25 September, 2021

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Great Treasures Emerging In Sri Lanka On The Dawn Of Economic Crisis – Lessons Learnt From The Past

By Hiran B. Jayasundara

It has been three months since Sri Lankans were thrilled to find the world’s largest blue star sapphire from Sri Lanka, weighing 1404.49 carats and valued at over $ 100 million. According to media reports, it was not only the largest sapphire ever found in Rathnapura, the world-famous gemming destination in Sri Lanka but also the largest treasure of such value found throughout the human history of the world. The ancient Sri Lankans believed that such great treasures were found in the land by the fortune of the kings who ruled the country at that era. The clergies commented on the great fortunes of the present rulers and the emergence and connection of the wealthy miracle. However, the senior gemologist, the only Sri Lankan professor with quantitative knowledge on the subject, said that this was a dead-stone only having a museum value. But no media gave time for illustrating such ideas. All the national media took at least 5 minutes in their press releases to announce this wonderful news to the world. All Sri Lankans went to their beds at night with wonderful dreams about the things they are going to have in next day after selling this gem to the Chinese. It is a miracle that only Sri Lankans can see in dreams.

Last week, however, the same media reported that the gem had been shipped to Sweden via regular courier service to make its actual valuation. The second story, as well as the miraculous news of the existence of such gems in human history, is another miracle, as no courier service assumes the responsibility of transferring at least one gem of value or international destination. However, this is the third time this year that Sri Lankans have celebrated the emergence of such wonderful and greatest treasures to their motherland.

The year began in January when a well-known minister for a piece of gold jewellery announced that the world’s largest gold mine had been discovered with Copper- a deposit of even greater value than the world’s largest copper deposit in Michigan, USA. This discovery was first published in a newspaper that found bricks on Mars and the people of Sri Lanka were amazingly delighted with the news. The news headline goes as “Sri Lanka hopes to rise on its own and bring good luck with gold mine”- the title itself made a marvelous dream among the citizens. The government entertained the public for over one month with a huge treasure trove of gold covering an area of 54 square kilometers in the Seruwawila region on the island, given massive hope to poor people. To build up a debt-ridden country with a miracle economically in a short period of time was confirmed by the so-called experts. This was more sharpened news and politicized by the fact that the previous government of Sri Lanka was about to sign the MCC- agreement with the United States one year ago. The economic corridor where the agreement has proposed is within the area where this gold deposit is located. Fortunately, the Americans went by losing a big treasure. The Lankans were really happy about this changeover. They hoped to repay all debts from the gold mine, as well as to provide interest-free loans to China, which had provided commercial loans to Sri Lanka during difficult times. However, another university scholar at the University of Moratuwa said there was no such treasure in this area. And he also indicated that the excavations may be causing great environmental damage to one of the last existing virgin forests in the northern dry zone in the island. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year, Sri Lankans could be purchased one Pawn of gold at the rate of Rs. 90 thousand and now they have to pay over Rs. 115 thousand for the same. 

Also, the Minister of Petroleum of Sri Lanka announced the discovery of the largest oil well in Asia in June 2021 this year. The annual value of the oil deposit is over US $ 240 billion and the people of Sri Lanka were delighted with the news of the great miracle. Look at the size of the miracle. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has an annual oil revenue of only $ 200 billion. At present, the total debt of Sri Lanka is around the US $ 35 billion and the total debt can be repaid from the monthly income from the oil well. However, in July, Sri Lanka’s oil prices soared by about 20 percent and the petroleum minister had to face a no-confidence motion in parliament. Presently, the government is having discussions with the leaders of the oil-producing countries to obtain oil as a loan.

Throughout the political history of Sri Lanka, attempts have been made to take the people to their dream worlds at a time of severe economic crisis, especially when governments are unable to solve their economic problems. The first such fiction was dramatized in late 1974 by the United Front government led by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The government was able to find an oil well in the “Pesala” area in the northern part of Sri Lanka.  According to the government’s own mass media, As the first step, Sri Lankans are foot-towards to becoming an Asian oil giant. The whole country began to rejoice. Meanwhile, the government summoned a newspaper editor who reported that there was no ‘Pesala oil’ to the Press Board immediately. And later he was warned by Press Board and he was informed that there was an oil well in ‘Pesala’. The ‘Pesala’ oil resource was dried after the Sirima government went home in next election. In the 1977 general election, the opposition won a five-sixths majority in the parliament. Due to the economic policies of the United Front government (1970-1977), ordinary people had to wait in line for more than two hours to buy a loaf of bread. For about 6 years, the GDP growth was close to zero and this era was one of the darkest periods in the Sri Lankan economy.

However, until the year 2011 Sri Lankans did not have an opportunity to make a dream about such an oil or gas miracle. Again, back in 2011, the present Prime Minister, who was the President at that time was discovered a huge oil deposit in the Mannar area in northern Sri Lanka. At the peak time of a local election, when the fuel prices in the Sri Lankan market gone skyrocketed. This oil field was discovered amid rising oil prices. The vote was over. The oil-well dried up.

Due to the efficiency of a minister known as Captain Cool led to such a miracle during the last good governance period in the year 2018 as well. It was revealed that Sri Lanka had discovered the largest crude oil well in the northern part of the country, Mannar, which could supply fuel continuously for 20 years. It was a miracle and the largest oil well ever found in Asia. However, for the first time in history, Captain Cool has given an amazing opportunity to make use of Google Maps to search for floating ships in seas to obtain fuel for three-wheelers gangs even in extremely rural areas on the island. About two weeks all the fuel sheds in Sri Lanka were out of stock.  Later the ship arrived. The oil wells again dries up.

In general, it can be said that there is a strong political link between the mythical treasures of Sri Lanka and the socio-economic problems in Sri Lanka. In particular, it further emphasizes that the number of such treasures and their value increases with the severity of the economic crisis.

However, such beliefs and unscientific findings are just nonsense to the educated world, but Sri Lankans should not always be embarrassed by such deceptions. Asian leaders who developed their nations to upper-middle-income status were only believed in their strengths although never rely on such untrue myths. All of those Asian nations developed with great planning and innovations and fast-growing educational systems. Knowledge was at the center of their development path but they did not focus on myths and miracles. All these nations have gone through periods of great crisis and have become great economic giants. No Asian or global nation has developed entirely from its natural resources. According to economics, resources are not a factor in developments. Many degenerate nations have made the increase in wealth a curse to their progress. Take examples from fragile states like Venezuela.

However, I am not saying here that the natural resources of Sri Lanka are not being beneficial for our development. I can remember times when foreign scientists who travel with me exploring from country to country could not believe their eyes when they saw the tea estates in Sri Lanka, the gems in Ratnapura, the beaches in the south, and the Stupas in Anuradhapura. We believe that our motherland is a paradise and the most beautiful country in the world. Until the 1970s, Sri Lankan teas made an empire in the Western European tea market. The then United alliance government showed the people of Sri Lanka the Pesala oil well and completely lost the billions of tea market from the European destinations. For centuries until 2005, Sri Lanka was the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of true Cinnamon. The rulers who showed the people the oil reserves and lost the cinnamon market all over the world handed it over to the middlemen. Today, Sri Lanka supplies the best cinnamon to the world market for less than US $ 60 for one Kilogram. However, intermediatory make a profit from the same at a rate of US $ 900 from one Kilogram of cinnamon. It can give us a thousand such stories about our abilities and stupidity. We are still having the world recognitions for teas and cinnamon and with stupid dreams will we get rid of that world situation we are in now?

Finally, the President has said in his speeches that he is proud to be a Buddhist. I am also very happy to be born as a Buddhist. In fundamental Buddhism, there has no miracles and fortunes. According to the Lord Buddha, he worked hardly and effortlessly to become a Buddha for innumerable periods of time. No man or God in the history of the world has made such an effort or sacrifice to gain his target.

It can be used as a basis to guide the nation to overcome all these tragedies.

*Some of the information obtained from a Mr. Vajira Liyanage’s article published in Lankadeepa newspaper on November 15, 2017 article titled “‘Petroleum in Mannar dug from the time of Mathini'”.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    This is a great article for people who are having intelligence, discipline, honesty, hard work etc, but sadly majority of Sri Lankans have none of them. So unfortunately our country has become a fool’s paradise.

    • 0
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      Yes agreed. that’s why we need a strong voice to develop our educational system. at least expatriates need to stop donations to the agencies who making fools and give only to develop upgrade the education.

  • 11
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    Mother Lanka is also blessed with another great treasure. That is “6.9 millions of retards”.

    • 9
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      To entertain such great treasure we need more treasures and that is why govt keeps coming up with diamond, gold, black gold , precious stones ??? Didn’t Sir promise prosperity and splendor. Send it by courier service ??? Hope got insurance for loss or damage to property. Land of RETARDS.

  • 7
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    I hear, poor old Evil Eagle is fed up of having Kiribath and lunumiris.

    • 8
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      Apart from gold, gems, oil, the 2500 years of civilization (?) , pristine Buddhism (?), I wonder why the author has left out the amazing medical technology that kills Covid with overpriced sugar syrup.

      • 2
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        I am more confident that the government will tell at least 10 lies than the sun- dawn in Sri Lanka. I thought about it too. This article goes on and on. I just wanted to give an idea.

  • 10
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    Sir, the great Prof of Mythology here in CT , SJ will be very unhappy with your comments on Siri Mao and rogue nation Venezuela. We are blessed to also have Graphite expert Dinuk and Princeton Alumni DRS.( both are conspiracy experts)

    • 0
      4

      The author did not say much on Venezuela.
      Please enlighten us.
      I am all ears.
      *
      As for Oil and Gas reserves in the Mannar basin please see
      https://www.news.lk/fetures/item/27867-oil-and-gas-in-sri-lanka-are-we-on-track
      (This was published before GR was elected. It also has a timeline history of Sri Lanka oil and gas exploration.)
      BTW: I am no advocate of drilling for oil even if it is economically feasible.

      • 2
        4

        C
        I assume that you are adequately informed to know that myth and mythology are different things.
        *
        Mythology is a treasure house for sociologists and am sorry to disappoint you that it has not been my area of activity. But I still read and relish mythology— far better than modern day fiction.
        *
        As for myth, there is plenty propagated by the global media (and even CT at times), which quite a few greedily gobble.

        • 2
          0

          SJ,
          Talking about media and mythology, have a look at this piece on solar power by two totally clueless individuals. I will not blame the kid, because he is just that. But the adult?

          https://youtu.be/s_9u58llHEo

          • 0
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            OC
            Let alone the adult, look at the responses.
            (I did not even most since I am very slow in reading Sinhala text as it takes time to distinguish between some letters)

            • 2
              0

              SJ,
              Yes, just as educative as comments in the DM. Is this the general level of education here?
              Perhaps most are just desperate to find something to brag about.

        • 0
          0

          A small correction:
          “Mythology is a treasure house for sociologists and anthropologists”

        • 4
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          SJ, my understanding of myth is widely held but false belief or idea ( can get to the point of irrationality/delusion) For example Lankans are unscathed by Covid, Karuna/Jeya are more corrupted than Rajapaksas . Whereas mythology is collection of myth especially belonging to a particular culture (Lankan) or religion. Example Lion copulating with human is myth and collection of such is Rajapaksas a mythology..

          • 0
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            C
            You complimented me as the great Professor of Mythology.
            I should have thanked you for that compliment, utterly undeserved though.
            Sorry about that.

            • 0
              0

              Just as yours found in Mao, s red book.

      • 4
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        Many thanks, Prof. .. for the comments.
        Venezuela is one of the richest nations with natural resources, but the country is fully failed and absolutely no government. That’s why I try to say there are a lot of natural resources in a nation but need to manage them and the academia like you decided how to utilize and what is the real economic gain. Last day, you know there were elephants under the custody of government were sent to the person who hunts them. We can take an idea about how the future resources will manage by them.

        • 2
          3

          hJ
          Really, Venezuela had two governments until recently: one elected by the people at various levels, the other a failed-coup government (really its ‘interim president’) that only the US and its cronies recognized (but that is crumbling after RU withdrew recognition).
          For the rest of the world, there is a legitimate government that has defied US sanctions and even COVID-19 better than the rest of South America.

          • 4
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            The reality is widely different from the ground reality. Today the drug dealers and gangs are running the country. No financial sector – Currency is just arbitrary and has no value. normal transactions do in US dollars but average people do not have dollars. I think you can see the reality in Venezuela from Sri Lanka itself in next year.
            As you told they are the best of the best in SA., similar to SL, no tests, no data, no care… then can be best.

            • 3
              0

              Hiran it’s just another MYTH among many, often parroted by Prof SJ.

      • 4
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        SJ, “many DEGENERATE nations have made the increase in wealth a curse to their progress, example Venezuela a fragile state”. Do I have to say more. There are many degenerate nations without real wealth, but not many with abundance of resources as in Venezuela. The reason behind degeneration is none other than Chavez and the process continues,even after his death, because of established Mafia/military junta.

        • 5
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          SJ, there is a another degenerating nation in progress. Though the current events are very similar to us they still have a long distance to go. Brazil’s president and right wing bully Bolsonaro,s approval ratings have slumped yet remains far more popular than those prior impeached presidents. He vowed no longer to abide by supreme court ruling and called for a public demonstration by his supporters showing dissent. The recent ruling against Bolsonaro was on, an investigation into dissemination of fake news. (imagine in Lanka). It targets close allies, two of his sons and President him self. Indicates unlike Lanka, judiciary and democracy are still intact.This is yet another rogue who called Covid a hoax, refused procuring vaccine and ended killing thousands of his citizens.

          • 2
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            I agree about Bolsonaro.
            But the US and allies do not think so, except perhaps for his using Chinese vaccines for lack of choice.
            He is on his way out.
            BTW, did Maduro call COVID-19 a hoax?

            • 4
              0

              SJ, for Maduro anything which exist outside of Venezuela is hoax. Chavez was bad but Maduro ugly, like in Brazil. Lula now appears like a saint when compared to Bolsanaro. The difference is people in Brazil still can make a change where as in Venezuela its not at all possible.

        • 0
          0

          If you swallow the one-liner wholesale I will not waste time seeking further information.
          You may do well to wonder why the US failed in its more than half a dozen coup plots since Chavez was elected, and is still out to destroy peace between the government and the opposition. (I do not want an answer. This could be food for thought.)

          • 0
            0

            SJ you can keep repeating the myth here but people in Venezuela didn’t leave country out of love. Anyway time to focus on Lanka before you too are forced to do the same.

            • 0
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              When a country suffers endless blockades and sanctions from a big global bully, people do go away.
              They return too.
              Sorry to disappoint you: The opposition is at last seriously negotiating with the government about restoring peace, amid untiring efforts to buckle the talks by the US and its main client in the region.

            • 0
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              Which myth the string of coup attempts?
              Why did the EU retreat from its recognition of the ‘interim president’, while the US clings on to him?
              Please read Blum.

              • 1
                0

                SJ, only half a dozen ??? Such kind of myth are needed to project looser as folk hero to maintain years long grip on failed nations. Half dozen coup/attempt on life in Venezuela, dozen in Cuba, two in ???. Haven’t we heard Rajapaksas and their cronies Wimal, Goman — blaming foreign conspiracy for their daily failures. Chavez made two attempted coups in Feb and Nov of 1992 and was pardoned in March 1994 by then President Caldera (1994 to 1999 second term) to stand presidential election. Is that a myth or real SJ ???. I guess Lankan exodus according to you was due to suffering endless blockades and sanctions from a big global bully and they will return too. Get over it.

          • 0
            0

            SJ, like Lankans, countries do dig their own grave and Americans just help in make it much deeper, no point in crying foul after getting buried.

            • 0
              0

              The US thought that it buried the Taliban.

              • 0
                0

                Give some time , no need of U.S or anyone else they will bury each other soon. Did you hear them torturing and killing ex VP,s brother yesterday.

    • 3
      0

      The reality is widely different from the ground reality. Today the drug dealers and gangs are running the country. No financial sector – Currency is just arbitrary and has no value. normal transactions do in US dollars but average people do not have dollars. I think you can see the reality in Venezuela from Sri Lanka itself in next year.
      As you told they are the best of the best in SA., similar to SL, no tests, no data, no care… then can be best.

      • 0
        0

        Hiran, you are telling to this to a person who is not in reality. I have visited Venezuela few times and spend extended periods of time. I was a Chavez fan until then but after hearing the experience of many I realized Chavez was just another cunning rogue politician. It has the world’s known, largest oil reserves and was a leading exporter of oil. Also it’s considered as most urbanized country in Latin America. Thanks to Chavez it is now a bankrupt degenerate nation. Hiran as you mentioned in capital Caracas people often do not stop at traffic lights due to apprehension of mugging, carjacking or even getting shot by criminals, who work for Chavez.

  • 5
    0

    Excellent article. Only delay in finding investors to dig for oil, gold, gems. Then everything will be all right. The author forgot to mention our ayurveda doctors. They are now finding cures for modern diseases such as Covid-19. The minister in charge wants allopathic doctors [Western trained doctors] to get out of the way and let his ayurvea doctors take over. I am sure he will guide them to perform surgeries and cure cancers and such. Can save foreign exchange. No need of importing medicines.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks.
      Anyway, that doc. got COVID and treating under the ICU

  • 0
    0

    The writer is being snobbish of our beliefs in miracles. Don’t we have a right to dream!

    • 1
      0

      Is there not the right to dream for a certain impossible state?

  • 2
    3

    The article is good satire that draws attention to economic daydreaming.
    But one cannot be flippantly dismissive of everything.
    I will touch on two that need serious study:
    1.
    Vast deposits of petroleum and gas in the Mannar and Cauvery basins are now confirmed. But are not at readily accessible depths.
    Interest starting in 1967 was boosted by the oil price shock of the early 1970s. It was no political stunt. Work was abandoned briefly in 1977 but studies proceeded until 1984. A serious revival in 2001 was backed by the ADB. Interest has been intermittent ever since with foreign companies getting involved as well.
    The cost factor is more favourable than in the 1970s, but we need foreign technology and capital. My objections have mainly been based on environmental hazards if hastily handed over to greedy investors.
    2.
    We are not getting the most of our cinnamon. Processing has mostly stopped at cinnamon quills, but for small scale uses such as flavouring.
    Bulk export is a loss to the country. But there is a difficulty. Lankan cinnamon is blended with cassia and sold as cinnamon in western markets.
    A strategy needs to be developed to value add by further processing. Some research has been done in this direction but remains mostly unnoticed.
    There is need for constructive comment on subjects (even if economically unfeasible) to sustain scientific discussion.

    • 3
      3

      Correction
      Exigencies of political mileage obscure healthy discussion.

      • 0
        0

        SJ, When people are concerned about sickness, starvation and existence you think discussing myth is healthy not a surprise for a lover of mythology.

        • 0
          0

          C
          Not at all.
          But you raised the subject and I only clarified.
          Is everybody here talking of sickness, starvation and existence, including you.
          Is it wrong to enjoy mythology? In fact out languages draw heavily on mythology fur idiom.
          I only challenge myths. Should not one?
          BTW,
          You may have heard this: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    • 0
      0

      SJ, now that the ding dongs are there they can help in finding anything you imagine.

      • 0
        0

        True.
        There are plenty here who do mind reading to read non-existent meanings into texts.
        I wonder what kind of dingdong they use.

        • 0
          0

          Just as yours found in Mao, s red book.

  • 4
    0

    Finding oil and gas deposits is not a boon to any country. They have been a curse to almost any nation other than a few. and in any case, oil and gas is probably overrated. now if they found lithium it may be worth something. But finding this kind of bounty is not always a good thing. before long the big powerful countries in the world will be making a play for this and poor small countries will be destabilized.

    It is better for the country to rely on education and improve the skills of the people like the east asian model as these are things that cannot be stolen

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