Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Elusive Sri Lankan identity

After 1915 Sinhala - Muslim riots,up and coming Sinhala national leadership was in jail .It was Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan who led the fight to get them released.It is said that on his return from London after arguing the case ,he was greeted by a parade in which Sinhala people carried him in a decorated cart ,young men dragging the carriage instead of horses.He ran for the seat of educated Ceylonese and was elected defeating Sir Marcus Fernando a Sinhalese.That time the reason was a Givigama-Vellala caste allinace which crossed the race divide to keep the rising karava caste from reaching the power.After some time the Tamil and Sinhala leadership went their own way .There were no leaders of National appeal who could cross the race divide in a significant way.Left (LSSP,CP etc..) had it's leaders but they were relatively small.Then there were minor flukes like minorities representing majority Sinhala electorates.Not a national trend.1956 fucked everything up.

It took a long time for a true cross -cultural leader to appear .Roll back to 1994.Chandrika Kumaratunga.Fresh after election victory and peace talks ,everybody thought she was going to do it .Chandrika craze was all over the country.North and South.Not for long.May be she had "it" for 6-7 months.

Along came her foreign minister .LAKSHMAN KADIRAGAMAR.Unknown to Sinhala masses until 1988-89.Was not that much known until he bacame the foreign minister in 1994.He slowly began to grow in the hearts and mind of average Sinhalese.PRABABLY DUE TO ALL THE HYPE IN SINHALESE NEWSPAPERS.(I personaly believe he deserves it all.).I know even day labourers knew about the man and respected him .(Unlike your average politician).He has the good fortune of not representing an electorate.
Was he hated by Tamils?I don't know .May be.LTTE hated him.Probably average Tamils were proud of him as there was no parallel in Sri Lanka among any other race.If he ran for presidency I'm sure most of Sri Lankans would have voted for him(except LTTE and hard to convice Sinhala right wingers ).

The unfortunate thing is that he is the exception not the rule.The possiblility of another cross cultural national leader is really thin.He should have been the President .He represented the Sri Lankan identity,the dream we would have achived if not for the nearsighted decisions of leaders past and present.

P.S.

Of course there is our cricket team!It's just cricket, isn't it? .mmm.....or is there more than that?

8 comments:

ivap said...

Any idea on LKs background. I'm trying to understand how a kid from Jaffna ended up at Trinity but I haven't found much info.

Chandare said...

Ironically best biographical sketches on the web are in tamil net(http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=15615) and TamilWeek I think.
After Colombo ,Jaffna had the best schools.Then Kandy and Galle,Matara,Kurunegala.The probable cause among upper classes might be the parents moved to these cities for work hence the children went to school there.On the other hand most of the leading schools were boarding schools ,too.

For instance No.2 of 60 -65 and 70-77 governments ,Maithripala Senanayake and former Speaker K.Ratnayake both Sinahalese from Anuradhapura went to school in Jaffna!(As a result both these guys were fluent in all 3 languages a rarerity among Sinhala politicians)

Chandare said...

Ironically best biographical sketches on the web are in tamil net(http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=15615) and TamilWeek I think.
After Colombo ,Jaffna had the best schools.Then Kandy and Galle,Matara,Kurunegala.The probable cause among upper classes might be the parents moved to these cities for work hence the children went to school there.On the other hand most of the leading schools were boarding schools ,too.

For instance No.2 of 60 -65 and 70-77 governments ,Maithripala Senanayake and former Speaker K.Ratnayake both Sinahalese from Anuradhapura went to school in Jaffna!(As a result both these guys were fluent in all 3 languages a rarerity among Sinhala politicians)

ivap said...

Thanks!...

Chandare said...

analysis from DBS Jeyaraj
http://www.tamilweek.com/Kadirgamar_RaceReligion_0014.html

Chandare said...

http://www.tamilweek.com/Lakshman_Kadirgamar_0014.html

ashanthi said...

matripala sennayke was also a blessed individual & I don't say that because they are one of my distant relatives...

first time i've visited your blog -

Chandare said...

Thanks for visiting Ashanthi.
Maithripala Senanayake was a blessed individual,I agree.