Sri Lanka

Farewell to a Stalwart of Diplomacy: Jayantha Dhanapala’s Enduring Impact



Today, we bid farewell to a remarkable individual whose contributions to the global community have left an indelible mark. Jayantha Dhanapala, a distinguished diplomat, scholar, and advocate for peace, passed away, leaving behind a legacy that transcends borders and continues to inspire us all.

Dhanapala was a true embodiment of diplomacy, known for his unwavering commitment to dialogue, negotiation, and conflict resolution. Throughout his extensive career, he skillfully navigated complex international landscapes, fostering understanding and cooperation among nations. His exceptional talents as a mediator and peacemaker earned him the admiration and respect of colleagues and adversaries alike.

One of Dhanapala’s most notable achievements was his pivotal role as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs. In this capacity, he tirelessly promoted arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament initiatives, advocating for a world free from the shadow of nuclear weapons. His resolute dedication to these critical issues has left a lasting impact on global security efforts.

Beyond his diplomatic endeavours, Dhanapala made significant contributions to academia and intellectual discourse. As an esteemed scholar, he delved deep into the complexities of international relations, enriching our understanding of the intricate dynamics that shape our world. His thought-provoking writings and lectures have stimulated countless minds, encouraging dialogue and fostering a more enlightened approach to global challenges.

However, it is perhaps Dhanapala’s compassionate nature and unwavering belief in humanity’s potential for good that truly set him apart. He possessed an innate ability to bridge divides and foster understanding, displaying empathy and respect for all parties involved. His tireless pursuit of peace and justice served as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of compassion and diplomacy in shaping a better world.

As we mourn the loss of this distinguished figure, we must also celebrate his life and the values he championed. Dhanapala’s unwavering commitment to peace, his profound intellect, and his unwavering belief in the inherent goodness of humanity will continue to guide us as we navigate the complexities of our interconnected world.

In honouring Jayantha Dhanapala’s memory, let us redouble our efforts to promote peace, understanding, and cooperation among nations. Let us draw inspiration from his example and work together to build a world where dialogue prevails over conflict and where compassion triumphs over hostility.

Today, we come together to honour the memory of an extraordinary individual who embodied the ideals of diplomacy, scholarship, and peace advocacy. As we bid farewell to Jayantha Dhanapala, let us reflect on the profound impact he made during his time with us. Although he may no longer be with us in body, his spirit persists within the hearts and minds of the countless individuals whose lives he touched. Through his remarkable achievements, Jayantha Dhanapala has forged a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire and guide us in our collective pursuit of a harmonious world.

Mother’s Day and Rights of Women    

I am late in responding to Mother’s Day (14 May) which could have been a landmark in changing antagonistic social culture in Sri Lanka like in many other countries. But better late than never.

Compared to many other democratic countries, celebrations and memories on this Mother’s Day in Sri Lanka was minimal. Of course, the hotels like Galle Face, Shangri-La, Hilton, and Movenpick had special offers and menus for those who come from higher echelons of society to apparently celebrate the event. But the great majority of mothers (80 percent) come from lower sections of society who don’t even have the opportunity to visit a normal hotel, let alone Shangri-La or Hilton.    

TV Programs

Although I carefully glanced through the prominent newspapers in English and Sinhala, there were no editorials or special features, at least referring to the Day or the event. However, there were some TV channels who utilized the opportunity to run some interesting programs. Siyatha, Tharu Piri Re (Siyatha, night full of performers) on 13th night was one of them.

Rangana de Silva impressively conducted the program, participated by teledrama and film artists like Manjula Kumari, Chathurika Peiris, Nipunika Hewagamage, Maheshi Madusanka, Oshedi Hewamadduma and Nehara Pieris with their mischievous little daughters. They all contributed to the program with singing, dancing, and expressing their views on the subject of Mothers role in family and society. I am very familiar with Nehara’s strong maternal traditions of always giving priority to modesty, equality, and independence.

Hiru TV Copy Chat also gave prominence to Mother’s Day on 14May itself. One major difference was the utilization of both mothers and children who are both involved in acting careers. Kavinga Perera conducted the Chat helped by (I believe) Narmada Yapa. Kumari Munasighe and Akila Dhanuddara were a main focus both on their merits and Jackson Anthony’s heritage. Manel Wanaguru and Janith also contributed as mother and son. The contribution of Geetha Kanthi and her daughter, Paboda Sandeepani, also brought a different angle to the discussions. In the web, this Chat became extremely popular with over 200 comments within two days and huge number of viewers. However, one demerit of the Chat was the unfounded view expressed as the ‘genetic’ connection between mothers and sons and fathers and daughters. All these depend on circumstances and social ethos, some may need to be changed in the case of Sri Lanka.

My Mother

I was born in a family of seven children, four girls and three boys. Our father died when I was ten years having one girl and a boy born after me. My mother, maiden named Pearl De Mel, naturally had to shoulder a great burden. Even before, as I remember well, she was completely in charge of the household with of course father’s help. We were living just next to the St. Peter’s Church at Moratuwella. We also had a housemaid, Menika, from an unknown family from Ahaliyagoda. My mother also was a mother to Menika from a different perspective.

My father was working as the Chief Clerk at the Department of Labor when he suddenly died in 1955 of a stroke. I cannot remember any major dispute between my mother and father, perhaps my mother being a somber person by nature. There was a clear division of labor between them. Although my mother received a widow’s pension, the first major problem that she had to encounter was the question of money. However, we were fortunate to have a wide friendly family circle both from mother’s and father’s side. They monthly collected funds and donated to our expenses. When ‘our father was living, we were somewhat rich, but after he died, we became poor.’ My mother jokingly used to tell us like that.

My mother was fairly educated in the field of nursing or midwifery. But she could not work because of the burden of family responsibilities. This is a predicament of many women facing even today. She however offered voluntary help in childbirth of family members and neighbors. Because of our father’s sudden death not only our mother but also our three elder sisters had to sacrifice. They had to leave school one after the other after ordinary level (O/L) examination. The first joined the CTB as a typist, second as an English teacher, and the third as a telephone operator (CTO). My elder brother also had to do the same. During that time some knowledge of English was necessary to obtain an employment.

Education undoubtedly was/is a principal right particularly of women to face their disadvantages in society. My mother had to balance between four daughters and three sons. She was very vocal in saying that ‘we boys should respect our sisters’ privacy.’ We luckily had enough space in our house to implement these principles. I don’t think my mother had any idea of human rights as we advocate today. But she had some principles perhaps based on her mother and/or father.

She almost became a social worker later in her life after we became economically and socially settled. She used to knit pillowcases with leftover fabrics and distribute them among the poor in our area along with other friends. There were other activities she was involved in. She lived until the age of 92 without serious health conditions. Even when I was drawing a good salary, she used to ask me whether I needed any money from her pension!                          

Mother’s or Women’s?

There are people who question the need for Mother’s Day when there is a Women’s Day (8 March). The following is one explanation which can be given. 

“The main difference between Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day is that the former honors mothers, either collectively or individually, while the latter celebrates all women in society. Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day is dedicated to commemorating parenthood as well as the selfless contributions that mothers make, while Women’s Day is dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of women and honoring their resiliency.” (Diffzy. com).  

The celebration of Mother’s Day can be traced back to the early 20th century and to a woman named Anna Jarvis in the United States. The whole idea was to recognize, respect and celebrate the role of mothers and their contributions to the family, children, and society. More than 50 countries today celebrate Mother’s Day officially although not yet in Sri Lanka. Mother figures are also celebrated.

In the case of our country, if mothers are given the opportunity to influence and participate in politics, the nature of politics itself could be changed, from power grabbing to the implementation of justice. Of course, we have had some commendable mother figures in politics like Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Chandrika Kumaratunga etc. However, their roles and efforts were submerged within the power grabbing male politics. They also were backward without coming forward to challenge and change the political culture and political dynamics of the country.

Mothers and Politics

At present women participation in politics is minimal. Whatever the weaknesses, those who are involved in politics should be strongly supported by all progressive forces without limiting themselves to this party or that party.

It is most unfortunate that Sri Lanka celebrated/celebrating Mother’s Day when very many young women (to be future mothers) are facing a perilous situation. Children are also deeply vulnerable. What happened in Kalutara a week before the Mother’s Day is only a symptom. On the morning of 7 Sunday (May), the naked body of a 16-year schoolgirl was found on the railway line in Kalutara South. She had been taken to the nearby hotel the previous night.

Can that be a breakdown of Mother’s role? I am not referring to a very archaic role on the part of mothers. However, there should be a value system and its implementation.

With the free opening of the media and AI, there is so much adult material distributed within society (including some TV shows, teledramas, discussions etc.), not to speak of the ‘social media.’ In a country like Australia, adult material is strongly prevented from reaching children while sex education is given in schools in a scientific manner. This Mother’s Day or the Week should be utilized to create awareness among the mothers themselves.       

Sri Lanka: Politics of Addiction


“Not only our actions, but also our inactions, become our destiny.” ~ Heinrich Zimmer (The King and the Corpse)

This week marked the 14th anniversary of the ending of the long Eelam War.

This week also saw the re-emergence of BBS head-honcho Galgoda-Atte Gnanasara to save the nation from that enterprising entrepreneur-of-cloth, Pastor Jerome Fernando. Much verbal thundering was heard warning of a new religious war.

Later in the week, a bunch of Sinhala-Buddhist extremists crashed into a ceremony at the Borella Cemetery held in the memory of all the war-dead. They condemned the event as a commemoration of the Tigers, probably on the grounds that those Tamils who died in the war (especially in the Rajapaksas’ Humanitarian Operation with zero-civilian casualties) were Tigers, right down to babies and toddlers.

The week ended with another group of lay-and-monk warriors gathering by the Buddha statue outside the Fort Railway Station, pledging to protect rata, jathiya, and agama.

Fortunately, ordinary Lankans, immersed in the real struggle for economic survival, ignored these theatrics, turning what could have been explosions into damp squibs.

The ending of the long Eelam War brought neither peace nor prosperity even for the triumphant Sinhalese. The much awaited peace dividend was swallowed by a defence establishment that continued expanding. The Rajapaksas treated the entire Tamil population of the North and parts of the East like enemy aliens, locking up every man, woman, and child in open air prison camps called Welfare Villages (Indian and international pressure eventually compelled them to abandon this policy of mass incarceration). When the cry of the Undead Tiger failed to impress the South, the regime sought other enemies, flirting with ‘alien Christians’ before settling on ‘Encroaching Muslims’. The harvest of that toxic seeding was reaped in April 2019, three weeks short of the 10th anniversary of Eelam War’s ending.

The war was unnecessary, preventable. Every step towards it was motivated not by national necessity or even popular demand. The motive force was the hellish union between political opportunism and religio-racial extremism. As the events of the last week indicate, that union is far from dead and its current partners are waiting impatiently to return to political mainstream. Unchastened by our blood-soaked history, they want to repeat it.  

Until 1955-56, Lankan politics was cleavaged by class. That classic divide left little electoral space for SWRD Bandaranaike’s ambitions. His newly formed SLFP had challenged the UNP and lost in 1952. In the 1953 Hartal that shook the nation and forced a government to flee, he was an onlooker. The left had a real chance to form a government at the next election, especially if its fractured components could bring themselves to work together. Had Lanka taken that path, there would have been no Sinhala Only, no Sri riots of 1958, no Black July, and no 25-year war.

SWRD Bandaranaike was clever enough to know that in a political battlefield divided along class lines he couldn’t prevail and unscrupulous enough to adopt the noxious race+religion=nation equation as his signature policy. He accepted the Buddhist Commission report in toto. Monks formed Eksath Bhikshu Peramuna and engaged in house-to-house campaigning to ensure his victory.

Our tragedy is littered with paths not taken. The Buddha Jayanthi of 1956 could have been celebrated by focusing on what the Buddha taught, and by commencing a process of spiritual renaissance. Instead, under the guise of restoring Buddhism to its pre-colonial glory, Tripitaka was abandoned for Mahawamsa and the core Buddhist values of compassion, non-violence, and moderation replaced with hate, violence, and extremism.

The Buddhist Commission Report’s title was The Betrayal of Buddhism. The real betrayal had come from within, the work of monks and kings. A universalist teaching had been ghettoised into the exclusive preserve of a single race. A teaching that explicitly rejected caste has been distorted by embedding caste discrimination into its very heart. The Buddhist Commission report could have chartered a course to return debased Lankan Buddhism into what the Buddha taught by ridding it of the twin perversions of race and caste. Instead it ignored the division of a single monkhood into caste-based nikayas (a distortion created by a Kandyan king) and focused on entrenching the racial ghettoisation of Buddhism.

1956 might have become a year of true nation-building. Buddhism, cleansed of distortions, could have become a binding agent for a nascent Lankan nation. Instead, an unholy alliance of monks and politicians turned Buddhism into an agent of division. 67 years later, that spectre continues to haunt us.

Fiction and Unfiction

In January this year, an outcry was heard about a fake Temple of the Tooth being built in Pothuhera in Kurunegala by a man who called himself a Bodhisatva (a future Buddha – a tad like Prophet Jerome). People were donating money and jewellery to fund this edifice, the media claimed. Donations were pouring in from here and abroad. The prelates of Malwatte and Asgiriya together with the Diyawadana Nilame of the Temple of the Tooth wrote to the president seeking political intervention against this fakery. (Incidentally, the chief prelates of other two nikayas did not sign the letter as caste bars them from playing any role in rituals surrounding the tooth relic).

The facts were telling. An enterprising individual thought to build another Temple of the Tooth. There were enough Buddhists willing to believe his claim that once the edifice was complete, the tooth relic would come to him. The entire sorry tale demonstrates how far a rational teaching which accepts the law of cause-and-effect (hethu-pala-vadaya) had degenerated into a myth-ridden superstition in which relics could perform miracles and trees grant wishes. In this version of Buddhism, men are arrested for ‘insulting the Buddha’ (or his relics) while those who claim to be his robed-disciples violate his teachings on a daily basis.

The Buddha, in his final major sermon, set out the path for the sasana’s survival and expansion ( He mentioned seven conditions, seven further conditions, seven good qualities, seven factors of enlightenment, seven perceptions, and six further conditions. If monks adhere to these 41 stipulations, the sasana would flourish. He made no mention of state patronage, of his pristine teachings surviving only in an island called Lanka, of rituals or relics. His sole focus was on the conduct of the monks themselves. And in what passes for Buddhism in Sri Lanka today, almost every single one of those conditions are violated daily and in plain sight. Those violations are ignored while talking about them is being turned into a non-bailable crime.

In 2019, the writer Shakthika Sathkumara was arrested under the ICCPR and held without bail. The arrest was the outcome of a complaint made by a group of monks about a short story he wrote (Ardha – Half). The story is about life in a fictional monastery and contains a hint about the abuse of young monks by senior monks. According to a police spokesman, “A group of monks complained that the reference to homosexual activities among the clergy insulted Buddhism.”

Vinaya pitaka refers to sexual misconduct by monks and specifically lists the masturbation of one monk by another as a serious offence. The Buddha obviously understood that becoming ordained will not free a person from human desires. Only the stream-enterers would be free of such yearnings. Since there are no known stream-enterers in Sri Lanka, the kind of misconduct the Buddha made rules against is likely to be present here. The arrest of several monks for suspected child abuse (including sexual abuse) this year alone indicates that what Shakthika Sathkumara’s fiction alleges is present in real life. Unfortunately, in today’s religious universe, the crime is less offensive than talking about it.

A new trend among political monks is to refer to the saffron robe as ‘Arahat dajaya’ (the standard of enlightened monks). This new myth is a marker in the ongoing attempt to place monks above scrutiny and criticism. This is reminiscent of the kind of blind veneration and unthinking obedience rife in many parts of Catholic Europe until a few decades ago and is present in some Charismatic churches even today (in a remake of the Jonestown horror, the head of Good News International Church in Kenya persuaded his followers to die of starvation to meet Jesus fast. Many did. The pastor is alive and well and currently out on bail). Walter Benjamin in One Way Street, provides an example, something he experienced during a visit to Naples, Italy, in the 1920’s. “…a priest was drawn on a cart through the streets of Naples for indecent offenses. He was followed by a crowd hurling maledictions. At a corner a wedding procession appeared. The priest stands up and makes the sign of a blessing, and the cart’s pursuers fall onto their knees.” This is where we headed. A monk does not have to adhere to the teaching. All he has to do is to wear the robe, just as all that Neapolitan priest had to do was to make the sign of the cross.

Superstition can be dismissed as silly. But it stems from the same irrationality which accepts the perversion of a teaching based on compassion and loving kindness to all living beings into one which rewards the killing of unbelievers with heavenly bliss. It also opens the floodgates of stupidity, enabling such political machinations as the Kelani Cobra.

In the infamous Mahawamsa story which debuts the justification for a holy war there is a marker for a different path. In the story, King Dutugemunu is saddened by the human costs of his victory. “How shall there be any comfort for me….since by me was caused the slaughter of a great host numbering millions?” he laments. And the deaths he is mourning are not even of civilians in the enemy territory but of enemy combatants. The call of his conscience is closer to the Buddha’s teaching than the supposed advice given to him by monks. It would also provide a better path to a lasting peace, and a more effective counter to the triumphant return of politics of religio-racial addiction.

The Salvation Mania

In 2019, almost seven million Lankans ignored the evidence before their eyes and elected an economic ignoramus as president, believing that he could guide them to the promised land of development painlessly and fast.

Gullibility has become a national characteristic, something that unites us across racial, religious, class and other lines.

Pastor Jerome Fernando who calls himself a prophet and runs an extremely lucrative religious enterprise seems to epitome that specifically American construct: charismatic preacher who lords it over a fief and turns it into a profit-making venture. Such preachers embody in their teaching and practice the brashness of a certain strand of American capitalism and the anti-intellectual, anti-rational tendencies inherent in unadulterated Lutherism. Martin Luther rejected the concept of free will totally and advocated salvation via sola fide, faith alone. Fortunately for the world, Protestantism evolved into a more tolerant and rational faith due to active mediation by great humanists such as Philip Melanchthon. The American style charismatic preachers are outside this mainstream, advocating political and social stances that are often retrogressive. The role played by this outcrop of Protestantism in propping rightwing populist leaders from Trump to Bolsonaro is well-documented.

            Pastor Jerome can perhaps be best understood by looking at the former Pitiduwe Siridamma thero who reinvented himself as Arhat Sri Samanthabadra and built another excellent religio-commercial enterprise, Umandawa. The one is as much of a follower of Christ as the other is a disciple of the Buddha. Both – and others of their ilk – work on vulnerabilities of people in uncertain times, turning fear and ignorance into lucre.

On October 3rd, 2002 a group of American Evangelical pastors wrote a letter to President George W Bush supporting a war against Saddam Hussein. The ‘Land Letter’ (named after its prime mover, Pastor Richard D Land) gave seven reasons why an invasion of Iraq would be a ‘Just War’. When Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) asked President Bush if he consulted his (far more intelligent) father before invading Iraq, the younger Bush replied, “He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice… There is a higher father I appeal to” ( The world is still living with the horrors that ‘divinely-mandated’ war, each unnecessary death a living reminder of what happens when religious irrationality bleeds into political irrationality.

Pastor Jerome cannot insult the Buddha even if he tries to. The Buddha was accused of worse and to his face, and his response was that since he refused to accept the insults, they would return to the ones making them. The danger Pastor Jerome represents is the same danger political monks and other politically active religious figures represent (including the Catholic Cardinal). Their words and deeds further exacerbate societal gullibility and social irrationality, making another 2019 and national follies of that order far more likely. But the battle that must be waged with such purveyors of blind faith and unquestioning obedience has nothing to do with law and incarceration. It is a contestation of ideas and ideals over the kind of future we want for Sri Lanka. A secular country where faith is a private matter and every citizen is free to follow a religion – or not – cannot be built on persecution and intolerance.  

Wigneswaran points out the root cause of Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Conflict

Many academic articles have been written about the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka. Many scholars have offered explanations in this regard. And many solutions have been proposed. There has even been a war that has claimed thousands of human lives. But decades later, the Sinhalese and the Tamils are yet to come to an agreement about a solution. The crisis does not seem to have been resolved. What is the real reason for this? This is why we need to find out if there is a problem in our understanding of the causes of the ethnic crisis. It appears Social Science academics who have commented on this have only touched the surface of this issue. Many of them have ignored the root cause of ethnic crisis in the island.

It is in this backdrop, the former Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council and the current Member of Parliament C. V. Wigneswaran, has clearly pointed out the root cause of Sri Lanka’s crisis to everyone. We should be thankful to Wigneswaran for that. But it is a tragedy that many of the things he says do not get the attention they deserve. Many Sinhalese have a habit of dismissing him as a virulent racist. It is a wrong approach.

Wigneswaran points out the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka very clearly. He states that the Tamils of the northern and eastern provinces, unlike the Muslims and plantation Tamils, “have always occupied the area now roughly covered by the Northern and Eastern Provinces. There had been continuous occupation of the North and East throughout history by the Tamil-speaking people……..In fact, their occupation extended up to Negombo in the Western Province and up to Kathirgamam in the South East. The Sinhalese have never occupied the North and East in large numbers except after 1833 when the country was brought under one administration by the British”.

He further states, “we Tamils of the North and East are conscious of our antiquity, our history, our rights to self-determination and therefore until our intrinsic rights to the right of self-determination is recognized and respected we would find it difficult to march together with the other communities, specially the Sinhalese who have usurped our history and antiquity and trying to falsify those fields of study”.

Wigneswaran claims that the Tamil history of Sri Lanka has been stolen by the Sinhalese people. If this is the case, how can reconciliation be achieved? We can all agree that theft of one’s history and identity by the other is no way to achieve any everlasting reconciliation between the two parties.

He also claims that the Sinhalese people are immersed in a sea of myths about their history. Therefore he considers teaching the true history of the country especially to the Sinhala Buddhist brothers as a service he should fulfill. Accordingly, Wigneswaran has pointed out the ‘true’ history of the Sinhalese people on several occasions. He argues “The Sinhala people have been given a wrong understanding of history based on the fiction written in Pali by a Buddhist Priest in the 5th Century AD. The author says that at the end of every stanza he was writing the fiction for the glorification of Buddhism. If he was writing history he would not have said so!”

Thus, he claims that the reason for Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem is the false history created by Sinhala historians and Buddhist monks. “The Sinhalese historians and others, especially the Buddhist clergy, have set up lots of falsities as history. They say this country is theirs. This is false. The original inhabitants of this country were Saivite Tamils. They say all Tamils were immigrants into a predominantly Sinhala Country. This is also false”.

When Tamils have been living in Sri Lanka for thousands of years speaking Tamil, a very ancient language, he says “Sinhalese came by their Sinhala language only in the 6th or 7th Century AD. That is 1300 or 1400 years ago only. There was no Sinhala Language before that time. Some historians have painted all ancient Buddhists as Sinhalese. That is because since there was Buddhism in Sri Lanka before the Sinhala language came into existence they have identified earlier era Buddhists as Sinhala Buddhists. Those who were Buddhists at that time were Tamils whom Professor Sunil Ariyaratne calls as Demala Bauddayo”.

Wigneswaran also argues that the Sinhalese have been tempted to give the Sinhala language a long history by calling the language found in ancient inscriptions as Sinhala Prakrit. So he says, “There are those who refer to Sinhala Prakrit as proof of the presence of the Sinhalese language from pre Buddhistic times. This is like saying my grandfather lived 100 years ago therefore I lived 100 years ago because I came from my grandfather! There was no Sinhala language until 1300 or 1400 years from now. So how could you refer to Sinhala Prakrit of a by- gone age 2000 years or more ago? The Sinhala language was not even contemplated at that time. The truth would be that those words of ancient times (Prakrit) may have been Pali or Tamil or other dialects in Sri Lanka which later came to make up the Sinhala Language. Sinhala is a conglomeration of languages. At least 40% of the Sinhala words are Tamil. Its alphabet formation is similar to Tamil and South Indian Languages”.

According to Wigneswaran, and Tamil people in general, there was no Sinhala language in the island until around the 7th century and no Sinhalese people lived then. This island was inhabited by the Tamil speaking Shiva devotees who were the first settlers of Ceylon. It was these Tamil speaking Shiva devotees who first encountered the Buddhist missionaries sent by Asoka. Therefore he claims that, Devanam Piya Thissa mentioned in Mahavamsa, who reigned in Sri Lanka at the time when Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka, was actually a Tamil Siva devotee king, named Devanam-Piya-Theesan.

Then his argument is that, the Tamils who inhabited the island built the Rajarata civilization and left ancient stone inscriptions all over the country. According to his theory, only a part of the Shiva devotee Tamils embraced Buddhism, and the Sinhala language was created from the combination of Tamil, Pali and Prakrit languages. And he says that, only after a few centuries had gone by, after this process, Sinhalese emerged in Sri Lanka. If this is the version of history believed by Wigneswaran and shared by the Tamil society in general, then one can imagine their anger at the supposed theft of their history.

Moreover, he claims that Sri Lanka’s Tamil history goes back a long way. He says that even before the island was geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent, Tamils were living in this country. Speaking to the Ceylon Today newspaper in 2017, he said “According to S.U. Deraniyagala Sri Lanka which had been part of the land mass of the Indian subcontinent became an island about 7,000 years ago when it physically separated from Southern India. On that basis the populations of South India and Sri Lanka were of the same ethnic stock prior to and after separation”.

Wigneswaran also comments on a huge continent of Lemuria, which was the homeland of the Tamil speaking people, and disappeared under the sea. He argued that the island of Ceylon is a remnant of the continent of Lemuria. He claims that the Tamils living in the North and East “could trace their ancestry to the inhabitants of the Continent of Lemuria which covered the greater part of the present Indian Ocean in times gone by. The Lemuria Continent which was gobbled up by the Indian Ocean extended from Western Australia to Eastern Africa joining up with the Indian subcontinent. Therefore the present Tamils of the North and East feel themselves to be the descendants of a long line of Tamil speaking people who have been occupying the Northern and Eastern regions continuously from pre Buddhistic times. Recently it has been accepted that Tamil is the oldest living language in the world”.

He also claims that the people of the megalithic era who came to the island with the iron culture were also Tamil speaking Dravidians. Therefore, he is of the opinion that the evidence of an ancient Tamil civilization can be found in the megalithic monuments found scattered across the island. We have to remember, that Tamil Historian, Prof. S. Pathmanathan made a similar remark to Daily Mirror in 2017 (Interview with Kelum Bandara, Tamils have valid claim for homeland Prof. Pathmanathan, 29 March 2017, Daily Mirror). According to Wigneswaran’s argument, there was a very ancient Tamil history in Ceylon. He directly said that it is more appropriate to treat Sri Lanka as a Tamil Shiva state.

Many Sinhalese consider Wigneswaran a racist and tend to ignore his views. But no matter how problematic it is, he points to the viewpoint prevailing in the Tamil society in general about the history of Sri Lanka. This viewpoint or ideology is not limited to Wigneswaran or a fringe of extreme Tamil nationalists. And he was not the first to narrate a Tamil centric History of Sri Lanka in this way. This Tamil viewpoint of the island’s history has been a prominent feature in the comments made by people belonging to all strata of Tamil society regarding the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka.

For example, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, Rajasingham Narendran, Dr. Murugar Gunasingham, D. B. S. Jayaraj, Prof. K. Sivathamby, Prof. A. Velupillai have also advocated a Tamil-centric history of Sri Lanka. Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament, A. Sumanthiran who served as the Vice-Chairman of the Sri Lanka Methodist Council, recently installed a Shiva lingam at the Vedukkannari Buddhist archaeological site. How can we understand the rationale behind such a controversial move?

A founding member of the Federal Party, V. Navaratnam has strongly stood for a Tamil centric History of Sri Lanka and says that it is the most important ideology that drives Tamil nationalist politics in Sri Lanka. And historian S. K. Sittarampalam who once functioned as the vice-president of the Ilangkai Thamizh Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), the main constituent party of the TNA, has spoken about a Tamil-centric history of Sri Lanka at several instances. Another Tamil political leader who strongly advocated this is C. Sunderalingam.
It was S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, the founder of the Federal Party, who turned this Tamil Centric history of Sri Lanka into a political concept by forming ‘Tamil Homeland Concept’. It is this concept that drives Tamil politics in Sri Lanka. Prabhakaran, the leader of the LTTE, once said, that the person who lit the flame of Tamil nationalism in his mind, is none other than, his tutor Venugopal Master, a disciple of Sundaralingam and Navaratnam, fierce proponents of Tamil Centric History. Since the 1950s, S. J. Gunasingham, a teacher who taught history in Tamil medium schools, had advocated a Tamil-centric history of Sri Lanka and always accused the Sinhalese of distorting the history of the island. Therefore Tamil-centric history of SL is not something Wigneswaran invented or limited to him.

When reading Wigneswaran’s comments, one is reminded of the debate between J. L. Devananda and Bandu de Silva regarding the history of Sri Lanka in 2011 (Sri Lanka Guardian website). There is no difference between the views expressed by Devananda and those of Wigneswaran. He does not belong to an extreme racist fringe of the Tamil society, but a person who very clearly points out the Tamil viewpoint about the history of this country. He also warned in 2014 that if Sri Lanka’s history is not corrected, there may even be a war again. Accordingly, he shows us, the seriousness of the dispute between the Sinhalese and Tamils, regarding the history of Sri Lanka.

Tamil journalist T. Sabharatnam once said, that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has arisen due to the controversy over the history of the island. And Professor K. Sivathamby once said “Both [Sinhalas and Tamils] differ on the extent of the Tamil element of Sri Lanka. Sinhala viewpoint changes from zero to 50% where Sinhala nationalists claim Sri Lanka has zero Tamil element and Marxists/ federalists or Tamil sympathizers claim it is equal to 50% which is as same as the Sinhalese. It can be said the general view of the Sinhala public is Tamil element in Sri Lankan heritage is more than zero but definitely less than 50%. The Tamil viewpoint is Tamil element in Sri Lankan heritage is from 50% to close to 100% by giving a Tamil origin to the Sinhalese people. The crisis in Sri Lanka stems from this disagreement on the extent of Tamilness in the Sri Lankan heritage.” According to Sivathamby, the issue of Tamilness in the island is the root cause of the communal crisis.

As it is evident from the Tamil comments, the Sinhalese and Tamil conflict over the island’s history has created a heated debate over the nature of the post-colonial Sri Lankan state. Disputes over the country’s official language, settlement of farming communities in the Eastern Province, the constitution, the national flag and as shown recently even the logo of the Department of Archeology, have arisen from this controversy about the history of Sri Lanka. Therefore, in order to end the Sinhala and Tamil ethnic crisis, this controversy about the island’s history must be resolved.

It should be noted that although some of the NGOs supported by foreign funds have done research on the ethnic crisis, NONE have paid attention to the main controversy between the two parties, which is the controversy over history. No wonder their attempts at peace have failed! In such a scenario, we should thank Wigneswaran for pointing at the real root cause of the conflict.

Views expressed are personal

US Bureaucrat Highlights US Support for Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery


In an official visit to Sri Lanka, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Afreen Akhter, reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. During her stay, which concluded on May 17, DAS Akhter engaged in a series of consultative meetings with government officials, highlighting the longstanding diplomatic relations between the two countries, which recently marked their 75th anniversary.

One of the key highlights of DAS Akhter’s visit was the discussion of the $270 million in new support that the United States has provided to Sri Lanka over the past year. Encouraging the Sri Lankan government to continue implementing economic reforms and transparency measures under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, DAS Akhter emphasized the importance of sustained collaboration and progress in ensuring long-term economic stability.

During her meeting with Minister of Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe on May 15, DAS Akhter stressed the significance of ongoing reform efforts in Sri Lanka. She further urged the government to foster collaboration with civil society, emphasizing the need to consider all voices in the legislative process, including pending legislation such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill. The United States continues to advocate for an inclusive and transparent approach in addressing important national issues.

DAS Akhter also held productive discussions with State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya and State Minister of Defense Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon. Their talks covered various areas of mutual interest, including collaboration in maritime security and addressing shared regional challenges. The United States and Sri Lanka reaffirmed their commitment to working together to ensure peace, stability, and security in the region.

Before her departure, DAS Akhter took the opportunity to meet with a small group of journalists to further strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Sri Lankan media. This interaction provided an opportunity to exchange perspectives and foster a better understanding of the common goals and challenges faced by both countries.

DAS Afreen Akhter’s visit to Sri Lanka underscored the United States’ commitment to supporting the country’s economic recovery and strengthening bilateral relations. The $270 million in new support, along with ongoing collaboration on various issues, demonstrates the mutual desire for enhanced cooperation and shared prosperity between the United States and Sri Lanka.

14 Years after the End of LTTE: Sri Lanka’s Tragic Saga of Manipulation and Power


In the shadows of Sri Lanka’s history, a tale of manipulation, betrayal, and societal decay unfolds. From the depths of a brutal civil war to the aftermath of its conclusion, the wounds inflicted upon the nation run deep. Today, as we reflect upon the past, we dare to uncover the hidden truths that lie buried beneath a facade of false triumph. Brace yourself for a journey into the heart of a society plagued by lies, where the pursuit of power and the erosion of moral values have left an indelible mark on the destiny of a nation.

Man, burdened by deep-rooted hatred and victimized by systematic discrimination, not only faced by Tamils but also by many underprivileged communities in Sri Lanka, turned into a symbol of violence and terror in South Asia. Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), was killed on May 18, fourteen years ago. Elimination of his terror factory was celebrated by the country, with hopes that it would mark the beginning of a new era where social justice and human rights would prevail.

Prabhakaran was a nihilistic pawn, initially used by so-called high caste Tamil politicians who continued to dominate Tamil politics, and later exploited by those who sought fortune in Western countries. Unfortunately, their fortune was built upon the blood of Sri Lankans. Their ulterior motive was to create social turmoil in Sri Lanka, ensuring their own well-being. This manipulation of conflicts is not unique to Sri Lanka but has been witnessed in many countries. This is the result when wisdom is replaced by blindfolded terror.

Amidst this, there is an untold story that needs to be shared. For years, we have kept it hidden, but today we believe it is time to reveal the truth. During the final stages of the civil war, the parents of LTTE leaders were taken into custody by the security forces, and highly trained intelligence officers took care of them.

Meanwhile, Prabhakaran’s sister, who was living in a Western country, requested to bring her parents along through one of the neighbouring countries. However, the Western country, known for their constant talk about human rights and their blame on Sri Lanka for not taking care of those who surrendered, as well as the neighbouring country vehemently denied the request. Unfortunately, Prabhakaran’s father passed away due to severe illness, while his mother remained under their care for some time. At one point, the security forces offered Prabhakaran’s mother the option to return to her hometown and resume her life, as the situation had normalized. However, her response was shocking. She adamantly said, ‘No, don’t send me there; I am far better off and more secure here, with you my sons (military intelligence officers).’

Simultaneously, in Sri Lanka, many celebrated the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. However, only a few individuals possessed the moral and ethical principles to express gratitude to those who truly fought on the ground. The term ‘Ranaviruwa’ (War Hero) which was shamelessly exploited for political gain, exposed the putrid behaviour of those who wielded power and authority.

We are a poor nation, and our poverty extends beyond the economic sphere. We are impoverished in terms of moral and ethical practices. We lack a sense of social responsibility and collective action. Instead, we excel at pointing fingers and justifying ourselves. Betrayal and backstabbing are our riches. This epitomizes the pitiful state to which our nation has descended, the worst kind of terror one could imagine. As Kurt Vonnegut, a man who lived ahead of his time, said, ‘True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.’

Fourteen long years have passed, and Sri Lanka faces social, economic, and political crises greater than ever before. Our politicians continue to fight like the Kilkenny cats. Some resort to any means necessary to seize power, while others operate under the motto of sabotage if they cannot attain it. In these 14 years, some have come into power, and their associates have lived as if this country belongs solely to them. The social disparity has widened, and for the first time in history, Sri Lanka has declared bankruptcy. Instead of working toward a common goal, those in power offer a series of daydreams for us and urge us to stay alert and work hard. Meanwhile, they continue to plunder. According to reliable sources, some ministers even demand a 30 per cent commission from foreign investors.

A young foreign journalist who spent over two years in Colombo recently witnessed this shameful reality. During a casual conversation, he remarked, ‘You know, Sri Lanka is full of liars.’ Is he wrong? No. From the highest echelons of leadership to the lowliest tuk-tuk drivers, a pervasive culture of deceit poisons every interaction. Our society is infested with a web of lies, weaving a tapestry of falsehoods that have brought our nation to the depths of despair. The rot of dishonesty runs deep, corroding the very fabric of our collective existence, leaving no room for trust or integrity. It is no surprise that our country languishes in this abyss of moral bankruptcy. So, no matter what reality is telling us. It is time to celebrate our victorious triumph over that long-departed soul of the deceitful butcher! Let us name it ‘victory’, and continue the usual game of deception.

What I learnt from the War Hero’s Son


‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.’ — Mother Teresa

My mobile phone rang a few years back when I was chief of defence staff. It’s a number I have not saved. I answered the call. A faint voice of a young child on the other end. “Sir I am Wikum, Son of Chief Petty Officer K G Shantha.” Yes Son! I replied. Late Chief Petty Officer KG Shantha was from elite Special Boats Squadron (SBS), the Naval Commando Unit who paid the supreme sacrifice out at sea in Point Pedro on 1st Nov 2008.

His wife was four months pregnant when Shantha died. This child never saw his father alive.

“Sir, I have a good news for you. I have passed the Grade 5 Scholarship exam with 165 marks.” The child continues, “My mother wants me to convey this news to you and all other SBS members.”

“Well done son! All SBS uncles will be very happy with your achievement. Please visit my office with your mother this week after school. I have a small gift for you” I said. It is always a delightful news to hear our fallen War Heroes Children doing well in their lives. The void created by the loss of their fathers always affects them. In that sense, young Wikum’s achievement is remarkable. Sitting in my office, my mind ran back to 2008.

Our Navy outmanoeuvring and destroying LTTE Sea tiger boats at rapid phase by mid-2008. All their ocean-going capabilities were destroyed and littoral battles were intense and deadly. To save their pride and capabilities, LTTE Sea-Tigers turned towards their ultimatum weapon out at sea, the suicide boats. Navy response with our small boats Squadrons of SBS and Rapid Action Boats Squadron (RABS) was very effective against this huge Suicide Boats threat.

Chief Pettey Officer KG Shantha, PWV [Sri Lanka Navy]

On 1st Nov 2008 early hours, a Sea battle erupted between Navy and Sea-Tigers off Point Pedro. A number of LTTE Boats were destroyed and Navy also had casualties. Petty Officer KG Shantha from SBS, was commanding the Arrow boat Z-142. He had three more SBS members on board. His boat was fitted with a 23mm gun which they used very effectively against the enemy. (When you fight out at sea there is no cover. Whoever fires effectively first will win the battle.)

By 05.45 AM, KG (Shantha) had all three of his crew injured due to enemy fire. Squadron Commander ordered him to withdraw to the harbour. When he is about to move back, he saw one LTTE boat moving fast towards P 164 (Inshore Patrol Craft) commanded by Lt (SBS) Wickramasinghe. P164 had twelve SBS personnel onboard. By shape and speed, KG identified it as an LTTE Suicide boat. No time to wait. He knew the danger. He decided and acted as per the greatest traditions of SBS, sacrifice own life to protect your senior officer and buddies.

He rammed the LTTE Suicide boat with his craft. Huge explosion! Both LTTE Suicide boat and KG’s boat perished into thin air……

Petty Officer (SBS) KG Shantha was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer posthumously. His wife who was four months pregnant then and informed of her beloved husband’s loss. No funeral was taken place as nothing of his body recovered due to 500 Kg Suicide boat explosion. KG was later awarded Parama Weera Vibushanaya (PWV), the highest Gallantry medal of Sri Lanka. He became one of the two naval personnel awarded with this highest Gallantry medal.

In 2011, house for KG’s wife and family was constructed by the Naval Civil Engineering Department with funds given by former First Lady, Mrs. Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa in memory of her late father Commander EP Wickremasinghe of Royal Ceylon Navy/Sri Lanka Navy, former Chief of Staff (Operations) of Sri Lanka Navy.

KG’s Son was admitted to Royal College, Colombo 7. Distance from his home to Royal College was too far for the young child to travel.

CPO (SBS) K G Shantha’s son Anuhas with his mother on his 14th Birthday [Photo: Special Arrangement]

On my request, former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka gave a House temporarily at the new Housing scheme in Mandawila, which eased the burden of long travelling and allowing enough time for the child to attend to his studies and extra classes.

When Wikum came to my office with his mother to collect his gift, he brought a letter written in his beautiful handwriting, thanking Minister Partali for the gesture which helped him to do his studies well. I recollect Minister was an Electrical Engineer from Moratuwa University and got the Island’s best results in G C E Advanced Level Examination on Science stream from Kalutara district.

I learnt what is gratitude from this young War Hero’s Son.

I gave him the advice which my father gave me when I passed Navodhaya scholarship in grade Seven in Royal College, Colombo 7.

“Good, better, best – do not rest until your good is Better and better is best”

Crisis is also an opportunity: Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India


The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Milinda Moragoda, says the Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral relationship is too important to be measured with the island nation’s relationship with China.

Speaking at a press interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia in New Delhi, Moragoda said,” We are neighbours, and we also share a similar culture, and we should not measure it with a third country like China. Defence and security issues are discussed with India and not with China.”

Moragoda said,” We are now moving from a transitional approach to a strategic relationship with India and the speciality is the trust between the two neighbours.”

“We have to get back to the growth path. Growth is the key aspect. For that, India becomes a key partner. India was our main partner last year in helping stabilisation of our economy with different instruments,” he said.

“For the revival of the economy too, India will be an important partner. We must diversify our sources of income when it comes to exports and foreign exchange earnings,” Moragoda said.

He said the Sri Lanka government’s focus now is to stabilise the economy. “Crisis is also an opportunity and our country’s President is trying to do that. We are thinking afresh,” he said.

He said his government is now focussing on reviving the crashed economy and is seeking massive investments in power generation. He even said that the capital put in by the Adani Group of India in Sri Lanka is ‘important’.

“We are now trying to stabilise the economy and we are in the process of restructuring our debt and hopefully by the end of the year, we can enter the international system with the help of the IMF (International Monetary Fund),” he said.

The envoy also suggested that the process to roll out India’s RuPay card in Sri Lanka is being taken forward.

He also said that India is a market for Sri Lankan tourism. “Though some incidents have created a problem for us, but we can definitely grow our tourism business. At the same time, we need to improve connectivity and pricing,” he added.

The Adani Group is engaged in some projects in Sri Lanka amounting to nearly $1 billion dollars. The Adani Group is building the West Container Terminal at the Colombo Port and has also got the approval to build two wind power plants in northern Sri Lanka.

“It gives us confidence that somebody is willing to invest like that,” said the High Commissioner. He said both sides will soon be signing power purchase agreements for the 500-MW wind power projects as negotiations are going on and the agreement is being finalised.

“We are hoping to sign an MoU with India soon on cable connection between the two countries for power. If we can get investment going off the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, we can hopefully look after our needs and look at future exports to India,” he said.

“Broadening our revenue lines is one of our key priorities and export of electricity could be one of the areas,” he said.

The IMF Executive Board had approved a 48-month Extended Fund Facility of about $3 billion to support the island nation’s reforms and economic policies, in March.

He said Sri Lanka is also considering creation of an oil pipeline from Sri Lanka to India.

The envoy also said it was time to think afresh on India’s long-standing demand of implementing the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution on the Tamil reconciliation issue.

Media Responsibility: Lessons from African Counterparts for Sri Lanka


Recently, one of the state-run daily newspapers in Sri Lanka printed and circulated a picture of a deceased man who allegedly committed suicide in his rented room, on its front page. Although this newspaper does not have a significant demand in the market, it has been circulated in many schools, public libraries, and other state and private institutions at public expense. Therefore, by default, it carries a social responsibility. In its prime, readers bought it to learn something new and valuable for life, but now it has turned into a collection of rants from whoever is at the top.

The newspaper portrayed the young man as heavily involved in “Aragalaya,” which they identified as an act of treachery. This portrayal was nothing but an attempt to propagate pathetic political propaganda of whoever is in power. The feeble behaviour of the editor of this newspaper proves that he is deeply obsessed with dead bodies of whomever they can portray as anti-government or anti-state.

Unfortunately, the state authority has once again shown indifference to such inhuman actions, and the editor does not seem to feel guilty or accountable for himself. If this had occurred in any other country, not only would the editor have been immediately dismissed from his position which he attained through political patronage, but also been held accountable under the country’s laws.

It is deeply concerning that manufacturing shock and trauma among the general public through crime reporting has become a trend in Sri Lanka. This is not just limited to state-run newspapers but also certain private media outfits, which plant shocks and sorrows through their reporting by exhibiting dead bodies and the tears of their loved ones. This practice needs to stop immediately.

It is time for journalists in every media house, as well as social media superstars who often portray themselves as true social reformists, to reassess their conduct and implement appropriate ethical standards. The media has a responsibility to report truthfully and objectively, without using human tragedy and suffering to manipulate public opinion for political gain. It is high time for Sri Lanka’s media to realize this and uphold the dignity and respect for human life and privacy.

The recent tragic incident in Kenya demonstrates how journalism and reporting can be carried out with a greater degree of social responsibility. The tragedy that occurred at the Good News International Church, where hundreds of people starved to death due to the cult leader Paul Mackenzie’s false promises, is a stark reminder of the importance of responsible reporting. When the exhumation process started, the government and other officials strictly advised all media outlets to adhere to higher degrees of norms and ethics in their reporting. They were advised not to display dead bodies of their fellow men and women, and the areas were declared crime scenes.

It is remarkable to observe that most media channels in Kenya followed these general ethical principles in reporting on this shocking event. This is a valuable lesson for fellow editors and journalists in Sri Lanka. It is time to stop selling sorrows and dead bodies of our fellow men and women, no matter what caused their death. Sri Lanka may be the only country that telecasts dead bodies during times when most households are having dinner. It is a barbaric media practice that needs to stop immediately.

Furthermore, it is important not to provide any CCTV footage to telecast on media on crime scenes as it can have an extremely negative impact on the general public. Footages of this nature should be retained by law enforcement agencies, who can use them to prevent future occurrences and increase public awareness. Allowing media channels to broadcast such footage with the sole aim of increasing ratings or printing it to sensationalize and cause trauma only highlights our society’s lack of ethical standards.

Kunchanada (trumpeting of Elephants) a different species


In comparison with many other Singhalese teledramas that exploit mundane and constantly hackneyed themes, Kunchanada is in a different league.

The teledrama trumpeting of elephants (Kunchanada), presumably set in 70s Galgamuwa, portrays one of the most pertinent and contemporary issues, of human-elephant conflict that leaves both the man and the beast devastated, in a remarkable cinematic fashion.

The teledrama draws attention of the viewer to the issue from diverse angles justifying the actions of both humans and elephants, in a bizarrely similar manner to that of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage in which the writer points out that there is good and evil in both war and peace. In war people become destitute but there is order in everything whereas in peace people are relatively happy, yet there is no order in anything but chaos. The writer of Kunchanada looks at the issue from a similar perspective to justify actions of both the human and the animal as both parties struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Most strikingly, the message conveyed is that in a failing country nothing proper can be expected other than disorder, chaos, anarchy, turmoil, misrule, and lawlessness. Human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka is no exception. Whilst some of the African countries that are considered to be poor and underdeveloped have found authentic and effective solutions to their human-elephant confrontation, Sri Lanka has enjoyed a deep slumber for decades regarding this massive issue that needs absolute attention. Kunchanada may wake the sleeping jackals at least to howl a bit louder.

The innovative plot uses villagers who are fascinatingly similar to the actual people who lived and worked in the area to tell their side of the story about marauding elephants, whilst, through a wildlife officer, the story from the elephants’ perspective is told. Out of the ordinary, Christy Shelton Fernando, the creator of the teledrama introduces a researcher to the drama to be a neutral personality to weigh the pros and cons of the human-elephant conflict.  Although he has not yet taken the viewer through unexpected twists and turns, there is plenty of drama in Kunchanada to keep the viewer hooked.

The combined skill set of the writer and the director to sink into the thought processes and the consequent behaviours of the rural society in the far corners of the Kurunegala District is astonishing. The outstanding ability of the crew to recreate the village setting, and the cameraman’s skill to capture a visually striking panorama are eye-catching.

The mesmerising transformation of Sriyani Amarasena from the image of a calm, quiet and chaste love idol of the 70s silver screen to an ageing, vociferous, and typically rural woman to portray a breath-taking villain in a teledrama, presumably set in the same 70’s, is electrifying and unparalleled.

The capabilities of the actor who plays Wasantha’s fiancée is unmissable. Her portrayal of the justifiable annoyance, frustration and perhaps anger towards her fiancé who is stupidly ignorant of the surroundings, not to notice the devastating effect his association with the researcher has on his relationship, is compelling and noteworthy.

Through this creation, Christi Shelton Fernando, the former Mathematics teacher has once again shown that it was not a fluke that he won the award for the best screenplay for Dadayama in his twenties. Kunchanada is a breath of fresh air. It is more than worth watching.

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