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 Post subject: Kandyan Convention of 1815
 Post Posted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 1:16 pm 
"Kandyan Convention of 1815 destroyed entire
socio-economic structure of Kandyan peasantry"



by Wijitha Nakkawita and IfhamNizam
The Island / 21JUL2005

When Parliament met Tuesday (19) Minister for Udarata (Upcountry) Development, Posts and Telecommunications Minister D. M. Jayaratna presenting the Udarata Development Authority Bill said it had the objective of ameliorating the conditions of the people in the Kandyan provinces who had suffered a historical injustice during the British Colonial Rule.

He said after the Kingdom of Kandy was ceded to the British under the Kandyan Convention of 1815 the entire socio-economic structure of the Kandyan peasantry was destroyed by the taking over all their farm land, common land where their cattle grazed and chena lands which was an important part of their economic sustenance.

After the coffee and then tea plantations were opened by the British the Kandyan peasantry who refused to become hired labourers in the plantations were deprived of opportunities of developing their economic status which had progressively declined to a very low level as they were pushed to small pockets around the new plantations.

Fragmentation of the little blocks of land in the impoverished Kandyan villages continued throughout the British rule but the proud Kandyan peasantry rose in rebellion against the colonial rulers twice, he said,

The Kandyan Peasantry Commission established in 1947 and it published a comprehensive report in 1953 underlining the dire economic straits the Kandyans had suffered, recommending the improvement of their lot. Though a Kandyan Peasantry Rehabilitation department was set up and improvements of infrastructure and other sectors had been implemented from among the recommendations of the Commission much has yet to be done to improve the lot of the Kandyan people who still are weighed down with the problems of landlessness or fragmentation of land which their economic status continued to remain below the standard of the people elsewhere in the country, he noted.

He said the new legislation to set up the Udarata Development Authority was being introduced to develop the Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya Districtd with a wide ranging scope to address the problems of all groups of people in these districts including the people working in the planations.

P. Dayaratne (UNP) Ampara District said he wished to know why the Authority’s area of activities was confined to the Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya Districtd when the Kandyan Kingdom’s realm extended to a number of other present districts which included Ratnapura, Ampara and even Moneragala. The problems faced by the peasantry of all these regions should have been taken into consideration so that they could be addressed together.

He said he found there was a new trend of different districts or provinces being selected for integrated development like the Eastern Province or Raja Rata being brought under separate ministries but this trend could result in separate or diverse patterns of development among communities. The salutary policy should be to develop the country as a whole under a uniform plan and pattern, he said.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Wiswa Warnapala said the British by their Crown Lands Ordinance and Waste Lands Ordinance in the 19th Century acquired the lands of the Kandyan peasantry under the pretext the peasants had no written titles to these lands though they had enjoyed these lands for centuries under the Sinhala Kings.

With the result of opening up plantations in the lands acquired by the British the peasantry became poorer and poorer generation after generation.

Two scholars of the University of Peradeniya who had done research on the state of the Kandyan peasantry, Professor S. K. Thambaiah and Dr. N. K. Sarkar found that indebtedness of the Kandyan peasantry far exceeded that of people in other parts of the country.

Their well researched report showed that in 1950 rural indebtedness was as high as 30 percent while by 1954 it had risen to over 54 per cent. The Kandyan peasantry for more than one and half centuries had no access to formal credit like rural banks or cooperative credit and were in the grip of village money lenders and itinerant traders, both who charged them usurious interest rates. Till almost very recent times the Kandyan villagers were some of the most impoverished people of this country, but even today much has to be done to improve their lot, he said.

He said the Kandyan Peasantry Commission did not have a single social scientist or economist in it but lawyers who had however given their best to make recommendations within their capacity.

They had recommended infrastructure development and other measures to help the Kandyan villages but only an integrated pattern of socio-economic development could address the problems peculiar to these people.

The Udarata Development Authority was being set up to achieve that end and he wished the minister all success in achieving the desired objectives,

Dimuthu Bandara Tennekoon (JVP) Matale District said the allocation or resources from every government budget since independence had given step-motherly treatment to the Kandyan provinces and the JVP has no objections to the Udarata Development Authority if it is to address the severe problems faced by all communities in the Kandyan region.

Dr. Sarath Amunugama said the bill was a very important legislative proposal which would address the problems of all the people in the Kandyan areas where ethnic harmony had been preserved for centuries. The Authority will serve the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people of the region.


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 Post subject: Gov Brownrigg and Kandy
 Post Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:27 am
Posts: 1
I have become interested in this era of Kandyian history because my ancestor was Gov Robert Brownrigg. Is anyone out there who is also a Brownrigg? He was likely my great great great grandfather's brother from Wicklow.

The accounts I have read online give two sides to the issue, both that the Gov was able to unite the kingdom with little or no bloodshed, but also the British by their occupation, took away Kandyian identities and religions?


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