By Michael Patrick O’Leary
According to The Economist, “Britain has endured a grim decade during which perhaps a quarter of a million people died younger than expected.”
Declining Life Expectancy
Between 1980 and 2011 life expectancy in the UK rose at a steady pace of nearly three months every year. After 2011, the rise slowed. If Britain’s life-expectancy gains continued as the long-term trend, then life expectancy in 2022 would have been 2.2 years longer than it actually was. Those 26 months represent around 700,000 additional people that have died sooner than might have been expected in the early 2010s.
Academics from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined global life expectancy ratings between 1952 and 2021. In a league table of life expectancy, 70 years ago, the UK ranked seventh in the world, following closely behind Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Now, the UK performs worse than all G7 countries except the US.
The UK dropped from seventh place to 29th in global life-expectancy rankings. Life expectancy for males in the UK between 2018 and 2020 was 79, for females 82.9. Norway’s life expectancy is 80.9 years for men and 84.4 years for women. The number in Sweden was 83.18 years, marking a 0.18 per cent increase from 2021. Seventy years ago, Britons had longer life expectancy than anywhere in the G7. Now people in France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan live longer than Britons. Ireland also has higher life expectancy than the UK. Japan has the highest life expectancy at birth – 85 years. (Although , Monaco is at the top of the UN’s league table with 87 median).
says, “something has gone badly wrong in the past decade, and large numbers of Britons have lived shorter lives as a result. That raises two big questions. How much of this is specific to Britain? And why?” This is not just because places such as South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau have got richer. The pandemic cannot be blamed for a quarter of a million early deaths since 2011. Britain had already slipped in the ranking before Covid-19 hit and has since returned to its pre-pandemic trajectory. More middle-aged and younger people are dying than otherwise would have. Girls born in 2020 are now expected to die 4.8 years earlier than was expected in 2012, and boys, 4.5 years earlier.
Analysis by the Health Foundation shows that, compared to life expectancy overall in OECD countries in 2018, only Mexico is lower than the UK. Women in the poorest 10% of areas in England can expect to live on average 78.7 years – significantly below the average of 83.2 years for the whole of England and less than the overall life expectancy for women in countries including Colombia (79.8 years), Latvia (79.7 years) and Hungary (79.6 years).
The shocking thing is that the decline in life expectancy is not evenly spread over the UK. As The Economist put it: “the uncomfortable truth is that the 250,000 do not die in places like the London borough of Westminster (where life expectancy surpasses that in the Swiss canton of Geneva). They die in poorer towns and cities.” Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy in the UK. According to the National Records of Scotland, life expectancy in Glasgow was 78.3 years for females and 73.1 years for males. At the national level, Scotland’s life expectancy was the lowest among UK countries at 76.8 years for males and 81.0 for females.
Life expectancy is 18 years higher for men in the richest part of Kensington (92) than it is in New Cross Gate (74), a poor part of London only six miles to the east. Even within the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea itself there are wide variations in socio-economic circumstances. An area best known for royal and Russian oligarch and Saudi residents (or non-resident owners ) also has pockets, particularly in the north end of the borough, of severe deprivation. The lowest life expectancy in Greater London for both men (77.0 years) and women (81.7 years) is found in Barking and Dagenham.
Healthy life expectancy means the average number of years that a person can expect to live in “full health” by taking into account years lived in less than full health due to disease and/or injury. The Healthy Life Years indicator, also known as disability-free life expectancy or Sullivan’s Index, is a European structural indicator computed by Eurostat. Healthy life expectancy for men in Tower Hamlets is 65.3 years whereas for women it is only 57.8 years.
Severe socio-economic deprivation tends to lead to poor health. Poverty is damaging to health in many ways — through mental illness, a lack of education about nutrition and healthy ways of living and inadequate housing. Awaab Ishak was a two-year-old who died because of the fungal mould in the flat in which his family lived.
I spent a year in the UK, after becoming an exile 25 years ago. One can see every day on the streets how unhealthy so many people are. So many people look shabby, downtrodden and depressed. The most striking thing is how many grossly obese people are walking (with difficulty) the streets. Some of them are in wheelchairs. One sees a lot of wheelchairs. Obesity is one league table on which Britain ranks highly, beating all other Europeans except the Maltesers. Obesity used to be a sign of affluence, now it is a disease of poverty. Around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 in the UK are overweight. The prevalence of reception-aged children living with obesity in 2021-22 was highest in the North East (11.4%) and the West Midlands (11.3%). It was lowest in the South East (8.7%), South West (8.9%) and East of England (9.2%).
Politics of Poor Health
From the 1940s to 2010 the state pension age was 60 for women and 65 for men. Since then, the pension age for women has been equalized with men’s, and both raised to 66. Two further increases are due to follow: to 67 by 2027, and to 68 in 2046. The government was hoping it could bring that second date forward in order to improve its fiscal position. Raising the pension
age has caused riots on the streets of France. Tory MPs have urged a delay, arguing that ordinary voters would resent having to work longer at a time when the government has just relaxed tax rules on pensions for the wealthy.
One senior Tory MP warned of the “critical juxtaposition” of scrapping the £1mn lifetime allowance for pension savings while asking ordinary voters to work until 68 for a not very generous state pension. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has released his tax returns. They show that he has made large sums outside politics and only paid tax at a rate of 22%.
Many people, including myself, have written about the downsides of economic growth. Whatever about all that, those who are supposed to be running the UK are pinning all their hopes on economic growth without having any clear plan about how to achieve it. Liz Truss was toppled by her madcap schemes to boost growth. All she did was give more money to the already rich. Hunt and Sunak seem more sensible but in reality are just mouthing optimistic platitudes.
The British malaise goes back a long way and Johnson, Truss, Kwarteng, Sunak and Hunt have done nothing but kick problems into the long grass hoping that they will solve themselves. In The Atlantic, Derek Thompson pithily summarizes the UK today: “Britain is pretty poor for a rich place. UK living standards and wages have fallen significantly behind those of Western Europe. By some measures, in fact, real wages in the UK are lower than they were 15 years ago and will likely be even lower next year.”
Thompson continues: “In the past 30 years, the British economy chose finance over industry, Britain’s government chose austerity over investment, and British voters chose a closed and poorer economy over an open and richer one. The predictable results are falling wages and stunningly low productivity growth.” Another pithy summary from Thompson: “The UK is now an object lesson for other countries dealing with a dark triad of de-industrialization, de-growth, and denigration of foreigners.”
Austerity was the Cameron (remember him coming to Sri Lanka telling us how to run our country?) government’s response to the 2008 global financial crisis. That meant cutting public services even further which means there is less support for poor people to care for elderly and sick people. Brexit was supposed to bring an extra £350 million to the NHS every week. That was a lie. Brexit brought staff shortages to the NHS as foreign workers were made unwelcome. There are food shortages today because there are no foreign seasonal workers to pick the crops and no foreign HGV drivers to deliver to the supermarkets. Imports and exports of food are stymied by hellish bureaucracy.
The days have probably gone when the NHS was revered. A study of 37.5 million patients in 2018 suffering four different sorts of cancer showed that British cancer survival rates were worse, not just than EU neighbours, but worse even than China’s. China’s breast cancer survival rate is about the same as Britain’s, its prostate cancer survival rate is worse and its lung and stomach cancer survival rates are better. China is a country in which only half of doctors have university degrees.
Most improvements in infant mortality and life expectancy in Britain came not as a result of experiments on animals or investment by drug companies but because of public health measures implemented by local government. Successive Conservative governments have cut public spending, starving local authorities of funds to give social support to local communities. Improvements in nutrition, hygiene, housing, sanitation, control of infectious diseases and other public health measures historically reduced mortality rates. Very old people were rare 100 years ago. Less than one in 150 people was aged 80 and over in the 1920s. By 1920, life expectancy was 56 years for males and 59 years for females. Males born in 1841 could expect to live to only 40.2 years and females to 42.3 years, mainly because of high mortality rates in infancy and childhood.
The Great Stink of London
by Stephen Halliday is a fascinating read. It recounts how civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette built London’s first sewer network (still in use today), which helped to wipe out cholera in the capital. The summer of 1858 was particularly hot and humid. For centuries, the Thames had been the city’s main thoroughfare as well as a dumping ground for human, animal and industrial waste. London’s population more than doubled between 1800 and 1850, making it by far the largest in the world. By 1858, the stench overwhelmed Parliament and the politicians decided to do something about it. Bazalgette produced a network of 82 miles of new sewers, great subterranean boulevards that in places were larger than the underground train tunnels then under construction.
In 2023, Britain’s rivers are again full of shit plus a lot of chemicals and microplastics that were unknown in Bazalgette’s time. Untreated sewage released by privatized water companies is responsible for 35% of the pollution of British rivers. Pollution by water companies is particularly high in the south and southwest of England. Excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides in agriculture is responsible for 40% of river pollution. Run-off from roads and towns which contains pollutants such as oil is responsible for 18%.
Professor Steve Ormerod, an ecologist at Cardiff University, warns of other threats. He says: “We need to understand the risks which come with emerging pollutants – pharmaceuticals, microplastics. We don’t know, at this stage how big a problem they’re going to be.” The Environment Agency says, “people in deprived and heavily populated urban areas were more likely to live within 600m of a river with poor chemical or biological quality”.
The Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry uncovered “multiple failures in the monitoring, governance and enforcement on water quality,” carried out by England’s Environment Agency. Since 1993, the number of water quality samples taken annually by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales has dropped by 57%, which the committee says is a result of budget cuts.
On Wednesday March 17, 2023, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, presented his budget to the House of Commons, a budget that needed to restore economic health to the UK after the disastrous budget of his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng. Economic health is an important factor in the physical health of the people of Britain. The physical health of the population in turn affects the health of the economy. Disturbing statistics are emerging which indicate that the health of people living in the UK is declining. A relative worsening of population health has historically been an early sign of severe political and economic problems. The crisis is here for the UK, the sick man of Europe.
Full implementation of 13A – Final solution to ‘national problem’ or end of unitary state? – Part VI
by Kalyananda Tiranagama
Lawyers for Human Rights and Development
(Part V of this article appeared in The Island of 02 Oct. 2023)
Six months later, in July 1986, further talks were held between the Sri Lankan government and an Indian delegation led by P Chidambaram, Minister of State, a person from Tamil Nadu. Based on those talks, a detailed Note prepared containing observations of the Indian government on the proposals of the Sri Lanka government as the Framework was sent to the Indian Government.
The following three paragraphs from this Note were cited in the Judgement of Wanasundara J in the 13th Amendment Case as relevant for its determination:
1. A Provincial Council shall be established in each Province. Law-making and Executive (including Financial) powers shall be devolved upon the Provincial Councils by suitable constitutional amendments, without resort to a referendum. After further discussions subjects broadly corresponding to the proposals contained in Annexe 1 to the Draft Framework of Accord and Undertaking and the entries in List ll and List III of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution shall be devolved upon Provincial Councils.
It is strange that this paragraph suggests to bring constitutional amendments to devolve Law-making and Executive (including Financial) powers on the Provincial Councils, without resort to a referendum. It is not clear on whose suggestion this phrase – without resort to a referendum – was included, Sri Lanka or India? But it is most likely that it was India, feeling the sentiments of the vast majority of the people in the South and knowing the most probable outcome of a referendum.
Inclusion of this phrase – without resort to a referendum – may have had some impact on the minds of the Judges in arriving at a determination on the Bills.
There can be no doubt that the phrase – the entries in List ll and List III of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution shall be devolved upon Provincial Councils – included on the suggestion of Indian side.
2. In the Northern Province and in the Eastern Province the Provincial Councils shall be deemed to be constituted immediately after the constitutional amendments come into force……..
What does this mean? Can they come into being even before the Provincial Councils Bill and the Provincial Councils Elections Bill are passed and the Elections held? Where is People’s sovereignty? This also appears to be an Indian demand.
3. ‘‘In a preamble to this Note, it was agreed that suitable constitutional and legal arrangements would be made for those two Provinces to act in co-ordination. In consequence of these talks a constitutional amendment took shape and form and three lists – (1) The Reserved List (List II), (2) The Provincial List (List I); and (3) The Concurrent List (List Ill) too were formulated.’’
‘Suitable constitutional and legal arrangements to be made for those two Provinces to act in co-ordination’. This is another subtle and mild formulation used to convey the idea that the Northern and Eastern Provinces would be merged into one unit.
Mr. Chidambaram may have seen to it that the aspirations of the TULF are incorporated into the agreement to a certain extent.
‘‘The Bangalore discussions held between President J. R. Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in November 1986 were the next stage of the discussions. At the Bangalore discussions Sri Lanka had to agree to all the Cardinal Principles of the TULF and other Tamil militant groups, which Sri Lanka had totally refused even to discuss at Thimphu talks and not included in the Draft Terms of Accord and Understanding reached in New Delhi in September 1985.
The Sri Lanka government’s observations on the Working Paper on Bangalore Discussion dated 26th November 1986 show that the following suggestions made by the Indian Government were substantially adopted:
Recognition that the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples who have at all times hitherto lived together in the territory with other ethnic groups;
Northern and Eastern Provinces should form one administrative unit for an interim period and that its continuance should depend on a Referendum;
The Governor shall have the same powers as the Governor of a State in India.
India had also proposed to the Sri Lankan government that
the Governor should only act on the advice of the Board of Ministers and should explore the possibility of further curtailing the Governor’s discretionary powers;
provision be made on the lines of Article 249 of the Indian Constitution on the question of Parliament’s power to legislate on matters in the Provincial list;
Article 254 of the Indian Constitution be adopted in regard to the Provincial Council’s power to make a law before or after a parliamentary law in respect of a matter in the Concurrent List.
To ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka would comply with these suggestions in enacting laws for the implementation of these suggestions, the two most crucial suggestions were included in the Indo Lanka Accord signed by President J. R. Jayewardene and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the 29th July 1987 in Colombo.
The First part of the Indo-Lanka Accord reaffirmed what was agreed at Bangalore that (a) the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lanka Tamil Speaking people who at all times hitherto lived together in the territory with other ethnic groups. It also provided for (b) these two Provinces to form one administrative unit for an interim period and (c) for elections to the Provincial Council to be held before 31st December 1987.
From the above material, it clearly appears beyond any doubt that the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Councils are not a solution reached through consensus between two independent states following free negotiations, but something forcibly imposed on Sri Lanka by India, with a view to placating the demands of the TULF and the other Tamil groups, contrary to the wishes of the Govt of Sri Lanka.
This explains why Indian political leaders and high officials of the Indian Govt frequently visit Sri Lanka and meet our political leaders demanding the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. That is why leaders of our Tamil Political Parties frequently rush to the Indian High Commission complaining of their grievances and requesting the Indian High Commissioner to bring pressure on our Govt to grant their demands.
As shown above, due to India’s pressure, Sri Lanka had to adopt the three main proposals made by India at the Bangalore discussions. If Sri Lanka had adopted all the proposals as suggested by India and implemented them it would have been the end of the Unitary State of Sri Lanka and created a fully Federal State. However, President Jayewardene, as a shrewd and far-sighting politician, has taken care not to give effect to some of the proposals at the implementation stage.
President Jayewardene has not adopted the Indian proposal that ‘the Governor should only act on the advice of the Board of Ministers and should explore the possibility of further curtailing the Governor’s discretionary powers’. Under the 13th Amendment the Governor, as the representative of the President, is vested with undiminished power of exercising his discretion, not on the advice of the Board of Ministers of the Provincial Council, but as directed by the President. It is this Governor’s unfettered discretion that has prevented Sri Lanka from becoming a full Federal State, with Provincial Councils as federal units.
The majority Judgement in the 13th Amendment case explains how this Governor’s discretion has prevented Sri Lanka from becoming a fully federal state, thus:
‘‘With respect to executive powers an examination of the relevant provisions of the Bill underscores the fact that in exercising their executive power, the Provincial Councils are subject to the control of the Centre and are not sovereign bodies.
‘‘Article 154C provides that the executive power extending to the matters with respect to which a Provincial Council has power to make statutes shall be exercised by the Governor of the Province either directly or through Ministers of the Board of Ministers or through officers subordinate to him, in accordance with Article 154F.
‘‘Article 154F states that the Governor shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice, except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
‘‘The Governor is appointed by the President and holds office in accordance with Article 4(b) which provides that the executive power of the People shall be exercised by the President of the Republic, during the pleasure of the President (Article 154B (2)). The Governor derived his authority from the President and exercises the executive power vested in him as a delegate of the President. It is open to the President therefore by virtue of Article 4(b) of the Constitution to give directions and monitor the Governor’s exercise of this executive power vested in him.
‘‘ Although he is required by Article 154F(1) to exercise his functions in accordance with the advice of the Board of Ministers, this is subject to the qualification “except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.” Under the Constitution the Governor as a representative of the President is required to act in his discretion in accordance with the instructions and directions of the President.
‘‘ Article 154F(2) mandates that the Governor’s discretion shall be on the President’s directions and that the decision of the Governor as to what is in his discretion shall be final and not be called in question in any court on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted on his discretion.
‘‘ So long as the President retains, the power to give directions to the Governor regarding the exercise of his executive functions, and the Governor is bound by such directions superseding the advice of the Board of Ministers and where the failure of the Governor or Provincial Council to comply with or give effect to any directions given to the Governor or such Council by the President under Chapter XVII of the Constitution will entitle the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the administration of the Province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and take over the functions and powers of the Provincial Council (Article 154K and 154L), there can be no gainsaying the fact that the President remains supreme or sovereign in the executive field and the Provincial Council is only a body subordinate to him.’’ (Pp. 322 – 323)
That is why the Tamil political parties stand for the abolition of Executive Presidency.
(To be continued)
Judiciary necessary to protect democracy
By Jehan Perera
The government has allocated Rs 11 billion in the provisional budget for next year for the presidential elections due in September. This is a positive indication that the government intends to hold those elections. Free and fair elections being held when due is a core concept of a functioning democracy. This was called into question earlier in the year when local government elections were postponed. They were due in March but were postponed on multiple occasions and now have been cancelled. There is no indication when they might be held. The government justified its refusal to hold those elections on the grounds that the country was facing an economic crisis and the money could be better spent elsewhere.
The government’s refusal to hold the local government elections was challenged in the courts. The Supreme Court decided that the money allocated in the budget for elections should not be blocked by the government and needed to be released for the purpose of conducting those elections. Without respecting this judicial ruling, government members threatened to summon the judges who made the ruling to Parliament on the grounds that the judiciary could not decide on money matters that were the preserve of Parliament. They argued that the powers and privileges of Parliament had been violated by the order issued by the Supreme Court instructing the government to refrain from withholding funds for the polls. There was an outcry nationally and internationally and the government members did not proceed with their dubious plan to summon the judges before Parliament.
Due to the government’s prioritization of the economy over elections, the prospects for elections continue to be challenging. The economic crisis is in full swing with further price increases in fuel costs taking place and electricity costs about to be hiked. The economy continues to shrink though at a slower rate than before. The government’s failure to obtain the second tranche of IMF support is a warning regarding the precarious condition of the economy. The IMF has said that Sri Lanka’s economic recovery is still not assured. It has also said that the government has not met the economic targets set for it, particularly with regard to reducing the budget deficit due to a potential shortfall in government revenue generation. The IMF has said the second tranche under its lending programme would only be released after it reaches a staff-level agreement, and there was no fixed timeline on when that would take place
Unfortunately, the willingness of government members to challenge judicial decisions with regard to the electoral process is having its repercussions elsewhere. Parliamentarians have made use of parliamentary privilege to criticize the judiciary, including by naming them individually. The purpose of parliamentary privilege is to enable the elected representatives of the people to disclose the truth in the national interest. But this is a power that needs to be used with care and caution, especially if it is used to malign or insult individuals. Those who have the protection of parliamentary privilege need to understand it is a very powerful privilege, and they should exercise the privilege with restraint. It is the abuse of privilege that brings it into disrepute and undermines the wider perception of the central role that privilege plays.
The conduct of some parliamentarians has now reached a point where a judge who was deciding on controversial cases involving ethnic and religious conflict has chosen to resign and even leave the country. Successive rulings made by the judiciary in those cases appear to have been ignored by government authorities. The judicial decisions and rulings made have been subjected to disparaging and insulting remarks in Parliament and outside. Mullaitivu District Judge Saravanarajah, who ruled on the controversial Kurunthurmalai (Kurundi Viharaya) case, resigned and fled Sri Lanka due to alleged threats and pressure. In a letter shared on social media, the judge told the Judicial Services Commission that he was facing threats to his life. Such pressures placed on the judiciary are clearly unacceptable in a democratic country, especially in situations where the judiciary is being called on to defend the rights of the people who are being threatened by government overreach.
At the present time, democratic freedoms and space for protest that exist in the country are being endangered by the government’s efforts to silence public protest and criticism by means of the proposed Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA) and the Online Safety Act which are to be placed before Parliament this week. The draft ATA gives the government the power to arrest persons who are engaging in public protest or trade union action who can be charged for “intimidating the public or a section of the public”. The Online Safety Act seeks, among others, to “protect persons against damage caused by false statements or threatening, alarming, or distressing statements.” It will establish a five-member commission appointed by the President which will be able to proscribe or suspend any social media account or online publication, and also recommend jail time for alleged offenses which can be highly subjective.
The judiciary is being called upon to defend fundamental rights and freedoms in the face of the government’s bid to take restrictive actions. The draft ATA has been opposed by opposition political parties and by human rights organisations since it appeared about six months ago. The ATA was drafted as an improvement to the Prevention of Terrorism Act which had been highlighted by the EU as objectionable on human rights grounds for the purposes of obtaining the GSP Plus tax benefit for Sri Lankan exports. Additionally, it has brought in the Online Safety Act as a surprise instrument to stymie the dissemination of information that people need regarding the non-transparent conduct of the government. With the political and economic crisis in the country getting worse, it appears that the government is determined to go ahead with these laws.
The failure of the government to fulfil many of the IMF’s transparency requirements, such as posting its contracts and procurements on the website, and explain its rationale for tax holidays and those who benefit, have contributed to the loss of confidence in the government’s commitment to the economic reform process. There is a widespread belief that corruption is rampant and that the inability to get new foreign investment is partly due to this difficulty of doing business in Sri Lanka, quite apart from the leakage of government revenues. The government needs to address these issues if it is to win the trust and confidence of the people and cushion the difficulties faced by people in coping with their dire economic circumstances. In particular, it needs to hold elections that can bring in new leaders that the country needs and cleanse the Augean Stables.
Despite the allocation of Rs 11 billion for presidential elections in the provisional budget for 2024, there remain questions regarding the government’s plans for the future. The Chairman of the UNP, Wajira Abeywardena, is reported to have said that the presidential election may have to be postponed as it could undermine ongoing economic recovery measures. The provisional budget for 2024 is Rs 3860 billion, of which Rs 11 billion would seem to be a small fraction. However, the budget for 2023 was Rs 3657 billion, and the Rs 10 billion that was needed for the local government elections was likewise only a small fraction of that budget. But those elections were not held and the government argued that this money was better spent on development than on elections. The issue of postponement of elections due to the ongoing economic crisis may have to be faced once again when the presidential elections are due. The courts would be the better option for undemocratic actions to be contested than the streets. The courts and the judiciary need to be kept strong and respected. The judiciary contributes to the trust of civilians in good governance and sustains social peace which should not be compromised.
‘Lunu Dehi’…in a different form
The Gypsies, with the late Sunil Perera at the helm, came up with several appealing and memorable songs, including ‘Lunu Dehi.’ And this title is again in the spotlight…but in a different form.
Dushan Jayathilake, who was with the Gypsies for 19 years, playing keyboards, is now operating his own band…under the banner of LunuDehi.
Says Dushan: “I was really devastated when Sunil Perera left this world. However, I was fortunate enough to meet Nalin Samath, who stepped in to play guitar for the band. During Nalin’s one year stint with the Gypsies, we discussed my dream of starting my own band. Sunil had always urged us to work on our original compositions and follow our own unique path.”
With Sunil’s words in mind, Dushan and Nalin decided to leave the Gypsies and strike out on their own and that’s how LunuDehi became a reality…a year ago.
“We were pondering over several names as we wanted to have a name that would reflect the distinctive sound and style of our music. Ultimately, it was my wife who came up with the name LunuDehi.”
Both Dushan and Nalin agreed that this name is perfect, adding that “Since lunu dehi is a side dish used in Sri Lankan cuisine to make food have a bit of a kick to it, our music, too, gives listeners that much-needed kick.”
Elaborating further, Dushan said: “As a musician with 26 years of experience in the industry, 19 of which were spent playing keyboards with the Gypsies, I can say starting my own band was a dream come true. And when I met Nalin Samath, who has 35 years of experience in the music industry and was the original guitarist for Bathiya and Santhush, I knew that we had the talent and skill to co-lead a band.”
As the lead composer and arranger for LunuDehi, Dushan says he is constantly in awe of the incredible individual talents that each of the members brings to the table, and this is what he has to say about the lineup:
, in addition to being an accomplished guitarist and vocalist, is a true entertainer, always keeping the crowd engaged, and on their feet.
son of bassist Joe Lappen, has a gift for composing and arranging pop hits. His work includes ‘Mal Madahasa’ by Randhir and ‘Dias’ by Freeze.
former guitarist of NaadhaGama, who has played for prestigious concerts, is our current rhythm guitarist and vocalist. He is also an amazing composer.
, our drummer, has played for a number of bands and is always eager to learn more about music.
TJ,our vocalist, has an incredible voice that leans toward the deeper side and she can sing in over 10 languages. She participated in the first season of The Voice Sri Lanka in 2021 and is also a talented songwriter and composer.
Dushan himself has composed and arranged music for some of the big names in the local music scene, including The Gypsies, BnS, Lakshman Hilmi, and Chamara Weerasinghe.
Dushan went on to say that as a policy, they have always been selective about the venues they perform at.
“While we enjoy playing music for all types of audiences, we have always prioritized concerts, weddings, dinner dances, and corporate events over hotel lobbies, nightclubs, and pubs.
LunuDehi’s musical journey began at a BnS show held in Polonnaruwa. Since then, they have collaborated with BnS at concerts and have become known for their unique sound and energetic performances.
They will be backing BnS on their North America and UK tour in 2024.
“This is a huge milestone for our band, and we cannot wait to share our music with new audiences around the world,” says Dushan.
Whatsmore, next month, they are off to Indonesia to perform at ‘Sri Lanka Night 2023’ to be held at Hotel Le Meridien, Jakarta, on 25th November.
Dushan says he is grateful to those who have supported them and given them the encouragement to break into the scene.
“I would also like to extend my appreciation to Sunil Perera, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us. He was like a second father to me, and never failed to push me to be my best self, also Piyal Perera, who has been supporting us from the start, as well as Bathiya Jayakody and Santhush Weeraman, who have given us numerous opportunities to shine as a group.
“Our ultimate goal is to establish ourselves as a household name, with a repertoire of memorable songs that will secure numerous concert bookings and tours, hopefully worldwide.”
Their debut original is called ‘Rice and Curry.’
Cabinet nod for new Commercial High Court
219.72 Hectares of land in Siyambalanduwa to be acquired and leased to Sustainable Energy Authority
Chemicals to be regulated to prevent misuse
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