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Irrepressible Julia Margaret Cameron at peace in Bogawantalawa




Some years ago, my sister, BIL, and I drove to the Dimbula area, visiting Anglican churches and graveyards looking for evidence of our ancestors. At the quaint St. Mary’s church, Bogawantalawa, we found the grave of my grand uncle, Frank Wyndham Becher Braine, who died on March 9, 1879, at only 11 months. We may have been the first family members to visit his grave in more than a 100 years.

That graveyard is also the resting place of a husband and wife, Charles Hay and Julia Margaret Cameron. Julia, during and after her lifetime, has been described as “indefatigable”, “a centripetal force”, “a bully”, “queenly”, “a one-woman empire”, “infernal”, “hot to handle”, “omnipresent”, “a tigress”. She was “impatient and restive”, for whom “a single lifetime wasn’t enough”. Who was this remarkable Victorian?

Julia was born in Calcutta, in 1815, one of seven daughters of James Pattle of the Indian Civil Service. They belonged to the Anglo-Indian upper class, and were all sent to France – their mother Adeline Marie was of the French aristocracy – for their education. The sisters were well accomplished and known for their “charm, wit, and beauty”, and “unconventional behaviour and dress”: they conversed among themselves in Hindustani, even in England. They served curry. They all married well, four spouses being fellow Anglo-Indians in the civil service and military.

Julia lived at various times in England, France, back in India, South Africa, in India again, on the Isle of Wight, and finally in Ceylon. Travel to Cape Town in 1835 was for her health, after recovering from serious illnesses. Charles Hay Cameron, a distinguished legal scholar from Calcutta, was also in Cape Town, perhaps after a severe bout of malaria. They met, and married back in Calcutta in 1838. Charles was 20 years her senior. Together, they raised 11 children, five of their own and the rest adopted.

Julia’s introduction to London’s artistic and cultural milieu came in 1845, at her sister Sara Prinsep’s residence in Kensington. Sara conducted a salon at home where poets, artists, writers and philosophers such as Tennyson, Rossetti, the Brownings, Longfellow, Trollope, Darwin, Thackeray, Henry Taylor, du Maurier and Leighton were regular attendees. Julia’s “hero worship” of these luminaries began at that time.


In 1860, the Camerons moved to the Isle of Wight, to a home named “Dimbola”, obviously after Dimbula in Ceylon, where Charles Cameron had invested in vast coffee and rubber plantations. He had served on the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission (appointed in 1833) to assess the administration of Ceylon and make recommendations for administrative, financial, economic, and judicial reform. The poet Henry Taylor, a close friend of Julia, wrote that Charles had “a passionate love for the island [and] he never ceased to yearn after the island as his place of abode”.

Incidentally, an English planter, named Herbert Brett, known to my family, named his British home “Yakvilla”. He had once been the manager of Yakwila Estate, near Pannala in the NWP.

“Dimbola” had been purchased because it was next door to Tennyson’s home, and a private gate connected the two properties. Better known as Alfred Lord Tennyson, he had become Britain’s Poet Laureate by then. Julia and the poet addressed each other by their first names. When he refused to be vaccinated against smallpox, Julia supposedly went to his home and yelled at him: “You’re a coward, Alfred, a coward!”

Soon, the Cameron and Tennyson families began entertaining well-known visitors to the Poet Laureate with music, poetry readings, and amateur plays, creating an artistic ambience similar to that seen earlier at Sara Princep’s home in Kensington. in keeping with Julia’s personality, the activities could be indefatigable. “Mrs. Cameron seemed to be omnipresent—organising happy things, summoning one person and another, ordering all the day and long into the night, for of an evening came impromptu plays and waltzes in the wooden ballroom, and young partners dancing under the stars”, wrote Anne Thackeray, the novelist’s daughter. Even Julia’s generosity could be overwhelming. Henry Taylor expressed this best: “she keeps showering upon us her ‘barbaric pearls and gold,’—India shawls, turquoise bracelets, inlaid portfolios, ivory elephants”.



A turning point in Julia’s life came in 1863, when she was already 48. Charles was in Ceylon, and Julia was bored. A daughter gifted her a camera to keep her “amused”. A clumsy affair in those early days of photography, it consisted of two wooden boxes, bound in brass, one of which slid inside the other, with a single focus lens. The timber tripod was unwieldy. Images were recorded on a heavy, rectangular glass plate measuring 11 x 9 inches.

Julia took to photography with her usual energy and enthusiasm, converting a chicken coop to a studio. If the camera was clumsy, the process of photo development was even more complicated and challenging, with the use of chemicals – collodion, silver nitrate, potassium cyanide, gold chloride (even egg white was used) – and the need to work quickly. Julia’s hands and clothes are said to have become black and brown with the chemicals. The process was riven with trial and error.

Julia managed to coerce illustrious visitors to Tennyson’s home to pose for her. They included Longfellow, Trollope, Darwin, John Herschel, Robert Browning, the painter George Watts, Thackeray, Carlyle, and Lewis Carrol, and Tennyson, of course. Her photograph of Tennyson is shown on this page. The men were photographed in pensive moods, intended to capture their “genius”. She also photographed women for their beauty, and children as “innocent, kind, and noble”, a prevailing Victorian notion.

Posing for a portrait was no easy task: the subject had to be within eight feet of the camera, and had to remain still for around 10 minutes. Julia chose not to use head supports. Here is a vivid description of a photographic session with Julia: “The studio, I remember, was very untidy and very uncomfortable. Mrs. Cameron put a crown on my head and posed me as the heroic queen. … The exposure began. A minute went over and I felt as if I must scream, another minute and the sensation was as if my eyes were coming out of my head … a fifth—but here I utterly broke down …” No wonder Tennyson called Julia’s sitters “victims”.

Showing sound business acumen, Julia copyrighted, published, exhibited and marketed her work. Harper’s Weekly, writing on a London exhibition in 1870, noted that “many art critics to go into raptures over [Julia’s] work as something beyond the range of ordinary photographic achievement”.

For the sake of brevity, I have focused on her portraits. She also photographed individuals and groups of people depicting allegories, religion, and literature; illustrations for Tennyson’s Idylls of the King being especially noteworthy. In Ceylon, her subjects were mainly ordinary people and plantation workers. Her career wasn’t long – only 12 years – and despite criticism of her work for technical imperfections and the numerous challenges she faced, Julia produced about 900 photographs. An incredible feat.

To Ceylon

From the early 1840s, Charles had bought up sprawling extents of land at Ceylon at bargain prices, and the 1850s and 60s were the best years for coffee. But in addition to being absentee landlords, the Camerons faced other problems: extremes of weather, a shortage of labour, transporting the coffee to Colombo on poor roads, incompetent managers, and the devastating coffee blight.

Charles was in poor health – “receiving visitors in his bedroom or walking about the garden reciting Homer and Virgil” – and had not worked since 1848, and the expenses of supporting a large family and their lifestyle at “Dimbola” had forced the Camerons to borrow heavily. In 1864, Charles admitted to being virtually “penniless”.

Charles was keen to move to Ceylon, but Julia was not. Attempting to change her mind, he wrote her a moving, lyrical description of his “Swiss cottage” bungalow and the surrounding plantations in Ceylon. In Ceylon, the cost of living would be cheaper, and he was confident that his health would improve. Later, Julia wrote that Charles’ passion for his Ceylon properties had “weakened his love for England”. Lord Overstone, their main creditor, was pressuring them to sell Rathoongodde (Rahathungoda), their plantation in the Deltota area managed by son Ewen.

Finally, Julia gave in partly because four of their sons were already in Ceylon. Charles’ health is said to have magically improved. In 1875, when she was 60 years old and Charles was 80, they left “Dimbola” for Ceylon, taking a maid, a cow, Julia’s photographic equipment, and two coffins, packed with china and glass. Henry Taylor noted that they had departed for Ceylon “to live and die” there, and that Charles had “never ceased to yearn after the island as his place of abode”.

Their son, Hardinge, the Governor’s private secretary, owned a bungalow on the river at Kalutara, on the western coast. Julia and Charles divided their time in Ceylon between Kalutara and their plantations in the hill country. Julia soon fell under Ceylon’s spell, writing that “the glorious beauty of the scenery — the primitive simplicity of the inhabitants and the charms of the climate all make me love Ceylon more and more”.

When the botanical painter Marianne North visited the Camerons at Kalutara, Julia went into a “fever of excitement” at having found a European subject. She dressed North up “in flowing draperies of cashmere wool” (despite the intense heat), with “spiky coconut branches running into [her] head” to be photographed. A remarkable photo taken by Julia shows North standing at her easel on the spacious verandah of the Kalutara house, with a bare-bodied “native” holding a clay pot over his shoulder.

Julia must have been busy during this period, because North noted that “the walls of the room were covered with magnificent photographs; others were tumbling about the tables, chairs, and floors”. But, only about 30 photographs from Julia’s Ceylon period have survived. The architect Ismeth Raheem, who has conducted extensive research on Julia, has stated that some photographs given to the Colombo Museum appear to be lost. No surprise there.

After a six month visit to England, Julia developed a dangerous chill (pneumonia?) upon her return to Ceylon. She died on 26 January 1879 at Glencairn Estate. Charles and four of her sons were with her. Her coffin was drawn by white bulls and also carried by plantation workers to St. Mary’s.

Back to the Braines

My great, great grandfather, Charles Joseph Braine, arrived in Ceylon in 1862, as the manager of Ceylon Company, which I believe is the predecessor of Ceylon Tea Plantations Company. By 1880, he is listed as the first owner of Abbotsleigh Estate in Hatton. (In contrast with Charles Cameron and Herbert Brett, who named their homes in England after plantations in Ceylon, Charles Joseph named his plantation in Ceylon after his property, Abbotsleigh, in England.)

The Camerons arrived in Ceylon in 1875. British planters, away from home and often stationed in remote plantations, socialised mainly at two locations: their clubs, and at church. I have no doubt that Charles Joseph Braine and the Camerons had met at the club, perhaps even during Charles’ previous visits to his plantations, and at church.

St. Mary’s Church, Bogawantalawa, was dedicated in 1877. Although Charles Cameron wasn’t religious and did not attend church, Julia did, traveling perhaps on horseback or bullock cart like the families of fellow planters. The Camerons gifted three stained glass windows to St. Mary’s, and that is obviously where Julia worshipped and wished to be buried.

Charles Joseph’s son, Charles Frederick Braine (my great grandfather) arrived in Ceylon in 1869, at 19 years of age, six years before the Camerons did, and worked at Meddecombra Estate in the Dimbula area. Later, he was the manager of the vast Wanarajah Estate. He, too, may have met Charles and later Julia Cameron. Braine must have worshipped at St. Mary’s, because, as I stated at the beginning of this article, his infant son was buried at St. Mary’s churchyard in March, 1879, only two months after Julia was buried there.

My grandfather, Charles Stanley, was born in Ceylon in 1874, and, as a child, is likely have met the Camerons, or at least Julia, at church. He had an angelic appearance in early photographs, and I like to imagine Julia tousling his hair! Hence, although no records exist, three generations of my ancestors are likely to have been acquainted with the Camerons, and perhaps worshipped alongside her at St. Mary’s.

The legacy of the Camerons

Julia Margaret Cameron is acknowledged now as one of the most important portraitists of the 19th century. Her work has been exhibited in important galleries and museums in the UK, the USA, Japan, and elsewhere. The photographer Stephen White, who calls Julia a “revered figure” in the history of photography, wrote in 2020 that an album of Julia’s photographs was valued at £3 million. Each of her prints are said to be worth about $50,000.

The Cameron home on the Isle of Wight, “Dimbola”, is now owned by the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, and consists of a museum and galleries. It has a growing permanent collection of Julia’s photographs, and is dedicated to her life and work.

When I visited St. Mary’s Church in 2012, looking for evidence of my ancestors, the churchyard was covered in weeds. Stephen White, who visited St. Mary’s Church in 2017, lamented that the grave of “a woman whose photographs still stirred thousands with their beauty, and whose name was spoken with reverence by lovers of photography around Europe and the States” could be so “forlorn … unattended [and] unadorned”.

 A photograph of the grave that accompanies his article indeed shows a neglected gravesite, the curb cracked. The more recent photo shown here, from the Thuppahi’s blog, shows a better maintained grave. Ismeth Raheem wrote that the house on Glencairn Estate where Julia died had been demolished in 2021.

While Julia is the better known of the Camerons, Charles made a lasting impact on Ceylon as a member of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission, which, among other contributions, provided a uniform code of justice for the island. His on and off association with Ceylon was much longer, about 50 years at the time he died. A romantic at heart, he loved Ceylon with a passion.Recently, Ismeth Raheem and Dr. Martin Pieris have brought out a short film, “From the Isle of Wight to Ceylon”, based on substantial research on Julia’s life. Finally, in Sri Lanka, Julia Margaret Cameron appears to be receiving the recognition she fully deserves.

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R. Sampanthan: ‘We cannot go on like this’




Member of Parliament Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, who has kept together a diverse coalition of Tamil political parties under the umbrella of the Tamil National Alliance since 2001, has witnessed many phases of the struggle since Sri Lanka became an independent country in 1948. Now 89 and largely confined to his official residence in one of Colombo’s well-guarded areas, Sampanthan still pins his hope on India and the international community to encourage Sri Lanka to arrive at an amicable solution to the issue of the Tamils’ hopes and aspirations.

In a rare interview, Sampanthan, who had the distinction of being the Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament from 2015 to 2018, outlines what the priorities of the government should be. Excerpts:

Q: What is your assessment of the aragalaya (struggle in Sinhalese)? I see that all those who were in power are back in Sri Lanka and thriving.

A:The aragalaya was successful in the sense that they were able to make the main wrongdoer realise that he could not continue in office [President Gotabaya Rajapaksa]. Unfortunately, Ranil [Wickremesinghe], for his own personal reasons, supported the government. And by virtue of this support he was able to become Prime Minister. Now, he is the President. He became President with the support of those whom he opposed [earlier].

The aragalaya was partly successful, and the main offender, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was compelled to resign. Now the question is do we have a government? Which is the government? Who is supporting whom? What is their stand on the economy? No one knows. It is all very confusing. I don’t know what policies they are pursuing. [Wickremesinghe is the lone member of his United National Party in Parliament. He survives with the support of MPs of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Rajapaksa’s party].

As of now, what is inevitable and what should happen is there should be general elections. The people should be asked to decide who should be given the mandate to rule.

Q: I think President Ranil Wickremesinghe is following the same policies as the SLPP.

A:The credibility of Mahinda Rajapaksa [former Prime Minister], Gotabaya Rajapaksa [former President], and Basil Rajapaksa [former Finance Minister] were seriously questioned. They were the ones ruling the country. Mahinda Rajapaksa had to go into hiding in Trincomallee [at a naval base] at the peak of the aragalaya. The time has come for the people to be given the opportunity to decide who should govern this country because this [the current state of SLPP controlling despite people wanting the party out of power] should not continue. It will only get worse.

I don’t think the economic debacle is being tackled in any sensible way. They [the government] had gone to the IMF for a bailout. So far, the IMF has said nothing. This is of great concern.

Q: So you think that the only solution is going back to the people?

A: I really don’t know how they continued because the whole country was against them. It was the peak of opposition to any government. I don’t know why it [ aragalaya] did not continue [after Wickremesinghe took charge as President]…. The people wanted this government to go. Hence, they should go back to the people for a mandate.

Q: A negotiated settlement to Tamil political aspirations is the dream that is fast turning into a mirage. We do not see any gains for the Tamils. In fact, they are losing out because of demographic and cultural changes in the north and the east. Tamil political parties have not been able to make much headway.

A: The resolution of the Tamil national question has been a big issue since [Sri Lanka’s] independence. The Tamil people supported independence. They were compelled to change their stand after the citizenship law and the resettling of Sinhalese in large numbers in the east and the north. This changed the demographic composition in those areas.

The Tamil people demanded autonomy and devolution of power in those areas. This was the basis of the [1957] Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam pact and the [1987] Indo-Sri Lankan accord. Both contained provisions on identity of the Tamil people, the territory, and arrangements with regard to self-determination, or the right to determine their own destiny. Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan government breached the agreements.

As far as Sinhala politicians are concerned, whichever political party they belong to, they are primarily concerned about gaining the support of the Sinhala people on the basis of an anti-Tamil stand. As long as this continues, nothing can be done. Sri Lanka is party to the international covenant on civil and political rights, and to the covenant on economic, social and cultural rights. Both covenants give the people the right to self-determination.

We don’t want the country to be broken in any way; we stand for an undivided Sri Lanka. At the same time, we cannot go on like this. We have no alternative but to approach the international community, which is well aware of the issue. There should be some arrangement regarding the north and the east. It is the duty of the international community, including India, the US, and the UK, to take the lead and push for an arrangement in the north and the east.

The Sri Lankan government is not delivering on the political question. On one side, the Sinhala population in the north and the east is being increased by resettlement, and on the other side, the Tamils are fleeing because of the violence and the unstable political situation. If this goes on, the people will be unable to maintain their identity, self-respect, and even their dignity. The international community should not permit that. It will set a bad example to the world. If they want peace in the region, and peace in this country, this problem must be resolved. (The Frontline)

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Path to disaster



Either we as a world have failed our human expectations to lead a normal life of peace and progress, or our leaders are nowhere close to offering that satisfactorily. Interestingly, war and destruction are not new phenomena to our civilization or to the world. We have been fighting wars in one way or the other. It seems we have been unable to evolve the right way to live with lasting peace.

The longer the Russia-Ukraine war goes on, the further hope of peace and recovery is pushed away. After all, months have passed, and everyday destruction and destitution have increased, not only in the war zones but beyond.


It is a new-age world, intensely interconnected and interdependent like never before. What happens locally may soon spread globally. The longer the Russia-Ukraine war goes on, the further hope of peace and recovery is pushed away. After all, months have passed, and everyday destruction and destitution have increased, not only in the war zones but beyond.

The possibility of ending the war is not high. Today, the situation is such that everyone in the world is anxious about the morrow. The war is not just making the two warring nations bleed every day in many ways, it has impacted many other nations.

Europe is anxious to save itself from a hard winter, many others are concerned about how to revive their economies that the war has ravaged without visiting their borders. Thousands are dying, millions have become homeless, many innocents have gone to the grave for no fault of theirs, and many more cannot come out of closed doors in the war-impacted zones.

Inflation is growing exponentially, businesses are shaky, and the high hopes of a post-Covid boom have given way to terrible gloom. With rising unemployment, the youth are feeling hopeless. The scale of poverty is set to rise phenomenally; nations and governments around the globe are clamoring for solutions that are simply not there.

But amidst all this, the rising voices of war and revenge are filling the air and more plans are being hatched to intensify the war. For whatever reasons, one thing is conclusive.

Either we as a world have failed our human expectations to lead a normal life of peace and progress, or our leaders are nowhere close to offering that satisfactorily. Interestingly, war and destruction are not new phenomena to our civilization or to the world. We have been fighting wars in one way or the other. It seems we have been unable to evolve the right way to live with lasting peace.

Wars haven’t left us, and we have not stopped warring. It has been and is still around as a monstrous reality, teaching us to justify it as a necessary evil. But the evil is growing bigger by the day, and we remain unmindful of its perils. Time and again, we promise ourselves that we will not embark on wars again, but soon we seem to forget and get embroiled in them. What could the reasons behind this madness, or if I can say self-deceit, be?

After every war, we think and talk of peace. Then the very essence of our pledges evaporates into thin air. Are we thick-skinned, hypocritical, liars, unmindful, or simply incapable of keeping the promises that we make to ourselves?

This demands deep introspection. With the advent of pacifism in the late 19th and early 20th century, it felt like the world would embrace peace and harmony over violence. Then the First World War happened. The optimism at the start of the century was gone. There was widespread destruction, millions lost their lives, and several empires were reduced to rubble.

When the war ended, political leaders of powerful nations agreed on several treaties to ensure lasting peace and the world breathed a sigh of relief. That relief, however, was short-lived. Twenty years later a bigger war broke out. The Second World War was uglier and more destructive in all respects. It was the deadliest conflict in the history of human civilization, leading to a loss of around 80 million lives with several more being brutally affected.

Nobody wanted a third world war. So, nations sat down and decided to form a global body that would work towards ensuring world peace, and the United Nations was formed. Cut to a little less than a century later, and you will agree that the UN has become nothing but a symbolic organization that serves no practical purpose.

Several nations are in armed conflict with each other, and tensions are building across an increasing number of borders. It is as if war has been our way of life. This is not to say that devastating tactics are only used by the United States. Russia too uses these often, although only half as often as the US.

That may be not because of a lack of a will for supremacy, but because of the inability to afford the risks and resources so effortlessly. China, seeking to become the dominant power in the East and later the world, has also employed this methodology occasionally. And the intent is unfolding more vigorously along with matching actions. The question arises: why does the global leadership in general and the US in particular use mean to escalate conflict rather than defuse it?

Hasn’t anyone learned a lesson from the major world wars and their aftermaths? Nuclear conflict is a looming possibility, and everyone knows there will most probably be no human civilization left to tell the tales of that war.

On global forums, all nations repeatedly warn others to avoid nuclear war, but ground reality proves otherwise, as these same nations openly or secretly acquire nuclear weapons. That is the game plan, isn’t it While big nations churn profits from war, war-ravaged nations suffer brutal damage.

Aside from the destruction of their economies, the humanitarian losses are huge. Millions lose livelihoods if not their lives, families are displaced and the after-effects last for several generations. And this is when two nations clash across borders.

With the number of provocative tactics being applied by the USA around the world and Russia, China, and North Korea, adopting an eye-for-an-eye attitude in response, a third world war seems an increasingly likely possibility. To a neutral observer, this might seem childish, or even laughable. But there is nothing laughable about war, especially in modern times when almost every powerful nation is equipped with nuclear armaments.

What is frustrating is that world leaders do not recognize this. Or if they do, they don’t do enough to emphasize the point. Do our leaders ever realize that they are chosen by the people to lead them to progress and peace, not death and destruction? Are our leaders not accountable for their karma?

The karmic theory has its own bona-fide, unfailing principles. As you sow, so shall you reap. Often, I wonder what will happen to our leaders who flaunt their strength and arrogance and unleash acts of hegemony, rather than ensuring harmony for humanity to live in peace. Do they have no fear? Do they think that their power is eternal? Or are they simply not concerned about all this, blindly driven by their own misplaced missions?

Many questions arise in both mind and soul when one thinks of these destructive leaders. In many countries, the financial systems are fast collapsing and soon many banks may shut down. The world with its aspirations for better standards of living has been pushed a decade back. Every thinking human must have apprehensions about a dark future. (The Statesman/ANN)

(The writer is Chairman and Managing Trustee, Paras Foundation and can be reached at

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Twin personas; reaction long after the action



I am pleasantly surprised and marvel too most times I read the editorial in The Island. Why? Because they are so very apt on the most current issue in the land. The editor has the clever knack of hitting the nail right on the head and is fearless even when the nail represents a VVIP.

Friday 25 November had the sharp, truth writing editor commenting on President Ranil W and his stunning metamorphosis from a peace promoting, democracy advocating politician to a persona that he himself says is Hitler like. And as the editor has written, one wondered if he and his immediate predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had swapped bodies, for the former sounded just like the latter. Gota was expected to be a dictator; a monk called out to him to be Sri Lanka’s Hitler while his brother Basil bracketed him with the ‘Terminator’.

Ranil seems to hear cries for protection of human rights as a cover for violent protests. Gota, though an army man and later as a civilian, cosseted the army at great cost to the exchequer, did not threaten to bring the army out to quell protests. It was done once or twice: e. g at Rathupaswela and at an FTZ. These orders were not proven to be directly emanating from him nor directly connected to him. However, peace proclaiming Wickremesinghe with his new surname added on is outdoing the former army officer. He maintains the PTA and now says (probably in all truth and belief – scarce characteristics of politicians) that he will call out the army to quell protests, which have been and will be, mostly peaceful.

What this woman, a former teacher and counselor, opines with common sense and intuition is that he is going about it all wrong. He is inciting protest and lawlessness, even violence, since the youth of the country, with others, are utterly frustrated, angered, troubled and volcanic – waiting to erupt and so are the sideline catalysts: the terrorism promoting core politicized protesters of the IUSF, FSP and certain JVPers. Ranil should have been wiser and less outreaching, and negotiated with leaders of the groups mentioned, including trouble rousers like Stalin, and convinced them of the dire state the country is in. Negotiating with die-hard protesters may not be his cuppa; he shies away from direct contact with the hoi polloi. But talk to them he must. He should include persons like Guv CB to the negotiating table since Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe is one of the very few, if not the only high-up, that all respect. The rabble-rousers should be convinced, even threatened privately, that at this juncture what the country needs and the IMF promotes is encouraging money making projects, the surest and largest-inflow-of dollars earning tourism to resume and continue with peace prevailing in the country. With so many countries with so much to offer, why should tourists visit a near warring Sri Lanka? The reality of course is that this dot of an island has most to offer the tourist as pronounced by even Lonely Planet guides.

However, as is always the case, the country pleases but men in it are vile and utterly stupid. The protestors do not realize their protests will not change things immediately. But they most certainly cost the country much. These fire breathing, loud mouthed protestors and so-called protectors of peace and human rights are at present the principal harmers of the land.If after sincere one-to-one negotiation, some remain recalcitrant, then the police should be called in to deal with them.

Bang shut empty stable door

Mentioned many times before by Cass and other writers, Sri Lankans in general suffer short memories: will vilify a person today and praise him tomorrow not only because they are turncoats but because the people have forgotten and of course forgiven yesterday’s sins of leaders. Another characteristic is shutting the stable door once the horse has bolted. The preliminaries of the flight of the horse are seen but no alarm is raised. Once the horse has bolted; then come forth loud hues and cries of damage done.This last character trait of the Sinhala race mostly, was exhibited and exposed in the news telecast on MTV 1 Channel on Sunday November 27.

Villagers of a certain forest area, with voices raised women to the forefront, confronted a man who was in a new built, multi roomed hut-like construction. He seemed settled down. The crowd that walked across a vast area of bare land accused that the forest that covered this area had been illegally decimated. They demanded evidence of his right to settle down there. He said the police and other officials had cleared him. Trespassing was not even mentioned. Cass’ wonder at this loud fracas was why the fuss now with land bare and a house built when the villagers surely heard if not saw trees being felled en masse. Why had they not informed authorities then? Why wait for the deforestation and illegal building to be completed before protesting? Had they been waiting all these past months for the TV cameras to arrive to act angry and national minded?

It was suspected, if not known for sure, that vociferous Diana Gamage was a dual citizenship holder or maybe even a citizen of another country visiting her home turf. She was up front for long and since being made a State Minister by Prez Wickremasinghe, his hand guided by a crow pulling strings from even thousands of miles to the west, became prominently vociferous with forex earning projects foundationed on fun and good times. She proposed the growing of ganja plants; creating a Disney theme park; making Mannar an international gambling den and what else Cass fails to recall. Now firmly in Parliament as an elected member she faces the public rising up and declaring she is not eligible to hold a Parliamentary seat since the passage of A21 or 22. The mare had bolted to the green pastures by the Diyawanne and now people are a-rising to close the door she galloped through. Confine her at home with no powers and privileges or deport her to turf in her adopted country?

Bandula Gunawardena, holding the portfolio of Minister of Trade, held forth on the subject he thinks he is omniscient in. He claims economics as his forte of intellectual knowledge; certification of this fact being he was a tuition master in the subject. He refers to himself as Doctor Bandula G; the doctorate coming to him from where we know not. In a pontification in Parliament on the Sunday, he waxed eloquent on mismanagement of the Central Bank and trotted out figures in billions and decimals thereof of printed money. He blamed past CB persons. Why was this economist considering himself on par with Amartya Sen, Paul Krugman and Maynard Keynes, silent then when Nivaard Cabral kept the printing machines in the CB turning day and night churning out 5000 rupee notes? (PS. Cass wonders very much whether he has heard of Krugman and knows Keynes was one of the Bloomsbury Group. Cass can wager her life that he does not know who this group was).

Speaking of this Mr Cabral, he was recently seen on TV at a press interview passing the buck adroitly and proclaiming he was obeying orders to print money. Was he a robot and of whom?

Short take

A very good move was mooted recently in Parliament and will soon be law. Cass refers to the stricture that university students will be allowed one extra year after their graduating date whether they fail the final exam and wish to repeat or when they dodge sitting the final exam. Here again the closing of the loophole after damage is done. Firebrand Wasantha is said to have been in the University of Sri Jayawardenapura for eight solid years. Wasn’t this truancy of sitting the finals seen earlier? Authorities too scared to report the fact; saving their scalps by ignoring anomalies. just as they turn blind eyes to filthy and dangerous ragging in universities?

This land of ours which is truly incomparable, is derogatively a land like no other when speaking of it with tongue in cheek.

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