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Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle

Chapter 13: Clash of Nationalisms

by T. Sabaratnam, October 28, 2010
A journalist who reported Sri Lankan ethnic crisis for over 50 years

Competition between the Sinhalese and the Tamils started with the clerical service recruitment. Two hundred and forty candidates sat for the examination held in 1887. Of them 35 were successful and Tamil formed the majority. Eight of the successful candidates were from Jaffna, two each from Mannar and Batticaloa and one from Mullaitivu thus totaling 13. Of the 13 selected from Colombo majority of them were Tamils. That was the case in the following years too. That resulted in the Sinhala cry that Tamils were controlling the administration of the country...

The feeling that they were being discriminated by the British administration grew among the Jaffna Tamils and Tamils in other areas too during the last quarter of the 19th Century. They felt they were discriminated in the areas of economic development, taxation, railway extension and in the introduction of local government system.

The Origin

The clash of nationalisms originated during the very period of their consolidation. Though Sinhala- Buddhist and Tamil nationalisms grew in parallel and independent of each other several factors connected with their growth contained the ingredients for the clash. 

The population of the two major communities and its geographical distribution, the spread of education and the employment opportunities it created, the influence Indian freedom movement exerted on the Sinhalese and the Tamils and the political leadership that developed during the early years of the Legislative Council were the major factors that resulted in the clash.

Population and its distribution

Of all the factors that caused the clash between the Sinhala- Buddhist and Tamil nationalisms population and its geographical distribution is the most vital. They influenced the history of the two communities and that of Sri Lanka.

A palmyra grove

Sinhala- Buddhists formed the majority community and Tamils the minority community from the beginning of the history of Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese occupied the southern and western parts of the country while the Tamils lived in the northern and eastern portion of the island.   

The first census of Sri Lanka was conducted in 1871. Two rough estimates were taken by the British before that. In 1824, according to the first estimate, Sri Lanka’s population was 851,940 persons. Sinhalese were in the majority and they occupied the western, central and southern parts of the country. Similar geographic distribution of the two communities continued in 1850 though the population had risen to 1.73 million.

In 1871 the population had swelled to 2,400,380 persons but no count was taken on ethnic or area basis. That census too indicated that the Sinhalese formed the majority population and the Tamils lived in the north and east while the Sinhalese occupies the rest of the island.

Though the 1871 census did not give the number of occupants of the northern and eastern provinces Morning Star published a news story that gave the population of the north and east. That report said the population of the Northern Province was 302,711 persons. Of them 265,880 persons lived in the Jaffna district. Thus the population of the rest of the northern province- Vanni which comprised Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya districts- was 36,831 persons.

As we noted in the earlier chapters Indian Tamil migration had started in 1830s and the flow increased during 1870s when tea plantation which required resident worker population had commenced. We will deal with that aspect later. Here it is sufficient to state that by the time the 1901 census was taken Indian Tamil population had become a substantial factor. In the 30 years between 1871 and 1901 Sri Lanka’s population rose to 3,565,954 persons, an increase of 1,145,654 persons. Of this the natural increase of the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others who inhabited the country had been estimated at 489,168 persons and the rest were Indian Tamil immigrants.

The 1901 census did not differentiate between the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils. Both categories were lumped together and Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils together totaled 951,740 persons which was 26.7 percent of the country’s population. From this figure it is certain that only a portion of the Indian Tamils got counted during the census. But that number itself was sufficient to disturb the Sinhalese. The census showed them that Tamils were more in number than the Kandyan Sinhalese who formed 872,487 persons in number and 24.5 percent of the total population. Low Country Sinhalese were 1,458,320 persons who formed 40.9 percent of the total.

According to the 1901 census Jaffna district’s population was 300,851 persons and that of the northern province 341,016 persons. The population of the Eastern Province was 173,602 persons of whom 145,161 persons lived in the Batticaloa district and 28,441 persons in the Trincomalee district. The Eastern Province then comprised Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts. The population of the northern and eastern provinces was514,618 persons. Ampara district was created much later.

The above statistics demonstrate three important facts. Firstly, Sri Lankan Tamils formed less that 20 percent of the population and the Sinhalese, Low Country Sinhalese and the Kandyans put together, formed over 60 percent. Secondly, vast majority of the Sri Lankan Tamils lived in the northern and eastern provinces. Thirdly, the number of Indian Tamils was increasing rapidly and that they were living in the central region of the country. These facts became important in determining the relations between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in the 20th Century.

Another important point that should ne noted was that though Tamil nationalism affected equally the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils the Sri Lankan Tamil sub-nationalism affected the Sri Lankan Tamils living in the northern and eastern provinces only. It should also be noted that the competition and the challenge Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils posed the Sinhalese were different is character and produced different impacts.

For the Sri Lankan Tamils who had developed a distinct identity of their own maintaining that separate identity and living in Sri Lanka was their priority. They felt threatened whenever their feeling of belonging to Sri Lanka was threatened. Indian Tamils of the 19th Century suffered no such inhibition. They regarded India their home and kept alive their bonds with their villages in India.


The spread of education among the Sinhalese and the Tamils and the different levels of achievement were the second major cause for the emergence of the ethnic strife. The better network of English schools the missionaries built in the Jaffna peninsula and the interest the Tamils showed in education gave them an advantage when the British administration required the services of those who were capable of working in the English language.

In Chapter 8 we pointed out that missionaries arrived in Sri Lanka in the second decade of the 19th Century with the objective of converting the people to Christianity. We said missionaries arrived from Britain and America. Sir Robert Brownrigg, then Governor, had no difficulty with the British missionaries. The Wesleyans and the CMS were permitted to work from Colombo and Jaffna. But with the American Ceylon Mission he had a problem.

The American missionaries arrived just after the American War of Independence. Brownrigg did not want to keep them in Colombo fearing that they would get involved in the campaigns he was waging to capture the Kandyan Kingdom. He directed the Americans to far away Jaffna peninsula. Brownrigg’s decision benefitted the Jaffna Tamils.

Americans who were active and were experimenting with new educational methodologies worked hard to establish several schools and higher educational institutions like Batticotta Seminary and Manipay Medical School, Technical Training Centers in Tellipallai and Colombothurai and agricultural schools in Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa.

Jaffna Tamils had other advantages also. As pointed out in Chapter 10 Hindu revivalism preceded Buddhist revivalism by two decades and the establishment of Saiva schools commenced in the 1850s. Buddhist educational movement began in the 1880s after the arrival of Olcott.

Three more important factors that helped Jaffna to take the lead in education should also be noted. Firstly, Saiva revivalists encouraged English education and started English schools themselves. Secondly, the people of Jaffna gave importance to education. Thirdly, Tamil Legislative Council members worked for the spread of education. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan built two English schools. He was the first principal of Parameswara College and Lady Ramanathan, the first principal of Ramanathan College for Girls.

The Sinhalese Legislative Council members were not keen in popularizing education to the Sinhala masses. Sinhala historians and educationists have noted that Sinhala representative J.P. Obeysekera had opposed educating the children of the poor saying that would only push their parents into debt.  The Sinhalese representatives were anxious to retain the hold of the Anglicized Christian families on the people.

Apart from these historical and attitudinal differences Jaffna schools were not showered with special favours. All schools in the country functioned under the common policy of the British administration. We pointed out in Chapter 10 that the British did not evince interest in education during the early years of their rule and allowed the Christian missionaries to establish schools. British administrators were also under pressure to help the missionaries and their schools.

When the British arrived there were traditional privana schools among the Sinhala- Buddhists and temple schools among the Tamils. By 1831 the number of missionary schools had outnumbered the number of privana and temple schools. In that year there were 1006 schools in the country and 649 of them were missionary schools.  Of the missionary schools, about 300 were established in the Jaffna peninsula. The American Ceylon Mission was in the forefront and established nearly half of them. Besides the missionary schools the British government ran 99 government schools in the country and they were also managed by the missionaries. The missionary schools taught in English and Sinhala in the Sinhala area and in English and Tamil in the Tamil region. There was no uniformity or supervision of these schools.

The Colebrooke Commission recommended in 1833 that English be made the language of administration and the media of instruction in schools. It also recommended the appointment of a commission to effect those changes. The Education Ordinance provided the necessary legal frame-work for their development. The School Commission was appointed in 1834 and English was made the medium of instruction.

Under the changes effected by The School Commission Christian missionaries established English medium schools mainly in the cities. The government opened some primary schools in the rural areas. The city schools which levied fees provided 13 years of schooling from age 5 to 18, and the rural schools taught upto grade five. As these schools were opened traditional privana and temple schools were closed down.

Tobacco cultivation

The discontinuance of Sinhala and Tamil schools caused dissatisfaction among the people. This led to the 1841 reforms which brought about a remarkable change in the education system of the country. In that year The School Commission was replaced by The Central School Commission. A system of primary schools, bilingual schools and vernacular schools was started. Central Schools and Girls Schools were started in the main towns like Colombo, Galle and Kandy. 

When the chairman of the Central School Commission, an assistant secretary of state, returned to England in 1848, a Priest of the Church of England was appointed in his place and the schools once again turned out to be institutions for teaching Christianity. All Sinhala and Tamil schools were gradually closed down.

Sinhalese and Tamils were disturbed by it. Navalar reacted by starting the movement to start Saiva schools. In a statement issued that year (1848) Navalar portrayed the situation thus:

Some time ago, the government established a few English schools in this territory and conducted them for a few years. No Christian books were taught at these schools. Saiva children wore the holy ash when attending classes there. The pastors who saw this realized that their aim would not be achieved exerted their influence on some officers to close down those schools. And they appropriated to their schools the funds allocated by the government to the above schools. They continue to propagate their views unjustly.

The situation was worse than that portrayed by Navalar. As the government schools were closed Buddhist and Saiva students who studied in those schools were transferred to missionary schools. In 1858 Christian missionaries strengthened their hold further. They demanded that their schools too should be given government education grants. Till then only the government schools were given grants. The government yielded to their pressure and announced on November 24, 1858 that the missionary schools too would be given grants. That led to the rapid expansion of Christian schools throughout the country.

Buddhists and Hindus were disturbed by this development. Since the Sinhala member of the Legislative Council was an Anglican Christian they approached the Hindu member of the council Dr. Mutthu Coomaraswamy to take up their cause. Dr. Muttu Coomaraswamy had earned a reputation for defending the cause of Buddhism and Hinduism and was a strong advocate of vernacular education. He also campaigned for teaching of science in rural schools.

Muttu Coomaraswamy raised the issue in the Legislative Council and asked for the appointment of a select committee to investigate and report about the state of education in the country. A subcommittee was appointed in 1865 with R.F. Morgan, Queen’s Advocate, as chairman. The Morgan committee prepared a questionnaire of 18 questions and got 43 persons to answer them. The committee based its recommendations on their answers. It made the following recommendations: (1) Abolition of the Central School Commission, (1) Establishment of a Department of Public Instruction under a Director of Education. (3)The government should take the responsibility of Education in the country (4) Primary Education should be in the National Languages and Secondary Education should be in English medium, (5) A Technical School and an Institution to train Technical Teachers should be started, (6) Schools for girls should be opened and (7) Two Institutions, one for training teachers for vernacular schools and the other for training teachers for Bilingual schools should be opened.

On these recommendations the Department of Public Instruction was started in 1869 and the administration, payments, supplies, curriculum and examinations, supervision and opening or closing of schools came under this department. The missionary schools came under the supervision of the department and the curriculum began to be secularized. The system of grants in aid enabled the government to exercise some control over all missionary and assisted schools.

The Morgan Committee recommendation also resulted in the creation of two categories of schools-Aided Schools which received government grants and the government schools which were run by the government. The missionaries made use of the government aid to establish schools throughout the country,  

Statistics collected in the years 1869, 1879 and 1889 showed that the growth of aided schools outnumbered the number of government schools:

  1869 1879 1889
Government schools 64 372 468
Aided schools







Total 85 1,186       1510


Another set of statistics collected in 1886 about the number assisted (aided) schools managed by the missionaries showed that except for the 12 Buddhist and five Hindu schools all the other assisted schools were run by the missionaries:






Wesley Mission





Roman Catholics










American Mission

























This statistics showed that American Mission which was operating only in the Jaffna peninsula managed 133 schools in that district. American mission was not levying fees and thus there was a great demand throughout the peninsula for the opening of those schools. The Wesleyan Mission and the CMS too managed several schools within the Jaffna peninsula.  Thus Jaffna had well organized schools in every village.

Concentration of hundreds of schools within the peninsula gave the Tamils a definite advantage over the Buddhists. Jaffna also developed a network of high grade schools which provided education upto Grade 13 and presented students for Senior Cambridge, London Matriculation and London Intermediate examinations.. The Department of Public Instruction introduced Cambridge Senior Examination in 1880, London Matriculation examination in 1882 and the London Intermediate Examination in 1885. Jaffna students benefitted the most. Those examinations provided the opportunity for Jaffna students to obtain professional qualifications.

Professional studies were made available in Sri Lanka only during the closing years of the 19th Century. Medical College of Ceylon was started in 1870 and was recognized by the British medical Association in 1889. Law College was started in 1895, School of Agriculture was opened in Colombo in1884 and the School of Agriculture in Peradeniya was opened in 1909 and Government Technical College was started in 1893 in Colombo. Technical Schools, mainly Carpentry Schools were opened in villages from 1881 and by 1930 there were 146 such Technical Schools in the Island. The University College was established in Colombo in 1921 to prepare students for the external examinations of the University of London.

This late development of institutions of professional education gave the Tamils advantage because they made use of the higher educational institutions the American Mission opened in Jaffna in the first half of the 19th Century and then the Universities of Madras and Calcutta  which were started during mid- 19th  century to pursue their higher studies.

Tamils made use of the universities of Calcutta and Madras from their very inception. The University of Calcutta was opened in January 1857 and the University of Madras in September the same year. Past students Batticotta Seminary C.W. Thamotharmpillai ad Carol Viswanaha Pillai were the only students who sat the Bachelor of Arts examination was conducted by the Madras and Thamotharmpillai who obtained higher marks was placed as the first graduate of the Madras University. Since then Tamils from Jaffna studied in the colleges affiliated to those universities. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan was one among them. Jaffna College founded in 1873 was first affiliated to the Calcutta University and then to the Madras University.  

Competition begins

The advantage the Jaffna Tamils gained through education enabled them to enter the British government service in Sri Lanka and Malaya (now Malaysia). Some enterprising Jaffna Tamil students entered the Indian administrative service.

Employment opportunities for English educated youths expanded rapidly during the last quarter of the 19th Century in Sri Lanka and Malaya. In Sri Lanka, several new government departments were established and they needed civil servants and clerical servants to run them. The Police Department was opened in 1865, the Survey General’s Department and Public Works Department in 1866, Department of Public Instruction in 1870, Irrigation Department in 1887, the Forestry Department in 1889 and Land Settlement Department in 1890. In the next decade several specialized departments like Postal Department, Railway Department, Excise and Customs were organized under separate department heads.

Till 1863 the British administration appointed its officers on the recommendation of those who were employed in the respective departments. In 1870 the recruitment procedure was streamlined by the holding of competitive examinations. The examination for the selection of civil servants was held in England and Sri Lanka and most of those selected were people were British who studied at the British universities. The first Sri Lankan to enter the Ceylon Civil Service was Ponnambalam Arunachalam who was a product of Christ Church College, Cambridge University. He sat the Ceylon Civil Service examination in 1875 in England and was selected. A few other Sri Lankans entered the Ceylon Civil Service since them but their number was small. In 1881 of the 91 civil servants in service 84 were British and seven Sri Lankans. 

This disparity was taken up by the Ceylon National Association, the first national association formed in 1885 due to the effort of Ponnambalam Ramanathan. Tamils backed the campaign for the Ceylonization of the civil service. Hindu Organ in its editorial of January 1886 wrote,

It is the Europeans and the descendents of such Europeans living here, who are opposed to the native Ceylonese being employed in high positions. We see no reason as to why natives should not be given posts in the civil services. All the people now employed in these types of job are Europeans.

Apart from the Ceylon Civil Service clerical service formed the vital part of the British government administration. Clerical servants helped in the performance of the various departments. Since the administration was carried out in the English language proficiency in that language and the ability to carry out the work efficiently were the criteria for selection and promotion. Like in the civil service the clerical servants were selected through a competitive examination and the colonial secretary was in charge of the recruitment of clerical servants.

Competition between the Sinhalese and the Tamils started with the clerical service recruitment. Two hundred and forty candidates sat for the examination held in 1887. Of them 35 were successful and Tamil formed the majority. Eight of the successful candidates were from Jaffna, two each from Mannar and Batticaloa and one from Mullaitivu thus totaling 13. Of the 13 selected from Colombo majority of them were Tamils. That was the case in the following years too. That resulted in the Sinhala cry that Tamils were controlling the administration of the country.

Opportunity of employment for graduates opened in the government and teaching sectors increased during the last quarter of the 19th Century. Tamils benefitted from that because they had the necessary graduates. Tamils also dominated the specialized services like surveying, customs, railways and plantation industry. Employment opportunities were also available for them in Malaya.

Tamils from Jaffna also dominated the prestigious professions like medicine, engineering and law. They obtained their qualifications from British and Indian universities and after the opening of medical and law colleges in Sri Lanka they entered them in larger numbers.

By the end of the 19th Century competition for jobs between the Sinhalese intensified.  From the beginning of 1890s reports of discrimination were published in the Jaffna newspapers. In January 1892 Hindu Organ carried a report accusing the government of discrimination in granting jobs to those who passed the clerical service examination. It said several Sinhalese and Tamils passed the General Clerical Examination held in 1889 but appointments were given to the Sinhalese only.

Feeling of Discrimination

The feeling that they were being discriminated by the British administration grew among the Jaffna Tamils and Tamils in other areas too during the last quarter of the 19th Century. They felt they were discriminated in the areas of economic development, taxation, railway extension and in the introduction of local government system.

Tobacco cultivation was the major agricultural occupation of the Jaffna Tamils when the British took over Sri Lanka from the Dutch. Onion, chilli, coconut, arecanut and peanut were cultivated in smaller quantities. Paddy cultivation was undertaken as subsistence farming. But tobacco was the main income earner,

Jaffna cigar was the major income earner. It was popular among the Sinhalese and the Malayalees in Travancore and Cochin in South India. Tobacco trade was developed through the effort of the Jaffna people and they had built a network of retail shops throughout the Sinhala areas. Jaffna cigar traders also expanded their business by taking to retail trading in several Sinhala villages. The British not only failed to encourage the tobacco cultivation but imposed a special tax called the tobacco tax.

The railway network- spotted line shows the portion damaged by the war

Paddy cultivation was the second major vocation of the Jaffna people. The British did not encourage its cultivation but imposed Grains Tax in 1877 which adversely affected the paddy farmers in the entire island. The tax enabled the state to collect one-fourteenth to one half of the value of the total crop as tax. The state was authorized to seize the paddy land for failure to pay the tax.

Agitation against the tax broke out in the Sinhala areas and Jaffna farmers joined the protest movement.  Several cases of confiscation of paddy lands were reported in the Jaffna peninsula.

The agitation against the Grains Tax resulted in the Grains riots of 1866. Ponnambalam Ramanathan who was nominated the unofficial member of the Legislative Council in 1879 took up the cause of the farmers in the Legislative Council. The tax was withdrawn in 1892.

The British administration which suffered revenue loss due to the failure of the coffee cultivation in 1870s introduced several taxes which included poll tax, grains tax, tobacco tax, salt tax, market tax, dog tax and stamp tax. Poll tax too was severely resisted throughout the country.  Jaffna too played a major role in resisting the poll tax. The government arrested those who refused to pay the poll tax and imprisoned them. Hindu Organ reported in 1890 that “hundreds of people are imprisoned” for not paying the poll tax.

The market tax angered the Jaffna more than any other tax. That was a special tax imposed only in the Jaffna peninsula. A special law called the “Northern Province Market Law” was enacted for that purpose. People staged a major protest against that law. Condemning that law Inthu Sathanam said,

The people affected by this law are crying out that passing this law for this province alone, and not for any other, is not fair and all that Governor had done in this respect is cruel and unjust.

People also agitated against the market tax and courted arrest by refusing to pay it. They boycotted Governor’s visit to Jaffna and Hindu Organ and Inthu Sathanam carried a virulent campaign against the elites of the Jaffna society who welcomed the Governor. Tamil nationalists supported the boycott campaign and advocated the boycott of foreign goods.

The environment created by the people’s protest caused the emergence of several societies and organizations which sought to protect the welfare of the people, especially that of the farmers.  They laid the foundation for the growth of the cooperative movement in the Jaffna peninsula. The Jaffna and Batticaloa Commercial Company formed in 1877 played the lead role. The Jaffna Commercial Cooperative founded in 1880 was the most powerful. The Tobacco Society of 1889 and Atchuveli Commercial Cooperative Society of 1991 brought produces together.

Agitation for railway extension

The reluctance the British government to extend the railway line to the north and its unwillingness to introduce the local government system to Jto the Jaffna peninsula gave the Jaffna Tamils the feeling that they were being discriminated.

The development of the road and railway networks was the result of the coffee and tea plantations. A railway company was formed in 1845 to build a railway link between Colombo and Kandy primarily to transport coffee from Kandy to Colombo. The Colombo- Kandy railway line was completed in 1867. Then the southern railway line was completed to encourage coconut cultivation.

Tamils of Jaffna pleaded with the government to build a railway line to the north saying that would help to open up the vast Vanni region for rice production. The government was not interested saying that it would be unprofitable. In 1894 people of Jaffna sent a petition to Governor Sir Arthur Gordon but he turned down the request saying that it was not feasible.  When pressed further he appointed a commission which reported that venture would be a loss to the government.

The new Governor Sir Arthur Havelock who visited Jaffna in 1990 promised to take a fresh look at the request for a railway line. Nothing came out of it. The people intensified their agitation in which Tamils in Malaya joined. They formed an association called “Ceylon Union” which sent several petitions pleading for the construction of the railway. Continued agitation and concerned pressure made the things move. Sir West Ridgeway who succeeded Havelock approved the project. Construction began in 1900 and was completed in the next five years.

The Tamils had to agitate for over 15 years to get the local government system introduced in Jaffna. The system of local government has its origin in 1835. Local Boards of Health were appointed that year following the outbreak of smallpox epidemic to adopt sanitary measures.  Municipal Council Ordinance was passed in 1865 and Colombo and Kandy Municipal Councils were established in 1866 and Galle Municipal Council the next year.

Jaffna was denied that privilege. Tamils looked at that as discrimination. They started an agitation but was told that the Government Agent of Jaffna, W.C.Twynam was opposed to the granting of a Local Board to Jaffna. Leading citizens of Jaffna then persuaded the Legislative Council member P. Coomaraswamy to raise the matter in the council. He politely asked the Governor why village councils and local boards were not introduced in the Jaffna peninsula. The Governor told him that the Government Agent was opposed to it.   

Coomaraswamy left the matter at that but not the public. They carried a strenuous campaign through the newspapers. They held a public meeting on March 2, 1901 where over 2000 leading citizens of Jaffna gathered. The speakers included Justice T. Chellappapillai, Advocate S. Kanagasabai, Hindu College principal. Selvathurai and Proctor V. Kasipillai. The meeting passed a resolution calling for a Local Board for Jaffna. Jaffna got a local board in 1906.

By the beginning of the 20th Century Tamil nationalism had begun to assert itself. The leadership imposed on them by the British had begun to lose force.  The influence of the traditional elites- mudaliyars and other officials- had begun to wane. A new society had begun o emerge.

 (Next week: Clash between Nationalisms Intensifies)    



Chapter 1: The Context

Chapter 2: Origins of Racial Conflict

Chapter 3: Emergence of Racial Consciousness

Chapter 4: Birth of the Tamil State

Chapter 5: Tamils Lose Sovereignty

Chapter 6: Birth of a Unitary State

Chapter 7: Emergence of Nationalisms

Chapter 8: Growth of Nationalisms

Chapter 9: Religious Revival

Chapter 10: Parallel Growth of Nationalisms

Chapter 11: Consolidation of Nationalisms

Chapter 12: Consolidation of Nationalisms (Part 2)

Chapter 13: Clash of Nationalisms

Chapter 14: Clash between Nationalism Intensifies


Under pressure, British introduces the Grain Tax - Sinhala rice production & farmers are doomed again. Even Ponnambalam Ramanathan speak against this injustice.

 Governer Godon Gordon introduces an irrigation fund using 25% of the profits of the rice trade. This become a severe burden on farmers, specially the ones who burrow money to cultivate or whose crop get destroyed in natural disasters. Strict implementation of the tax meant govt seized the land & sold it to recover the arrears. This led to starvation of farmers in affected areas. Even Ponnambalam Ramanathan & many newspapers in Colombo try to battle against the British propaganda


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