K. Godage traces some of Sri Lanka's post independence developments through the prism of 55 years of post-freedom relations with India
"We kissed the hand we cannot cut"
Whereas the freedom struggle in India was confrontational, Lanka adopted quite a different approach. The Sinhala and Tamil middle classes, having studied in England and some being Anglican Christians, were more than comfortable with the British. They extracted concessions, including the right of 'home rule', on an incremental basis from the 19th century onwards till final independence in 1948.

The only rebellion against British rule took place in 1818 soon after the Kandyan kingdom was ceded to the British. This rebellion was put down with unparalleled ferocity using mercenaries from Malaya.

Following the leader
In keeping with the old saying 'we must kiss the hand we cannot cut', our leaders collaborated with the British. Some even took pride in wearing 'top hat and tails' to take the salute of the armed services on independence day. They even held a 'ball' with ladies in evening gowns and men in 'black tie' on the eve of independence day, far removed, no doubt, from the manner in which nationalistic Indians celebrated their independence from the British.

It came as no surprise then that though we had received our independence from Britain, we became dependent on the former colonial power for our defence. The government of the first Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake signed a defence agreement with the United Kingdom permitting Britain to use the Trincomalee harbour and the oil tank facility which the British had constructed during the Second World War. It was, at the time, thought that the defence arrangement with Britain would secure the country from perceived Indian hegemonism.

The Pannikar doctrine (named after K.M. Pannikar) emphasized the importance of the Indian Ocean for the defence of India. According to Pannikar, this 'vulnerability' made it necessary for Lanka or Ceylon to become an integral part of India's defence structure. The British had kept out other imperialist powers from the Indian Ocean in order to protect their interests. The perception was that India considered itself the successor to the British Raj and therefore sought to use the same principle to incorporate other states and keep out external forces from the subcontinent. This, at the time, was seen as part of India's strategy to establish its hegemony and dominance over the region, prompting the leaders of Ceylon seek protection under a defence agreement with Britain.

Despite this defence agreement, the leaders of the two countries enjoyed the most cordial of relations, both personal and official. The only irritant to both countries concerned the status of the indentured labour that had been brought to Ceylon by the British to work on the tea plantations. We shall return to it, but for the present let us record the fact that relations between the two countries were as close as they could have been at the time. Particular mention needs to be made of the close personal relationship that existed between Indian High Commissioner Desai and his Cambridge friend, the Prime Minister of Ceylon, the colourful and irrepressible Sir John Kotelawala.

Ceylon sought to play a role in the politics of the region and also champion the rights of the new world emerging from colonial bondage. Despite the defence agreement with Britain, it was Prime Minister Kotelawala who firmly stated that the country would not align itself to any bloc, nor go with a begging bowl to any country. He stood for Asian solidarity and was responsible for calling the meeting of the 'Colombo Powers'; India, Pakistan, Burma, Indonesia and Ceylon. This meeting, which eventually led to the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, would not have come about had it not been for the joint efforts of Nehru and the anti-communist Sir John Kotelawala. It was their close cooperation despite their political differences that resulted in the Bandung Conference becoming a reality. Theirs was a combined voice for peace and coexistence in the world during the second decade of the Cold War.

During the 1956 elections, Kotelawala was defeated and Solomon Bandaranaike assumed office, forming a coalition with a motley 'crowd' of socialists and Sinhala nationalists. The Marxists also supported the coalition. Bandaranaike was a liberal in the mould of Nehru. In the circumstances, 1956 saw the beginning of a new chapter in Indo-Lanka relations. The government of Bandaranaike abrogated the defence pact with Britain and sought to cultivate relations with countries of the communist bloc, stating that the country was now 'non-aligned' and 'committed to the hilt' and not neutral.

Bandaranaike, the 'wordsmith', was of the view that non-alignment and the 'panchasila' principles would provide the necessary security for the country. Panditji himself lived to see the humiliation of his country by the Chinese who were of a different persuasion and disposition. Herein was a lesson for Lanka, which it never learnt. Sri Lanka continued with its commitment to non-alignment, depending for its security on the goodwill of its neighbour. In the years that immediately followed, the two countries cultivated the closest of relations. This, despite the fact that Sri Lanka maintained a friendship with China, which had gone to war with India in 1962.

Friendly agreement
The death of Panditji was as great a loss to Lanka as it was to India. He was respected and loved as one of the great leaders produced by the subcontinent. He was certainly not just an Indian statesman; he belonged to the world and Lanka indeed was proud of him. He was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shashtri as prime minister (1964-66), during whose tenure the principal irritant in Indo-Ceylon/Lanka relations - that of Indian immigrants - was resolved.

Indentured labour from South India was brought to work on our tea and rubber plantations. The issue of Indian immigrants became an intractable problem between the two countries in 1953 when India resiled from its position that these immigrants were Indian nationals. It was only in 1964 that an agreement was reached between prime ministers Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Shastri. This agreement was supplemented by another between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Bandaranaike in 1974 with India agreeing to take back 600,000 and Lanka agreeing to grant citizenship to 373,000. The agreement could not, however, be fully implemented leaving behind a festering problem.

The early 70s witnessed certain developments which changed the power balance and the structure of the subcontinent following the creation of Bangladesh. India had emerged as the predominant power in the subcontinent after the dismemberment of Pakistan. Small nations such as Lanka found India becoming more assertive. Since India made it obvious to the smaller neighbours that its security took precedence over theirs, the strengthening of its security forces and growing self-confidence began to be perceived as a threat by smaller nations on the subcontinent. The 70s also witnessed the 'intrusion' of superpower rivalry into the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, despite the perceived threat, the governments of Lanka were wholly in step with India. It was Sri Lanka that took the initiative, no doubt inspired by India, to have the Indian Ocean declared a zone of peace.

In 1974, Indira Gandhi visited Lanka. The warm personal ties between Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi were evidence that Indo-Lanka relations could not have been better. This factor solely contributed to the settling of the thorny problem of Kachchativu, a little islet off the Jaffna peninsula which had a Catholic shrine, and was claimed by both countries. India conceded that it was Sri Lankan territory and withdrew her claim.

The year 1977 marked another watershed in relations between our two countries. Mrs. Bandaranaike was defeated at the polls and a new right wing government was elected to office. At the time the 70-year-old Jayewardene came into office as prime minister, the Indian prime minister was the 80-year-old Morarji Desai. They soon became firm friends. Their respective political opponents were Mrs. Bandaranaike and Mrs. Gandhi. Whether it was this factor alone that contributed to the special relationship one does not know, but the two leaders had as warm a friendship as that between the two women prime ministers.

The new government of J.R. Jayewardene broke with the past and embarked on a domestic and foreign policy that was about ten years ahead of its time and gave India cause for concern.

Paranoia lingers
The Indian establishment, which was obsessively security conscious during this period, considered the pro-West policies of the J.R. government, such as opening up the economy to the west, granting a long lease to the U.S. to establish a Voice of America relay station, offering the 100 oil tanks in Trincomalee to a U.S. based company, among others, as serious threats to its security.-Courtesy Historical Continuities

It is cheaper this day to be lunching out!
By Vidushi Seneviratne and Ruwanthi Herat Gunaratne
You've heard the continuos grumbling. Flour prices are up, bread prices are up. Don't even think of buying vegetables during the rainy season. The cost of living is killing us - that's the people's consensus. But has it indeed reached a point where a home cooked meal can be considered an extravagance? We tried to find out.

With more and more working mothers it really is not surprising that most families find it easier to purchase their dinners from nearby food outlets. For there is nothing that they don't seem to stock. It is possible to even purchase a single hopper and 'Lunu Miris' adequate for one. We even saw one boiled egg being purchased over the counter.

Stringhoppers, Hoppers and Gothamba Rotis have been firm favourites. But today hardly anyone seems to be preparing these 'once everyday' meals at home. Mr. J. M. Nazeer has seen a considerable increase in the numbers who frequent his family owned food outlet 'Hotel de Pilawoos' down Galle Road during the past few years. "I believe that it's due more to the fact that people find it easier to purchase food from out than make it at home."

Mr. Nazeer further says that weekday evenings are particularly busy as most simply order their food to their vehicles. "We have schoolboys coming in throughout the day, the office folk come in for lunch, and purchase their dinners too. I believe that the growth is mainly due to the fact that the Galle Road was reopened."

Mr. Ratnanathan, the General Manager of Shanthi Vihar, a vegetarian restaurant down Havelock Road thought differently. "The fact remains that we indulge in mass production. Therefore we purchase all the ingredients at a wholesale rate. As a result of this our production cost is much less than that of an average family." According to him their patrons visit in the morning in time for breakfast. They then purchase their lunch and don't fail to stop by to pick up something for dinner as they leave work.

The fact that Shanthi Vihar provides a delivery service also helps. "We find that instead of bringing their lunch from home most of those working in nearby offices feel it easier and at times cheaper to ask us to deliver hot lunches to their door."

The situation was much the same almost everywhere we visited. But is it true that eating out on a regular basis is actually easier on one's wallet? Mrs. S. de Silva, a working mother of two children felt that she did so because it was convenient and not because it was cheaper. Mrs. I. Fernando agrees; "I strongly believe that preparing all three meals at home is much cheaper than purchasing it from out. It's the convenience factor that really matters."

But others disagree. A mechanic, Richard, says "my wife says it is cheaper eating out sometimes - considering the price of gas etc.," Our facts bear it out. See box story for comparison. It is easier to have lunch outside (at reasonable rates) than prepare at home, it appears.

Cost comparison; eating out and eating at home
Our approximate calculation for a day's meal for a family of four.
(Taking into account the price of fuel for home-cooked meals)
(Pittu, Katta Sambol, Coconut Milk and Fish)
At home: Rs.160
From a food outlet: Rs.200
(Rice, Dhal, Chicken, Greens and Beans)
At home: Rs. 230
From a food outlet: Rs.200
(String hoppers, Fish, Potato Curry and Sambol)
At home: Rs.180
From a food outlet: Rs.250

Living? How about the cost of dying?
The rise in the cost of living has got everyone talking but what of the cost of dying? The prices the funeral directors charge for a complete package, including picking the body of the deceased from the home or the hospital, embalming and renting out the parlour can cost anything between Rs.7,500 to Rs.450,000. A wreath costs a minimum of Rs.500.

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