Category Archives: Abstracts

Papers abstracts

An Inventory of Arabic Learners’ Writing Strategies: A Sri Lankan Case Study

N. Gafoordeen


Studies on writing in Arabic language are still in the early stages. This study investigated the writing strategies used by Sri Lankan learners of Arabic as a foreign language. The purposes of this study were to identify the writing strategies employed by these learners in composing Arabic essays and to propose an inventory of writing strategies for Arabic writing. This research employed a qualitative method. Participants were instructed to write an essay in Arabic, and data were elicited using a think-aloud protocol, observation, and retrospective interview. Eighteen pre-university Arabic language learners from the Fathih Institute of Sri Lanka participated in this investigation. They represent proficient, average, and less proficient writers and were selected based on a preliminary writing test and recommendation of the instructor. Data were then coded and rated by three experts. The Cohen’s Kappa inter-rater agreement value was 0.86. Findings showed that the learners used all five rhetorical, metacognitive, cognitive, communicative, and social/affective writing strategies. In using these strategies, the learners differed in how and why they used particular strategies. This study acknowledged thirty-six writing strategies used by persons learning Arabic as a foreign language in composing essays: an Arabic as a Foreign Language-Writing Strategies (AFL-WS) inventory. The findings suggest that Arabic writing instructors need to train learners in using these strategies effectively and productively. Then the learners would know their true ability to manage the language task.

Keywords: Arabic language, Sri Lanka, cognitive, metacognitive, writing strategies 

Caste in Popular Buddhism in Sri Lanka

U.G.L.B. Jayasooriya


Buddhism is among major religious beliefs worldwide and is considered a philosophy rather than a religion. It is the doctrine preached by the Buddha. One of the most important teachings of Buddhism is equality; the Buddha rejected discrimination based on caste, colour, and so on and taught his followers to do the same. However, some current Buddhist practices clearly adhere to the caste discrimination prevailing in society. Hence the study was carried out to evaluate attitudes and perceptions of monks and laypersons about the prevailing caste related Buddhist practices against Buddha’s doctrine. A qualitative study was conducted on 20 subjects selected through purposive sampling. The sample was a mixture of laymen/women and Buddhist monks. In-depth interviews were conducted for approximately one hour per individual. The results revealed that the divisions of nikaya or monastic order/fraternity in Buddhism is primarily formed and continues based on caste differences. Further the study revealed the awareness of the general public regarding the caste-based practices in the Temple of Tooth. But none of there spondents could justify any of the findings in relation to Buddhist doctrine, and a majority believed caste-based practices as a tradition transferred from generation to generation. It was also explained by a few that casteism has become a tradition which the public accept blindly without questioning it in relation to Buddhist teachings. The results of the study recommend that Sinhala Buddhists who appreciate equality should contribute to a social discourse attempting to change caste-based discrimination. The study also suggests that people should get rid of conservative ideas to reject unacceptable practices prevailing in popular Buddhism so as to promote and protect pure Buddhism.

Keywords: Buddhism, caste, discrimination, nikaya (monastic order/fraternity)

“I am the only one propagating true Dharma”: Li Hongzhi’s Self-Presentation as Buddha and Greater

James R. Lewis


Li Hongzhi, founder-leader of Falun Gong, was a controversial figure even before his movement was banned in China in 1999. We find conflicting images of Master Li (as Falun Gong members refer to him) as a revered spiritual teacher among his followers and as just another a cult leader to his detractors. From early on, Li Hongzhi presented himself as a high-level spiritual teacher who had studied under a series of exalted spiritual masters in what should be referred to as his hagiography. Perhaps surprisingly, we also often find instances of practitioners and other friends of the movement blatantly ignoring, downplaying, or whitewashing the more controversial of Li Hongzhi’s teachings. As his following grew, Li Hongzi’s claims to spiritual greatness grew as well, until he began viewing himself as a bodhisattva who had come to earth to save humanity from an impending apocalypse. However, as his self-conception continued to expand, even the status of bodhisattva seemed insufficient to capture his increasing sense of his own specialness. Eventually, he not only claimed to be a transcendent god, situated well beyond all earthly and spiritual realms, but also claimed that all other spiritual teachers, including Jesus and the historical Buddha, were his disciples. This paper provides a brief backdrop to Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong movement, then traces the development of Master Li’s evolving self-perception.

Keywords: Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong, new religion

Causal Relationship between Macroeconomic Variables and Banking Sector Stock Returns: Empirical Evidence from the Colombo Stock Exchange

A.A.M.D. Amarasinghe


This study examines the causal relationship between macroeconomic variables and returns in the banking sector. Interest rate, exchange rate, and money supply are selected as macroeconomic variables because they are highly related with the activities of banks. Data on macroeconomic variables is collected from the publications of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka from January 2006 to December 2015. The Bank, Finance and Insurance (BFI) sector index is taken from the Colombo Stock Exchange website to calculate stock returns. The Augmented Dickey Fuller Test is used to check the stationary value of the time series data set. Results show that share returns are stationary at level and all macroeconomic variables are stationary at first difference. The Granger Causality Test is used to determine causality among variables. The results indicate a one way causality between share returns and exchange rate, a one way causality between money supply and share returns, and no causality between share returns and interest rate. Using causality results, variables are identified as independent and dependent to run regressions to identify the effects of each variable. Regression results show that there is a significant impact of exchange rate on stock returns as well as a significant impact of share returns on money supply. Investors are advised to key in on exchange rate changes when investing money in banking sector companies.

Keywords: banking sector, exchange rate, interest rate, money supply

Exploration of Recent Land Use and Land Cover Changes of the Bentota River Basin in Sri Lanka

Ranjana U.K. Piyadasa, Gayani Ranasinghe


Land is one of the most important natural resources for the survival and prosperity of humankind, and it is the platform on which human activities take place. The terms land use and land cover are not synonymous and the literature draws attention to their differences so that they are used properly in studies of land use and land cover change. However, the distinction between land use and land cover, although relatively easy to make at a conceptual level, is not so straightforward in practice as available data do not make this distinction clearly all the time, a fact that complicates the analysis of either one of them. Taking into account the available land use data, this study is carried out to explore both land use and land cover change from 1983 to 2013 of the Bentota River basin located between the Western and Southern Provinces of Sri Lanka. Changes in both the qualitative as well as the quantitative characteristics of land use are described considering the extent of land use and the level of detail conditioned by the spatial level of analysis and the availability of requisite data. Temporal mixed land use diversity of the area was examined calculating land use ‘entropy’ values for different time periods. Findings indicate that 80% of paddy lands of the Bentota basin have been abandoned and converted into marshes, grasslands and scrubs. Tea and cinnamon are the emerging crops, while rubber and coconut lands in the area are seeing a reduction. The level of mixed land use diversity of the area during the last three decades is similar. Future land use activities of the area will consist of water retention areas, commercial use, recreational use, and tourist activity use due to the upcoming Dedduwa Lake Tourism Development Project.

Keywords: Entropy value, Land use and Land cover change

The Invisible Reality of Technological Changes in Agriculture in the Postcolonial World: A Discourse Analysis

M.K.L. Irangani, R.P.I.R. Prasanna

The historical discourse on the factors that influenced technological changes in agriculture in the postcolonial world is widely questioned today. This paper attempts to open a new discourse on the historical factors that influenced technological changes in agriculture in third-world countries. It critically reviews both primary and secondary historical sources to derive the basic argument of the thesis and to test the research hypothesis regarding the effectiveness of the existing theoretical underpinning (the population-food race) in order to determine its sufficiency to interpret technological changes in agriculture that took place in the postcolonial world. In the larger view, this study views postcolonial technological changes in agriculture as a new form of western ethnocentric imperialism, from colonial to economic, with liberal economic values and principles. From a minor perspective, US geopolitical and military concerns are recognized as supporting this new, postcolonial economic imperialism, particularly as a tool against communist imperialism. The paper recognizes the thus-far-accepted theoretical foundation (the population-food race) to be inadequate for interpreting technological changes in agriculture in third-world countries. Finally, this paper’s review of historical information supports a view that technological change was a revolutionary attempt by western countries to promote postcolonial economic imperialism. Thus, visible factors such as the population-food race are not closely related to the reality, while invisible factors such as US foreign policy and geopolitical and military concerns, global corporate capital, and global institutional setups provide supporting evidence for the new form of imperialism—economic—in the postcolonial world.

Keywords: agriculture, economic imperialism, ethnocentric imperialism, food-population race, postcolonial world, technological change, third-world countries

Dynamic Trends of Intensity of Rainfall Extremes in Sri Lanka

R.M.S.S.Sanjeewani, Lasantha Manawadu


Changes in extreme weather and climate events are among the most serious challenges to society in coping with a changing climate. Occurrence of extreme rainfall events with higher intensity accomplishing flash floods is becoming a common phenomenon. It is timely important, identifying spatial and temporal characteristics of intensity of extreme rainfall events by countries. Maximum 5 day rainfall (Rx-5day) is an effective index which leads to identify intensity of rainfall extreme events, recommended by World Meteorological Organization. This considers the highest total rainfall within a consecutive 5 day period. This study focuses on spatial and temporal characteristics of Rx-5day in Sri Lanka from 1981 to 2010.  Daily rainfall data collected from Meteorological Department, Sri Lanka is used in the study and extremes are calculated using RClimDex 1.0 package, designed by Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI). IDW interpolation technique in GIS, non-parametric Mann Kendall test is used to analyze the significance of trends. Average maximum 5-day rainfall values ranges between 100mm-400mm. Among the severest extremes, Colombo is accounted by the highest value in 2010. Spatially, Rathnapura, Rathmalana, Colombo are highly affected by these extremes. Temporally there is an emergent increase of this index after 2002. Annual maximum consecutive five day rainfall predicates significant increasing trends in Batticaloa, Colombo, Hambanthota, Rathmalana and Trincomalee. Variation of Monsoonal regimes seems rely on variations of this index. These detections of trends of spatial and temporal patterns of rainfall extremes thus facilitate in decision making and planning related to disaster management and development in Sri Lanka. Keywords – Extreme rainfall events, ETCCDI, GIS, Non- parametric Mann Kendall trend test, spatial pattern, temporal trends

Keywords: Extreme rainfall events, ETCCDI, GIS, Non- parametric Mann Kendall trend test, spatial pattern, temporal trends


Illogicalities between Contraceptive Use and Recent Fertility Dynamics in Sri Lanka

Professor Lakshman Dissanayake


Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a rise in Total Fertility Rate (TFR) but no accurate scientific elucidation has hitherto been given in order to demonstrate why such an increase is observed after TFR arrived at the replacement level of fertility. This study shows that older women are left out of discussions on contraceptive use in Sri Lanka and that has made the increase of recent fertility mainly due to the increase of fertility of older women.  Most women in the latter part of the childbearing perceived that they are at a minimum risk of conception because of infrequent sex, and perhaps they are infertile at those ages. In addition, however the increase of fertility by older women in tsunami-affected districts due to fertility adjustment behaviour coupled with the recommencement of the postponed fertility behaviour in the conflict-affected districts with the conclusion of the war could be the other major reasons for the recent fertility increase in Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Fertility, Contraceptive use, Older Women, Total Fertility Rate, Conflict-affected Areas, Tsunami-affected Areas

Challenges of Sri Lankan Buddhist scholarly tradition to create Sri Lanka as the hub of Pali and Buddhist education

Ven. Medawachchiye Dhammajothi


This article is for the purpose of examining the challenges that Buddhist scholars have to face when making Sri Lanka a hub of education. These challenges can be understood in two areas. They are: Challenge of language skills and Challenge of subjects’ knowledge. Original Theravada Buddhist tradition is unique to Sri Lanka. Its sources have been preserved in Pali language. Thus, the knowledge of Pali language is compulsory for the study of Buddhism. During the Anuradhapura period Sanskrit language came into vogue. So, study of Pali, and Sanskrit Languages and teachings prescribed by them is the challenge for Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar tradition. During the colonial period English language influenced Sri Lankan Buddhist education. Today, as English has become more prominent as an international language acquisition of fluency in English is the challenge faced by Sri Lankan Buddhist scholars. As an immense amount of researches have been done in English, English language knowledge with Pali and Sanskrit turned to be a decisive factor in Sri Lankan Buddhist scholasticism. However, as Buddhist research stands at present proficiency in English with a sound knowledge of Pali and Sanskrit is not enough. Since, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan are recognized as primary source languages for Buddhist studies, knowing these four languages and doing comparative researches on literature written in these languages is a new arena for Buddhist scholar tradition. So, the aim of this paper is to examine challenges faced by Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar tradition in the past and present and try to discuss its path and direction towards the building of Sri Lanka as a hub of Buddhist education.

Ceylon, The Likely Blueprint of Thomas More’s Utopia

Professor Laksiri Fernando


Thomas More’s Utopia published in 1516 was the first discourse on socialism in the modern era, based on a critique of emerging capitalism in England and the description of a well ordered and an egalitarian alternative society in an imaginary Island of Utopia. Utopia is an enigmatic treatise because of its futuristic vision, extremely witty literary style, combining fact and fiction, and numerous unanswered questions. Although written as a semi-fiction, mainly to avoid censorship, like in many other works of this genre, the connection between the description of the island and a travel narrative cannot be denied, and in fact admitted, although the island is not clearly identified, only leaving some clues.
This article argues, after examining the clues given and the circumstances under which it was conceived and written, that the likely ‘blueprint’ of Thomas More’s Utopia was Ceylon, either the information directly obtained from a Portuguese traveller, or more likely from a traveller’s monograph. This argument is substantiated based on, not only the carefully analysed similarities of the size, the capital city, the rivers, the most natural harbour (i.e. Trincomalee) and historical legend, but also the family institution, social customs, way of life and religious practices. The article also extrapolates, although not investigated in full for lack of space, that More’s imagination must have been triggered by the fact that Ceylon at that time was pre-capitalist or ‘Asiatic’ in a Marxian sense of the word and not commercialized. Perhaps this was one reason for the imbalance of More’s discourse, on the one hand socialist and on the other, totalitarian or Asiatic.