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MCC, PUC, SLMC and PCRby

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A week of acronyms:

by Malinda Seneviratne

We’ve had a fire at the Supreme Court, the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), moves to reconstitute the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), an official statement from the US Embassy announcing that the controversial Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement has been tossed into the proverbial waste paper basket and unprecedented scenes in Anuradhapura where the man who claimed he had found a cure for Covid-19 courtesy the blessings of Goddess Kali created quite a rumpus.

Let’s start with the controversial ‘peniya.’ Now it is fashionable to laugh-off anything that’s ‘native’. Call it a colonial cultural remnant if you like. The problem is that Dhammika Bandara’s ‘cure’ was not tested properly. It was however ‘endorsed’ by sections of the government and given publicity by the state media. It was essentially a commodity in the market. There was a seller and lots of buyers. Seller and buyers violated Covid-19 protocols. Officials failed to enforce them. There was a buzz which knowingly or unknowingly helped divert attention from important issues such as the prison riots in Mahara. The Opposition waded into the syrup and is still stuck there. Good publicity for Dhammika Bandara and the ‘peniya.’

That’s old news. The ‘latest’ is the man making quite a scene before the Chief Prelate of the Atamastanaya in Anuradhapura, Ven Pallegama Hemarathana Thero, claiming that he was Mother Kali and was therefore the good bikkhu’s mother as well! Now there are many Sinhala Vedamahattayas who go about curing the sick quietly. No stamping feet. No advertisements. Most importantly, they don’t use efficacy as though it is a license to demand anything and everything. Dhammika Bandara is different, obviously. He hasn’t done himself any favors.

That’s ‘ongoing’ and could divert attention from the other issues flagged above. The Opposition was quick to claim that the fire at the Supreme Court was an act of arson aimed at destroying important documents. Sajith Premadasa visited the courts complex and called for an ‘independent investigation’. The word ‘independent’ has been used so often that it has lost all value, more so because the ‘independents’ that successive governments have appointed to various councils and commissions have essentially been political fellow-travelers of the particular regimes.

The truth is that the fire had not caused any damage to court records or papers. It was in a location where there was broken/abandoned furniture. Why such garbage was not removed, we do not know. We do not know how the fire started. Investigations are ongoing, we are told.

Interestingly, the fire was intense enough to drag Ranil Wickremesinghe from virtual cold storage. Following the historic election debacle in August 2020, Wickremesinghe has been in political hibernation, so to speak. The UNP is still to name someone to the national list slot. The issue of party leadership is as yet unresolved. Wickremesinghe hinted at retirement. It is well known that he is an expert at quelling opposition in the ranks. The ranks left, more or less, and that has made ‘quelling’ irrelevant. He is not one to let go, however low his political fortunes sink. He’s come out. It is interesting to see what he does next.

Then there’s the MCC, the PUC and the SLMC. The media release issued by the US Embassy in Colombo is full of contempt, of course couched in diplospeak. ‘Funds approved for Sri Lanka will be made available to other eligible partner countries in need of grant funding to pursue their economic development priorities, reduce poverty, and grow their economies,’ it says, implying that Sri Lanka doesn’t have or is not interested in pursuing ‘development priorities.’ ‘Development’ and ‘priorities’ as understood by the USA, obviously, which are not necessarily in Sri Lanka’s interests. Sri Lanka doesn’t want to reduce poverty, is another element of the subtext. One remembers that such plans as are praised by countries like the USA gave us first ‘structural adjustment’ then ‘structural adjustment with a human face,’ and finally ‘structural adjustment with poverty alleviation.’ That taught us where poverty comes from.

The media release also claims, ‘country ownership, transparency, and accountability for grant results are fundamental to MCC’s development model.’ Well, the entire process of project proposal writing was overseen by the US Embassy. There were ‘MCC experts’ herding ‘local experts’ at Temple Trees during the Yahapalana years. Mangala Samaraweera was pushing it. Wickremesinghe went along. They were all dumped by the voters eventually. And, following Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s pledge to review all such agreements, even Premadasa said that the MCC agreement would be revisited. The JVP and the SJB wanted to know the new government’s position. The Gunaruwan Committee appointed by the President clearly objected to the agreement in its current form, but the Government kept it on the table. Now it’s off the table. No credit to the Government though.

The Embassy finally says, ‘The United States remains a friend and partner to Sri Lanka and will continue to assist Sri Lanka in responding to COVID and building its economy.’ This is almost like saying ‘we are mad at you for not following the script!’ The USA’s ‘friendship’ will be once again on show in a few months in Geneva when the Sri Lankan case comes up for review. Let’s see what happens then.

‘Diplomacy’ is in the subtext of the controversy over the sacking of certain members of the SLMC, but it’s not the whole story. There are ex-officio members in the SLMC as well as a certain number who are elected. There are also those appointed by the Minister.

Now there’s a hue and cry about the sacking of certain members. The replacements are political appointees, cry the objectors. What’s forgotten is that the lot that were moved out were themselves political appointees. Sunil Ratnapriya is not just a political loyalist, he is a politician. Dr Harendra de Silva, whose work in the Child Protection Authority is highly commended by one and all, was a close associate of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga. They were all appointed by Rajitha Senaratne, now a man who anyone can say is dignified and honorable to the last letter.

There are allegations against those appointed by Senaratne in particular and the SLMC in general which basically went along with what the minister’s friends said or what they believed were the minister’s wishes. Replacing them with a set of people that another minister trusts is not guaranteed to produce startlingly different outcomes though. At the end of the day, the outfit that clashed with the SLMC (the Government Medical Officers’ Association, GMOA) seems to have got its way. A committee was appointed to review the work of the SLMC, certain serious allegations were examined, there were disturbing findings and some members of the GMOA were elected to the SLMC. Politics of different kinds were and are clearly at play.

One of the murmured but not openly mentioned precipitating factors in this drama is the de-listing of several prestigious Russian universities. The process, the report indicates, wasn’t above board. We don’t know if the Russian Embassy expressed concern. Unlike their US counterparts they are not given to issuing media releases or reading out the Riot Act.

There’s a similar drama brewing with regard to the PUC. The President’s Secretary Dr P B Jayasundera has written to the Treasury Secretary directing that staff of the PUC be transferred out and offering that the PUC’s functions can theoretically be added to other state institutions. The current set of commissioners are certainly not saints. They’ve been repeatedly rapped on their knuckles by the Attorney General’s department for operating outside their mandate. They have essentially acted as though they are a body parallel to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), coming up with alternative long-term energy generation plans following solicitation of public comments of the CEB’s plans. The long term energy general plans are typically made for 15 years, with adjustments being made every two years. The PUC, citing trivialities, have delayed approval of the same, taking more than a year and a half on average, which essentially makes such plans redundant.

If the frustrations of the CEB have been noted by the President, that’s good. The CEB’s detractors claim that certain high-ups in the CEB have their own agendas. Perhaps they do. Well then, they should be investigated and brought to light. Chanting ‘CEB is corrupt, CEB is corrupt’ just won’t do. For the record, if the CEB was indeed corrupt and the PUC squeaky clean and effective, why wasn’t corruption in the CEB wiped out by those in the PUC?

Jayasundera’s directive is childish. It’s a shortcut at best. What’s required is that the rules be followed. They are clear as per Section 7 of the PUC Act No 35 of 2002 with respect to who could be a member of the PUC, and the term and removal of members. The mandate is clear. A regulator regulates but does not transfer to himself the functions/mandate of the regulated. The PUC does not make policy. It deals with guidelines and works to ensure that operations fall within the relevant parameters.

Overall, politics in the nuts-and-bolts, i.e. policy-making, institutional arrangement and procedural matters, seems to have trumped power games among and within political parties.

The only matter of interest, at least for political analysts who look at elections and candidates is the resignation of Patali Champika Ranawaka from the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). Ranawaka, who at one point led the Sihala Urumaya (SU) through which party he first entered Parliament 20 years ago, was instrumental in mobilizing sections of the Maha Sangha to contest parliamentary elections in 2004. The JHU secured nine seats on that occasion and played a key role in the election of W.J.M. Lokubandara (UNP) as Speaker. Lokubandara would thereafter morph into a staunch ally of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The fortunes of the JHU declined not too long thereafter, but Ranawaka’s star was on the rise. He is credited with having authored Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election manifesto in 2005 and was a key speaker during that election campaign. Following the resignation of National List MP Ven Omalpe Sobitha, Ranawaka entered parliament and was duly appointed as Minister of Environment.

The JHU joined the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in 2010 and had relatively meager returns, but Ranawaka came third in the preferential votes in Colombo. He was given the Power and Energy portfolio but later, perhaps since he didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with the Rajapaksas, was ‘downgraded’ to Minister of Science and Technology. The unilateral exit of Ven Athureliye Rathana Thero from the UPFA in late 2014 forced Ranawaka’s hand. The JHU quit the government, backed Maithripala Sirisena and Ranawaka was made Minister of Megapolis and Western Province Development. He was, then, a Gota+Basil version of the Yahapalana Government. He was President Sirisena’s nominee to the Constitutional Council and was the Secretary of the United National Front for Good Governance led by Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Ranawaka’s political history is akin to someone who has switched vehicles frequently. He either hit potholes or drove into them, abandoned the vehicle and jumped into another. His organizational history, so to speak, is colorful: JVP, Chinthana Sansadaya, Ratawesi Peramuna, Janatha Mithuro, National Movement Against Terrorism, SU (Sihala Urumaya), JHU, UPFA, UNPGG and now the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB). As of today, the first nine are nonexistent or largely irrelevant. Ranawaka has moved. Up.

Yes, he was with the JHU for 16 years, but both he and the JHU would have gone into oblivion had he (and the JHU) not hooked up with the UPFA (2010), the UNP (2015) and the SJB (2020). Some argue that it was not that Ranawaka jumped from party to party but that the relevant parties had come to him. Well, writing manifestos notwithstanding, none of the big brothers listened to him after the polls closed.

The JHU is not even a rump as of now. It makes sense to quit. More importantly it’s a necessary first step for Ranawaka to further his political ambitions. Sajith Premadasa, whose sophomoric qualities got exposed during his presidential bid, is no match for Ranawaka when it comes to intellect, drive and even oratory. This was most evident during the constitutional crisis in late 2018. Wickremesinghe was ready to give up, senior UNPers were dumbfounded, but it was Ranawaka who held the fort and saved the day. Too late in the day to stop the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s inexorable drive to power of course, but although not a UNPer, he won the (grudging?) respect of that political camp. It is quite possible that a Ranawaka presidential bid would inject some hope and much needed passion into the SJB/UNP. Premadasa better watch out; the attacks from the pro-SLPP camp are directed at Ranawaka, not Premadasa, perhaps because he is seen as a more serious challenge. That’s good for Ranawaka and bad news for Premadasa.So it was essentially a week of acronyms: MCC, PUC, SLMC and PCR (that’s Patali Champika Ranawaka).



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Politics

Dudley and Gopallawa: two simple leaders

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Excerpted from the memoirs of Senior DIG (Retd.) Edward Gunawardene

Barely a week had passed after the election ended I was in for a surprise. I received a message from the IGP that I had been appointed as the ASP in charge of the security of the Hon. Prime Minister and His Excellency the Governor-General. As expected Dudley Senanayake had been appointed the Prime Minister and he was in the process of forming the Cabinet. William Gopallawa was the Governor-General. He had taken over from Oliver Goonatilleke after the attempted coup of 1962.

The VIP Security Division fell within the purview of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police. I was not given any indication as to where I was to take up residence. As the only official police bungalows were the large ‘C’ type houses on Brownrigg Road (now Keppetipola Mawatha) I knew that as a bachelor I had no chance of getting one of these. Furthermore all these were occupied mainly by the DIGs and SPs.

With no other alternative and my presence in Colombo urgently needed I decided to occupy a room in the Officers’ Mess. I telephoned Jamis the butler and told him to prepare a room for me. All my furniture was piled up in one room of the Kegalle house and the HQI was requested by me to look after the premises. My successor in Kegalle had not been appointed. My clothes were packed into two old suitcases. My shoes, riding boots, football boots, guns, fishing rods etc were packed separately. Chandradasa and I left Kegalle to the Officers’ Mess with just these few things. There was no time for farewells, not even a farewell parade or guard-of-honour. To me and Chandradasa the Mess was not a new place. During my CID, Colombo Div. and Nugegoda District days I had lived in the Mess and Chandradasa had been my personal servant.

Because I left Kegalle very early I was able to be at the Mess by 9 a.m. Having changed my clothes and wearing shirt and tie I went to the CID office on the fourth floor of the New Secretariat building and reported to the DIG CID John Attygalle. He was very cordial. A room was allocated to me with a telephone, a Sub-Inspector, a PC and a civilian clerk who could also type. He also told me that my duties would be such that I will have to spend little time in the office. The vehicle allocated to me was a new Peugeot 404. When the DIG indicated this to me, I told him that I would use this only when I travel out of Colombo for official purposes. I preferred using my Peugeot 203 for my usual travel in Colombo. He appeared to be surprised by my decision.

After taking over duties as the ASP, VIP Security and reporting to the DIG CID there were two other important tasks to perform. They were to introduce myself to the Prime Minister and also to the Governor-General. The former was no stranger to me, after lunch and a short nap at the Mess I was driven to ‘Woodlands’ by my new orderly PC Fernando. The gate was manned by two PCs. My car was stopped. When my orderly spoke to them, both of them came up to the window on the side I was seated and saluted me smiling broadly.

When I got down at the portico there were several people on the verandah. There were also a Sub-Inspector and two or three constables in uniform. When I disclosed my identity to the Sub-Inspector he saluted me and told me that the Prime Minister was in. From the verandah I walked into the quite spacious office room. A handsome man dressed in white and a red tie was seated at the large desk. His white jacket hung on the wall behind him.

When he saw me, he got up smiling. Stretching out his hand he said, “Hello Eddie. We were expecting you”. This was Joe Karunaratne, the son of Professor W.A.E. Karunaratne who had assumed duties as the private secretary to the Prime Minister. Joe and I had been at kindergarten together in St. Joseph’s College in the early 40s. He had left St. Joseph’s and joined St. Benedict’s and was my junior at Peradeniya. He told me that the Prime Minister was busy finalizing the Cabinet with Bradman Weerakoon. Until Bradman joined us, Joe and I reminisced about our old friends and the days as kids. Happy Karunaratne was Joe’s twin brother. A happy-go- lucky young man he had died early.

After about 45 minutes Bradman came out of the Prime Minister’s room. He was dressed in a cream tussore lounge suit. After I was introduced to him by Joe we had a brief chat. As he was in a hurry to get back to his office, the room adjoining the Prime Minister’s room in the Senate building, he excused himself and left. Bradman was a member of the Ceylon Civil Service. Commencing with S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike he had worked for every prime minster. A model public servant he commanded much respect even after his retirement. As the security chief of the Prime Minister it was necessary for me to work closely with the Secretary and the private secretary. Naturally the three of us became friends.

As the Prime Minister was busy with several ministers, I told Joe that I would visit Queen’s House, study the security arrangements there and return. When I went to Queen’s House it was about 4.30 pm. Inspector Bongso received me. Apart from Bongso the other security officers consisted of two Sergeants and four constables. The uniformed personnel at the gates and a tactical patrol through a passage between the perimeter wall and a Madras-thorn hedge were provided by the Fort Police Station.

Although the residence of the Governor-General everything at Queen’s House appeared very simple. Bongso took me round the premises of this sprawling Dutch building adjoining the Gordon Gardens. I was impressed by the simplicity of William Gopallawa when I was taken to the kitchen. The main area of the kitchen with a long table, a large electric cooking range, two deep freezers and numerous other gadgets did not show signs of use. In a small room next to the extensive kitchen there was a man dressed in sarong and banian preparing a meal. The room had a refrigerator and an electric cooker. This cook from Matale was preparing two vegetable curries to be eaten by “hamuduruwo” with two slices of toast for dinner! It is unimaginable indeed that a kitchen that had seen nothing less than turkey and ham served by liveried waiters even during the early post-independence years, readying such a frugal meal for a simple head of state in 1965. Having told Bongso that I would visit the following morning I left to Woodlands.

When I reached Woodlands it was about 6.30 pm. Joe was still there talking to a person who had come from Dedigama. Just then Robert walked in with young Rukman who went inside and came out saying “Mahappi is resting.”

“He will be up in a few minutes Eddie. We can have a chat. Don’t go away”, said Robert turning to me. It did not take long. Carolis came to us and indicated that “Hamu’ was up and that he had just lit his pipe. He added that Hamu’s Brilliantine was over and all his efforts to get a bottle had failed. I immediately telephoned OIC Pettah and told him to get two jars of — Yardley Brilliantine and send them to me at the Officers’ Mess. No other hair cream had the rich aroma of Yardley brilliantine and Carolis said this was an urgent necessity as ‘Hamu’ would not use any other brand.

Pleasant looking in gold rimmed glasses Carolis had a fine sense of humour. Saying, “Sir, a wonderful thing happened today”, he related a story that made all of us laugh. Ruskin Fernando the MP for Moratuwa had come to Woodlands when the Prime Minister was not in. Carolis had told him that ‘Hamu’ was busy making (hadanawa) the Cabinet. Putting his palm on his forehead Ruskin had blurted, “Why didn’t he tell me. I could have turned out a special cabinet for him! As everybody knows Moratuwa is famed for its carpenters.

 

 

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More on Villa Venezia

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Tissa Devendra’s lament for Villa Venezia, Sri Lanka’s first University Library, prompted a letter from Mr. Rohantha Fernando, a relative by marriage of Sir. Marcus Fernando, who has long lived in the UK, enclosing some photos of the villa from a Plate annual published in the 1930s and a brief description of the house published below.

After Sir. Marcus, a prominent physician and legislator sold the house, he lived in another palatial mansion, Deveronside, on Sir. Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo 7.

 

The description of Villa Venezia:

“VILLA VENEZIA”

QUEEN’S ROAD, COLOMBO.

The Residence of Sir Marcus Fernando.

Architects: – Messrs. Edwards, Reid and Booth, F. & A. A. R. I. B. A.

1. The main staircase runs up from the marble octagonal hall to the First Floor ante room. The dome is similar in shape and colour to a lotus flower.

2. The ball room verandah on the First Floor. There is a similar verandah on the other side of the ball room, which in addition to the great height of the ball room ensures that the latter is always cool.

3. The Ground Floor Drawing Room. This room leads out of the Octagonal Hall and the Dining Room and is flanked by two verandahs. The exterior of one of these is depicted on plate 4.

4. The central feature of the elevation towards Queen’s Road. The great height of the Ball room is marked by this feature. The character of the building is Adriatic.

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Is India in the West or East, that’s the question

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by Malinda Seneviratne

What if the British High Commissioner in Colombo, Sarah Hulton, met with the Ambassador of South Korea, Woonjin Jeong, on Tuesday, May 2, 2021? What if he was accompanied by the former Foreign Minister and the man who happily tossed Sri Lanka under the UNHRC bus driven by a warmongering Uncle Sam? What if Canadian High Commissioner in Colombo, David McKinnon, held discussions with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Tareq Ariful Islam, at the Canada House, Colombo 7, around the same time?

Now there are no laws against diplomats meeting other diplomats. There are no laws to stop diplomats meeting citizens of the country they happen to be posted in. However, it is significant that both South Korea and Bangladesh are members of the Human Rights Council. It is significant because in a few days time a vote will be taken in Geneva on a resolution on (well, ‘against,’ really) Sri Lanka. It’s a one country-one-vote situation, and therefore every vote can count. Indeed, if it is a close affair then that one vote becomes even more significant.
The Resolution is not just against Sri Lanka; it is a vote which, if succeeds, will set a dangerous precedent and effectively turn ‘human rights’ into an even more ironic, preposterous and pernicious weapon that the worst thug-nations in the world can deploy to wreck nations and regimes refusing to toe the line. In other words, it would give credence to vexatious persecution
The earth is not flat; this we know. Neither is Switzerland despite the lovely mountains, except in the dullness of the flavors pertaining to political economy. Countries might have equal voting worth on paper, but then again few would not have heard of that stinging truism ‘some are more equal than others.’ That oft quoted Golden Rule makes sense: he who has the gold makes the rules (we’ll come to that shortly). One can add ‘guns’ to the equation except that such killing-instruments are outdated in a world where there are nuclear weapons and countries which possess them have not hesitated to use biological weapons.
If it has come to a point where local diplomats have been directed by their respective governments to canvass votes then it simply means that the bosses driving the resolution have got jittery. Now one might be persuaded to imagine these diplomats sipping green tea and trying to persuade the relevant counterparts to join the club. However, persuasive arguments were never part of the story. It’s never been about right or wrong, good or evil. No. It’s about proposals that end with ‘or else…’ directly stated or suggested. Bribes too are part of the story. ‘How about if we…’ could be the ice-breaker in such situations.

Considering the geographical (and yes, ideological) location/orientation of the key players, this is essentially a West vs East game. This brings to mind a curious case of ‘seeing the light’ not too long ago. Let me elaborate.
It is no secret that the UNP faction of the previous regime was cosy with the political West. You could, if you are generous, call it ideological agreement of course but there has always been a streak of servility that prompts one to think and label, ‘colonial remnants.’
That dispensation, led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, banked on the West. Mangala Samaraweera, Foreign Minister of that government, played ‘local agent’ to the extent that he bent backwards to get Sri Lanka to dig a hole and crawl into it. He’s gone now, but he (and all those in that government who either cheered, watched in silence or looked away) essentially laid a minefield for those who would arrive later to walk on. This is why ‘Geneva’ is still in the news.

This, however, is not about that kind of political intrigue. It’s about the West (and therefore, obviously, the East). Wickremesinghe’s cabal, sweethearts as far as the West was concerned, operated as though we live on a planet so misshapen that there was only the West. Obviously the word means nothing if there’s no East, so maybe they operated as though the East, existent though it is, was inconsequential.

Brexit hit them between the proverbial eyes. Wickremesinghe came up with a classic and ironical observation: ‘we will look to the East.’ OMG! Wickremesinghe, thought of as some kind of whizkid in things economic, we learned, hadn’t heard of China or known that China and Japan own North American and European debt! OMG all over again!
So then, that’s how we need to frame this charade. East vs West. T.S. Eliot, in his iconic poem ‘Wasteland’ had a pretty and perceptive line (if it’s ok to interpret it in terms of a tectonic shift in ‘seeing’ and true domination):

There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

The above is obviously a description of someone moving from West to East. We can think of it as an ideological shift or even a re-alignment of philosophical orientation, but at a more mundane level, it’s about a shift in the balance of global power. In that sense, the Geneva Circus of Vexatious Persecution using/abusing Sri Lanka is but symptomatic of a last gasp effort on the part of those who have called the shots for a long century and are suddenly realizing that they are going to lose their voices.
The title has ‘India’ in it. Why India, someone might wonder. Well, India seems ideologically confused and geographically challenged right now. The West (or rather the spokespersons for the ideological and political camp that uses the locational term as identifier) has made it’s position clear: ANTI-SRI LANKA. The key voices of the opposite camp, led of course by China, have backed Sri Lanka. Even Japan and Australia (the other two Quad members) haven’t shown any of the belligerence of the world’s worst human rights offender over the past several centuries, Britain (yes, add ‘perpetrator of genocide, common thief, generator of inter-communal conflict, pyromaniac’) and her present day allies. India hasn’t mimicked the ‘Mother Country’ of course, but the noises are not supportive. They are marked by grumpiness. So much so that it would not be unfair if the relevant authorities assume ‘India will side against Sri Lanka.’ India could abstain, but at this point, it would be silly for India to assume that Sri Lanka would applaud such a position.
It’s simple, really. India has an issue with a strident China. India can play pawn and scoot over to the country that raped her. India might even be envisaging a future world order that is divided between two new superpowers, China and India. India could, on the other hand, envisage a new world order led by powerful nations which will not settle things with guns and bucks, even if they have the bombs and the gold. Instead of carving up the world (as the European powers carved up —and impoverished — Africa at the Berlin Conference in 1884), India, with China, could use new found sway to heal the world and make it a better place (for you and for me, as MJ said).
India has a single vote. However, the stand that India takes will be taken note of. Sri Lanka certain would. Other nations would too. Sometimes, arms need not be twisted (as the British and Canadian mission heads in Colombo might very well be doing — Bangladesh and South Korea are proud nations, we still believe, by the way). A threat is often more powerful than its execution, as the great Polish and French chess master Savielli Tartakower once said.
So. India. Where is it located or rather where does India wish to locate itself? That’s the question. The answer will be important for Sri Lanka because it could persuade Sri Lanka to reassess her location (as nations do from time to time).

[The writer is the Director/CEO of the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute. These are his personal views].

malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com.

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