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Central & South Asia
Language policy hits Tamils hard
In one stroke all Tamil government employees not fluent in Sinhala became redundant.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2009 17:51 GMT

In 1956 Sinhala was unilaterally made the only official language [GALLO/GETTY]
The tacit understanding between the Sinhalese and the Tamils at the time of independence was that the official language would be English, and Sinhala and Tamil would have equal importance in all government policies and communications.

This was changed unilaterally when the Solomon Bandaranaike government passed the Sinhala Only Act in 1956.

According to this act, Sinhala was the only official state language and all communication had to be in Sinhala. In one stroke all Tamil government employees not fluent in Sinhala became unemployed and were replaced by Sinhala youth.

However, the Sinhala Only Act was never fully implemented. The business of government still continues to be carried out in English. Despite the law, all legislation is still drafted in English and the act managed only to get Tamils out of government employment.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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