Wednesday, August 14, 2013

  • Unlike the Sri Lankan Tamils living largely in the North and Eastern Provinces of the country, the Tamils in Sri Lanka’s Central Province — often referred to as Hill country or Upcountry — have more recent links with India. 
  • In the early 19th century the British, who had colonised Sri Lanka, brought them from south India as workforce for the plantations, mostly tea.
  • The ethnic war in the northern parts of the country put the spotlight on Tamils in and around  Jaffna, Mullaitivu, and Kilinochchi. 
  • But plantation Tamils — constituting about five per cent of Sri Lanka’s population — get little attention.
  • The High Commission of India in Sri Lanka has been offering some assistance to the community, but it is dwarfed by their basic needs in regard to livelihood and living conditions.

File:Sri Lanka - Ethnicity 2012.png
  • The agreement — signed by former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and her Indian counterpart Lal Bahadur Shastri — sought to repatriate over five lakh Tamils of Indian origin, and grant Sri Lankan citizenship to about three lakh. 
  • The remaining Tamils left in the central province gradually obtained citizenship in the 1980s.
  • On the one hand they are citizens of Sri Lanka, at least going by the books. On the other, with most basic facilities out of reach, the plantation community has little reason to feel citizen enough.

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