Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle

Chapter 17: The Arunachalam Factor (Continued)

by T. Sabaratnam, December 8, 2010
A journalist who reported Sri Lankan ethnic crisis for over 50 years

Sabapathy told the others that he would, in the interests of national unity, accept territorial representation, if the number of Tamil representatives was increased.

Encouraged by Sabapathy’s change of stand from communal representation to territorial representation Arunachalam started a campaign to promote the formation of a common organization. In September 1918 he delivered an address on the "Present Political Situation". In that he made a clarion call for constitutional reform and self-government.

Arunachalam like his brother Ramanathan believed in Sri Lankan nationalism and laid his trust on Sinhala elites until he was let down by them. He tried his best to build a united Sri Lanka in which Sinhalese and Tamils as ‘founding communities’ would share power. Like Ramanathan he was also influenced by his family members and the Indian independence movement.

Born and brought up in the Colombo Tamil elite Coomaraswamy family, educated at Royal College along with the children of the families of Sinhala elites and later at Cambridge where he moved with the nobles and liberals he was moulded into a liberal minded constitutional reformist and a nationalist with a broad vision.  

The orthodox Saivaism his family practiced, the independence his uncle Sir Muttu Coomaraswamy and his elder brothers Coomaraswamy and Ramanathan adopted in their activities in the Legislative Council and the influence the Indian independence movement had on him shaped his political activities.

Arunachalam had a wide awareness of, and deep sensitiveness to, the problems of the underprivileged. He displayed a genuine interest in their conditions of existence. His interest in the common man was the result of his moving in interesting circles which included liberal thinkers during his Cambridge days. He got interested in political reform by following keenly the reforms effected by British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who during his first term as prime brought about changes in the qualification for being a voter.

Arunachalam got interested in the problems of the underprivileged by following the laws Disraeli enacted during his second term as prime minister which began in 1874. Disraeli's laws dealt with the improvement of the conditions of dwellings of factory workers and raising the standard of public health. He also enacted the Food and Drugs Act.  Disraeli was a friend of Sir Muttu Coomaraswamy who greatly influenced Arunachalam’s life.

Arunachalam's letters to the editor sent to John Ferguson, urging Ferguson to convene a conference of public men to discuss political reforms were born out of his thinking in terms of the country. From 1906 to 1913 the periods in which he was in the Legislative Council as a nominated member and then in the Executive Council due to his being the Registrar General  he adhered to the family tradition and served the British rulers loyally. He turned social reformer and political activist after his retirement in 1913 when he was knighted for distinguished service to the British Crown. He received his reward from King George V at Buckingham Palace.

Arunachalam lived eleven years after he was knighted. Of that period he spent the first seven years- 1914 – 1920- working feverishly for the political advancement of the county. He also made some effort to improve the lot of the common man. Being influenced by Disraeli’s work to help Britain’s exploited factory workers Arunachalam elected to improve the appalling conditions of the plantation workers. He formed the Ceylon Workers Welfare League in 1915 of which he was the president. Periannan Sundaram popularly known as Peri Sundaram , the first Tamil of the Indian origin to graduate from Cambridge University, became the secretary. In the First State Council Peri Sundaram  served as the Minister of Labour and played a leading role in promoting the welfare of the plantation workers.

In Chapter 10 I gave the circumstances in which Indian Tamil labour came to Sri Lanka. They came to work in the coffee plantations since 1830s during the picking season and returned to their villages when the season was over. I said the situation changed in 1870s when coffee plantation industry collapsed due to the leaf disease. Planters experimented with various plantation crops but tea and later rubber took the place of coffee.

With the introduction of tea and rubber the labour requirement of the plantation industry changed. It required resident labour to pluck tea leaves and tap rubber. Planters preferred labour families where males and females could work. Migration of family units became the rule. This resulted in a sudden influx of Indian Tamils into the estates. The following statistics illustrate the growth of the estate population during that period:

1881       206,840

1891       262,262

1901       441,523

1921      600,000

1939      1,000,000

As I have already pointed out, majority of the workers came to Sri Lanka under the kankarny system and the rest came on their own. As the extent of the areas under tea and rubber expanded the need for labour grew faster than the rate of immigratioon. This created a situation where new estates offered better wages and other facilities and attracted the workers from other estates. Individual labourers and kankarnies with their gang of workers went from estate to estate. This was called 'bolting.'

Under pressure from the Planters Association of Ceylon the government enacted a series of ordinances beginning in 1841 to prevent bolting. The object of the 1841 ordinance stated  that it was enacted “For the better regulation of Servants, Labourers and Journeymen Artificers under contracts of Hire and Service and their Employers.” Though it was sophistically worded  the intention of the ordinance was to prevent Indian Tamil plantation labourers deserting the employer who got them down from India and joining another. This ordinance virtually bonded the labourers to the estate.

The series of amendments made to the 1841 ordinance tightened the hold of the employer on the labourers. All those ordinances were updated in 1865 and under that ordinance bolting from the estate to which the labourers came was made a penal offence. A labourer who ran away from the estate in which he was employed could be arrested and tried before a court of law. The magistrate had the power to impose a fine on the offender or sentence him to prison. 

The planters were not satisfied even with the 1865 ordinance because bolting still continued. On their pressure amendments were made to tighten the law further. The amendments enacted in the years 1889, 1890 and 1902 led to the infamous Tundu System. It was also known as the Tin Ticket System.

The map shows the route the immigrant Tamil labourers walked  from Mannar to Kandy. After the construction of the railway line they were taken to Colombo along the coast and then taken to the station close to the estate.

Under the Tundu System the labourers recruited for a particular estate were taken by the recruiter to Mandapam, India Quarantine Camp for medical check up and then taken to Dhanuslody or Rameswaram. From there they were transported by boats to Mannar. At Mannar each labourer was given a number and the first letter of the name of  the estate. They were inscribed on a tin ticket (a small piece of tin sheet) and hung from the labourer’s neck.  That Tundu bound the labourer to the estate which recruited him. The Tundu System reduced the Indian Tamil labourer to the status of a slave.

The Tundu System was very unpopular from the beginning. Arunachalam and Ceylon Workers Welfare League campaigned for its abolition. Arunachalam who called it a “new form of slavery” took up the matter with the governments  of Sri Lanka and India. Indian government took up the matter with Sri Lanka in 1921 and the ordinance was repealed.

Ramanathan’s Insulting Comment

Before I complete the story about Arunachalam’s effort to alleviate the plight of the Tamil estate workers I wish to give you the blunder Ramanathan made.  I was wrong when I said in the last chapter that Ramanathan’s opposition against the grant of an unofficial seat for the Muslims  in the Legislative Council was his first error. It was his second. Before that on January 4, 1884 in his speech in the Legislative Council he derogatively called the Tamil estate workers “coolies” and “Tamil coolies”. In six sentences he used the “coolies” five times and the words “Tamil labourers” only once.

The following excerpt is from his speech:

My honourable friend, the member for the planters, say that the Government ought not to interfere because the condition of the coolies was never better than it is now. I quite concede the fact that the Medical Aid returns furnished by the medical officer show that the sanitary state of the coolies to be very satisfactory, but that only proves that the coolie has adapted himself to the climate of the hills. This, however, does not disprove the necessity for Government interference. The Government is anxious to interfere, because the coolies do not receive their just dues at the present day…

I am not going to asperse the character of the planters. They have hitherto treated the Tamil labourer kindly and well and nobody who has not seen the Tamil coolie in his home in India can appreciate the ease and comfort which he enjoys in Ceylon.   

Ramanathan had in several occasions spoke in support of the Indian Tamil plantation workers. On October 9, 1879 he spoke in the Legislative Council criticizing the Coffee Stealing Ordinance of 1876. He asked the Government to produce the statistics concerning the number of persons convicted of stealing coffee and the quantity of coffee that was stolen. He argued that the statistics would prove the harshness of the regulation.

On October 4, 1882 when the Sinhalese representatives criticized the employment of Tamil labourers in the plantations Ramanathan defended them pointing out that they were hard working. He concluded his speech saying,

It is very gratifying to see the Sinhalese, the masses, I mean, catch some of the bold spirit and enterprise of their fellow countrymen, the Tamils.

Though Ramanathan had fought for the Tamil labourers his use of the word “coolie” is sill remembered  by the plantation Tamils and held against the Jaffna Tamils.

Thondaman in his autobiography “My Life and Times” has said (Page 96),

It has always surprised me how any Tamil could refer to the Tamils who had been brought to Ceylon to work in the plantations in the way Ramanathan did.

Thondaman was full of praise for Arunachalam. He says Arunachalam took “genuine interest” in the welfare of the plantation labourers. He adds that Arunachalam  was a “solitary exception” in that period.

Arunachalam started campaigning against Indian Labour Ordinance  and against the low wages  and bad conditions in plantation soon after his retirement in 1913. Soon after the formation of  the Ceylon Workers Welfare League he  highlighted the inequities of the Master and Servants Ordinance of 1865 and its amendments. Under these ordinances plantation workers could be charged in a court of law for breach of contract and returned to their former employees, if they left their original estate. In 1916, he spoke against the conditions of the Indian Tamil laborers holed in the estates calling their lot was not an enviable one. He wrote,

Being poor, ignorant and helpless, he is unable to protect himself against the cupidity and tyranny of the unscrupulous recruiters and bad employers…

Arunachalam did not limit his interest only to plantation workers. He was sensitive to the problems of the underprivileged people of the country. He displayed a genuine interest in their conditions of existence. In a letter to Lord Chalmers, the Governor-designate of Ceylon, in July 1913, he drew attention to the burdens that the poll-tax imposed on the poor:

The rich are fortunate in Ceylon for they pay nothing else except on luxuries. The  poor are unfortunate because they pay duty even on salt which is a Government monopoly. The rich, who as tea and rubber planters and in the professions, make large incomes and the Companies which make and send out of the Colony huge profits remain untouched. There is no income tax or land tax. I cannot help thinking about the  miserable conditions of the poor.

This sensitivity to the problems of the underprivileged led to his joining with Sir James Peiris and founding the Ceylon Social Service League. At an exploratory meeting which preceded the formation of this League he emphasized the need to take steps to educate the masses, provide them with medical relief and better housing and establish a system of compulsory insurance and the payment of minimum wages. 

Arunachalam did not have much time to continue his work for the betterment of the underprivileged. As one born into a political family and as one interested in the Indian freedom movement Arunachalam plunged headlong into Sri Lankan constitutional reform movement.

Formation of Ceylon National Congress

Arunachalam was interested in constitutional reforms even before he persuaded John Ferguson  to publish his letters in 1902. In November l 875, the year he joined the Ceylon Civil Service, Arunachalam wrote a letter to the Editor of the Ceylon Observer under a pseudonym in which he deplored the exploitation practiced by the British rulers. It was their duty he argued to train Sri Lankan people to rule themselves. "I hope'', he added "that our race and religious differences here and in India will be at no far off time crushed into a national unity by the pressure of the stronger."

The Ceylon Observer Editor A.M. Ferguson, John Ferguson’s uncle, considered the letter too radical to publish. Eleven months later, Arunachalam sent the rough draft of this rejected letter to his friend Digby for his information.  In 1893 Arunachalam wrote to Digby urging him to impress upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies (a friend of Digby) the need to extend the principle of local self-government in Ceylon.

Arunachalam involved himself with zest in the agitation for political reform soon after his retirement in 1913. As one who followed the developments in India he was influenced by the Indian National Congress sessions held in Madras during December 28-30, 1914, the debate that took place in the sessions between the moderates and the radicals and the resolution passed requesting representation in the legislative bodies. He was equally influenced by the return of Gandhi and his wife Kasturba from South Africa to India in January 1915. Gandhi’s meeting with Rabindranath Tagore and his speeches on nonviolence and on the need for self government for India  during his three week stay  in Madras beginning April 17, 1915 left indelible imprint on him.

Gandhi and Kasturba after their arrival in January 1915 in Bombay harbour


Tamil and Sinhalese elites with whom Arunachalam associated were also influenced by the Indian events. The impact of those events led to the formation of the Ceylon Reform League on May 17, 1915. Its objective was to agitate for self-rule for Sri Lanka using the constitutional process as the vehicle.

Arunachalam was indignant at the manner in which British authorities handled the riots that broke out by the end of that month between the Sinhalese and the Muslims. On July 6,1915 he wrote to the Governor  requesting the appointment of an impartial Commission of Inquiry. He kept in close touch with his friends at the Colonial Office in London acquainting them at every stage with what he regarded as being the true facts.

The Montagu Declaration of 1917, which had proposed the progressive development towards self-government in India, kindled the imagination of leaders in Ceylon. In World War I, the British claimed that they stood for the protection of democracy around the world. Thus the Indians, who fought for them in this war, demanded that democracy should also be introduced in their country. In his famous August Declaration presented before the House of Commons on August 20, 1917, Montague, the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs said that in order to satisfy the Indian demands, his government was interested in giving more representation to the natives in India. New reforms would be introduced in the country to meet this objective. He came to India and stayed there for six months. During this period he held meetings with different government and non-government people. Finally, in cooperation with the Governor General Lord Chelmsford, Montague presented a report on the constitutional reforms for India in 1918. The report was discussed and approved by the British Parliament and then became the Act of 1919. This Act is commonly known as Montague-Chelmsford Reforms.

The Act provided for the establishment of a Council of the Secretary of State comprising eight to 12 members of whom three should be Indians. The Secretary of State should follow the council’s advice. In addition it provided for the Central Legislative to have two houses: Council of the State (Upper House) and the Legislative Assembly (Lower House).

The Council of State was to consist of 60 members out of which 33 were to be elected and 27 nominated by the Governor General. The Legislative Assembly was to consist of 144 members out of which 103 were to be elected and 41 to be nominated by the Governor General. The franchise was limited. The tenure of office of the Council of State was five years and of the Legislative  Assembly three years. Provincial legislatures were also to be established. They were unicameral.

The Montague-Chelmsford reforms were not accepted by most quarters in India as they fell far short of the Indian natives’ expectations.

Three months before the Montague Declaration Arunachalam  demanded self-government for Sri Lanka. In his address in April 2,1917 on the topic  “Our Political Needs” Arunachalam  said,

The inherent evils of a Crown Colony administration remain. We are deprived of all power and responsibility, our powers and capacities are dwarfed and stunted, we live in an atmosphere of inferiority, and we can never rise to the full height to which our manhood is capable of rising.

The Legislative Council, as it is at present constituted, hardly answers a useful purpose. It provides, no doubt, seats of honor to a few unofficials and an area for their eloquence or for their silence. But they are little more than advisory members and their presence in the council serves to conceal the autocracy under which we live. The swaddling clothes of a Crown Colony administration are strangling us. They have begun even to disturb the equanimity of our European fellow subjects. None are safe until all are safe.

We ask to be in our own country as self-respecting people - self-governing, strong, respected at home and abroad, and we ask for the grant at once of a definite measure of progressive advance towards that goal. Ceylon is no pauper begging for alms. She is claiming her heritage.

Arunachalam’s address generated a great deal of interest among the Sinhala and Tamil elites and several lectures and conferences were held to discuss the demands to be placed for the consideration of the British government. The Ceylon National Association which was not functioning for a long time was revived by James Peiris in 1916.

On the advice of Arunachalam the Ceylon Reform League and Ceylon National Association invited the Jaffna Association and the Chilaw Association for a joint meeting to draft a common memorial to be presented to the British government. The first round of the joint talks was held at Victoria Masonic Hall on December 5, 1917. Arunachalam was unanimously elected president. In his Presidential Address, Arunachalam said,

The time is therefore auspicious to win for ourselves as large a measure of constitutional reform as possible.

We demand the liberty to take our share in the burden of this responsibility, to manage our own lives, make our own mistakes, gain strength by knowledge and experience, and acquire that self confidence and self respect which are indispensable to national progress and success. We seek to be in our own country what other self-respecting people are in theirs, self-governing, strong, respected at home and abroad, and we ask for the grant at once of a definite measure of progressive advance towards that goal.

The meeting decided to make the following demands: indigenous representation in the Legislative Council should be increased; all the indigenous representatives should be elected through territorial electorates; elected representatives should be included in the Executive Council; Legislative Council should be given full responsibility to control local and municipal councils and all senior positions in the government sector should be reserved for the local people.

A. Sabapathy
During the discussion A. Sabapathy, president of the Jaffna Association and a member of the Legislative Council, objected to the proposal that “all the indigenous representatives should be elected through territorial electorates” saying that would drastically reduce Tamil representation. He also wanted the Tamils to be allocated a larger share and Tamil members too be elected  through communal electorates.

Delegates of the Ceylon National Association and Ceylon Reform League insisted on the demand for territorial representation. On Arunachalam’s suggestion a subcommittee was appointed to draft the memorandum embodying the demands accepted by the meeting. The subcommittee was also authorized to look into Sabapathy’s objection.

Arunachalam Sabapathy (1853–1924), born into a wealthy trading family of Thalaiyali, Vannaponne East was an influential journalist and educationist. a founding member of the Saiva Paripalana Sabhai, a member of the Jaffna Local Board, editor of Hindu Organ since its inception, one of the founders of Jaffna Hindu College, manager of the Hindu Colleges Board from 1913 and founder secretary of the Jaffna Association.

The subcommittee which drew up the draft memorandum decided that the Legislative Council should have 21 local representatives. The discussion on the sharing the representatives between the Sinhalese and the Tamil ended without a final decision. Sinhalese suggested that four of the representatives should be elected on communal basis and the balance 17 on territorial basis. The four communally elected representatives should be allocated to: two for Europeans and one each for Burghers and Muslims. Of the balance 17 representatives 13 should be allocated to the Sinhalese and four for the Tamils. Of the four Tamil representatives three would go to the Northern Province and one for the Eastern Province.

Sabapathy who acted as the chief spokesman of the Tamils objected to the proposal saying that the Tamils who wanted to negotiate separately with the British would never agree to such little representation. He also insisted on communal electorates for the Tamils.

The Sinhalese insisted that their offer of 13 to 4 was more than what the Tamils are entitled to on the basis of their population. They relented after much bargaining and offered one more seat for the Tamils. They increased the number of seats reserved for the Tamils in the Eastern Province to two thus increasing the number of Tamil representative to five. They insisted on their opposition to communal representation. Sabapathy still kept to his objection. The meeting ended without the Tamil issue unresolved. 

The Assurance Given to the Tamils

Arunachalam did not give up his effort to form a common organization. In order to resolve the dispute between the Sinhalese and the Tamils he negotiated with James Peiris, president of the Ceylon National Association, and E.J. Samarawickrama who succeeded him (Arunachalam) as the president of the Ceylon Reform League about finding a solution to the dispute. He also arranged a meeting among Sabapathy, James Peiris and Samarawickrama. Sabapathy told the others that he would, in the interests of national unity, accept territorial representation, if the number of Tamil representatives was increased.

Encouraged by Sabapathy’s change of stand from communal representation to territorial representation Arunachalam started a campaign to promote the formation of a common organization. In September 1918 he delivered an address on the "Present Political Situation". In that he made a clarion call for constitutional reform and self-government.

Arunachalam also negotiated on the basis of Sabapathy’s offer and persuaded James Peiris and Samarawickrama to concede the Tamils another seat in the Western Province where Tamils lived in significant numbers. They agreed to allocate the Colombo Town electorate. James Peiris and Samarawickrama gave this pledge in writing in the letter they wrote to Arunachalam on December 7, 1918.

The text of the letter:


                                                                                Ceylon Reform League,

                                                                                 12, De Soysa Buildings,

                                                                                  Slave Island,


                                                                             7th December 1918


Dear Sir Arunachalam,

With reference to the suggestion of Mr. Sabapathy that the words “on the basis of the territorial electorate” be omitted from Resolution 4, we shall be obliged if you will point out to him that their omission will seriously affect our case for the reform  as a whole. We beg to remind him of all that the promoters of the Reform Movement have said of the baneful  effect of the present system of racial representation.

We have made the territorial electorate a fundamental part of our demands. The omission of the words especially after the publication of the draft resolutions will be construed a surrender of an important principle.

It must be borne in mind that the resolution contain only the essential principles which we desire to assert. They do not constitute the complete scheme, and while we desire to avoid the introduction of details into the resolutions, we are anxious to do all that could be done to secure as large a representation as possible to the Tamils, when exceptional provisions consistent with the principles referred to come to be considered.

As presidents of the Ceylon National Association and Ceylon Reform League, we pledge ourselves to accept any scheme which the Jaffna Association may put forward as long as it is not inconsistent with the various principles contained in the resolutions. We feel sure that nothing obviously unreasonable will be insisted on by the Jaffna Association. We are prepared to pledge ourselves to actively support a provision for the reservation of a seat to the Tamils in the Western Province as long as the electorate remains territorial.

We suggest that the resolution should be accepted by the Jaffna Association without any alteration and that they should leave it to us to negotiate with the Indians, Europeans and the Burghers on the subject of special representation to them.

                                                                                Yours sincerely,

                                                                                 (Sgd.) James Peiris

                                                                                  President, Ceylon National Association

                                                                                   (Sgd.) E.J. Samarawickrama


                                                                                     Ceylon Reform League.

Arunachalam was satisfied with the pledge given by James Peiris and Samarawickrama. He sent their letter with a note by him to Sabapathy the same day. Text of Arunachalam’s  note”


                                                                             Horton Place,


                                                                             7th December 1918

Hon. Mr. A. Sabapathy,


Dear Sir,

Referring to your conversation with me on Thursday Afternoon, I enclose a letter from Messers James Peiris and E.J. Samarawickrama, Presidents of the Ceylon National Association and Ceylon Reform League respectively giving assurances which would satisfy your Association as the bona fide desire of the Sinhalese leaders to do all that can be done to secure as large a representation as possible to the Tamils consistent to the principles of the resolutions adopted by the committee with the concurrence of delegates from Provincial Associations.                                           

The assurance means that you have three seats for the Northern Province and two for the Eastern Province (or more if you can get it) and that there will be one seat reserved for a Tamil Member in the Western Province on the basis of the territorial electorate, in addition to the chances of Tamils the other provinces and in the Colombo Municipality. No doubt also, the Government will nominate a Tamil to represent the Indian Tamils. Our Sinhalese friends are also willing to support the claim for a Mohammedan Member in the Western Province on the same footing, should the Mohammedans make such a claim. The conference is deliberately restricted to essential principles only, there being a conflict of opinion among the Sinhalese themselves on matters of details. Such details should be hereafter submitted by the government by the various interested parties.

I trust that nothing will stand in the way of a large number of delegates from Jaffna (including yourself and Sir  A Kanagasabai) from attending the conference and making common cause with the rest of the island. I understand that the Governor is coming to Jaffna on the 14th or perhaps on the 13th by which time we hope to pass at least half the resolutions.

                                                                                   Yours very truly,

                                                                                   (Sgd.) A. Arunachalam

On the basis of the pledge James Peiris and Samarawickrama gave and Arunachalam’s note Sabapathy persuaded the members of the Jaffna Association to attend the second meeting held on December 13 and 14 December 1918. He told the members that he had been persuaded by Arunachalam that Tamils should do their part for the political advancement of the country.

The December 13 meeting convened again by the Ceylon National Association and the Ceylon Reform League to consider the reform proposals was representative. At that meeting Arunachalam and James Peiris expressed their vision of building a united Sri Lanka in which the common interests of all the communities would be accommodated. They told the audience that to achieve their common goal of self-government unity was essential. “We must ask with one voice,” Arunachalam declared.

Arunachalam suggested at that conference the need to form a common association on the lines of the Indian National Congress and it was unanimously accepted. He was authorized to work on the formation of the common organization.

Motivated by these developments Ramanathan moved a resolution in the Legislative Council on December 1918 calling for constitutional reform. The resolution requested the Government to report without further delay to the Secretary of State for the Colonies the result of its consideration about the reform of the Executive and Legislative Councils. The resolution also called for more effective popular control of Municipal and other local councils with elective chairmen and majorities of elected members, and the filling of the higher offices in the Ceylon Civil Service and other branches of the Public Service with a larger proportion of competent Ceylonese.

The motion was not pressed to a division but the Governor at the time, Sir William Manning did not in his reply commit himself, much to the dismay of the leaders of the Reform Movement. Manning pleaded that he was new to the Island having been here only for three months and that he had not had the time to study the situation in all its detail.

The inaugural sessions of the Ceylon National Congress was held on December 11, 1919 in Colombo. Arunachalam was hailed the father of the new organization and elected its first president.

The session adopted the following resolution:

The congress declares that, for the better government of the island and the happiness and contentment of the people, and as a step towards the realization of responsible government in Ceylon as an integral part of the British Empire, the constitution and administration of Ceylon should be immediately reformed in the following particulars, to wit:

That the Legislative Council should consist of about 50 members, of whom at least four-fifths should be elected on the basis of a territorial electorate, upon a wide male franchise and a restricted female franchise, and the remaining one-fifth should consist of official members and of unofficial members to represent important minorities, and the council should elect its own speaker.

The congress also demands that an Executive Council, with at least half its members Ceylonese, and that two of them should be elected members of the Legislative Council. The Congress asks for the control of the budget.

The Ceylon Daily News, successor of the ‘Ceylonese’ which was founded by Ramanathan and later sold to D.R.Wijewardene, the founder of Lake House Group of Newspapers, wrote,

(The Congress) marks the first great advance in the growth of the democratic institutions in Ceylon. The Congress takes up the positionof the only accredited mouthpiece of all classes/Those who have worked to bring it into existence have reason to be proud of its achievement.  

(Next: "The First Sinhala- Tamil Rift")




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

Chapter 15: Tamils Demand Communal Representation

Chapter 16: The Arunachalam Factor 

Chapter 17: The Arunachalam Factor (Part 2)

Chapter 18: The First Sinhala - Tamil Rift


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