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People and Events
Two Sri Lankans capture international headlines

by Nan
Three weeks ago, in this column, I bemoaned the fact that the publicity this country gets in the international arena is of its being a killing field. I referred to two articles in an international newspaper on page 1 and centre page, that gave information about a government decision and a long article about the LTTE and the separatist war. I wished that we could go back to being referred to as that Paradise in the Indian Ocean with its ever smiling, friendly people, its tea, its sun, sea and sand, and a rich cultural heritage to be seen and appreciated. I wished but felt my wish would not be granted.

And then, lo and behold, we are back in the international scene with a bang. Two of our country’s sons: one a very young computer experimenter and the other, an already famous writer, have placed us up front. They were written about, photographs splashed in international newspapers and this war torn, impoverished nation elevated to a position of dignity.

Next week my column will feature Harsha Jayasekera, the designer of websites of high tech gaming.

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje was already famous, but to have an entire page in Newsweek and a half last page in the International Herald Tribune makes him famous all over again.

Most of you would have read the Newsweek article. What interested me more was Mel Gussow’s article titled: A Writer Unearths Secrets, Real and Fictional in the IHT of 28 June in which he deals with Ondaatje’s writing in the context of the publication of his new novel Anil’s Ghost.

This book was spoken about at the literary fest in the British Council some months ago and more recently at the short listing and awards of the Gratien Prize. I wondered why the author had selected the name Anil, which we recognize as a boy’s name, for his book’s she-protagonist. Maybe the fault lies in us - stereotyping even names.

Anil’s Ghost is, as of now, 15 on the New York best-seller list and will surely rise steadily. The book is available at Barefoot, Bambalapitiya, in soft cover, and I am sure in other local bookshops, for the comparatively cheap price of Rs. 380/=. This is the Indian Picador publication. The UK price is 5.99. I have still to read my bought copy. Something to look forward to. Glancing through I definitely felt it would be easier going than The English Patient.

The back cover of the book has this: "In his first novel since The English Patient Ondaatje displays again the richness of imagery, the eerily beautiful language and the keen emotional sureness that are the hallmarks of his writing."’

Sri Lanka Then and Now

"The time is our own time.... Formerly known as Ceylon, it has been for centuries a land steeped in cultural achievement and tradition. Now, ravaged by civil war and divided against itself, the country is forced, abruptly, into the late twentieth century.

"Unfolding against the ravishing background of Sri Lanka’s landscape and ancient civilization, Anil’s Ghost is a compelling literary spellbinder..."

So there we have it for all the world to read: Sri Lanka as it was and Sri Lanka that could be without terrorists, cyanide pills, dirty politics and a discontented population. It could again be a land steeped in achievement if only given the chance by wise leadership and commitment.

Mel Gussow in the IHT says: "Archaeology as a search for hidden treasure is a central theme of Michael Ondaatje’s new novel...." He quotes Ondaatje as saying that ‘Writing is a land of archaeological act. In all my books there is a discovery of a story. You’re unearthing as you’re learning. The drama is to find out about characters."

The English Patient took seven years of revising and editing, Anil’s Ghost six. That is the author’s way of writing as he himself made known to a captive audience in the British Council some years ago when he set up the Gratien Trust with the money he received for winning the Booker Prize.

Because Ondaatje is a poet and started his writing career as one in the 1960s and 70s, his fiction writing is labelled as poetic novels. This they may be but make for excellent reading, even to those who fail to recognize rhythm and metaphor.

Anil Tissera in his new novel may be a stand-in for himself because like him, Anil left Sri Lanka when she was young to study abroad, and loved coming back. Michael Ondaatje left Ceylon when he was 11, grew up in London where his mother lived after separating from his father. He migrated to Canada and felt a sudden freedom and a realization that "I could attempt anything. I could be a writer or a filmmaker." He has made two documentaries and authored nineteen books of prose, poems and anthologies.

His first literary attempt was poetry, written because he was encouraged by a teacher at the University of Toronto. He published his first book of poems The Dainty Monsters in 1967. Coming Through Slaughter, his first novel was inspired by the life of the jazzman Buddy golden. We relate most to his Running in the Family, astounded yet laughing outright at the outrageous antics of the older generation in his family. His wife, Linda Spalding and he edit Brick, a literary journal.

The IHT article goes on to say that "Sri Lanka is the reason for his books. He began with a place, a time and an event, a civil war in the mid 1980s. Ondaatje has said "I did not want it to be a tract against Sri Lanka. I wanted to catch that state of the world, people in that kind of situation, which was a nightmare." And so he makes reference to Bosnia and Ireland in the novel.

Will this book be filmed?

Reviewers and readers abroad will be fascinated by Ondaatje’s relation of some exotic traditions of the country, like the ceremony of ‘opening’ the eyes of a Buddha statue and the belief that if you swallow a thalagoya’s tongue (ugh and ugh again), your intelligence will know no bounds.

Michael Ondaatje is placed alongside Gabrial Garcia Marquez, both filtering what they see and wish to write about through their imagination. Ondaatje has said that when he read Marquez for the first time "It was like realism to me. It was like Sri Lanka." Note please that Sri Lanka is what is real to him.

We ordinary Sri Lankans know him to be a humane person, very easy to talk with. He wanted to help Sri Lankan creative writers of English, hence his placing his Booker Prize money in trust for the awarding of an annual prize for the best piece of local creative work. He invariably comes down for the event but this year he was missed - his shock of hair, his kind eyes, his easy manner, his interest in potential writers of this land he calls his place of birth and childhood.

Michael Ondaatje, we salute you!

Sri Lanka, though going rotten, does show its true colours, its greatness in the world. Its people are intelligent and resourceful and spread their wings wide, specially when they leave our battle scarred shores.


Renowned photo-journalist turns 80

by Kirthie Abeyesekera
Rienzie Wijeratne, renowned photo-journalist of yesteryear, reached an important milestone in his life, June 24. He is now an octogenarian.

Had he been at Flower Road where he had lived most of his professional life, the celebration of his 80th birthday would have drawn scores of the fraternity and a host of friends to shake his hand and hug the man who has endeared himself to many.

But in Toronto, just his family and a few friends sang ‘Happy Birthday’ as he blew the candles on the cake at a sumptuous dinner hosted by Sheila, his wife, and daughter, Lilanee.

In self-exile in Canada since 1993, Rienzie lives away from the spotlight he once enjoyed as the most sought fashion photographer by whose calendar brides set their wedding day. Socialites such as Elizabeth Perera, Sita Jayawardene, Rita Fernando, Goolbhai Motwani, Sundari Rockwood, Sicelle Kotelawela and Frances Lyndon-Smith have come under his scrutinizing lens. His pet social pick was the wife of Onaley Gulamhusein during her maiden days as Yvonne Toussaint.

‘Bouquets and Brickbats’

Tarzie Vitachi’s Sunday satire, ‘Bouquets and Brickbats’ by Fly-By-Night,’ was frequently fed by Rienzie’s tid-bits of characters such as Oo-la-la-Jute Hessian. He once stole his way to the ‘Coconut Grove’ of the Galle Face Hotel, to click a Colombo socialite swooning in the arms of wealthy playboy, Prince Aly Khan, the husband of Hollywood heart throb, Rita Hayworth.

Rienzie Wijeratne was a household word in photography in an era, perhaps the best and brightest in the country’s journalism history. As a 22-year-old fresher, soon after his schooling at Ananda college, he was hand-picked by Frank Moraes of the ‘Times of Ceylon,’ which he served for nine years.

It was at the ‘Ceylon Observer’ however, that, over a period spanning three decades, he made his mark. In 1981, he switched over to ‘The Island,’ along with several other Lake House staffers. A decade later, and following a brid stint at ‘The Sunday Times,’ he hung up his boots. Yet, the omnipresent camera remains the love of his life.

Rienzie’s reminiscences

Rienzie’s reminiscences are far too many to recount in a newspaper column. He has rubbed shoulder with celebrities and hob-nobbed with the hoipolloi. He has caught blushing brides off their guard, and captured wild elephants. From the race horses of Colombo to the Nuwara Eliya Easter parade of fashion follies, he also found time to drop by at Queen’s Cottage to pay his respects to Sir Oliver Goonetilleke holidaying in the hills. The Governor-General always had the time for-My g... g... good f...f...friend, R...r...r Rienzie."

Beauty queens in their scanty swim suits have posed for ace cameraman, Rienzie, focusing his lens on those vital statistics. His portrait of Maureen Hingert, the first Miss Ceylon (1954), still adorns the features room of the ‘Observer’ at Lake House.

He shot the leg of Queen Elizabeth on her way up the Sigiriya rock, when the irrepressible Sir John Kotelawala ordered him, "Ganin yako, ganin," as the breeze lifted the royal skirt.

Rienzie has worked with the best of the country’s newsmen such as D. B. Dhanapala, Esmond Wickremasinghe, Tarzie Vitachi and Denzil Peiris. The encomiums he has won are many. He has had pats on the back from D. S. Senanayake. He has breakfasted on ‘kiributh’ end ‘lunu-miris’ with S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. President Premadasa named him a ‘Kale Suri.’

From fashion to tourism, the roving Rienzie has ‘filmed’ some of Asia’s finest scenic spots. On the eve of his retirement, he sojourned for a week in the serenity of the Andaman islands that boast of their ‘beeches without bikinis.’ His album abounds in breath-taking images.

The cold climes of Canada do little to cheer up Rienzie in his retirement. He misses the warmth of home, the chit-chat of friends, the gossip of nosey reporters and the shop-talk of fellow ‘photo-catchers.’ Twice a week, he joins a group of non-Sri Lankan senior citizens at a community centre for a sing-song, lunch and bingo. I don’t know how happy he is among them. Most of the time, he is lost in reverie - perhaps, of days that used to be.

Fondest recollections

What are his fondest recollections, as he reaches this phase in his life?

"My happiest days were with the ‘Observer," he says of his professional life. He ranks Denzil Peiris high on his list of editors, and says his ‘Observer’ colleagues are his best friends. His eyes are moist with memories of an age gone by.

Humble of his accomplishments, he makes no comment when asked who was the best photo-journalist of his days. The friendships he made during half a century of life with his camera, have endured over the years. Sadly, some of those near and dear to him are scattered, far and wide, around the world.

Veteran journalist

Few of Toronto’s Sri Lankan expatriate community know the man who has made such a a significant impact on the profession that was once held in high esteem. Rienzie Wijeratne may be unhonoured in has adopted land. Yet, he is not unsung among those who knew him.

A mutual friend, Manny Candappa, the veteran journalist and author, writing to me recently from Melbourne, asked me to transmit this message to Rienzie:

"You are one of the nicest persons I have met. You were the ultimate professional. I learnt a few things from you - how to relax and unwind after a hard day’s work; how to be cheerful even under the worst circumstances; how to externalise the memory and avoid stress; your little trick of keeping a list of things to do in your shirt pocket; how to dress well, so you could meet anyone, prince or pauper, at any time; how to carry your Scotch when you lodge at a hotel, and order only the soda; how to settle only for the best in accommodation; how to tip the taxi driver so that the next time he’ll pass the guy who put his hand up first, and come for you. When I think of you, dear Rienzie, I can see your bright smile. Keep smiling, dear friend."

That was more than a message. It was a tribute. I can only echo Manny’s sentiments "Cheer up, Rienzie, my dear friend. You have wonderful memories of a proud past to live by. Now, rest on your laurels."


Interim Council – ‘A joke’

The following is an interview given by Mr. S. L. Gunasekera, President, Sihala Urumaya to a Special Correspondent of the Sunday Island, in which he sets the record straight about his Party’s policies.

Question: There is some criticism of your party’s choice of name. Some people think it is communalistic or racist. What have you to say?

Mr. Gunasekera: The very fact that there is this particular criticism makes it evident that there is a need for a party such as Sihala Urumaya. A variety and multitude of Tamil and Muslim parties have been formed, such as the TULF, PLOTE, TELO, MPDP, LTTE, SLMC, etc. Nobody raised this question then.

What this means is that the Sinhalese suffer from certain disabilities, unlike the Tamils and the Muslims. The Sinhalese cannot even form a party, indicating a Sinhala identity. One of the principal objectives of our party is to prevent the erosion of the rights of the Sinhalese and to restore their lost rights.

The name of the party has to reflect both its character and identity. Sihala embraces both the Sinhala people and the country. Sinhale is the original name of Sri Lanka. Thus the name indicates our character.

But I must emphasise that this does not mean that we are anti-Tamil or anti any other ethnic group. We simply want to halt the injustices done to the Sinhalese and rectify them.

In any case because of the phobia against any reference to the Sinhalese even if we called ourselves the Inter Communal Amity Party, we would still be called racist, because our policies are wedded to the unitary state and the destruction of terrorism completely.

We have no intention whatsoever of practising discrimination on the basis of race, caste, religion or political opinion. The employment of incompetent persons on the basis of race, religion, etc would make everybody suffer - the Sinhalese most of all, because out of every ten persons seven and a half are Sinhalese. We do not want to inflict further suffering on the Sinhalese.

Q. There are already three parties which claim to represent the Sinhalese the PA, UNP and the JVP. Why is there a need for another party?

Mr. G: I do not agree that these three parties represent the Sinhalese. If you ask the JVP what they think of the Tamil rebellion they will tell you that Tamil grievances should be rectified. Nowhere have they come forward on behalf of the Sinhalese. As for the UNP and the PA, they have been betraying the Sinhalese because of their belief that the Sinhalese will vote for them through habit, like drug addicts and that therefore the balance of power lies with the minorities.

Q. Can you explain your party’s total opposition to the Devolution Package?

Mr. G: We do not believe in devolution. But we do believe in decentralisation and delegation. Perhaps, in vesting more powers with the local authorities, but that is no devolution. Such powers given to local authorities can be revoked by the Central government. But devolution envisaged under the package is an abdication of power by the Central government.

Powers devolved cannot be revoked.

Under the 13th Amendment a plethora of powers were vested in the Provincial Councils, but it had a saving grace. The Central government was not bereft of all powers in regard to the devolved subjects. It is entitled to pass legislation on any of these subjects, which would affect the whole country, provided it gets a two thirds majority in Parliament.

In the case of the proposed Devolution Package, when powers relating to certain subjects are vested in a Regional Councils (RC), the Central government cannot pass any legislation on any of these subjects, not even by a unanimous vote of Parliament and the vote of the people in a referendum. This is because any provisions relating to the devolved powers can be amended only with the consent of the RCs. So if any RC objects to an amendment, it will not apply to that region, but only to the others.

Look at the net result. One Regional Councillor by his vote can thwart the will of Parliament and the people. If later it is found that this system of devolution cannot achieve the purposes for which it was designed, the country would nevertheless be stuck with it.

He who gets power is not likely to give it up.

Our party’s second objection - our armed forces and police can be deployed in a region only if there is a state of emergency. Otherwise peacekeeping is the responsibility of the regions. Under the package an emergency can exist in a region only for ninety days. After that an emergency can continue only with the approval of the Regional Council.

Take a situation where the RC of the North-East embarks on a seccessionist rebellion, promoted by the party in power in the RC, to create a separate state of Eelam and our armed forces are unable to crush it within ninety days. The Central government will have to obtain the permission of the RC to fight their rebellion!

I cannot think of a situation more fraught with danger, or plainly more ridiculous. If consent is not forthcoming, our armed forces will have to go away, leaving them to establish their Eelam.

Q: Can you explain your Party’s opposition to the proposed Interim Council?

Mr. G.: Ranil was roundly castigated by the government for proposing an Interim Council (IC) and I think the government was correct. The idea of establishing an IC for five years is plainly ridiculous. It will include 60/70 members from parties involved in the conflict. According to the President, the LTTE will be excluded unless they give up terrorism.

Most of the members will be drawn from the Tamil and Muslim parties from parties like the EPDP which has nine seats having won some 90 votes or so. How, I ask, are they going to function? They cannot run an Urban Council, a Pradeshiya Sabha, a Municipal Council. They will be able to do so only with maximum security from our armed forces.

This will mean that the endangered villages like Gonagala, Welioya will have less troops. It will mean a betrayal of these villages. Or, troops which should be fighting will have to play nursemaid to some politicians.

We are fighting for our survival. Our forces are under-staffed and under-equipped. If we inflict more unbearable burdens on them we will be detracting from their capacity to fight.

Besides, there has to be cohesion and co-operation between the civil administration and the armed forces. With the TULF, for instance saying repeatedly ‘Stop the war’ and referring to a ‘Sinhala army of occupation’, the armed forces would be working with a civil administration hostile to it and at cross purposes.

An Interim Council will be a gift, one of many, many gifts to Prabhakaran from this government as it was from the previous government.

Already the racist Tamil and Muslim parties have opposed the settlement of Sinhala villagers in these areas (they call them colonists). Those poor villagers will have to look to a hostile IC for all their day to day needs — irrigation, seed paddy, marketing, transport, teachers, doctors, etc.

There would be no need to kill them as the Tigers do. They will only have to neglect them and chase them away. One can bet one’s bottom dollar that this will happen.

Q: What is your party’s most important priority?

Mr. G: First we have to restore the writ of the government throughout the length and breadth of the country and destroy the LTTE completely. The country cannot survive otherwise. Our party does not believe that a just and durable political settlement after negotiations is possible with the LTTE.

Prabhakaran is more powerful than any other ruler in the world within that part of our territory which he rules illegally. He is not bound by a Constitution or by law. He is the Law. He has a naval force, is equipped with the most awesome modern weaponry, and has an unlimited flow of funds.

Our government in its idiocy pays government servants within that territory and they take their orders from Prabhakaran. Government also provides food, drugs, doctors and other essentials to these areas.

So, all Prabhakaran has to do is wage war against the Sri Lankan government which gives him assistance. He will never consent to be a Chief Minister and surrender one iota of power or be bound by a Constitution or the orders of Court.

Prabhakaran has made his position quite clear in his speech on the so-called Heroes Day in Nov. 1998. He said, "We cannot allow the Sinhala aggressive army to occupy one inch of our homeland. Nor will we permit a Sinhala administration to function in the Tamil occupied lands.... We cannot permit the Sinhala aggressors to leave their foot prints on our sacred soil."

Any negotiated settlement will inevitably legitimise his rule over lands he is holding illegally already (in the Wanni and parts of the east), and we would have to concede to him lands which he could not take by force of arms.

 He has seen the path to power. Kill less than a hundred and he gets District Councils. Kill a few hundreds and he gets Provincial Councils with enhanced powers. Between 1987 and today he has killed thousands and he is being promised Regional Councils. He sees that the more he kills the more he can get.

With a little more push by killing some more people he will get his Eelam. The border between Sri Lanka and the envisaged state of Eelam stretching from Eluwankulam in the NWP and the estuary of the Kubbukkan Oya will be 600 km long. To guard that border we will need some 100,000 troops.

As important fact to remember is that the north and the east do not have sources of water. The sources from which the waterways flow are in other parts of the country i.e., Mahaweli, Kubbukkan Oya, Galoya, Manal Aru, Malwatu Oya, Yan Oya. There is no way in which Prabhakaran can have his Eelam without water sources. Invasion of the rest of the country is a certainty, if he gets Eelam

There can be no higher priority than destroying the LTTE.

Q: What kind of economy would you envisage for the country?

Mr. G: I am not competent to speak on economics, but we have experienced economic experts and businessmen who will give their expertise to the party. Our approach will be pragmatic. We will not be bothered by labels — open economy, socialism, globalisation, etc. NGOs and other interested parties put these labels and then worship them.

We will endeavour to make our country self-sufficient in foodstuffs; ensure that the farmer gets a better price for his produce and the consumer pays less. We will assist and encourage the small and medium scale entrepreneur. Today the foreigner is worshipped and the local entrepreneur is kicked. We will put a halt to that. We, as a nationalist party will stop the squandering of our national assets and protect and conserve the environment.

Q: How did it come about that you were picked to lead a predominantly Sinhala Buddhist party? You describe yourself as an agnostic. How would this fact impact on the rural masses and the Christians?

Mr. G.: I do not know how I came to be picked. But as far as the villagers are concerned, I have worked in the north and east on rehabilitation. The question of religion never came up. The people were more interested in the work I did.

It is pertinent to state that S. J. V. Chelvanayagam was an Anglican Christian and he led a separatist movement of predominantly Tamil Hindus. Then there was Charles Stuart Parnell, a Protestant who led the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish in their fight for independence from Britain. He had to step down from the leadership not because he was a Protestant but because he committed adultery with the wife of a Captain O’Shea.

There is no Ms O’Shea in my life!

Q: Would you like to recall what happened with the American diplomats?

Mr. G: On June 23 Mr. Andrew Mann, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Mr. Kevin D. McGlothlin and Ms Shannon Hall saw me at my residence by appointment to discuss the reasons for the formation of our party and its policies and views.

Mr. Tilak Karunaratne, Secretary of the party, Major General Tilak Paranagama and Malinga Gunaratne were present. So far we have met the head of one mission, the deputy head of another and the Counsellor from a third and had long and cordial discussions.

We thought Mr. Mann was interested in our views and policies. We were sadly mistaken. From the word go, Mr. Mann showed hostility towards us. He had come with a closed mind, not to find out about us, but to oppose us. To give an example, when I sketched out the historical background to the conflict and referred to the privileged status the Tamils enjoyed under the British, I referred to the excellent system of schools in Jaffna built by American missionaries.

Immediately, Mr. Mann interrupted me and said Oh, so this problem is all our fault, is it? "I was not talking of faults and it took considerable time to convince him of the fact. Later, Mr. Mann asked me how we proposed to solve the ethnic problem.

I said there was no ethnic problem, only a terrorist problem. Immediately he responded, "So, you are going to kill all the Tamils, are you?" I told him that we had no intention whatever of committing genocide, like you did by dropping an atom bomb on Hiroshima. More words and then he said, "Are you accusing my country of committing genocide?"

I said, "yes, I do" then, he said, he could not stay, thanked me for the drink and walked out. The other two diplomats seemed to be embarrassed, said we could meet up again, but had to go because they came in the same car.

I believe that a diplomat in a foreign country, who goes for a discussion with a new party should at least listen with an open mind and should not come with pre-conceived notions. I was taken aback by Mr. Mann’s reaction, because America is a country with the highest degree of freedom of speech, where one can criticise the government or anybody else. I have no doubt that this attitude is peculiar to Mr. Mann and trust that it is not shared by other American diplomats.


The Eastern province, Tamil claims and "colonisation’’

by Gamini Iriyagolle
(Continued from last week)
In 1814 the entire Batticaloa District (as then constituted ) had only a little over 23,000 Tamil speaking persons, a number which included 3,775 Mukkuwas and 3,641 Muslims of whom all but 3 were traders. All were concentrated within a few miles of the coast in and north of Pottuvil, More than half this population were concentrated in just 12 coastal settlements including Puliyanduwa Island (now Batticaloa Town) and Kattankudy.

According to Casiechetty’s The Ceylon Gazetteer (published in 1834 but compiled before the amalgamation of the Kandyan Sinhalese Provinces with the Maritime Districts in 1833 ) the District extended " from Kumukan aar to Vergal ganga, a distance of nearly 150 miles from south to north. It is better known to the natives by the name of Mattakalappoo, from the Sinhalese words mada muddy, and kalappoo a lake, probably from the large lake which runs through it..’’

"( The District) comprises a surface of 1360 square miles with a population of 27,574, of whom 8,833 are employed in agriculture, 351 in manufactures, and 4,927 in commerce." The exclusively Sinhala Panama Pattuwa of Batticaloa District had an area of 486 square miles. Thus the demographically Tamil and Muslim Pattuwas ( they never had a political claim to these) were just 874 square miles in extent in 1814. As observed above, half of the Tamils and Muslims lived in 12 out of their 139 villages.

Had the Dutch not encroached in breach of the Sinhala - Dutch Treaty the extent of the District would have been approximately 600 square miles only ( 150 x 4 i.e. one gawwa ).

Sinhala prosperity

Panama Pattuwa, which in the days of Sinhala prosperity had on its coast the port of the Prince of Uva, had been reduced to 10 or 12 villages with a total population of about 400 souls though it had a territory of over 400 square miles. Palugama (Tamilised into Palukamam in transliteration) had been the eastern residence of the Kandyan kings. It had become a Tamil settlement between 1766 and 1814.

Galoya, at the mouth of the river of the same name, was from where the Sinhala king Rajasinghe II directed the assaults by land on the Portuguese forts on Puliyanduwa Island and on Trincomalee hill in 1639 while the Dutch bombarded them from the sea. It is now a Tamil village with the name directly translated as " Kallar".

The Trincomalee District of the British was approximately 1,000 square miles in 1814. A Wanni Pattu added to it shortly thereafter was soon detached so that even at the turn of the century the District was 1,165 square miles in extent. What the Dutch had before 1766 could not have been more than some square yards in and around their fort.

In 1814 the entire District had a population of only 9,171 in four divisions. 5,364 lived in the town (1 square mile in extent) attracted over the years by the naval establishment. The density of population outside the Trincomalee town was approximately 5 persons per square mile. Tampalakamam Pattuwa (Tambalagamuwa Tamilised) had a density of slightly less than 2 persons per square mile in its 450 square miles. Gantale (incorrectly called Kantalay) Tank was in this division but the village of that name had only 20 persons, all presumably Sinhalese according to Captain Aitcheson’s report of 1833.

British policy as

British policy as well as administrative action throughout the nineteenth century was to colonise Trincomalee and Batticaloa Districts with immigrants from Jaffnapatnam and south India. The administration Report for 1867 of the AGA Trincomalee District states that " I should like to form a large Jaffna colony and if liberal terms are offered, might succeed." In the report for 1868 he confessed that ‘’ The Government Agent Jaffna was not successful in his attempt to send people to Gantalawa tank to colonize it . ``I have every reason to believe that we may set up a coast settlement there, and I shall have hopes of seeing the cultivation extend under this splendid tank." In the parlance of the time "coast" meant the Coromandel Coast of South India, the origin, in colonial times, of thousands of alleged Tamil traditional homelanders of Sinhaladipa !

" The actual date of construction (of Gantale Tank) had better be again put on record. It was made by Sulu Akbo (i.e. Agbo the Younger) or Agrabodhi II (a Sinhala king) in the first part of the 7th century AD and was called Gantale wewa , Kanthalai being a modern Tamil corruption of that name." ( Hugh Nevill, AGA Trincomalee and famous antiquarian.)

The colonial British government spent 76,000 pounds on repairs to the ancient work and rendered 23,000 acres of forest land irrigable for rice cultivation. 500 acres were leased to a newly formed Tamil enterprise called the Jaffna - Batticaloa Agricultural Company. The plan to lease the entire 23,000 acres to this enterprise was frustrated when the company failed.

In 1833 the population under Gantale Tank had been Sinhala but this had disappeared by 1855. They had been replaced in the intervening period by some "Malabars". A report by three British engineers submitted in 1855 states that a Malabar population had superseded the Sinhalese under Gantale and the tradition relating to the Yoda Ela from Minneriya which was known to the Sinhalese, who were there in 1833 was totally unknown to the Malabars in 1855.

After Independence, a settlement project was established under the tank and land given to Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Thus traditional Kandyan Sinhala lands in the Eastern Province were colonised by Tamils and Muslims under state patronage.

What happened generally in the east has been recorded in the famous report on Forest Administration of Ceylon by F.D’A Vincent which is published as a Sessional paper XL11 of 1882:

"The gradual spread of the Tamils down the coasts, especially the eastern, and the fact that nowhere except in the northern province and Tamankaduwa, do they form more that coast settlements, are both striking. Wherever the Tamil or the Mahommedan comes to settle, the Sinhalese is driven back to the forest, where he earns a precarious existence by chena cultivation and by hunting."

As we have seen already seen, Kaddukalum Pattu of Trincomalee District was a Sinhala territory ceded to the Dutch in 1766. In the early years of this century this was divided into two divisions called Kaddukalum West and Kaddukalum East in order to save the Sinhalese who by then were confined to the western part of the Pattuwa.

"This part of the district is inhabited by Sinhalese villagers of Kandyan descent forming an outlying community which is, I fear, rapidly dying out or becoming effaced. The district is most interesting , being dotted over by numerous village tanks, some of which are restored and others abandoned. The villagers retain many of the primitive customs of the Kandyans , but they are rapidly becoming Tamilized, which is a great pity.

"They intermarry with Tamils, and many of them speak Tamil as well as they speak Sinhalese. Even the Government schoolmaster is Tamil, and only that language is taught in the only school, and unfortunately in some cases the Sinhalese villagers have been bought out by Tamils, who now own all the paddy lands of some villages.

"The Sinhalese have even given up their patronymics and have adopted the Tamil custom of prefixing the father’s name instead of the usual patronymic, and even the names of the villagers are assuming a Tamil dress. This is perhaps not to be wondered at when the interpreters of the court and the Kachcheri, the petition-drawers, and all through whom the villagers have access to government officials can speak nothing but Tamil.

Petition-drawers

"I must say I regard this as a great misfortune. I should like to see a strong Sinhalese headman acquainted with English appointed as Chief Headman of the district, and I should like to see the Tamil school abolished. However, the most important assistance which can, and ought to, be rendered to these villagers would be the restoration of their village tanks. This would render them independent of the Tamils, and make them less likely to abandon their villages or to sell their lands to Tamils (Administration Report on Trincomalee District for 1898 p. F18).

The Sinhala Administrative Division of Kaddakulum Pattu West of Trincomalee District appears to have been carved out after this report. This is now subdivided into Morawewa, Gomarankadawala and Padaviya Sripura . The Sinhalese are 55.8%, 98.9% and 99.7% respectively in these three divisions which are together 824 sq. kilometres in extent. The proportion of Sinhalese is as low as 55.8% in Morawewa due to such Tamil incursions as have been reported by the AGA Trincomalee in 1898 and due to settlement of Tamil colonists under Morawewa and Mahadiulwewa Tanks by post independence governments of Sri-Lanka.

If Tamil political concepts are applied to these areas they have to be regarded as traditional Sinhala lands and the settlement of Tamils has to be regarded as government sponsored invasions of lands of the Sinhalese. Tamil propaganda is the other way about.

Of the ten administrative divisions of Trincomalee district, five have a Sinhala majority. These five are Gomarankadawala, Kantalay, Morawewa, Seruwila and Padavisiripura. In the Thampalakamam division the Sinhalese are 31.7%. Kinniya is 92% Muslim. Tamils are in a majority (54.7%) only in the Trincomalee Town and Gravets division. Over sixty percent of the area of Trincomalee district is populated by Sinhalese who are the largest single ethnic group in the district. Tamil claims to political domination or to rights to land to the exclusion of Sinhalese is totally unacceptable.

Break-up

In the break-up of the territory of the Kandyan Sinhalese Kingdom the British included approximately 1,380 square km. of the Sinhalese Province of Bintenna in the newly reconstituted Batticaloa District of the Eastern Province and they also included approximately 1,050 square km. of the Sinhalese Province of Wellassa in the district. Each of the Sinhalese Provinces was partitioned for these purposes - part being included in Province of Uva.

That part of Bintenna included in the Batticaloa district was separately administered as a Sinhala administrative division but the villages of Wellassa were included in several Tamil and Muslim divisions on the coast. It was found that while the Tamil and Muslim populations were thriving, Sinhala villages were dying out (S. O Kanagaratam, Monograph on the Batticaloa District, 1921).

In 1922 therefore the British created the Wewgampattu Sinhala division taking away the Sinhala villages from Tamil and Muslim domination and placed this new Sinhala division under a Kandyan Sinhalese divisional administrator. The Sinhala farmers settled in the Gal Oya project in 1950’s were given land in Wewgampattu the territory of which had been politically and demographically Sinhalese for centuries. The Tamil claims that this is Tamil land in which Sinhalese have been planted is reprehensible.

Panama Pattu is another ancient Sinhala division (Ceylon Manual 1911). This division is 89% Sinhala. Its area in 1981 was 952 square km. As with other Sinhala areas in the Eastern Province, Panama Pattu saw little or no development under colonial rule. The Sinhala divisions are over 78% of the area of Ampara District which is 4,318 sq km. in extent. The Gal Oya Reservoir (Senanayake Samudra), the waters of which should not have benefited Sinhalese according to post independence Tamil claims to land, is entirely in the Uva Province.

Until independence the position in the Eastern Province was neglect and decay of the extensive but sparsely populated Sinhala areas and development of the coastal areas (other than the Sinhala Panama Pattu) populated by Tamils and Muslims resulting in movement of these ethnic groups in large numbers to the coastal areas. The major colonisation projects in the Eastern Province (e.g. Gal Oya, Kantalay Allai, Morawewa, Mahadiulwewa ) are all in traditional Sinhala territory. 52% of the entire territory of the Eastern Province is in predominantly Sinhala administrative divisions. The government constitutional proposals intend to put this area and its Sinhala population under Tamil rule and also vest all state land in the contemplated Tamil government.

In the USA, a classic federal union, all public (i.e. state) land is vested in the Federal Government in Washington; any state government requiring any public land must apply to Washington for its purchase. Vesting state land in regional governments is what the Tamil parties want and is as bad as creating a separate Tamil state. The issue should not be even open to discussion.

A corruption of the Sinh. Madakalapuwa meaning "muddy lagoon". Sammanturai (Sinh. Hambantota , "sampan harbour") was the original Batticaloa . Later the seaport was Kallar (Sinh. Gal Oya, where the river of that name empties into the sea ) about 6 miles north of Kalmunai (Ceylon Manual,1911 p. 316).

Sinnappah Arasaratnam,

Ibid.

Ponnambalam Arunachalam, "Sketches of Ceylon History"

Ceylon Manual, 1911, p.316

The Dutch East India Company.

14. the Walaweganga on the southern coast.

15. Original Sinhala text and English translation by H.C.P. Bell, Commissioner of Archaeology is published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol XVI (1899) p,62 et. seq. It is also cited by Arunachalam as describing the limits of the territory retained by the Kandyan Sinhalese which was eventually ceded to the British in 1815.

16. See The Cleghorn Minute.
(Concluded)


Photographs and power

Dr. Michael Roberts
The recent British Council exhibition of photographs from the British colonial period, imaginatively entitled "Regeneration," has provided us with a splendid collection of images by photographic artists in their day. The recent appearance in print of the large volume prepared by Ismeth Raheem and Percy-Colin Thome IMAGES OF BRITISH CEYLON (Singapore, Times Editions, 2000; ISBN) expands on this work and provides a more detailed history of photography in Sri Lanka, the result of Raheem’s researches. This book is a companion volume to people in between. The Burghers and the Middle class in the Transformations within Sri Lanka, 1790s-1960s (Ratmalana, Sarvodaya, 1989, ISBN 955 $99 013 1) in which I had a hand in association with Raheem and Colin-Thome. Therefore I speak here as a partisan figure, my involvement with images being curtailed at the eleventh hour by technical conditions attached to my place of employment at the University of Adelaide.

While shaped as an aesthetically appealing work Images of British Ceylon is also a book about power. At the ‘obvious’ level it displays the power of the camera. The camera’s frozen stills have a materiality that renders them tangible. The camera’s products can also be, as we are aware, either crude or pleasing — a difference which betrays the human hand behind the tangible compositions, a ‘hand’ which guides the choice of subject and the angle of vision. Such frozen images, moreover, can also be read differently by different audiences. In your eyes, too, lies interpretive power.

Photographic illustrations

As such, photographic illustrations have the capacity — thus a power — to stimulate myriad interpretations. They are so intended. Let us take an illustration of a ‘typical’ nineteenth century picture displaying a British sportsman with his hunting trophies on display. To an ardent conservationist today, this photograph would reveal humankind’s ability to denude the environment, the power to kill, to reduce the animal species on the earth’s surface. To read the photograph in this manner, of course, would be to read the past wholly in the light of the present. The ideology of conservation was virtually unknown in the nineteenth century.

The compilers prefer to read the past inscribed within such images through the past, so that one’s interpretation is a mix of present perspectives and past contexts. Speaking minimally, two nineteenth century individuals are involved within the illustration referred to above. There is, in the first place, the British resident in Sri Lanka who indulged in hunting as a hobby and displayed his prowess to peers who chose to visit his home. Secondly, there is the cameraman, who saw in the display a worthy photographic shot.

To both, we surmise, the artefacts spelt "success," "achievement" — the bourgeois philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More specifically, the visual display, on wall and on camera, mark out an unerring eye and resoluteness of character; in short, the trophies bespeak manliness. Manliness, as we know, was explicitly moulded in the British public schools from the nineteenth century onward. The British colonies provided one of the stages where this ‘virtue’ was played out — sometimes quite virulently. In Asia, where men wore sarongs and had their hair long, the nineteenth century cult of manliness encouraged numerous Britons to look down on "the natives" as "effeminate." The metaphors of gender bolstered the ideology of racial superiority.

Such racial arrogance undermined the hegemonising influence of British ways of thinking as they were diffused through the schools, the law courts and the everyday world of British residents in the island. The members of the emerging Ceylonese middle class found themselves in the breach between Anglophilia on the one hand and intense resentment against the condescension and conceits of their masters. The colour bar at the threshold of such clubs as the Colombo Club and the Princes Club (Images, p. 95) was one such flashpoint. Accordingly, the Orient Club, the creme de la creme of Ceylonese clubs in Colombo, imposed its counterpoint: no Europeans were admitted as members (see the cover of Michael Roberts’ Caste Conflict and Elite Formation, 1982).

Ant picture of a hunter and his animal trophies displays yet more: the ‘capture’ of the exotic, the taming of the wild. This was another dimension of the Imperial Quest. It is a dimension revealed by many other photographs in Images of British Ceylon. The visual imagery is the imagery of the British Raj. The images depict, albeit incompletely, the imperial force in many of its powers. One sees the British capacity to tame the terrain through its bridges, its roads and rail network, and its plantations. The communication technology was both an instrument of control and a facilitator of commodity exchange (including labour as commodity). The commodity form, in its turn, was a power in its own right — as Karl Marx has shown.

Ideological work

These powers were consciously and/or implicitly supported by the ideological work done in the churches, schools and law courts (see People In between I: chaps 4 and 5). The explicit efforts to build up categories of collaborators among the indigenous people are revealed in the photograph on page 54, which shows a group of "native chiefs" assembled around the Governor, Sir Henry Blake in the 1900s. This was a weak line of politics at that point of time. Far more insidious and effective was the power of a Western lifestyle — diffused through the modalities of the commodity form as well as the leisure time activities of the British residents (People In between vol. I: passim). Yet, within these life ways as well as the hegemonic ideologies purveyed by the British lay the very seeds of challenge to British over lordship. The "history of the British constitution" taught in schools planted the ideas of liberalism amongst its respective students. The law courts and the institutions of local government established at Colombo, Galle and Kandy in 1866 provided a training ground for rhetoricians who could hoist the British on their own petard. Such illustrations as a sitting of the Colombo Municipal Council and a gathering at the Orient Club (see Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon, 1907) show the sort of individuals who took up the cause of constitutional reform in the twentieth century and, pragmatically and moderately, contributed towards the path to political sovereignty (for which see Michael Roberts "Elites, Nationalisms and the Nationalist Movement in Ceylon" in the Archives series on the Ceylon National Congress, vol. I, 1977).

As the British machinery of control took firmer shape in the course of the nineteenth century, the Raj was able to dispense with one of its central means of coercion — something that they had inherited from the Dutch, namely, the Fort of Colombo. By the mid-nineteenth century its citadel function was not only outdated, it was an obstacle. As the growing city bulged at the seams and the railway line was constructed, it was deemed necessary that the citadel’s walls should be demolished, its moat filled. For this reason our pictures of moats, gates and ramparts, taken in the 1860s, are especially rare (Plates 29 to 37).

Cosmic harmony

The same fate did not befall the Dutch forts of Galle and Jaffna during British times. They remained as symbolic resides of power. The Jaffna fort’s citadel function and symbolic iconicity was revived once again as the internal war between the Sinhala-dominated state and the Tamil forces for Eelam gathered momentum from the 1970’s. That fort lies now badly shattered, whereas the fort of Galle remains "as quaint as quietly asleep."

Jostling these residues from the Dutch time amongst our photographic illustrations are three repositories of tradition from pre-British times which provided, in the British era, potent marks of power — power destined to grow in the future. Illustratively, one can refer to the reclining Buddha statue dating back to the ancient Sinhala civilisation in the north-central plains depicted on page 53 of Images or that on page 105 which depicts the Dalada Maligava, the Temple of the Tooth, where a dhatu, a Buddhist relic, which is also a palladium of the kings of the Sinhala, has been housed for several centuries. The Dalada Maligava embodies the force of cosmic harmony; the Buddha statues are icons of the Dhamma, the Righteous Path of Enlightenment; and the monks are the bearers of this knowledge, the Dhamma. Together, such symbols stand for a proper cosmological order. Such meanings and such potentialities were available to the faithful in British times as well. The expansive power of these meanings was waiting in the wings as the British flag was hauled down on 4th February 1948.


Seafarers and Sea Sunday

By Capt. Shemal Fernando, RSP, USP
Sea Sunday is the day within the Church’s year when we remember and pray for the world’s seafarers, and think about the Church’s ministry to them. This year the International Sea Sunday is observed today.

Sri Lanka’s ports have been centres of entrepot trade for hundreds of years, situated strategically on the sea routes to the east and west. And over the years the Missions to Seamen have conducted religious services of thanksgiving for seafarers of the world.

Seafarers come from almost all the countries, speak a variety of languages and practice different faiths. When they visit foreign countries, which of course they do all the time, they often find prejudice. This is where The Missions to Seaman can be for them a beacon of light, providing a safe haven where they can relax, do their shopping, find fulfillment and talk to friends. When there is no such haven, they often don’t feel happy about leaving their ship to go ashore.

Seafarers are daily plunged into numerous pockets of darkness. One of the most obvious is that of the darkness of a severe storm at sea in which their ship, their haven, is tossed wildly about. When this happens even seafarers in the most modern ships are filled with fear.

It is easy to imagine therefore how the crews of ships which are substandard with rust, and carrying dangerous cargoes, must feel.

Although we don’t always hear about it, ships are lost every week, often with all, or some, of their crews. These seafarers will all have been people with families. Their families will have lost loved ones; probably their breadwinner. Some will only find out about their loss with the passage of time, as the realisation begins to dawn that they have not heard anything from their loved ones for a long time.

The light

In the seafaring world important messages are often conveyed by lights, for example the port and starboard lights of a ship. Probably the best known light associated with ships and shipping is the lighthouse, which signifies danger.

Light is a significant theme and symbol throughout the gospels and especially in St. John’s Gospel. In the prologue he tells us: "There came a man who was sent from God whose name was John. He came to witness, to testify concerning that light so that through him all men might live. He himself was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."

William Temple, in his readings from St. John, says: "There is still darkness and man is often unable to see the light. He is still in unbelief but this light, the divine gift by which man can see Christ, is shining and it is shining even in the midst of darkness." The present tense is used to convey that the light continues to shine. It was there in the beginning, and it shone with a special power in Christ. It still shines, but today it has to pierce veils of prejudice and obsession.

But this service is very important at all times, enabling families to contact each other and talk about home, or the ship; in fact enabling parents and children, and husbands and wives to share a word of love and companionship.

In recent years dark clouds of war have hovered over many horizons around the world. Consequently a great many seafarers have been living with the daily anxiety of not knowing what is happening at home until they reach port where they can hear news of the political situation in their own country.

Some are caught up in the darkness of bad employment, of abuse, of intolerable working conditions, of long hours, and of work without the protection of a contract. These seafarers need the light, the light of Christ, the light that shines in the darkness, the beam that will search them out and bring comfort to the individual, justice where there are unjust working conditions, and dignity, humanity and self worth.

The Missions to Seamen

The Missions to Seamen, through its welfare and justice department, and its newspapers, The Sea and Flying Angel News, is able to address many of the problems. It is able to be a voice for those who might otherwise be voiceless.

Through its network of chaplains and Seamen’s Clubs it is commissioned to bring the light of hope, the light of Christ, into what, for so many people, can be a very dark world. There is a need for the beacon of the Missions to Seamen to shine in an industry which still has dark days.

At this very moment there will be chaplains around the world supporting seafarers who are fearful because of the uncertainty of what lies ahead for them. These chaplains, those who work alongside them, and we who support their work, are all part of God’s Church, bringing the light of Christ to seafarers through service.

For all seafarers

Your first disciples, Lord, were men of the sea:

hardy fishermen from the shores of Galilee.

They knew from experience the perils of the deep,

the stormy wind and the angry waves.

They also knew your presence with them

in their darkest hours.

We pray for those who face like hazards today as seafarers.

Lord of the sea, be near to guard them

in every danger, in every need;

and let them hear your voice above the tempest,

"It is I, be not afraid."

So bring them to their haven in peace,

for your great mercy’s sake.


Maithripala Senanayake remembered
Wrested power from the aristocrats

Everyone knows the life and times of Mr. Maithripala Senanayake. However, the rise of Maithripala Senanayake, particularly in the North Central Province, came along with the social changes of 1956. Very few know that the Sacred Bo-Tree in Anuradhapura is one of those precious gifts that we got from India and the people of Anuradhapura through thick and thin nurtured and protected it. The present law lays down that the Sacred Bo-Tree should be managed by the monks of Atamasthana and by a layman and that he should be none other than from the Bulankulame family.

If any one wishes to go right up to the third tier to place their head on the Sacred Bo-Tree to worship, they had to get special permission from the Atamasthana Sabha. This is something which the aristrocracy of Anuradhapura enjoyed and not the others. Therefore, the people of Nuwarawewa, Kalawewa and the Padaviya sculptured out a person of their choice, namely, of their ‘warige’ to fight against the discrimination.

As one is aware the Nuwara Kalavia cultural ceremonies are peculiar to that area and to that ‘warige’ or class, and hence a battle had to take place one day to eradicate the aristrocracy and for this ‘warige’ to come to power. Mr. Maithripala Senanayake was their choice. He knew that the UNP could not give him a place over the Nuwerawewa, Bulankulames, the Hurulles, the Suriyakumar family and the Poholiyaddes and the Mahadiulwewas and he had to move away from it to join Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike.

Mr. Maithripala Senanayake contested the Medawachchiya seat in 1947 under the UNP ticket and won by a majority of 1,879 votes; in 1952 by a majority of 6,073 votes and in 1956 he was a MEP candidate and defeated the UNP candidate by a majority of 12,183 votes. The final blow came to the Bulankulames in 1956 when Bulankulame Ratemahatmaya was defeated by S. Godage, Kachcheri Mudaliyar by a majority of 2,346 votes. Since then, until his death Maithripala Senanayake was undoubtedly the uncrowned King of the Raja Rata.

The Bhikkus, the peasantry, the working class, the industrialists, the artistes and many others who had met him know the work done by Maithripala Senanayake. He had a dream of taking the waters of Mahaveli to the Raja Rata; upto the Padaviya Tank through Huruluwewa. He started the irrigation project to achieve it by inaugurating the great Mahaweli Scheme in 1976 - by constructing its first dam and diverting from Polgolla in Katugastota to all the middle order irrigation schemes in Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. The waters that flow through this project cover almost all the irrigated areas of the North Central Province.

He wished to get priority to Moragahakanda but with the change of government, the emphasis was moved from irrigation to power. The change then became the 30-Year - 30 Dam Mahaweli Scheme to 6 Year - 6 Dam Mahaweli Scheme. However, we should remember that the 6 Year-6 Dam Mahaweli Scheme ended up as a 20 Year - 6 Dam Mahaweli Scheme!

Maithripala Senanayake was very critical with this change of policy. He knew that his peasantry in the Nuwarakalawiya particularly to the Padaviya area will not obtain the benefits. And he died an unhappy man, which I would say was the only reason for which he was unhappy about.

Mr. Maithripala Senanayake was the architect of the first industrial estate. The concept of an industrial estate came from Maithripala Senanayake and he opened the first industrial estate in Ekala, Ja-ela, during the regime of Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike. I would say that he was truly the father of the Industrial Revolution in this country. He nationalized the bus service and that Act of Parliament is considered to be a masterpiece upto this date. All other projects of nationalization followed the pattern of this legislation.

I had the privilege of being the Secretary of the Ramanna Nikayarakshaka Sabha when Maithripala Senanayake was its President, Mr. D. S. Senanayake being the first President, followed by Mr. Dudley Senanayake. Then the mantle came on Mr. Maithripala Senanayake to hold this prestigious post in the Ramanna Nikaya. His uncles Ven. Kokatiyagollewe Bharatindra, Ven. Sasthravelliye Upasena, Ven. Rasnakewewa Saddhamma Jothi and many other Bhikkus who belonged to the Siyam Nikaya at one stage took ordination of the Ramanna Nikaya and developed and spread the Buddha Dhamma in the North Central Province. This group of priests belonged to the Handagala family of the Ramanna Nikaya in the Nuwara Kalaviya area, in the Mirigama area and in the Kalutara area came mostly from this traditional family.

Ven Rasnakewewa started the Wellawatte Temple. One would say that this eminent Bhikku who migrated to the Western Province had a very strong influence on the political leadership of our country. It is well known that Mr. D. S. Senanayake was guided in his political thinking by Ven. Kokatiyagollewa Bharatindra. Mr. Maithripala Senanayake until his death remained a patron of the Ramanna Nikaya and was honoured for the services he rendered in the development of the Buddha Sasana.

When the news went round that Mr. Maithripala Senanayake was to get married, many of the ladies in the elite families in Colombo whispered to each other as to who this lucky girl was as Maithripala was undoubtedly one of the most handsome men in the Cabinet of the late Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. When the name came out everyone inquired as to why he did not select one of his own kind. Mrs. Ranji Handy was a brilliant journalist at Lake House at that time. One would say that after the death of Mr. Mervyn de Silva, she is undoubtedly the person who could take his place in journalism.

Mr. Maithripala Senanayake had a liberal education in a school in Jaffna, where he studied Tamil as well as English. He ended up his school career at Nalanda Vidyalaya in Colombo which gave him a broad outlook in his political thinking. He was never communal. He had been a Kepakaru Dayaka of the Ramanna Nikaya where there is no caste, creed, race or colour. When he chose Ranji, it was not a surprise. Maithripala Senanayake was helped and supported in political activities by Ranji in a balanced manner and thereby enhancing his intellect too.

In the Sri Lanka Freedom Party he had a chequered career. However, all those who were with him and those who were not with him understood him. He was not an anti communist - he was a non communist and therefore worked in harmony in the brilliant cabinet that we ever had under Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The founder members of the Lanka Samasamaja Party and the Communist Party were Cabinet Ministers. When Madam Bandaranaike was away from the country he was the Head of the Government and he performed his role to the acceptance of all shades of political thinking and opinion.

Mr. Maithripala Senanayake will be remembered not only by his kith and kin who are peasants of Medawachchiya, but by all those who came to know him during his life time as one of the greatest men of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party where he was a Member upto his death.

May this great personality attain Nibbana.
Lakshman Jayakody


A model to parliamentarians

The late Mr. Maithripala Senanayake who was born in Kivulakada in Kunchutti Korale of the North Central Province was a leader of eminence who performed a distinguished service. He was a beloved colleague of ours.

He appears prominent in the social and economic order ushered in by the late Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike according to a new political philosophy.

He entered Parliament to represent Madawachchiya on 13th September 1947. He continued to be in that position till 1994, establishing a world record in parliamentary history. His contribution to policy making in the legislature from 1947 is a model to be emulated by anyone who has faith and reliance in the parliamentary process.

He had a deep understanding of the sufferings and the problems of the peasants. Programmes he initiated to raise their living standards bear ample testimony to his commitment to their well-being.

Mr. Maithripala Senanayake rendered a great service to promotion of irrigation and agriculture in Sri Lanka. He waged a battle against drought, the challenge to the environment in that part of the country. That indeed is a service which could never be forgotten by the peasants of Raja Rata - the NCP. This perception of the environmental issue would have certainly enriched his experience and capability which he made use of in feeding the dry-zone with Mahaweli water.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is a party which served the people of this country through a new direction in socialist planning and democratic fairness. Mr. Maithripala Senanayake’s contribution to its growth and progress was phenomenal. His modesty and restraint are explanatory of our Party’s complexion and structure. The service he delivered to religious culture as a President and a patron of Sri Lanka Ramanya Nikaya is most formidable. Therefore, the statue of the late Mr. Senanayake whose heart was deeply engrossed in the sufferings and miseries of the poor would no doubt be a lasting monument to his memory.
Dharmasiri Senanayake
Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation


The Royal College - 1950 Group
(in a class of their own)

by Arun Tampoe
In January 1950 a Group of trembling 11-year-old (some younger) entered the hallowed portals of Royal College. They were the fresh intake into Form 1 (now known as Grade II). They comprised a selection of Scholarship students drawn from other schools who had competed feverishly for the privilege of entering Royal and those who had graduated from Royal Primary School after a stiff entrance test. Their Odyssey began fifty years ago.

Those who came from ‘outside’ did so on their merits. No political patronage; no area rule; no concessions to ‘Old Boys’ children; no bribery and no ‘donations’. The selection process ensured that the best of the aspirants whether from Royal Primary or from other schools gained admission. Anxious parents accompanied their sons to see them installed in this seat of learning. All the bright eyed hopefuls were scrubbed clean and smartly attired; one even sported a blue blazer with gold bands!!

Fifty years later the Group who entered Royal in 1950 have come together to celebrate their Golden Jubilee. Members from all corners of the globe have made it a point to participate in the subdued festivities that includes a special school assembly. For quite a number of the participants the visit will be their first after leaving school and will probably be their last. Their’s would be a nostalgic stroll down memory lane. During the Assembly their gaze would dwell on the panels that record the achievements of the years gone by when some of them were awarded accolades for sport or academic distinction. Their thoughts would include speculation on whether the present boys would in time end up like them!!

It is not unnatural for every such Group to regard themselves in later life as the "most outstanding" products of the ‘Alma mater’! Academic honours, success in the learned professions; leadership in industry and commerce; even political prominence seem to be the usual yardsticks by which they assess their worth... but the essential element is not what they are today but what they were when they left the old school!! Judged, however, by the foregoing criteria, the 1950 Group can justifiably claim for themselves an unrivalled academic record quite out of proportion to their numerical strength. Almost 20 members of the group finished their University education with Honours degrees: among them 11 were placed in the first class and carried off most of the prizes for that year. If they have made their mark in almost all sectors of society, they are conspicuously missing in the political arena. When questioned on this aspect, a spokesman for the Group conceded that "it is unfortunate that none of our Group opted for a career in politics though many had the connections and some fluttered on the fringe, but did not take the plunge"!!

It is a matter for profound regret that due to events in the last 40 years so much talent was unharness for the benefit of the motherland but was diverted towards enriching foreign countries instead. Nevertheless, many of the Group who stayed behind, have contributed to vital sectors of the economy. At a global level, the Group has performed well in their chosen sectors of human endeavour... all without self advertisement or showmanship. Most notably, in the field of education where the Group boasts of 11 Professors; contributing to the advancement of knowledge and developing another generation of students across a wide spectrum of the sciences and the humanities. They have gone about their business with dedication and a seriousness of purpose; more concerned about discharging their responsibilities to the best of their ability that in the acquiring wealth or ephemeral honours.

Not many of the Group have ventured into public service, other than in the medical field, but they have given of their skills and experience to the State on a voluntary basis. It would be invidious to mention names, but a glance through the records will disclose names of those who have excelled in academia and shone on the playing fields as well. The Group’s contribution to social advancement has been considerable. Its members have, in retirement, no need to embark on grandiloquent projects to perpetuate their names.

If any single member must be picked out for mention, then it should be the world-renowned astrophysicist Chandra Wickramasinghe whose stature as a mathematician and astronomer places him in the charmed circle of celebrities like Sir Fred Heyle. Chandra has been a prominent contributor to the discourse on the origin of life on earth... an area too esoteric for the comprehension of lesser mortals!!

‘Facta non verba’ seems to be the guiding principle of the Group. It has embarked on programs to complement the efforts of the school’s administration. One such is the "Royal Scholar" scheme that provides financial subsidies to high achievers to enable them to pursue higher education abroad. Elaborating on this scheme, the Group’s President Morgan Fernando, explained "we felt that in return for the splendid foundation we received when at Royal at no cost to our parents, some reciprocal gesture was called for. We aim to supplement financial resources where they are most needed but least available to financially disadvantaged but high quality students". The Group also augments medical facilities within the school by providing drugs, subsidising nursing staff salaries and extending professional expertise on a regular basis.

As an innovative and ingenious first-time-in-Sri Lanka effort, the group have placed a sealed capsule containing objects of historical interest as well as written material in a chamber within the precincts of the school sick room. The capsule is to be extracted in the year 2050...!!" The choice of location", said Mr. Fernando, "was dictated more by availability of a secure place than by preference over other options!!"

Surely this is a group of Royalists who have borne the banner with commendable achievements. All that the present writer need say to them is ‘ad multos annos’ as they move into the next decade.


Railway transport conserver of energy and the linch-pin for our development

by A. Denis N. Fernando
Rail Transport played a key role in the development of our country in Colonial British times. It was responsible for the development of the up-country as well as the tea and rubber plantations for the transport of inputs and to these estates and the transport of the produce to the markets by considerably reducing the cost of transport. The transport policy of the then colonial govt. was that the long haulage of goods was to be by rail, while the shortage haulage of goods was to be by lorry. This policy not only reduced the cost of transport of goods but has relieved the congestion of roads by lorry transport. This policy enabled the subsidy of passenger transport on the railway and most passengers used the railway for their transport.

Unfortunately with independence we had the independence of the wild ass and the political parties were responsible for the downgrading the railway in order to help the UNP stalwarts who were bus and lorry magnates, rescinded the earlier transport policy on long haulage transport. This was the beginning of the end of economic rail transport. The SLFP in order to prevent the UNP transport stalwarts from financing the elections, nationalized bus transport. Though this was a good move, unfortunately they overloaded the Transport Board by their political supporters and at a certain stage there were as much as 15 employees for each bus. Naturally it became uneconomic.

The Railway too had to face a similar fate because the technical head was replaced by an SLAS officer who had no clue to run the railway, and everybody knows what political interference had done to the early well-managed Railway.

Lack of economic transport

The lack of economic transport was the cause of the slow but steady decline of our economy. The lack of Railway transport had a severe impact on the new development schemes like Gal Oya, Walawe and Mahaweli as well as the under development for areas like Sabaragamuwa and Uva. The public servants in the line departments of education, health and other services resented to be transferred these places as it was considered "Siberia" by them because of the transport problem. The different governments sent their political enemies to these places as punishment stations. It is clear that if we really want to develop our country the economic transport of goods as well as passengers should be our first priority. A policy as envisaged in the pre independence days would appear to be the most rational especially in the context of the high cost of fossil fuels. As the Railway conserves more energy for the same ton mileage by a factor as much as "three" and is environmentally friendly therefore we should promote rail transport. This would also relieve the congestion of our roads as well.

Energy use in transport: The transport sector in Sri Lanka depends entirely on petroleum products for its energy needs. It accounts for over 75% of the total petroleum consumption. The petroleum bill of the country exceeded Rs. 26 billions in 1995, which is about 14% of the country’s export earnings. It is estimated that about Rs. 20 billion worth of petroleum is used in the transport sector. With the current prices of petroleum and the devaluation of the rupee this would have exceeded by a factor of over 25%.

The table shows that Public Transport Systems are more than 10 times efficient compared to the use of private cars, and therefore should be encouraged as a policy.

If 10% of the petroleum used in the transport sector is saved by way of a model transfer of passengers and goods from individual to mass transport from road to rail and further improvements to the operational efficiency of public transport; then we could save foreign exchange of over Rs. 2000 million per annum. This is equivalent to 60% of the budget allocation for health or about 50% of the budget allocation for education. Such is the wastage of foreign exchange and expense that could be saved if we go back to the transport policy in pre-independence Ceylon. In this context it is also imperative to take the railway to our development schemes of Gal-Oya, Walawe, Mahaweli and open the railway to Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa. In this connection I have proposed a 300-mile Development Frontier Railway almost a quarter century ago which the Government should take cognizance to implement immediately.

With the cessation of the war, with the availability of personnel in the services they could be usefully engaged in thus enterprise for the benefit of our country.

The accompanying map showing the development frontier railway connecting Mahaweli, Galoya, Walawe Development Schemes as well as for the development of Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa. As a Development Planner with over four decades of experience; to my mind this is our only salvation to get out of the mess we are all in.


Tales of a lifetime
I fetched Bradman with a pineapple

by Gerald Cooray
In 1938, my Grandmother, Lady Grace Peiris, decided at the age of 65 to make her fourth overseas trip. On this occasion, only to England, to renew old acquaintances. Her last visit was in 1926 when she travelled extensively in Europe with her husband, the late Sir James.

None of her children or grandchildren were free to accompany her. Luckily, she had two faithful retainers who were prepared to accompany her on this voyage. They were Thomas, her butler and Sophie, a nurse originally a maid in her household, who had been educated by Gran and qualified as a nurse.

Now very successful in her profession, she was only too willing to take leave from her job and accompany and look after Gran.

Both Sophie and Thomas were proficient in English, well mannered and reliable. And as Gran was insistent on making this trip, we felt that as Sophie and Thomas were accompanying her, we could breathe freely and trust them to look after her.

The day before she sailed for London on the Orient Liner "Orontes", I told her that the Australian cricket eleven captained by Don Bradman were on board the "Orontes" bound for England to defend the Ashes.

This information led to unexpected results. Gran took with her numerous gifts for her friends overseas. These included some luscious Ceylon fruits, including ample quantities of pineapples and mangoes.

The day after the Orontes left Colombo, Gran had sent a pineapple through Thomas to Bradman, with her compliments.

Bradman had paid a visit to her cabin to thank Gran for her gracious gift and an animated conversation had taken place. That was not to be the only visit. Many others had followed. And Sophie, in a very agitated state, penned a rather frantic letter to us in Colombo.

She said that a white man, slightly bald, in his thirties, pays frequent visits to Grace. And they seem to enjoy one another’s company and loud laughter accompanies their conversations.

"I don’t like this" said Sophie, "I feel, I must write and tell you all about it". Sophie’s letter had been written and posted while on board ship.

On arrival in London, Gran wrote me a letter which began "I fetched Bradman with a pineapple". Evidently, Bradman’s frequent visits to her cabin was due to the fact that he was interested in listening to her experiences on previous overseas’ visits.

And knowing Gran’s wit and charm, when entertaining guests, I was not surprised.

We replied to Sophie, thanking her for her solicitude, with the assurance that there was no cause for alarm.

Sophie and Thomas took good care of Gran and she returned from her trip, refreshed and invigorated.


Cricket as global and honourable

by Dr. Michael Roberts
"Cricket is more remote from anything sordid, anything dishonourable than any game in the world. To play it .... honourably ... is a moral lesson in itself and the classroom is god’s air and sunshine" (Lord Harris, former President of the MCC) "Cricket creates character" (Hoosain Ayob, ICC African Development Officer) ‘`Cricket is liberal education in itself" (Andrew Lang)

These are among the many profound statements by cricketing buffs in the propaganda video entitled Cricket A Global Game produced by the International Cricket Council to mark the new millennium at the same time that it spreads the WORD. Presumably commissioned in 1999, narrated by Stephen Tomkinson and produced by Tom Lewis and Graham Fry, this 45 minute exercise could not have known that the middle months of the year 2000 were going to be singularly inappropriate for its high-flown self-convictions. Hanse Cronje, several household names branded by innuendo and unnamed others have made such claims a joke. In grovelling for the mighty dollar they have been the epitome of the sordid and the dishonourable.

The irony in the timing and the dismay with which one views the circumstances of bookmaking manipulations should not, however, prevent aficionados as well as neophytes to the world of cricket from recognising the initiative of Dalmiya and the ICC in commissioning Donald Woods to direct this documentary. I applaud this selective survey of the field for its catholicity, its vision and its insights. These achievements render the actions of Cronje and a few cricketers in recent years all the more shameful

The wide scope of this film is indicated by the fact that it ranges over cricketing scenes in Lesotho, the Pacific Isles and Gibralter besides better-known venues. It encompasses women’s cricket. It has Belinda Clark asserting that cricket "is a thinking game which [therefore] suits women." And it begins with an incisive delineation of its many art forms by Micnael Manley, a Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Oxonian and cricket connoisseur, backed by superbly illustrative visual images of these viewpoints.

The film dwells only briefly on the history of cricket and such figures as Grace, Headley, Bradman and the Bodyline series. Its emphasis is on the modern day and it looks to the future. As one would expect, it embraces many striking moments in the post-1950 cricketing story. The beginning of one-day cricket, the Packer breakaway in cricket, the West Indies triumphs in the two initial World Cup series, India’s victory all the World Cup in 1983, the tried test between the West Indies and Australia at Brisbane in 1961, the ‘arrival’ of the West Indies at the leading edge of cricket in the 1960s under the aegis of Sir Frank Worrell and India’s first victory over England in the early 1960s, all these at touched upon via footage, commentary and interview.

Point of departure

India’s emergence at the leading levels serves as point of departure for the ramifications of the Nari Contractor story. Contractor, captain of the Indian side touring the West Indies in the early 1960s, was hit on the head by a wayward ball from Charlie Griffith. He was at death’s door from a blood clot. Frank Worrell was among the first to provide blood for the saving operation. This incident is annually celebrated by a blood donation campaign at Eden Gardens Calcutta, a commemoration of Worrell that serves the Indian public. In depicting such a tale the film compounds its thrust by adding footage on Ian Botham’s excruciating walks across his land in order to collect donations for leukemia research, Imran Khan’s cancer hospital and Steve Waugh’s work on behalf of those afflicted with leprosy in India.

To me such stories indicate a directing hand behind the documentary that had the wider society in view. No more so than when the film pans to "gangster territory’, in Los Angeles where a remarkable community worker, a tough little black named Ted Hayes, has inculcated cricket among the homeless roughs and ‘crime’ as a means of discipline and character building. "Far-fetched," you think’.’ Well, man, one has to see and here Hayes to believe it. I believe it. Hayes has erudition that is on a level with his vision. "(Cricket) having its civilising qualities we felt that it could be transmitted to the homeless population even if they were living outside the law." Thus was born a cricketing enterprise in an unlikely setting - and what could be more unlikely than gangland USA! - assisting toughs who dwelt "in socially incompatible ways" to "find a new way."

Not surprisingly, then, Lcwis and his film team do not avoid politics. Indeed, they embrace an explicit political message. The video begins with Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, proclaiming that ‘`the very essence of cricket is that both sides agree on the rules and that they respect each other, which is what the peoples of the world need to do if their new century is to be more peaceful and civilised than the last one."

Explicit political message

This is neatly underlined by an emphasis on the cricketing friendship and diplomacy between India and Pakistan. This pictorial emphasis is set up not only by referring to the history of wars between these two states but also through footage of the symbolic ritual confrontation played out at one of the border gates in our own day. Here, in a striking India version of the haka, Indian and Pakistani soldiers with bloated chests and (rather similar) beards strut and goose-step their hostility to each other in the very best of pantomime. A very serious symbolic caricature, this. What better contrast than the images of Pakistani and Indian cricketers comfortably lounging together with arms around shoulders as pals in the same team as they fronted up against the Sri Lankan side as part of their 1996 World Cup diplomacy, a slap in the face of those sides that saw Sri Lanka as a place too dangerous to visit.

And surely one of the best political moments in cricket was that occasion in 1998 when the Pakistani team beat the Indians in a pulsating, roller-coaster game at Chennai (Madras) and was applauded by the appreciative crowd of die-hard opponents as they jogged around on a victory lap. A pregnant moment this, a tale that had cheered me immensely when the news got around and which I now felt privileged to see on the screen. Here, then, was the spirit of cricket extending beyond the immediate protagonists to its wider circle of watchers. Long may that moment live. And may that same spirit circulate, take root and blossom. Out’ out sordid betting man, you cheating man.


Mother’s World
Help build confidence

by Danusha Wijesinghe
Children are the most precious possession of parents. They- represent the future of a nation and also the wealth and resources of a country’s development. Before birth and after birth there is a close bond between the mother and child. Bonding means the relationship or the association between the mother and the baby. Through breast feeding the mother impart her knowledge, confidence, humour etc. to the child where he feels it and affection of the mother. Through infancy, the children are totally dependent on the mother, cause the mother is the one who nurtures the childs growth and development. As they grow mother is that one who helps the child to walk, talk, learn and sing. This process of care and supervision continues mainly within the family circle till they go to school.

The most important thing to remember about child’s growth and development is to make the child independent and help the child to grow with confidence. Because each phase of growth and development has its own unique features with respect to the physical, mental, social and such other dimensions in life of an individual.

The most important period of life for healthy growth and development in body, mind and spirit are the formative years which is referred to as 3 - 6 years, early learning means the sensitive period which you go through in your life. Sensitive period means from birth to six years of age. This period as well as the formative years (3 to 6 years) are very important in a child’s life. Because what they learn and grasp through these ages get reinforced for its future development. Two main factors which influence the child’s personality are the inherited qualities and environmental qualities.

Personality means the sum total of a person’s physical and physiological characteristics which makes him a unique person. Personality is the pattern of all of a person capacities, activities, ideas, habits which he has organised in his own particular way within the limits of influences beyond his control. This pattern he constantly reveals in his behaviour as he strives to become the type of a person to be. To be more precise we could say that all the above elements could be compared to the raw materials which are needed to build a house.

Children need good nutrition for their physical growth. They too need love, a sense of security and a good parental guidance for their emotional development and well being to. If the mother -child bond is satisfactory a satisfying and solid foundation is laid for a good relationship between the

mother and the child. And on the other hand if love, sense of security are missing it can lead to adverse effects in their formative years. They will build a grudge against the family and society, they may go astray if they lack proper parental guidance. Therefore, proper parenting helps and influence a child’s personality. Authoritative parenting is the best, where the parent give love understand and facilities without overpowering or ruling. They conduct good standard and values, home is the instinct element which helps to grow with a good character background, teach the child the moral values, spiritual values, then he builds up self esteem, teach the child with confidence, show the reality with examples rather than by precepts, demonstrate that honesty produces happiness, show the values of your belief in religion etc. Children live in a constantly changing and challenging world often a threatening environment. The world is filled with fights and wars, not of their own making and problems not created by them. At this particular time it is very important of parents to guide with proper guidance and understand from loving parents as the physical, emotional and psychological changes take place rapidly in a child’s growth and development.

As you know children are on a voyage of discovery. Always they need to explore the world and their life is full of "why" how, and what" etc. They may go astray if they lack proper training, security or love. Likewise as much as an excess of some nutrients can do harm an undesirable excess of love and security is harmful. Children must not be overprotected. They have to fight their own battles for them to be self independent and develop self esteem. If they are over protected they become spoilt and backward . They do not want to interact with their peers. So eventually they get involved with crimes, juvenile deliquency and etc.,

A two year old’s life is full of slipbacks into behaviors that you thought she had outgrown once independent toddler suddenly clings to you when ever you leave the room. A child who had gone to sleep on her own for months starts asking you to lie down beside her until she drifts off. Out of the blue the original do it myselfer turns helpless and asks you to dress and feed her. Some parents call it regression. But the more positive and accurate way of viewing this syndrome is two steps forward, one step back" your child is learning so much so quickly that a few steps back are inevitable. A step back can be triggered by any major change in a toddler’s life.

Also examine your family life. If for example your spouse or you are under a lot of pressure at work, it is quite possible that the tension is extending into your home life. A two year old is certainly sensitive enough to pick up on such feeling and to experience anxiety about them.


Babes in the wood!

by Rohan Wijesinha
Would you send your five-year-old child out into the world to fend for herself with four others of her age? Humanity would cry foul! Yet, its seems that if it is a five-year-old elephant, and four others of her age, the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) broadcasts it to the World, and humanitarian conservationists pat them firmly on the back (Sunday Island, July 2, 2000). This may be an understandable reaction for those who love animals and wish to see them wild and free. But it is quite cynical when promoted by the DWLC who should have the knowledge that they may be condemning these unfortunate creatures to a life of fear, psychological impairment, and even death. Is it because they are only animals!

All literature on elephants, African and Indian, give great detail on the importance of the social systems, social bonding, social hierarchy, and matriarchal knowledge and instinct that all act strongly on an individual elephant, and contribute to the healthy physical and mental state of that elephant. Deprived of these, an elephant will lack the support and knowledge to survive in the wild, certainly before the age of adolescence. Even with this social strengthening, with the pressures of ever-reducing habitat and killing, the chances of a baby elephant reaching adulthood are getting smaller by the day.

In Uda Walawe, the venue for these releases, at present, and for some time past, observers have noted the large number of pre-adolescent elephants in every herd, up to 40% in some instances. This small National Park, only 100 square miles in extent should be crowded with elephants. Though there are plenty, they certainly are not in the numbers that complement the rate of breeding. The conclusion to be drawn is that there is a high mortality rate among pre-adolescent elephants in this Park. This is the same Park into which these new orphans are being released!

Hazards - Natural and Man!

Uda Walawe is beset by many dangers for all elephants. Poaching is rife within the Park. The elephants in the Park know how to avoid the smell of man; it is the smell of death. To these orphans it is the smell of life; men have been their saviours and carers. They look upon man with the same adoration, as does your dog at home. The Keeper is the Matriarch of their herd to which any baby looks for guidance, protection and leadership. These poor orphans are in for a shock when they meet their first poacher, or trigger their first trap gun!

Fires sweep the plains of Uda Walawe every year. Last year as much as 75% of the Park was burnt. The Matriarchs know where to escape, and where to go to find food. They know the secret trails across the river and up the Kaltota Escarpment. They know where the other foods are to be had in the forest belts by the river. They know how to strip the bark from the teak to supplement their nutrition in times of drought. Theirs is knowledge of generations, passed down from mother to daughter for centuries. What knowledge have these poor five-year-olds of this?

"The dependence of a herd on its oldest member the matriarch, in both African and Asian species, illustrates the selective advantage of the cumulative experience and learning made possible over the years. This feature is probably important in optimizing survival in adverse ecological conditions, or other dangerous situations, especially in animals with very large range requirements and in seasonal environments." (Olivier (1978) as in Jayantha Jayewardene, "The Elephant in Sri Lanka, Mortlake Press Ltd., 1994)

Order of Herds

From birth, elephants begin to establish their hierarchy among their peers, both within the herd, and within the larger family groups to which they belong. This avoids major confrontation and injury in the future, for they remember their position in the social system. This system would be a mystery to these poor orphans, and they would be vulnerable to attack from their own kind.

Of course the hope is that a herd who would have compassion at their plight would adopt them. Indeed the orphans released before, in the few observations of them, were seen on the periphery of a herd, though not actually accepted into it.

This is not surprising, as any child let out into the world would migrate into the vicinity of adults for security. But would they be accepted? In this case, we would all fervently hope so.

Look to their own

But as the overflowing orphanages in our human world demonstrate such altruism is not overly common even in the animals’ world. They, as the majority of us, tend to prefer to protect those connected to them by ties of blood. The wild herds would not wait for any of these orphans in times of distress, but would look after their own. The babies would be left behind to face whatever dangers the herd was running from - fire or man, or if lucky, to tag on to whichever herd came up from behind.

"There have been stories of elephants adopting calves when a mother has been killed, but I think it is probably a rare event." (Cynthia Moss, "Elephant Memories", Fontana, 1989)

At night, a baby elephant, for at five years they are still babies, would nestle near its mother to sleep, the frequent touching of the adult reassurance that all is well. lf a sibling has not been born, she may even suckle a little for comfort, though now relying on fodder for her sustenance.

"The cows are remarkably good with their young. They will fondle them affectionately with their trunks, wash them, and keep a constant eye on them to see that they do not stray into danger... " (Richard Carrington, "Elephants", Chatto & Windus, 1958)

Example

There is a better way to rehabilitate these orphans into the wild. Daphne Sheldrick has done it successfully in Tsavo, in Africa, with the help of Eleanor, a semi-tame adult female who acts as matriarch to the orphans. There the orphans live within the Park, well away from human habitation, and are let out to forage every morning with Eleanor who acts as mother and guide. The Keepers too, track them at a distance, just in case they get into serious trouble.

Then, at night, they all troop home, with Eleanor in the lead, for a comforting rub from Mother Keeper, and a soothing bottle of milk. They are spared the trauma of further separation.

With time, when they reach adolescence, the males drift into the company of other wild males, as they would in the wild, and wander further from home and then into the vast spaces of Tsavo, and freedom. With the females, it is a bit harder, as they would normally stay with the matriarchal herd throughout their lives. But they too are now better prepared for wild living, and though staying close to home, can survive better in the wild.

Why can’t we?

Can we afford such a scheme? A camp within the Park rather than a transit outside as at Uda Walawe? Do we have the political patience for such a long-term project? Can we afford the labour required for the intensive care of these animals?

At the moment the Government is entertaining plans to sell the DWLC to foreign banks saying they cannot afford the costs of conservation! That seems to indicate that money is certainly in short supply and smacks of expediency!

However, if a true scheme of rehabilitation is to take place such a course of expenditure is required rather than the costly publicity stunt that seems to be taking place at present. A stunt on the lives of baby elephants!

These orphans have already suffered the extreme trauma of seeing their mothers killed, or of being abandoned in a panic, and of being injured. Now they are put through yet another trauma of being parted from their surrogate parent, and sent out with a few others of their kind to survive in a dangerous wild world far earlier than they would have in their natural state, and with none of the skills of survival.

It sounds good to hear the term they are being set free, but is it for their good, or for the easing of our destructive consciences?

"...under natural conditions, no orphaned calves under two years old has ever survived their mothers’ death. Of those between two and five years old, only 30 percent had survived the two years following their mothers’ death; and of those between five and ten years of age, only 50 percent had survived." (Joyce Poole, "Coming of Age with Elephants", Hyperion, 1996)

Where there’s a will...

Without this proper programme of rehabilitation, captivity, with no legal measures in place to protect them from abuse, may not be the ideal. But that can be changed with some pro-active legislation by the DWLC, and Sri Lanka does have a long tradition of using captive elephants. Though not perfect, it still may be a better option than abusing these poor, baby elephants yet again in the name of so-called ‘love’.

Despite all this and if these plans continue to let these babes into the wood in these same circumstances, one can only hope and pray that providence will come to their aid.

"...in the story of the blind men,

Each one gave a different description of the elephant,

Depending on which part of it he felt.

Now they are to be left

Feeling only each other."
(Heathcote Williams, "Sacred Elephant", Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1989)


Mother occupies a very special place

It is a known fact that not only in the distant past but also today a mother occupies a very special place in the household activities concerning children.

The mother’s thoughts and wishes play a major role in the activities of her offspring as well as in the day to-day activities of the household.

Though it is true that father does the financial management of the family conserving financial resources in the family falls on the mother. It is her ability and talent which enables her to conserve and save whatever money she receives for the household expenditure. This cleverness of hers enables her to balance the income she receives despite the highly burdened expenditure of day to day affairs. Today it has really become an unsolvable problem for her how to face the fast spiralling cost of living. To ease this burden, at least to a certain extent she should pay her special attention to daily domestic recurrent expenses.

Consumption of electricity is one special aspect which every mother should consider as important since the electricity charges has been increased by 25% recently, which has been constantly increased over the past few years every now and then making her helpless.

Every mother should take remedial measures to conserving electricity. Limiting the consumption of electricity has now become a national issue. A mother could easily put into practice the slogan "conserve electricity by reducing consumption" she could easily do it by using Energy Saving bulbs at her home. But it should be kept in mind that all Energy Saving bulbs which are available in the market are not genuine ones.

In choosing a Energy Saving bulb following aspects

should be considered carefully:

1. The technology using manufacture.

2. The quality standard of the bulb and suitability for an environmental condition.

3. The warranty exceed to the consumer and the reliability the marketing organisation.

4. Approved by the CEB for sale under CEB CFL loan scheme.

Taking all these into consideration Brown & Company Ltd now introduces an Energy Saving bulb with the brand name "Fujilife" which adheres to all the required specifications.

Energy Saving bulbs are a dominion brand in USA and European market which is now available for you from all Browns showrooms and the Browns dealers islandwide.

Fujilife energy saving bulbs are:

* tested and proven in the USA

* made to reduce your power consumption by 80%

* made to last for more than 10000 hours

* manufactured according to Japanese technology and ISO 9001 standards.

* available in two colours warm light and day light

* available in 7w, 9w, 11w, 15w, 20w and 25w.

As Fujilife has contributed to the mother’s movement of saving expenses and less consumption of energy, there is no doubt that the mother’s only choice should be Fujilife Energy Saving bulb.

The name "Fujilife" is sure to remain in your mind forever.


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