23 April, 2024


Symptoms Of A Failed State?

By W. Vishnu Gupta

W. Vishnu Gupta

The politicians of every political party have pulled wool over the eyes of Sri Lankans so effectively during last seven decades and hence they are unable to recognize and stubbornly reject to accept that the country is heading towards to be a “Failed” state. The country won’t be alone as there are about 25 other failed states in the world. For Sri Lankans, the “corruption” has become an acceptable social/cultural phenomenon and the religious leaders have reinforced this aberrant mindset of the people through their own behaviour to promote “Corruption is good”. In a failed state it will be difficult to find a rich man not greedy and a poor man claiming to be hungry; Sri Lanka is not an exception. The masses are so blinded and naïve, they may believe if Hitler is no good Pol Pot should be given the chance to better their lives.

The “Fund for Peace” organization which is well known for promoting peaceful and prosperous communities worldwide defines a failed state as having the following

* Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force

* Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions

* Inability to provide public services

* Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka has begun to display all four symptoms, and they are manifested in different forms, the intervention of state and non-state actors in recent years have exacerbated the situation. If the current trend continues as is, the state may end-up being the number one beggar nation bullied by external forces and not so powerful nations such as Bangladesh.

Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force

Although the state regained the control of loss territory from LTTE in 2009, thanks to the heroic contribution made by the military soldiers and the sacrifices made by their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children, the politicians and military higher-ups have squandered the gains and the expected benefits that the peace should have delivered to the citizens. The sacrifices of the people have never been acknowledged either directly or indirectly by the successive governments since 2009, the politicians were preoccupied in looting the nation’s treasury and the sale of national assets under the guise of accelerated development projects that brings below marginal rewards to the average citizen. Above all the state is increasingly losing its valuable territorial assets; harbors, airports, lands with strategic commercial and security values, agricultural lands and the list continues. The accelerated development projects of the government have made the country bankrupt and the nation has lost its dignity. Above all military conquered the territory for sure but government has failed miserably to conquer the hearts and minds of the people. It seems that the external malevolent eyes in the South Asian region are working day and night to dismember social fabric and damage the sovereign rights of the people of Sri Lanka.

Moreover, the state has ensured their monopoly on the use of legitimate use of physical force. The alleged use of arbitrary actions taken by the police and the appointment of military higher-ups to control state institutions. The arrests of labor union leaders, student leaders and peaceful protesters further confirms that the state intends to maintain the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force.

Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions

The state seems to have loss the collaborative efforts in making critical decisions affecting the lives of the people. Obviously, the people loss the right to make collective decisions with the enactment of 20th amendment to the constitution. Consequently, democratic rights have been ignored and various tasks forces, commissions and ad-hoc committee consisting of political cronies, publication of overnight gazettes to address economic woos and follies committed by illiterate and semi-literate authorities. One may argue proroguing the parliament recently as a disrespect for democracy, yet the people do not understand that there is no difference between a prorogued parliament and a sitting parliament occupied by 100 percent corrupt vile men and women in a dysfunctional state. Otherwise, how are we able to justify 60+ parliamentarians including the finance minister leaving the country on holidays when the state has faced enormous economic misfortunes. These MPs must be dual citizens with overseas bank accounts or individuals loaded with foreign currency as no country will accept Sri Lankan rupees in their merry making voyages and sojourns while the citizens face misery at home. It is strange that no parliamentarian has criticized these 60+ MPs leaving the country on overseas jaunts, the ship is sinking, Yet the band plays on.

Mystery surrounding “Yugadanavi” project amplifies erosion of legitimate authority of the cabinet to make collective decisions. Three ministers have gone to the supreme court on this matter, contradicting the government stance and challenging Rajapaksas directly, Likewise, similar actions on Trincomalee Oil Tank farm, Hambantota Port have marred the collective decision-making process in Sri Lanka. The government policy on governing Colombo port city, acquiring strategically important parcels of land in the city of Colombo, sale of Colombo harbor facilities, dredging of Tissamaharama Tank are mired in controversies. The government’s ability to raise taxes and duties on imports has been weakened due to corrupt procedures and ill economic advice, government has utterly failed to control the runaway prices of the staple food and that of the essential pharmaceutical drugs in the country. Furthermore, the combined effect of the non-provision of public services, sharp economic decline, runaway inflation, unbearable cost of living and military intervention in the government departments confirm signs leading to a failed state.

Inability to provide public services

The education sector is in complete disarray, and it provides ample evidence to prove that the Sri Lankan state authorities are unable to provide public services.

The striking teachers were demanding restoration of their salaries, that has been ignored by every government for more than two decades. Nearly a quarter century, successive Sri Lankan governments, including the current Rajapakse regime, aided, and abetted by the unions, have rejected teachers’ wage demands. The state has insulted, intimidated, and sporadically arrested the teachers to quell their uprising against government inaction, as a result, teachers are now among the lowest-paid public sector workers in Sri Lanka, and just as they did in the past two and half decades, teachers have not lowered their level of distrust towards the state.

The Sri Lankan finance minister recently has directed all ministries to slash expenditure, including no salary incentives for employees and the hiring of new recruits. Yet, the government has ignored massive increases in the prices of essential commodities including the staple diet rice.

The ongoing farmer-protests, along with walkouts and dissents by health workers over the slashing of a pandemic-related monthly allowance, demonstrations by petroleum workers against overtime payment cuts, and upcoming action by the masses against the unaffordable cost of living are part of a growing movement of the working people against the government austerity plans.

Colombo’s escalating social assault on the working class is in line with the actions of a failed state turn to autocratic if not kleptocratic forms of rule. Only a failed nation resort to imposition of a state of emergency and essential services, issue of ad hoc gazette notifications having serious impact on the daily lives of the people. Furthermore, presidential directives based on the military rules and the promotion of totalitarian forces are the premonitions of a country about to fall into the abyss of failed state.

Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community

The Sri Lankan government has increasingly lost the support of many democratic nations in various international discussions. So far, the nation has avoided being completely isolated in the international community, thanks to unwavering friendship shown by China. China appears to be a genuine friend of Sri Lanka since the diplomatic ties were established in 1957. However, recent two-faced activities of the current regime seem to have alienated China, hence the repercussions of this “speaking out of both sides of the mouth” policy of the political leaders will be felt in many important international economic, human rights and financial forums soon. The people have forgotten, we were friends of many western democracies in the past and they were always there to help us when the nation faced with calamities and economic predicaments. The plea made to the newly appointed ambassadors in Sri Lanka by foreign minister G.L. Peiris, tells the pathetic position that the country has fallen in the international community;

The Minister called for the empathy of the Ambassadors and High Commissioners present and their backing to Sri Lanka in the international platforms, stating that it was important for the UN to support the efforts made by a country to get back on its feet and not tear it down.  He pointed out that local institutions must be given the space and time to carve out solutions that sustain the culture and ethics of an individual country”.

successive governments since 1953 have utterly failed to engineer any meaningful and smarter methodologies and wiser partnerships to deal with the international community. As usual, G.L. Peiris has failed to understand the failure of his masters.

The declaration that a state has “failed” is generally controversial and detrimental to the existence of any country. It is not a trivial matter however, if the democratic rights and sovereignty of people are violated by the actions of a conniving few, it is inevitable under the current economic and financial mismanagement the country will descend to the status of a failed state before 2024.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    Jennifer Chatman , a management Prof at the University of California-Berkely’s
    Hass School of Business said : “Jargon masks real meaning , people use it as a
    substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that
    they want to give others .” This is what I smell on this article too . People believe
    in lies and deception must also be largely blamed for a failed state . If we chest
    beat that we are a nation of 90% literate population , what did we do with that
    literacy for our own development ? Don’t we ask ourselves this question ? Why did
    we allow ourselves to be lied , deceived and misled ? Enough good people
    screamed on platforms that Cheats , Liars and Fraudsters are all eying their votes
    to continue what they know best ! Why didn’t they listen to them ? So , People
    wanted to rot in hell ! People can not escape from their contribution for whatever
    consequences they are facing now . They are largely to blame for the symptoms of
    a Failed State !

    • 3

      Why why,
      “we are a nation of 90% literate population , what did we do with that”
      Being literate is not the same as being educated. One has to be educated to make wise decisions.

      • 3

        OC, a person who can read and write is considered literate (that too just in Sinhalese, not English) is same as, having elections and so called literates electing criminals, liars, fraudsters ( even people who are sentenced by courts) considered Democracy. Those educated may justify blaming ignorance, naivety, slavish mindset — etc of voters, which still doesn’t adequately explain such voting/pathological behavior, lasting over 7 decades, re- electing crooks/criminals, ignoring their own hardships and decline of a nation to failed state (as VJ mentioned here). The real answer is immorality, racist mindset, jealousy ——– and denial which explains why voters reject a criminal/crooked politician, only to re- elect in the next election ???

      • 0

        O C ,

        My dear old codger , yes I agree but there is ore to it . Please note this ,
        one time Secretary General of the U N Kofi Annan Said this : ” Literacy
        is a bulwark against poverty and a building block of development .”
        And apart from that , needless to point out that learning the ability to
        read , write , speak and listen with as much accuracy as possible is ,
        vital to communicate effectively and understand the life and world .
        And my point is , as we have already wasted away enough of our
        resources , what is the point of chest beating about our ability to read
        and write comparing with some other weaker parts of the world ?
        So , Dear O C , with our literacy rate , we must be able to make informed
        decisions about a better world !

    • 3

      Quite right that “The accelerated development projects of the government have made the country bankrupt and the nation has lost its dignity.
      But DIGITAL COLONIALISM is the name of the Covid-19 Virus and Vaccine Bio-terrorism Plandemic, which was to enable the Corruption Epidemic, asset stripping by US and Ango-Saxon partners (AUKUS) and NATO the countries of the Global South =countries and cause state failure.
      With the Covid-19 Plandemic Digital Colonialism, US Govt. money printed USD 9 trillion in the last 2 years so that its hedge funds Black Rock could to asset strip around the world as economies crashed and people were kept in Covid-19 lockdowns to stop them protesting against the sale of their national assets. This is the real project of Covid-19 bioterrorism – bankrupting the Global South and asset stripping it to Make America, AUKUS and NATO great again and destroy the rise of Asia as the Growh Hub of the world
      The “West versus the Rest” Euro-American DIGITAL COLONIALISM plan with the Covid-19 mask with FAIL!

    • 0

      Sorysena *s govt was then attacked to be a govt with much more freedom. There were some then added, ” prajathanthrawadaya dore galanawa” similar to ” People were given more freedom than any other previous govt “
      Until Rajakshes 52 day coup, it was a good govt looking back.
      Today, nothing is transparent. Everything is hidden and people are kept away from state issues. Main stream media is not sensitive enough to make aware its people. Private jets being used by PREMIER to pilgram to India is still painted as no news though so much hidden is behind that trip.


      No matter even if he made a trip to a hell, it should be made clear tothe nation. Not s single word is added by president yet about. President is seen as a puppet today.

      • 0


        This man is that stupid to believe all unknown gods. I am not saying that there are no invisible forces behind us the human beings, but high criminals with them becoming older cant close their eyes easily whenever they look back and the sizeable damage deliberately made to own people.
        By 2005, Bp had no whatsoever ever family wealth. But with the time,
        he became the weathiest man in SL – how ? What do you make of this srilanken accountants/auditors and the like men in the field ? Why to tolerate the kind of ramphant corruption.
        It isnow believed that the BLUE JET hired could well be that of their family JET …..

        Not lenin Rathanayaka but Asuchi should be thrown at Mahinda for unestimable damages made to this nation. The kind of b puthas deserve such punishments.

  • 9

    Trump came to power on the pledge of making America great & Boris J on the promise to deliver Brexit. GR came to power on the promise of safeguarding SL from an invisible Muslim terror threat, prompted by the Easter bombing by a ragtag bunch of fanatics who seem to have had links to the Rajapakse regime itself.

    The average voter is gullible, particularly, when provoked with ‘nationalistic’ sentiments. However, Trump had no second chance & neither will Boris J (as indicated by current polls) but Trump still has supporters & so will the Rajapakses because we, in SL, vote with our hearts & not with our heads. Developed countries have ‘checks & balances’ in place for damage limitation & a free media which holds politicians responsible but in SL, when it comes to a change of regime, its a game of musical chairs, although, those who lose their seat, still have a chance of getting back in the game Any wonder why SL is drowning in shit?

  • 10

    We all know how & why SL became a failed State. It’s EASY to win parliamentary elections by gaining solely the Sinhala Buddhists votes—>
    SWRD B showed the way to a DOWNWARD spiral towards a “Failed State”. It is sad that the Majority Race could/did not produce a true Statesman since Independence.
    The developed Countries do not help the developing countries to adopt progressive steps towards a peace and prosperous country. Disharmony and civil wars helps them to sell arms—MIG and other fighter planes/Ships/tanks /Rifles.
    They are happy that corrupt Rulers loot their countries and deposit their wealth in the developed countries where the banks are willing to handle the‘Ill gotten’ money.
    When the educated decent Sinhalese keep their eyes/ears/mouth shut, when the crooked rulers (+ Buddhist Monks) do illegal activities
    Our country becomes a FAILED STATE.

  • 6

    If SRILANKEN MEDIA Mafia makes the ” public perception” that GHANAKKA OR THAT MAD DOG GHANASARA to be the next PE candidate
    – Teachers
    – Engineers
    – Lawyers
    – Uni Dons
    – Other professionals
    and the rest of the nation, with majoritiy being rurally living GUNAPALAS, Pinthu appu, Gajan sincho or the like
    of this nation
    would blindly vote for either of them.
    This is typical srilanka filled with highly corrupted majority folks
    This is why I believe, not just physical developments but human development through rebuilding the society is imperative for the moment.

  • 4

    SL is a failed state.

    Only solution is to relocate people based on ethnicity and create 2 or 3 nations. One or two for all Tamils and Muslims in the north and east. The other for Sinhalas only. Equitable, fair and totally independent. No military in the Tamil/Muslim nation.

    Every problem will be resolved.

    Otherwise this economic disaster will lead to a new war.

  • 5

    “He pointed out that local institutions must be given the space and time to carve out solutions that sustain the culture and ethics of an individual country”.

    This is exactly what Mahinda Samarasinghe, who was serving in various capacities in M.R.’s government, kept on repeating like a parrot from 2010 to 2015 to the international community to explain the lack of progress in solving the post-war issues.

    Now G.L. Pieris has picked up that refrain and is singing the same song. What a bunch of lying jokers!

  • 6

    “Although the state regained the control of loss territory from LTTE in 2009, thanks to the heroic contribution made by the military soldiers and the sacrifices made by their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children, the politicians and military higher-ups have squandered the gains and the expected benefits that the peace should have delivered to the citizens.”

    Dear Mr. Vishnu Gupta,
    What you are trying to say from this statement? Do you think LTTE is from another state? What about those allegations about war crimes committed by the military soldiers? Do you know who killed those LTTE surrendered fighters? Do you know what happened to those fathers and mothers who handed over to the military at the end of war? Do you know how many innocent civilians were killed in this war? Are you saying that Gotabaya is a Hero? How come the Hero become Zero now?

  • 1

    At the rate of mismanagement and mega corruption of this government, obviously, it will be the next failed state on earth.
    The score card is:
    Gotabaya: Failed in every national issue so far.
    Maithree: Failed
    Ranil : Failed
    Mahinda: Failed
    Chandrika: Failed
    Premadasa: Failed

    Proof is in the pudding, we are experiencing the cumulative effect of colossal failures of our political leaders. The final result is a Failed State, But the above gang and their families are filthy rich, their children fed with ill gotten wealth are having a gala time. The voters must not hope for the better under emerging Pol Pot and Red Charlatans. The voters must be reminded of that these Red Charlatans have colluded with every failed political leaders directly or indirectly to preserve and protect their lot.

  • 0

    Mr Vishnu Gupta has meticulously diagnosed the symptoms of the disease afflicting Sri Lanka but not he has not prescribed the medicine to save the patient.

    Right from the day of independence or even before the country has been divided along ethnicity. Communal politics led to a series of pogroms against the numerically smaller Tamil nation. SWRD Bandaranaike’s “Sinhala Only in 24 hours” divided the country vertically and horizontally.

    In Western democracies, the political leaders never failed to drive the point that diversity is strength and not weakness. They kept the church and state separated. the First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    The basic tenets—including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law are scrupulously and religiously. In Sri, Lanka Buddhism has been elevated a notch below a state religion. The Buddhist monks dabble in politics, contest elections and enter parliament! Here is my prescription to revive the failed state.

    (1) Enact a secular constitution that will uphold the principle of separation of state and religion.
    (2) Restrict the number of electorates to 101.
    (3) Adopt a Westminster style parliament with a ceremonial president.
    (4) The independence of the judiciary should be scrupulously upheld.
    (5) The constitution should guarantee Equity, Freedom and Justice: 2/1

  • 0

    (6) Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, language and religion should be declared an offence.
    (7) To take the administration to the peripheral divide the country into 3 regions. Two for Sinhalese and one for Tamil speaking people of the Northeast.
    (8) Restrict the number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers to 20 or below.
    (9) Abolish the practice of appointing political cronies and relations to public and foreign services.
    (10) Reduce the bloated army, navy and air force to less than half the present strength through the process of attrition… There is no known enemy country that is threatening the independence and sovereignty of the country.

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