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From abolishing the Senate to adopting a third new constitution

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The 50-year Constitutional Odyssey:

by Rajan Philips

There are three infliction and, perhaps also, inflection points to this article. First, is the sequel to my article two weeks ago (Sunday Island, October 10) where I alluded to the possibility of Sri Lanka’s parliament restoring itself and changing the ways of the regime between now and the next elections. In a situation of unprecedented crises, changing the ways of the regime is more vital than waiting for a potential electoral regime change three years from now. That was my plea, if not contention. I did not write last week, so it is carryover business this week. It is also the first point of infliction on the always indulgent editor and the more ageing than ageless readers of English newspapers.

The second point emanates from the visit (also on October 10) by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the Gajaba Regiment Headquarters, at Saliyapura, Anuradhapura, to commemorate the 72nd Anniversary of the Sri Lankan Army. In his speech to mark the military occasion, President Rajapaksa included a promissory note on the Constitution, that he will be “bringing in (of) a new Constitution,” as he had promised in November 2019, and that it “will be delivered within the next year.” The President’s obiter of reassurance literally took away the wind out of whatever parliamentary reform sails that I might have been hoping to use for my unsolicited purpose.

The third and the most obviously inflexion point, thanks entirely to Dr. Nihal Jayawickrama and the article he wrote last Sunday (October 17), is the 50th anniversary of the death, on October 2, 1971, of the Senate of Ceylon at the young age of 24. It was death by legislative euthanasia, brutally premature at so young an age and for a body that bore no incurable ill. It was a rather bad riddance of a good body.

Dr. Jayawickrama’s commemorative piece is quite remarkable at many levels. He neither asserts that the Senate deserves what it got, nor is he patently critical that it was put down at all. He is fair in his account of the purpose for which the Senate was created and the manner in which it played its constitutionally assigned role despite its lopsided composition and nominating procedure. He does not cite Sir Ivor Jennings’s scholarly cynicism that an unelected Senate can only be either “mischievous” (when it goes against the elected House) or “superfluous” (when it passes what has already been passed by the House); nor does he refer to Dr. Colvin R de Silva’s forceful contention that the Senate that “frustrates the will of the people” was one of the “five major defects” of the Soulbury Constitution.

That contention alone was enough to indicate the Senate’s fate in the new constitution that was being prepared by the United Front government. What came as a surprise at that time was the manner of the Senate’s riddance by an amendment to the Soulbury Constitution rather than through the new constitution. What struck me in the story of that riddance recounted by Dr. Jayawickrama was the pattern of disownment by all the key players in the parliamentary drama that began with a Bill to amend the Soulbury Constitution to save the SLFP MP for Ratnapura, Nanda Ellawala, from expulsion over a conviction and imprisonment, and ended with a Bill to amend the same constitution to abolish the Senate. To wit, Dr. Colvin R de Silva who introduced the first Bill in parliament, in July 1970, made it a point to ‘disown’ the bill by indicating that the Bill had been drafted in the Ministry of Justice and not by ‘his’ Ministry of Constitutional Affairs. And the disclaimers continued even as the Senate was let to die.

Committee of Experts

Nihal Jayawickrama’s article also provides a foil for contrasting the current urge to create a new constitution with the circumstances 50 years ago when Sri Lanka began its long odyssey of constitutional makeovers. No one would have thought then that it would come this far and could go still further. His intervention is particularly striking because he might be the only person alive who was closest to the making of the First Republican Constitution of 1972. He is also expertly familiar with the genesis and entrenchment of the 1978 Constitution. And perhaps the only other constitutional scholar of the same vintage is Prof. Savitri Goonesekere. If I am not mistaken, I do not think there is anyone alive today, who was associated with the making of the 1978 Constitution.

On the other hand, and I do not say this to be uncharitable, in President in Gotabaya Rajapaksa, we have the first Sri Lankan to become the most powerful person in the country with the least familiarity with anything constitutional. And it gets worse. In 1970, Parliament was the master of the country’s constitutional destiny, not only by representation but also by virtue of its legal luminaries. The finest legal minds in the country were in parliament, with the House and the Senate combined. Today’s parliament is not only bereft of talent, but is also powerless in spite of the government’s two-thirds majority. Worse, it is totally sidelined from the making of the new constitution.

That task has been outsourced to a committee of experts none of whom are in parliament, or ever held any elected office. Without tracing the bio-data of individual committee members, I will not be too far off the mark to suggest that with the exception of Prof. GH Pieris, all the other members of the committee would have been in their early twenties at most when Sri Lanka began its constitutional odyssey in 1970. If they were all kids then, they would do well to read Dr. Jayawickrama’s article on the Senate and reflect on what they are about to do now as grownups in creating a new constitution for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

If they are also keeners, and they ought to be so to be considered ‘experts’, it is reasonable to assume that they would have by now had some discussions with Dr. Jayawickrama to benefit from his experience and expertise. If not, it’s a shame. It is a travesty that this government is hellbent on creating a new constitution without consulting with or getting advice from people like Prof. Savitri Goonesekere or Dr. Nihal Jayawickrama. Travesty though it is, it should not come as a surprise to anyone considering the way the government availed itself of expert advice on Covid-19.

The impetus for the constitutional change in 1970-72 came from a side remark (obiter) in a 1964 Privy Council ruling that highlighted the legislative limitations of the Sri Lankan (then Ceylon) parliament. Although the contentious Privy Council obiter had been around since 1964, it became a political issue in parliament only in 1969, and it became an election issue in the April 1970 elections. The landslide victory of the United Front Parties in 1970 and the appointment of Dr. Colvin R de Silva as Minister of Constitutional Affairs eventually led to Sri Lanka becoming a Republic with a new constitution in 1972.

The inspiration for the 1978 constitutional overhaul came almost entirely from JR Jayewardene’s idiosyncratic liking for a presidential system of government. He was fortuitously able to use the flexibility of the Colvin constitution to create a far more rigid constitution predicated on an elected executive presidential system. He was also fortunate in getting to be the country’s first and only executive president without an election. Ever since, the constitutional debate has been about abolishing or significantly modifying the presidential system. Until now. And nobody knows why there should be a new constitution now to continue the same presidential system.

Why a new constitution?

Do the members of the experts committee know why Sri Lanka needs a new constitution? Other than the reason that President Rajapaksa wants to have one to show that he kept his promise that no one paid attention to. Going by some of the reasons for a new constitution provided by self-proclaimed patriots and nationalists, Sri Lanka needs a new constitution to enshrine its civilizational heritage. Its greatest heritage, Buddhism, needs no textual enshrinement by a committee of worldly experts. Constitutionally, or textually, does it mean that Chapter II of the Constitution will be expanded to fill a whole page instead of the four and half lines there are now? How will that ennoble an already great and noble religion, or edify its faithful followers?

A starkly different reason is apparently to constitutionally enshrine the implications of the 2009 war victory over the LTTE? How is that going to be textualized; in the preamble or Svasti to the current Constitution? Will it be before or after the assurances about Human Rights and the Independence of the Judiciary, in the preamble, that is? Is the purpose of enshrining triumphalism to ward off outside calls for investigating war crimes allegations? How can new constitutional provisions prevent anybody from saying or doing anything outside the country? Can a new constitution prevent another Easter tragedy, or will it unpack secrets of the last one? Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith is in no mood to trust any this-worldly Sri Lankan government or leaders. He is warning about curses and he is calling for divine intervention by the God of Israel and is looking for intercession by the silver-tongued Saint of Padua.

When the debate was about abolishing the presidency the counter-argument was that the presidency must be retained to check and contain the devolved provinces. The key players in the current Administration including President Rajapaksa himself were strong proponents of abolishing the Provincial Councils and rescinding the 13th Amendment. Now there are no active Provincial Councils to abolish as they are all dissolved. And with the government’s two-thirds majority the PCs can be abolished the same way the Senate was abolished 50 years ago. There might be a snag though if the courts were to say that Provincial concurrence is needed for their abolishing even though no concurrence is needed for their indefinite dissolution.

Surprisingly, or not, the government is now keen to go ahead with the Provincial Council elections as soon as possible, with or without a new constitution. Several reasons are being touted for this new shift. India’s hand in this is apparently not so hidden.

Second tier SLPPers are said to be getting restless without provincial offices and perks, and they need to be rewarded and kept contented. Third, a chief characteristic of Rajapaksa politics is the restless urge to keep validating themselves by constantly calling elections in the hope of winning them all the time. Their public support is said to be at its lowest point in the 16 years since they first hit the presidential jackpot in 2005. But they know it is better to test the pulse early and consolidate themselves before things get “worser and worser” as Muhammad Ali used to say. Finally, Provincial Council elections could be a trial run for a referendum that will be necessary for adopting a new constitution.

So, one needs to go back to the Committee of Experts and ask them – which of these reasons do they find to be so compelling as to devote their efforts and energies to producing a new constitution? It was the arrogance of two-thirds majority power that precipitated the abolishing of the Senate in 1971. Fifty years later, there is no palpable arrogance in spite of power, but there is great potential for its abuse out of abundance of ignorance. The question to the Committee of Experts is whether they are going to be aiding and abetting a potential abuse of power in creating a new constitution?

To circle back to the first point of infliction that I started with, it would be a fool’s paradise to discuss parliamentary reform when the government’s priority is to swing the constitutional wrecking ball at parliament and everything else that is still working in Sri Lanka. We can only wait and see how extensive the wreckage is going to be before talking about any reform. What if some or all in the Committee of Experts want to have no part of this wreckage and honourably excuse themselves from the Committee? Stranger things have happened.



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Beyond the fiction of Alborada

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By Sarath Chandrajeewa

“No matter how much a work of art is sweet, if it hides the truth and disregards humanity it can only be equalled to a beautiful but empty shell that attracts us.” (L.E. Kerbel – Russian Sculptor)

‘Alborada’ is the Spanish word for ‘the dawn’. In 1984, a music group was born in Peru, South America by the same name and they gained immense popularity. Their music mainly spread among people in North and South America. Their music’s foundation was the traditional music of Native Americans who lived in the Andes mountain range (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTD2VDcxvNc). Likewise, in 2005 a soap opera by the same name was broadcast in Mexico, North America, which became very popular. This story was based on a series of events that took place during the historical period when Panama and Mexico were on the verge of gaining freedom from Spain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iM5s_d1vls).

In 2021 Asoka Handagama made a film in Sri Lanka by the same name, Alborada. The protagonist of this film is Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973), the Chilean Consul in Ceylon for two years, from 1929 to 1931. He was very young, only 25, when he was appointed to this post. Ceylon was a colony at the time and he was lodged at No. 56, 42nd street, Wellawatte, Colombo 6, a place close to the sea. He had written down his reminiscences, in his own language, in book form. Later it was translated into English and published under the title ‘Memoirs’. According to this book, he had referred to his house as ‘My solitary bungalow’. It is said that the name Alborada was proposed by Pablo Neruda for the house of his friend, Lionel Wendt (1900 – 1944), who had lived at Guildford Crescent, Colombo 7.

Wendt too was fluent in several languages including English, Spanish and some other European languages. It is apparent, from documents and events that took place at that time, that his house, Alborada, had not been a lonely or tranquil place. It is clear that house Alborada was always full of people, such as painters, dancers, actors, photographers as well as pianists and those who enjoyed music. It was more like a cultural centre where discussions, art critiques and debates took place. (L.C. Van Geyzel, et al. [2000]. ‘Lionel Wendt: A Centennial tribute’. Lionel Wendt memorial fund; Sampath Bandara. [2017]. Lionel Wendt Kalava Saha Jeevithaya, Sarasavi Publication. [Sinhala]).

Though Handagama’s film was titled Alborada, the actual location, where incidents mentioned took place, was the Solitary Bungalow, the Chilean Consul’s official residence (Jamie James. [2019]. ‘Pablo Neruda’s life as a struggling Poet in Sri Lanka: A young poet’s Adventures in the Foreign Service’. Retrieved from https://lithub.com/pablo-nerudas-life-as-a-struggling-poet-in-sri-lanka/). In the 20th Century Sri Lankan context, Alborada was a distinguished active cultural centre. As a Sri Lankan cultural symbol, it directly connects with the character of Lionel Wendt. The creator of a work of art has the total freedom to create his work as he pleases and also to choose whatever name for the particular work. Handagama’s Alborada is similar to a poem, set to inspiring music. It includes a series of artistic figure compositions and features a number of skilled performing artistes. The trailer of Handagama’s film gave me some ideas.

When creating a work of art based on historical events, rather than myth and imaginary incidents, its trustworthiness depends on the people who faced the incident, the actual incidents, exact places, time period and the political and cultural background. Consequently, thorough research is necessary to identify accurate works based on historical incidents. It is difficult to rectify myths or false assumptions ingrained in society by unreliable books, documents, magazines or films. People will always embrace falsity, deception and myth, over the truth. Our culture as well as other cultures are replete with many such examples.

Alborada

‘Alborada’ is the name of Lionel Wendt’s house. It is important as it is the house of a great Sri Lankan cultural icon of the last century. It is also important as Alborada was the name given to the renowned cultural centre of modern history, in Sri Lanka. It is from this place that art activities in our country were taken to the international arena. Alborada was situated at No. 18 old Guildford Crescent. Today this street is called Premasiri Kemadasa Mawatha. Six years after his demise, in 1950 his friend Harold Peiris (1905-1981) demolished his old house, Alborada, and built a gallery and a performing arts centre (Lionel Wendt Art Gallery and Theatre) to commemorate him. It was designed by painter Geoffrey Beling (1907 – 1992), Principal Art Inspector, Department of Education, and Bernard G. Thornley (Manel Fonseka. [1994]. ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt, Lionel Wendt Photographs’. Deutsche Bank Colombo and Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund).

When Lionel Wendt was alive, renowned upcountry master dancers, Amunugama Suramba and Nittawela Ukkuwa used to lodge at Alborada with their troupes, when they visited Colombo (Dancer Dr. Vaidyavathi Rajapakse, daughter of Master Dancer Suramba, Personal communication, 2017).

A documentary movie ‘Song of Ceylon’, directed by Basil Wright in 1934, was placed first at the Brussels International film festival in 1935. The creative segments of the movie were organized at Alborada. Manel Fonseka reported in an article, ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt’ in 1994, that in an interview with Julia Margaret Cameron, Basil Wright had said this about Lionel Wendt; “I think he was one of the greatest still photographers that ever lived. I should place him among the six best I’ve come across”.

As a result of discussions held at Alborada, master dancers Nittawela Ukkuwa and Amunugama Suramba were taken to England for a recording of drum beats, for the movie ‘Song of Ceylon’. This trip was sponsored by painter Harry Peiris (1904-1988). A dance school was established to develop up-country dance, in Gunnepana, Sirimalwatte, Kandy in the 1920s for Master Suramba, as a result of discussions held among a group led by Wendt and George Keyt (1901-1993). This troupe, which included the group of up-country dancers, Ukkuwa, Nittawela Gunaya, Punchi Gura and Sri Jayana Rajapakse, was later upgraded as the ‘Dance Ensemble of Central Lanka’. Jayana’s coming of age ceremony, inclusive of his ‘Ves ceremony’, held at the Degaldoruwa Rajamaha Viharaya, Kandy, in 1939, and Jayana’s dance training in India later, were all sponsored by Wendt (Dr. Vaidyavathi Rajapakse, Personal communication, 2017).

The first art inspector appointed to Sri Lanka, during the colonial era, was Charles Freegrove Winzer (1886-1940), an Englishman. He became close friends with Wendt, during his tenure in Sri Lanka. In the early years, Winzer and Wendt both wrote reviews on exhibitions of George Keyt, Justin Peiris Deraniyagala (1903-1967) and Geoffrey Beling. Wendt also translated Neruda’s art reviews from Spanish to English and published them (Manel Fonseka.

[1994]. ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt, Lionel Wendt Photographs’. Deutsche Bank Colombo and Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund).

The first avant-garde art movement in Sri Lanka, the ’43 Group’, was born under the leadership of Winzer and Wendt. The 43 Group consisted of Wendt (Chief Organizer), painters Harry Peiris (Chief Secretary), George Keyt, J.W.G Beling, Richard Gabriel (1924-2016), Ivan Peiris (1921-1988), Justin Pieris Deraniyagala, George Claessen (1909-1999), Aubrey Collette (1920-1992) and L.T.P Manjusri (1902-1982). The meetings of the 43 group were held at Alborada until Wendt’s death.

Afterwards the meetings were held at the house of Harry Peiris, Sapumal Foundation, Barnes Place (Sarath Chandrajeewa. [2010]. ‘Modern Art in Sri Lanka and its socio-political environment’, Artful resistance: contemporary Art from Sri Lanka, ZKF publishers. Germany).

As mentioned above, Pablo Neruda was only 25 when he was in Sri Lanka as the Chilean Ambassador (1929-1931). At 29, Wendt was four years older. In his book ‘Memoirs’, translated from Spanish into English by Hardie St. Martin, published by Penguin, Neruda had written thus about Wendt, on page 93.

“Little by little the impenetrable crust began to crack open and I struck up a few good friendships. At the same time, I discovered the younger generation, steeped in colonialist culture, who talked only about books just out in England. I found out that the pianist, photographer, critic and cinematographer Lionel Wendt was the central figure of a cultural life torn between the death rattles of the Empire and a human appraisal of the untapped values of Ceylon.

Lionel Wendt, who owned an extensive library and received all the latest books from England, got into the extravagant and generous habit of every week sending to my house, which was a good distance from the city, a cyclist loaded down with a sack of books. Thus, for some time, I read kilometers of English novels, among them the first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, published privately in Florence” (Memoirs by Pablo Neruda, translated from Spanish by Hardie St. Martin [1997]. Penguin Books).

To be continued

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Politics at its most primitive

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By Uditha Devapriya

Review of Shaveen Bandaranayake’s Groundswell

Sarasavi Publications, 2021, 118 pages, Rs. 300

Half-way into Shaveen Bandaranayake’s novel, the Minister at the heart of the story tells us that the wealth he earned was people, not money. This is what politicians usually say. In the very least, it is what people who dislike politicians imagine they say.

Come to think of it, both amount to the same thing: we’ve turned politicians into objects of hate so much that we’ve come to love them for being who we think they are. Since we can’t control them in real life, we want to dominate them in popular fiction. The number of plays and films that poke fun at Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ministers testify to how badly we want to be, not like them, but above them.

I am deeply suspicious of satire of that sort. In his excellent review of Pusswedilla, Hafeel Farisz tells us why political parody ends up serving the people and objects being parodied. This is not rocket science. At its best, political satire can move us to anger, disenchantment, and rebellion. At its worst, it can lull us into a sense of complacency with things as they are and as they seem. Farisz seemed to think that Pusswedilla epitomised the latter, reinforcing cultural stereotypes while offering no proper critique of the political establishment and the ruling class. I suppose you can say the same thing of Vijaya Nandasiri’s comedies: at his best, he makes us aware of the corruption of the political class; at his worst, he turns the corrupt into objects of love-hate, full of tropes and clichés but nothing substantive.

Shaveen Bandaranayake’s Groundswell reads as a political satire, though I have my doubts. Interweaving different stories and unfolding like a film, it goes back and forth. I won’t call its ending funny, but then how can any novel involving politics end on a funny note?

What Bandaranayake does in his story, short as it is, is to tell us that nothing good can come out of a system mired as much in corruption as in patronage. Since these people are tied to each other through politics, politics can prove to be their undoing. The way he forays into this theme and explores it, without regurgitating the usual political clichés, puts the novel at a notch or two above what you come across at, say, the Lionel Wendt. Without conforming to crude stereotypes, he attempts to humanise his characters, showing us why connections matter in politics, and why they don’t always work out.

The plot is simple enough. A woman comes across a corpse of a man at the foot of a hill one fine morning. She informs the police. By the looks of it, he seems to have lost his grip and fallen to his death. The story then rewinds to a political rally at that most obtrusive site of political rallies, a temple, where we are introduced to Sarath Aluwihare, a Minister trying to win his next election. We are also introduced to Sunil, a young man endeavouring to land a job. Events will unfold in a way that will bring the two of them together.

We are told that Sarath hails from a family of politicians, and that this family has been in politics for over two generations. The surname tells us as much. Sunil, on the other hand, is so unobtrusive that Shaveen doesn’t grant him the privilege of a surname, which, after all, is the preserve of those who matter. Like other village youths lacking employment and in dire search of a patron from the ruling class, Sunil clearly is not important; even when he finds a job as Aluwihare’s driver, his status rises, but not so much as to protect him from the novel’s ending. He is as destined to his place in life as Aluwihare is to his.

There are other characters though, and they have surnames. There is the head priest of the temple, for instance, an unabashed admirer of Aluwihare who uses him to achieve his not so religious purposes. Then there is Dileepa Jayanetti, who rises “from rags to riches” and ends up becoming the owner of the country’s biggest media house. Dileepa finds his way up by befriending the daughter of another prominent politician, who introduces him to Aluwihare, who in turn becomes his biggest benefactor. You sense the pattern here.

Halfway through the story, Dileepa hires Lasantha Muthukumarana, a journalist who tries to stick to the tenets of his trade. Dileepa does this because he thinks that by hiring the honest, he can keep them from being honest. For someone who is so bright and manipulative, this is far from the most brilliant decision he could have taken: a few pages later, Muthukumarana is investigating a hit-and-run incident which may be connected to Aluwihare.

In Bandaranayake’s world, everyone seems to know everyone else. That is why it comes to no surprise that the man run down by a vehicle in the middle of the night should have been married to a woman Aluwihare just happened to hire at his Ministry, and that she should be rumoured to have formed the object of Aluwihare’s affections. That Lasantha thought for a moment that a news report linking all this to a prominent Minister would make it in a paper linked to and blessed by that Minister is, of course, intriguing. But he tries to get it published it anyway. When the predictable opprobrium follows and he finds he can’t get it in, the story moves to its inevitable and in many ways unsurprising conclusion.

In saying all this, I am by no means revealing the plot. In fact, surprising as it may seem, the plot is what least interests me about Bandaranayake’s novel. This is a narrative I have come across many times, in many forms. Bandaranayake takes great pains to make it all relevant to the immediate political situation, i.e. the one we are in, now. Those who manage to draw links between his characters and their “real-life counterparts” should, therefore, be forgiven for thinking that he has attempted political critique masquerading as satire. My interest in it, then, has less to do with the novel than the genre it belongs to.

If Groundswell can be called a satire, it is satirical only to the extent that his characters are caricatures. Yet, as I implied earlier, it is not a satire in the way that a work like Pusswedilla is. The characters fit into preconceived and familiar patterns, but that doesn’t make them the clichéd tropes they turn into elsewhere. These characters are more rounded, certainly more complex. Sarath Aluwihare, for instance, does not possess the overstuffed tummy his counterparts from countless parodies do, while Sunil doesn’t become a Renfield type figure hell bent on catering to his “Master.” Even though Bandaranayake can be facetious, and is pugnacious, he refuses to dabble in the kind of satirical humour which could have turned his story into a Vijaya Nandasiri style parody of politics in Sri Lanka.

Depending on how you view it, this may be the strongest point or the biggest weakness in Bandaranayake’s novel. Groundswell makes several important points, and they should be considered pertinent whether they be couched the language of satire or of serious political critique. The medium is hardly the message, contrary to what people might say, and the way you communicate your ideas should not really impact the importance of those ideas.

And yet, there are one or two episodes which reveal Bandaranayake’s funny side. It is here that the disjuncture between the satirical undertones and the ponderous overtones of the narrative, and the author’s voice, proves fatal to the development of the story.

Bandaranayake is at his best when he is setting up situations, and these situations are, all things considered, effective in setting up the plot. He tries to create atmosphere, and does a good job of laying the context. But when each and every point is prefaced by laboriously long explanations of social phenomena, such as the separation between temple and State in Sri Lanka, or the wretched fate encountered by a million or so menial workers in West Asia, you struggle to distinguish between the narrative and the commentary.

For local readers, these explanations will at best be passé. I suspect they will be for foreign readers as well. Groundswell is a novel, or more correctly a novella, which could have been shorter, tighter, and more effective without them. Not surprisingly, the story gains strength when Bandaranayake cuts to the chase, and loses track when he does not.

I have read this kind of story many times before. What makes this one interesting is that it is Bandaranayake’s first attempt at fiction, and that, for a first attempt, it’s damn good. Even within its limits, he has come up with something enjoyable. That I enjoyed the book, and of course the brilliant illustrations that more than just decorate it*, is why I wish it were leaner, shorter, and tighter. Less can be more. More often than not, it is.

* With one exception: the eighth drawing depicts a scene that, if you think about it carefully, is at odds with the text on the opposite page.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Thirty two little ballerinas win awards at TBSC’s 2021 prize giving

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Text and pictures by
PRIYAN DE SILVA

Thirty two little ballerinas were presented with certificates of achievements and awards at the 2021 prize giving of The Ballet school of Colombo (TBSC) held recently.

Directors of TBSC Tara Cooke and Romina Gyi said that they were extremely proud of the achievements of their charges and thanked the students and parents for their dedication in attending classes diligently despite the trying conditions.

Certificates of achievement were awarded in the baby ballet, junior ballet and intermediate ballet categories to students who excelled in pre-classical and pre-jazz ballet.

Debbie McRitchie, International Director of the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (to which TBSC is affiliated), in her congratulatory message thanked the parents for investing in their childrens dance education and the teachers of TBSC for preparing the candidates. She said that dance is like life and is a journey but not a destination and encouraged all stakeholders to work harder.

The prize giving was a proud moment for both students and parents as it was a parent who presented the certificates of achievement to their child. Five-year-old Shenaya de Alwis Samarasinghe was the youngest candidate at the prize giving, passing with honours in pre-classical ballet.

The Ballet School of Colombo was the former ‘Oosha Garten Sschool of Ballet’ pioneered by the late Kalasuri Oosha Saravanamuttu-Wijesinghe and was instituted as the ‘The Ballet School of Colombo’ in 2016.

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