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Tennis star; satire to highlight climate change; local comedy

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Sorry folks, Cassandra will keep mum about local glories and glorious living in our country. If she cries her usual lamentation of “I see blood /mayhem/riots or whatever …” it won’t do you good; Cass neither. Consequently, she again casts her eye over the oceans to pass on snippets of news. Her cowardly restraint is due to a piece in The Island of Wednesday, January 12 the headline of which read: “Warning over public comments: Explanation sought from police.” It leads with the sentence: “The Human Rights Commission has asked police headquarters not to interfere with people’s freedom of expression.” Hosannas and kudos to the boss of the HRC, an intrepid woman! Praise be, but…

Cass’ situ is still gas-less, courageless, hopeless and helpless. A kind store owner from an outstation offered her a cylinder of gas. No thanks, Cass said. She waits till her usual gas vendor delivers a cylinder ‘pramithi anuwa’. Does Cass blame Litro gas or its boss who said that the proportion of the two gases that make up cooking gas has not been tampered with, even as cylinders exploded all over the island? Does Cass blame the government? Not at all. Then whom does she blame? Herself for changing to gas usage to save electricity for the good of the country. She blames the cylinders, which though seemingly innocuous, get the devil into them and decide to bedevil their connecting tubes and regulator, so gas leaks and the cylinders turn to lethal bombs. People are injured. But never mind; the cheated, injured and dead were all simple folk, expendable and never mind their loss. As was said, no gas cylinder explosions occurred in Colombo.

Djokovic vs Australian Immigration Minister

The Australian Open Tennis tournament scheduled to start on January 17 was keenly awaited as a fillip to the spirits and a much needed distraction from current travails. And who was Cass cheering for? Novak Djokovic, undoubtedly. He is spectacular, having won the Australian Open nine times: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021. So what were we waiting for? To see him win the tenth time, a record if ever there was one. He won the British tournament in Wimbledon six times starting in 2011 and ending in 2021; French Open in 2016 and 2021, and the US Open in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

It was reported that when applying for his visa to Melbourne, he was permitted an exemption from vaccination against COVID-19. He had caught the infection a month ago but mercifully mildly. On arrival in Melbourne he was detained and quarantined. His lawyers, cheered on by Australian fans and approbation worldwide, argued for his freedom with the judge, pronouncing his detention in quarantine be ended forthwith. Then up rises the Minister of Immigration who is determined to cancel his visa. It is yet to be seen whether Novak Djokovic will enthral his fans again in Melbourne.

Satire on impact of global warming

I watched Netflix’s second highest grossing film Don’t Look Up and without setting my mind on it, accepted it at face value. Astronomy research assistant, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), discovers a huge object with its trajectile pointed earthwards. She alerts her boss Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) who co-opts a NASA veteran and they solicit an interview with the President of the United States. This time around the Prez is a woman, Janie Orlean, with long golden hair and a couple of fools around her, played brilliantly by Meryl Streep. After a wait they do get an interview. The Prez almost laughs at the earnest young female researcher and brushes the entire matter off with a ‘let’s wait and see’. Finally they decide to go public on a morning show, The Daily Rip, with Cate Blanchet as co-anchor. Here again derision, so Kate goes ballistic but to no avail.

The film ends with the massive comet, with parts disintegrating and missiles trying to destroy or deflect it, impacting Earth to totally destroy it. Kate and Mindy, with families, get pulverised mid meal. The Prez and an entourage of 2000 escape in a sleeper spaceship and land on a habitable planet. Orlean is attacked, killed and devoured by a monstrous creature.

On Wednesday, January 12, I listened to a BBC interview with director-producer and writer Adam McKay, who said that the intention of making the film was to get a message across. It had a short run in cinemas after its release on December 10, 2021. Then streamed on Netflix.

Don’t Look Up is a satirical sci-fi film intended to awaken people to the imminent and immense danger of global warming. It also satirises government and media indifference to the climate crisis. It received mixed reviews, though the acting was commended by all critics. However, the severity and immediacy of its warning message about global warming was doubtful in its impact. The film received four nominations for the 79th Golden Globe awards, but won none. Netflix reported that the film set a new record for the most viewing hours in a single week, making it the third most watched Netflix film so far.

To Cass, Al Gore’s 2006 film on global warming, The Inconvenient Truth, made a greater impact as there was no intention to entertain, at all. Cassandra bets our Sinhala cinema folk could come up with a superb satire or tragicomedy on the country situation. But censorship? Yes.

A sort of comedy is playing out in Britain at the moment; a frenzy of enquiry, was he there or wasn’t he? The ‘he’ here is PM Boris Johnson and the ‘there’ is a party at the garden of 10 Downing Street in May 2020, with the first lockdown in force. Some say BJ and wife were at the party, he and others say no. To Cass it looks like a genuine storm in a teacup. The announcement or invitation email that circulated among staff at the PM’s residence or office indicated that it would be under strict pandemic restrictions and said to ‘bring your own alcohol’.

Local tragicomedy

We watched a sort of comedy on a day that reminds us of tragedy. Cass means here the recent commemoration of SWRD Bandaranaike’s birth anniversary. There was Maithripala Sirisena leading the Blue Hands with floral tributes, accompanied by sacked State Minister Susil Premajayantha in the forefront. Cass swears her eyes were playing no tricks when she espied him again following the two daughters and their retinue to place flowers at the feet of the statue of their father at Galle Face. Premajayantha is running the double race again with new Hands and the inheritors of the Hand. This blue politician was the first SLFPer to sign in as a member of the newly formed SLPP. Here was a tragicomedy, satire with no satirical impact, showing the flat out reluctance to go back to being a nonentity. ‘Cling to any branch’ is the name of the game.



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Match against Djokovic; Partying PM; Prince turned Mr Nobody, and no hope

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Slightly old hat but arguments for or against Novak Djokovic being allowed to stay in Melbourne for the Australian Open will swirl around and then die down, sadly, but inevitably. The sports world will go on; Australian might will continue; and people will soon forget and go about their business. May even be that when the winners of AO are announced only a couple of persons will remember him who was such a wonderful player who hardly ever lost his cool and seemed so steady and even relaxed when on tennis courts. Remember Robert Frost in his poem, Out, Out succinctly mentioning this fact at the end when the boy whose arm was cut by an electric saw breathed his last.

“And they, since they Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.”

So very tragically true of all persons; all who brag, rant and pound their feet will die and not many will remember them.

Comments

The Editor of this paper commented on it and seemed to stand for ‘the Law holds for all’. He made no mention of the health waiver the world’s Number One tennis wizard got which he traded on to go to Melbourne in the first place.

Dr Upul Wijayawardhana in his piece printed beside the editorial on Tuesday 18 – “Australian antics and Djokovic’s disgrace” mentioned this. “It is surprising that Djokovic was given a medical exemption to enter Australia by … Tennis Australia and the State Government of Victoria after testing positive for coronavirus.” He got the permission to enter the AO, so he did, though there were controversial issues.

So, Cass in her emotional and yes, unreasonable, sense, sides with the tennis player. He should have been segregated and allowed participation in the tournament. We do not ask they consider his attempt at being the tennis world’s first to win 21 grand slams, but that here was an outstanding sportsman who got clearance to enter and was even permitted release from segregation in a hotel and allowed to resume preparing for the tournament to start on the 17th. It seemed to be a tussle between a state government and that of Australia and poor Novak was A pawn, as it were.

Now, the Aussie Open has lost its glamour and even interest to this ole soul – Cassandra. She hoped Nadal and others would withdraw from the OA. But since it was not their deportation, they go along. Hopefully they will publicly comment in support of their co-sportsman. Nadal already spoke out.

Ordinary citizen of UK

Poor Prince Andrew: his carnal desire has got him in a dirty soup! Will he, now be stripped of all titles and even won military honours, go forth to court to battle his case as Mr Andrew Windsor with perhaps Mountbatten added as a middle surname? What a downfall and comedown!

Cass has been having an emailed argument about whether Virginia G is a gold digger or not, and whether it can be accepted Andrew raped, as is accused, a teenager way back around two to three decades ago.

Cass’ arguing friend seems to see the issue in the light of what Virginia G wants to crush: – power, money and connections used against the underprivileged. She has spelled out her legal pursuit of Andrew thus. Noble aim but why select only this former prince? Surely there were others earlier – Epstein himself. To Cass she has schemed her way adroitly, seeing Epstein imprisoned and committing suicide (it is said, though belief is he was done in, with all the secrets of the rich and powerful within him), and his aide and abettor in the crime of trafficking underage girls – Ghislaine Maxwell – convicted to prison for 50 odd years. Virginia would surely have banked on raking in a great amount of lucre and of course publicity, fat and middle aged as she now is. True, Andrew (we dare call him that) was accepting what Epstein offered him, but to Cass and her incisive eye, it would definitely not have been rape.

What came across sharply to Cass was the difference between her much younger correspondent’s opinion and Cass’. To the younger one Andrew was all black and Virginia a sweet little kid pounced upon and sullied against her wishes. Cass emerged rather old fashioned, believing in the adage that boys will be boys and men are allowed much more than girls/women who are censured more. Yes, that was the attitude of Sri Lankan society or what Cass knew of in her Kandy upbringing. We do not know whether a negotiation has been worked out or whether the ex-Prince faces the pretending Innocent in an American court of law with #metoo etc very strong over in the USA. The gracious duty-bound Queen is the greatest loser in this randy, rapacious business.

No storm in a teacup

The previous Cassandra Cry, referred to the bring-your-own-alcohol and observe- Covid-restrictions party in June 2019 in the garden of No 10 Downing Street. She classified it as a storm in the Brit’s cuppa. Not so, not so many means. This party has resulted in a loud call to the PM to resign, perhaps not only the premiership but his Parliament seat too, which means being thrown out of the Conservative Party leadership. Boris Johnson is a bird of the Andrew feather – loves fun and partying. But he marries his girlfriends, one by one! The storm is brewing and it’s getting hotter for the PM as ex employers throw in their tuppenny worth – all damning!

Us in Paradise?

We continue in Fool’s Paradise with fireplaces in gardens; fear of lack of medicines; rising costs and sharing the anger of helpless farmers shedding tears. “Half of USD 6.7 mn paid to China would have helped save Maha yield.” So pronounced SJB’s MP Rohini Kaviratna. Inexplicable, unbelievable, the pinnacle of absurdity not to import chemical fertiliser, weedicides and pesticides now that it has been realised the move to organic farming was too precipitous and cost the country and its people so very much. And to add fuel to the fire an announcement is made that a fresh order for organic manure has been sent to that seaweed company in China. We never learn. It’s corruption at whatever cost. And with no money to import fertiliser much is spent on food like beetroot and rice.

Chandra Jayaratne in The Island of Tuesday January 18 lists all our country and people’s travails in his article ‘People’s wishes.’ Cass painfully counted the words in one line of his article and computed that his very long first paragraph of 42 lines had approx 300 words – all of our country troubles. Him being the excellent writer with keen brain and good sense to match, writes very precisely. The list of woes was that long! So, you can imagine what dire straits we are in. His second paragraph lists origins of these maladies: “unprofessional, arrogant, egoistic, even childish … heading towards a failed state.”

Please, please wake up, those in power and do what needs to be done to brake the speeding to bankruptcy. We really do not want ‘splenour and prosperity’. We only want to live fairly decent lives, and that is not stymied by the pandemic. The ‘gloom and despondency and poverty’ are man-made.

On that note Cass says bye bye with no hope in her.

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Patriotic surgeon who volunteered to work on battlefield

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By Admiral Ravindra C Wijegunaratne

(Retired from Sri Lanka Navy) Former Chief of Defence Staff

In 1991, I was selected to one of the prestigious sea appointments in the Sri Lanka Navy. After a short familiarisation course, I was appointed to P 467 (old pennant numbers), Fast Attack Craft (FAC) Super Dovra Mk ll, one of the fastest FAC of the Navy at that time. Built in Israel at a cost of US $ 30 million, it was the vanguard of our Navy throughout our conflict with LTTE Sea Tiger terrorists.

P467 was commanded by LT Cdr Ariyadasa, an officer senior to me, who has intercepted the highest number of smuggling boats in SLN in Western Naval Command. So, my sole intention was to work hard and capture more smuggling boats than LT Cdr Ariyadasa.

Two days after my appointment, my FAC was attached to Eastern Naval Command to patrol the Northern waters. It may have been done by someone in the Naval Headquarters who didn’t want to see me in Colombo?

We had to deal with not smugglers but LTTE Sea Tigers operating in the northern waters at the time. The LTTE had some camps on the Southern Indian coast; it was their main logistics route to the Northern peninsula. They had boats moving at an excess of 30 knots (30 nautical miles per hour – approx 40mph ) and our FAC had a slight speed advantage over terrorist speed boats.

The distance between India and Sri Lanka is approximately 24 nautical miles. Indo- Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) has been marked at equidistance, approximately 12 nautical miles. So, terrorist boats moving at 30 knots could cross our waters in 24 minutes ! That’s the time the Navy had to detect, chase and to destroy them. If you had got too close to land, which was held by my enemy at that time, you would have been fired upon with enemy’s shore gun batteries. The FAC would have become a “sitting duck” in such an eventuality. The enemy always kept their tractors with the trailers in the water ready for their boat arrivals.

As soon as their boats hit the shore, they were loaded into tractor trailers and moved to safety. This was done in reverse order when the boats were launched. It was more difficult for us to detect the boat launching pads as they were done at night. However, those days when LTTE Sea Tigers saw an Israeli built Dovra, they used to run away at maximum speed. Most of our chases of sea tiger boats ended up in a “stern chase” and with slight speed advantage, we destroyed the enemy boat with 20mm Oerlicon cannon we had as the main weapon.

The FAC had a crew of two officers and 12 sailors at that time. It was a very close “family”. My Second-In-Command was LT SHU Dushmantha, fearless and an excellent officer. He was an outstanding tennis player, an old Anandian and from the KDU Intake 4. Sadly, he died in action out at sea on 30/10/1998. He was a recipient of three gallantry medals for his bravery and valour out at sea namely, Weera Wickrama Vibushanaya (WWV), Rana Wickrama Paddakkama (RWP) and Rana Soora Paddakkama (RSP). I had Leading Seaman Newton as my coxswain (later rose to Master Chief Petty Officer rank and excellent photographer), and Leading Marine Engineering Mechanic Premaratne (also rose to MCPO rank later and excellent cook) looked after the

engines. Our FAC during her first patrol to Northern Naval Area was able to destroy a enemy boat, which was a great achievement to me personally and to my crew.

The FAC was a time-tested craft in the SLN. From time to time, we upgraded our weapons and sensors on board FACs. When we were onboard an FAC, we had only a radar to detect enemy boats at night. Later, we had MSIS (Multi Sensor Integrated Systems) and better forward main guns such as US-made 30mm Bush master chain gun, but the platform, the FAC hull remained the same.

When we fought with Sea Tigers, there were no suicide boats. The enemy fled at their maximum speed when they saw an FAC, Then enemy developed their suicide cadres and speed boats later loaded with explosives and started to steer towards us at excessive speed on suicidal missions.

We had to rewrite and develop our fighting tactics and manoeuvres against the new threat. We lost some of our best FAC Commanders and crews due to those deadly attacks. I salute them and all those who worked tirelessly during this period and special thanks to our gunners, electrical/electronic engineers and marine engineers for keeping FACs operational and battle-prepared.

There is a unique difference in fighting at sea that on land. There are no covers in sea battle. Whoever fired effectively first won. Sea battles are very short and decisive.

There is a special bond between your shipmates (FAC mates), whether you are an officer or a sailor. You go to battle together in Fast Attack Craft and come home victorious ,or perish at sea together. OIC take decisions and he had to be brave and knowledgeable.

My FAC command period was eventful and enjoyable. I was married and my wife Yamuna was expecting our son. We lived in married quarters at the Naval Base Trincomalee. Those Royal Navy time officers quarters are specious and beautiful.

Our patrols to Northern waters lasted seven days. If everything went well, you got a seven-day break for maintenance, repairs to get ready for next patrol. Before heading for the North, I would leave my wife with my brother officer’s family living at the Naval Base, Trincomalee, where she would stay until my return. She preferred to be with LCdr (L) Sarath Silva’s family. Sarath is from my junior batch and his wife Chandrani looked after Yamuna very well. They were very close friends. Such is the camaraderie among Naval families !

When your FAC is non operational, you have to take some other Operational FACs on patrol. This is not a good arrangement as you are going out to sea with an unknown crew. However, in September 1991, I had to take P468 (my batchmate Shirantha’s FAC) as mine was under repairs on slipway. Further, my 2IC, Dushmamtha was also on leave. I decided to go to sea on board P468 without a 2IC, on a six-day patrol to Northern waters.

Fast Attack Craft have two very powerful inboard engines. They required large amounts of low sulphur diesel (LSD). One engine consumed approximately 100 litres of LSD per hour. Two engines running, its 200 litres per hour. It takes four hours for us to sail from Trincomalee to KKS. About 800 litres consumed per one run to Northern waters from Trincomalee. If Rs 100 a litre of LSD, FAC consumes approximately Rs 80,000 worth of LSD per one run. Then we do seven days patrolling and returning back to Trincomalee. Navy has 36 Fast Attack Craft. So you can imagine the fuel costs.

Navies are very expensive!

So, two days of my patrol onboard P468 was uneventful. On 13 June 1991 around 10AM, we were returning to KKS for rest and refuelling from the Mulativu sea area. Sea was calm and I was keeping about two nautical miles from the land and moving North at approximately 20 knots speed. I was on the flying bridge and enjoying bright sunlight and very clear weather. My lookout sentry on Port side (land side) reported two open jeeps moving on Manakkadiu road, one fitted with a gun. The area was held by enemy. I sounded action stations and told the crew that I would turn towards the jeeps and increase speed.

I told them when I was turning away from land they had to engage the targets with our 20mm cannon. The sea was deep enough for the FAC to go up to 400m from shore. Forward gunner was very good. His third shot hit a jeep and it started burning. Other jeep took cover behind a sand dune.

We saw some movements on the beach with enemy cadres getting into boats on land. When we were breaking away from targets and headed towards deep sea, our boat was hit by enemy fire from boats. Crack and thump of 50 calibre machine gun fire was very clearly heard.

Do you know how to identify someone is firing at you? You hear two noises (in military terminology known as a crack and thump. Every shot fired at you makes two noises for one shot. As bullet velocity is faster than the speed of sound, you first hear sound “tuck’ (or crack) when bullet goes through air closer to you. Then you hear sound “Dum” ( or thump) after some time. That is the sound made by bullets leaving the gun barrel. A well trained Special Forces person will be able to say the approximate distance of firer by the interval between crack and thump.

Enemy gun fire rained on the FAC, but we were almost beyond enemy’s effective gun range. Suddenly, one enemy gun shot hit the guard rail of the FAC. It’s splinters hit my left shoulder and upper arm . A sailor who was standing next to me at Open bridge was also hit in the leg. Blood soaked my left arm and multiple injuries were visible.

I knew I was hit badly. Sailors onboard panicked. I steered the FAC to a safe distance from land and informed my colleague Rohan, who was on another FAC on patrol and steered towards KKS.

After bleeding was controlled by a sailor trained on combat medicine, I found no major damage to my bones. I felt a bit dizzy, but able to walk into a waiting ambulance at KKS harbour to be taken to Army hospital at Palaly for immediate medical treatment.

On arrival at the Palaly Army Hospital, I saw a tall figure in a surgical gown waiting for me. He was non other than Dr Maiya Gunasekara, Consultant Surgeon. Dr Maiya took a few hours to remove whatever shrapnel he detected. He said others would remain inside the bones as they posed no threat. They are still inside my left shoulders and upper arm.

I consider them as gifts from the LTTE but they prevent me from through any Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines!

I invited Dr Maiya on board to my FAC that evening and took him to sea and showed him Point Pedro and VVT (home town of LTTE leader Prabhakaran) from sea.

Dr Maiya volunteered services as a surgeon at the battle front and saved a number of officers and men who were severely injured.

Dr Indrajith Maithri (‘Maiya’) De Zoysa Gunasekara, FRCS, FICS, Consultant Surgeon was born on 22nd August 1951 and educated at Royal College, Colombo 7. He was a College coloursman in Basketball and Rugby Football and represented Royal College in Athletics as well. He represented the Royal College rugby team for a number of years and later entered the Medical Faculty of Colombo University. He was the recipient of Leslie Handunge trophy awarded to the best sportsman at both

Colombo and Peradeniya Universities in 1974. He excelled in both studies and sports, graduated from both Royal College of Surgeons of England and Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and captained CR and FC rugger team and represented the National Rugby team and the National Rugby sevens team for a number of years . He was President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union and Chairman of National Sports Council.

Now, he is the Consultant Surgeon at the Nawaloka Hospital, Colombo. He will sits in his consultation room (Room 55) at Navaloka Hospital daily.

However his dedicated service to the Nation in treating our Armed Forces personnel at the Battle front in Palaly Army hospital is not known to many.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela once said “There will be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return”

Thank you Dr Maiya – we salute you !

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South’s development debacle compounded by SAARC’s inner paralysis

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From a development point of view, it’s ‘the worst of times’ for the global South. The view of some of the most renowned development organizations is that the woes brought upon the hemisphere by the Covid-19 pandemic have probably stalled its development by decades. The inference is inescapable that the South would need to start from scratch as it were in its efforts to ease its material burdens, once the present health crisis shows signs of lifting.

A recent Jakarta Post/ANN news feature published in this newspaper on January 14th, detailing some of the dire economic fallout from the pandemic on the South said: ‘Between March and December 2020, the equivalent of 147 million full time jobs were lost in the Asia Pacific region. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that between 140 million people in Asia were pushed into poverty and in 2021 another 8 million became poor…..Vulnerable groups such as women, ethnic and religious minorities and migrant workers were worst affected. Across Asia, informal and migrant workers suffered an estimated 21.6 percent fall in their income in the first four months of the pandemic.’

Needless to say, being one of the least developed regions of the South and its most populous one, it is South Asia that is likely to be worst affected in the current global crunch. A phenomenon that should not go unnoticed in this connection, is the rising number of the ‘new poor’ in the South. This refers in the main to those sections of the middle class that are sliding into the lower middle class and the ranks of the poverty-stricken as a result of the ill-effects of the present crisis. Job loss and decreasing income are some of the causes behind this rising tide of pauperization.

Referring to this and connected processes the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka states in its ‘Sri Lanka State of the Economy 2021’report: ‘Estimates at the USD 3.20 poverty line are forecasted to be at least 228 million, with a larger share of the population emerging from South Asia yet again. Initial projections for 2021 estimate the number of individuals in extreme poverty to be between 143 and 163 million.’ The stark and widespread poverty emerging in Afghanistan since mid-August 2021, ought to push up these figures quite a bit.

Considering that the South is way behind the North in developmental terms, the unfolding global economic crisis could be expected to widen the chasm in material wellbeing between the hemispheres in the days ahead. However, ‘the overwhelming question’ for the South would be how it could fend for itself in the absence of those Southern-centred organizations that could take up its cause in the forums of the world and bring the region together in an effort to work towards its collective wellbeing. The importance of this question is strongly underscored by the fact that SAARC is more or less dysfunctional or paralyzed at present.

The immense magnitude of the poverty question is yet to be realized by the ruling elites of the South. It is as if the chimerical growth spurt in some sections of the South over the past 30 or so years has rendered them numb and insensitive to poverty-related issues, including the ever-yawning gulf within their countries between the obscenely wealthy and the desperately poor. As is known, while the so-called ordinary people of the South have been wilting in dire want over the past two years, the hemisphere has been producing billionaires in disconcertingly high numbers. This could be true of Sri Lanka as well and the Pandora Papers gave us the cue a few months back.

By burying their heads in the sands as it were in this manner, Southern political elites could very well be setting the stage for bloody upheavals within their states. The need for substantial ‘bread’ has always been a driver of socio-political change over the centuries. They are bound to find their problems compounded by the accentuation of ethnicity and religion related questions, considering that such issues are taking a turn for the worse amid the current economic debacle. Vulnerable groups would need to be cared for and looked after by rulers and these include women and ethnic minorities. An aggravation of their lot could compound the worries of Southern rulers.

The phenomenal increase of billionaires ought to be researched more intently and thoroughly by Southern think tanks, R and D organizations and the like. Among other things, does not this disquieting emergence of billionaires prove that classical economics was wrong in assuming that wealth would easily ‘trickle-down’ to the masses from wealth creators, such as businessmen and other owners of capital? After all, we now have clear evidence that mountainous wealth could exist amid vast wastes of poverty and powerlessness.

However, the view of some commentators that ‘neoliberal policies of privatization’ and connected issues should now be reassessed and even eschewed ought to strike the observer as worthy of consideration. These policies that enthrone free market economics should be viewed as badly in need of revision and correction in view of the inherently unstable economic systems that they have given rise to over the past three decades. Their serious flaws are thrown into strong relief by the present Southern economic crisis which has resulted in some isolated, formidable towers of wealth and opulence sprouting in a sea of hardship and economic want.

Hopefully, we would see a renewed wide-ranging discussion on development models from now on. Ideally, growth needs to go hand-in-hand with equity if development is to be achieved to a degree. There is no getting away from the need for central planning to some extent in our efforts to reach these ends. Capital and Labour would need to come together in a meeting of minds in these endeavours. Development thrusts would need to be launched on pragmatic considerations as well.

However, a regional approach to resolving these issues facing South Asia needs to be renewed and persisted with as well. As long as SAARC remains paralyzed such efforts are unlikely to bear full fruit. Accordingly, India and Pakistan, the regional heavyweights, need to negotiate an end to their differences and help rejuvenate SAARC; South Asia’s key collective body that could usher in a measure of regional development.

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