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. . 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. The distrust between the two communities turned into widespread conflict. It soon turned into a CIVIL WAR. Sri Lanka’s population is comprised of 75 percent Sinhalese and 24 percent Tamil speakers (11% Sri Lankan Tamils, 9% Moors, and 4% Indian Tamils), with smaller communities of Malays, Burghers, and others. The Sri Lankan civil war, which ended in 2009, was triggered in part by the introduction of language policies that created divisions along ethnic and linguistic lines.
What were the majoritarian measures adopted by the democratically elected government in Sri Lanka in the 1950s and how did they contribute to the strained relations between the Sinhala and Tamil communities?