17 November, 2017

An “Aiyoo See” (IOC) Budget That Pretends To Be Green

By Chandre Dharmawardana

Dr. Chandre Dharmawardana

What caught my eye regarding the “Mangala” budget were the headiness claiming that it is an eco-green budget. On reading more about it, one can only say in Colombo English, “Aiyoo!  See”, i.e.,  “Alas ! Look (at this scam)”. But the “Aiyoo-see” can also be written as IOC, the Indian Oil Company! The IOC and its impact on Sri Lanka is a good iconic symbol for what the budget really stands for, while it masquerades as a “green budget” ! 

The budget is green in its homage to the US dollar,  also called “Green” after the greenbacks of the American civil war. The budget actually promises to bring in all the horrors of unregulated third-world industrialism, pollution and poverty as seen in weak countries colonized and cannibalized by multinationals while a few individuals become extremely rich. Pathetically, the budget even gets the technology behind the little bit of “ecology” it attempts to impose completely wrong, in promising to tax cell-phone towers and limiting the internet. This is probably driven by the unsubstantiated claims of modern-day Luddites that cell-phone radiation and Wi-Fi can cause brain cancer!

An even better bit of green advice from the minster’s mouth is to drink beer instead of pop soda. The minster has said nothing about the need to import (and eat) three times the usual amount of Genetically modified US flour (abhorred by the “Greens”) than in previous years. The flour is needed to meet the total failure of harvests due to a drought whose effect has been made much worse after the short-sighted policies on fertilizers and herbicides. The most popular, most effective and least toxic herbicide, known as glyphosate, has been banned by the Ayatollahs and their acolytes, who have rallied from Athuraliya to take over agriculture and even  the health department, with false claims that glyphosate causes kidney disease.

Of course, the environmental issues of Sri Lanka needs to be fixed very soon, before it passes beyond no return and turn into a canker of a Calcutta. Sri Lanka  is a country where mounds of garbage rot and periodically  explode due to the build up of methane. The density of particulate matter in the streets and homes is some 2000 times the maximum advocated by the WHO. Coal-fired power stations are still being planned with manipulation of  contracts to get the biggest commissions, while diesel is burnt to produce power. Leaded gasoline is still allowed in the country and widely used in small two-stroke farm equipment. Lead comes  also from road markings and gray-paint  anticorrosives. Mercury is emitted from the combustion of premium gasoline, and diesel vehicles exhaust arsenic among other things.  Nickel,  Cadmium and Zn are  emitted from the constant abrasion of tire rubber. The incessant  wear of asphalt roads  release toxic nickel, vanadium and other stuff!  These sources of toxins far over-weigh the minute amounts of toxins (parts per million) found in modern fertilizers. Scientists have documented these in great detail. The minister, a past master of modern political ecology, having turned from blue to green,  has perhaps decided to “solve” road pollution by periodically importing duty-free electric cars that the MPs can sell to the public in the black market. Surely, President Trump will applaud the Green finance Minister’s ecological acumen and issue him a very Green Card. The constitution can be changed to allow dual citizens to become MPs and rob the people, while Singaporens can rob even central banks.

Or is this electric-car stuff  just a ploy to let all the MPs, tired of their BMWs and Benz cars,  get the new highly touted high-end Tesla electric car worth over a million dollars  each?

But let us come back to the IOC which is the icon of the “Ayioo-See” budget. The IOC “petrol” that is sold even in the top-tier Colombo filling stations are adulterated with kerosene to different extents. The composition of “petrol” in remote areas may stump even a seasoned analytical chemist. The IOC may ship substandard but passable petroleum due to deals within deals at the source, in India. But more significantly, the IOC represents the hegemony of a foreign power over the sovereignty of Sri Lanka, and the crass consequences of an Indian corporation controlling not only the shipment of Gasoline, but also its local distribution. The Budget opens the door to the ready entry of not just IOC, but every manner of robber baron and syndicated mafia that can sell their wares under the radar or launder their ill-gotten money. The more they are, the more avenues for commissions for the “local partner”. What a boondoggle of a budget! Many will soon live in “free”  penthouses.

The Hon. Minster says “Mr. Speaker …The country needs to shift away from being more protectionist and inward-oriented. Sri Lanka’s border measures need to see a complete revamp through well-targeted and time-bound trade reforms promoting growth. Our over dependence on non-tradable drivers challenges growth in the coming decade”. This should warm the hearts of the CEOs of Wallmarts, Arab or Chinese conglomerates, sweatshops and multinationals. It fits into Ranil W’s vision of a bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka within the proposed “Economic and Technical Cooperation agreement (ECTA)”. Then Sri Lanka’s 22 million will be subsumed into a one-billion demographic with a ready supply of cheap labour and millions of unemployed “clerks”. Clive’s East-India company is being resurrected in modern Sri Lanka.

Going even beyond JRJ’s Reaganite economics, Managla attempts to do the same complete abdication that he did with Foreign Policy where Pablo de Greiffs,  Zeid al-Husseins, and Atul Keshaps can legitimately come to Sri Lanka to set the framework for judging, devolving, dissolving  and auctioning the country. When is Jared Kushner due in Sri Lanka? Or can he just order Sri Lanka  online via the Mangala portal of  Amazon.com?

Meanwhile, opening up all boarders via the budget goes parallel with  the closing  of borders between the “so-called traditional homeland” of the Tamils and the rest of the country. This exercise of “devolution”  is demanded only by pro-Eelam ultra-conservative castiest “Tamil” leaders who traditionally live in Karuvakkaadu (Kurunduwatte or Colombo 7),  and dared not even enter their “homelands” during the decades when a de facto Eelam existed, while also being their political proxy!

The Northern “Chief Minister” has even called for racial purity in marriage, surely to be imposed  under the radar  once power is devolved into their hands. After all, according to a report  by Ahilan Kadirgamar,  even the unwritten Caste distinctions continue to thrive in the post-LTTE “homeland”.  But the devolution of power is just from Diyawanna to Karuvakaddu! Since the TNA leaders vote with the government,  helped to elect the president, and run a pretend opposition while supporting the government, it is clear that they get what they want, the big-money Maharajas get what they want,  the multinationals get what they want, while the general public is given  green ecological medicine replete with  beer (if they can afford it) instead of “cream soda”, and  electric cars instead of three-wheelers!

However, as the Prime Minster explained, most MPs do not know treasury Bonds from James Bond. But they know that the “Aya Vaeya Lekhanaya” can always be superseded by a supplementary “rush” estimate for  new comfort  allowances or for new vehicles for the MPs who will vote “YES” in unison.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Yes, “most MPs do not know Treasury Bonds from James Bond,” and I was not interested enough to listen to / read the entire budget speech. But I did hear snippets, and I thought it odd that beer should be preferred to carbonated drinks. I don’t touch the former, and I don’t much fancy the latter, except that it seems more value for money than buying “bottled water” that creates the problem of what to do with the plastic left behind after quenching one’s thirst.

    *

    These ways are foreign, not green. And so much of talk of motor vehicles. In what activities are young people encouraged to engage in? “Not a single vehicle to run on fossil fuels by 2040.” How, pray is the electricity to charge all those vehicles to be produced. This particular proposal is not a bad one, but does that suffice for a budget?

    *

    Had Mangala advised us to drink water, then that would have been a positive thought. Having agreed that much with Dr Dharmawardana, I feel inclined to accept what he says about the various forms of pollution, worse than those caused by the agricultural fertilisers referred to by him.

    *

    Let’s hope that these contradictions strike most Sri Lankans. We’re not interested in cars of any sort. We usually end up standing in buses. Not three-wheelers, Dr Dharmawardana.

    • 2
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      Sinhala_Man,

      Don’t you think Dharmawardana mind is polluted?

    • 3
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      A rather mixed-up essay from this usually mixed-up Professor.
      Anti-Indian hysteria, anti-devolution rhetoric, environmental revisionism, and whingeing about loss of “sovereignty” , all wtitten from a safe abode in the good ole USA. Curious, to say the least.
      I wonder how the Prof. detected from so far away , that IOC petrol “is contaminated with kerosene”?
      Better come up with proof, dear Prof, or risk being taken for a seriously nutty case.

  • 0
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    Dear Anpu,

    When I commented on what Prof. Dharmawardana of Montreal, Canada, had said I had no idea who he was. Now I have read up about him and I find that he has been writing a good deal about chemical pollution and about Chronic Kidney Disease. On such subjects he obviously knows much more than I do, and I wouldn’t want to get involved in such debates. I also find that he writes a lot on Sinhala-Tamil politics.

    *

    His opinions on politics don’t exactly correspond with what I feel; however, he doesn’t write nonsense. Sometimes he seems to descend to the trivial, such as when he objects to Tamils wanting the name “Nainathivu” restored to “Nagadeepan”. Must we dictate to users of other languages how they use that language? I don’t know Tamil, but I believe “thivu” means island. In a comment on that particular article, somebody has commented that we refer to “Yaalpanam” as “Yapanaya” and Jaffna. The inhabitants of Spain, Switzerland, Japan etc. refer to their countries using other names. Just how petty can we Sinhalese get? “Ceylon” has well and truly been outlawed, like “Bombay Onions” and “Mysore Dhal”.

    *

    However, when he writes about referenda for the separation of countries, and says that a 2/3 majority is necessary and not either a simple majority in the country, or an overwhelming majority in the “separating part”, his reasoning is more cogent. Regarding Sri Lanka, he has a point when he says that self-determination for the Tamils (as advocated by Comrade Vickremabahu Karunaratne) cannot be as simple as all that because it does affect the Sinhalese as well. These are complex problems and must be discussed.

  • 0
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    Anpu,

    *

    I am hampered in my comments by some peculiar behaviour of my computer, which Colombo Telegraph is working on. I can no longer copy what I have written and paste it on a Word Document to see if I’m keeping to the 300 word limit.

    *

    Anyway, I can see your problem. Dharmawardana’s views on some matters (such as what I have commented on in Part 1) may seem hard-line Sinhalese. I wouldn’t want to label him a “polluted” racist though. For instance, when he says that Buddhist Monks should not be deprived of basic political and human rights (such as driving a vehicle) he has a point. However, he misses the main point, which is that they enjoy almost veto power in certain matters, such as, right now, their opposition to promulgating a New Constitution. Reason seems to play little part when he and the Monks discuss such matters. In reality, Monks have too much influence.

    *

    This is the problem. We are not discussing problems in such a way as to find a realistic solution. I’ve already referred to approval by a referendum. I heard Dr Jayampathy Wickremaratne speaking to a group of Tamils in London and saying that the Executive Presidency should remain with Maithri until 2025, and that in 2020 he should be “elected” by Parliament. It may suit “us” who desperately seek a solution, but it just won’t do, since it is dishonest. I was relieved to hear R. Sampanthan say that a referendum is necessary. That is an honest position. Dharmawardene’s two-thirds majority is impossible to achieve, and it is up to us to “defeat” that idea through debate and discussion.

    *

    We have all got to act very responsibly, having recognised what a mess we have collectively made of this country.

    • 2
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      Dear Sinhala_Man

      Thank you for the long comments.
      “We are not discussing problems in such a way as to find a realistic
      solution.”

      We have been discussing the problems for a long time – from the day of independence.
      We wrote PACTS. then fail to implement.
      We cosponsor resolution – then do not implement.

      • 0
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        Yes, Anpu,

        Our problem is non-implementation, and also we make far too many excuses for those whom we are in some way connected to. I guess we don’t really have to go round punishing people all the time (mind, I do see the deterrent value of such action), but we must at least ensure that there’s an “all clear” for the future.

        *

        We’ve got to a stage where there’s almost nobody who will resist the possibility of taking advantage of circumstances that favour them in the short term. I’ve been saying many things here although I see only the tip of the iceberg in affairs relating to this school.

        No, I cant paste anything owing to this problem with how Colombo Telegraph gets displayed on this computer. At this moment, I’m in this place near Colombo. Next week, in Bandarawela, I shall try with two other computers.

        *

        You can understand what I mean if you Google this: “Jaffna College and Boston Trustees”. Last CT article on 29th Oct. 2017.

        *

        On the other hand, if you were to Google “Thomian Pharisees”, you will find three articles by me, Panini Edirisinhe, (some updates on that situation have crept in to the Jaffna College articles). For what I have said there, at tedious length, I do take full responsibility.

        *

        Even my contact details are given in places, but queries raised are never answered, and nothing is done to stop “irregularities”.

        • 1
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          Thanks SM,

          Pasting from CT articles – It is nothing to do with computers. CT has made changes to the website and we are unable to copy from CT. But you can copy from other places.
          Not sure why CT has done this. Making correction to the typing is a huge problem.

          • 0
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            Indeed. Now comments can be made only using the Explorer browser. Fireofx and other browsers do not work. The html tags do not properly work. Copy and paste do not work. Unicode characters are not recognize.

        • 0
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          No, Anpu, this appears to be something inadvertent that has happened. Let us hope that this doesn’t affect the valuable archives. This happened about two years ago to Colombo Gazette, a rather more modest service run by a Mr Rutnam (I can’t recall his first name: Chandran?).

          *

          I cannot copy material from anywhere. But Colombo Telegraph has sent me this message on the 11th Nov. at 20.11 : “We are trying to fix it”. I can just about post these messages using Google Chrome. Nothing can be done using Mozilla Firefox. I first reported the problems on the 9th. Even my Internet Explorer (Microsoft) is not working properly. Now that is really surprising because it comes as default with Windows. This present computer is running Windows 7 – cracked copy: we all get forced to cheat! But there’s yet another browser given me by my Anti-virus people: Avast. That is working just like Chrome at the moment.

          *

          We’ll just have to wait patiently, I’m afraid; but at least you TOO should take heart from the fact that this is something that CT is trying to repair.

  • 4
    1

    Chandre,.Seriously what’s wrong upstairs?You left Sri Lanka in search of greener pastures after milking your native land dry

    Yet you cannot give up keeping an interest in the land of birth you abandoned for a few dollars more.Just please mind your buissness!And don’t forget the payment of the bond signed with Sri Jayawardenapura University is still to be paid.

    • 0
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      I think I can help Annette de Silva as I was a studnt of SJP (and when it was called Vidyodaya University) when Prof. Dharmawardana was its Vice Chancellor 1974-1975. He joined it in the late 1960s on the invitation of then VC, Ven. Walpola Rahula, and served for many years from lecturere to Vice Chancellor, and also as a Director of various insdustries in Sri lanka. He left even without collecting his provident fund etc., after a conflict with student leader (now Minister S. B. Dissanayae) when he attempted to make English a compulsory couse unit for every student including arts students. Even today you can see a large collection of expensive science books he left for the library. The government has been inviting scientists like him to come and help, and he has recently helped in doing reaserch to solve the Kidney Didease problem in the Rajarata. Instead of atatcking the person, criticise what he has said if you disagree. I fully agree wtih his criticism of the budget. The minsiter does not understand that most people drink water or kahata, and go by buses. The writer has also brought out the open door policy of the budget and the ethnic closed door ideas in the proposed constitution.

  • 0
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    In regard to what Appu, and what the Sinhala man has said, as a Tamil living in the Mount lavina area let me say the following. Most of what Prof. Dharmawardana has said about the budget being a sham “Green” budget is probabaly accepted by most readers. What has upset some of my Tamil tolarkal is that they are still burried in the old myths that have failed us Tamils. If the economy is opened, it will most badly hit the most vulnerable ethinc group, i.e., the poor Tamils reeling from the Eelam wars. The upper class (upper caste) Tamils and Maharaja types will join hands with the foreign multinationsal and exploit us, especially once they take us into the their own hands when power is devolved to them. The Colombo Lawyer Tmils from the days of the ramanathans, through Ponnambalams, Chelvanayagams, Naganathans and Samapanthans and Wigneswarans have never helped us, ordinary tamils. The Eelam wars were created by these Land Lords living in Colombo and ochestrating ethnic polarization. Today they are doing the same.

  • 1
    0

    Let me elaborate on the Tamil Sinhala politics and the Budget, Costitution etc. When power is devolved, Mr. Sampanthan says that while Tamil ONLY should be tyhe offical olanguage of the North and the East, both Sinhala and tamil should be the Offical language of the other provinces. It is this kind of provacative statements by the Tamil leaders since even before independence that
    caused ethnic strife. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The Eastern province has both Tamils and Sinhales, and even in 1977 the TULF did not win a majority in the East. As a tamil living in a Colombo suburb, I meet and work with Sinhalese and Muslims and foreigners all the time. I know that Mr. Sampanthan’s and Wigneswarn’s pro Eelam statements and staements of adoration of Prabhakaran do not help, but create tension. The Tamil vorter population in the North and East together is less than 6% of the Taotal population, and the contribution to the gross national product is even less, even before the Eelam wars. If these leaders continue to follow their failed pre-1983 policies it is we Tamils living in the soputh who will get hurt. The Karuvakaddu Tamils are well conencted, powerful, and will never get hurt. The correct policy of reconcilliation is to follow the vibrant multicultural model that we now see in Colombo and its suburbs like Bapalapitti, CttaChennai, Dehiwalai, etc., and in Galle also. A very learned Tamil writer of a so-called “low-caste” named Sebastian Rasalingam used to write very good sense, but his voice is silent now. His “Sinhalization of the North and Tamilization of the South” as the key to reconcilliation. Both Rasalingam and DBSJeyaraj have argued that a rich multicultural tapestry is needed instead of the isolationist ethnic enclaves persued by the TNA and the ITAK to the utter peril of the tamils, while keeping the Colombo Tamil Lawyers in power.

  • 1
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    Dear Nadesan,

    Although I read your comments two days ago, I did not respond.

    *

    I’d just like to say that the very reasonable and non-provocative attitude that so many Tamils take does help when we have to rebut the arguments of the more nationalistic Sinhalese.

    *

    It is only recently that I began to realise that factors like caste are so much more pernicious among Tamils than amongst the Sinhalese. It is there among the Sinhalese but comes to the fore only when subjects like marriage come up. Not when it concerns who can live in a block of flats.

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