A Postscript to Independence Sri Lanka is supposed to have got in 1948
Posted on February 1st, 2017

Dr Sudath Gunasekara (SLAS) retired Ministry Secretary

On the eve of another Island wide so-called independent day celebrations it baffles my mind once again, as it happened for many years, as to what foolery we are doing on this day wasting so much public funds and losing millions of productive man hours that could have been otherwise used for the general betterment of our society. Looking at the prevailing broader socio-political scenario in our country five major pertinent questions come to my mind in this context..

Have we got any independence at all in 1948?

What is the kind of Independence we have got ?

Where is it found?

When are we going to get real independence? and

Who will bring Independence to us and when?

This is a modest attempt on my part in retirement for the readers to ponder, in the light above observations, whether it is worth celebrating this so-called Independence day on Feb fourth every year at such enormous cost to deceive and hood-wink the people spending so much money and time, as we have done it for the past 68 years.  What other purpose it has served us other than just exhibit the vanity of a band of empty-headed, self centered, uneducated, and unpatriotic people called politicians who capture power alternatively and who have not done anything worthwhile to create a free, sovereign, peaceful and prosperous nation for the past 69 years.

Asking the same questions way back in 1970 when I was a young DRO  (Udadumbara Mahanuwara District) I wanted to do something different from this popular tamasha norm held to commemorate a fictitious notion on the day reserved for that event. Under this in 1970 I started to open up the Ratnella settlement scheme to settle 500 landless farmer families and in 1971 I initiated the construction of a new road through shramadana, avoiding the famous 18 bends road 5 miles in length (of which 4 ½ was completed in 1 month) and nearly 3 miles shorter than the existing road from Kandy to Mahiyangana, though up to date not completed. Had the successive Governments engaged in this kind of work, for the past 69 years, all over the country in place of this Great deception covered under Indepandence, our country would have been literally again converted to a heaven on earth as we were the richest country in whole of South and South East Asia by that time.

Therefore don’t you think that it would be far, far better for us at least now to do something meaningful, a departure from the tamasha norm, as I did in 1970s as a beginner in public service and rethink about this wasteful celebration on this day of having a state level celebration to display the vanity of those empty people in power in Colombo and in the outskirts at regional levels and in villages all over the country  with events like Lissanagahe yema, Kottapora, Avurudukumari & Kumaraya terime, Kana muttiyata pollakin gehiima, aliyata es tebiima and Polgema etc  wasting a nations valuable resources and time to commemorate an independence that does not exist on earth, an independence never got in our history up to date and but certainly an independence we all should strive to get to forge ahead as a country at least now..

One has also to take in to account the cumulative lost, over the years, of man days and resources for weeks just before and after this fictitious celebrations in government institutions like office, schools, factories, workplaces, factories and paddy fields etc to realize the seriousness of what I am trying to say here.

The meaning of Independence

Independence for a country that had been under foreign occupation means many things.

First of all it implies returning of the whole territory they had before the conqueror took it to its original owners, free of all encumbrances. The freedom for them to govern their own country as a free, independent and sovereign State the way they want. There after the conqueror should have no hand whatsoever in the internal or external affairs of that country. To my mind none of these conditions were satisfied in this bogus Independence package as I have attempted to explain below, though it may not be comprehensive.

I was just nine years and in grade four in school when Sri Lanka got Independence from the British in 1948. We were told by teachers that we got full independence from British rule and thereafter we will have our own government instead of a government by white people as we had from 1815. Later in the sixth std we were taught in the civics class that Sri Lanka has got Dominion status, that is self rule within the Common wealth of nations. However other than studying civics then and Government and Political theory in later classes in school and the University as a subject for exams we did have very little understanding as to what kind of Independence we got in 1948. Though we had to cram high sounding political theories, constitutions found in text books, at no stage, we were presented with critical analysis of the broader subject of Independence or the true status of independence we have got.

Many years later I realized what really happened in 1948.It was only a change of persons who ran the government. The white people were replaced with natives a pack of black kalu suddhas trained by the same colonial powers to serve their needs. In other words only the jockeys have changed but not the horses to put it rather bluntly. The purpose of this note in the wake of the 69th Independence day celebration is to look at critically as to what really has happened in 1948 and thereafter in this country. We got only dominion status and not full Independence in 1948. It is said what we got is self rule within the British Common wealth. But looking at the form of government, the institutional arrangement, the hidden colonial leverages inbuilt in to the Constitution, political Party system, the legal system, language, education, dress and customs and habits and the people who manned it, it could hardly be described as true independence.

In this backdrop did we get self rule? Could we build up a nation who think, act and behave as a free and proud nation? Therefore what is the independence we have got? Even after 69 years are we an independent nation is the question I intend to discuss here.

A closer view of the Soulbury Constitution that was a made in Britain’ Constitution by Ivor Jennings clearly reveals that it was craftily designed by the Colonial masters to reserve British control and continue exploitation. The same British system continues in running this country even today. British never intended to make this country a free and Independent nation.  Their interference even in our domestic affairs, controls they exert over trade, governance and foreign affairs clearly show influence they exercise on us. A closer scrutiny of the way things are happening I wonder as to what Independence we have got in 1948 and where does it found.

It is a tragedy that none of the then leaders including the golden brains of the left parties and even at least S.W.R.D who apparently displayed some serious thinking on independence were able to relieve the nation from this colonial trap.

It is true that after 1948 people could elect their representatives to the Parliament, even though within the crucible that was ready made by England. Look at the following direct limitations imposed on our freedom by the British when they left.

  1. Sec 45 of the Constitution says the executive power of the Island shall continue vested in his Majesty (in England) and may be exercised, on behalf of His Majesty, by the governor General. The Governor General was appointed by the Queen of England and certain function like making of treaties, appointment of Ambassadors and declaration of war etc were kept with the Queen

2 . The Queen is a part of the Parliament. Sec 7 of the Constitution says ”Parliament of the Island shall consist of His Majesty and the two chambers to be known respectively as the Senate and the House of Representatives

  1.  Final appellate power of the Judiciary was vested with the Privy Council
  2. Nearly 1 million Indian indentured labour, the British got down from South India to work on their tea plantations were not repatriated and the burden was left to Sri Lanka

5 Nearly 1.4 million acres of land right at the center of t he country under tea were kept under sterling companies occupied by foreigners, British owners and Indian Tamil labourers forming an enclave  inside the country

As a result the vacant possession of land taken over by the British from the native Sinhala people was not returned to the natives. As such the land was not made free.

  1. Katunayaka and Trincomallee air bases kept with them. They were taken over only in 1957 by SWRD,
  2.  In fact even the Prime minister was also actually appointed by the Queen as it makes no difference in appointing him by her or the the Governor General who was representing her in Sri Lanka
  3. And until 1972 all members of Parliament had to take their oath in Parliament in the name of the Queen of England anf this country was made a Republic only in 1972 by Mrs Bandaranaike
  4. Assent to all legislation by the Governor General was also made in the Queen’s name till then
  5.  The system of Government was Westminster model of Parliamentary Government and the same institutional system that was there under British continued with English as the Official language at least until 1957
  6. Maldives Islands that was a part of Sinhale taken over in 1815 was also not returned

12.Sec 29 of the Constitution imposed specific ban on the Legislative power of the Parliament to protect the s-called minorities they themselves craftily created to destabilize this Island Nation.  There were no minorities when the country was ceded to the British in 1815.

The Independence Day was fixed for the 4th of February to celebrate the birth day of the wife of Ivor Jenning. Our patriotic pundits embraced it with both hands to please the colonial masters.

On the top of all these restrictions British also divided the nation by introducing the concept of many nations to this country for the  first time in its history, by Governor Moor advising D.S. Senanayaka to form a political party called the United National Party to form the Government, saying it was a constitutional requirement. The Ceylon National Congress, Sinhala Mahasabha, Ceylon Tamil Congress and the Muslim League together formed the United National Party. This move together with the provisions of the Sec 29 for the first time in the history of this country permanently established the notion of the presence of many nations in this country, whereas we had only one nation called Sinhala (meaning the people of the Sinhale) completely distorting the history. Thereby British laid the foundation to legitimize communal politics in this country, an extension of their sinister divide and rule policy they started in 1833 by dividing the country in to provinces, thus becoming the architects of the modern EELAM concept of the separatist Tamil.

The 1948 Constitution also did not restore the autochthonous name of the country, Sinhale that was ceded to British in 1815.

Those who took over the reins were His Majesty’s obedient Servants in everything except the colour of their skin. Besides paying hosanna to the Imperial masters and enjoying the newly got privileges, unlike in Indians who started Constitution makin in 1935 and declared a Republic more or less immediately after they goy independence in 1947, our leaders also did not have a vision or a national plan to usher in an Independent and vibrant nation.

So in sum, other than the National flag, the Throne and the Crown that were returned on that day by Duke of Glousester, I do not see anything the people of this country have got in 1948, that could be called Independence in its real sense. The national flag so got back was also diluted in 1952 to strengthen minority claims/

One can imagine the degree of brain washing the British have carried out over the years when you see how we have been unable to produce a single patriotic Sinhala Leader up to date who could assert the true Sinhala Buddhist leadership in this country even after 68 years, to steer back the nation to its original    form like what Indians and Burmese have done after Independence. India appointed committee under Ambedcar to prepare a national Constitution in 1935 and adopted it in 1952 declaring India as an Independent Republic.  We did it only in 1972 but still retaining the basic features of the British political tradition.

Even our manners, the way we eat, dress, behave and think and the values we adore ad cherish are all western. Now you see what kind of Independence we have got in 1948. Three western Imperial powers, Portuguese, Dutch and British have been working hard to destabilize this country and destroy its native culture religion and all what is native from 1505 alternatively. It is against this trend Anagarika Dharmapala fought a lonely battle in his whole life. Thanks to the Eksath Bhikshu Peramuna Banadaranaike was able to usher in a new socio-cultural change in 1956 which brought about a significant return to the native values for which Anagarika Dharmapala was agitating for nearly fifty years. But it was short lived firstly as Bandaranaike was assassinated and secondly there was no patriotic statesmanship or a visionary bureaucracy like in India.

When you look at what the British continuous to do even today, one can clearly see the British intentions and designs they had in the back of their minds way back in 1948. Isn’t it a shame that even after 69 years of ‘independence’ we have not been able to make a constitution of our own? Instead even today we are only struggling to get out of the divisive and communal trap cleverly set by the British Vikings, while getting further bogged in the Augean mess our politicians have created.

Even after 69 years look at the people who rule the country.

Look at the present President, Prime Minister and his close associates. How servile they are to Britain and her western allies without an atom of feeling, even in a dream, for this golden land, its people and its heritage. They have even allowed the National Anthem to be sung in Tamil just to please the Tamils, a tradition no other country in the world has.

Apart from these gross failures and serious lapses, isn’t it a classic tragedy that we have not produced a single national leader of the caliber of our great ancient kings like Dutugemunu, Parakramabah or Vijaya bahu  of the yore or at least one leader like Angarika Dharmapala up to date, to rescue our motherland from the abysmal depths in to which our politicians have put it.

This is the kind of Independence we have got and it is not found anywhere on this Island

When are we going to get true independence and who will bring it to us and when and how.

Are we going to keep our fingers crossed and look on until a Diyasena Kumaraya emerges from dust?

We can never be a free and independent nation until we get a strong, fearless, benevolent and patriotic Sinhala Buddhist leader who will stand up on his own feet and openly and boldly declare with a clarion call that,

This is my own, my native land,

Where in always my heart burns’!

And where, on earth I shall die

For it and my people at last”

All those politicians now at the wheel,

Who betray the native land and its people,

The way they are doing it now,

Shall go down to the vile dust, from where they sprung,

Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung, and

Establish a Government based on the Mhawamsa tradition of the Dharmasokian model, based on the tenets of Buddha Dhamma such as  Dasaraja Dhamma and Satara  Sangraha Vastu as it had been for 2500 years on this land for the good and happiness of the people  on this soil and restore the  primordial national identity of Sinhale with the right place to Buddhism.

7 Responses to “A Postscript to Independence Sri Lanka is supposed to have got in 1948”

  1. Christie Says:

    Dear Sudhath:

    The so called British Empire in fact was a British Indian Empire. British were the absentee land lords.

    Indians were the Colonial parasites who settled in these British Dominions.

    So in 1948 the British left but not the colonists the Indian Colonial Parasites.

    We are still a colony of the Indian Empire.

  2. Christie Says:


    අපි බැලුවොත් මොකද ඇත්ත කියල අපි අද ඉන්න තැන තේරුම් ගන්න පුලුවන් වේවි.

    බ්‍රිරිතානි අදිරදය ඇත්තෙන්ම බිරිතානු-ඉන්දියානු අදිරදයකි. බිරිතානියා පිට සිටි ඉඩම් හිමියාය. ඉන්දියානු පරපෝසිතයින් අපේ ඉඩම් අයිති අපිව පාලනය කරන උන්ය. සුද්ද ගියාකියල අපිට ඉන්දියානු අදිරදයෙන් නිදහසක් ලැබුනේ නැත.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Although we officially became a republic in 1972, India filled the vacuum left by Britain. Since 1972 it started to interfere and ultimately wrestle control of the country.

    We have to dispassionately assess if becoming a republic did us a practical favour or destroyed us. It is very easy to say it was great that we finally broke free from colonial control. But what really happened was one colonial power was replaced by a worse one or many.

    If we remained as we were before 1972, we would never have 13A, India would not help create the LTTE, no Indo-Lanka peace accord, no war crimes issues, no demand to remove PTA (while Britain has it), our “supreme court” will not be abused by politicians, fundamental rights would be better protected, election fraud will be minimal and law and order would be better.

    I know this is extremely unpopular among all Sri Lankans (including Tamil separatists and extremists too). However, a dispassionate analysis must be done for the sake of the nation. There are no holy cows.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    “Are we going to keep our fingers crossed and look on until a Diyasena Kumaraya emerges from dust?”

    He will NOT come or come TOO LATE.

    MILITARY + SANGHA should take over the country. There is NO other way.

    Look what happens in the OTHER 2 BUDDHIST COUNTRIES – Burma and Thailand. When politicians mess up the MILITARY takes over.

  5. Christie Says:

    Diyasena has to come from water not dust.

    If Military + Sangha takes over that will give India an opportunity interfere directly to protect Indian Colonial Parasites who are Hindus.

  6. Nimal Says:

    Wind of change is inevitable what ever Sudath says or write. Every one will look forward to the life styles of the present day modern nations of the former colonial nations. Just a matter of time like the people giving up the bullock cart to motor car.The proof is some writers live there.

  7. Lorenzo Says:


    No need to worship colonials or FOLLOW them or even have to be UNDER them to benefit from their GOOD.

    e.g. TURKEY.

    They NEVER pandered into COLONIALS but it is an ADVANCED and DEVELOPED country. They too have cars. Turkey showed the middle finger to the British, POUNDED them in 1915.

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