DS, the statesman of the century | Daily News
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DS, the statesman of the century

Don Stephen Senanayake was born on October 20, 1884, at Botale Walawwa in Dedigama Electorate. D S Senanayake is the third son of late Mudhliyar Don Spater Senanayake. He obtained education at St. Thomas College then situated at Mutwal, Colombo. He was married to Emil Mode Dunuwila Kumarihamy. He was one of the most outstanding political leaders of Sri Lanka since Independence Era.

The present generation should know about this great exemplary leader of Sri Lanka. D S Senanayake was associated with all the political leaders and spearheaded the Independence struggle of the then Ceylon. DS, his elder brother F R Senanayake and other associated colleagues Sir D B Jayathilake, Sri Ponnampalam Ramanadan, Sir Ponnampalam Arunachalam, T B Jayah, E W Perera and many others led the Independence movement of Ceylon. This intelligent and enthusiastic group planned to win Independence to our motherland without shedding even a drop of blood.

Don Stephen Senanayake (1884-1952)

D S Senanayake hailed from a very respectable family from Hapitigam Korale of the Western Province of then Ceylon. Although their family belonged to an aristocratic family, DS never lost the common touch. He was close to the common people. D S Senanayake left school at Seventh standard and joined the family plantation company and the family-owned graphite company. He was a popular character in Ceylon known as Kale John.

Vocational training courses

He was a keen sportsman who took part in cricket and wrestling, horse-riding and physical training. After leaving the school he worked in the Government Survey Department for a short period.

His talents were identified by his father who admitted him to the government farm school, Gannoruwa. The school was then set up by the British in order to provide vocational training to youth in agriculture plantations and animal husbandry. After obtaining the basic training from the farm school, young DS was fully involved with their family plantation company and the graphite company.

In 1915, Sinhala Muslim riots started in Gampola area. Later it spread out to other areas too in then Ceylon. D S Senanayake and the rest of the leaders were arrested by the British rulers. This was to prove that DS got directly linked to the riots. However, later they had to jail out D S Senanayake as there was no proof.

First people’s Prime Minister of Ceylon

In 1924 D S Senanayake became a member of the National Legislative Council, and subsequently with the reforms of Donoughmore Commission, he became Lands and Agriculture Minister in 1931. The new minister was able to restore the tanks and irrigation network of the dry zone of Ceylon.

Fertile land of Sri Lanka was under thick jungle in the dry zone. The relocation of landless people was carried out by D S Senanayake under productive and well-planned colonization schemes. He became the first people’s Prime Minister of Ceylon after Independence.

D S Senanayake inaugurated the United National Party on September 6, 1946, with the then political leaders. DS Senanayake unanimously became the first leader of the UNP. During his tenure as the first Prime Minister of Ceylon he was able to inaugurate Minneriya, Higurakkgoda, Bakamuna, Kahagama, Colany, Kalaluwewa, Minipe and Huruluwewa, colonization schemes and settled down farmer families from the other parts of the country.

D S Senanayake is the father of the nation. He was thus named because of his honesty, integrity, sincerity and enthusiasm towards the people and the nation. D S Senanayake should be treated as the most outstanding political leader produced by Mother Sri Lanka since Independence.

(The writer is Assistant Secretary, Executive Committee of Late D S Senanayake Commemoration Society.)

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