there should be at least one Sri Lankan somewhere with a vision to lead our beautiful Island rich with its natural resources to make it the Pearl of Asia. And today, that dream has been realized, but only partly. As Safa (2) said, ”who is going to bell the cat”. We are the silent majority who longs for what you have visioned for us. But who is going to lead us. Saman (5) said we should call this ”2009 Manifesto of Modern Sri Lanka.” Most people analyse the history and say what is wrong with the present but never give a solution to the problems. That is why this article should be published in Sinhala and Tamil as well. How do we do that, who is going to do it?

    Mr Jeyaraj, you have continuously published thought provoking write ups. They have been read by persons with access to computers and they end up in cyberspace. We CANNOT let this ”Manifesto” end up the same way. I plead with you to help us, the silent majority to group and back Mr Upali Cooray in making this a reality. I put my hand up not only to sign up but do anything within my capability and capacity towards at least making a start.

    Aylanee ( could be contacted at aylaneea@hotmail.com)

  32. How are we to build a new society in Sri Lanka based on equality and justice when moderates and intellectuals like the Coorays and the Jeyarajs are not in the country

  33. This is another treasure that should be translated into all 3 languages for the benefit of the future generations.

  34. A very thought provoking and analytical article. I hope people will take notice. A big thank you to Upali Cooray for writing it and DBSJ for publishing it.

    God Bless Sri Lanka

  35. Great analysis and I learnt a lot from your letter to your nephew. Some of those are easily said than done.

    How can a country come up when a person is rejected at the election, and then get appointed to the parliament and worst of all become a Minister. It is an utter contempt to the electorate who rejected this person. Everybody knows whom I am talking about. This is only one example of
    Sri Lankan democracy.

    I think I better stop writing any more for now because I
    can see a white van stopping in front of my house.

    C ya all.

  36. Dear Bandarage ,

    How short sighted for you say that “most fierce,narrowminded racists in Sinhala community come from Salagama, Karawe and Durawe castes”.

    I don’t want to mention by names please refer these links see if you consider them as racists.


    People you mention do have their opinions. Yet they never advocate Tamil or any body should eliminated from this country! Not even ex army commander said such a thing.

    We can have our opinions but painting them like this not going to help. In fact we must try to get such people also involved in a conversations like this.

  37. You listen to Bob Marleys music, you talk about Lenin and Castro, you talk a lot about Cuba and it is clear where you are coming from, apart from this all you like to consider yourself as Human in your passport firstly may I kindly ask you why you left Sri Lanka?

    Let me please enlighten you to the fact that nobody is perfect and give proper regard to alternative views before jumping into conclusion when writing an article such as this, you may have written this to your grand son, however I find some of the contents rather difficult to consume.

    Please do not brand me as a Sinhala extremist. Go through what I have to say with a neutral mind. DBS I hope you will publish this comment.

    Firstly I must remind you that human beings like all other animals who live in this planet prefer to be categorised, It may be by the language they speak or it may be by the religion they follow or it may even be by the colour (To be realistic) of the skin. This is the reality this is human nature even in the most pluralistic societies in this world this fact is true, these can be slightly negated by extreme power (wealth), extreme ability in something you do (Respected sports personality). So all though you run down the (now well forgotten in Sri Lanka) old caste system in Sinhala and Tamil culture this is a matter of fact, and this will always be imbedded in social consciousness. After all marrying people within the same so called caste is not a bad thing, is it? Isnt that what normal people usually do even when they are unaware of each others caste. So if somebody fails to identify them as a Sinhalese or a Tamil has a fundamental human deficiency after all you will always be British or Sri Lankan /Asian Other in the united Kingdom, identifying you by the language you speak is a good thing as far as I am concerned. I am proud Sri Lankan now of course, however my race is Sinhalese and my Religion is Buddhist this will never change.

    I am also a big fan of the words democracy, pluralism and human rights. However if this is taken from the point of view of the country Sri Lanka achieving these to the highest standards would not be a feasible option to any government. Let me tell you why.

    People who commentate on Sri Lankas current predicament conveniently forget that Sri Lanka has being under British rule since 1815 till 1948, and the damage this might have done to the cultural and social advancements of both Sinhalese and Tamils. After all things such as Democracy, Pluralism and Human rights have being thrust down our throats, we never had the chance to learn them the hard way. More than 125 years more than two generations of our relatively recent past Sri Lankan population laboured for what the British said.
    Who can say what would have happened if the Brits never came here, of course one thing is for sure we both (Tamils and Sinhalese) would have found a proper long lasting solution for the ethnic balance in this country well before May 18th 2009. This is my personnel opinion; I think this is a war which would have fought a long time ago if not for the British influence in the country.

    Actually Sinhalese and Tamils both have cultures which could be proud about and of course both races have a lamentable history. So I am not sure why everybody is saying forget about dwelling in the past after all it is past which nourishes and forms a nation. One thing everybody should remind themselves of is the fact that Sri Lanka managed to exist alongside a huge country such as India who had many kings who invaded many countries but never managed to rule Sri Lanka except of Elara and Kalinga/Maga for a considerable length of time. This maybe through trickery or valour but this is a fact.

    Mr Cooray I do not understand why you degrade Sri Lanka as much as you do about professionals and education, you should understand India is a Large country and could/ have the chance of producing exceptional personnel more than Sri Lanka, however this does not say Sri Lankans are les talented than Indians, if you take sports which could be taken as one of the measures to compare the two countries. Sri Lanka is not far away, we do not get beaten like Bangladesh in Cricket in fact we compete at even level. Even in other sports such as Atheltics, Swimming, Volleyball, Rugby and Football we are not far behind in fact in some of them we are way ahead.

    Finally, I must tell you, I agree with some of the content of your letter, however to set the best example for your grand son I believe you should be in Sri Lanka in this vibrant and historical time. Maybe perhaps teaching in the Colombo University.

  38. A brilliant piece of analysis.

    As Mr. Cooray rightly points out, its the united action of the people that could lift Sri Lanka up from the abyss it has fallen into.

    People should think in terms of a Sri Lankan identity, and not along ethnic distinctions.

  39. Sendhi, Mr Cooray,

    Internet is not a luxury in Sri Lanka any more, common Sri Lankan youth is extremly useful at a computer nowadays unlike the days Mr. Cooray know about in Sri Lanka.
    Yes Excel and Word are throught in even the most rural schools in Sri Lanka

  40. Mr Cooray,

    Now now, I am picking things up each time I read your article..

    In 1958, I went to Karandeniya Central School to teach. I was appalled by the fact that most teachers in this school felt that the children of this (so called low caste) locality should not be taught because if they get educated they will become uppity.

    Well this is not the case anymore, have a look at the current Colombo workforce composition, Mr Cooray Sri Lanka is very different to what you experienced long long time ago

    Equally many women in our society suffer discrimination, domestic and sexual violence.

    This was in your days in Sri Lanka; Sri Lankan society has become sophisticated out going so much so that you cant even imagine, divorces are on the rise no more domestic violence, Ladies are now liberated.

    They hark back to an imaginary golden age in the ancient or medieval history. They seek to idealise a non-existent golden age of the yester years

    No there was a Golden age in Sri Lanka, Have you ever being to a school in Sri Lanka, you don’t have to acknowledge this but many respected writers have written so much about the Sri Lankan history

    They ignore the massive struggles working people all over the world have made in order to win even limited rights we enjoy today.

    This phase is well over; please dont hark back at wonders of communism. COMMUNISM IS DEAD AND BURRIED

    Most doctors are only interested in amassing wealth rather than ensuring the well being of patients

    May I kindly ask you why you migrated to Britain? People are such that they will even go to the moon if they are promised wealth and prosperity, what a shame.

    Unfortunately, the older generation, including most of our political leaders lacks foresight and vision.

    Please dont blame the people who have being left behind in SL, why did you all leave , YOU SO CALLED BRAINY OLDER GENERATION … !

    IT Skills

    Young Sri Lankans are extremely converse on IT skills, how do you comment about such things after being away from SL for such a long time, Please dont imagine things.

    From things I have read on your letter, all I can say is your knowledge about SL is well outdated and may suggest you spend sometime with your Grand Nephew and be amazed as to how far SL has come, dont think Britain is far superior SL is catching up we have properly educated extremely well mannered work force which if put to good effect could reap lots of benefits.

  41. Nalin-Kaduwela#39
    “Firstly I must remind you that human beings like all other animals who live in this planet prefer to be categorised, It may be by the language they speak or it may be by the religion they follow or it may even be by the colour (To be realistic) of the skin. This is the reality this is human nature even in the most pluralistic societies in this world this fact is true, these can be slightly negated by extreme power (wealth), extreme ability in something you do (Respected sports personality).”

    A few days ago, I, together with some women friends had an interesting session writing down our answer to the question “Who am I”? We came up with a variety of answers–some of us named our roles (as daughters, wives, mothers, teachers, journalists, etc) and others used character descriptors, named our desires, or values we believed in. A long time later, after the exercise, we realised that nobody had put down their ethnicity nor their religion as markers of their identity! This was in Singapore, home of various races and religions, a country where every form we fill in demands to know our race!

    It was also clear from our exercise that we thought of our identity as that which made us unique, or different from others. So, I would disagree that it is natural for people to want to categorise themselves. Actually, it seemed natural for my group to avoid categories, cos those only made us seem just like everyone else.

  42. To Nalin – Kaduwela

    I am sorry but you seem to be leading a privileged and sheltered life. Otherwise how would you not know the extent of discrimination suffered by women in SL. The hospitals in are inundated with woman and girls who are raped, molested. The drinking problem that persists in the lower to middle class probably is one of the biggest causes for this. While it true that Sri Lankan women are contributing equally to the working force, it is true that the household chores etc are still their responsibility. So it puts an extra burden on them.

    You talk about In 1958, I went to Karandeniya Central School to teach. Again sorry to say this rosy picture you paint does not exit.

    Dont try attack the messenger. Mr. Cooray is making some good points. Arrogance is not what we need today. We dont want another LTTE. We need learn from our mistakes.

    What worries me mostly is attitude of the sinhalese right now. They are acting and behaving just like the Germans during Hitlers regime.

  43. Asoka2

    Firstly I should ask you where you are from?
    I have spent a far from rosy sheltered life thus far. I am 38 years old now and I can safely say how things in Sri Lanka work right now.

    Rape and molestation happens everywhere in the world, not just in SL but statistically the number of reported rapes and other discrimination towards women have decreased dramatically if compared with the 1970 and 1980’s

    Another LTTE are you dreaming if taken as a percentage Tamils in SL will no longer be the second largest community in SL, look what one LTTE has done to the SL Tamil population. It is easy to preach differently from safe heavens aboard but one should understand the ground realities. Tamils in SL just want to spend at least the rest of their lives peacefully that is the only thing they are interested in at the moment.


    Yes I appreciate what your saying, Singapore is an exceptional nation, however no matter what experiments you do divisions between racial lines are natural for humans. This may not come up in a joint discussion such as the one that you have done.

  44. Asoka2,
    “What worries me mostly is attitude of the sinhalese right now.”

    Unfortunately this will not change, people in Sri Lanka suffered so much for so long, some in my case whole lifetime , so who can blame us for being upbeat when there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.

    I should also bring to your notice moderate Tamils especially the people who lived in Colombo and suburbs are also feeling relived about things happened. People who are feeling bitter are the ones in the Diaspora who are still repaying loans they taken out to support the now none existent LTTE.

    Think about it A*S*O*K*A think about it

  45. Belle,

    I have few chinese singaporean freinds and I feel they have a real indentity crisis. They even don’t know what language they need to teach there children, wife says Mandarin father says English and all of them do not have a religion, not good signs of things to come in the future

  46. Mr. Cooray
    You are writing from an idealistic angle without addressing the real issues.
    You have not addressed why the Sinhalese rioted against the Muslims in or around 1905.
    You have not addressed why the Malayaalee Railway workers were attacked by the Sinhalese led by A.E.Gunasinha and Co during 1930’s/1940’s.
    You have not addressed why J.R. Jeyawardane wanted to make Sinhala the official language in 1944, before independance.
    You have not wondered why D.S. had the pan Sinhala government on the first place before independance.
    You have not addressed why the Sinhalese wanted to impose the Sinhala as the official language in 1956. Though it was proposed by S.W.R.D, it was overwhelmingly voted by the Sinhala people.
    You have not wondered why the police did not stop the thugs who beat non violent protesters on the Galle Face Green in 1956.
    You have not wondered why the late Mr. Amirthalingam was twice assaulted by Sinhala policemen in Jaffna. He was an elected member of the Parliament and the Leader of the opposition.
    You have not wondered why 1958 rioters were not persecuted.
    You have not expressed sorrow at the plight of the people detained behind barbed wire fences in the so-called welfare camps. There were emaciated skeletons covered by wringled skins when they emerged and there was no outpouring of sympathy from the Sinhala people, but there were continuous jubilations week after week. You have not talked about that.
    Your equating LTTE with Sri Lankan government machinery is a farce.
    LTTE is a very recent phenomena, but the attrocities committed by Sinhala public predate independance and still continues in full force.
    I still remember the arrogance with which Colvin dismissed the Tamil issue when an undergraduate raised that in the Faculty of Engineering, in 1971 or 1972. In another event, a Tamil undergraduate in the Peradeniya University during the same period raised a question with a visiting CP VIP, how a Tamil who does not know Sinhala would be given the verdict when he was accused in a case. He simply replied that the tamil would be found guilty. This is the elite thinking.
    You have yet to address the intolerance on the part of Sri Lankan government and the Sinhala public.
    Tamils did not ask for Separate State in 1925. They asked for a united Sri Lanka when SWRD proposed Federal System. The cry for a Federal System came late. It was the Federal system that Tamils asked for till 1977. What they got is increased violence from the Government apparatus. We, generally, elected decent educated people as our representatives. You refused to deal with them in a meaningful manner. Then they became a laughing stock among the younger generations, I was one of them during 1970’s. You know what happened afterwards.
    You have to accept that there will be dissenting voices. You should be able to communicate with them to allay their fears if they were not real and you should be able to address their fears if they were genuine. The mode of communication you had employed and are still employing is molesting the dissenting voices along with their kiths and kins. Pirabhakaran’s younger son, Balachandran, is the very recent example and also the IDPs behind warped wire fences.
    These genetical analysis will not work in the real field. Those who passed all the acts of Parliament that were inimical to the Tamils knew very well that those acts would be inimical to the Tamils. Not a single judge ever commented that forcing Tamils to study Sinhala is puting an extra burden on them compared to their Sinhalese counterparts. Like your genetical analysis, a Sinhalese senior engineer queried me and another friend of mine in seventies how we would define a Sinhalese and a Tamil. He thought he was smart. It was soon after the 1977 riots. My friend answered that, in a riot, the person being assaulted or killed was a Tamil and the person standing aside and looking on and those who were assaulting were Sinhalese. I know it is a very crude answer, but it was a very apt reply to that racist singhala engineer who did not want to sympathize with the Tamil victims. His two colleagues, one was the Deputy General Manager Design and the other was the Assistant General Manager Designs, were stabbed in the office.
    The real issue is that we find no security with the government institutions and that was why we asked for a Federal system, not for fun of it.
    I am from Nainativu where there is a Buddist temple. A lone monk came before independance and went to each and every family and developed relationship. There was no Buddist temple at that time. My mother was young and alone and with an infant son. He would come to my mother for about an hour two to keep the son, her eldest son, while my mother finished her cooking. She used to refer him as Periya Samy. Now, 90% of the Nainativu population left, as the Navy came to protect that temple.
    Also about Vickramabhaku Karunaratna, he was my lecturer during early seventies. He was not a supporter of LTTE. He was a brilliant engineer to understand that LTTE is the by product of state terroism. He wanted the root cause, state terrorism, to be addressed, rather than circling around. That is the difference between you and him. I do not say you are bad. No sir, but I dare say that you are just beating around the bush.
    If you feel repugnant about the LTTE, then were you happy with the pre LTTE events. You could not stomach the fact that a Tamil fellow retaliated for the abuses hurled at the Tamils. I am not a fan of Pirabhakaran and I have been very harsh on them with words.
    I think, I have infuriated many good hearted Sinhalese but it is about the reality that the Tamils are facing. I firmly believe that good, bad and the ugly are all around whether Tamils or Sinhalese. Now I am with your genetics. However, this is about the system that is hellbent to make life difficult for Tamils. We are trying to walk away from that nefarious system. That is all. The sooner you correct that system, the faster this Tamil cry will disappear. You are too pristine to become elected for the evil office of the Parliament of Sri Lanka to make any good change. We appreciate your effort and concern but it will not make an iota of change. My writing too. The curse is that, and that is why the armed struggle will crop up again.

    1. Broadband internet and computers – The best way of learning about RADALAYA BANDARAGE (LOL) or KARAWE/DURAWE – DAMIEN

    2. Dictating is another way of conveying the message either to SAMANTHA or any other persons in that case


    1. How much is it important to me knowing about e.g. RAMAYANAYA ( which was written around 4000 – 5000 BC – I hope someone carbon dated it) or Mahawansa (Which was compiled in 500AD – by Buddhists Monks). If one expects to find “ANYTHING APART FROM SINHALA BUDDHISM AND TRIUMPHALISM” in Mahavansa, I think they can give a try searching about “Hinduism in the Bible and Christianity in the Quran”

    2. The only people who refer the “Mahavansa” for all their daily activities are the three people (excluding Jackson Anthony) in the MahaSinhalayeWansaKathawa AND ” DR MERVYN SILVA”. Mervyn Silva thinks he is “DUTUGEMUNU” and his mother certainly is “Viharamahadevi” (I thought I was the incredible hulk).

    The usefulness – GOOD TO KNOW, FUN, PASS THE O/L’s otherwise USELESS.

    3. What is important in history is ” Values”, virtues, humbleness, hard work of our ancestors – ONLY TO MOVE FORWARDS not to screw others

    1. if you carefully check you might have parts of DNA of the H1N1 (swine flu) or the Dengue Viruses and,…. we have it too.
    2. I think the DNA someone has, depends on what’s your ancestry is i.e. Are you a descendant of Adam or are you a descendant of Australopithecus

    3. Also “The Sinhalese Aryan Blood” will be revealed if you stand in a European city centre and take a photo. How much the Local Aryan(kalu sudda) is different from a proper Aryan (Para sudda). Shame on you Aryans (Be proud of your Sri Lankan (yaksha naga) ancestry instead of bragging about Vijaya’s Bengali ancestry)

    There is such a thing as “Sinhala Buddhism”, which is slightly different from what “Gautama Buddha” has preached or the way the Tibetans and the Dalai Lamas’ practice Buddhism. Siddhartha left his kingdom to attain incarnation but the “Sinhala Buddhists” leave there nirvana to attain the kingdom”

    TOPICS 7,8, 9 Not rich enough to comment
    You have met the wrong people. If you have met someone from the slums of Bombay or Mumbai, they will call themselves MAHA, MAHA, MAHA HA HA rasthriyans. Similar to the Aryans. This says there are ample of morons everywhere. THIS CHAPTER ALSO EMPHASIZES THE USELESSNESS OF HISTORY. Except for the 4 people in Mahasinhalayewanshakathawa (The longest word)

    Conflict of interest, Doctor:
    Should I cure him, or should I not, which will increase my wealth immensely
    Teachers: Not paid enough to eat and therefore, No money to get broadband.
    Lawyers: No point of talking about you’ll (people think you are the lowest of the scum on earth) SO THE STORY GOES……..

    Have they tried SPECSAVERS
    Mr Cooray, people like you are in England, how can you expect, poor Dr Mervyn Silva aka Dutugamunu to uplift our country

    Mr Cooray, your arguments are fantastic for a Eutopian, europe but will not work with the chap who combines his breakfast and lunch (I’ll call it a Bunch) or (Lunch and Dinner – Linner or Dunch) due to all the lard going into Mr President and other small lardy people. I believe the laptop and broadband can create people like you and me (LOL) and thats the way forwards. I think this will happen in the year 2050 (Another prediction by Chandrasiri Bandara – who was arrested recently).
    Chandrasiri Bandara can be arrested for various other reasons as well
    a. For being an astrologer and uttering a whole load of HorseS*** to send people astray
    b. Damien will arrest him for having the Surname Bandara – or being a radalaya

    WHAT ABOUT LEARNING TAMIL OR SINHALESE ……….. SHALL WE MAKE THAT A PRIORITY (Possibly the third language English – So that you don’t call it a KADUWA but instead a SWORD)
    I don’t agree with the term “RULING ELITES” they are ruling scum bags.
    the movement we need is the MOVEMENT OF OUR BRAINS

    The literacy rate in Sri Lanka in 2009 was 91.5 (Males 93.2 and Females 91.6) this is the greatest fallacy of all time.
    The literacy rate has nothing to do with anything.
    Our people can’t read and grasp the good things, look at the quality of TV programs we have all are BALA QUALITY


    MR COORAY, I AM GETTING A BAD IMPRESSION ABOUT YOUR GRANDSON – Is he jobless? To write on facebook about Velupillai and dance………… and to read YOUR LETTERS.

    I didn’t want to read it, but so many “LITERATE” sri lankans were impressed, so I thought of being a bit satirical

  48. I like the 1st comment posted on the blog. I have worked in many parts of the country except the North and East. What the comment says is true. The chauvinists and extremists from the Sinhalese community are from the Karawa, Durawa and salagama castes. Even supposed intellectuals, from these castes are chauvinists.

    My reasoning has been simple. People from these castes have been beelittled at some point of time, in their lives, by the superior Goigama caste. The desire to be superior is a natural human failure. Hence the only way that they could feel superior is by clinging onto Sinhala buddhist supremacy. Unfortunately for them (or for Sri Lanka), Prabhakan, also from a minor caste, presented a golden opportunity to feel superior. This is the sad reality of Sri Lankan caste troubles.


  49. Building a new society in Sri Lanka based on equality and justice is a wonderful theme .I am very skeptical about this.

    There is nothing in Sri Lanka that gives some sort assurances, Yes it is possible to build a new society. Sri Lankan governments broke all the norms and well accepted practices for a good governences. What is there left for us to build?

    The damage caused the present Sri Lankan will haunt the future generation for another 30-50 yrs. The damages caused by LTTE will continue to haunt Tamils for 30-50 Years.

    Sri Lankan call themselves Buddhist Nation. What a shame? The best name for Sri Lanka is Rogue Nation

    Nalin Kaduwela

    There is no identity crisis in Singapore. Just because some of the Singaporean are free thinkers, are you suggesting, they have no identity? That is real madness. I am married to Singaporean Chinese. I know what is my identity, so my wife.

    You say wife says Mandarin father says English and all of them do not have a religion, not good signs of things to come in the future. China does not have religion. What see in China? it is the super power in Asia. You may want to eat tonight Kothuu Rotti and you wife want to eat bread. Is there any crisis in your family. Wake up man!

  50. Very good analysis. I can not agree more with its content.
    unfortunately, it is not that sri lanka has been dearth of good people like Mr cooray but their vision never carried a day. It is because higher literacy among the citizens did not gone to the next level of learning. This lead to poor quality politician kept coming back to power with the help of narrow polito-relegious groups. We never seen a statesman in the highest office on the land, unlike India.
    Gov. Nation building has gone flawed since 1948 and it is to the point that it reminds me the novel by George Orwell “1984” which I am reading currently.
    Motto of the imaginary nation” Oceania”
    ” War is peace
    Freedom is slavery
    Ignorance is strength”

    In my view only a radical political overhaul can save the
    people to enjoy the right to life and liberty with shared prosperity.
    Maximum devolution on federal line ( 3 or 4 provinces- just throwing a number) to weaken the power of corrupted and inefficient central Gov. This will, in my opinion, empower the people and most likely one of the provinces will eventually find the correct formula for success which can be followed by others.
    I join others in this thread to encourage translation of the article to Tamil and Sinhalese for broader dissemination.
    Thank you Mr. Cooray and DBSJ.

  51. Many are writing , giving long speeches,and explaining but the people in our country still living in fear and trembling as to what is going to happen next?
    But who will bell the cat? Beautiful things are written in papers , through computers , and in conferance halls,seminars etc.
    Reality in Sri Lanka is crusial,time is wasting white vans are continuing , killing , raping ,robbery is going on .No inveastigation , no justice there is no place for truth.No place for God the creator . by Being.

  52. #43 Nalin is absolutely right. Sri Lanka is now in its pinnacle of being. It is the undisputed leader in education (do you know even the Americans are sending their children to study in SriLanka these days?), its reputation in equality of races is well known (Martin Luther King yearned for an America that could one day equal Sri Lanka in its racial equality, and finally today, Obama’s election as president has levelled the playing field), and its prominence in leadrship skills is ledendary (so much so that SL issued a statement that the latest Chinese riot is an internal matter for the Chinese, and the Chinese should learn to sort it out with the methods they learnt in Sri Lanka a few months earlier).

    Sri Lanka gives hope to other countries that they too cold benefit if they were to sort out their petty grievances and learn to run the country like we do in Lanka. Do you know that even Colin Powell of the U.S. has mentioned that had he trained under Sarath Fonseka, he would have no doubt won the Afghan war even while Bush Jr. was in office?

    Gender equality? Hmph…do you now know we had a Female President who in turn had a Male keep in her house? Even the first woman PM was a Sri Lankan.

    With such an elite and compassionate military, a wonderful educational system that others could only dream of, gender and racial equality, why do we need to change?

  53. Dear DBSJ,

    This reply is not on the article but on your introduction. You used the sentence ,’ a vulgar and cruse display of triumphalism was let loose in Sri lanka ‘ This is not only you but many others as well. I would like to explain from my point of view briefly what happened before the war in terms of felicitations and after. Please explain to me where the excesses that you would refer to as ‘Vulgar’.

    Prior to the end –

    Most schools including you own have a Nov remembrance day with old boys in service attending and with tributes to the fallen and missing. In church every Sunday the prayer for peace is said. IN the newspapers everyday its a bomb somewhere or killings of tigers and service personnel. Sundays there are stories in the newspapers about the villagers massacred. After ‘Mavilaru’ the newspapers reported an effort by GOSL to ‘wipe out’ and that was reported. Towards the end when the Tigers were boxed in and it was a matter of days or hours the people were prepared for a new begining, a new daily outlook other than what I have described above. Finally when the GOSL announced that the ‘war’ was over we all had different dreams for our children.

    What followed next in Colombo is described below.

    Crackers were lit and ‘Kiribath’ served by ordinary people. Taxi drivers. ect. There were NO insults to any tamil community that I saw. Kiribath is served on first of Jan and on Birthdays ect as a sign of a new beginning. These small street function happened on the day after and perhaps for 2-3 days. Th 3rd Day there was a public march from Town hall to parliament grounds to which I also participated. This procession although organized by the GOSL was under the Sri Lanka flag. everybody carried Sri Lanka flags and there were no red, blue or green political flags. There would have been some political organization as groups from all over Sri Lanka came. After a reconciliation message by the various speakers a musical show followed. Even during these times the forces were still in the operation area clearing out.( reported) . The GOSL organized one major military parade just like what we used to have in independence day each year. During the week that followed several civil organisation had felicitation ceremonies for the service personnel of the area or neighborhood or school allumni. Whatever the celebration not One word was mentioned against the Tamil community or in derogatory manner to anyone other than the LTTE and VP. NO spoils of war were paraded, nothing like that , The only flag that fluttered was the Flag of Sri Lanka.

    So tell me dear readers and DBSJ what was vulgar

    what do you think we should have done after ending a cancer that ate away at our lives for 30 years. I am not saying this in sarcasm but genuinely want to know what was the excess in the immediate post war scenario.. please be descriptive as I have been. If you didnt see with your own eyes please please dont comment. what you hear may not be true.

    DBSJ – when you describe the post war celebrations as ‘Vulgar and Cruse’, I want to know what in particular was vulgar and cruse. I am open to listen and change if what I participated was wrong.

  54. Gentlemen like Mr. Upali Cooray of the older genre were beyond the grasp of communalism. English-educated LSSPers of that era would hold their own with any audience, anywhere as Mr Cooray surely does in the UK. When the majority in a diverse society continuously asserts its numerical superiority over everything else, that surely is the first indications of recipe for disaster to that society that fools its people with an imagined past and constructed history. England proved centuries ago it is beyond prejudice when it elected a jew – Benjamin Disraeli- as Prime Minister, who is remembered as one of the finest PMs that great democracy produced. He came from one of the smallest minorities in a country that gave a place to the culture of meritocracy. But here with Buddhist Sinhala majoritarianism having its day on every aspect of society, we have progressively declined in all fronts. In a country that prided itself in its varied form of governance now finds even the Public Trustee was up to no good. Surgeons take bribes to perform surgery on patients at deaths door. Those honourable School Principals of yore are no more. With few exceptions. most Principals are in the take. It was sad to see the distinguished OBA of a leading Buddhist school in Colombo all out to protect its own delinquent Principal caught red-handed for school admission crimes from parents who can ill-afford to give the large sums demanded just to get their little children in what would otherwise be their right. Crooked lawyers make deals with equally crooked judges something unheard of earlier. Judgements can be predicted not on the merits of the case but who is sitting in the bench. The Income Tax Dept. once much respected and feared, is a den of thieves who looted the State for billions of rupees. When Barak Obama spoke in Ghana recently I thought he was in Sri Lanka for he passionately declared “Development depends on good governance. No country is going to grow if its leaders steal that country’s resources; if its police are with drug-traffickers. No one will want to invest in that country where the top cream cream of f 20% of investments; where the rule of law gives way to the rule of bribery and corruption. That is not democracy. That is thievery,tyranny and brutality”
    President Obama will be shocked here in Sri Lanka
    while the Police is getting rid of terrible gangsters to the relief of the people, the Godfather of the Colombo underworld and kudu-karayas is promoted to ministerial level and enjoys the protection of the highest in the govt. He is allowed to do all his dirty work in the gaze of the public with impunity. What has governance come to today is the question on everyone’s lips?

    Whereas both Sinhala and Tamil youth rose against the government in the 70s for valid reasons, the Sinhala youth were rehabilitated and brought into the mainstream utilising the funds of the people both Sinhala and Tamil. That is the right thing to do. Many of these Sinhala youth leaders sit in Parliament and many political institutions today in positions of power. One of them is a candidate to the post of Prime Minister. A son of a farmer in the Polonnaruwa area, from an extreme left party eventually came to power promising to fight for the rights of the exploited paddy farmer to get better prices for his labour etc., Today the man is in the front ranks of the government. His brothers and family owning star hotels, dozens of rice mills, mansions and brand new Mercedes Benz 450S reminding one of Anura B when he said they came to politics in bata slippers and broken bicycles. Today they emerge out of Colombo 7 mansions in their new Pajeros and Mercedes Benzes. This family dominates the distribution of rice and pay other farmers a pittance. His former party colleagues are now his bitterest critics but who cares? Kleptomaniacs run the show at the highest levels. As to the Tamil youth who were guilty of the same crime, they were driven to the wall. No wonder they took to guns. You capture the rise of Tamil militancy well when you note the rise of separatism is the direct consequence of the failure of the ruling elite to make a single nation But this kind of wisdom that poured in from many directions fell on deaf ears of the clerical and political hierarchy who gave the looting political leadership their blessings and their fullest backing. The clear message is They are, after all, Sinhala Buddhists and must be encouraged in the name of the Motherland Socialism, Mr Cooray, has turned upside down from your times. So, how are we going to build the just society you dream of where we are all with you?


  55. I would like to add a note ISS.

    My son is going to a better known university in Canada. He obtained loan and grant from the Government for about $20000 for one year as it is about 200km from our residence. I just bought things for him when he entered the University last year. That was all. He will get loan for his second year too. Whereas, when he first got his admission to Grade 1 to go to Jaffna St. Johns College, at stone throw from our residence in Chundikuli, during latter part of 1995, I had to pay Rs. 10000.00 to Church Mission South India and take the receipt to the clerk of St. Johns College to get the admission. This same school get money from the Government to pay the staffs and the principal saying that they are not charging money from the students. I worked in Jaffna Education Department for more than two years too to know the details first hand. LTTE forced me to resign that job is another story. This downright cheating starts from the principals of the prestigious schools, not in Jaffna but all over Sri Lanka. With this illgotten money, they would hire one or two extra English teachers and claim that their students are a step or two ahead in the social rung. It was very difficult to get cash in Jaffna during that time as government stopped supply of cash to Jaffna. I used all my known contacts to collect 10000 in cash, all sticky dirty notes, to pay as they would not accept cheque. It was very difficult to get cash with known people in the banks too. Ultimately, my son never went to that school as we had to leave Jaffna in November 1995. This is common all over Sri Lanka. I studied at Jaffna Central College and I did not wear even slippers till I got my admission to the University. I had my first trouser to go to Peradeniya for Practical test. This was almost a norm in sixties. I never felt shy of going without slippers, but I felt rather odd to wear trousers at that time. That was the first time I crossed Elephant Pass too. There is a lot of hanky panky going on in the so called higher places. To be candid, common Sinhalese are also handicapped to make any change other than towing the line of power.Apart from this, Tamils have other difficulties imposed on them by their own government. This mismanagement made Tamils to think of managing their own affairs. Things are not of hands for a sincere leader, but MR and Co are not in that category. They would exclaim, sincererity, how much of a kilo! When Chandrika proposed her package in 1995 or 1994, there was not much opposition from the Sinhalese as she was riding a wave of support. She procrastinated and lost the momentum, to blame LTTE later. LTTE was really scared that they would loose support if she would go ahead and implement her proposal. Then the hawks gained momentum and started watering down the proposal.

  56. Excellet thoughts again from UC…

    For people like Nalin-Kaduwela – Who now see the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel, I would only quote the resonding words from Sivanandan :

    ‘It is for the Sinhalese people I fear now – for if they come for me in the morning, theyll come for you that night.

    The LIGHT at the end of the tunnel is the thundering Mahinda Bro Express which will be more devastating than the LTTE.

    WAKE UP..

  57. Nailn, you measuring sirlankan ability by using cricket? This shows, how shortsighted you are..

  58. Nalin-Kaduwela #47 & #49

    I don’t think racial identity is a “natural” identification for humans. Communal identity, perhaps, in the sense that communal unity is necessary for survival of the individual, and ultimately, survival is the most basic natural instinct. Within a nation social formation, that communal identity would be national identity.

    Race is a modern invention, and it involves the fabrication/construction of identity around an invented category called “race”. Politicians and political groups use race to harness power. Race ultimately is about skin colour. I don’t care to believe that my difference from other people is caused by the colour of my skin.

    In the end, our choice of identifications depend on our social contexts. When governments hegemonise race ideologies, then people start to believe in them. Race ideologies however are the easiest thing in the world to deconstruct and shown to be nonsense.

    For instance, what does it mean to say someone is Tamil. Must I know the language, be able to spout the Tirrukural, have a dark “Daravidian” skin, be able to eat rasam and rice in order to be Tamil? Must I be Hindu to be Tamil? Must I have genetic proof to be Tamil?What if your mother is a Tamil, but father is Sinhalese–can this person be considered to be Tamil or must they have a Tamil father? How much pure Tamil blood must you have to qualify as Tamil? Who decides that amount? Sri Lankan Tamils don’t consider long-residing Indian Tamils in SL to be of their race. Why not? Aren’t they similar genetically? What if tomorrow some scientist found that all SL Tamils had 60% Malay genes–would we drop the concept of the Tamil race or quickly redefine Malay genes as being Tamil? Once you start asking people to define what it means to be Tamil, you’ll find that nobody will be able to agree. It is not a real existing phenomenon but one that depends on definitions.

    As for your observation that Singapore Chinese (or some of them) don’t know what it means to be Chinese, I say kudos to them! It only proves that race is not a “natural” thing as you claim cos otherwise their natural instinct would have told them what it meant to be Chinese.

    Are you saying that people who marry across race lines are unnatural, freaks of nature?

    Identity is a fluid thing, and it is good to be confused–cos then you can become somebody new. It’s up to you to make yourself.

    As for the matter of not having religion–if you look at religious fundamentalist people all over the world, not only does their fundamentalism make them unhappy, it also destroys the lives of other innocent people. I personally don’t see any relation between ethics and religion–some people without religion are scrupulously ethical and idealistic, while some people with religion are extremely unethical and oppressive.

    Not believing in race though doesn’t mean that I don’t recognise the rights of people to develop and preserve their own historical culture, if they want to, or to abandon it or hybridize it if they want to.

  59. K.Easwaran Comment 50,

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Someone said Sri Lanka is going through glorious moment in its history. I just dont understand what glory they are talking about. Killing more than 30,000 innocent people and Keeping war victims within barbed wire camps and treating them as animal. Is this glorious moment in Sri Lankan history?
    Sri Lanka is over the world media for all wrong reasons. Call it glorious moment in Sri Lankan history and celebrate it.

  60. To: Confused confucius

    Looks like this name realy suits you. Because you are confused. I was writing for Bandara not you. He is the one how was racist. Bringing up the caste system which is not a good thing.

  61. Cooray’s got a lot of good points here and some I would contest, so I’ll be making three or four posts.

    Firstly he is being naive when he compares Lankan health services unfavourably with those in India (China I don’t have enough direct knowledge of).

    One of the more intelligent things Jayawardene did was to let government doctors practise privately in their own time. It has prevented a brain drain, and actually spread the load at government hospitals.

    It has perverse effects where I live, such as that you can’t find a private doctor in the morning or a government one in the evening but it does mean I can get a private consultation with the doctor, with government medicine thrown in, for $1.20, and those that can’t afford even that paltry figure can get to the government hospital and see the doctor in the morning. Or have British-trained consultants do surgery in government hospitals instead of leaving the country because they can make a poor but respected living by working in a private clinic in the evening.

    The problem lies in the affordability of the drugs the government doesn’t provide, but that is not the problem Cooray addresses.

  62. Our people can’t read and grasp the good things, look at the quality of TV programs we have all are BALA QUALITY

    Sorry, confused confucious, but the quality of Sri Lankan television programs is high compared to India or indeed of much of what we see in the UK.

  63. You have not addressed why the Sinhalese rioted against the Muslims in or around 1905.

    You’ve picked the wrong conflict to attack the Sinhalese on here, and the date was 1915. The incidents were one of the many reprehensible examples of misrule by the British. The Kandy riots that started the matter off, were the result of the Muslims attempting to block a religious procession, and gaining the support of the British in doing so. The riots in Colombo were a small matter, turned into a disaster by
    British misrule, and those in the countryside were largely a matter of getting revenge against Moslem extortionate moneylenders (‘the hated Afghans’ as an Indian chronicler of the riots described them).

    What a study of the 1915 riots will go far to explain is the Sinhalese victim mentality since in this period they were genuinely victims of the grossest misjustice.

  64. For instance while many middle class young men and women are able to communicate through the internet ( chat, blog and twitter), most of our lawmakers, teachers, public servants and lawyers are totally computer illiterate.

    I suspect rather a lot of this has to do with the cost of a computer. You should also remember that it is only in the last couple of years that there have been affordable internet connections in the country. Add to that the fact that last time I looked there was precisely one computer book in Sinhala in existence.

  65. England proved centuries ago it is beyond prejudice when it elected a jew – Benjamin Disraeli- as Prime Minister, who is remembered as one of the finest PM’s that great democracy produced.

    He had been obliged to convert to Anglicanism first though.

  66. R. Maran.

    Identity Crisis
    First and second generation of Free Thinkers would be fine, wait and see what happens afterwards. Dont you believe normal human beings should be directed in some means? Religion is one of the ways, distinct positive culture is another.

    Look what has happened to the third and fourth generations of free thinkers in West Europe and North America, it leads to destruction nothing else. Western Europe and North America was the centre of the earth due to what the older generations have done for them, not because of the current bunch of free thinkers.

    China is fast becoming the super power in the world due to there hard work of the yester years, If they too become bunch of free thinkers they would not go far, ultimately Middle east and South eastern Asia will rule this world , mark my word.

  67. Erambu Edirisinghe

    You have missed one thing Sri Lanka is desperately seeking for ? A Good Jester.

    I think you fits the bill, can’t you come out from your bewilderment to take-up the post.

  68. Senthilkumar
    [Nailn, you measuring sirlankan ability by using cricket? This shows, how shortsighted you are..]

    Not at all, I have compared the whole spectrum of sport between the two countries (India). There are not many sports that India does better than Sri Lanka.

  69. Belle,

    What do you think is the problem in Sri Lanka then, if your idealistic scenario is correct there wouldn’t be any problem in Sri Lanka? Look the problem is with Tamil speaking population and the Sinhalese speaking population in Sri Lanka.

    “What does it mean to be a Tamil?” Perhaps a person may consider himself a Tamil if he prefers to speak in Tamil most of the time (Mother tongue), Eating rasam and rice and all other positive things which he values as of him being identified as a Tamil.
    You should appreciate, that not everyone is enlightened as you are in terms of current world trend of pluralism. Normal people like I prefer to be called a Sinhalese and my friend Robert do not find it hard to admit that he is Tamil.

    Keep Singapore away from this, Singapore doesn’t have a long illustrious history, and they will not be successful forever. There are many Singaporean/Chinese who are emigrating to the west fed up with there own system.

    Can you explain why the majority in England is English, France is French, Netherlands is Dutch, Japan is Japanese and China is Chinese? Naturally this is what has happened historically.

    “Race is a modern invention”
    How did you even come up with this phrase?

    I believe in medieval times, religion was constructed by groups of intelligent people as a means of building up ethical values of common people.

    This world is not big enough for all of us, people or the groups of people who have the most power will control what we use. This is the reality. Don’t be fooled by western calls for Unisom, for these will never happen. Even Barack Obama will be a puppet of the white elite in US eventually.
    If you are the boss of a company, would you want to concede your position to an outsider just like that?

  70. #58 Dilshan

    Your comments are genuine and sincere. I hope to respond appropriately.

    Looking at it from a different perspective, there is nothing wrong in our Sinhala brethren celebrating the end of the war. After all their forces have defeated their worst enemy. A similar situation prevailed in the Tamil community (especially the diaspora) after the fall of Elephant Pass. But personally, I just abhor the war, the killing, the suffering. Everyone who died is someone’s son or daughter. There are a large number of families (on both sides) in mourning. Some sensitivity should have been shown in that regard.

    Now to address your question-what should have been done after the war ended. Well, there is not much the ordinary Sinhala citizen could have done. But the ruling clan and the establishment could have done a lot of things.

    For example, had the the fallen LTTE cadres, including VP, been put to rest with full military honors with government and military leaders in attendance the winning side would have gain the higher moral ground in a heartbeat. Instead of imprisoning 300K people in camps (to me they are concentration camps, you may think otherwise I respect that, just an honest disaggreement) the establishement could have placed them, after a quick screening, with individuals and families (sinhala, Tamil, Muslim who cares) willing to sponsor them. By this way the Tamils would have had a great chance to see and appreciate the goodness of the ordinary Sinhalese. They would have said to themselves “Oh my goodness, VP and the LTTE have been deceiving us all along. Sinhalese are really nice people. They are not out to destroy us “.

    Who knows eventually, these displaced Tamils would have chosen to settle among the Sinhala brethren and make a life for themselves.

    The surrendering LTTE cadres could have been given amnesty and released. There is no point in beating up a dead rat anymore.

    The government had a small window of a golden opportunity for reconciliation. I sincerely believe it has been lost.

  71. To Stephen Jones ,
    I stand to be corrected of the dates. I write from my memory. Otherwise this intolerance of taking law into their own hands to kill, molest other communities brought us to this point.

  72. I have read and have heard alot about from eye witnesses that Dispora Tamils especailly in Erupoe celerated the fall of Elephant Pass in April 2000 jubilantly. So what’s wrong when sinhalese celebrate the fall of the LTTE altogether.

    Be realistic in what you say please, think about your own past

  73. Why do you worry without cause?
    Whom do you fear without a reason?
    Who can kill you?
    The soul is neither nor does it die.
    More important:
    Whatever happened is happened…
    and happened is for good…
    Whatever is happening is also for good…
    Whatever will happen, will also happen for the good.

    The above verses should suite current situations in SL.

  74. Nalin – Kaduwela#74

    There is nothing wrong with my saying that race is a modern invention. It is widely accepted in the theory of race and culture today. This is what is being taught in all the progressive universities of the world. The concept of race took hold during European colonialism. Nations were built around the concept of race in the early days. The nation is a modern political formation. That’s why race is considered a modern invention. These days however, nations are moving toward multiculturalism. The claims of Britain and America as being Anglo nations are giving way today.

    The problem with Sri Lanka is that governments and politicians want to play the race card to cover up economic problems and to hang on to power. They can do this because post-colonial nations like SL have inherited the colonial heritage of ideologies of race. The underdevelopment of education in SL also ensures that citizens don’t come across anything else but last century’s ideas. Try reading work by Pradeep Jeganathan–he has some interesting research on how people in Sri Lanka identified in the pre-colonial period. It was not on the basis of race.

    Are you Sinhalese? Then why do you write here in English? Do you think there is nothing “English” about the way you think, that in learning the English language that you didn’t open yourself up to that culture and its intellectual heritage too? No culture is pure in itself, and few people who use the internet can be monocultural. Every culture is a hybrid. Isn’t Sinhala a hybrid language too, and the culture a mix of different heritages? “Race” signifies something pure, unmixed. Its only reality is skin colour.

    Singapore doesn’t have a long illustrious history? There have been archaelogical finds here dating back to 4th century BC. It used to be an important part of many Southeast Asian empires. Anyway, what’s your point? If a country doesn’t have an illustrious history, it doesn’t have anything to share with other countries? At least we didn’t spit on our “illustrious history” by degenerating into poverty, violence and chaos despite living in a land that’s rich in resources. Like I’ve said elsewhere, I think our modesty helped us survive, to learn from others, to be open to new ideas.

    I don’t see why you should think Singapore is lacking something if some of its citizens choose to settle elsewhere. Or that immigrants are betraying their country or their ‘race’ by relocating. People look for different things in life and they should go wherever suits them. The very fact of their voluntary migration suggests that they are already inter-cultural.

    You said, “This world is not big enough for all of us, people or the groups of people who have the most power will control what we use. This is the reality.”

    This attitude destines you to either become a victim or an exploiter of others. Reality is only that which one decides to accept. If Obama thought like you, he would never have even tried to be President of the US. By becoming president, he will inevitably change race relations and dent white superiority in the US. At any rate, there are other American non-whites who have already made inroads against that domination.

    How do you account for changes in the world, for historical developments if you think that configurations of power never change, that power will always be monolithic?

    “If you are the boss of a company, would you want to concede your position to an outsider just like that?”

    Wanting to keep one’s position is one thing. Being actually able and wily enough to resist challenges to one’s power and position is another. There is always someone smarter and more capable than you.

  75. Dear Mr.Upali Cooray

    Srilanka is the head of India slightly dislocated.

    Indians are headless chickens living in a fake democracy.

    The head bears the worst.

  76. The core of the article by Mr. Upali Cooray is nothing but truth, though there may be difference in the interpretation in the periphery of the events that took place. The article is based on human values, humanity and equality which are everlasting universal principals in contrary to the ever changing geopolitical and economic shifts where countries wax and wane.

    As much as it is true that Tamil nationalists also fail to see the reality of the poor Sinhalese folks it is true that Sinhala Diaspora failed to understand the consequences of the politics on ethnic lines and failed to yield to the reasonable demands of the Tamils. And that is the main reason why Sinhalese and Tamils were unable to fight together on a common front against human inequalities even though there were many Tamils in the left movement in yester years before eighties.

    Growing into prosperity of our neighbour India and China is not without causing destruction of Srilanka for their greedy geopolitical interests. One way or the other Indian interests kindled extremism and nurtured it in Srilanka and demonstrated ruthlessness and will to surpass all human values and support mass destruction at any cost. When such is the world order the struggle against it has to be at the global level.

  77. Excellent article but OUT DATED about 50 years old because the SinHella racist terrorism did SEPARATE Tamils from Sinhalese by their genocidal terrorism and constant colonisation of North and East where JUST 18 Sinhalese lived in 1837 British carried out Census.
    Please refer the Srilankan Census since 1948 to date to know the REAL ROAD MAP OF SRILANKAN ETHNIC CLEANSING in the favour of SINHALESE only.
    We Tamils once had the entire island and let the invaders to land and now we are losing even the North and East not because of invaders but because of our GULLIBLE MENTALITY and FORGIVING MENTALITY.
    LTTE was defeated not because of Srilankan terrorism but because of the LTTE did not use terrorism like Srilanka to inflict same atrocities to Sinhalese. That is, LTTE must have slaughtered several 1000 Sinhalese as and when the Srilankan terrorist military started genocide in VAHARAI as the LTTE had more heavy weapons to attack nearby Sinhala villages.Had LTTE done so, Srilanka would not have dare to come to Vanni.
    In future, the LTTE must do the same Srilankan LIBERATION of all ILLEGAL Sinhala settlers in EELAM.
    If anyone still think of reconcilliation with the BARBARIC SinHELLa terrorists who use food and medicine and even TSUNAMI to butcher Tamils, his/her head must be examined by a surgeon.

  78. Many here are not fully comprehending what Upali Cooray means when he says:

    “A vulgar and cruse exhibition of triumphalism was let loose in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).”

    Cooray is saying that these celebrations were not just about feeling relief from future suicide bombs. I hardly think Cooray is the the type to condone suicide bombs. He is talking about the mentality behind the celebrations. We don’t need to think very long to know that these were one-sided celebrations. This was a victory for the Sinhala nationalists much more than anyone else. It was a victory for those who believed there was a “foreign conspiracy” to destabilize Sri Lanka. It was a victory for those who believe Tamils do not need any devolution. It was a victory for those who embody the Sarath Silva mentality that Sinhalese are the rulers and all others are guests.

    What is more, Cooray has experienced enough of history to understand that such celebrations are implicative of far more sinister events to come. The same mentality that forces Tamils to put up Lion flags or collects money for celebrations is the same one that keeps quiet when 200 Tamils are lined up with buckets waiting for water, in the scorching heat of a barbed wire camp.

    Ultimately, Cooray understands that the celebrations were nothing more than nationalist hype. For the average Sinhalese (not the elite) the Government provided a cheap thrill: for a few moments, forget all your poverty, just focus on this mythological spectacle of the Mahavamsa wheel reinventing itself by producing a 21st century Dutugemunu who has triumphed over the ancient Dravidian enemy. For the Tamils, already locked up behind barbed wire, the message was clear enough: now you have been fully conquered, and extreme measures will be taken to ensure you do not open your mouth again. If we have to deprive you of every last vestige of human dignity to make you keep quiet, so be it.

    As always, it is worthwhile to consider alternatives. We must be cognizant that post-war celebrations were inevitable. However, as comment #75 suggests, it is possible that these celebrations could have been more inclusive. In addition to pardoning all ex- LTTE cadres, the onus should have been to draw up a federal solution as quickly as possible with input from Tamil intellectuals. In addition, the suffocating climate of Emergency Regulations should have been relaxed. The 40,000 soldiers should have been removed entirely from Jaffna as a symbolic gesture. Paramilitary groups like the EPDP should have been disbanded altogether. Checkpoints and identity cards, used for racial profiling, should have been removed from practice. The Cabinet should have been reduced in numbers. The extremist parties like JVP and JHU should have been kicked out of Parliament. The Executive Presidency should have been curtailed. The huge expenditure from military spending should have been transferred to rehabilitation immediatly (instead there is a drive to recruit 50,000 more). There should have been a push to revamp the entire educational system to empower the next generation of youth not to take up arms or join the military, to be become engineers and IT professionals – an investment such as the one the Government of India has made (to the extent of even broadcasting engineering courses on the public television).

    Unfortunately, none of these things occurred. It is unlikely that they will occur for a very long time to come. The celebrations were only the first sign. Upali Cooray understood that very well.

  79. 75. rajiv

    For example, had the the fallen LTTE cadres, including VP, been put to rest with full military honors with government and military leaders in …

    Ane ara pethi gahala marapu minissu apita monawa kiyayda… (what will those people who were chopped to their deaths say to us…)

  80. To Supun,
    Comment #77,
    Elephant Pass was between two groups of combatants and there were not more than 300000 non combatants. Just between two combatants.

  81. It is a good intention, but we Tamils are used to this kind of patronising from various sinhala elements. If any of you are genuine you need to come forward and voice your support, when you are in power.

    But Srilankan politics is dominated by Buddhist monks and chauvinistic racist elements.

    Tamils will never have a fare deal from the current lankan regime.

  82. A tamil nationalist : S J Gunasekeram
    A sinhala nationalist: S L Gunasekera

    Somebody, somewhere dropped or added the letter ‘m’ at the end of the family name.

  83. Rajiv #75, Maran #80, Thank you very much for your reply. Once my tamil employee commented that VP was ‘only a soldier’ i let her keep that opinion and never did that bother me or her. The Sri Lanka defence did make official comments about some of the best LTTE fighting cadres who perished in the jungles. I think a funeral for VP is out due to the enormous contribution he made in driving the wedge of hatred between sinhalese and tamils. Ref the IDP I too share your view that they could have been quickly screened and released. – with mines ect. – i do not know, really what would have been best because I do not know the ground reality. I have faith that the IDP will be sent home soon. perhaps sooner than we think. IN my factory two upcountry tamil boys did not attend celebrations but that has no impact on their relationships with the others. – Do you think that the sinhalese have become more tolerent? regarding the GOSL action – mostly was conciliatory if you listen to the speeches. but most dont.

  84. 90. Dilshan

    Please remember all these IDPs living in Vanni till very recently. LTTE herded them as human shield to protect their leader and his family.

    There were some landmines. But people were living with the landmines all along. Name me any part of the N&E that is free from landmines. Courtesy to Both LTTE and SLA landmines planted everywhere in N&E. All of sudden, GOSL says they can’t resettle IDP until clear the landmines. People in N&E living with landmines, shelling and bombing for the last 25 yrs, landmines are not new to them. It was very obvious what GOSL trying to do. They are trying to make Tamils as modern day slaves.

    There is no difference between VP & MR. The same people who made money in the war now making money by using IDPs. What IDPs are going through now, shouldn’t happened anyone. There are plenty of news about IDPs in international Medias, not in Sri Lankan Medias. People are dying every day due to diseases, starvation. I don’t find anything tangible happening towards the reconciliation process. It all just talks. We have been hearing these talks since 1958.

  85. There is another side to all the problems in Sri Lanka which not only Mr Upali Coorays grandnephew but everybody should know. I hope he will include it in his 3rd letter. All these have to be translated into Sinhala and Tamil so that a larger number of people will get to know the facts.

    The Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka, better known as Sinhala-Buddhism (or Mahavamsa-Buddhism) is different from the Theravada Buddhism practiced in other countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and so on. The Buddhists in these countries follow only the Buddhist scriptures Tripitaka (Viniya, Sutta, Abhidhamma), whereas in Sri Lanka the ‘Mahavamsa,’ which was written by one of the Mahavihara monks (Ven. Mahanama) more than 1000 years after the passing away of Lord Buddha is also considered as a part of the Buddhist scriptures, although it deals mostly with mythical or supernatural Buddhist history, some episodes of which are copied from the ‘Mahabaratha’ and ‘Ramayana.’ Since all the above Buddhist scriptures were written in the Pali language, a Buddhist layperson who does not understand Pali cannot understand the difference between the two and, therefore, he/she believes everything that the Buddhist monks preach, to be the true words of Buddha.

    Due to ignorance, even the present day Sinhala-Buddhists still believe that they are blood relatives of Buddha because, according to the Mahavamsa, their forefather Pandu-Vasudeva belongs to the Sakya clan, and is a relative of the Buddha, not realizing the fact that the term Pandu in Pali means Pandyans.

    According to Buddhism, a person ordained as a Bikkhu should practice Ahimsa, Karuna, Metta, and Maithriya towards fellow humans, irrespective of race or religion, not only by words but also in his thoughts and action. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, due to the influence of the Mahavamsa, a Bikkhu is at liberty to engage in racist politics and promote war and hatred, as we see today.

    When Hindu/Brahmanical influence posed a serious challenge to Buddhism and when Buddhism started to lose popular support and the patronage from the rulers, the Buddhist institutions in India came under attack. The events that took place in India against Buddhism prompted the Mahavihara monks in Sri Lanka to come up with a plan/strategy to protect Buddhism. They made Sri Lanka a Dammadeepa (chosen land of Buddha), and they created a Sinhala race by assimilating all the Buddhists from different ethnic groups and made them the sustainers of Buddhism (Buddhas chosen people). The main reason why the Pali chronicles were written by the Mahavihara monks was to protect Buddhism. The term Sihala/Hela came into existence for the first time only in the Pali chronicles. There is no evidence whatsoever to prove the existence of the term Sihala/Hela before that.

    Just around ten lines/verses in the Pali chronicle Deepavamsa about the Elara/Dutugemunu episode was blown up into 11 chapters in the Mahavamsa just to glorify Buddhism and the Buddhist kings against the Hindus. The Mahavamsa author being a Buddhist monk and justifying the killing of around sixty thousand Tamils/Hindus by Dutugemunu is one reason why others think that Sinhala-Buddhism is somewhat of a violent barbaric form of Buddhism where killing Tamils is justified.

    There is a clear record of all the main events of Buddha, the places he visited, with whom he was, where and what he preached and to whom he preached, in the Buddhist scriptures, Tripitika. In order to protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka from those powerful South Indian Hindu kingdoms, Ven. Mahanama wrote the Mahavamsa, in which he has added his own imaginations and myths. He has introduced many events concerning Buddha which never took place, things that Buddha has never said or done, events which are not mentioned in any of the Buddhist scriptures (Theravada and Mahayana).

    Ven. Mahanama has created an imaginary link between the three elements, Country-Race-Religion and made it into one unit similar to the Holy Trinity, whereby Sri Lanka (Dhamma Deepa), Buddha’s chosen people (Sinhalese), and Buddhism (Buddha Sasana) should be protected for 5000 years. This is known as the Jathika chintanaya or the Mahavamsa mindset and one of its outcomes is the unitary state. Therefore, for the next 2500 years, a Sinhala Buddhist will never allow a federal state in Sri Lanka.

    From a very young age, the innocent Sinhala Buddhist children who attend the Daham Pasella (Sunday school) in the Buddhist temples are brainwashed by engraving the Mahavamsa Buddhism and Sinhala Buddhist racism into their sub-conscious minds.

    They are taught to believe that the non-Sinhala Buddhists (Tamils) are invaders who do not belong to Sri Lanka. All the Tamils should be chased away to Tamil Nadu just the way their ancient Kings Dutugemunu did. The country (Sri Lanka), Sinhala race and Buddhism should be protected from the Tamils. Now, from recently, they have also included the Christians in those needing to be thrown out. Due to the above conditioning, the Sinhala-Buddhist majority believes that the entire Sri Lanka belongs to them and the minorities are aliens.

    We cannot blame the Mahavamsa author Ven. Mahanama, because he had a genuine reason for the above mythology but unfortunately today due to ignorance and lack of rational thinking, the Sinhala Buddhists still believe the Mahavamsa as the gospel truth.

    As long as the Sinhalese remain ignorant, as long as they cling on to the 2500 years old mysteries of the past as their guide, as long as they remain engrossed to the Mahavamsa mindset, whatever solution the GOSL brings in, the Sinhalese are not going accept.

    As responsible leaders, not only the GOSL but the moderate Sinhala media personnel and religious leaders should educate the Sinhala nation, explaining the reason why the Pali chronicles were written during that period of extreme danger to Buddhism, which is not the case today.

  86. After reading majority of the responses to UC’s letter I thought of writing a comment on these responses.

    It is evident that most Sri Lankans are very sensitive to their heritage, culture and racial affiliations. They are also self respecting people and even a minor criticism on their attitude, lifestyle and more importantly nationalistic feelings would provoke an angry rejoinder from them. It is my observation that it is more so with the majority Sinhalese community.

    UC has selected, analyzed and criticized some of the shortcomings in the Sri Lankan society and its governance and also proposed remedies to overcome such defects, naturally from the view point of his leftist ideology. His ideology may be out dated, his assumptions may be out of time and his solutions may be not most appropriate for the present time. BUT the most readers pick on his comments or criticism with an attitude that it may be so and there is nothing wrong in being like that or put the blame on other community for the mess we are in. Few understood that there are real problems in the Sri Lankan society; racial hatred, economic imbalance, inappropriate governance and serious lapse of justice and equality.

    Unless we understand and accept that the problems exist we will not be able to solve them. UC, apart from criticizing the situation in Sri Lankan society, has proposed well intentioned solutions to these problems, some of which may require scrutiny, modification and fine tuning. I, for one think that the current political culture in this country will invariably make every solution redundant unless of course, there emerges a national leader with statesmanship and firm resolve to steer the country towards prosperity. In that sense I fully agree with UC that the solution to the ethnic conflict proposed by the current GOSL is a puppet show; all indications of post conflict resolutions are pointing towards such phenomenon. Increase drafting for the military, forced detention of Tamil civilians, monopoly by few individuals on the development of the war affected areas and more importantly delay in the implementation of political solution (only after my re-election or I know what to give and what not to give type of attitude); to name a few.

    What we need now is a people revolution, not in the sense of a communist upheaval but both concerned Sinhalese and Tamils join hands to reject the opportunists on both sides and to form a coalition to implement such solutions proposed by UC and many other concerned individuals.

    What I would very much like to see in this column is a consensus for such reforms not picking on the writers for their ideology, territorial positioning and personal shortcomings. I sincerely believe that the common people of Sri Lanka both from the majority and minority communities are simple minded, compassionate and amicable people who are constantly confused and provoked by some of those religious, intellectual and political leaders of their communities. I hope that majority of the writers in this column would make an exception to this current state of affairs in this country.

  87. To Nalin – Kaduwela#74,
    Main land chinese settling in Canada is more the total number of settlers from India, Pakistan, Bangaladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal put together. In Toronto, Canada,s largest city, Chinese may be about 20% or more. Does this mean sometthing is lacking in China. What is lacking is understanding of events. Compare apple with apple not with orange.

  88. Mr Cooray, Sir, you have spoken my mind.

    JBSJ, please forgive me for posting this comment across 3 discussion threads. But this reply is more appropriate here.

    # Navin (#105 on http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/872#comments)

    I was refering to your statement there (# 63 on http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/819) “Tamils of Sri Lankan origin are the descendants of Tamils of Tamil Nadu”.

    Navin, what I was saying is that we, the Sinhalese, are ALSO descendants of Tamils of Tamil Nadu, according to the scientific DNA research (Wikipedia has the references that you asked for), and as far as I can see these conclusions have not been scientifically disputed so far.

    My point is, and using the Germany illustration, if the Nazis had won WWII and if it became subsequently scientifically proved and widely accepted that Hitler and the German people are ALSO descended from the Jews how will the German people of today handle this truth – having waged genocide on the basis of an untruth? How will the international community assess it? I feel SL is in such a scenario now and in the coming decades, unless we start to accept the facts and reflect it in our rhetoric and our behaviour (as we now have the scientific proof). But my question is, will the chauvinistic-racist-supremacist elements in the Sinhalese society allow the facts to be known – will they try to ban this research from being made public? Will we continue to teach our children lies?

    Navin, in directing the question to you I may have incorrectly assumed that you are one of those people who believes his origins are different to those of Tamils. If so, my apologies are offered.

  89. My in laws shared a house with a sinhalese family in 70s. Once their 6 year child repeatedly stabbed the pillow with a knife and said they have to kill tamils like this. Who created this anger and hatred in that child’s mind. You can’t blame VP . There is no future for Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka until sinhalese genuinely look for solutions and direct politicians..

  90. #90 Dilshan

    My family was over at our Sinhala friends’ house for dinner a few days after VP fell. During our conversation it was apparent that we (ordinary Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims) suffered the grave consequences of ill-conceived politics of the past (and present). We have also been exposed to very similar life experiences.

    My parents relocated the family to India in 1986 after the Tamil-Muslim riots in Batticaloa reached our doorsteps. We immigrated to Canada three years later. My Sinhala friend had to flee Sri Lanka in 1989 during the JVP revolt. He was a university student then – a prime target for armed gangs and white vans. There are several life stories akin to these.

    Ok, sorry for the detour. The point I wish to make is that almost all my Sinhala friends have advocated reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. In fact, my suggestion (comment #75) regarding military honors for fallen LTTE cadres was actually that of a Sinhala friend. His young cousin is spearheading a spirited effort (in Ottawa, Canada) to gather essential items for the IDPs.

    To answer your question: Have the Sinhalese become more tolerant. Well, I think the ordinary Sinhalese have always been tolerant. Generally, Tamils make the grave error of viewing the ruling class/clan and the average Sinhalese through the same prism. I will readily blame the so-called Tamil leadership (including the LTTE) for this.

    To continue on with what I said in #75; now that the government has missed the golden opportunity, in my humble opinion, it is up to the natural process of evolution to take over and bring the nation together. I hope now that the war is over chances, opportunities and avenues will open up for the different communities to mingle with each other.

    I can draw a good example from your comment #90 itself. You indicated that you have a number of Tamil employees. Surely, you didn’t think about what language they spoke when you hired them. I am sure such great examples are aplenty.

    As the son of GOSL civil servant I spent a number of years in Anuradhapura and Polanaruwa. Then as a refugee I spent a few years in two different states (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) in India. I must admit that I found that I had a lot more in common with our Sinhala brethren than with our friends across the Palk strait (no offence to Indian friends, I am eternally grateful to them for giving my family refuge) .

    My argument is that, as Mr.Cooray alludes to as well, there is NOT much that separate our (Muslim, Sinhala, Tamil) communities. It is our attitudes. It is our stubbornness to let go of the past and the prejudices.

    It has been 23 years since I left Sri Lanka as a kid. One day I hope to visit my hometown Batticaloa, participate in the traditional vesak celebrations with our sinhala brethren and share a great meal at one of the many wonderful restaurants owned by our Muslim brethren.


  91. *** 90 *** Dilshan F

    Respected Sir,

    Sub : Impairment of mental faculties.

    Your willingness to engage, transparency and clarity are commendable qualities. Worthy of emulation, by friend and foe alike.

    Sri Lanka defence, as you cited, complimenting on the valor of the best LTTE fighting cadres was a creditable gesture. Give credit where it is due. Alright.

    Magnanimity of the Sri Lanka defence notwithstanding, naked corpses of women cadres is what makes me curious. Dumb as I am, as could plainly see, asking inconvenient questions is my weakness.Perhaps, a vice too.

    Could you please educate me. Failing to hear from you, i assure you that i shall hold my peace for ever.

    Yours faithfully,
    Humble cg

  92. Thanks Mr Cooray for your thought provoking article.

    Anad also thanks for many of the commentators analysed this Forum. It is always educational to read such comments.

    In nutshell “Violence breeds violence” and “Corruption breeds corruption”.

    Let me give an earful to those who talked about castes.

    Specially to #1 Bandarage and #20 Damien.

    Damien wrote the following:

    “You people thei coorays and lBandarage’s are the racists who bring up this caste system to this blog. Unlike tamils sinhalese people are not petty caste mided.
    Don’t ever bring up this again, you racist.”

    Damien, you said Sinhalese are not petty caste minded as Tamils. That is totally untrue. Both S&T are equally corrupt with this pretentious caste system. However Tamils never carry caste (or village name) in their given Names. You cannot judge a Tamil person’s caste from his or her name.
    So who is petty minded?

    One more thing. Tamils never let religion mix with politics. Sinhalese, better smarten up if you want to bring SL forward.

  93. “In neighbouring India, the ruling elite has successfully built an Indian nation. That is a unique achievement in a country where there are many ethnic groups and over 300 languages and dialects. Inhabitants of India, whether they are from Kerala, or Bengal, Punjab or Maharashtra will always call themselves, first and foremost, Indians and not as Malayalees, Sikhs, Bengalis or Maratis. Until recently the President of India was a Muslim. Today the Prime Minister is a Sikh, the Interior Minister is a Dravidian, the Speaker of the Parliament is a Harijan and the leader of the ruling party is an Italian. They have achieved a unity in diversity which we can only dream of. We have failed because of the narrow and provincial outlook of our ruling elite.”

    Same thing in Canada. French, English, Italians, Indians……… can be PM and ministers.

    It is a fact. I am wondering whether it could happen in Sri Lanka. Until there is a unitary system it won’t happen in Sri Lanka.

  94. For crying out loud, when will you people get it it?

    cruse = crude

    There is no such thing as “cruse exhibition” leave alone “cruse exhibition of triumphalism”. It was meant to be crude, so at least correct this going forward. Just because U.Cooray made an error, it doesn’t mean the rest of society should quote verbatim.

  95. Nalin – Kaduwela 72

    I share the same view expressed by R Maran 80

    R. Maran well said.


    PS: anyone else sharing the same view as I have expressed? Please post.

  96. Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

    Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press.

    Pity the nation that acclaims the bull as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

    Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.

    Pity the nation that raises not its voice when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

    Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

    Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again.

    Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.

    Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

    (Khalil Gibran – The Garden of the Prophet, 1934)

    Well, that’s Sri Lanka isn’t it?

  97. Mr Cooray, the left movement is partly responsbile for the predicament facing Sri Lanka today. Their policy was to make everybody poor, and not everybody rich.
    One example was when JVP started their first revolution in 1971, they destroyed most of the businesses including the local village Mudalali’s store, which was the product of years of toiling and started as a little boutique. As far as the JVP was concerned. this Mudalali was a Dhanapatiya or a capitalist.

    Most of the people like yourself who were preaching
    socialism are now living in extreme capitalist countries.
    Even some of the JVP veterans are living in places like Canada, UK and Australia. Why don’t you people go and live in places like Cuba, Russia ( Russia is not socialist anymore anyway) or any other socalled socialist country, if socialism is so good. China is not socialist anymore either. People preach socialism when it suits them. Once they get rich and have a bit of social standing, all the socialist ideas goes out of he window. Some people show that they are socialists because it is fashionable, and they are hypocrits.

    You are suggesting a long list of things that should be done to improve SL. I wish you could come back to here
    and go to the villages and educate those poor people
    with your ideas. I am not sure by writing a letter to a nephew with all those dreams is going to help anyone.

    By the way, you mentioned about the Sinhala caste system. I can remember when I was a little boy when the Dhobi man come to our house, he was not given a chair to sit, and he had to sit on the floor, because he was supposed to be of lower caste. What a shame and what a inhuman way to treat another human being.
    The caste system is worse in the Tamil community, and
    if you are Wellala caste, you are doing allright. Others are not even allowed to enter the same temple, and I can remember there was some sort of trouble re. this
    banning of lower caste (supposed to be) people entering a temple in Jaffna. I wish I remembered the year. Therefore, it is not only Sinhala people who got this horrible caste system. It is dying anyway.

    I just want to ask Mr Cooray one question. Have you
    become a London Hamu now .?.

    I wish you happy retirement.

    Bye for now.

  98. 106. Nissanka | July 18th, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I think the year should be either 1962 or 1963 for your caste question. I was in Nainativu when the Nagapoosani Amman temple opened the doors for all. I left in 1964 to Jaffna for studies. I was at grade 7 or 8. I think the caste system will not die soon in Jaffna. A young married couple need a house to live. Then they have to go with the wishes of the person’s house they live as the economy is that great for the newly wed couple to find a house, specially with the sky rocketing land price. When parents give the house, you have to go with their thinking. Otherwise you are on the road. I wish the people there are economically O.K. for young couple to go out and start a new life. This house issue is the major concern. Internally everyone is aware that you can marry any one to start a family. I wish I am wrong and the home is not an issue. When LTTE force conscripted the kids in Vanni, the parents married them early. Then LTTE did not recognize those marriage. Land is is not costly in Vanni and if the government is willing to help then there is a way. The priority of the government is something else.

  99. To 106 Nissanka
    Well said son.
    These arm chair socialists can sit and dwell in the past and write all these articles about SrIianka. What matters now is to focus on the present and the future.The past including the LTTE ideology is history

    As you said ,the caste system is one of the worst forms of discrimination in SriLanka and In India.
    The education revolution in the sixties helped the rural and poor communities to educate their children,which helped the Sinhalese to over come the caste based discrimination .I am not sure about the situation among the Tamil community.

    What SriLanka needs is a home grown solution to bring the Tamil population to the main stream to live in harmony.Most of the Tamil population do this anyway.I am sure there are forward thinking Tamil leaders still in SriLanka who can think for themselves and are not tainted by the influence of the LTTE.These leaders should be able to work out an amicable solution with the government to live in peace and achieve prosperity and freedom for their people.

  100. K Easwaran 107 you are right when you say that the young
    people could not go against the wishes of their parents as they are depending on their parents for everything including
    the inheritance of the family wealth.

    The parents always say ” You get nothing from us if you marry that girl/boy”.

    Hopefully when people become more indepedent
    economically things will change.

    I am sure the people living in western countries
    are not aware of the people who are collecting phoo
    for a profession in places like Sri Lanka. They are treated
    as the lowest caste and they are called ‘Sakkiliyas’.
    What hope have they got ?.

    We can go on and on about social injustices till the
    cows come home, but I doubt things will change
    soon, because there are lot of folks who like to maintain
    status quo for their own survival.

    Such is life.

  101. Equality and Justice

    No point keeps blaming or defending VP and RP.

    But discrimination and atrocities were everywhere in Srilanka.

    Singhalese against Singhalese
    Killing of fifty eight thousand JVP members and families and Journalists

    Singhalese against Tamils
    Killings innocent Tamil civilians and tortured

    Tamils against Singhalese
    Killing innocent Singhalese civilians in the villages

    Tamils against Muslims
    Killings innocent Muslims in the villages and mosque and
    Ejected over hundred thousand Muslims from their homes.

    Tamils against Tamils
    In the name of the so called Freedom strulggle, countless killings and atrocities committed by LTTE and other Tamil groups.

    Inequality and Injustice are every where in Srilanka

    Simple example:
    Especially in Jaffna, we have separate catholic churches for each CAST
    And one step further so called low cast people are not even allow to enter in to the Hindu Temples.

    So do you thing Tamil and Singhalese languages are the only problem in srilanka?

    If you cannot find the Equality and Justice in Church, Temples or Mosque
    Where else you can find?????????

  102. Dr Stephen Jones (I hope it’s not like Dr Mervyn)
    You are quite good in propagating the wrong things as right, like the CNN or the Americans for e.g.

    a. It’s fine doing private practice – I know you haven’t considered the conflict of interest and the ethics behind it. Also you may not experience what others experience as your friends can sneak you before others in the queues (LOL)

    b. It’s fine killing Afghans ( because they are “Hated Afghans”) or you can kill the owners of “SWARNAMAHAL” because EAP-Edirisinghe was an extortionate lender, and it’s also fine killing anyone if they lend money on an agreement and you can’t pay it back; for GOD SAKE………. and it continues……………. it’s fine burning down all the shops and houses TAMIL’s owned because they had money, they are extortionist (getting very muddled)

    I don’t know where you are coming from are you a CAPITALIST or are you a confused JVP’er (who started eating there tail slowly) certainly you belong to the lost JHU or NFF, like and old lady coming out of the toilet .. …….. where am I , what’s going on?, who am I (LOL)

    I agree that I am wrong in saying that “Sri Lankan programmes are bala quality”


  103. #99, Hi Surious George.

    I wonder if you are making fun of me.

    Anyway to answer your question about ‘naked LTTE women cadres’. well obviousely you have looked and I am sure you looked at the Iraq beheading videos too.

    We all agree that there has to be dignity of the dead and treat them with respect. What if the bodies are booby trapped? I know that the LTTE and the GOSL did exchange bodies for quite some time through the ICRC.

    My excuse for the naked women is NOT sexual fun as you would see it but precaution for it not to blow up in your face. As for the guy who video the issue and put on the web he is the guy who made it worse.

    In a war zone there is no dignity. people die on both sides like flies and they lie there like rotting logs. There is never any dignity in war dead where you are exposed as a piece of meat.

    That is why my friend we must work to ensure that many more will not end up on a video either from the LTTE or GOSL

  104. Easwaren #76

    The book to read on the Sinhala-Muslim riots is ‘One Hundred Days in Ceylon’, written by a contemporary Indian resident in India, Armand de Souza. You can download a microfilmed version here
    or you can get a copy at bookshops in Lanka; it’s published by ‘Young Socialist Publications’.

    There is also an excellent paper on this by Michael Roberts. It is grotesquely unfair to paint these events as an example of Sinhalese fanaticism.

  105. Praveen | July 18th, 2009 at 10:47 pm
    Tamil problem will be the easiest one to solve if the powers that be are accommodative. Tamils are fed up with the police system. You give the police power to the local governments, like Municipality and Town councils on the basis of the local population under control of the Municipal chairman and Town council. No need to be to the Provincial Councils. This will solve this thuggery which affects the ordinary folks, Sinhalese or Tamils. All these thugs have political patronage. You know one DIG, then you are safe whether you are good or bad or ugly. If it is an IGP then very fine. The economy is going to be driven by the private sector and the private sector boss will hire Sinhalese or Tamils who ever makes more money for his boss if the economy is competitive. Money and sex have no religion, no language, no race whatever that means or caste, I know what it means.

    You do not need to change the present language policy or anything else. If learning Sinhala language will help you make more money then not only Tamils, but even a Chinese will learn it. In a long run with a booming economy, private sector will attract talented and over achievers. I am neither a capitalist nor a communist. Social insurance system with private sector can meet our requirements.
    The very difficult issue is the caste and we have to really boom economically to buy a house/appartment on mortage to overstep this caste issue. When you do 40hours security guard job with your spouse doing some 20 hours of another odd job will enable you to get a mortgage for small house in Canada. This should be the aim of our politicos. These politicians have an unabashed greed for power and they use these thugs as the stepping stones. Then the thugs die in shoot outs on the wayside but the politicos survive. From my younger days point of view, a saree clad Tamil young lady is a treat to watch. In the simlar situation, taditional saree clad Sinhalese lady is another equally charming beauty. If you undress them then there is really no difference at all. One and the same. I am sixty and I am not vulgarising it. One and the same takes different form in a multi cultural environment still exuding beauty in every angle. I do not say that western dress is bad: not at all. That is another angle of beauty but I, being a village boy 30 to 40 years back, was quite happy with saree. That is all. I have two daughters, one is West and the other is East in their dress. Both are fine with me and do very well in their studies too.

  106. Give us our homeland Eelam.
    Go fly a kite.

    Give us federalism.
    Two hoots.

    Give us equality & justice.
    Go get the crumbs. or else jump into the ocean.

    What about the past , your Excellency.
    Damn. Look ahead.

    Tamils need a fair share of the pie, Sir.
    Bad precedent.

    How about reconciliation, Sir,
    Good idea.

    Bad press !
    Use white vans.

    Human rights?
    We grow everything at home.

  107. Modernity sought to explain human conflict in terms of class proletariat vs bourgeosie and dared the overthrow of one by the other for the promise utopia.

    Post-modernity explains human conflict in the demography of hunger and overpopulation. We must begin the Herculean task of building and guarding the health of a population to for the Utopian society to emerge.

  108. The Caste System.

    The caste system is inevitable because we have, in all of India and Sri Lanka since ancient times, the deeply engrained concept of ‘karma’. The concept of karma makes inevitable the belief and expectation that people are NOT born equal. At the same time, it explains to the believers (which is most people) that someone currently born into bad circumstances is a bad person who has done bad things in a past life. And are here now to be punished. Which is why, they believe, they are born into a family/society that cleans lavatories and ‘Dhobies’ for instance (as mentioned earlier in this discussion). I was taught these as a child.

    I think, as long as karma continues to be taken as fact we will always have the caste system – or the same kind of branding/discrimination under another name. But karma is such a deeply and widely held belief in SL it will never go away. Therefore, the caste system – or rather the ‘belief in the inequality of birth’ – will never go away.

    I don’t know whether there is a movement/body in SL that examines the social consequences of our ancient beliefs. This is just one of the fundamental issues I think. Mr Cooray raises a few more. about the origins of the ‘races’, which again is shrouded in myth, political agendas. I have commented elsewhere my view that the conflicts and barriers to harmony in our country lie in the fact that it is considered taboo to question these ‘traditions’.

  109. comment 57-erambu edirisinghe

    just curious. madhivadhani erambu from punguduthivu has your name. have you got tamil ancestry? we are all a “acharu” on this tiny island , you know. the prolem is when you land here for some reason or other cant go back easily because of the sea. better to marry someone here and settle down.

  110. ISS, Easwaran et al,

    Thanks for pointing out that the cream of the first world countries such as Canada and the UK have largely eradicated graft, cronyism and latent racism well done to those countries on their achievements!
    Was this ever in doubt?
    But let’s be practical & honest, Sri Lanka is not in the realm of UK, Aust, Canada so why compare apples and Oranges, we would have to be at a special level of naiveté to expect the same standards of a small third world country that has just experienced a 30 year civil war. Despite posturing from people in this forum and others in the grand ivory towers NY, Geneva and London, the problems that face Sri Lanka are neither unique nor un-common for countries at this stage of economic and social development.
    • Where ever you find heterogeneous populations with a numerically dominant sub group, there are always issues of minority rights – look at Uighurs in China, Christians in Indonesia, Hindu’s in Malaysia, Aborigines in Canada, Australia, and Kurds in Turkey.
    • Where ever you find poverty you find graft, cronyism & influence peddling
    • Where ever you find poverty you find exploitation

  111. Gamini 119

    I fully agree with you,and this is what I was writing in my blogs before too. Sri Lanka is a poor third world country
    and people living in Western countries expect same
    standards from SL too. Either these people are plain stupid or
    they are looking for excuses to attack our beloved Sri Lanka.
    Sri Lanka, a third world country was made worse thanks
    to Tamil Diaspora and their boys, the LTTE.

    When the hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans we all found
    out what sort of lives the blacks were living in the richest country in the world,USA. Until then it was hidden
    and the whole world was under the impression that all the citizens of USA were having equal rights and good standard of living. When these people were in that
    indoor stadium, there was rape, looting and all sorts of bad things.

    Life in the land of plenty over there in down under
    Australia for the aborigines are not very rosy either.
    Some of the Aborigines in Australia are living under worse conditions than the IDPs in SL, but this is all hidden
    and the Aussies don’t want the rest of the world to know about it.

    In Malaysia the social structure is well set and no one is challenging this situation, as they know what they will get if they do. For example the lowest jobs like sweeping the street, cleaning etc. is done by none other than Tamils from
    Sri Lanka and India. Same situation in Singapore too.

    I wish Mr Cooray wirtes another letter to his grand nephew
    and explain these things too. As far as Mr Cooray is concerned, anyone who doesn’t agree with his point of view
    is an imbecile.

    C ya

  112. 113. Stephen Jones | July 19th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I downloaded the book on the link and that is a different one. It is a general outline of the collection and arrangements of books.

  113. 119. Gamini | July 19th, 2009 at 9:16 pm,
    I only recommend the police system of Canada to Sri Lanka. Canada is super rich in natural resources and a huge country. We cannot emulate it. I sincerely believe that Sinhala politicians and the thugs with the connivance of the security setup are behind the violence perpetrated on the Tamils. General Sinhalese population do not actively participate in it. However, they have other issues and ignore Tamils issue.
    In Canada, even if you are a Phd holder, you need someone in a firm to get an interview, forget about the job. That is how business works here. Generally, this is the setup. Many doctors, engineers, Phds and masters degree holders are driving Taxies, delivering piza etc. Politicians of Canada are very firm on onething, that they would not interfere with police, rather they would add facilities to them. To be honest, Canada and USA are police states. You are free to say anything but when you receive a notice from a lawer for what you said, you shiver. So we keep quiet.

    If Tamils wants separation, it is not that they want to walk away from their Sinhalese neighbours. No, They want to walk away from a nefarious system that humiliates them.

    I give you a simple example below. There is going to be conference on “Water Resources Development Sanitation Improvement Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka” to be held at the University of Surrey with Mott McDonlad consulting firm. The main driving force behind this is Professor Kuganesarajah of Cambridge University. He is from my school and two years senior to me at Peradeniya. He collected funds from his friends from all over the globe and from other sources. The government of Sri Lanka, Irrigation Department and our universities did not bother to research. Water is a real issue in Jaffna and our Government never addressed it. He wanted to send me an invitation which I declined, saying that I cannot make money as a structural engineer in Canad to afford the ticket. Otherwise, I would have gone. So everything is not rosy in Canada, take the best, leave the rest.

  114. 110. Das | July 19th, 2009 at 7:27 am
    Either you are ignorant or deliberately twisting issues.
    All are allowed into temples and churches in Jaffna. If you have slept for 40years, then it is not our fault.
    I agree that cast is an issue but not in temples and churches, but in marriages. This can only change with economical improvement. Economical improvement is the government issue.

  115. Can anyone in this tread tell us, why Tamils don’t want to live in the Land of Tamils – Tamil Nadu? Tamils have a country, but no one seem to want to go there, but Canada, USA, UK, Australia, etc, and even Norway. Why?
    Why not Tamil Nadu – the Land of Tamils? What’s wrong with Tamil Nadu? Why shouldn’t Tamils call Tamil Nadu as their country, as Hebrews call Israel as their country? Is there something wrong with tamil Nadu?

  116. To #117

    Please don’t bring up “karma” as the excuse for the caste system. By discriminating people because they are from a so called low caste, a person will definitely create bad Karma!!

  117. Easwaran 114

    From my younger days point of view, a saree clad Tamil young lady is a treat to watch. In the simlar situation, taditional saree clad Sinhalese lady is another equally charming beauty. If you undress them then there is really no difference at all. One and the same. I am sixty

    You are a funny old man.

    When my laughter subsided I thought maybe what Sri Lanka needs is not a political revolution but a sexual revolution.

    In the words of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, “fucking is the same as shooting.”

    Tamils and sinhalese should make love not war.

    Fathers should stop locking up their daughters from fear of village hooligans making eyes. It is good for them to learn your observation.

    Maybe you could be the first to lend your daughters to this cause?

  118. 126. RS Wickramasinghe | July 20th, 2009 at 1:26 pm
    I pointed out the similarity and the cultural diversity and the beauty going with it.
    Anything beyond is your choice.
    You will never resolve Tamil issue with this idea. You will only encourage more raping of Tamil girls or you may actually participate in it. It is not worth communicating further with you.

  119. It is indeed a very good article, bringing years of experience together of a socialist and a lawyer at that. I am very pleased your grandnephew responded positively to your extremely valuable advice. This letter taken together with many comments, especially the ones from K Easwaran and ISS et al, makes a lot of sense. I am extremely pleased that a Nakeeb M Issadeen a Muslim finds comfortably able to participate in the discussion.

    Notwithstanding your liberal, high-mindedness there appears an aversion, to put it mildly, against Tamil ultra-nationalists. I believe by Tamil ultra-nationalists you mean Tamil Tigers and their support base.

    You see Mr Cooray, Tamils have always been and always will be God-fearing, peace-loving community in Sri Lanka. And, until the civil-war broke out, Tamils were the most law-abiding community in the whole island. To brand a section of them as ultra-nationalists pardon me for saying so is highly irresponsible. This ultra-nationalism of Tamils which you so derogatorily refer to is nothing more than:

    Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!

    If there werent Sinhala racism constantly rearing its ugly head against Tamils, there wouldnt be the so-called Tamil ultra-nationalism. Tamils have no need or inclination to create any problems in Sri Lanka. Their problem is to put an end to the oppression to they are subjected to by the Sinhala Fascists. In the present setup any Tamil who manages to get into government would only work to promote Sinhala racist interests Tamils have no proper, strong and reliable political representation in the government, and will never be allowed such strength in government.

    The international community acted highly irresponsibly as regards Tamil Tigers and Tamils in general. Everyone would say that the Tamil issue should be resolved in a just manner but behind the scenes provide military, financial and diplomatic support to Fascist Sinhala government and thus knowingly pampered them. If the international community did not give the support they did, Sarath baby killer Fonseka would never have been able to win militarily over Tamils everyone knows that for certain.

    Had the Sinhala Fascists been not given the military, intelligence, financial and diplomatic support by the international community there would never have been the opportunity to wipe out our stupendous leadership. Now the Tamils have NEVER been more vulnerable in the entire history in Sri Lanka thanks to the international communitys efforts to find a JUST solution for the Tamil National Question!

    Do keep writing.

  120. # 124 Ariya

    Yes I can.

    Excellent question. The answer is simple.

    Tamils are civilized enough to live anywhere.

    Mind you, no innuendo implied or suggested.

    Moral : Do not bite more than you could chew.

  121. #124. Ariya ,
    Answer to your question, please check the profile of Swiss, out of 7.5M 69% are Germans & 19% French. Tamils are continually living in this land and they have the right to life, just because Tamils are living in India / Tamil Nadu, you cannot ask them to go there, unless you must ask all the Sinhalese to go to Vijaya’s land. FYI most of our Government university educated Sinhalese (not to mention studied in our tax money) also migrating to western countries for what?

    Guys, Uncle Upali gave clear picture of our land, in fact he pointed out issues we the Sinhalese and Tamils are facing.
    Issues like fabricated history.
    True relationship between our race (in fact we both call our mother as AMMA not maamaa or mamy),
    Buddhism is a way of life but not a ethnic identity and it was followed by Tamils as well (I have come a cross some of Tamils follows Buddhism but not to called themselves as Buddhist)
    Denying the rights of fellow citizen including Tamils and Muslims
    Difference between amongst Tamils and ill-treatment of their own
    Living in the past eg one of our Past Presidents funeral speech of your people and our people (do you know that linguistic President can speak more then 6 languages but could not speak Tamil and her father preached us to study in our mother language but send his children to western Colleges hahahaha)

    Now how can we transform the issues into opportunity, yes our literature rate is well above 90% – meaning 90% Sri Lankan can read and write but what is the ratio of graduates? Less then 10% where India with 50% of literature rate produces more graduates then Sri Lanka (just because our leaders thinks that we dont need much graduates and not enough jobs to offer at the same time we are the number one exporters of house maids).

    We have enough schools but lack of universities. We are not bothered to open universities but we are encouraging private sector to open up so called International Schools How can I stop my laughter at our ministry of Education?

    The world is the market and we can export skilled workers if we have excess of brain and skill employees but not to allow them to migrate west and create brain drain.

    The bottom line is our Leaders are making us fools with clear vision to depress our rights and values to keep the ordinary citizen as undeclared slaves needless to mention that some doesnt have any vision to lead us but carrying on politics as business (some as family business).

    In the name of nationalism our leaders ( including DS, SWRD, Srima, JR, Ashraff, Amitalingam, Devananda, MR, Praba the list will go on & on) are make sure we the citizen live with hatred and distrust amongst the communities.

    What we can do?

    A lot my friend, if we all get together we can move forward as Sri Lankan not as superior or second class citizen I am Ready are you?
    Just one example of turning A/L boys to Graduates, have a close look at schools, after 2.00pm most of the schools are like ghost house, a national waste. We can make those schools as evening college affiliate to a Sri Lankan university.

  122. “If Tamils wants separation, it is not that they want to walk away from their Sinhalese neighbours. No, They want to walk away from a nefarious system that humiliates them.”

    Thanks for pointing out this most important of facts. The Tamils never had, nor do they have at present, any animosity towards the Sinhalese. We have never considered the possibility of taking over land that is majority Sinhalese. Sinhalese were always welcome in LTTE controlled areas – it is the Sri Lankan Government that discouraged them from going there. For example, it was the Sri Lankan Government that asked Sinhalese to leave Jaffna, not the LTTE.

    Some Sinhalese nationalists have chosen to stereotype diaspora Tamils as “shoeshiners”, “toilet scrubbers”, and “asylum seekers.” We the Tamil diaspora have yet to come up with such names for the other side. I would also point out, we the Tamils have never sought to ban the Sinhalese voice from speaking out. We have never supported censorship in any way, shape, or form.

    There may be a racist here and there among the Tamils. But overall, we are simply too educated to engage in such trivial nonsense for very long. That is why, despite the fact that we could have easily extended the Eelam struggle to the whole island, we only asked for what is ours – e.g. the traditional homeland.

  123. Eswara – 123

    You are the one out of touch with Tamil society.

    Even in Europe we have cast issues in Tamil catholic churches.

    Except common places like Nallur temple or Jaffna Cathedral everywhere else cast system exists in temples and Churches with blessing of Priest and Iyar.

    This is 101% true.

  124. #125 Asoka2 – Caste

    Let me explain why I see ‘caste’ as related to ‘karma’.

    The doctrine of karma goes back perhaps even ten thousand years to the beginnings of Hinduism. Most people believe in karma around the Indian Sub Continent, and is deeply engrained. Cleary you do too.

    I believed in karma also from a very young age. It was ‘the way it is’ as explained to me by my elders, my Buddhist teachers. I had no reason to consider anything else. Now, as an agnostic, I do not know whether such a system exists in the cosmos. But it is not important whether it exists, but whether we think that it does, and how our behaviour is dictated by what we think.

    The point I am making is, we have many behaviours today that trace back to ancient belief systems, some good some bad. One could argue that most of our behaviours can be traced back to ancient thinking (except in civilisations that have intellectually progressed, by definition). For a thinking person this is a fascinating topic of discovery. For a person who desires a peaceful future for our country it is a topic that has to be addressed. If we do not solve problems at the root we are just ‘papering over’ the symptoms only.

    But before we can come anywhere close to actually solving problems we have to first acknowledge the factors that may be the cause of them. Unfortunately, as you have demonstrated (#125), such an endeavour involves the dirty business of confronting our own prejudices and mis-information. In Sri Lanka, not only are we constantly in denial but the very people who we trust as our spiritual leaders fuel the problem even more, so to serve their own agenda.

    Let me ask you, as a rational person, how would you reconcile (1) your belief in karma with (2) your belief that all humans are born equal?

    I have mentioned before on another thread, Lord Buddha implored us to ask these questions (The Kalama Sutra).

    Going back to me as a child, my elders told me that the reason why beggars (lower caste) are beggars is because they have done something bad in a previous life. This justified an acceptance that that is as it should be – the law of the cosmos as taught in our ancient religious teachings – the reality as known for tens of thousands of years. Hence, as a child it never entered my mind that, if this beggar went to my school when he was a child and had the advantages that I had he could also be (say) on the internet taking part in this discussion.

    But why do we get so upset when we explore ‘possible reasons’? I though about this a bit. Evidently, in this example, you see ‘caste is bad’. ‘Karma’ is good. ‘Caste’ belongs to a foreign civilisation of which I disapprove. ‘Karma’ is ours. So pausing to explore a connection between the two is very distressing. But isn’t this only because we have a pre-existing prejudice?

  125. Good to hear that Tamil Diaspora is playing Sinhala Baila
    at their dinner parties.

    In fact I have some favourite Tamil songs I love listening to.

    Let use hope that we can find few more things that bring our two communities together.

  126. #131. Dinesh Gopalapillai:

    Sinhalese were always welcome in LTTE controlled areas

    Really? Then why did they go on to butcher Sinhalese like lab rats? Are you this blind? LTTEs problem was not that they hated Sinhalese or that they were Tamil but they had no humanity at all. It was as is if they had been lifted up from several million years ago in primordial history and dumped in to the modern society. LTTE was not just an indisciplined army but an army of (very primitive, cannibalistic) cut throats much worst than under world thugs in Colombo. I’m ashamed that we as a country can produce such people in these times.

    There may be a racist here and there among the Tamils. But overall, we are simply too educated to engage in such trivial nonsense for very long. That is why, despite the fact that we could have easily extended the Eelam struggle to the whole island, we only asked for what is ours – e.g. the traditional homeland.

    I have no problem with Tamils identifying N&E as their homeland but I cannot agree with you on claiming N&E as your own. Its ours (belongs to Sinhalese) as much as its yours. Tamils cannot claim exclusive rights over N&E. Please go study history and don’t begin your study when Arya Chakrawarthi establishes his rule in Jaffna.

  127. Response to Navin, #135:

    I don’t blame you for your ignorance. I have never seen such shoddy journalism, such a blatantly censored media, that distorts the facts, as I did when I was in Sri Lanka. If I was exposed to such propaganda day after day, I am sure that I too would have this black and white picture of the LTTE.

    Now, if I told you the LTTE ran corruption-free banks, law courts, schools, a police, a tax system… if I told you the LTTE built submarines, planes, artillery, minted money, set up satellite communication systems, even created their own passports, I am sure you would dismiss it with a nod of your head. After all, you being from the South, you are used to a corrupt and inefficient Government that must hire outsiders to build a simple port and operate radar.

    But my friend, history tells the biggest truth. Whatever the faults of the British, they built a successful administration. It was they, for example, who imported tea and when the Kandyans refused to work, it was they, the British that found a willing labor source. Now… I find it interesting that even after 60 years, the revenue garnered from this domestic enterprise, put in place by foreigners, far exceeds any source of income that the Sri Lankan Government has come up with (it even exceeds that gained from begging loans). That is one striking example. Now continuing… what has the 99.9% Sinhala-Buddhist Government accomplished after 60 years? It has driven the intellectuals (from both communities) away, it has harassed its minority citizens, and it has made a mockery of parliamentary democracy via nepotism, jumbo-cabinets, Emergency Regulations, Executive Presidencies, and saffron clad thugs in the Parliament. My friend, all I can say is, if Sinhalese had any pride, they should not only give the Tamils a separate State, they should do so on one bended knee. Speaking of Arya Chakrawarthi, Sri Lanka will be one big Orissa/Bihar very soon. Orissa/Bihar are known for being backwards, just like so much of North India. Whereas, Tamil Nadu just happens to be one of the 4 richest states in India. Now you want to play the Aryan/Dravidian game, be my guest. The history of India is a very good indicator.

  128. 132. Das | July 21st, 2009 at 4:04 am
    I am comtemplating to stop writing as I see no point. I am from Nainativu, a small sleepy island of 3 squaremiles. In 1962 or 1963 they opened the very famous Temple, Nagapoosany Amman Temple, to all. My great great grand father was a major share holder of that temple. Now we have no dealings. There is another Temple, Veerapathirar Temple. That is now 50% managed by the so called lowercaste people. When I worked in the Education Department, My boss was from the lowest rung of the caste system. He was my batchmate at Peradeniya. He became the Director School Works in Trincomale for N-E Provincilal Government. I can not use this page to keep going like this. Dowry and caste play havoc in our system and we are unable to economically advance so that younger generation could easily get job and get mortgae on the strength of their monthly income to marry the girl/boy he/she likes. Sinhalese would not allow us to do that too.

  129. 136. Dinesh Gopalapillai | July 21st, 2009 at 5:33 pm
    My final comment here.
    Dinesh, Sinhalese call us Kallaththonni, where as they themseves are Kallaththonni, according to their Mahavamsa. I am not asking them to go back to Orissa. 10000 years ago, the sea level was more than 125m lower than the present sealevel. The Jaffna Clock Tower is just about 25m. The land area between India and Jaffna Peninsula was a rainforest. Most probably Tamils walked north and south. Very simple to walk 20miles, 10hours job at the most. An English diving team found the remnants of a city in 2002 off the coast of Mahapali puram, and it is supposed to be the Poompugar, the city of Sangam lore.
    Canadian government gave me citizenship after three years where as Sri Lanka repatriated more than half a million workers from the land they toiled like slaves for more than 100years. That is Buddha Thamma.
    We can stand straight while these guys stoop to any level. Killing 30000 in a week is a humanitarian task. I am sure there will be retribution, divine or not.

  130. 136. Dinesh Gopalapillai :
    There is no point in me trying to talk sense into you.

    117. Haroon:
    Please read 136: This is what I call chauvinism– the belief that one’s own race is superior, more capable, etc. etc to another.

  131. Dinesh,

    Your anger is understandable. As a Sinhalese, but human being of liberal conscience first, I too mourn the suppression decline and cannibalisation of civil society by the necromancers of the state.

    If your anger and defensiveness subsides for a bit you will acknowledge that the LTTE ran an administration that mirrored the GoSl in many many ways.

    I have met Tamil diaspora businesspeople who were deeply uncomfortable with the collections undertaken by the LTTE and the total refusal to account even in a basic way for the monies they demanded. They knew just as with the GoSL that a culture of corruption existed among their own leaders. Witness the doublecross of Karuna and the reasons that underlay that.

    It is also true that the people of Jaffna had later misgivings about the brutal and animalistic order that LTTE imposed on them. Which was the lesser of two evils, the LTTE or the GoSL was always a matter of doubt. Whichever one gave them the opportunity to go on with their own lives in whatever normal pragmatic way was possible after the senseless spirals of violence in this god-awful mess became the first preference.

    The maxim is true for both Tamil and Sinhalese: absolute power corrupts absolutely, that is the tragedy of the modern Sri Lanka.

    You brag about the achievements of Tamil Nadu relative to the north, but even there the trajectory of the modern state has followed a predictable path. which V.S Naipaul described as “words, waste and the revival of old grievances”. This is more or less the path taken by the Sri Lankan state since independence.

    Easwaran, you are a thoughtful commentator and your earlier anecdotes were a revealing window into a society in the north I am slowly coming to understand better. I mocked you earlier, but mainly because I am bemused that alongside all this political,historical, cultural debate about the roots of this conflict, the politics of sex is not far removed . I suppose it is in every conflict.


    DBSJ has made the point that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Yes there are many issues that remain in Sri Lanka, and the way this war ended has created many more. But at the end of the day you better serve the Tamils by reaching out to the silent majority of sinhalese who are empathetic/sympathetic to the Tamil people, while being critical of the state on the issues facing the Tamils from a non-separatist position. Peace brother.

  132. #134. Nissanka,
    Its time to go forward and not to find fault who is right and wrong.
    Thanks for the Positive Note

  133. 137 # K.Easwaran

    Please do not stop writing.

    Do not give up your freedoms.

    If you need a cheer leader , i am always at your service.

    You are my legend. Trust me.

    Netri kannai thirappinum kuttam kuttame.

    Even if the guy opens the eye on the forehead, guilt is guilt.

    Quote from Thiruvillaiaddal

    Just stay on course. Never give up. Have a good day.

  134. Reply to #139, Navin:

    I suppose the truth must hurt? That the British were far better administrators than consecutive Sinhalese-dominated governments… already I gave the example of tea. Now I extend my example to practically every other institution in Sri Lanka. The only reason these institutions exist at all today is because the British built solid foundations. I hesitate to think where Sri Lanka would be today if instead of the British, the Moghuls had had their run of the place. The “Government” would consist of a monarchy with a “cabinet” composed of a dozen or so monks.

    Now you cannot answer this question, but it is worth asking anyway: what have consecutive Sinhalese Governments done to modernize the above institutions (education, healthcare, courts, military, civil service, etc.)? Answer is nothing worthwhile. All of these institutions are in fact experiencing one crisis or another. The average person has very little faith in them. Quality is for the elite who can pay.

    Now the only remaining question is… why has Sri Lanka not yet collapsed fully, after 60 years. Answer is globalization. Remittances from those who go abroad, large loans from the West and tea and tourism. One simple description suffices: luck. Count your lucky stars; if Sri Lanka was not blessed by geography and charity, it would easily be another Somalia.

  135. Dinesh machang,

    You must stop this bogus bullshit bogey. Minus the ethnic conflict (nurtured by India) the achievements of the Sri Lankan state post-independence mirror still exceed that of your beloved Tamil Nadu. High literacy, universal primary health-care, food security, anti-casteism and the socio-cultural-economic advantages of being a coastal territory. You claim Sri Lanka has been kept afloat by globalisation, but one could argue your beloved Tamil Nadu with its ascendent “techno-coolie” culture is the same. Aney machang, they too have their tasteless retinue of posers and crooks and false communal pride.

  136. I still ask the same question; “What’s wrong with Tamil Nadu?” Why can’t a Tamil love the Land of Tamils? Why do they love western countries?

  137. Ariya,

    Don’t let your sarcasm get in the way of facts. Plenty of Tamils were chased away to Tamil Nadu, some 100,000 in fact as refugees, giving the Indians locus standi to interfere in Sri Lankan affairs.

  138. Ariya #145.

    re. your question to ???
    Then, why don’t we the Sinhalese also go back to Tamil Nadu – as 70% of each one of our ancestors, including yours, came from there (references in Wikipedia under Sinhala)?
    Why don’t the English go back to Holland or France? Why don’t the African-Americans go back to West Africa? It’s such a silly question to ask in the 21st century. And, we’re not ‘Ariyans’ either, not many blue-eyed blondes among my family. I suggest you read Mr Cooray’s piece a little more closely, then get a DNA test yourself – it’s painless and costs little – you’ll learn a bit more about us. Or read the existing research that has been conducted and published covering all the indegenous populations of Sri Lanka.

    We have been brought up on a whole string of myths which suited the people at the time hundreds of years ago. Today we know different. Do you?

  139. # 145 Ariya

    Great question again. Thank you.

    Arboreal existence and life on terra firma are two different worlds. .

    Please try to come down from the canopy as early as possible. Once you get used to solid ground, we shall talk.

    Transition is a difficult task. Feel free to ask for assistance.

  140. #144:

    “High literacy, universal primary health-care, food security, anti-casteism…”

    All of the above were accomplished by the British. I am sure the terms “Salagama, Govigama, Karava, and Rodhaya” ring a bell… so much for equality! There were a few landowners with big estates and many peasants – such was the nature of your Sinhala “kingdoms” in the South and Kandy. High literacy means very little these days. Knowing how to read and write will not get you a job. Universal health care – is that why more than 1000 people have died from dengue so far? What is this health care system that fails to prevent or contain an outbreak of disease? Food security – last time I was in Sri Lanka, I was amazed at how thin, on average, people are. Except, of course, the politicians.

    By the way, it was the LTTE that broke the caste mentality in Jaffna. If your early *Sinhalese* politicians had not tried to make fools of Ponnambalam, Chelva, etc., the caste system would have been enough to prevent any insurrection. But you choose to discriminate in every sphere, making life impossible, especially for the youth. No system can hold back angry youth – witness the JVP.

  141. “High literacy, universal primary health-care, food security, anti-casteism…”
    All of the above were accomplished by the British.

    Rubbish; education and health care were the result of Senayake’s tireless work in the future. The push for food security came from Dudley.

  142. In the thirties refers to a period under colonial rule… independence was only there in 1948. So you contradict yourself.

  143. I consider every Sri lankan as a son or daughter of Mother Lanka. I have many friends and I dont care what Nationality, race or religion they are. I am convinced that any division of Sri lanka on ethnic lines will lead to a sad situation with even more conflict. What we need is a just society in Sri lanka where race, religion or cast etc would not in any way be a hindrance and every inch of land should be available to any Sri lankan to live in if they chose to with complete freedom and safety. No Northern or North Eastern Homeland for Tamils and no Southern or Hill country homeland for Sinhalese. Sri lanka belongs to all. I believe that Cultures can be preserved and cross cultural fertilisation will only bring benefits. The Sinhalese and Tamils have far more in common than differences. They have common origins as suggested but the reality is that a Tamil person feels a Tamil and a Sinhala person feels a Sinhalese. To deny that would be to deny reality. To deny that, Tamils in Sri lanka have endured a lot of hardship and difficulties for the mere fact that they were Tamils would be dishonest. However, if any Tamil does not recognise the reality that the majority race and religion in Sri lanka is Sinhalese and Buddhism respectively and that this is bound to influence our Society (and I don’t mean favouritism at the expense of minorities which is one of the dangers but not an inevitable consequence of being a minority), the only way for them to feel comfortable in a non-integrated environment is to pursue the unrealistic goal of a Tamil Eeelam. It is a shame if moderate Tamils were also pushed into this belief because of the failure of successive governments to implement a just Constitution. What they saw was a series of broken promises which ultimately led to the biggest disaster Sri lanka and all its people ever faced, i.e., the birth of the LTTE, an inhuman terrorist organisation which led to unimaginable damage to Sri lanka and its people, in every possible way, both directly and indirectly. Although it would be wrong to gloat in the defeat of the LTTE, it is quite natural to regard it as a victory and celebrate it in an appropriate and sensitive way, by all communities.

    My personal view is that we are one Nation and I would promote integration at all levels leading to the end of the Sinhalese and Tamil racial identities and the birth of a true Sri lankan identity, but although I am in idealist and humanist at heart, I am also a realist and I know that this wont happen. I would like to see opportunities being given to every school child and for that matter every citizen, to learn Sinhala, Tamil and English. Wouldnt it be lovely if we are all trilingual and if our religion is a personal matter which would not in any way influence our opportunities and aspirations? Wouldnt it be lovely if all of us could appreciate the rich Sinhala and Tamil literature and musical culture? Wouldnt it be lovely if caste becomes a bad word confined to history? Ah yes, it is nice to dream!

    The war is over but the battle can be won only by acceptance from both sides that underlying grievances which made Tamil people feel like second class citizens in their own country must be tackled head on. This is a two stage process and the first is an acceptance of the fact. It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who still say grievances? What grievances? When the first condition is met, i.e recognition and acceptance, then the second stage should follow, i.e, take the necessary action to remedy this and work genuinely towards establishing a Society where your religion and race will not in any way disadvantage you. Any problems should be dealt with in a civil way and not by violence. The past does matter and cannot be swept under the carpet. For example, the huge disparity in the proportion of Tamils in Universities and Govt jobs was a direct result of the methods used by the British Raj and the Missionaries. No one can seriously assert that this was because the Tamils are more intelligent for example. The Tamils have to accept that with favouritism disappearing and educational facilities becoming better and more disseminated, the balance is bound to change. And this balance is not just between Tamils and Sinhalese, it is also within their own communities. The chances of a rural sinhala person or a rural Tamil person entering University are much higher than say, post independence. This is even reflected in the Cricket Team. In the days gone by, it was Royal, St Thomas’s, St Peters, St Benedict’s, Anananda and Nalalanda that produced our cricketers (Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim Moors etc). Now it is wonderful to have chaps from Maha vidyalayas who can hardly speak English (and I do not in any way say that in a derogatory sense)! The move away from the highly advantageous position the Tamils enjoyed was bound to change even without standardisation or positive discrimination as a result of natural evolution. Even the much maligned Standardisation disadvantaged not just Tamils but also Sinahala people in Colombo for example. These are realities which Tamils have to accept. They should try and understand why there is so much bitterness especially within the older Sinhala generation who witnessed the unfairness experienced by the Sinhala people within Colonial rule when to be Sinhalese and Buddhist were twin disadvantages. By the same token, the senior Sinhalese generation should be in a better position to understand how terrible it must be to be disadvantaged because you are not a Sinhalese or a Buddhist. Two wrongs do not make a right. What the minorities such as the Tamils can and should demand is that they should not be discriminated in any way because they are Tamils and that they should enjoy all the rights and safeguards (such as the Right to communicate in the language of their choice and observe their Cultural practices) that any citizen of Sri lanka could expect. If however, people can truly feel Sri lankan, such differences would not exist as we are all Sri lankan. The fact that there will be a higher proportion of Sinhalese if an ethnic analysis is done, would merely be a statistic and a reflection of the ethnic mix of the country. Does it matter? No at all if we all have the same rights.

    Finally, the place of Buddhism It is one of the most tolerant of religions (just one of the many good things we got from India!) and if so called Buddhists live the true life of a Buddhist, there will be no place for anger, hatred, jealousy, fear and paranoia but just true love, brotherhood and tolerance. I believe that all people innately have these qualities which just need encouragement and nurturing.

    Let us learn from the Past but not live in it. Let us move forwards towards a Sri lanka blessed with economic prosperity within a tolerant and just society for all its citizens irrespective of race and religion.

    I have been silent because I have an enormous sense of guilt as a Sri lankan living comfortably abroad ( for reasons I dont want to go into) and in many ways, I dont feel I have the right to comment, especially to those Sri Lankans who had the opportunity to seek better pastures abroad, like I had. Nevertheless, in the words of Sir Walter Scott, – Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land! Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned, as home his footsteps he hath turned, from wandering on a foreign strand! “

  144. Dinesh #143 makes a point about the impact of the British. Sorry if the truth surprises some negatively.

    Dinesh’s point is true of many countries colonised by civilisations that were more advanced in administration, science, exploration etc. For example, the Greeks could not care about their archeology – the ancient ruins were being vandalised and pilfered by the locals over the centuries. The British introduced the culture of protecting heritage. Similarly in Ceylon, the ruins of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were left to rot in the jungles for some 700 years until the British explorers stumbled across them in the 1820s. Even then the local SL people had no interest in clearing the jungle, for 50 years. In the end the clearing of the jungle was ordered by the British and the ruins excavated. The Mahavamsa was discovered and translated into English from Pali in 1826, also by a British, called George Turnour. The SL people did not know about such an important part of our history (important for what it tells us about the times it was written in, rather than the times it wrote about) because we did not read Pali and its existence was only known to the forest monks .

    It is ironic. If we are to be proud of anything it should be about our achievements, the things that we have achieved, and give credit to the others like the British who have helped us in areas we hadn’t a clue in. Heck, they even started the tea industry, and gave us CRICKET – the one thing we can be proud of. Instead we continue to distort history. Even the revival of Buddhism in Ceylon (since the Chola invasion of over 600 years earlier there were no Buddhist monks except those reclusive in the forests, and those imported from Siam etc) was down to the initiative of an American, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and a Russian lady called Helena Blavatsky in the 1880s. They re-invented it as a popular religion that we have today and promoted only later by locals to counteract the impact of rising Christianity in Ceylon, but sadly has been politicised today. Most SL Buddhists have never heard of Olcott and Blavatsky, even though there is a building in the honour of Olcott at Ananda College.

    You can read about all this on Wikipedia and follow the references to the original documents, Hansards etc. But I realise for many of us this is awkward and unsettling.

  145. Dinesh #143 makes a point about the impact of the British. Sorry if the truth surprises some negatively.

    Dinesh’s point is true of many countries colonised by civilisations that were more advanced in administration, science, exploration etc. For example, the Greeks could not care about their archeology – the ancient ruins were being vandalised and pilfered by the locals over the centuries. The British introduced the culture of protecting heritage. Similarly in Ceylon, the ruins of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were left to rot in the jungles for some 700 years until the British explorers stumbled across them in the 1820s. Even then the local SL people had no interest in clearing the jungle, for 50 years. In the end the clearing of the jungle was ordered by the British and the ruins excavated. The Mahavamsa was discovered and translated into English from Pali in 1826, also by a British, called George Turnour. The SL people did not know about such an important part of our history (important for what it tells us about the times it was written in, rather than the times it wrote about) because we did not read Pali and its existence was only known to the forest monks .

    It is ironic. If we are to be proud of anything it should be about our achievements, the things that we have achieved, and give credit to the others like the British who have helped us in areas we hadn’t a clue in. Heck, they even started the tea industry, and gave us CRICKET – the one thing we can be proud of. Instead we continue to distort history. Even the revival of Buddhism in Ceylon (since the Chola invasion of over 600 years earlier there were no Buddhist monks except those reclusive in the forests, and those imported from Siam etc) was down to the initiative of an American, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and a Russian lady called Helena Blavatsky in the 1880s. They re-invented it as a popular religion that we have today and promoted only later by locals to counteract the impact of rising Christianity in Ceylon, but sadly has been politicised today. Most SL Buddhists have never heard of Olcott and Blavatsky, even though there is a building in the honour of Olcott at Ananda College.

    You can read about all this on Wikipedia and follow the references to the original documents, Hansards etc. But I realise for many of us this is awkward and unsettling.

  146. Sorry, Haroon, but much of what you say is nonsense. Olcott and Blavatsky did provide a useful boost in morale to the pro-Buddhists forces in Ceylon, but Lanka had village monks uninterruptedly for near 2000 years. The fact that Lanka had village monks whilst India tended to have forest monks has been given as one of the reasons for Buddhism’s holding out in Lanka and not in India.

    The reasons for the collapse of Anuradhapura and Pollunurawa are debatable. Malaria is one probably explanation. True the British found them again, but there has been a vast amount of restoration work since they left.

    Saying the ‘Mahavamsa discovered in 1826’ is rather like saying Colombus discovered America. It was already there and the people living there knew all about it.

  147. srilankan

    Thank you for the link. I was aware that the education bill was the work of the Donoughmore State Council, and evidently erroneously presumed Senayake was personally in favour of it.

    My point basically is that the education, health and agricultural policies of food sufficiency were not a gift from the British but the work of the post-1931 elected Lankan representatives.

    Just to confuse matters further one reason was doubtless the fact that as they were elected under Universal Suffrage they felt the obligation to keep the electorate sweet. But universal suffrage was the insistence of the British Labour Government and was opposed by many members of the Ceylon Independence movement. Yet if the latter hadn’t continued to pressurize the government there would have been no suffrage at all.

  148. # 159 Stephen Jones

    You missed it, and in fact you inadvertently confirm my point in your #159.

    Yes these things existed. However, they were lying dormant, unknown by the people at large on the scale we revel in today. They became part of the ‘consiousness’ we see today as a result of initiatives from outsiders, subsquently picked up by locals when political opportunities emerged later on.

    I mention Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, not for why it was abandoned but because for some 700 years evidently the people in SL did not regard it as anything of importance. Same for the Mahavamsa, for 1,200 years – until the political purpose came along.

  149. Jonesey Bonesey,

    Your form is slipping old man, your non-grasp of the finer details of Sri Lankan history has shown your hand as one with too much sympathy for the nationalist (casteist parochial ) rabble that whipped up false consciousness among the masses post-independence.

    The same rabble that opposed universal education, opposed universal franchise and pleaded with the British to extend caste-privileges pre-independence before inventing a superior-race-mythology to lead the people they had worked against.

    Your ignorance of Kananngara’s work, perhaps one of the few real nation-builders (not nation-dividers) Sri Lanka had post-independence is egregious given the quality of your earlier posts.

    You are also far too sympathetic to the communal mindset of many people in Sri Lanka, especially your auto-deflection of criticism of sinhalese-buddhist-peasant-nationalism by constantly pointing to British errors as the greater weevil, e.g anti-muslim riots 1915.

    I wonder personally if you carry a torch for Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

    There are cultural roots to this conflict that lie as one commentator defined so memorably in a ealier blog post as through the ‘creation of Mahavamsa buddhism” in Sri Lanka, and its propogation as a ethno-nationalist creed among the masses.

    What then should real Buddhism look like to compare what evolved in Sri Lanka. It is my thesis that the closest form of buddhism to the original theravada teachings lie in Burma, which had a Sangha that maintained the forest tradition and emphasised the uniqueness and primacy of meditation technique as the tradition handed down by the Buddha. In its purest form Buddhism is a form of mental exercise, which is why it is a way of life compatible with any faith based religion. Modern neuroscience is increasingly investigating buddhist claims about the mind and meditation and confirming empirically what theravada offers people the chance to do.

    What religion survived in Sri Lanka over the centuries was a set of writings (much less practice) that became increasingly obfuscated and a set of jealous colonial resentments that sought to emulate the institutional power of missionary Christianity over people.

    Witness the rise of Buddhist school (centers of nationalist brainwashing) , the entwinement of (ritual) buddhism and the military (!!!)), monks and politics, constitutions and religion, and a generally militant form of buddhism thick in narratives of “chosen race”

    None of this has anything to do with a form of exercise.
    Would anyone enshrine pelvic floor exercises into the Sri Lankan constitution? Would teachers of pelvic floor exercises get elected to parliament on a platform of defending this teaching against the incursion of yoga?

    When you look to the Burmese tradition as a point of reference for all these developments in modern Sri Lanka, you see them for what they are, worldy corruptions of the Theravada tradition.

    I was in Sri Lanka recently and noticed people in Sri Lanka excuse the outrages committed against their own people with endless iterations of this argument:

    [It may] happen here….but it also happens and [was] [is[ worse in [first world].

    Monks may bless armed troops but the Pope used to bless knights during the crusades.

    We have had past violence against Tamils but look at how the Australian government treated the aboriginals.

    The Sri Lankan army may have killed thousands of tamils but how many Iraqis did George Bush kill?

    The wrongs of colonialism, do not justify their emulation. That is the cultural trap Sri Lanka has fallen into.

  150. “19. We must break decisively with those failed policies of the LTTE as well as those of the Sri Lankan ruling elite. Instead we must build a new and a bold movement that could unite all those who have been exploited, disadvantaged and marginalized. Like the Suriya Mal Movement and the LSSP, which spearheaded the fight against caste oppression and British imperialism in the 1930’s, today we need a new movement to spearhead the struggle for modernity and to drag our country from the economic and political quagmire that the failed prophets of the yester years have led us into. Unfortunately, the LSSP lost its clout and its mass base by entering into an opportunist alliance with the SLFP. We must learn the lessons of that debacle and make sure that the poor and the oppressed will always maintain its political and organisational independence.”

    As a comment to the above clause my observations are given below.

    A durable solution to the ‘ethnic question’ is almost certain to involve greater regional autonomy, something which can benefit people of all communities. Many Sinhalese members of the political elite in Colombo would much rather grab resources for themselves and their cronies than use these to pay for better education and healthcare for the poor in the deep South of Sri Lanka.

    Such devolution need not be a threat to ‘unity’. Numerous countries have vigorous local democracy, unlike the over-centralised system in Sri Lanka, and this has helped rather than hindered a sense of common purpose. Suppressing local distinctiveness and imposing control from afar only fuels resentment and leads to poor decision-making: politicians and bureaucrats running things from a distance, with little understanding of local conditions or accountability to local people, can all too easily make costly blunders.

    The above two paragraphs taken from the article “Beyond the time-warp in Sri Lanka” by Savitri Hensman, read together with the following paragraph in the article “The way forward in Sri Lanka: Demilitarization, the rule of law and democratization” by Rohini Hensman

    “Even the demand for devolution needs to be reframed as a demand for democratization that brings government closer to all the people, not just minorities, apart from being made far stronger than the 13th Amendment, which has loopholes allowing the Centre to take back the devolved powers. Along with the demand for abolition of the Executive Presidency, and further devolution to smaller units, it would give all the people of Sri Lanka more control over their lives, instead of having their lives ruled by a remote power in Colombo that knows little and cares less about their needs”.

    has to be kept in mind while reading the suggestions given below that addresses most of the points raised by the authors quoted above.:

    The best concept for a viable political political solution to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the “minorities” – based not only on ethnicity but also on power, wealth, influence and those who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.

    It has to be a “meaningful power sharing” arrangement that is done HORIZONTALLY where each and every set of representatives would be in the SAME LEVEL as equals and in par and NOT VERTICALLY, where one set of representatives would be above (more powerful than) the other, which is the normal adopted practice when talking of devolution, in this power-hungry world. It is because “devolution of power” has been evolved “vertically”, we have all the trouble in this power-hungry world. So, for sustainable peace it should not be the present form of “devolution of power” but “dilution of powers” or “meaningful sharing of powers” in such a way that no single person or single set of people’s representatives be “superior” to another.

    This system would help to eradicate injustice, discrimination, bribery and corruption – the four pillars of an evil society – and help to establish the “Rule of Law” and “Rule by ALL” for sustainable peace, tranquility and prosperity and a pleasant harmonious living with dignity and respect for all the inhabitants in the country. Everyone must have “equal” powers, rights, duties and responsibilities and most importantly everyone should be deemed “equal” and treated “equally” before the law not only on paper but also practically – be it the Head of State, The Chief Justice or the voiceless and weightless poor of the poorest in the country.

  151. I’ll bookmark this page and read later at leisure. This is too long for me just now at 12. 15. a. m. What interested me is the fact that UP was a teacher at Karandeniya Central. Is UP the one who married Ms. Kannangara? Is UP that fair-complexioned, thin-faced one? If yes, I am one of his pupils at Karandeniya Central!

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  154. jumbo,
    Sri Lanka is in serious trouble. But so is India. Sri Lanka has brought China. China is now turning the north into a massive spy and infiltration base to destabilize India.
    China also helped Pakistan build a railway station illegally in the ‘no mans land area’. China is infiltrating From the other side through Arunachal Pradesh. China is a major funder of the Naxalite movement.
    But Sri Lanka due to its small size will perish first before India

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