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S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947-1977 [PDF]

by A. Jeyaratnam Wilson
S.J.V. Chelvanayakam (1898-1977), the acknowledged leader of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka for the last 20 years of his life, was a most unusual figure. Born in Ipoh, Malaya, he was brought up, separated from his father, in the Tamil north of Ceylon. Educated at Christian schools, he became a practising churchman, but never disowned his roots in Hindu culture and tradition. Shy and retiring by nature, he nonetheless built up a successful and lucrative practice as a civil lawyer, his only ambition till well into middle life being to end his career as a judge of the Supreme Court. Then in 1947, on the eve of Ceylon becoming independent under a Sinhala-dominated government, he entered Parliament with the aim of protecting the threatened interests of the Tamil minority. The controversial issues in the early independence years were the standards for granting citizenship and voting rights (this involved nearly one million hill country Tamils of recent Indian origin), acceptance of both Sinhala and Tamil as official languages, the state-aided colonisation by the Sinhalese of the Tamil people's traditional homelands in the north and east of the country, and the question of a national flag. At first he was an ardent supporter of G.G. Ponnambalam and his All Ceylon Tamil Congress, but the two soon diverged - over Ponnambalam's willingness to enter the cabinet in the hope of influencing its decision-making, and over Chelvanayakam's radical conviction that the Tamils were a separate nationality, who should not integrate completely with the Sinhalese. At the end of his life he was advocating a separate Tamil state in the island. Despite chronic ill-health, he gradually became a commanding figure. He stood firm, in the mid-1950s, against militant Sinhala Buddhism and linguistic exclusivity, and in the following years influenced the making and breaking of Sinhala-dominated governments. When he died tributes were paid to his honesty and integrity by leaders on all sides. With
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Book info

eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherUniversity of Hawaii Press
File size1.8 Mb
Release date 03.12.1994
Pages count149
Book rating3.7 (1 votes)
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1 comment

1. Persia Emily | 26.05.2011 17:33

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Thank you! Great book!

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