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The solution (Part II)

"The biggest mistake the British did in this country was giving universal franchise without realizing what was in store for them. It may be that the British had an enormous faith in the leadership that they had created for the Sinhala people and never anticipated the fifty six or two thousand five nearly fifty years after fifty six."

By Nalin de Silva

(June 17, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The British who created the Tamil ethnic group did not have a clear idea as to what a nation was. That is why they called both the Sinhalas and Tamils as nations whether majority or minority. The infamous Leghorn Minute refers to two nations the Tamils who came from present Tamil Nadu and the Sinhala nation that had origins in Siam, or Thailand. The Minute is wrong on both counts but the Tamil racists even today hang on to the two nation concept perhaps knowing very well that the Leghorn Minute is wrong both conceptually and factually or concepto factually. (The term concepto factually has been used in order to reveal that facts are not sacred and that they depend on concepts and theories). Though there had been a Sinhala nation from the days of Pandukabhaya there had not been even a Tamil ethnic group either in India or Sri Lanka before the British occupied these regions. There had been only Tamil speaking groups before the British introduced ethnicity into the conceptual framework and in Sri Lanka if one wants to make use of the term Tamil speaking people to include the Muslims with reference to so called devolution of power then it is clear that the term Tamil ethnic group cannot be used to devolve power.

The British erroneously called the Tamils a major nation first and then again erroneously called them a minority nation though the Tamils had not been even an ethnic group either here or in India before the British came. As we have said in many articles which the Tamil racists conveniently ignore, the British having created a Tamil minority nation and hence an ethnic community (not in the terminology of nation state of the western Christian modernity) instigated the English speaking Tamils against the Sinhala nation especially the Sinhala Buddhist people, helped them to create a bogus history with two independent states, a Tamil state in the North and a Sinhala state in the so called South. The English civil servant Leghorn was again the culprit who identified one of the Dutch Judicial divisions as the region of the kingdom of the Tamil nation. Based on these errors it is claimed by Tamil racists that there were two kingdoms of two nations namely the Sinhalas and the Tamils when the Europeans came to the country, the English after 1815 united these two kingdoms and established a unitary state for the first time in the island, but when the English went back the so called Tamil kingdom was not given back to the Tamils but was given to the "Sinhala imperialists". The Tamil racists further claimed that the original Tamil state had to be liberated from the "Sinhala Imperialists" and Prabhakaran took up arms in order to establish the Tamil Elam.

It has to be remembered that the Leghorn Minute, not a "scholarly study" but just a minute by a mere English civil servant, was discovered only later in the so called struggle to liberate the "Tamil State" from the "Sinhala Chauvinists". At the beginning the Tamil racist movement was instigated by the British to acquire power at the centre so that the Tamil Vellalas could become the leaders of the country. The resignation of Ponnambalam Arunachalam over the representation of the western province Tamils in the legislature, his formation of the Thamil Maha Sabai the first racist organization to be formed in the country, fifty fifty proposal by G. G. Ponnambalam which could have made the Sinhala members a minority in the state council were all attempts by the Tamil racists to become the leaders of the country without allowing the Sinhala elite to become the leaders. The British governors connived with the English speaking Tamil elite in this exercise as the British had an inherent hatred against the Sinhala Buddhists from the very beginning.

The biggest mistake the British did in this country was giving universal franchise without realizing what was in store for them. It may be that the British had an enormous faith in the leadership that they had created for the Sinhala people and never anticipated the fifty six or two thousand five nearly fifty years after fifty six. Perhaps they were encouraged by the "defeat" of Anagarika Dharmapalathuma by the nobodies who became somebodies in the beginning of the twentieth century. These somebodies were the result of western education that the British imparted through their schools and the economy that they had introduced after the so called Colebrook reformations. They were not reforms as such but proposals that propagated the western Christian culture (through schools), laid the foundation of the western Christian economy demolishing the Rajakari system which was identified as a feudal system by the British "Scholars", and established the western Christian political structures. In short Colebrook and Cameron replaced the Sinhala Buddhist way of life with western Christian modernity breaching the Sinhala British agreement of 1815 which was named the Kandyan Convention by the British. We have to be freed from Colebrook and his colleague Cameron if we are to achieve independence.

The British would have had full confidence in the somebodies who had accepted the western Christian culture as the dominant culture in the country though some of them would have remained as Buddhists in religion. It has to be emphasized that a "Buddhist" can adopt the western Christian way of life and accept the dominance of the western Christian culture. The leaders who were given to the Sinhala Buddhists by the British were the nobodies or those who were Sinhala Buddhists by culture who had become Obamas (somebodies) by becoming Christians of western Christian modernity by culture. These so called leaders were acceptable to the British just as much Obama is acceptable to the white Americans, and the British had expected them to deliver the goods for them. Anagarika Dharmapalathuma the Sinhala Buddhist leader was defeated by these Obamas of yesteryear, and the British police officers in Sri Lanka and the governors considered him to be a spent force. It is said in the reports prepared by these officials when Anagarika Dharmapalathuma addressed meetings after he had come back from India only a few workers in the harbour and some students from Ananda College came to listen to him.

The British must have thought that the somebodies who defeated Anagarika Dharmapalathuma were able to crush the nationalist movement and that there would be no threat from the Sinhala Buddhists to western Christian modernity. They gave universal franchise to the Sri Lankans thinking that the nationalist movement was all over. They had their Obama in the form of D. S. Senanayake who had become a western Christian by culture though he remained a Buddhist by religion. Not only that Senanayake was acceptable to the British, he was seen by them as a person who would not completely break away from the British empire. (The Marxists were not nationalists and except for schoolboy type adventures like the Bracegirdle incident they were not a threat to the empire. As far as the British were concerned the Marxists, especially the Trotskyites who opposed the war became a nuisance only during the so called second world war.) However,l the British should have worried of Senanayake, a Sinhala person becoming the leader of the "nation", even if he was one of their creations, instead of a Tamil. The Tamils especially the Ponnambalam – Coomaraswamy family had led the Sri Lankans from the third quarter of the nineteenth century making the Burghers to leave the stage gradually with their aborted Ceylonese nationalism. The British did not properly understand what they had done by giving universal franchise as they were under the impression that the Sinhala nationalist movement was dead.
-Sri Lanka Guardian


Unknown said...

Comment on The Solution (II) by Dr. Nalin Silva

By Mr. Simple Man

The nation and the nation state are two different concepts. Nations have existed from time immemorial. However, the nation state came into being only a few centuries ago. All over the world people considered themselves as part of a particular nation, either in terms of boundaries or cultures and in terms of their kings or emperors who named particular areas and peoples as a nation. Thus, Sri Lanka was also a nation long before attempts were made to make it a nation state. It is ambiguous as to whether Sri Lanka is still a nation state except purely from a formal point of view where it is recognised internationally as one sovereign nation.

The internal development of the nation state was not something that was attempted at feudal times anywhere in the world. This same applies to Sri Lanka. However, it cannot be said that the colonial power, the British, created a nation state out of Sri Lanka. The very idea that a colonizer can create a nation state goes against the very idea of a nation state which is something people, by their own agreement, create for themselves. The British created an administration for a colony. That administration may have had some modern aspects such as the basing of administration on law, some forms of the exercise of political power and also the judiciary.

The making of a nation state was left to the Sri Lankans to do after independence. However, the Sri Lankan political leaders of all shapes and communities failed to address this matter. They merely used whatever new powers the British gave and manipulated them rather than making an attempt to evolve the basic agreements on which the nation state of Sri Lanka would be developed. Gradually Sri Lankan political leaders gave up even the limited developments regarding law, political and public institutions that the British had introduced.

Then there started quarrels about whether this is one nation or two nations etc and blood was shed. It was bloodshed due to a misunderstanding of history where the central problem to address was how to develop Sri Lanka into a nation state based on a comprehensive political agreements, a comprehensive legal structure, a comprehensive institutional structure and a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals of a nation created by way of political thought and transmitted by way of education.

All this nonsense of unitary, separate or federal states or administrative regions are failing to address the more fundamental issue of building a nation state within which a meaningful idea of citizenship can be built. If that is built irrespective of what language Sri Lankans speak they could enhance each other’s interest within a body of political thought, laws and a legal structure and institutions which are commonly shared. As long as this problem remains unaddressed it is possible to go on with a lot of nonsensical talk and unfortunately the waste of the lives of people of all communities and even bloodshed.

If the discussion on the nation in Sri Lanka shifts to a discussion of the nation state of Sri Lanka, the discourse on the part of everyone will be different.

Unknown said...

What is the use now of all this stuff, Dr. Nalin Silva writes. At one time it may have created a good excuse to mobilise the military to kill all those fellows of the LTTE. Now they are dead. Perhaps these writings may serve the purpose of making people feel good, saying that we did the right thing. Be that as it may, what is the future now? If giving of adult franchise was the worst thing the British did, why not abolish it all together. Does Dr. Silva advocate that? If not, why not? Secondly if the Colbrooke Cameron reforms are wrong why not abolish them? Does Dr. Silva advocate that?

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