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An object lesson in archaeological conservation




“Buvaneka Hotel? I wanted to renovate the place when I was Secretary to the Urban Development Authority, but the owner refused to give it up for renovation.”

– An amused President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to some young men who asked him, during his campaign tour of  the Kurunegala district on July 27, why he kept silent when ‘our kingdom’ was bulldozed.

The demolition of a part of a building that is claimed to be an archaeological site at Kurunegala on the night of July 14, 2020  caused quite a furore, with the opposition seizing the opportunity offered by the surreptitious operation to sling mud at the government. Why the mayor had to do it in the night in such a hurry is yet to be explained, though. In any case, the controversy ignited manna from heaven for the opposition, which is starved of a proper platform for fighting the election. Aside from this, the main opposition speakers are providing much needed comic relief for the corona-fears-hit audiences across the country through their empty campaign speeches. They have suddenly become champion protectors of the country’s cultural heritage. But it is hardly likely that the senior SLPP leaders would have allowed this act of (apparently accidental) vandalism to be committed, had they had an inkling of it beforehand, particularly in this run-up-to one of the most decisive general elections  held in the country.

Be that as it may, the episode has drawn the attention of all Sri Lankans to a chronic issue that is directly connected with the national security and the political stability of the Sri Lankan state: The deliberate destruction/vandalizing/encroachment of Sri Lanka’s archaeological sites by treasure hunters and politically motivated individuals. The protection, through preservation and conservation, of the country’s rich ancient cultural heritage is a national responsibility that no government can ignore. There are six main parties who are bound to take an interest in this issue; they are, to list them at random: Buddhist monks, the general public, historians and archaeologists, relevant state officials, politicians in general, and the government including the prime minister and the executive president.

The president laughed when the young men queried him about the Kurunegala affair because he knew that the name ‘Buvaneka’ had been dragged into it by interested parties to embarrass the government (by highlighting its supposed antiquity). With that answer, he pricked the balloon of false propaganda of the opposition. But there is no doubt that he takes the problem that underlies the whole affair seriously. It is very clear that, taken out of that context, it is no laughing matter, though some people may try to make it out to be something trivial and  funny. In fact, the enemies of the country want to represent even the general election as a form of meaningless theatrical entertainment, which in reality this time is the moment of truth for the whole national electorate.

Incidentally, there are those who are ever ready to attack the recorded history of the Sinhalese in their unique homeland as mere fiction. But knowledgeable local and foreign scholars, from colonial times to the present, have increasingly accepted it as something well authenticated by carefully composed ancient chronicles and orally transmitted folk traditions, both supported by epigraphical evidence and archaeological remains found across the length and breadth of the island. Ill-informed cynics are making the public outrage caused by the thoughtless act a pretext for taking a playful dig at those who are speaking up for safeguarding the rights of the variously besieged majority community. It is a different matter that there are a few political opportunists, fakes, and rogues among them as there are among members of other communities. Recent  evidence unearthed by archaeologists (some of them from foreign universities) has proved that a primitive people, who had nevertheless reached a relatively advanced stage of civilization, had inhabited the central mountainous region of the island at least some four and a half thousand years ago, which hints at the fact that the history of the Sinhalese is much older than the recorded 2500 years. The Ravana story may be a myth, but it is quite possible that it is based on a regal ancestor of the Sinhalese who fought invasions from abroad, thousands years before the time that the Mahavamsa began. Some amateur ‘archaeologists’ in the form of YouTubers, apparently none of them with any expertise in the most difficult domain of archaeology, at various levels of commitment to the discovery of the scientific truth from one hundred percent to zero percent, are turning out videos these days about real or imagined archaeological sites. Some of them have published, for example, pictures of mysterious symbolic shapes carved on a rock in a hardly accessible place, and a drawing of what looks like a dinosaur on another rock face; images worthy of being included in Erich Von Daniken’s 1968 classic ‘Chariots of the Gods’. A responsible future government must turn its attention to this so-called ‘Ravana’ aspect of Sri Lanka’s pre-history and bring it under the purview of proper archaeological study. The nation can exploit its potential for the benefit of the country in terms of its economy through the promotion of tourism, in addition to contributing to the global store of human knowledge. Equally important, it will serve to ensure the future survival of the Sinhalese as a race with their unique historical identity. So, the uproar raised about the Kurunegala incident, by both genuine and mischief-making protestors, is not something to be dismissed with a laugh.

There cannot be any dispute about the fact that the structure at the place in question is of archaeological value, though the mayor of Kurunegala, the first citizen of the city, is unaware of it. Ignorance is no excuse for a person who holds such a responsible position. However, the Adhikarana Sanga Nayake Thera of Vayamba,  at a meeting of the Bauddha Upadeshaka Sabhava with the President (July 25) said that the place in question was not an archaeological site, and that it was a big lie to say that it was. He said that there was no ‘raja sabha mandapaya’ (a royal assembly hall) belonging to king Bhuvanekabahu II at that place. In his detailed explanation of its recent history of about twenty years, he described how the premises was leased out by the municipal council during that period and was enlarged and used for various commercial purposes such as running a wine shop,a  restaurant, a barber shop, and even for renting out rooms for couples. It was implied that the enlargement of the building by adding rooms, etc was done without proper official authorization. But the monk admitted that the old structure that  originally stood there, and apparently still stands there partly damaged or tampered with, was one built more than one hundred years ago, which means that the place should be considered an  archaeological site. An archaeologist who was seen at  the meeting, had stated to a local newspaper on an earlier occasion, that, according to popular tradition, the particular place was where king Bhuvanekabahu II held assizes/adjudged cases (though there was no literary or other evidence to support this.)

With apologies to historians and archaeologists, I would like to suggest, as a lay reader, that  unrelated information available in Chapter XC (90) of the Mahavansa (continued in the Culavansa) lends  credence to the popular tradition that the archaeologist monk mentioned. That particular chapter narrates the goings on in a period of history made noteworthy by such events as the relocation of the seat of government from time to time to Dambadeniya, Kurunegala,  and Yapahuwa, internecine conflicts triggered by succession disputes sometimes leading to torture, treachery and murder, foreign invasions, the forced removal of the Tooth Relic to the captivity of Pandyans in south India by ‘a chief among Tamils, known as Ariya Cakkavatti, albeit he was not an Ariya’, and its eventual recovery through sophisticated diplomacy, cultural activity in the service of Buddhism and the advancement of letters under royal patronage, and the construction of architectural monuments such as the magnificent rock fortress city of Yapahuwa (Subha-pabbata/Subhacala/Subagiri) built by king Bhuvanekabahu I, whose son Bhuvanekabahu II ruled at Kurunegala from 1293-1302 CE. That the latter dispensed justice from a specially constructed assembly hall in Kurunegala is not an improbability. Has any archaeologist tried to compare the architectural features of the alleged  royal assembly hall to those found at Yapahuwa? In view of these facts, talking further about the issue is worth our while. (The Mahavansa references here are based on Mudaliyar L.C. Wijesinha’s translation of 1889.)

The issue involves the accidental or premeditated partial destruction of a heritage building and its complex aftermath. The foreign and local supporters of the opposition may not see any complexity in either, the former because of their ignorance of, and the latter because of their indifference to, the cultural sensitivities and political perceptions of the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community. Hence they might express adverse opinions about the way the six categories of people responded to the incident.

It is obvious that the mayor found himself caught off his guard when he was confronted with the fact that what was partly demolished was of archaeological value. A minister of the present government, a prominent member of the SLPP (who comes from a business background, and who was a UNP stalwart before he joined the Mahinda camp), rushed to his rescue, which one of his cabinet colleagues publicly criticised. If some irregularity was committed in this instance, which is very likely, there is a common heritage of guilt to be shared by the incumbent and previous mayors, possibly of a different political colour. Prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, it seemed, showed a special interest in the matter as the Buddha Sasana and Cultural Affairs minister in the caretaker administration. The opposition’s exploitation of the mayor’s blunder to attack the government to gain some propaganda advantage over it, with the elections round the corner, made the PM’s concern in this regard look like a mark of what they probably thought was his desire to engage in some sort of damage control exercise. In my opinion, there was absolutely no need for the government to register a panicked response. What happened was what could have happened under any government, notwithstanding its desire to avoid such embarrassment or to ensure rectification of what went wrong in such a situation. The commercial abuse of that place, and many other similar registered and unregistered heritage sites, for that matter, has persisted for a long time, in some cases, with the connivance of or under the sponsorship of politicians in the local authorities allied to main parties. Party leaders have no control over this. In politically motivated attacks on the country’s ancient Buddhist heritage in the east particularly, government officials become vulnerable to manipulation by well funded extremists through bribery.

The only solution is to leave matters to the law enforcement authorities so they can take appropriate action. The PM-appointed committee has made some recommendations (conservation of the part damaged while preserving its archaeological features, acquisition of the building by the Department of Archaeology, requesting the RDA to revise its road widening plan at this point, prosecuting the persons responsible for the destruction, and recovering the cost of conservation from the institutions or individuals responsible for the destruction) which are to be implemented in the short term. Once the building is restored and the problem, whatever it is, that required a part of it to be bulldozed under cover of the night is sorted out, the current mode of its utilization will have to be reviewed, and changes introduced as appropriate. At the meeting he had with the monks of the Bauddha Upadeshaka Sabhava on July 25, the President decided to appoint a committee of experts to propose changes to the Antiquities Ordinance, which should ensure more robust implementation of the law relating to archaeological places, buildings and objects than now.

Even in the past, the President was the only person in a position of power (as defence secretary) who made a meaningful intervention in the problem first articulated by Buddhist monks (for example, Kuragala). Meanwhile, it will be very important to depoliticize and de-communalize the problem of protecting the archaeological relics of the country’s glorious Buddhist past. Most of the vulnerable sites lie in the north and east, where the island civilization started as currently understood. Actually there is no threat to them from the mainstream Tamil and Muslim minority communities who respectively dominate those provinces in terms of population numbers, but these peaceful people are held hostage by a few political extremists (separatists and jihadists).  Tamils and Muslims are not confined to these two provinces. More than 50% of them live in the south among the Sinhalese. The protection of archaeological sites has become a political and communal issue, particularly in the north and east, because of the extremists. The government must enlist the support of ordinary Tamils and Muslims in these areas to overcome the extremists, and then entrust the protection of the archaeological sites to people of all three communities who live there, in addition to ensuring state protection of the same. Places already encroached upon must be re-acquired by the state, and people already settled on them gradually relocated elsewhere, with the least inconvenience to them.

These archaeological treasures belong equally to all present day Sri Lankans irrespective of ethnicity. In economic terms, the existence of ancient historical places and objects is beneficial to the people who today inhabit the relevant areas, because they are tourist attractions. Most people are ignorant of the value of these relics of the past. Popular ignorance facilitates the extremists’ anti-national activities. One of the lessons taught by the Kurunegala episode is about the importance of adequate awareness on the part of the officialdom, as well as the populace, regarding the country’s inestimable archaeological treasures.


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Take Human Rights seriously, not so much the council or office



By Dr Laksiri Fernando

The 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council started on 22 February morning with obvious hiccups. The Office, to mean the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, finally decided to hold all sessions virtually online, only the President of the Council and the assistants in the high table sitting at the UN Assembly Hall in Geneva. The President, Ms. Nazhat Shammen Khan, Ambassador from Fiji in Geneva, wearing a saree, was graceful in the chair with empty seats surrounding.

In the opening session, the UN General Assembly President, UN General Secretary, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Head of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland (as the host country), addressed remotely the session. In fact, there was no need for Switzerland to have a special place, as the UN is independent from any host country. Switzerland is fairly ok, however, if this tradition is followed, the UN General Assembly may have to give a special place to the US in New York.


Initial Addresses

UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres’ address could have been quite exemplary if he gave a proper balance to the developed and developing countries. He talked about racism and fight against racism but did not mention where racism is overwhelmingly rampant (US and Europe) and what to do about it. Outlining the human rights implications of Covid-19 pandemic, he made quite a good analysis. It was nice for him to say, ‘human rights are our blood line (equality), our lifeline (for peace) and our frontline (to fight against violations).’ However, in the fight against violations, he apparently forgot about the ‘blood line’ or the ‘lifeline’ quite necessary not to aggravate situations through partiality and bias. He never talked about the importance of human rights education or promoting human rights awareness in all countries.

His final assault was on Myanmar. Although he did not call ‘genocide,’ he denounced the treatment of Rohingyas as ethnic cleansing without mentioning any terrorist group/s within. His call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders undoubtedly should be a common call of all. However, he did not leave any opening for a dialogue with the military leaders or bring back a dialogue between Aung San and Min Aung, the military leader. With a proper mediation, it is not impossible. Calling for a complete overhaul as the young demonstrators idealistically claim might not be realistic.

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s address was brief and uncontroversial this time without mentioning any country or region. It is clear by now perhaps she is not the real author of the Report against Sri Lanka, but someone probably hired by the so-called core-group led by Britain. Her major points were related to the coronavirus pandemic trying to highlight some of the socio-economic disparities and imbalances of policy making that have emerged as a result. The neglect of women, minorities, and the marginalized sections of society were emphasized. But the poor was not mentioned. As a former medical doctor, she also opted to highlight some of the medical issues underpinning the crisis.

Then came the statements from different countries in the first meeting in the following order: Uzbekistan, Colombia, Lithuania, Afghanistan, Poland, Venezuela, Finland, Fiji, Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Vietnam, Belgium, and Morocco. The obvious purposes of these statements were different. Some countries were apparently canvassing for getting into the Human Rights Council at the next turn perhaps for the purpose of prestige. Some others were playing regional politics against their perceived enemies. This was very clear when Lithuania and Poland started attacking Russia.

But there were very sincere human rights presentations as well. One was the statement by the President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. He outlined the devastating effects that Afghanistan had to undergo during the last 40 years, because of foreign interferences. The initial support to Taliban by big powers was hinted. His kind appeal was to the UN was to go ‘beyond discourse to practice’ giving equal chance to the poor and the developing countries to involve without discrimination.


Controversial Presentations

China’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Wang Yi, made his presentation almost at the end of the first day. This is apparently the first time that China had directly addressed the Human Rights Council. Beginning with outlining the devastating repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic he stressed that the world should face the challenges through ‘solidarity and cooperation.’ He broadened the concept to human rights solidarity and cooperation. His expressed views were quite different to the others, particularly to the Western ones.

He frankly said that what he expresses are the views of China on human rights without claiming those are absolute truths or forcing others to believe or implement them. There were four main concepts that he put forward before the member countries. First, he said, “We should embrace a human rights philosophy that centres on the people. The people’s interests are where the human rights cause starts and ends.” Second, he said, “we should uphold both universality and particularity of human rights. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values shared by all humanity and recognized by all countries.” “On the other hand,” he said, “countries must promote and protect human rights in light of their national realities and the needs of their people.”

“Third,” he said, “we should systemically advance all aspects of human rights. Human rights are an all-encompassing concept. They include civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.” He then emphasized, “Among them, the rights to subsistence and development are the basic human rights of paramount importance.” Fourth, “we should continue to promote international dialogue and cooperation on human rights. Global human rights governance should be advanced through consultation among all countries.”

It was on the same first day before China, that the United Kingdom launched its barrage against several countries not sparing Sri Lanka. The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, delivered the statement from top to bottom attacking alleged violating countries on human rights. But there was no mentioning of Israel for the repression of Palestinians or the systemic racism rampaging in the United States, including the 6 January attacks on the Capitol by extremist/terrorist groups.

His first sermon was on Myanmar without acknowledging the British atrocities or mismanagement of this poor and diverse country during the colonial period. He was quite jubilant over implementing sanctions and other restrictions over the country. Many sanctions, in my opinion, are extortions. Undoubtedly, Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders should be released, and democracy restored. This is a task of the whole council and when one or two countries try to grab the credit, there can be obvious reservations of others.

His further scathing attacks were against Belarus, Russia, and China. Some appeared factually correct but not necessarily the approach or the motives genuine. The following is the way he came around Sri Lanka. He said,

“Finally, we will continue to lead action in this Council: on Syria, as we do at each session; on South Sudan; and on Sri Lanka, where we will present a new resolution to maintain the focus on reconciliation and on accountability.”

‘Action’ to him basically means repeatedly passing resolutions, of course imposing economic and other sanctions. He said, “as we do at each session”; like bullying poor or weak countries at each session. Can there be a resolution against Russia or China? I doubt it.

What would be the purpose of presenting a resolution against Sri Lanka? As he said, “to maintain the focus on reconciliation and on accountability.” This will satisfy neither the Tamil militants nor the Sinhalese masses. But it might satisfy the crafty Opposition (proxy of the defeated last government). This is not going to be based on any of the actual measures that Sri Lanka has taken or not taken on reconciliation or accountability. But based on the ‘Authoritarian and Hypocritical Report’ that some anti-Sri Lankans have drafted within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This what I have discussed in my last article.

In this context, successful or not, the statement made by the Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, Dinesh Gunawardena, in rejecting any resolution based on the foxy Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in my concerned opinion, is absolutely correct.


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President’s energy directives ignored by the Power Ministry: Another Point of View



Dr Tilak Siyambalapitiya

Dr Janaka Rathnasiri laments (The Island 19 Feb 2021) that the Power Ministry has ignored the President’s directive to draw 70% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. I saw the approved costs of electricity production for 2019, published by the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL).

PUCSL has also approved the prices to sell electricity to customers. Although various customers pay at various “approved” prices, the average income from such “approved” prices in 2019 was Rs 17.02 per unit. It is not only the Ministry, according to Dr Rathnasiri, ignoring the President; PUCSL is also breaking the law, which says prices and approved costs should be equal.

So there is already an illegal gap of Rs 21.59 minus 17.02 = Rs 4.57 per unit of electricity sold. If electricity prices are not to be increased, as stated by many in the government and PUCSL, let us say the following: Distribution costs should decrease by 0.57 Rs per unit. Generation costs should decrease by Rs 4.00 per unit.

PUCSL also published the approved cost of purchasing or producing electricity from various sources for 2019. The actual energy values were different to what was approved, but let us stick to PUCSL approved figures:

I suggest Dr Rathnasiri fills-up the following table, to show how much electricity will cost in 2030 to produce and deliver, if the President’s 70% target is to be achieved and for PUCSL to abide by the law. Let us assume that electricity requirement in 2030 will be double that of 2019.

Since PUCSL has to save Rs 4 from 13.92, the average selling price for energy should be Rs 13.92 minus 4.00 = Rs 9.92. With a target network loss of 7% (in 2019 it was 8.4%), the average cost of production has to be Rs 9.27 per unit. Eight cages have to be filled-up by Dr Rathnasiri.

In 2012, PUCSL approved the energy cost of electricity produced from coal power to be 6.33 Rs per kWh. In 2019, PUCSL approved 9.89 (56% increase). For renewable energy, it was 13.69 in 2012, and 19.24 in 2019 (a 40% increase, but double the price of electricity from coal fired generation). In 2012, rooftop solar was not paid for: only give and take, but now paid Rs 22, against Rs 9.89 from coal. There seems to be something wrong. The price reductions of renewable energy being promised, being insulated from rupee depreciation, are not happening? Either Sri Lanka must be paying too little for coal, or it may be renewable energy is severely over-priced?

On coal we hear only of some corruption every now and then; so Sri Lanka cannot be paying less than it costs, for coal.


Enough money even to donate

Another reason for the Ministry of Power to ignore the President’s directive may be the Ministry’s previous experience with similar Presidential directives. In 2015, the President at that time cancelled the Sampur coal-fired power plant, and the Ministry faithfully obliged. That President and that Prime Minister then played ball games with more power plants until they were thrown out of power, leaving a two-billion-dollar deficit (still increasing) in the power sector. Not a single power plant of any description was built.

Where is this deficit? You do not have to look far. In the second table, replace 24.43 with 9.89, to reflect what would have happened if Sampur was allowed to be built. The value 12.79 will go down to 8.55, well below the target of Rs 9.27 per unit to produce. Not only would CEB and LECO report profits, but the government too could have asked for an overdraft from CEB to tide over any cash shortfalls in the treasury. All this with no increase in customer prices. Producers of electricity from renewable energy could enjoy the price of 19.24 Rs per unit. And that blooming thing on your rooftop can continue to enjoy Rs 22 per unit. The Minister of Power, whom Dr Rathnasiri wants to replace with an army officer, would have been the happiest.

In the absence of Sampur (PUCSL’s letter signed by Chairman Saliya Mathew confirmed cancellation and asked CEB not to build it), PUCSL approved electricity to be produced at Rs 21.59 and sold at Rs 17.02 per unit. The annual loss would be Rs (21.59 – 17.02) x 15,093 = Rs 69 billion per year of approved financial loss. Sri Lanka has a Telecom regulator, an Insurance regulator, a Banking regulator, who never approve prices below costs. Sometime ago the telecom regulator asked the operators to raise the prices, when operators were proposing to reduce prices amidst a price war. But the electricity industry regulator is different: he approves costs amounting to 27% more than the price, not just once but, but continuously for ten long years !

That is 370 million dollars per year as of 2019, the economy is spending, and for years to come, to burn oil (and say we have saved the environment). Did the Minister of Health say we are short of 160 million dollars to buy 40 million doses of the vaccine? Well, being a former Minister of Power, she now knows which Presidential “order” of 2015 is bleeding the economy of 370 million dollars per year, adequate to buy all vaccines and donate an equal amount to a needy country.

Prices are the production costs approved by PUCSL for 2019. The selling price approved by the same PUCSL was Rs 9.27 per unit.


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Confusion on NGOs and NSOs in Sri Lanka



If you listen to politicians and journalists here, you will hear of that curious creature rajya novana sanvidane, a Non-State Organization (NSO). Where do you get them? In the uninstructed and dead minds of those who use those terms. In the real world, where politicians and journalists have developed minds, there are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). The United Nations is an organization set up by state parties, not by governments. It is true that agents of states, governments, make the United Nations work or fail. Governments may change but not the states, except rarely. When Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia, a new state was formed and was so recognised by the United Nations. However, the LTTE that tried to set up another state was crushed by the established state that it tried to break away from, and the UN had nothing to do with them.

This entirely unnecessary confusion, created out of ignorance, is so destructive that organizations completely loyal to the existing state, are made to be traitorous outfits, for they are ‘non-state organizations’ within the state. There are citizens of each state, but no citizens of any government. Government is but an instrument of the state. In most states there are organizations, neither of the state nor of government: religious organizations including churches. But none of them is beyond the pale of the state.

Those that speak of rajya novana sanvidane give that name partly because they have no idea of the origin of non-governmental organizations. NGOs came into the limelight, as donor agencies, noticed that some governments, in East Africa, in particular, did not have the capacity and the integrity to use the resources that they provided. They construed, about 1970, that NGOs would be a solution to the problem. Little did they realize that some NGOs themselves would become dens of thieves and brigands. I have not seen any evaluation of the performance of NGOs in any country. There was an incomplete essay written by Dr. Susantha Gunatilleka. NGOs are alternatives to the government, not to the state.

Our Constitution emphatically draws a distinction between the government and state, and lays down that the President is both Head of Government and Head of State (Read Article 2 and Article 30 of the Constitution.) It is as head of state that, he/she is the Commander of the Armed Forces, appoints and receives ambassadors and addresses Parliament annually, when a prorogued Parliament, reconvenes. He/she presides over the Cabinet as head of government. The distinction is most clear, in practice, in Britain where Queen Elizabeth is the head of state and Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and head of government. However, in principle, Johnson is the Queen’s First Minister appointed by the sovereign, and resigns by advising her of his decision to do so.

In the US and in India the term ‘state’ has special significance. In India there is a ‘rajya sabha’ (the Council of States) whose members represent constituent States and Union Territories. Pretty much the same is true of the United States. In the US, executive power is vested in the President and heads the administration, government in our parlance. The Head of State does not come into the Constitution but those functions that one associates with a head of state are in the US performed by the President of the Republic. The US President does not speak of my state (mage rajaya) but of my administration, (mage anduva). Annually, he addresses Congress on the State of the Union. Our present President must be entirely familiar with all this, having lived there as a citizen of the US for over a decade. It is baffling when someone speaks of a past state as a traitor to that same state. It is probable that a government was a traitor to the state. ‘Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their (States’) enemies, giving them aid and comfort’. That a state was a traitor to the same state is gobbledygook.

Apart from probable confusion that we spoke of in the previous paragraph, it is probable that a president and other members of a government, including members of the governing party here, find it grandiloquent to speak of his/her/their state (mage/ape rajaya), rather than my government (mage anduva) or Sirisena anduva’ and not Sirisena state; it was common to talk of ‘ape anduva’ in 1956; politicians in 1956 were far more literate then than they are now.

When translating from another language, make sure that you understand a bit of the history of the concept that you translate. A public school in the US is not the same as a public school in the UK.






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