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 Sri Lanka emerged as an independent country in  1948. The leaders of the Sinhala community sought  to secure dominance over government by virtue of  their majority. As a result, the democratically elected  government adopted a series of MAJORITARIAN  measures to establish Sinhala supremacy.  In 1956, an Act was passed to recognise Sinhala as  the only official language, thus disregarding Tamil.  The governments followed preferential policies  that favoured Sinhala applicants for university  positions and government jobs. A new constitution  stipulated that the state shall protect and foster  Buddhism.  All these government measures coming one  after the other, gradually increased the feeling  of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils. They  felt that none of the major political parties led  by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders was sensitive  to their language and culture. They felt that the  constitution and government policies denied them  equal political rights, discriminated against them in  getting jobs and other opportunities and ignored  their interests. As a result, the relations between  the Sinhala and Tamil communities strained over  time.  The Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and  struggles for the recognition of Tamil as an official  language, for regional autonomy and equality of  opportunity in securing education and jobs. But  their demand for more autonomy to provinces  populated by the Tamils was repeatedly denied. By  1980s several political organisations were formed  demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in  northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.  The distrust between the two communities turned  into widespread conflict. It soon turned into a  CIVIL WAR. As a result, thousands of people of  both the communities were killed. Many families  were forced to leave the country as refugees and  many more lost their livelihoods.  

Question (i)

What did the Sinhala leaders do?


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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 13 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.