In 1948, when Sri Lanka (then Ceylon)1 gained political independence from Britain, the knowledgeable observer would have felt confident in predicting that the country would quickly adjust to its new sovereign and independent status. Unlike India, Sri Lanka attained independence rather untraumatically. Practically speaking, Sri Lanka’s independence followed on the coat-tails of the Indian struggle. The British left amicably and were perceived as a trustworthy ally by both Sinhalese and Tamil political elites. Sri Lanka enjoyed a high literacy rate and a politically sophisticated electorate which had exercised universal adult franchise since the early 1930s. In the early 1980s, it was still common for Sri Lanka to be labelled a ‘model Third World democracy’ with a robust parliamentary system which regularly voted the incumbent party out of office. Although there were debates between ‘welfareists’ and ‘economic liberals’ over the role of the state in the economy (Moore 1990), the overall quality of life was high. Indeed, Sri Lanka was an envied anomaly because of its ability to maintain such a relatively high standard of living despite its low GNP per capita.2


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 8.
    Cited in David Dunham and Sisira Jayasuriya, ‘Is All So Well with the Economy and with the Rural Poor?,’ Pravada, vol. 5, no 10&11 (1998) 24.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Nisha Arunatilake, Sisira Jayasuriya, and Saman Kelegama, The Economic Cost of the War in Sri Lanka, Research Studies: Macroeconomic Policy and Planning Series No. 13 (Colombo: Institute of Policy Studies, January 2000)Google Scholar
  3. 59.
    US Department of State (2001) Department of State Human Rights Reports for 2000 February 2001, http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/srilanka.html/reports/srilanka.htmlGoogle Scholar
  4. 79.
    Jane’s Intelligence (2000). Sentinel-South Asia November 1999–April 2000, www.janes.comGoogle Scholar
  5. 86.
    A. K. Menon, ‘The Other Battle Field,’ India Today, 15 October 1991: 99;Google Scholar
  6. A. K. Menon, The Hindu, 6 September 1991: 1;Google Scholar
  7. A. K. Menon, Frontline reprinted in Christian Worker 2nd & 3rd Quarter, 1991: xvi.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kenneth D. Bush 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth D. Bush
    • 1
  1. 1.St Paul UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations