Ratata ha jatiyata vina karana Huniyam Tunak
Posted on September 27th, 2010

Dr Sudath Gunasekara (SLAS) President Senior Citizens Movement Mahanuwara

25. 9 2010 A Huniyam is translated as a black spell or an incantation. But both words do not precisely convey the exact and precise meaning of the Sinhala word Huniyama to the Sinhala mind, though the Englishmen might get some vague anthropological notion associated with it. Because people think the way their mother tongue has developed their faculties to think. Then only they get the exact meaning of a word with its intrinsic nuances deeply embedded in their society over a long period of time, and that is a part of their culture.

 As such if I translate the heading of this article as “Three black spells or incantations that ruin the country and the nation” you want get the same meaning and the frightening and shivering feeling with its all variations that one would get on hearing the above Sinhala heading. Therefore deliberately I decided to use the Sinhala heading for this article with the permission of my English readers.

Every one who know a wee bit of history of this Island nation know that this country was one of the most prosperous and affluent nations in the world in the past. Particularly during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods, it was the envy of the medieval world. But today even after sixty long years of political Independence we are no where near that pristine and glorious past though some consolation could be breathed with regard to the Dry Zone irrigation and paddy cultivation programme thanks to the first Prime Minister of Independent Sri Lanka, D.S. Senanayaka and the cultural revival emerged during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century thanks to the revivalists like Anagarika Dharmapala. S.W.R.D. who made Sinhala the Official Language in 1956 and the latest apparent emergence of a cultural Sinhala Buddhist revivalism since 2005 also has to be noted in this regard.

Many a reason such as colonial exploitation, backwardness of our technology compared with that of the industrial west, inadequate capital and raw material and ethnic disunity could be arguably adduced by way of explanation as to why we have failed.. It may be true that such constraints may have played a decisive role in our plight. But as for me I feel the deeper reasons for this unfortunate situation lies elsewhere.

 Our inability to face the challenges as one United Nation with one national goal with undivided commitment and one vision of nation building in the post Independence era, I think was the main reason as to why we have failed. The epithet “united we stand and divided we fall” we have never taken seriously or we have never been able to comprehend. Among all such constraints I identify three fundamental issues which I call the “Three Huniyam” that have destabilized and ruined this country and continuing to do so as a dead weight round its neck

They are

a) Ethnic disunity
b) Provincial system and
c) Party politics.

 a) Ethnic disunity
Ethnic disunity is the root cause and the bane of this problem. If all three ethnic groups, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims had behaved as they did before the advent of the Colonial powers even after Independence in 1948 or the Sinhala leaders had asserted their real  power in terms of the Kandyan Convention sections 4 and 5 the story of Sri Lanka today would have been completely different. Ever since independence it had been a continuous cat and dog life for them.

 This was particularly so between the Sinhalese and the Tamils though it was not that bad between the Sinhalese and the Muslims untill M.H.M. Ashrof started his Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in 1981 at Kattankudi, thus adding fuel to the already burning Sinhala -Tamil communal fire.  Muslims and Tamils have been living amicably in this country among the Sinhalese for centuries. Prior to the advent of the Colonial powers though there were temporary skirmishes between the Sinhalese and the Tamils who invaded the Island from South India, by and large, they had been living together peacefully as one nation.

In fact those days they all were citizens of the Kingdom of Sinhale. It stretched from Point Pedro to Dondra and Chilaw to Batticaloa. This becomes more than evident when even the Kandyan Convention of 1815 was singed between Great Britain and Sinhale though they called it Ceylon in English which was nothing but an anglicized version of Sinhale. Some Tamils embraced Buddhism and even took Sinhala names and they had a high regard to the major community, that is Sinhalese, whom they acknowledged as the masters of this Island. Muslims on the other hand mostly took Sinhala ge names and married Sinhala women and got assimilated in to the main stream of the country, which was Sinhala.

 The tug of ethnic war between the Sinhalese and Tamils began only after the advent of the western powers, particularly the British who laid the foundation for communal division in 1833. The Dutch first brought labourers from Malabar Coast in South India to work on their tobacco plantations in Jaffna. Thereafter the British also brought South Indian labour firstly to work on their construction works like roads and  railway and later to work on Coffee and Tea plantation on the hill country. While doing that they also meticulously laid the foundation for perpetual ethnic strife by adopting various diabolical conspiracies.

 Among them the first step was the carving out the Island in to a number of Provinces in 1833 and the introduction of communal representation (Note there was equal representation for Sinhalese and Tamils 1 each) that had a clear ethnic basis particularly in the north and the east. Then they planted the Indian labourers on the plantations right at the centre and created a Tamil enclave completely cut off from the adjoining Sinhala settlements as a future demographic time bomb.

This was their first geopolitical strategy to rule the Island by adopting a sinister divide and rule policy. Then they flooded the Jaffna peninsula with English schools (For eg: by 1845 Jaffna peninsula had 36 English schools out of a total of 103 for the whole Island while utterly neglecting the Sinhalese areas. Then they hand picked Tamil aristocratic youths like Muttu Coomaraswamy, Ponnambalam and Arunachalam Ramanathan and gave them preferential treatment over the Sinhala youth in the south who formed the ethnic majority (more than 90%), and instilled in their minds that Tamils are a superior lot compared with Sinhalese and they are also much more intelligent than the latter. With prospering English education in Jaffna more and more Tamils were recruited to government service.

 This preferential treatment enabled more Tamils to join public service as Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Clerks. Station masters etc. This process created a superiority complex in the minds of the Tamils and they were made to think and act as a superior ethnic lot who are even suitable to take over the administration from the British. Sinhalese on the other hand in their magnanimity once elected P. Ramanathan to the legislative Council from Colombo District as their representative in preference to Marcus Fernando a prominent Sinhalala leader of that day and Ramanathan was driven in a cart pulled by Sinhala voters to the Legislative Assembly.

The formation of the United National Party in 1945 further proves that the Sinhalese were never communal minded. Again even after the Ilankai Tamil Arasukachchi was formed in 1947 the Sinhalese did not form a Sinhala only political party. All these events clearly show who started communal politics in this country and who threw the first stone. The British also adopted four different laws to dispense justice. For Sinhalese the Law country law and Kandyan law, for Tamils Thesavalamei and for Muslims Muslim law. This communal attitude on the part of Tamil politicians was a direct outcome of centuries of Colonial conspiracies.

 It took an unusually a long time for the Sinhalese to realize this conspiracy on the part of the British. The Sinhala leaders were more concerned about broader national issues such as political independence and religious conversions. The emerging Sinhala Nationalism in the latter half of the 19th century paid more attention to these broader issues. I think in the process they failed to comprehend this cancerous ethnic undercurrent being hatched by the Colonial rulers. In spite of these moves by the British even some Tamil leaders of that time like Ananda Coomaraswamy and Ramanathans have displayed high level of scholarship and sense of patriotism that wee free from communal bias. Anada Coomaraswamy’s Medieval Sinhala Arts (1905) and Sketches of Ceylon History (1906) by P. Arunachalam of the then Ceylon Civil Service could be cited as few classic examples in this regard.

 However as political agitation gathered momentum the same Tamil leaders shifted their stance and there emerged a new communal outlook in heir agitations. This marked a paradigm shift in their thinking. Thus in 1921 P. Ramanathan broke away from the Ceylon National Congress which was based on the twin principles of communal harmony and national unity formed in 1917 to agitate for political independence where he was a prominent member and formed the Ceylon Tamil Congress. This marked the starting point of Tamil communal politics in this country. Although Tamil leaders broke away the Sinhalese along with Muslim and other leaders continued to work as a non communal group under the banner of the Ceylon National congress.

 In fact there was no political organization used the word Sinhala until S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike formed his Sinhala Maha Sabha in 1937. The Muslims too had formed their own League by that time .But it is interesting to note that it was called the Sinhala Muslim League which finally joined the United National Party formed in 1945 along with Bandaranaike under one common banner UNP there by giving up their communal outlooks. But the Tamils continued as the Ceylon Tamil Congress and meanwhile they agitated for the famous 50-50 whose chief spoke man was G.G. Ponnambalam.

 In 1947 the Tamil Congress splitted and while men lead by Ponnambam joined the UNP another group lead by Chelvanayagam formed the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi which meant the Ceylon Tamil State Party. In English they called it the Federal Party to hoodwink the Sinhalese and the outside world. This was the starting point of the Tamil movement for a separate State for the Tamils in the North and the East. This was followed by Satyagraha, smearing tar on number Sri plates in 1957 and finally culminated in the 1977 Vadukkodei Resolution that marked the culmination of Tamil communal politics that led to the emergence of the LTTE and all the subsequent disasters and tragedies in the political history of this country.

Those who cry on Black July never speak a single word about brutalities on the part of Tamils like the massacre of Sinhala students in the Jaffna University the chasing out of all Sinhala residents from Jaffna and the massacre of 13 army officers coming home on holiday and other similar pre 83 Tamil atrocities that finally led to the 83 communal riots.  None of these Tamil leaders admit that minorities in Sri Lanka are the lot who enjoy the highest privileges for any minority in the world. This statement was not made by a Sinhala chauvinist as some pandit often use to say. But it was made by an Indian scholar when he addressed a Chelvanayagam commemoration meeting in Colombo some time back.

Now you can see who started communal politics in this country though many people in their shear ignorance of facts blame Bandaranaike for making Sinhala the Official language in 1956 which they call the starting point of communal politics in this country.  S.W.R.D. only restored the lost right of a nation which they enjoyed for 25 centuries that was robed by the British in 1815.

If Sinhala language, a privilege they enjoyed for 25 centuries and even then was spoken by more than 90% of the people of this Island nation, is not made the official language in this country, I wonder where else in this world it should and could be made the official Language? Isn’t it a tragedy that even some ultra intelligent Sinhala lunatics criticize S.W.R.D. for this magnanimous act? What a shame and what a disgrace on these de-nationalized pigs? As for me I adore him as the hero who put the nation back on the saddle of their heritage, gave pride of place to their imagination and culture the hero who enthroned the Sinhala language after 141 years of barbaric deprivation of their mother tongue by the colonial rulers.

Was it not two 11 year old tiny tots migrated to this country, one a Malay born Christian (Chelvanayagam) and another a South Indian born Hindu Tamil (Thondaman) playing the role of modern Hanumans, who never spoke a single word of Sinhala until their death, who actually set this country ablaze with communal fire against the Sinhala nation? Some Tamils like Amirthalingam’s wife publicly vouched to swim in the blood of Sinhalese to achieve their goal of EELAM. So it was not only Pirapaharan and his misguided murderous outfit to be blamed for this disaster.

These communal Tamil politicians in Sri Lanka who never treat this country as their mother land want equal status by way of language, political rights and devolution of power and lastly a separate Tamil State in this country with the final objective of annexing the Island as a part of their dream mega EELAM Empire when even in India with 70 million Tamils in Tamilnadu do not enjoy any of these privileges in spite of the presence of extremist rabid politicians like Nedumaran and Vaiko who are more concerned about Tamils in Sri Lanka than their own people in South India.

They do not talk of the fact that Tamil has already been made an official language in this country when it is not so even in India. In the long Sri Lankan history it was against foreign invaders our ancestors had to wage battles. But this time it was against a section of our own people, set against us both by local and foreign elements we had to fight a war, perhaps the most complicated and the most difficult war ever fought on the soils of this country for thirty long years spending billions of rupees and losing tens of thousands of valuable human lives, there by retarding progress at least by two three hundreds of years.

You will now see the difference between fact and fiction and who is really responsible for ethnic violence and disturbances in this Island nation that have taken the country down the Gadarene slope of disaster and misery over the past sixty years.

 We must make Sri Lanka a country of one nation. The nation and the country should be synonymous. You can’t have more than one nation in any given country. It is a tragedy to hear and read statements like “we will treat all nations alike”, made even by the President, Prime Minister and other prominent Ministers, University professors and the press. The moment they say so the notion of many nations gets settled down in the minds of the minorities. It is high time that some one knowledgeable and smart point out this mistake to our leaders at least now and build up the one nation one country concept.

Most of the present day problems would have been averted had the leaders taken the correct steps in 1948 at Independence. They should have insisted on the conditions of the 1815 Kandyan Convention and restored the original name of the country as Sinhale as it was mentioned in the Convention. Also they should have asked the British to take back the estate Tamils either to the United Kingdom or India as they were not their in 1815 as Burma did. It is a national tragedy that we did not have statesmen of such far reaching vision. The only man with such vision, who could have done it Sir D.B. Jayatilaka was tactfully removed from the main stream of politics and packed up to India as an Ambassador.

 b) Provincial system

 Now coming on to the second Huniyama, the setting up of virtual communal enclaves by the colonial conspirators, by the artificial amputation of this Island in to Provinces in  1833, one witnesses for the first time in the history of this nation a systematic and calculated ethnic division of the country in action to achieve their ulterior and sinister political motives of divide and rule to keep this Island nation eternally divided ethnically and immersed in perpetual confusion so that it will never re- emerge from that dismal and rotting abyss in to which they have pushed us in to. It was the divide and rule strategy the British adopted both in India and Sri Lanka to achieve their ulterior imperial goals.

 In India they succeeded by carving out Pakistan and Bangladesh from the mainland, one, before they left and the other, few years after and today enjoy the fruits of their tactics which people like Ali Jinna and Abdul Rahuman had blindly swallowed. But in this country they could not celebrate it prior to their leaving the shores of this Island. Nevertheless they have not given it up as yet. This is exactly what they are trying at now, with the help of the so called International Community and our good neighbour India. This time they have used India as a cat’s paw by getting Rajeev Gandhi to invade the Island in 1987 and impose the infamous 13th Amendment that consolidated and cemented the British dream permanently on the map, as the blue print for a two nation’s state in this Island.

Unfortunately neither, JR nor the leaders who succeeded him up to now have been able to comprehend the real dangers behind this move though very few people like Gamani Jayasooriya and Lalith Atulathmudali have foreseen the imminent disaster that is going to befall on this nation arising from it. They only scratch on the surface with blissful ignorance on the political history of this Nation. None of them seem to have any long term vision or a mission by the country or the nation. They do not see beyond the tip of their nose. They are concerned only of political power for themselves and their families.

 They go on multiplying political office and administrative machinery that erode the national coffers with no tangible results for national progress. Look at the number of political institutions and politicians and also the number of public servants per person (1for 16) as estimated. Every body, other than the UNP was against the Provincial Councils in 1987. But today not only every body wants it but now they are also going to have elections for the Northern Provincial Council as well after the Budget.

Meanwhile there is a move to take back the police powers and reconsider land powers as well. To me they appear to be steps in the correct direction. But the decision to have elections at the same time for the North clearly contradicts it. In short all seem to be groping in the pith dark without knowing what they are doing and where exactly they are heading for. Why cant our leaders see the duplicity and enormous wastage this system has given rise to and realize the imminent dangers in store for the future perhaps already proved beyond all doubts and throw this fatal noose forcibly imposed on us by India for us to hang across the Palk straight.

 Our politicians appear to have not learnt anything from Vadaraja Perumal or Pilleyan episodes. By having a separate Provincial Council for the North the government is only taking a giant step backward in its commendable forward march. There by it is also paving the way for future EELAM with a united North and East. If you study carefully the provisions of the PCC you will notice that under the guise of devolution they were designed to control the central government.

Are our politicians not re-enacting the classic Indian Andawenupama episode where seven blind men holding on to their sticks eternally go round looking for the beginning, which they will never find, or the local seven blind men desperately trying to describe the elephant?  These Provincial Councils were scrupulously designed by India for establishing the EELAM firstly in the North and the East and then extend it to the entire Hill Country. They were never meant for the rest of the country.

 But what did our politicians do. They only set them up for all other Provinces though our political crooks embraced it probably seeing through the political plums forthcoming and now that they have tasted the political manna of this system they don’t want to give that up. It is not the country but the political and personal benefits what matter to our politicians. In short that is the stark naked truth about this whole system.

Why can’t these people go back to the old Tun Rata concept which has kept this Island nation intact for 2242 years from 427 BC up to 1815 A.D. This type of perpetual geopolitical arrangement was unheard and unseen any where else in the world and the secret behind this epic state was the compatibility and the geopolitical reality that guaranteed this political division of the country and its resources both from a development point of view and strategic importance. Such a division will initially do away with the cancerous Provincial Councils which only multiply political and administrative office at enormous cost to the nation with no benefit to the country other than the politicians. It will reduce political and administrative offices by two third. Then it will also reduce state expenditure by 2/3rd and above all it will completely extinguish all future ethnic segregations and divisive tendencies. That will also make all people citizens of one country.

I have been writing on this topic for the past ten years or more. But no one in authority has paid any heed to it up to date. What a tragedy I lament. In this country good counsel is never taken seriously by any one. Who wield political power? Continuation with the 1987 Constitution or tinkering it will never solve the present day of future problems instead it will make things even worse. So the only answer is its replacement with anew one. In my opinion Tun Rata (Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya) is the best political division for this country from all angles, political, economic, social and cultural. It has been time tested for 22 1/2 centuries. It will provide the best geopolitical frame for sustainable political stability.

 See the following table as to how it will benefit the country


            Present                                  Proposed
President                 1                                         1                                     
Prime Minister                 1                                         1
Governors                 9                                         3
Total                11                                         5
         Present                                 Proposed
MPP Parliament           225                                     125
Provincial CS           638      (3 Ratasabhas)                                   150
Ministers Parliament           109                                       15
Provincial Councils            45     (3 Ratasabhas)                                     45
Total No Politicians 10+225+638=                                                  873                          4+125+150=279

 c) Party politics.

 Now to touch upon the last major Huniyama I have stated at the beginning of this note, I draw your attention to the problem of party politics. Ceylon National congress formed in 1919 was the first organization formed for political agitation. The Tamils broke away and formed their Ceylon Tamil Congress in 1921. Although Bandaranaike formed the Sinhala Sabha in 1937 perhaps as a reply to the Tamil Congress, along with the Sinhala Muslim League he joined the United National Party formed in 1945 under the leadership of D.S. Senanayaka. It was actually the first political party formed to contest elections. Of cause there were others like the Lanka Samsamaja Party and the Communist Party who contested the 1947 elections.

 Party system again is a legacy we have inherited from the west. Ours was a different tradition altogether that has bee revolving round a monarchy- a kind of benevolent dictatorship if you like to call it. True, that there are serious criticisms on that system. But judging by what stupendous heights to which we had risen during the Anuradhapura and early Polonnaruwa periods and the abysmal depths to which we have fallen under an imported system of government over the past six decades I don’t see any thing wrong in that system. Not that I am suggesting that we should go back to that ancient monarchical system stock and barrel. But what I say is we should evolve our own  Home      grown system based on the teachings of the Buddha which is people centered than any other whose fundamental thesis was Bahujana hitaya Bahujana sukhaya concept.

 The most conspicuous characteristics of all our political parties is they all have narrow agendas often base don personal  priorities. None of them have long term National policies. The main policy of all parties particularly after 1956 has been to win over the minority votes to form the government and remain in power. This took precedence over all other issues. So much so people like Thondaman and his heirs have always been with the government in power even if they contested election from the other party. That is how they began to boast that they are the king makers who either form or send home all governments.

 In any case political mafia that has swallowed the entire nation hook, line and sinker should be removed forth with and an independent public service and judiciary should be restored as early as possible with adequate and effective checks and balances to guarantee good governance. I do not wan to delve in to details of party politics in this country since it is common sense for every body even on the street. I do not know as to how many politicians (at all levels) are there to whom you can talk freely to his/her face or over the phone after the elections are over leaving alone meeting them to discuss your problems as an elector.

 Before I conclude this note, for reasons of brevity, I would like to list few more pertinent issues ( which I would like to call lesser Huniyams in comparison the above three though they are also equally destructive) that had to be addressed immediately if we are going to make this country the “miracle of Asia” as he President has said. All these suggestions will restore good governance to the happiness of every body and take the country to prosperity. There after the rulers will go down in history as the best statesmen any country in the modern world has produced.

 Restore law and order and rule of law;

Restore the credibility of courts and the legal system (without verdicts like Rs 200,000/= bail for a 5 year old girl for allegedly stealing Rs 5/= and Sarath Fonsekas Military Court case);

Depoliticize the public service; arrest waste, extrvagance and corruption; reduce public holidays to the bare minimum (religious holidays only to the adherents of that particular religion); 

 Allocate monthly or annual fixed targets to all politicians and public servants; arrest proliferation of political and administrative positions and institutions; 

Do away with un-necessary tamasas and meetings;

Confine official duties of both politicians and officials to their areas of authority only;  

Arrest environmental degradation and deforestation particularly in the central hill country and declare all land above 5000 ft, Including present tea lands as strict natural reserves in order to protect the Heartland of the nation as the major watershed; make meritocracy the main criteria for state jobs;

 Have a strict code of conduct and ethic for politicians an;

Let example take place of pride instead of long and  boring precepts often observed in the breach by those who preach;

Re- introduce death penalty immediately;

Have a strict code of ethics to all media  to protect  our values; strictly prohibit politicians and public officers or their agents from doing contracts under government;  

Both politicians and state officers must behave and act as they are the servants of the people and not as tormenters and hangmen who sit on their heads and who deliver the final judgment on their destiny.

Give pride of place to Agriculture; Go for a national system of education an either ban international schools or bring them under the national system or face the threat of a  generation completely alienated from the values of this country; make arrangements for all who pass the A /Level to get a university education without making another mess by allowing foreign Universities to operate within the country who will invariably cater to their own needs  and finally make patriotism, commitment, dedication, truthfulness, efficiency, service to people and religious life the hall marks of public life. In this regard I would suggest that we adopt the Dharmasokan model of governance which is acclaimed as the best righteous form of governance the world ever had, even by H.G. Wells the world renown historian. I am sure you can add many more to this already long list.  

2 Responses to “Ratata ha jatiyata vina karana Huniyam Tunak”

  1. jayt Says:

    I would like to respond to some section of this article, but I want wait until somebody -a Sinhalese historian confirm that every word in this article is true.

  2. dingiri bandara Says:

    yes, it is only in Sri Lanka that sinhala can be the main official language. But the mistake I think was alienating the majority of the sinhalese to the english language that created a disadvantage to many educated, intelligent and smart sinhalese in many ways. We will, however, never know what plans SWRD had as he was assasinated.
    It is my opinion that the sinhalese students should have been made to study english as the second language and also tamil as a third language.Most tamils know tamil snhalese and enlish whilst the muslims know sinhalese, english, tamil and in most cases arabic whereas most sinhalese know only sinhalese.

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