Tamils were not the ‘favoured’ under British colonialism: Theva Rajan

[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 April 2013, 23:44 GMT]
It is noted that D S Senanayake advised the British to grant independence to Ceylon early, citing that the Tamils will be problematic as they were followers of Gandhian principles led by the Jaffna Youth League that agitated for full independence, writes Mr. A Theva Rajan in New Zealand, commenting further on a TamilNet feature last Saturday that refuted a repeatedly told myth about British colonialism favouring Tamils. The feature, “Tehelka report misled on British treatment of Tamils,” challenged a recent statement by Ms Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga that the frustration of Tamils was due to lost privileges they had enjoyed under British favouritism aimed at ‘divide and rule’. The myth, constructed by Sinhala polity to justify State-conducted genocide in the island has misled a recent report by Tehelka too.

Mr A. Theva Rajan said that he was adding the following points to the TamilNet feature by an academic in Jaffna that appeared on 20 April:

A Thevarajan
Mr. A Thevarajan, New Zealand [Image courtesy: Vanitha Prasad, Western Leader]
When the three Kingdoms – (the Jaffna Kingdom, the Kadyan Kingdom and the Kotte (which included Ruhunu Ratta also) were brought under a unified administration – not a unification of the Kingdoms because the status quo of each Kingdom including laws, land rights and social and cultural practices were written into the law and maintained intact.

It became necessary for the Government of Britain to reduce overhead expenses in their Colonies and as a first step they introduced English education into the Colonies and in Ceylon, the Christian Missionaries took the opportunity to resort to conversion as a step towards Government employment for those who gained English education.

The aim was to produce locally the low and middle level administrators and stop British Staff to whom British level salary had to be paid.

Though Jaffna was not the first place where Christian Missionaries landed, English education was not much resorted to in Batticaloa, Chilaw, Galle and Matara where the first contacts were made, because the soil was fertile with regular rains (except Batticaloa) and people preferred to continue with their agricultural pursuits in main.

Because the Jaffna soil was barren, mainly rocky or stone laden, people had to toil and sweat very hard to eke out a living (In Chilaw until His Lordship Marcus Fernando became the Bishop in the seventies, the Church also did not encourage education).

They did not want their children to toil like them. They mortgaged their farmlands or even sold them to give their children English education. Even Ivor Jennings the first Vie Chancellor also has commented on this. The most successful of those who came up in the different competitive Examinations were selected according to requirements.

In addition, the American Mission too helped in the development of English education.

There were quite a number of Sinhalese who emerged as successful administrators, and professionals like Engineers, Doctors and Lawyers etc., during this period.

The Sinhalese also had a special advantage - a singular advantage, over the Tamils.

When smallholdings were introduced, quite a number of Sinhalese became owners.

Thus, in terms of economy, and socio–economic mobility the Sinhalese were in a relatively superior position.

There was no economic development in the North and East during the entire British period – not even infrastructures like Link-Roads and easing of travel and transport because the North and East did not come within the purview of the colonial economy of the British.

Though the KKS Cement Factory, the Paranthan Chemical Factory and Valaichenai Paper Factory were the initiatives of the British, the implementation had been delayed by the War and came in after independence. There is a Sessional Paper on this project.

It is noted that D S Senanayake advised the British to grant independence to Ceylon early, as the Tamils will be problematic as they were followers of Gandhian principles led by the Jaffna Youth League which agitated for full independence – the sign of unadulterated faithfulness of the coastal Sinhalese to the British Masters.


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