Politics of Language and Education: An evaluation of Tamil Separatism in the Sri Lankan civil war



  • Sudha Rawat Phd Research scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru Univesity, New Delhi, India.


Sinhala only act, language, education, LLTE, quota and standardization policy.


Sri Lanka, at present, is haunted by memories and experiences of the protracted ethnic conflict which lasted for nearly three decades due extremities of extrajudicial and rampant killings, suicide bombing, and human rights violation. The war was mainly fought between the Liberation of Tamil Tiger (LTTE) and Sinhalese dominated state government. At the primary level, the conflict is viewed as the manifestation of ancient ethnic rivalry between the Tamil minority and the Sinhala majority. However, the causes of this conflict are far more complex than ethnic differences among the communities and stem largely from the pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence history of the country. Albeit many circumstances and situations have contributed to Tamil separatism and consequent insurgency but this paper is centred on the role of language politics and education in the conflict. The politicization of the issue of official language during the various phases of the war turned out to be the most powerful manifestation of the Sinhala –Tamil conflict, since language is a crucial factor in the maintenance and preservation of the cultural and ethnic identity, here the language became the exclusive marker of the ethnographic boundary between them. The language issue later manifested in the form of discrimination against Tamils in education. The indiscriminate practices after 1972, especially standardization policy and quota system for admission into universities based on language and pro-sinhala policies in the government sector paved the way for Tamil demand for a separate traditional homeland for Tamils. Hence this paper will analyse language politics and policies -Sinhala only act, and policies standardization and quota to understand the Tamil separatism during Sri Lankan civil war.



How to Cite

Sudha Rawat. (2022). Politics of Language and Education: An evaluation of Tamil Separatism in the Sri Lankan civil war. Journal of Language and Linguistics in Society(JLLS) ISSN 2815-0961, 2(01), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.55529/jlls.21.1.8