Response to Lorenzo on the following two queries
Posted on May 12th, 2017

Dr Sudath Gunasekara

Response to Lorenzo on the following two queries

Dr Sudath Gunasekara

This is a short note on Lorenzo’s query on my article on “Pitiful plight of the Kndyan peasants on 29.4 2017. I hope Lorenso can be satisfied with this.

Sudath

You highlighted an important issue. I have several questions related to how a solution can be crafted.

  1. Can the descendents of the Kandyan peasantry who were dispossessed by the British still be identified as a unique group and how?
  2. I expect that thd 600,000 acres stolen by British and given to British planters exist today as large government or privately owned tea estates. If so, they constitute a productive national asset. Are you proposing that they be acquired, formed into a large government overseen venture, and eithe thd annual income or the shares be distributed to the descendents of the Kandyan peasantry referred to above in my first question.

These two questions relate to who should be compensated and with what they should be compensated.

Lorenzo Says:

1Yes, Kadyan peasants (as named by the British) are the descendants of Sinhala people who were original natives in the hill country villages evolved by the  upstream  migrations from the Dry zone in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, though there is evidence to prove that there had been prehistoric settlements even on the present Horton plains ((Deraniyagala)

There are four categories of present day Kandyan Peasants

That is Descendants of

  1. Those who still live on degraded hill slopes adjoining tea plantations right round the central hills
  2. Those who lived in traditional native villages that survived mass exodus due to British onslaught in the valley bottoms within the  Kandyan Kingdom
  3. Those who lived within the boundaries of the traditional Kandyan Kingdom prior to 1815, leaving out the narrow littoral belt occupied by successive colonial invaders
  4. Those who were chased out of their native lands by the British during the 1817/8 and 1848 independence struggles or who escaped death by sword and presently living all over the country

Of these (a), (b) and c) categories could be easily identified by taking a census

But getting a count of the total in category d) will be very difficult. Still could be done if you have the political will and a genuine feeling for these people that is absolutely non-existent among Sinhala politicians of the day as it had been amply proved over the past 70 years since the so-called Independence in 1948.

My PhD research work in Umaoya basin had revealed that Sinhalese settlement s of the early period had extended up to 3700 ft above mean sea level being the highest level at which paddy could be grown. On the western side of the central hills this has gone up to Kotmale ,.So all those lands below this level would had been early settlements, irrespective of along what river basin they migrated while Mahaweli   Ganga was the main river even other rivers like Kala oya , Deduru oya and Mahaoya also contributed to this upstream expansion.

All lands above this level were virgin forest that covered the nation’s watersheds that provided the source for all the rivers which supported the entire life system and formed the foundation of the civilization of this Island nation. These forest lands were protected as strict reserves by the King. As such they belonged to the native people of this country, until they were taken by force by the British to open up their Coffee and Tea plantation. Until that time it was the people who lived in these peripheral villages who protected them on behalf of the Sinhala Nation As such the Kandyan peasants have a better claim for these lands, though all people living in Tun Sinhale have a say in them

In my opinion no other person other that the native Sinhalese can have a claim to an inch of these lands, because it had been their motherland for 2500 years at least. That is why I say the present Government’s policy of giving these lands either in 7 perch blocks or 2 acre blocks as planned by Ranil and Kiriella should be stopped forth with. Specially the programme of Upcountry Tamil Village Development of this Government to collect their votes should be immediately stopped. The Indian Government don’t recognize them as Indians, Even the request by Tamilnadu Govt to give citizenship  to refugees from      Sri Lanka has been rejected by the Indian Government They are also not even regarded as People of Indian Origin. Those refugees cant buy or own land or houses their either But these estate Tamils keep on wooing India and worshiping Indian politicians.

These are follies done by all Governments since 1948. All unpatriotic Sinhala politicians are responsible for this situation. Therefore at least now we must find a Sinhala leader who will say “this is our land and those who want to live here, work here and eat here have to learn Sinhala, give up the Indian dream and get fully integrated or quit as Putin and Australian PM have said which I have already mentioned in one of my previous write ups. All Tamil politicians have to cease to be called Tamil Politicians anymore and get integrated with national political parties. We shall never allow Tamils or Muslims to have their own political divisions in this country. We must look for a leader who will restore this policy.

Regarding your query no 2

Large government or privately owned tea estates.

These estates are no longer a productive national asset as you say according to a recent study almost all these estates are run by money pumped by the Treasury. Even payment of wages and salaries of most plantations run by JEDB or the State Planation Corporation are paid by the government and as such they are running at a loss. My understanding is today most of these tea plantations are running at a loss. Many factors like poor management, land degradation, labour unrest we, low productivity etc and severe competition from other countries more particularly African are the main reasons for this sad state of affairs. In sum I think today they are run on State subsidies just to maintain the Indian Tamil labour force for political reasons. As for me I do not see any justification for continuing these plantations in the present form.

My plan for these tea lands is

1 Close down all tea estates above 5000 ft Msl and declare all that area as a strictly reserved forest for the protection of the Central water sheds , the “Heart Land’ of the nation to protect the perennial river flow of the nation and control floods in the downstream regions.

2  Develop all tea land below that level

On the following basis

  1. Large scale Plantations run by JEDB and SPC on commercial basis
  2. Plantations run on a people’s cooperative societies
  3. Middle class Small Holders tea estates distributed among settlers settled on the farms of small holder settlers privately owned as mixed settlementsunder village expansion of Kandyan peasants and Indian labour who qualify to be citizens under Nehru/Kotalawala Agreement 1954.
  4. In any case the current mono Tamil Village development programme of the present Government should be immediately stopped as a precaution against converting the Central hill country in to a South Indian Tamil settlement, a Malayanadu, that would be a serious threat to the territorial integrity, security and unitary State of Sri Lanka. Once mixed settlements are developed it is expected the hill country Indian Tamil will integrate with the natives as it was done during the mediaeval periods in the South western sector of the Inland. That will also put an end to the estate Tamil issue in this country. Of cause the Estate Tamil should be prepared to undergo this social and cultural transformation. They have to give up all their Indian ness and be the people of this Land . They cant play double game That is the only way to achieve long term ethnic reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. I they want to live here they cant have one leg in India and the other only here and call this is the motherland and India is the Fatherland as Manoganeshen has said.

This is only a layman’s suggestion.  A detailed plan has to be developed by a committee of experts in Plantation, settlement development , economics and social development. We must have a national policy on this all important national issue that does not and cannot be changed with change of Government.

 

6 Responses to “Response to Lorenzo on the following two queries”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Many kingdoms had disappeared as a result of disappearing agriculture becuse of erosion of fertile soil. Sri lankan Tea estates will come to that one day. It syas, Mannarama Green Bawl disappeared like that. Kambodia is an empire disappeared like that.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sudath,

    You made a mistake. It is not Lorenzo, our resident EELAMIST AGITATOR, who asked those two questions, but I, Ananda USA.

    Therefore, please revise the title and content of your article lest it be attributed incorrectly to Lorenzo!

    Thanks,

    Ananda-USA

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Thank you Dr Sudath. These are valid questions in our minds.

    Ananda USA asked them on behalf of the forum but that doesn’t change the content.

  4. Christie Says:

    We are a colony of India. Gandhi’s dreams of 90 years ago fulfilled by Modi.

    See video Modi’s visit to Indian Colonists in Hiull Country.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw4qtHAZlFE

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Katussa (Lorenzo),

    Don’t change the subject. I was not asking Sudath to change the content, but the attribution which is very important in both academics and in journalism.

    I am certain that such finer points of ethics always escape you.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Yes, it was Ananda-USA who highlghted the two important issues Dr Sudath is referring to.
    It is important that credit be given to Ananda-USA.

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