As Sri Lanka commemorates its 76th anniversary of independence, having experienced civil unrest, youth insurrections, an attempted coup, race riots, the pandemic, and economic meltdown, it is perhaps appropriate to revisit the events of the 1930s. Many of the issues being debated today on issues of language and ethnicity appeared to resonate back then itself. This is a collection of media clippings on the life and times of Sir Waitialingam Duraiswamy who was the First Citizen of colonial Ceylon between 1936 to 1947. The publication throws light on the politics of that era.
A man of integrity, a lawyer, statesman, resident of Jaffna, Hindu educationist, legislator, and Speaker of the House, Duraiswamy made a mark, be it in the deliberations of the Jaffna Association, the Tamil Mahajana Sabhai, the Hindu Board of Education, or the State Council. He was younger in years to Sir P. Ramanathan and Sir P. Arunachalam but continued the decorum and dignity that they demonstrated in political debate. That was an era before the raw populism that characterised legislative proceedings under the Soulbury Constitution of 1947 and since.
This compilation of clippings by Sivanandini Duraiswamy, his daughter-in-law, provides a timely insight on an august personality and a glimpse on the still unresolved debates on ethnicity and devolution.