Ponnambalam Ramanathan: An equal society for all | Daily News


Ponnambalam Ramanathan: An equal society for all

The eighty sixth death anniversary of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan was celebrated on the 30th instant in Galle. His grand nephew Minister D M Swaminathan was the Chief Guest. Had Sir Ponnambalam lived he would have passed his 165th year. He was born on April 16, 1851. He was a grandson of Mudliyar Coomarasamy being a son of his daughter Sellachi Ammiyar. He was the second son of Mudliyar Ponnambalam. His brother Ponnambalam Arunachalam too was an equally distinguished leader who was in the forefront of the Sri Lanka freedom struggle.

Legislative Council

Ramanathan had his early education at the Colombo Academy, now Royal College and in Madras Presidency College. He returned to Ceylon and became an Advocate in the Colombo Bar from 1879. At the age of 28 years he was nominated to the unofficial member seat in the Legislative Council by James Longdon.

Twenty four years later during Governor Sir Henry Blake’s period his distinguished brother Ponnambalam Arunachalam too was a member of the Ceylon Civil Service, Barrister-at-Law was nominated to the Legislative Council. This seat in the Legislative Council was held earlier by their grandfather. Ramanathan was the unofficial leader of the Legislative Council. He served as the Solicitor General and in 1903.

Tamil politicians

He was honoured by being appointed as a King’s Counsel in Ceylon. He won the seat in the legislative council for educated Ceylonese defeating a reputed Sinhalese Western Physician Dr Marcus Fernando. During the period of Muslim and Sinhala riots in 1915 Governor Robert Chalmers declared martial law and ordered the military to arrest all the Sinhala leaders. Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam undertook a risky sea voyage to England to represent matters to the King on behalf of the Sinhalese leaders. As a result all the detainees were released. On his return to the island the Sinhala people carried him in a palanquin from the Colombo jetty to his Ward Place residence. It is worthwhile to remind the present day Tamil politicians when the Ceylonese felt the necessity for self government and decided to form the Ceylon National Congress Colombo seat was assured to him and was unanimously chosen to be the leader. He was knighted at 70 years and became an Unofficial Member in the Legislative Council.

The Ponnambalam Ramanathan, and Arunachalam, ideology and their views for a true Sri Lankan base society are worth emulation for today’s ethnic centred leaders to create an equal society for all. I quote from a speech delivered by Arunachalam at the Legislative Chamber presided by Governor Sir Henry Blake on January 8, 1906. “It is sincerely creditable to us to remain in such profound ignorance of the history of our motherland and to be so indifferent to our past and surroundings. It is a great loss, for not only is the history of Ceylon among the oldest, most interesting and fascinating in the world going back for twenty four centuries, but no people can break with its past as we are trying to do.”


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There are 2 Comments

Really what happened to our lovely country ? New generation doesn't know much about our past history and hope the government amend a law to teach from school level about how people lived unitedly in the past in Ceylon!

History hard to learn SriLanka history very complicated often fighting quarrelling happen with kings nothing to do. I am ready let me fight attitude of older day kings. Look at various commission in pat British regime and the behaviour our leaders most gone all suffered from insecurity reflecting on their behaviour after independence leading to our present situation. Truth and reconciliation was to fix all this however there are seem some lack of progress in the meantime overall politicians leaders public citizens are all in confused state., do wait and see. History please learn on your free time and discuss with your fellow men friends not much different

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