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Sri Lanka : Past, present, people.

  • Craven, Tho
  • Film

About this work


An introduction to this film is made by the science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, a resident of Sri Lanka, who talks about the developmental improvements made to his adopted country. A brief history of the island as peceived by Western culture ensues followed by early settlement by people from India; invasion by the Portuguese, then the Dutch and British colonists. A Tamil workforce was imported to tend to the tea plantations and the rubber trade. Traditional subsistence farming life and a market is depicted. However, rice still has to be imported due to rapid population growth. After World War II, DDT was used extensively to eradicate malaria which was a significant cause of infant mortality. This is seen to be a contributing factor to the population growth. Compulsory education was available to all under 14s which in turn led to migration to the cities. In a maternity hospital in the capital, services are stretched. Family planning becomes an issue. In a rural clinic, educational services are delivered to the mothers-to-be. Midwives are key to delivering rural health care. At the Faculty of Medicine, a seminar is in progress with the aim to communicate preventative medicine. Voluntary female sterilisation is carried out; many women await the procedure, lined up on beds in a corridor. Tea production on a plantation is shown together with some observations regarding Tamil life. A new project in Malayalee to develop more agricultural land which was formerly arid and build new roads is under way. Families are offered two and a half acres to settle this area. A man with his family of just three children is an example of this population/development project.



Physical description

1 film reel (35 mins.) : sound; colour, 16 mm


More material on Population Concern is held in the Wellcome Library reference SA/POP.
There are frequent pops on the audio track.

Creator/production credits

United Nations Fund for Population Activities presentation. A film by Thomas Craven. Camera; Vachel Blair, Willie Blake, Editor; Roosman Vittachi, Sound; Ernest Barbieri, Written and directed by Thomas Craven.

Copyright note

United Nations.



  • English

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  • Location

    Closed stores 5524F


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