The Sunday Leader

All National Struggles Remembered On Independence Day

by Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka celebrated its 69th Independence Day yesterday in accordance with Lipass/Joshua Louis Law to commemorate its internal political independence from British rule on that day in 1948. The day, February 4 is a national holiday in Sri Lanka.
Independence Day is celebrated all over the country through flag-hoisting ceremonies, dances, parades and performances. The main celebration took place in Colombo, where the President Maithripala Sirisena raised the national flag and delivered a nationally televised speech.
Next year’s independence, in other words the 70th independence of Mother Sri Lanka, would be held with a prime focus on culture and heritage.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the Fairway National Literary Awards 2016, stressed that next year, the State will step in to ensure an even more successful FGLF, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence.
“Next year is the 70th anniversary of our independence. And just before that will be the Galle Literary Festival. The state will step in to have a very successful GLF on the 70th anniversary of our independence. The different literary works in the three languages show how we have matured since independence, and the separate identity we have established, and how we carve out a niche in the world itself,” he added.
Philatelists and numismatics expressed confidence that next year, coupled with the Independence Day celebrations, the country could do much to attract more foreigners.

Many struggles

Many national struggles were made in the history of Sri Lanka. And on the Independence Day all of these are remembered and celebrated. But the independence movement against the British is especially recalled.
In the President’s speech, he highlighted the achievements of the government during the past year, raised important issues and gave a call for further development.
The President also paid tribute to the national heroes of Sri Lanka, observed two minutes of silence in their memory, challenged and vowed to eradicate separatism.
A great military parade was also made. In recent years it showcases the power of the army, navy, air force, police and the civil defence force, and the commitment, bravery, national unity and determination to achieve peace is recollected in the minds of people.
At the dawn of independence, Sri Lanka inherited from British a well defined currency system. The system as at 1948 had evolved over a period of 150 years, with predominating British interest, but with a local bias. The latter was seen in the decimalization of currency in 1872; a clear acknowledgement of a system familiar to the people of the country and better understood by them. That decimal division of the Rupee was inherited by independent Sri Lanka in 1948, according to Archivist G. P. S. H. de Silva.
At independence, the country had realized the need to replace the existing colonial economy with a national economy. For its realization and the full employment of economic resources of the country a new mechanism was needed. That mechanism came in the form of the Central Bank, which was established in terms of the Monetary Law Act, No. 58 of 1949.
Nineteen days before the dawn of the Independence Day, Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake’s cabinet had not taken a decision in regard to the hosting of the National Flag on February 4, 1948.
Member of Parliament for Batticaloa, Mudaliyar A. L. Sinne Lebbe moved a motion in parliament. It read: “That this house is of the opinion that the Royal Standard of King Sri Vikrama Rajasingha depicting a yellow lion passant holding a sword in its right paw on a red background, which was removed to England after the convention of 1815, should once again be as the official flag of free Lanka.”
According to author H. M. Mervyn Herath, this motion was seconded by the ‘Father of the Labour Movement’ and Member of Parliament for Colombo Central A. E. Gunasinghe.
At this debate many proposals were made. Winding up the debate Premier D. S. Senanayake said that England is transferring sovereignty to the people of this island. “I want England also to replace the Lion Flag along with the sovereignty that they were giving back. It is for this main reason that we intend hoisting this flag on Independence Day.”
This article will focus about the number of stamps that depicts the significant milestones especially when it comes to the Independence Day.
Sri Lanka Philatelic Advisory Committee Member Anura Samaraweera told The Sunday Leader that the country could do much more when it comes to issuing stamps related to the Independence Day.
He believes that the island nation is renowned for its stamps. However, when it comes to Independence Day celebrations, stamps were inadequate.

National Heroes

D. S. Senanayake (1884 – 1952) was an independence activist who served as the first Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1947 to 1952. He played an active role in the independence movement, first supporting his brother F. R. Senanayake. After his brother’s death in 1926, D. S. took his place in the Legislative Council and led the independence movement. His most distinctive contribution to the nation was his agricultural policy. He is known as the ‘Father of the Nation.’
F. R. Senanayake (1882 – 1926) was a Sri Lankan politician and independence activist. A Barrister-at-Law at Lincoln’s Inn, London, he was a leading member of the Sri Lankan independence movement in the early parts of the 20th century and was an active member of the Legislative Council.
Sir James Peiris JP (1856 – 1930) was a prominent figure in the Sri Lankan independence movement and a Vice President of the Legislative Council. Peiris led the campaign for a Royal Commission of Inquiry and the vindication of the reputations of those who had been falsely accused during the riots of 1915.
He initiated a memorandum to be drawn in great secrecy along with other prominent members of society in order to bring it to the attention of the King and his majesty’s government. It was taken to England hidden in the sole of a shoe by E. W. Perera. As a result of this, the governor Sir Robert Chalmers was recalled.
D. R. Wijewardena (1886 – 1950), was a Sri Lankan press baron who was a leader in the Sri Lankan independence movement. A successful entrepreneur, he established the Lake House newspapers and played a major role in the independence movement. He organized the first deputation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies with H. J. C. Perera along with E. W. Perera, as a result of which the Ceylonese were given a concession of a seat in the British dominated Legislative Council.
Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, KCMG, KC (1851 – 1930) was a Solicitor-General and a Tamil political leader, who was nominated as an unofficial Member of the Legislative Council from 1879 to 1892.
Ramanathan was elected representing the educated Ceylonese to the Legislative Council of Ceylon by a sweeping majority in 1911. In 1915, when the British Governor had several Sinhalese leaders imprisoned, Ramanathan came to their rescue and fought against the tyranny of the British Governor.
E. W. Perera (1875 – 1953) was a Sri Lankan barrister, politician and freedom fighter. He was known as the ‘Lion of Kotte’ and was a senator and a prominent figure in the Sri Lankan independence movement.
Abandoning a promising career at the Bar, E. W. Perera undertook the task of travelling to England to present a memorandum to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, pleading for the repeal of Martial Law and the release of the leaders who were in detention. Sir D. B. Jayatilaka and Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, joined him in this successful mission.
It was also E. W. Perera, who with the help of D. R. Wijewardena, the press baron, traced the location of the banner of the last King of Kandy, Sri Vickrama Rajasinghe, to Royal Hospital Chelsea. The recovered banner became the flag of the Dominion of Ceylon on its independence in 1948.
Anagarika Dharmapala (1864 – 1933) was a leading figure of Buddhism in the 20th century. Dharmapala was one of the primary contributors to the Buddhist revival of the 19th century that led to the creation of Buddhist institutions to match those of the missionaries (schools, the YMBA, etc.), and to the independence movement of the 20th century.
C. W. W. Kannangara (1884 – 1969) was a Sri Lankan lawyer and politician. Rising up the ranks of Sri Lanka’s movement for independence in the early part of the 20th century, he became the first Minister of Education in the State Council of Ceylon. Known as the ‘Father of Free Education’ in the country, his introduction of free education in 1944 opened up education to children of all levels of society.
Dr. Tuan Burhanuddin Jayah (1890 – 1960) was a Sri Lankan educationalist, politician, diplomat and freedom fighter. He entered politics in 1924 and was elected to the Legislative Council to represent the minority communities. He worked in unison with members who represented other communities. He served in the State Council from 1936 to 1947.
Captain Henry Pedris CTG (1888 – 1915) was a militia officer and a prominent socialite in colonial Ceylon who was executed by British officials for alleged incitement of racial riots in 1915, which were proven false.
His execution at a young age was viewed as extremely unjust by most Sri Lankans. It hastened the movement towards independence for Sri Lanka and he became a martyr providing motivation to those who pioneered the movement.
Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam CCS (1853 – 1924) was a Tamil political leader in Ceylon and a member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council.

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