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Who built the Indus Valley civilisation? Genetics is about to answer a question that has vexed historians for a century. The author examines the range of possible answers and their implications
Published Date: 24/12/2017 (Sunday)
Who built the Indus Valley civilisation? There are few questions more fundamental to our understanding of Indian history than this. On the answer to it hang many details of the country’s past: How did we come to be as we are — culturally, ethnically and linguistically? And what explains the way we are spread out geographically in the subcontinent? Although this question has always been asked, the correct answer to it has proved resistant to the wiles and charms of historians, archaeologists, linguists and philologists for nearly a century, ever since Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were discovered in the 1920s. The fault
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Beyond the Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic binary
Published Date: 24/12/2017 (Sunday)
Considering Sri Lanka’s battle-scarred history, provoked in good measure by the politics of language, news of a Telugu-speaking candidate contesting polls would seem unlikely. However, a careful look at the past shows us the layers within the Sri Lankan society that seldom get captured in the Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic binary that the country is often portrayed in. A new political outfit — Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) — formed by the supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has nominated a Telugu-speaking candidate from Anuradhapura for the local polls scheduled for February. An ancient capital city with heritage
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Book review: The Zionist project
Published Date: 24/12/2017 (Sunday)
The book makes a significant contribution to the understanding of India-Israel relations and Gandhi’s opposition to a nation based on religion. PROFESSOR P.R. Kumaraswamy of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, is an eminent scholar who has studied for years with singular passion and diligence Israel and its relations with its neighbours. The title of the book is rather puzzling, but the author gave an explanation for this when the book was released recently at JNU: He starts writing at 3:30 a.m. when ideas and words, floating in the supersensible Platonic world, come to him on their own.
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WTO'S role crucial for Sri Lanka - Industry and Commerce Minister
Published Date: 23/12/2017 (Saturday)
Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen says the role of rules based multilateral trading system led by World Trade Organization (WTO) has become more crucial in paving a level playing field for its members, in particular for small economies such as Sri Lanka. Minister in a message to the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference held from 10th to 13th December in Buenos Aires, Argentina said slow growth in trade, challenges from the digital
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Sri Lanka’s Megalithic Burial Grounds
Published Date: 23/12/2017 (Saturday)
In September last year, people walking along the gravel road leading to Devalapola Ananda Vidyalaya in Minuwangoda noticed a line of brick-like clay emerge gradually from the soil. Curious, they discovered that it continued for a few feet, and that it was something which was in place before the road came to be. They contacted the Archeological Department, which was how Dr. Mangala Katugampola, a senior lecturer at the University of Kelaniya and one of the Directors of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF), began excavations in the area. The excavations
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Cremation of Viharathypathy between Muniuyappar Temple and Memorial tower – Strong opposition from Public Organizations
Published Date: 23/12/2017 (Saturday)
Public Organizations and people have protested strongly to cremating the former Thero in charge of Nagavihare Jaffna between the Muniyappar Temple and the memorial for people killed during the Tamil Research Conference. They have asked in writing, the CM and Th Jaffna Municipal Council to intervene and stop this outrage. Tamil National Cultural Council stated that Cremating the Thero’s body in close proximity will hurt the feelings of Tamil people. Whenever Hindus are demised, their bodies will be cremated in crematoriums
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Democracy is best practised when elections are held on schedule
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
Nominations closed yesterday for one of Sri Lanka’s biggest ever elections to 341 Municipal, Urban Council and Pradeshiya Sabhas. Under the new electoral system and the latest gazette notification on the polls the number of candidates to be elected will virtually double from 4,486 to 8,356. Sixty percent of them will be elected on a ward basis while 40 percent will be on the old proportional representation system. This mix is widely acclaimed as a good balance and practised in many democratic countries. More significantly 25 percent of the candidates on
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Punishing voters for electing rogues
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
Anticipate reports of violence-including murders-related to the elections, in the coming days Why are people so keen to get nominations for themselves or their relatives, friends and supporters? Ironically the candidates too know that people know what their intentions and objectives are Others want to see their party and their favourite candidates winning, but without knowing why The television channels showed on Monday a man weeping after his name allegedly had been struck off from a nomination paper despite a promise to include him in the list by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
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An urgent wake up call to civil society on corruption
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
Our wake up: The village farmers’ tale “Wetath, niyarath, goyam ka num, kaata pavasami eh amaruwa,” is a commonly used saying of the village farmers. This saying adapted with the extension to read as, “If the fence, the bund, the mud, the water and the fertilisers, all start eating the paddy, O god, to whom can the farmers complain?” is an apt phraseology to describe the unfortunate position of the Sri Lanka citizenry are facing today.
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NPC to hold special meeting Establishing special NPC unit to probe torture
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
The National Police Commission is scheduled to hold a special meeting today (22) to discuss the proposed establishment of a special unit, within the Commission, to receive, record, investigate, institute disciplinary action and put forward for prosecution, complaints regarding cases of torture. Article 155G(2) of the Constitution allows for the Commission to establish such a procedure to entertain and investigate any complaint made by a member of the public including an aggrieved party against a Police Officer, and provide legal redress.
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Why Is Sri Lanka Defying the United Nations?
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
Lately, Colombo has intensified its defiance of UN resolutions calling for investigations into war crimes committed during the latter stages of the civil war. In late November, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena declared that “There won’t be electric chairs, international tribunals or foreign judges. That book is closed.” Earlier, in October, Colombo sought and obtained the help of British parliamentarian Lord Naseby to downplay a report by the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts, which in March 2011 found “credible allegations” that as many as 40,000 civilians may have been
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UN condemns Australia's forced return of asylum seeker to Sri Lanka
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
The United Nations’ refugee agency has condemned Australia’s forced return of an asylum seeker to Sri Lanka without any assessment of his claim for protection, saying the man is at serious risk of persecution in his homeland. The UNHCR had sought assurances from the Australian government the man would not be removed from the country and would be allowed to apply for protection.
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Sampanthan hospitalized
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
It was reported R. Sampanthan TNA leader was admitted to a private hospital last evening after a sudden illness. According to one of his relative, Mr Sampanthan arrived from Trincomalle evening after a lengthy discussions with the TNA members on nominations for the local government election and he was exhausted yesterday. “The main symptom was said to be tiredness. He has had long discussions with the party members in Trincomalle and this may have led to being tired. He needs rest. He is currently undergoing medical tests and slowly recovering” he said.
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Britain needs 'change in culture' to stamp out modern slavery
Published Date: 22/12/2017 (Friday)
Police and prosecutors in Britain are taking the fight to human traffickers and slavemasters, but the country needs a "change in culture" to end modern slavery, the UK's anti-slavery tsar said. Kevin Hyland, appointed independent commissioner in 2014 as part of Britain's landmark Modern Slavery Act, said more cases of slavery were being investigated and taken to court as police learn to enforce the tough anti-slavery laws at their disposal.
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Thousands got killed or went missing in both Sinhala and Tamil insurrections
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
They sat in the baking sun: Sometimes through the cold of the night facing dangers, amid the dust and pollution of the roadside. For approximately twenty years, family members of those who disappeared during and after Sri Lanka's civil war in the South have been protesting continuously at various locations across the country. Now less and less people come. May be parents have died or they are satisfied with compensations. At the same time, the civil war in the North and the same suffering or more, spread into the Tamil homeland too.
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Sri Lanka urged to have roadmap to meet human rights commitments
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
Despite Sri Lanka co-sponsoring the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution No. 30/1 in September 2015, progress in fulfilling commitments therein has slowed to a glacial pace, Amnesty International said today. Delays have affected key issues include guaranteeing truth and accountability on the issues of enforced disappearances – sparking months-long protests by families of the disappeared in the north and east of the country.
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Voter apathy at elections
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
The Tamil media has recently quoted Deputy Elections Commissioner M.M. Mohamed as saying that the voters who do not use their franchise should be fined as in some other countries. Justifying his suggestion Mr. Mohamed has stated that the State spends through the Election Commission a huge amount of money at elections on the premise that all eligible voters would vote and that a part of it is wasted as many voters do not vote.
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Voters can’t choose candidates under new laws, says PAFFREL
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
New local government elections law had deprived voters of the opportunity to vote for candidates of their choice, Rohana Hettiarachchi, executive director, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said.. \"It’s an unfortunate situation, particularly against the backdrop of the number of representatives being doubled.\"
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Defence rentals cost Rs. 5 bn yearly COSTLY DECISION BY PREVIOUS REGIME FIFTEEN BUILDINGS RENTED OUT BY ARMY
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
The abrupt and unplanned decision taken by the previous regime to remove the Defence Headquarters from Colombo has cost an annual rent of Rs. 5 bn for 15 buildings, the defence forces are occupying at present. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who was speaking at a press brief held at the SLFP headquarters yesterday evening, said President Maithripala Sirisena had revealed this to the Cabinet, at the recently held weekly Cabinet meeting.
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How Rajapaksaism destroyed the SLFP
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
There was no Machiavellian nuanced statecraft. There was no Dudley Senanayakian transparency and honesty. There was no Jayewardenesque stoicism. There was not even lofty but empty rhetoric of the likes of SWRD Bandaranaike. There was no veiled brilliance of a shrewd leader; only undisguised greed for power and unremarkable exercise of it was visible and this unkind spectacle was being witnessed by a wretched citizenry of a nation tired of waiting for the manifestation of a messiah.
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The corrupt quartet in Washington Forum: Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
The media took time to report on the inaugural meeting of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) held over three days last week (December 4 to 6), at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington. There was no advance media coverage of the Washington gathering and even the government would appear to have kept mum about its participation in it. The Global Forum was hosted by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom with support from the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (SARI). Its sole purpose is to help four countries – Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine – to recover their public assets stolen due to government corruption.
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Plain-speaking Donald Trump welcome
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
US President Donald Trump has been rather effusive in his praise of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling him a great leader. Now, in his first National Security Strategy, unveiled on Monday, Trump has described India as a “leading global power”. This is a huge improvement on President Barack Obama’s last NSS document which had called India a “regional provider of security”, and, prior to that, on the 2010 NSS, which had termed India one of the “21st century centers of influence.” In other words, under Modi, the American perception of India has undergone a vast change for the better.
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In rallies and fiery speeches, the former lawyer had called for land for landless Dalits and led them in a pledge to boycott dirty, menial jobs such as cleaning toilets
Published Date: 21/12/2017 (Thursday)
The victory of a Dalit activist in elections in India's Gujarat state is a boost to efforts to secure land for the lower caste community and free them from the dirty jobs traditionally thrust upon them, campaigners said. Jignesh Mevani, 36, won by more than 19,000 votes over his rival from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Vadgam in north Gujarat, state officials said Monday. Mevani contested elections for the first time, standing as an independent candidate just over a
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Security sector reforms in Sri Lanka Reorientation, not reduction is key-Part II
Published Date: 20/12/2017 (Wednesday)
Last week we discussed the security sector reforms carried out by the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration and the reasons why he didn't and could not reduce the size of the Security Forces as requested by the international community, as well as some sections of the civil society. We established that a sudden reduction of the Security Forces would not have been feasible economically, socially or politically.
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Army releases more land in Mullaitivu
Published Date: 20/12/2017 (Wednesday)
Mullaitivu District Secretary Rupavathy Ketheeswaran has announced that 158 acres of land area which has been released from the possession of Army would be handed over to the legitimate owners on 28 December. According to Ketheeswaran, Army has handed over 158 acres of land cleared of mines to her, to be returned to the rightful owners.
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