Shortsighted moves like Sinhala only
The shortsighted moves like Sinhala only paved way for reactions that distanced people. It was the discriminatory historical developments that saw more Tamil people in Government offices and in professions like doctors, engineers, and teachers but a very few would understand that it was the only option young Tamil people had to do as they could not have openings in their own regions.
The older people still remember those people very affectionately, even now. The rulers do not have the presence of mind to create opportunities for people. Sinhalese regions were mostly rural where education was in the Sinhala Medium which created only limited opportunities. So, it looked justifiable when the medium of education became Sinhala up to the university levels. That was how a situation was created in Sri Lanka driving a wedge between Sinhalese and Tamil people. It became a fertile ground for developing a strained relationship between the people.
The unpleasant developments that took place after the Sinhala Only Policy created an unnecessary strain between the two communities which otherwise had a smooth symbiotic relationship. The land tenure system in Tamil areas, by tradition allowed only one male child to become responsible to stay back and manage the family property while others had to seek their future away from home. All the brothers in the family helped the younger ones who were yet to enter the adult world. Some, who could not pursue education, resorted to getting employment or self employment in trading. All those males were committed to ensure their sisters well being .Most of them came down to Sinhalese areas where they were respected and accepted and got on well. The qualified males who ended up as Medical Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Managers, Clerks, Policemen and even lawyers married daughters of families of rich Tamils who were well set in Colombo.
It was a very comfortable arrangement and the moment the language issue came up, the unnecessary feeling of harassment distanced both communities creating feeling of insecurity. The communal unrest that started as a result sparked clashes and it is no secret what happened thereafter.