21 July, 2024

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Let’s Have Fun Today

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Life is depressing; the media perpetually serious; Lynn Ockersz is solemn in Impact of security on foreign policy. Inflation we are warned may rise to 60%. Come on, let’s take a day off, let’s have fun!

I admit to coveting a Jonathan Swift like glee to satirise for the delight of my readers, but my take is not that absurd. I am also a fan of Samuel Johnson’s quip that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” though in these parliamentary times we need to add politician to scoundrel. We carry passports to cross borders not because of nationalist zeal but practical reasons. If your parents copulated on the right bank of the Indus you are obliged to loathe Indians, if they took a ferry a few hundred yards across the river and satiated their lust on the other bank, you have to despise Pakistanis. What diabolical hypocrisy! 

Here is my solution to all our nationalist ills and travails, and it’s not all tongue in cheek; I have Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift and Albert Einstein on my side. My thesis invokes donating, leasing, gifting or abandoning parts of our fair Isle as follows. 

1. Lease the Northern and Eastern Provinces to Tamil Nadu for an agreed period. Imagine the relief! No more Thamil Eelam, LTTE talk or Sun God worship. For the Tamil Nadu situation see ‘Rajiv Gandhi Assassination’, New Dawn Press, ISBN 1 904910 04, by D.R. Kaarthikeyan who tracked the murder, prosecuted and secured convictions. (My comment is not to be confused with the deadly serious Leninist concept of the ‘Right of Nations to Self-Determination’) 

2. In line with current practice grant the Chinese a 99-year lease on the whole Southern Province on condition they agree to drown all surviving Paksas far out to sea south of Hambantota. 

3. Hand over the Central and Uva Provinces to Scotland for 50 years. The Scots not the English developed the tea plantations – remember upcountry names Dunsinane, Aberdeen, Caledonia, St Clair’s, Hatton, Dalhousie and dozens more. Older middle- and upper-class folk speak ever so fondly of colonial times (“We did not know who was Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim; “We played as one and ran in and out of each other’s homes”; “The government was not so rotten”). They will, one and all, secretly or openly, welcome switching to Scotch, single-malt or blended.

4. The NCP and NWP can be leased to Switzerland on a commercial basis for 20 years so that the Cultural Triangle and the beaches from Kalpitiya via Puttalam to near Mannar can be made world class tourist resorts.

5. So far so good. This leaves only the restless Sinhala provinces, Western and Sabaragamuwa, which nobody in their senses wants to have anything to do with. I have a solution. Levy a tax on the other seven provinces as annual payment to any foolhardy foreigner who has the temerity. Japan may have a go if the occupying power is allowed use of unlimited force as during WW2.

You see the problems of a dysfunctional, broke and racial-religious strife-ridden island can be cured if Lankans can be coaxed out of their adolescent measles. My Editor, a man of courage and humour, may find my tongue in cheek proposal to solve our legendary ‘national question’ sailing rather too close to the wind. Is it rash to enrage saffron costumes and Burma-returned white poplin reddhas? But dear reader, please do give my proposals a little thought. 

 

OK, I will get serious and change track to China, a giant where deification inextricably interweaved leader and nation; a condition not unfamiliar in Lanka. For nearly two decades Lanka has been a Rajapaksa fiefdom. At the 2005 election Prabhakaran ensured Mahinda’s victory over Ranil (with a mere 50.3% of the poll) by ordering Tamils not to vote for the latter. Then he had himself shot like a dog on the shores of Nandikadal. Mahinda as demigod is a Prabhakaran construct and the 69 lakhs who voted for Gotha an outcome of this favour.

Deification in China destined the distinction between leader and nation to vanish. A constellation of fibs turned into gospel truth, fake science, grossly erroneous Lysenkoism (rejection of Darwin, Mendel and genetics), absurd notions of extending class-struggle to close crop-planting and deep-ploughing (plants, like the proletariat we were told, bond tightly and deeply!). Cross-breeding rabbits and pigs and farming half-melon half-papaya fruit as per Lysenko’s notion that environment not genetics is all pervasive, was the game. Such are the screw-ball theories that manifested themselves in Party factions. Reliable sources claim the Great Helmsman was suffering multiple personality disorder by the time of the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962). I remember Prof. S. Mahalingam, one of Lanka’s finest old-school engineering researchers, teasing an ardent young Maoist lecturer in the corridors of the Peradeniya Faculty about backyard furnaces.  With a rolling motion of his palms and a twinkle in his eye he inquired “Dr X do they make ball-bearings like this from cast iron in China?” Steel output in 1957 using conventional methods was 8 million tonnes but the ridiculous target set for 1960 using backyard furnaces was 22 million. Most of it crumbled like sundried animal dung. 

Only two leaders consistently fought Mao’s extremism which led to 30 million famine deaths and cannibalism in a self-inflicted calamity. The great opponents were Marshal Peng Dehuai, Commander in Chief of Chinese Communist forces during the Long March and Defence Minister of the PRC after the revolution, the other was Liu Shaoqi. Both were murdered in prison by pro-Mao party cadres. The other leaders (Deng Xiaoping, Chou Enlai, Zhao Zemin, Hu Yaobang) ducked the pre-Great Leap forward struggle. While millions died in the famine fake figures of bumper harvests were issued. The moral of the story is very pertinent to Sri Lanka; if you allow a leader to become a demigod the distinction between leader and nation disappears. The reflection of this is 69 lakhs of buffalos. The lesson for current times is do not allow Ranil to overstep democratic spaces, restrain him within constitutional legitimacy and prevent renewal of this unwarranted State of Emergency.

There is a second lesson and like the first the scale is 1000 to one. It is the abuse of science. Mao’s psychosis invaded scientific space. We see something similar though on a tiny scale in Goth’s hilarious fertiliser “policy”, ignorance of renewable electric energy and his dumbo treatment of medical experts on how to deal with Covid-19. As for witchcraft, amulets, ghosts, goblins and the likes of Gannaka, he is the same as Mahinda. Neither has taken an elementary course in science, they are dumb about technology but these dolts made science, technology and environmental policy. 

A third lesson from Maoist China with obvious overtones in Sri Lanka is that plans to modernise the nation, rationalise the economy, extend industries, build elevated railways and roads, simply to do things in a sensible and rational way, were undermined by political instability which undermines rational decision-making. Decision making in China went bonkers after Mao’s illness reached a clinical stage. On a smaller scale we see the same during the Mahinda-Basil-Gota regime. The overthrow of Gotha by aragalaya, a great service to Lanka, has had a side effect.  A few enthusiastic activists are encouraging instability now when the economy appears to be picking up and prospects of IMF and foreign financial support seem to be improving. They must reassess their theories.

[For a study of the Mao-famine, “Hungry Ghosts” by Jasper Becker, a British journalist who spent 17 years as Beijing Bureau Chief for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post is a good starting point for researchers willing to ignore Becker’s anti-communist, anti-Marxist biases and use the book cautiously as a study tool. That Becker is an anti-communist will be obvious to any reader and quotations without citation of sources should be handled with care unless the information is well known or backed by good references. The book includes a useful Bibliography, an Index and Biographical Sketches of all the important leaders of the period. Publisher Holt and Company, New York. ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-5668-6].

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Latest comments

  • 6
    3

    We need the fun as news now that the majority of 6.9million Rajapakses arse lickers are:

    The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Friday that the “devastating” crisis being experienced by children in Sri Lanka, where half of them are already in need of emergency food aid

    • 3
      8

      KD: What a moronic article! Have you heard of British and European Colonialism, neocolonialism and American Empire?! It was nationalist struggles that saw the countries of the global south become independent!
      Would you rather that Sri Lanka, India was part of crumbling Britain and disappeared Raj today, without de-colonization and Nationalist ethos that is where it would be! Nationalism ensured DECOLONIZATION of the GLobal South which is still incomplete.
      Today we are back in the Cold War and Colonialism era again, with Sri Lanka in a WESTERN DEBT TRAP, so Washington can rule the strategic island with the IMF as a front.
      Wake up KD and learn history and in importance of Nationalism which was given a bad name by reactionary forces and the CIA which weaponized ethnic and religious identities to destroy Nationalist de-colonization movements !

      • 3
        2

        Dinuk

        “It was nationalist struggles that saw the countries of the global south become independent!”

        Are you mad?
        Do you think Sri Lanka (Ceylon) also struggled to achieve its freedom from colonialism?
        It was the Indian freedom struggle that liberated Ceylon from Colonialism and it is the Sinhala/Buddhism that enslaved the entire people which brought the country to this level of corruption, lawlessness, …… by the fake patriots over 74 years of their misrule.

        The colonialists (the ruling class including the Rajapaksas) expropriated the island’s wealth, horded/ stashed abroad.

        Nationalism created new kind of robber barons, new kind of saffron army, …. looters and mass murderers running the state, representing people in the parliament, ….

        What are you talking about? Its time you grew up.

  • 3
    0

    Prof. Kumar David

    You are in for trouble.
    We have a puritan Maoist in these forum.

    How do you propose to prove what happened during Mao’s glorious era?
    Whatever evidence you provide he is not prepared to accept them all, as he considers all of them being part of Western Capitalist Propaganda.

    He will now start comparing Chinese progress (whatever it is, came with foreign capital and technology) with Hindia’s lack of it and China’s decent diplomacy to Hindian’s crude foreign policy failure.

    • 0
      0

      Prof KD,
      “Neither has taken an elementary course in science, they are dumb about technology but these dolts made science, technology and environmental policy. “
      Perhaps this has its rationale in the Buddhist belief that all knowledge can be obtained by meditation. In modern terms, substitute “YouTube” for “meditation”.
      I am in total agreement with your proposals for leasing out the island in bits and pieces. I have been advocating something similar for a long time. Maybe you’ll get more listeners.
      But I doubt the Scots nowadays will bother with growing tea in SL. When they eventually quit the UK, they’ll be richer with their oil and gas than Saudi Arabia.

  • 1
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    The author has a fantastic source in D.R. Kaarthikeyan “who tracked the murder, prosecuted and secured convictions”
    There is much written, mostly in Tamil, on K’s conduct of the inquiry.
    Not one of those sentenced to long prison sentences was directly involved in the murder of Rajeev G. “Kekule Rajaruwange nadu theenduwa” was at least free of conspiracy, although the wrong person was punished.

  • 1
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    “In line with current practice grant the Chinese a 99-year lease on the whole Southern Province on condition they agree to drown all surviving Paksas far out to sea south of Hambantota.”
    What was the reason for transferring 85% of the stock of the H’tota Harbour to China?
    Why did the Yahapalanaya regime do it?
    It will do to read some serious study on the subject before jumping on cheap cliches.

  • 1
    0

    It must be a great relief for Vasu I trust as the author has returned to his other obsession.

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