In the low country estates in areas like Deniyaya, sandwiched as they are between majority Sinhala settlements, a slow erasure of Tamil identity is taking place. Due to a lack of quality educational institutes in the Tamil medium, many of the estate worker’s children study in Sinhalese. Many of the Government workers also speak in Sinhala. In Deniyaya, the language barrier too can lead to corruption, as a field worker from Community Development Service for Plantations (CODESEP) said.
“Sometimes we have seen, the Grama Niladhari is Sinhalese and can’t understand Tamil. When registering a baby, he might ask the mother for the child’s name, and the mother, confused, gives the sex of the baby. That ends up being the child’s name as the Grama Niladhari registers it on the birth certificate. They only realise this mistake, when they try to claim their EPF or ETF money. Then they have to go and change their names, and the process is very laborious. This is when unscrupulous middlemen take advantage of the workers by charging them substantial agent fees.”