Centre for Policy Alternatives on 21 February, 2013

Tamil Language Rights in Sri Lanka

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After my schooling in Jaffna and Colombo and my under graduate studies in Colombo, I was recruited to the Ceylon Civil Service in April 1959, not long after Sinhala was made the only Official Language. I retired in April 1995, a few years after the passage of the 13th and 16th Ammendments to the Constitution, which introduced Tamil also as an Official Language. In the intervening 36 years, I served a total of 11 years in Badulla, Mannar, Batticaloa and Jaffna Districts. Badulla was bilingual but the other three Districts were predominently Tamil Speaking.

In the course my work I became very much aware and sensitive to the language problems of the people. This little monograph is the outcome of the awareness I gained in the course of my duties and subsequent research.

I have often travelled in the hill country and past Haputale Church with a lovely view, sometimes stretching out south to the Indian Ocean. That Churchyard contains the ashes of W.S. Senior whose haunting verses titled The Call of Lanka are included in this monograph.

I wish to gratefully acknowledge the help given in different ways by Lionel Guruge, Asoka Herath, Kamaladevi Sasichandran & Lanka Nesiah to bring out this monograph. My special thanks are due to the Editor of The Island who published a series of four articles by me on this subject in the course of March 2012. This monograph is based on those articles.

Devanesan Nesiah
April 2012

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Download the publication here.