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How and how much will the world change?



An uncharted global future commences in 2021

by Kumar David

There are two schools of thought, one says that the world will gradually return to “normal” (its former self) sooner or later. The other more sombre view which I subscribe to is a premonition that things have snapped for better for worse and it won’t be the same again. Not every portent that I sense will come to pass, but many of these changes cannot, not happen. Covid-19 was the last straw that broke the camel’s back; it was one gigantic straw but actually many pressures accumulating over the years combined and blew. Covid is a catalyst whose long-term implications will be far-reaching in geopolitics, governance economics and culture.

First ecology; the damage that humans wreak on the planet is unsustainable. The pandemic brought us face to face with catastrophe. The virus did not jump from bat or civet to humans; quite the contrary we raped and ravaged the forests, the waters and the mountains, and nature having nowhere to turn came home and nestled in our bosom. Second the earth’s carrying capacity. There are too many humans and to say we breed like rabbits is an unconscionable denigration of rabbits. Third the global economy in the last two decades has been characterised by a widening gap between haves and have-nots and for the first time since WW2 absolute poverty is on the rise if we take China out of the computation. Governments have become more repressive in the Twenty-first Century and worst of all is ever increasing intolerance between communities. Is barbarism among humans the sum total effect of this melt down? Will the jolt 2020 delivered shake us up before calamity becomes apocalyptic catastrophe? I cannot paint the whole canvas from ecology, to population, to economics, to social inequality and political tumult today. I will be selective.

Allow me to preface this with the comment that for the next decade, to look beyond this horizon in this essay is not sensible, what happens in America will be the decider. I have often said in this column that in the early 2030s China will become the world’s largest economy and a diplomatic and military power on par with the US, but that does not contradict my assertion here that as an exemplar and moral influence the American legacy will last long. While the PRC’s development strategy will over-determine the economic model adopted by developing countries, China’s moral influence will be crippled until and unless the Communist Party, at least in this its centennial year, becomes sure footed enough to tolerate other mass organisations, especially in Xinjiang Province. The next four years of Biden Presidency is crucial. His team is conventional, decent, reliable, tried and tested but it certainly does not sparkle with brilliance; pedestrian like the boss himself but I guess it is just this that warms mundane liberal hearts. But the liberals have a point. The next four years is course correction; dull plodding to undo a maniac’s domestic and international ravages but above all else also to address the economic hardships of Americans in the lowest income quartile and banish the raison d’etre of the Trump Base. Biden’s success will not be measured in the stratosphere but on terra firma, by which measure Obama – glittering intellectual compared to poor old Joe – presided over a failed second-term.


The Environment

Youth-led climate activism is the most influential force in the formative days of the Biden’s Administration. The movement has notched high-profile victories; Deb Haaland, a Native American will lead the Interior Department and Gina McCarthy an environmental health and air quality expert, the Environmental Protection Agency. Former Secretary of State John Kerry who helped craft the Paris Accord will hold Cabinet-rank position as climate Tsar. There are expectations that Biden’s USA will be a world environmental trailblazer. But the team will be greeted by the grinding realities of obstruction from Washington Republicanism and moneyed vested interests. The outcome of this tussle will shape the planet’s climate in the decade of the 1920s and American youth mobilisation is the key that will influence environmental youth movements everywhere.


Population will decline but not fast enough

The population of the world on 1 Jan 2021 was 7.83 billion and the number of births in the first three days of 2021 was 700,000. Far too much for the global resource base to carry; humans create too large a footprint before finally, they their “hiatus make”. A recent BBC programme says population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 and decile to 8.8 billion by the end of the century; still too large and the rate of decline too slow. It would be better if in two generations global population declines to below 7 billion and if thereafter stabilises at a steady four billion. Humanity has intelligence, technology and the skill to enter this ‘noosphere’. Stripped of mumbo-jumbo a ‘noosphere’ is a term coined by Vladimir Vernadsky and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for when reason and science come together to create a higher consciousness.

The population of different countries in million in 2100 is projected as follows (2020 population in parenthesis): China 730 (1390), India 1090 (1325), Nigeria 790 (214), USA 335 (330), Japan 60 (125). China’s decline to nearly half and Japan’s to less than half is remarkable, but more than threefold explosion in Nigeria is astounding and alarming. Sub Saharan Africa, about one billion in 2020 will rise to 3.36 billion by century’s end, while Latin America and the Middle East also buck the declining trend. LA’s 630 million in 2020 will swell to 750 million – the Catholic Church wants them to procreate non-stop. The Middle East cum North Africa, now 600 million, will rise to 1 billion by 2100; myopic education and oppression of women lie at the root. The worst of the pandemic has still to devastate Africa and the Middle East and I am optimistic that the crisis will ameliorate this social bigotry. Only dramatic change can avert famine, devastation of forests, despoiling of open-spaces and pollution of the waters.

(Sri Lanka’s population in 2020 is 22.2 million (I hope 2 is a lucky number) and falling, but too slowly. Experts estimate a decline to 15.3 million by 2100 with a bulge of 55-85 year-olds; the fattest part of the bulge being 60-70 year-olds).


Only a tiny percentage of capitalism’s accumulated loot comes from value creation

Greece’s former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, declares: “We thought globalization had de-fanged nation states. Presidents cowered before bond markets, prime ministers and finance ministers behaved like Goldman Sachs knaves and IMF lackeys. Media moguls, oil men, financiers, and left-wing critics of capitalism agreed that third-world governments were no longer in control. Then the pandemic struck; regimes grew claws, bared teeth, closed borders, grounded airplanes, imposed curfews and closed theatres”. In his verbal gush Varoufakis does not appreciate this is necessary, but to forbid burial the dead was vengeful and to give all power to the military is dangerous. Since he is long-winded – let me summarise from his “Seven Secrets of 2020“:


Governments retain power and exercised it during covid to reap corrupt profits. Lankans I meet in Los Angeles say that compatriots who wish to travel home are compelled to buy their tickets from Upul Travels, whose proprietor, a buddy, has been made head of airports and aviation. Compulsory hotel quarantine has to be at another buddy’s hotel chain. The worst was when, according to the Sunday Times, the tourism regulator was told that “Udayanga Weeratunga, former Ambassador to Russia who now gives his official address as Temple Trees, intended to bring large numbers of Ukrainians to the country.” He was allowed to bypass official guidelines but all he brought was a bunch of covid-positive cases! .


However, it is not only in Sri Lanka that covid is a lucrative avenue for acquiring and sharing corrupt monies by a regime and its businessmen favourites; it is global.


The public must rise up though in this country army types have been appointed as satraps in the guise of covid-fighters in every district to crush unavoidable future dissent. Western governments that claimed to be broke when called upon to pay for health, education or welfare have discovered oodles of cash to support financial markets, airlines and big companies, or stoke stock-markets to unheard of heights. Inequity in wealth has become obscene thanks to “stimulus” money printing. It has exposed the ugly truth that mountains of concentrated private wealth have little to do with entrepreneurship but rather a knack for cornering benefits. Only a tiny percentage of accumulated loot comes from value creation. Covid has shown up how degenerate modern finance capital is.

The record-speed development, testing, approval, and roll out of covid vaccines, reveals that science depends on state aid. Commentators waxed lyrical about the market’s capacity to respond to humanity’s needs, but the “irony is that Congress in the country of the most anti-science president ever, who ignored, mocked, and intimidated experts during the worst pandemic in a century, allocated $10 billion to ensure that scientists had the resources they needed”.

“Year 2020 is not a banner year for capitalism whose unintended consequence should be that profit-seeking individuals who have no regard for anyone else end up serving society. The key to converting private vice into public virtue is competition, which impels capitalists to pursue activities that maximize their profits. In a competitive market, that serves the common good”. By 2020 however competition has been replaced by giant monopolies in new industries, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Facebook and Apple.

Looking ahead the silver lining to the dark post-covid cloud is renewed universal environmental and climate-change sensitivity. The second matter about which I am cautiously optimistic is that there will be a push back against authoritarian governments worldwide. Trump’s deserved crushing defeat – the GOP has lost the presidency, Senate and House – will weaken dictators and would-be dictators elsewhere and restore some decency in politics. Nevertheless challenges should not be underestimated; Democrats barely won the two Georgia Senate run-offs last week and here at home Gotabaya’s autocratic power remains undiminished. As I write these lines on Jan 6 an insurrection, instigated by Trump, has overwhelmed Capitol Hill (the seat of Congress, equivalent of out Kotte Parliament premises), Security has taken away the VP and members of both Houses which were in session, and brought much vaunted American democracy to its knees. Biden must completely demolish the Trump legacy.



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Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa Uttareethara Maha Nayaka Thera turns 88



It was in the year 1803 that there was a renaissance within the Maha Sangha (the Great Community of Buddhist Monks) in Sri Lanka thereby adding a fresh chapter to the history of the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka. This was when the Most Venerable Welitara Sri Gnanawimala Thera, the Great Prelate received the Upasampada or the Higher Ordination in Burma, returned to Sri Lanka and established the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya. (The name of this monk is embellished with traditional appellations such as Bodhisattva Gunopetha or being imbued with the qualities of a Bodhisattva or Buddha-Aspirant, and Preacher to King and Emperor.)

Thus the Amarapura Nikaya, which began with this Most Venerable Thera, later spread itself very rapidly down five generations of the Sangha spanning the entire Island. These generations of the Sangha organized themselves into 22 Nikayas. This was with the blessings of each of the Mahanayakas. They also preserved the identity of each such Nikaya.

In Sri Lanka, Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha was formed in 1952 with the concurrence of 15 of these subsidiary Nikayas. Presidents of the Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha have been;

1. the Most Venerable Prelate Beruwela Siri Nivasa Thera

2. the Most Venerable Mapalane Pannalankara Maha Nayaka,

3. the Most Venerable Uddammita Dhammarakhita Maha Nayaka,

4. the Most Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maithri Maha Nayaka

5. the Most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Maha Nayaka.

In the year 1962 all 22 Sub-Nikayas came together to form a more organized and properly constituted Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha. It was the Most Venerable Agga Maha Panditha Balangoda Ananda Maithri Thera who was installed as President and has been succeeded by;

1. the Most Venerable Dhammavansha Thera,

2. the Most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha,

3. the Most Venerable Ahungalla Wimalanandi,

4. the Most Venerable Kandegedara Sumanavansha,

5. the Most Venerable Boyagama Wimalasiri,

6. the Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa and

7. the Most Venerable Dodampahala Chandrasiri.

The Most Venerable Chief Prelate Ganthune Assaji Thera is the current chair.

In terms of the Constitution approved in 1992, an Office of Supreme Prelate (Uttareethara Mahanayaka) was created, and the first to hold this office was the Most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Mahanayaka Thera who was succeeded by Most Venerable Davuldena Gnaneesara Thera. After his demise the Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa Thera, who turns eighty-eight today assumed and continues to be the Uttareethara Mahanayaka.

He was born on 26th January 1933 and ordained as a monk with the permission of his parents, on 17th August 1948. He received his Higher Ordination on 10th July 1954 at the Udakkukhepa Seemamalakaya set up on the River named the Kalu Ganga in Kalutara.

He had his training and primary instruction in the Buddha Dhamma from his Venerable Preceptors, later entered the Paramadhamma Chetiya Pirivena for his education. It was at the Maha Pirivena in Maligakanda where he received his Higher Education in three languages, under the shadow and tutelage of the Most Venerable Pandita Baddegama Piyaratana Thera.

With the demise of his preceptor, Dhammavasa Thera became the Prelate of the Dharmapala-arama Viharaya in Mount Lavinia. By this time he had already become very popular by broadcasting and delivering sermons in temples and in private homes, contributing to articles disseminating the Dhamma, and articles on topical subjects through the full-moon day publication entitled “Budusarana”, then to daily newspapers, and to the Vesak Annuals published by M D Gunasena & Co., Dinamina etc.

The Thera was also engaged in social welfare activities of the area by setting up Children’s and Young Persons’ Societies within the Vihara.

With the passage of time and the demise of remarkably eloquent monks such as the Most Venerable Narada Thera, Prelate of the Vajira-aramaya, Heenatiyana Dhammaloka, Kotikawatte Saddhatissa, Pitakotte Somananda, Kalukondayawe Pannasekera and other such classic preachers, Kotugoda Dhammavasa Thera stands out as a prime orator among those who came to the limelight after the days of the erudite monks of yesteryear.

Owing to the ceaseless invitations to deliver sermons extended to our Venerable Thera he travelled to various regions of the Island, yet fulfilling all his duties pertaining to his own Nikaya and to the work of the Sangha Sabha neglecting nothing whatever. With all this he continued to participate in the discharge of the infinite services expected of all erstwhile office bearers of the Sangha Sabha.

Our respected Thera was gradually chosen to hold various posts within the Amarapura Nikaya. Some such are his appointment in 1970 as an ordained member of the Working Committee and to the Post of Honorary Prelate (Maha Nayaka); in 1981 as the Chief Ecclesiastical Sangha Nayaka; and in 1990 as the Deputy Chief (Anunayaka) of the Amarapura Nikaya. At the same time it is because of his quality of being industrious that he was elected the Secretary (Lekhakadhikari).

The Venerable Anunayaka Thera who served the Maha Sangha Sabha of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya with great dedication, in order to ensure its unity and advancement, was in 1980 appointed its Co-Secretary (Sama Lekhakadhikari) and in 1992 as its Chief Secretary (Maha Lekhakadhikari) It is only appropriate to place on record that during this period of about fifteen years he performed a very special quality of service to the Sasana by updating the Amarapura Sangha Sabha; by setting up a Kathikavata (Ecclesiastical Edict) for the Amarapura Nikaya (whereby ‘rules governing the discipline and conduct of Buddhist monks including matters related to the settlement of disputes’ together with a Sanghadhikarana Panatha (i.e. an Ecclesiastical Act) were drafted and approved; and finally by drafting a strong, formal Constitution and obtaining approval for same.

It was on 17th December 2016 that the Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa Anunayaka Thera became the Mahanayaka of the Amarapura Nikaya, and that on a proposal made by none other than the Most Venerable Agga-maha-panditha Ambalangoda Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera who, at the time, was himself the incumbent.

On 3rd October 2008 the Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa Maha Nayaka Thera was appointed to the post of Chairman, and it was on 26th May 2017 that he was elected Uttareethara Maha Nayaka or Supreme Maha Nayaka, which is the highest position within the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya.

He has visited many countries in Asia and Europe disseminating the Dhamma and participating in Conferences thereby earning great international fame. Meanwhile he also serves as the incumbent monk of the Sri Lanka-aramaya in Myanmar and of the Charumathie Viharaya in Nepal.

In the matters of national and religious issues in the country he expresses his views in such a calm and collected manner that he has earned the respect of the Supreme Maha Nayaka Theras of other Nikayas and politicians both in power and in the Opposition and of intellectuals.

He has been honored with the title of “Agga Maha Panditha” by the Government of Myanmar. Although other honorary awards were conferred upon him by foreign countries and foreign institutions he does not use them, entirely because of his humble disposition.

At the end of and exposition of the Dhamma (a Dharma Desana) at Temple Trees His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa (who was then the incumbent President of the country) made an offering to him of about 14 perches of land in Wellawatte. Upon this land stands today, the “Office of the Sangha Sabha of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya”, a three-storied building replete with all conceivable facilities. It is a matter of great joy to us that in honour of the Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa Maha Nayaka Thera it was possible for us to make an offering of this building to the Buddha Sasana, on the 15th of August 2020.

We offer merit to His Excellency the President and the Honourable Prime Minister who are today attending to each and every need of our Supreme Maha Nayaka Thera in a spirit of extending infinite regard and respect to him, in appreciation of the national and religious service the Maha Thera has rendered.

Let us also gratefully place on record that the Honourable Sajit Premadasa, Leader of the Opposition, has provided an elevator as an offering to facilitate the caring for our Mahanayaka Thera.

I also wish to thank the Doctors, the Staff of the Nawaloka Hospital, Members of the Nikaya-abhivrudhi Dayaka Sabha (Organization for the Advancement of the Nikaya) and the Dayaka Sabha of the Mahanayaka’s Vihara and who are all providing medical care.

Arrangements were made by the Dayaka Sabha and the student monks to offer alms to the Sangha to mark the birthday of our Thera when he reached the age of 88, on 26th January 2021.

On 21st January 2021 at 7.00 p.m. a Bodhi Pooja was organized by the Amarapura Nikaya-abhivruddi Dayaka Sabha at the historic Kalutara Bodhi to invoke blessings upon our Supreme Maha Thera.

May the Supreme Maha Nayaka Agga Maha Panditha Kotugoda Dhammavasa Maha Nahimi live a life free from sickness and sorrow.


Deshamanya Ajita de Zoysa


Sri Lanka Nikaya-abhivruddi Dayaka Sabha

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Govt.’s choice is dialogue over confrontation



By Jehan Perera

Preparing for the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council cannot be easy for a government elected on a nationalist platform that was very critical of international intervention. When the government declared its intention to withdraw from Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of the October 2015 resolution No. 30/1 last February, it may have been hoping that this would be the end of the matter. However, this is not to be. The UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s report that will be taken up at the forthcoming UNHRC session in March contains a slate of proposals that are severely punitive in nature and will need to be mitigated. These include targeted economic sanctions, travel bans and even the involvement of the International Criminal Court.

Since UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s visit in May 2009 just a few days after the three-decade long war came to its bloody termination, Sri Lanka has been a regular part of the UNHRC’s formal discussion and sometimes even taking the centre stage. Three resolutions were passed on Sri Lanka under acrimonious circumstances, with Sri Lanka winning the very first one, but losing the next two. As the country became internationally known for its opposition to revisiting the past, sanctions and hostile propaganda against it began to mount. It was only after the then Sri Lankan government in 2015 agreed to co-sponsor a fresh resolution did the clouds begin to dispel.

Clearly in preparation for the forthcoming UNHRC session in Geneva in March, the government has finally delivered on a promise it made a year ago at the same venue. In February 2020 Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena sought to prepare the ground for Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from co-sponsorship of UN Human Rights Council resolution No 30/1 of 2015. His speech in Geneva highlighted two important issues. The first, and most important to Sri Lanka’s future, was that the government did not wish to break its relationships with the UN system and its mechanisms. He said, “Sri Lanka will continue to remain engaged with, and seek as required, the assistance of the UN and its agencies including the regular human rights mandates/bodies and mechanisms in capacity building and technical assistance, in keeping with domestic priorities and policies.”

Second, the Foreign Minister concluding his speech at the UNHRC session in Geneva saying “No one has the well-being of the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural people of Sri Lanka closer to their heart, than the Government of Sri Lanka. It is this motivation that guides our commitment and resolve to move towards comprehensive reconciliation and an era of stable peace and prosperity for our people.” On that occasion the government pledged to set up a commission of inquiry to inquire into the findings of previous commissions of inquiry. The government’s action of appointing a sitting Supreme Court judge as the chairperson of a three-member presidential commission of inquiry into the findings and recommendations of earlier commissions and official bodies can be seen as the start point of its response to the UNHRC.





The government’s setting up of a Commission of Inquiry has yet to find a positive response from the international and national human rights community and may not find it at all. The national legal commentator Kishali Pinto Jayawardene has written that “the tasks encompassed within its mandate have already been performed by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC, 2011) under the term of this President’s brother, himself the country’s Executive President at the time, Mahinda Rajapaksa.” Amnesty International has stated that “Sri Lanka has a litany of such failed COIs that Amnesty International has extensively documented.” It goes on to quote from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that “Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda. As a result, victims remain denied justice and Sri Lankans from all communities have no guarantee that past patterns of human rights violations will not recur.”

It appears that the government intends its appointment of the COI to meet the demand for accountability in regard to past human rights violations. Its mandate includes to “Find out whether preceding Commissions of Inquiry and Committees which have been appointed to investigate into human rights violations, have revealed any human rights violations, serious violations of the international humanitarian law and other such serious offences.” In the past the government has not been prepared to accept that such violations took place in a way that is deserving of so much of international scrutiny. Time and again the point has been made in Sri Lanka that there are no clean wars fought anywhere in the world.

International organisations that stands for the principles of international human rights will necessarily be acting according to their mandates. These include seeking the intervention of international judicial mechanisms or seeking to promote hybrid international and national joint mechanisms within countries in which the legal structures have not been successful in ensuring justice. The latter was on the cards in regard to Resolution 30/1 from which the government withdrew its co-sponsorship. The previous government leaders who agreed to this resolution had to publicly deny any such intention in view of overwhelming political and public opposition to such a hybrid mechanism. The present government has made it clear that it will not accept international or hybrid mechanisms.





In the preamble to the establishment of the COI the government has made some very constructive statements that open up the space for dialogue on issues of accountability, human rights and reconciliation. It states that “the policy of the Government of Sri Lanka is to continue to work with the United Nations and its Agencies to achieve accountability and human resource development for achieving sustainable peace and reconciliation, even though Sri Lanka withdrew from the co-sponsorship of the aforesaid resolutions” and further goes on to say that “the Government of Sri Lanka is committed to ensure that, other issues remain to be resolved through democratic and legal processes and to make institutional reforms where necessary to ensure justice and reconciliation.”

As the representative of a sovereign state, the government cannot be compelled to either accept international mechanisms or to prosecute those it does not wish to prosecute. At the same time its willingness to discuss the issues of accountability, justice and reconciliation as outlined in the preamble can be considered positively. The concept of transitional justice on which Resolution No 30/1 was built consists of the four pillars of truth, accountability, reparations and institutional reform. There is international debate on whether these four pillars should be implemented simultaneously or whether it is acceptable that they be implemented sequentially depending on the country context.

The government has already commenced the reparations process by establishing the Office for Reparations and to allocate a monthly sum of Rs 6000 to all those who have obtained Certificates of Absence (of their relatives) from the Office of Missing Persons. This process of compensation can be speeded up, widened and improved. It is also reported that the government is willing to consider the plight of suspected members of the LTTE who have been in detention without trial, and in some cases without even being indicted, for more than 10 years. The sooner action is taken the better. The government can also seek the assistance of the international community, and India in particular, to develop the war affected parts of the country on the lines of the Marshall Plan that the United States utilized to rebuild war destroyed parts of Europe. Member countries of the UNHRC need to be convinced that the government’s actions will take forward the national reconciliation process to vote to close the chapter on UNHRC resolution 30/1 in March 2021.

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Album to celebrate 30 years



Rajiv Sebastian had mega plans to celebrate 30 years, in showbiz, and the plans included concerts, both local and foreign. But, with the pandemic, the singer had to put everything on hold.

However, in order to remember this great occasion, the singer has done an album, made up of 12 songs, featuring several well known artistes, including Sunil of the Gypsies.

All the songs have been composed, very specially for this album.

Among the highlights will be a duet, featuring Rajiv and the Derena DreamStar winner, Andrea Fallen.

Andrea, I’m told, will also be featured, doing a solo spot, on the album.

Rajiv and his band The Clan handle the Friday night scene at The Cinnamon Grand Breeze Bar, from 07.30 pm, onwards.

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