22 May, 2024

Blog

Two Challenges: Economic Recovery & Political Devolution – IV

By Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Structural transformation 

The leaderships of the Jathika Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and National Peoples Power (NPP) are making valiant, laudable efforts to project an alternative to the established political class that, by most accounts, have failed the country. The United National Party (UNP), the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and their respective, barely distinguishable clones, Samagi Jana Belavegaya (SJB) and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) have little to offer on how to tackle two challenges. The first, is a systemic change by diversifying from the colonial plantation system into an industrial economy (not by promoting merely “industries”); the second challenge is political: the systemic restructuring of the unreformed and authoritarian colonial State inherited in 1948.  

The JVP, established in 1965, catalysed the formation of the 2015 NPP; the latter, also headed by the JVP leader, consists of some 27 entities – selected political parties including the JVP, some trade unions and women’s groups and a sprinkling of members of the urban intelligentsia and more. Together the JVP/NPP are apparently designed as a Rural-Urban Bridge to strengthen the JVP’s base among the rural middle class by allying with sections of the predominantly Sinhalese intelligentsia mustered under the NPP banner; the alliance, it is perhaps hoped, would boost its attraction for agricultural producers.  

However, the JVP/NPP leaderships seem to underestimate the overwhelming dynamics of the four-decade (1979-2009) long Civil War that spawned the dysfunctional State institutions, spread and deepened corruption among the political class, brought about widespread lawlessness and sowed seeds of multiple economic crises. Successive governments qualified and sometimes overrode legislation protecting fundamental rights; they dismantled institutions that facilitated accountability; the political class grabbed the opportunity to institutionalise impunity and insulate against their own criminality and so accelerated the breakdown. 

In short, the nationalist Sinhalese elite fabricated the non-rule of law system mainly to give carte blanche to pursue a patriotic “victory” against Tamil nationalism. The resulting Sinhala-Buddhist political tidal wave lifted Gotabaya Rajapaksa on to the presidential throne in 2019.  The consequences and outcomes are well known.

As always, it is not for us to question the political decisions and electoral choices of the Sinhalese people; they are entitled to follow their interests. On the other hand, it makes no sense to scape goat Tamils, as a majority of mainstream Sinhalese intelligentsia seem to, for allegedly starting the war; a perceptive minority among the intelligentsia rue in private that the nationalist Sinhalese elite brought about the catastrophe by rejecting a political settlement with the Tamils through their Federal Party in the 1950s and 1960s, brutalising them with repeated Pogroms and gratuitously provoking the armed resistance of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). 

The JVP/NPP leaderships has to confront an onerous reality: that social institutions and traditions could be demolished almost overnight; on the other hand, re-building them takes a few generations, if not longer. 

In many ways the feudalist Sinhalese elite dragged the country along the path to ruin by not remedying the structural distortions intrinsic to the colonial State. Instead they nurtured the toxic inheritance handed down since it appeared to guarantee their undisputed hold on political power; so, they further reinforced the crisis-prone State with two republican constitutions, 1972 and 1978, to consolidate their power during the subsequent decades. The preservation of the ramshackle plantation system went hand in hand.

Diversifying the plantation system

When President Ranil Wickremesinghe and team secured the IMF’s March 2023 “bailout” agreement, there was considerable satisfaction among sections of the elite; they also comforted themselves that it had been well worth falling into debt to defeat Tamil Nationalism, spearheaded by the LTTE.

They confidently imagine the debts incurred to prosecute the war towards the 2009 “victory” and those arising out of the unbridled corruption they had slurred over, so as not to hobble the war effort, could be steadily serviced while the economy recovered gradually. The IMF’s intravenous infusion of funds as seed money, they expect, would support a proposed “value added technologically driven agriculture and fisheries-based export market economy” in the future, as described by a commentator.  

The IMF in the garb of a debt collector may soon, if not already, begin to coerce the debt-strapped government to squeeze more taxes and roll back public spending in order to service the debt. The social and economic costs of debt servicing, let alone repayment, and the impact of debt servicing-induced deprivation has yet to be assessed fully. Nonetheless, some sections of the Sinhalese elite appear to be preparing for the worst-case scenario; they are empowering the State to contain the anticipated upheavals in the south through the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), currently a Bill in Parliament, as a legal umbrella not unlike under the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The JVP/NPP leaderships have few answers for the first challenge, on how to go beyond the colonial plantation system toward a diversified industrial economy, while necessarily retaining plantation production for the time being. The NPP’s “initial ideas and proposals” in the 2021 Rapid Response to Overcome Current Challenges have been unveiled against the above backdrop (the document is apparently no longer available on the website). They too envisage an “export-oriented approach with value-added products…that can generate more foreign exchange by joining the global supply chain”. 

A mention of industrialisation is conspicuously absent in the Rapid Response. One expects a subsequent revised version would clarify whether value is to be added by squeezing further the grossly emaciated lower-middle and working classes or whether value adding will be enhanced by accelerating technological developments under an overarching industrialisation that increases labour productivity. As for “joining the global supply chain”, Colonial Ceylon’s export-oriented plantation system added value to three main commodities: tea, rubber and coconut, using mostly indentured labour and linked them to the “global supply chain” from the 1830s onwards.

As of now, the initial Rapid Response is crucially influenced and limited by the JVP leadership’s worldview, mired in the agrarian milieu and grounded in the rural middle-class base from which they sprang and which root their politics. The JVP leadership has to contend with the miasma, thrown up by the feudalist elite, of revitalising the Dry Zone’s Village-Tank-Temple agrarian trinity that dominates the minds of Sinhalese rural producers and extends conceptually to the rain-fed peasant cultivators in the Wet Zone.

The feudalist elite reinforced the conservative ideology of small producers through peasant proprietor schemes, the Mahaweli Settlements and Gam Udawa (Village Upliftment) programmes as a counterweight against social forces seeking a fundamental transformation. So, peasant proprietorship was to support a “self-respecting” class of farmers with “an abiding interest” in land and, therefore, would be resistant to change; the elite’s palpable objective, in our view, was primarily to set up ideological road blocks – masked by altruistic claims, not altogether inaccurate, of achieving self-sufficiency in food – to thwart systemic economic change that may undermine their interests as a class. 

Is it a mere accident that President Ranil Wickremesinghe reportedly urged in January, 2023 that “we must…build the economy that Late Mr. DS Senanayake created 75 years ago”? Did he allude to the agricultural base of the peasant economy that colonial administrator C.V. Brayne conceptualized and Senanayake actualised through his 1935 Land Development Ordinance and the associated irrigation infrastructure?  

If press reports are anything to go by, sections of the elite are dredging up the JVP’s earlier Marxist avatar – one claimed the Left-Wing JVP wolf is crouching under the NPP’s “sheep’s clothing” – that could panic the rural and urban petty property owners into fearing that a future JVP/NPP government would confiscate and socialise their hard-earned wealth. The elite are, of course, entitled to defend their own interests; on the other hand, the success of the JVP/NPP political project crucially hangs on its leaderships’ ability to nimbly step over the ideological tripwires strung across by the elite.

The feudalist Sinhalese elite unwittingly helped to dilute a similar peasant ideology among Tamil small farmers and underemployed cultivators by virtually excluding them from land settlement schemes and by displacing and expropriating considerable portions of their fertile lands during the four-decade long war. Some with wherewithal emigrated while large sections among Tamils have been compelled to move more into non-agricultural economic activities and hone their entrepreneurial skills acquired under the Chola mercantile Empire that spanned South-East Asia (9th to 13th Centuries CE) to expand their economic horizon. 

Incidentally, a telling evidence of the extent of Chola cultural influence is the celebration of the Hindu-Shaivite solar New Year on or around the 14th of April that continues across many countries in South East Asia to this day.        

The JVP/NPP’s Rapid Response in many ways expresses the hopes and aspirations of the third rural Sinhalese generation struggling to climb out of the Sinhala Only abyss, dug by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. The first two, led by the JVP, fought to effect what they saw as a systemic change – to defeat the “Kaduwa” – to overthrow the domination by the Anglicised elite symbolised by the English language; but they were ill prepared for battle and went to the wall in 1971 and again in 1987-89, paying with the lives of a conservatively estimated eighty thousand of the politically conscious cream.

The current generation the JVP/NPP are mobilising seem to prefer the parliamentary path to change. That could be a further reason why the Rapid Response does not highlight a broad-based industrialisation probably in order to not alienate the potential agrarian electoral base, essential to secure a parliamentary majority. Surprisingly the Rapid Response’s alleged Left-Populism does not extend to promoting education in the mother tongue combined with universal English literacy as the indispensable supplement that CWW Kannangara had envisaged in 1939 to decolonise education – non-negotiable pre-condition for meeting the first challenge, of sustained economic development. 

Restructuring the State

The JVP/NPP leadership’s second challenge is to restructure the State. Their Rapid Response takes up two important reforms:

a) Replace the Executive Presidency with a parliamentary form (page 20); and

b) Introduce a decentralised political system “affirming the Sri Lankan identity of all nationalities in the country” (page 21).

Every presidential candidate from 1989 onwards promised to eliminate the Executive Presidency; one in 1994 tendered it in writing. 

The Rapid Response seeks to affirm the “the Sri Lankan identity of all nationalities”. Sri Lankan of course is the code for the Sinhalese identity and we see no evidence that the authors of Rapid Response are aware of, let alone explored, the views of other nationalities on the Lanka or Ilankai identities. Might this mean the lessons of decades of political confrontations, destructive civil war, Indian military intervention and the associated economic ruin and societal misery are considered irrelevant by the JVP/NPP leaderships? 

In fact, the Rapid Response did not go beyond decentralisation, which the 1931 Donoughmore Commission had recommended supposedly to “bring the colonial government closer to the people”; and it appears reluctant to enunciate the other “D” word. A JVP/NPP aficionado, to his credit, laboured to ease the traditional Fear of Jaffna among nationalist Sinhalese intelligentsia in general and especially in the JVP/NPP leaderships by obliquely alluding to the unmentionable: Devolution. He assured that Tamils no longer seek an independent Tamil Eelam and stridently called, “Change the party line now!” 

President Wickremesinghe reportedly claimed, during his January, 2023 Thai Pongal speech in Jaffna, his government would implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (to devolve power) after discussions with Tamil parliamentarians in February/March, 2023. Sections of the Buddhist clergy marched on Parliament and publicly set fire to a copy of the Amendment. Their reaction is understandable since they too, like most members of the nationalist Sinhalese elite, view devolution as an unconscionable capitulation at the negotiating table of what was won on the battle field at the cost of blood and treasure.

It is unclear how the Rapid Response intends to cope with the opposition from the Buddhist clergy. 

The anti-Tamil sections of the nationalist Sinhalese intelligentsia in the south cheered the State’s war machine; and the anti-LTTE groups among the parochial Tamil intelligentsia in the north and east desisted from opposing the armed forces’ military campaign. They together are culpable in enabling the government’s military victory that dialectically, so to speak, firmly closed the door to the very democratisation of the State they claimed to seek through the defeat of the LTTE. 

We suspect the JVP/NPP leaderships have also to cope with two further spill overs of the 2009 “victory”. First, the nationalist Sinhalese elite seem to have concluded the Tamil National Question could be blown away by applying the military solution; second, the “victory” confirmed in their mind that a reform of the State towards a federal structure is superfluous since the military solution has been tried, tested and found “successful”. 

The populist distraction

The JVP/NPP leaderships’ inability to imagine a credible a democratic structure within which to orchestrate the contending Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslim nationalist forces as well as class contradictions have apparently led them to dabble in populism.

The variations in populism are limited only by human ingenuity. Broadly speaking, political forces resort to populism to postulate a “third” or non-capitalist path of development; or a charismatic leader could exploit emotive symbols for populist mass mobilisation to compensate for the inability to craft a political programme incorporating concrete social realties. The second option may explain better the JVP/NPP phenomenon. 

Some analysts interpreted the NPP’s approach as “Left-Wing Populism” akin to the Latin America’s anti-imperialist Pink Tide. Others drew on the Latin American experience to dispute the relevance of the label and suggest alternative ones. 

The experiences of Latin American countries and those in Europe – Greece’s Syriza (“from the roots”), Spain’s Podemos (“we can”), etc. – are interesting; they may reveal a few useful insights. Nevertheless, in our view, one must bear in mind that the European movements do not have to contend with the dynamics specific to 20th Century post-colonial societies in South Asia. 

Moreover, Latin American countries are settler colonies in which political theory and practice are dominated by the Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking European settler-elites. The elites are grounded in their colonial interests as a class, have yet to permit the indigenous nations into mainstream politics and their political articulations, therefore, cannot but be warped to fit the racist, genocidal rule over the colonised nations (Mayas, Aztecs, etc.). 

A few leaders (Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Peru’s Alejandro Toledo) have broken through from colonised indigenous nations after more than 500 years of colonial repression and destruction; remarkably the anti-colonial resistance movements continue although attempts are often made to suppress them under the pretext of “anti-narcotic” military operations. The ahistorical transposition of the Eurocentric theoretical formulations of the Latin America’s settler-elites almost in toto upon the conquered colonies of South Asia is highly questionable. 

Rather than be distracted by extra-regional experiences rooted in starkly different historical contexts, it would be of more value to draw from the populist movements within the splinters of the crumbling British South Asian Empire. The RSS/BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindutva that evokes a mythical Ram Raj in India, the PPP’s Islamic Democracy, which Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hedged as Islamic Socialism, and the SLFP’s Sinhala-Buddhist Middle Path socialism in Sri Lanka are attempts by indigenous elites to grapple with the challenges of internal de-colonisation – two important criteria that do not apply to Latin America – in order to build democratic State structures for multi-nationality post-colonial polities in South Asia. 

What is at issue, arguably, is the capacity of the JVP/NPP leaderships in Sri Lanka to look across the Palk Strait not only at Buddhist traditions and practices but also to craft a political program rooted in the region’s historical evolution. 

The previous posts:

Part 1

Part II

Part III

[Next: National Movements and Internal De-colonisation]

*Dr Sachithanandam Sathananthan is an independent researcher who read Political Economy for the Ph.D. degree at the University of Cambridge. He was Assistant Director, International Studies, Marga Institute, Visiting Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University School of International Studies and has taught World History at Karachi University’s Institute of Business Administration. He is an award-winning filmmaker and may be reached at: commentaries.ss@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 10
    4

    It makes no sense to scapegoat Tamils for allegedly starting the war.
    This, in a nutshell, is the reason for Sri Lanka failing as a nation.

    • 5
      7

      Dear Nathan,
      .
      I don’t really take exception to your statement. Well, there are some Sinhalese who never scapegoated the Tamils, never even supported the War. Did we not do enough to oppose the War? May I only ask in return what more we could have done?
      .
      However, I fear that you go too far when you suggest that there weren’t other reasons for the collapse of our nation.
      .
      This is my first comment on this article, although I did read the article a few hours ago.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

      • 13
        2

        Dear Sinhala_Man,
        You are acceptable to me. Are you acceptable to your own people?
        .
        Any other reason for the collapse of our nation can only be subordinate to the reason referred to.
        .
        if we loved our country we would have to fight as one people.
        .

    • 9
      8

      There is scaegoating by the governments and SB extremists. But there is also reasoned criticism, which many Tamils are unhappy to hear.
      Many who privately criticize Indian manipulation and excesses by the LTTE are more than a little touch when others draw attention to such matters.
      Can one accuse the author of unfairness?
      Is not his writing is among the most balanced in recent times?

      • 6
        3

        Yes. It is a balanced article but how to make change the country now or in the near future.
        “provoking the armed resistance of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).”
        The following statement undermine the facts that it was not only LTTE, there were a number of armed youth organsations emerged in the North East (PLOTE, TELO, EPRLF etc.). Among them, only LTTE remained powerful and challenged Sinhala only Military for more than 30 years.

        • 5
          5

          The LTTE was also brutally intolerant and killed non-combatant rivals.
          It killed more Tamils than the Army did until the escalation of the war.

          • 5
            3

            Chavam, stop justifying state-sponsored marginalisation of the island’s Thamizh. Even as per government statistics the LTTE killed around 4000 non-combatant civilians throughout the war and this does not amount to 1% of the non-combatant civilians killed during the war. Many of them were rivals and Thamizh quislings and lots of them were Chingkalla and Muslim thugs, criminals and heavily armed home guards, deliberately sent to Thamizh areas, pretending to be civilians, to kill, ethnically cleanse and make life hell for Thamizh. 99% of the killing of non-combatant civilians were at the hands of the Sri Lankan state, armed forces and police and more than 99% of their victims, were innocent Thamizh civilians, deliberately targetted in the guise of fighting the LTTE./ Around 145000 were deliberately targeted and killed in May 2009. However you know all this but as usual post something else,

          • 5
            3

            SJ
            Can you provide evidence to your lies?What do you mean by escalation of the war?

            • 0
              2

              If they are lies, it is easy to disprove me.
              Why don’t you give it a try?
              How many times do I have to educate you.
              Read the Broken Palmyrah, it is the best accessible among the more credible documents.
              As for the seemingly serious part, I meant the escalation under Mahinda R. But you can even consider earlier escalations like under CBK.
              *
              Note that calling me a liar makes you a liar twice over.
              Think about it.

  • 12
    0

    These two issues – economic stability and ethnic harmony – have been the main challenges faced by the country from day one. As a nation we have failed on both counts. You cannot have one without the other. But unfortunately the degenerate politics that has taken root in the country has been playing one off against the other. Economic decisions are made to gain political advantage and to push racist agendas. Reversely, tribal mindsets and racist frictions among the people have negatively impacted economic growth. So called leaders and the people who vote for them are equally responsible for the current crisis in the country. Both are integral to the degenerate political system.

    • 5
      2

      “The IMF’s intravenous infusion of funds as seed money, they expect, would support a proposed “value added technologically driven agriculture and fisheries-based export market economy” in the future, as described by a commentator. “
      All very well in theory. But what is the ground reality? Our rice farmers, even after lots of subsidies still cannot match the per capita output of farmers in Tamilnadu., who in turn cannot match the output of farmers in the tiny Netherlands. We need to find out why, instead of harking back to “hydraulic civilizations”.
      As to fishing, is it not a fact that fishermen are looked down upon as a community? The majority of the population are Sinhala Buddhists. How many of these are :
      1. Plantation workers?
      2. Fishermen?
      If we want to change the country, attitudes to honest work have to change.

      • 6
        2

        old codger

        Why do people or experts in Sri Lanka (irrespective of their race, religion, region, ….. gender, … make all discussion on economics, development, economic stability, social justice, …. difficult?

        The more you listen to more educated (whatever that is) the subject get more muddled,…. ., for example read Maoists SJ, ….

        In contrast listen to capitalist Dravidian Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR Thiagarajan, he makes the discussion very cool.Is it because Sri Lankans “EXPERTS” do not know what they are talking about or they should not have studied ECONOMICs?

        I think our so called experts believe they are experts on everything.

        • 6
          2

          old codger

          Here is a recent interview:
          Tamil Nadu Fin Minister PTR Thiagarajan on country, culture, economy | Shoma Chaudhury
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7F_khFb13I

          He also discusses about the need to devolution.
          Can you not arrange our nimal fernando to meet him?

          • 1
            1

            Native,
            Interesting that the TN economy is said to be bigger than Singapore.
            Is this guy related to P. Chidambaram?

            • 1
              0

              Not a relation of Chithamparam, but his father was from DMK and was speaker of Tamil Nadu assembly
              His grandfather was P.T.Rajan from Justice Party was Chief Minister of Madras Presidency in 1936 for a short time.
              Palanivel Thiagarajan (PTR) is an Indian politician and the current Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu. He was elected to the . Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election in 2016 and 2021 from Madurai Central.
              Mr Palanivel Thiagarajan is from a political family and educated in India and USA with PHD from MIT and was an international expert in banking and finance with MBA. His first degree was in Chemical Engineering and was a banker by profession. His passion was politics and social justice and he resigned and entered politics

            • 4
              1

              old codger

              “Is this guy related to P. Chidambaram?”

              I don’t think so for P. Chidambaram is a Chetti.
              Thiyagarajan comes from a long line of family which is directly connected Meenakshi Amman Temple. He claims to be a rationalist as well as a believer.

              Why doesn’t Sri Lanka produce people (politician) like him?
              Although Tamil/Sinhala affinity of genetic can be traced back to South India, why does not Sri Lanka produce people like him (exception Obeysekere, R A L H Gunawardana, H L Seneviratne ….. ..).

              We know although ancestors of MPs Siritharan, Wimal Weerawansa, …… Ganampilla, Channa, Adaikkalam,….. came from South India why they still remain stupid, useless, …. ?

              • 2
                0

                Native,
                “Why doesn’t Sri Lanka produce people (politician) like him?”
                Well, Sri Lanka produced one TN Chief Minister, MGR. Whether that was good or bad I can’t say.
                What PTR says about continuity of policy is key. He says all governments since 1920 followed consistent policies. We didn’t. They didn’t go organic overnight. Outfits like TVS have been around since 1940.
                We claim 98% literacy, they have less. But the quality of the literacy is what counts, not the quantity.

                • 1
                  0

                  Native,
                  Even though there are State leaders like Thiagarajan, the situation at the Centre is bad. As Thiagarajan himself says, “The sky is blue, but I don’t claim credit for it”, referring to BJP propaganda. Even Indian visa application forms now have Modi’s picture on them, and his banners are seen at airports. Even Mahinda didn’t go this far.

            • 2
              2

              OC
              Raise a flag when a comment is TIC.

          • 4
            0

            NV,
            What a refreshing view point on governance and outcome!!??? Splendid. no wonder, they became 80 Billion to 300 Billion dollar economy in 8 years, but Sri Lanka went down Bankrupt!!!
            the difference, lack of Compassion (or misplaced Compassion) and near zero COMPETENCE, to run a successful economy
            We had a Finance Minister, resident and pardon me, for not mentioning the right status, citizen of USA!!!
            He did not have the same facilitation in articulating, what best Governance is except, what Kaka’s do to airplanes!!??
            Kaak!! Kaak!!

          • 2
            0

            “Can you not arrange our nimal fernando to meet him?”

            Sorry Native, I’m busy watching these ……. https://www.pratidintime.com/entertainment/beautiful-actresses-of-tamil-nadu

            Old Codger will take the time to listen to your bewitching man ……. and write a point-form critique.

            I’ll wait for that: most of the work done for me ………. I trust his judgement!

          • 3
            0

            Had a brief peek ……. he looks like a lighter – in color – version of Prabakaran. No wonder he is good!

            Looks are all what matters! …… Look at Ranil with his rosy-lips and well tailored suits …….. he ran the UNP to the ground …….. now running the country’s social-fabric, morally to the ground ……… all the while holding priceless Buddhist books in his hand …….. and asking the young to follow his example!

            Majority is willing to accept his unspeakable corruption and immorality …….. for trouble-free 20 litres of gas a month.

            Even the best have a price on their morals/ethics! :))

            Never believed in any of the crap …… a cradle to grave cynic ……. very rarely get fooled.


            Young man Native who would you follow? ………. Ranil or Gunduvindu?

            • 0
              0

              “Ranil or Gunduvindu?”

              You mean no other choices?
              It is too bad.

          • 1
            0

            N V ,

            Great contribution from you to this forum , I truly appreciate your
            intention N V . Usually I am not attracted to links provided on this
            forum as it has now become a kind of like ‘ pandemic.’ I checked
            to understand him better , his backgrounds and found him truly
            qualified to say whatever he said with his head held high . He stood
            tall when he said at his wind up , ” compassion first and everything
            else second .” That , for an Indian with US academic decorations ,
            wow ! Extraordinary ! Everything he said found real quality with
            that declaration I believe ! Once again , thank you for the link .

      • 5
        3

        OC
        The circumstances of plantation employment are unique. There are more rubber plantation workers among the Sinhalese.
        There is much evidence that the Karawe are mostly descendants of South Indians. Conversion to Roman Catholicism was strong during the Portuguese period. They remained in the faith even under Dutch persecution. Tamil Karawe (Karayar) are mostly ‘Hindu’ in the North and East.
        You may have heard this Govi complaint about the arrogance of the K caste: “Ovun “malu bedanne bath uda ne” kiyanawa.”
        Since the time of the Dutch the K have petitioned to the governors that they are Kshathryas and are therefore superior to the Govi who are Sudras.
        It is a different story in the Vellala dominated North.

        • 1
          0

          SJ,
          Even Indian fishermen seem to be mostly Christians and Muslims. Is that why the Indian fishing fleet is smaller than one would expect?

          • 1
            0

            SJ
            Do the Tamil Hindu Karaiyars go fishing?

            • 1
              0

              OC
              They do. A good many of my classmates in Trincomalee were Hindu K whose fathers went to sea.
              There are the ‘elevated’ (Melongi) Karayar who ceased to. Some owned boats and equipment otehrs went into other professions.

          • 1
            0

            There is a sizeable community of Hindu fishermen. Conversion to Catholicisn was partly due to the coastline being where the Portuguese met the locals. The Paravar are entirely catholic.
            Another factor to consider is the prevalence of vegetarianism, especially among the dominant castes.

    • 4
      8

      When did economic instability really set in?
      If the challenges were there from Day 1, the roots should go back to the years of British colonial rule.

      • 12
        5

        “the roots should go back to the years of British colonial rule.”
        What about Dutch and Portuguese rule?
        Root is Buddhist SInhala Fundamentalism!
        No excuse.

        • 4
          4

          A
          Take it as far back as you please.
          SB ‘fundamentalism’ started early last century. Check if you care to find out.
          *
          BTW, the subject was ‘economic instability’. Your short term memory is playing wild tricks on you it appears.

    • 4
      4

      India, unlike Sri Lanka is serious about nation building; they celebrate diversity in words and deeds and had imaginatively and innovatively accommodate any differences by being flexible by having states, union territories, autonomous councils with elected representations, even to very small tribal communities especially in the northeast. They failed only in the case of Muslims and dalit minorities. If they could accommodate these difference within the framework of Indian union, they will truly become Asian giants.

      • 5
        3

        Our author seems to believe that Sri Lanka is a divided country with only Sinhala and Tamil nationalism. It may be so at the time of Independence, but now it has grown into a monster with Sinhala, Tamil, Muslims and upcountry Tamils making their own claims. If only Sri Lankan elites were serious about nation building at the time of Independence it could have been resolved much earlier. Even now it is not too late. The aragalaya youth who had courageously identified so many system flows were unable to look at this governance issue seriously, that it not among the most urgent theme.

      • 4
        2

        srikrish,
        .
        ‘They failed only in the case of Muslims and dalit minorities.’
        .
        Not at all, caste differences affect every Indian, even the middle and upper classes. It affects them and heir children even when they settle abroad.

        • 1
          1

          Not a relation of Chithamparam, but his father was from DMK and was speaker of Tamil Nadu assembly
          His grandfather was P.T.Rajan from Justice Party was Chief Minister of Madras Presidency in 1936 for a short time.
          Palanivel Thiagarajan (PTR) is an Indian politician and the current Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu. He was elected to the . Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election in 2016 and 2021 from Madurai Central.
          Mr Palanivel Thiagarajan is from a political family and educated in India and USA with PHD from MIT and was an international expert in banking and finance with MBA. His first degree was in Chemical Engineering and was a banker by profession. His passion was politics and social justice and he resigned and entered politics

          • 1
            0

            PTR’s Ph.D. was in Human Factors at the University of Buffalo ( formerly SUNY). I think he did his MBA later at the Sloan Business School at MIT.

      • 7
        5

        “they celebrate diversity in words and deeds …”
        So it may seem! I like to know what the Muslims, Dalits and indigenous people have to say.
        What is Hindutva about I wonder.

        • 7
          4

          Perhaps they do ‘celebrate diversity’ by maintaining the caste hierarchy. It is still a caste ridden society in every state.
          The indigenous people who were once ignored are now losing their right to land.
          Also, why are Tamils ‘loved’ so much in Karnataka, and now even Kerala?

        • 2
          1

          i myself had acknowledged Muslims and Dalits are not satisfied the way they were being treated in India. It is a very serious problem . Modi aggravated Muslim sentiments by arbitrarily going back on pledges made by Indian leaders at the time of Independence.
          The tribal and other numerically small minorities were satisfied with asymmetrical devolution through autonomous councils. The Indian leaders though enlightened could not find a way out. It is a tragedy .
          Sri Lankan leaders on the other hand ill never learn!

  • 12
    3

    Thank you for the excellent accurate article. Sinhalese racism by their feudalistic caste-conscious elite, supported by the Buddhist clergy to deliberately exclude and marginalise the island’s Tamils and destroy them is the root cause of all the problems and until they realise this, nothing will be solved. They will even bankrupt the island and invite foreigners to take over large parts of the island and its resources, as long as Tamils are marginalised. This has been the story from ancient times, inviting various foreign powers in order to contain the Tamils, resulting in European colonisation. Then blame the Tamils for everything including the war that was created due to state-sponsored Sinhalese racism and marginalisation of the island’s Tamils.

    • 4
      1

      Siva Sankara Sharma,

      Thank you for the comment.

      A correction:
      “The elites are grounded in their colonial interests as a class, have yet to permit the indigenous nations into mainstream politics and their political articulations, therefore, cannot but be warped to fit the racist, genocidal rule over the colonised nations (Mayas, Aztecs, etc.).”

      The above stands corrected to read as follows:
      The elites are grounded in their colonial interests as a class; they have yet to permit the indigenous nations into mainstream politics and their political articulations; and, therefore, their political formulations cannot but be warped to fit the racist, genocidal rule over the colonised nations (Mayas, Aztecs, etc.).

    • 2
      10

      Ranil Wicramashinge as President is making many courageous measures for rectifying long festering economic crisis. Whether he succeeds or not is debatable, but his resolve is remarkable when looking at the other politicians since independence.
      But when it came to minority issues ,initially he came out with determination that he ould tacle the national question with similar determination and farsighted actions , but the moment Sinhala racist came out strongly against him for accommodating minority demands he felt cold feet and instead of courageously engage with them had gone into a shell.
      Is Sinhala racism so intransigence like LTTE was sometimes back that more than anything else had annihilated them?

      • 3
        3

        Only a fool would not have done what Ranil Wickremesinghe is doing. But Ranil Wickremesinghe is not doing what is right as President.

        • 3
          1

          So where is the catch?

      • 2
        1

        SK,
        “Ranil Wicramashinge as President is making many courageous measures for rectifying long festering economic crisis.”
        When a politician has to make tough decisions, it is an advantage to have no vote base at all. That way, no one can put political pressure on him.
        We should make this a permanent feature in the Constitution. The President should be elected in a parliamentary secret ballot.

        • 2
          5

          Old Codger,
          Yes,Mr Ranil Wicramasinghe was elected as president in a Parliamentary secret ballot.
          He should show his courage in solving long festering minority issues as well by his not. being elected by popular vote to his advantage.

        • 3
          3

          Dear old codger,
          .
          You are brilliant at times, but then disappoint.
          .
          What you say sounds reasonable, but it isn’t. We used to have it stipulated that the Minister of Justice should be from the Senate for the same reason – that he should have no vote base.
          .
          Had it been a “permanent feature in the Constitution, to select the President by a parliamentary secret ballot,” then fine. I noticed that in the NPP’s “Rapid Response” of December 2022, they advocated the election of the President to be that way. But he wasn’t going to be “Executive President” – only Head of State, and Commander of the Armed Forces.
          .
          The whole point here is that Amendments to the Constitution ought not to spring from a crisis; they ought to be in place before we get to crisis. Please avoid sophistry of this sort. We know that Ranil and you can outwit us all, but behold the results!
          .
          Applying to current situation: First conduct all pending elections, obtain a mandate from the people, then change the Constitution.
          .
          Learn compassion from PTR Thiagarajan; I listened to it all; no short cuts.

          • 3
            0

            SM
            “We know that Ranil and you can outwit us all, but behold the results!”
            Yes indeed, behold the results.
            PTR? Don’t you find it unusual that even though Tamils form ony about 6% of the Indian population, they hold proportionately more than that in Cabinet and institutional power at the Centre?
            Is there something Indians know that we don’t?

            • 3
              2

              “…Tamils form ony about 6% of the Indian population, they hold proportionately more than that in Cabinet and institutional power at the Centre?”
              If you ask the Tamils, they will tell you that most people holding those high posts are Brahmins.

              • 3
                0

                SJ,

                That PTR conversation was hosted by Shiv Nadar Foundation.
                Shiv Nadar is the grandson of S.P.Athithanar, who was an early Tamil nationalist and the ‘Naam Thamilar’ movement. I recall reading about Athithanar in Suthanthiran, the ITAK’s organ, in my childhood The grandson ignored Tamil nationalism, founded HCL, became a billionaire, married a northern Indian lady, and settled down in Delhi. I recently learned from the Economist that the Nadars were considered Dalits but historically upwardly mobile. Non-Brahmins have made great strides, though Brahmins may still dominate certain fields, e.g., civil service.

                • 2
                  0

                  Agnos,
                  “though Brahmins may still dominate certain fields, e.g., civil service.”
                  Perhaps, like Jews, Tamil Brahmins have aptitudes in certain fields, like mathematics. This view may not be PC, but isn’t it a fact that black people for example are better athletes?

                  • 2
                    0

                    OC,

                    If for centuries people’s ancestors were bound by caste values to focus only on memorizing and reciting large amounts of scriptures, music, etc., that might create the aptitudes you are talking about. In ancient times, Brahmins also enjoyed the patronage of Kings–in general, even in the West some centuries ago, education was controlled by priests. Even universities like Cambridge and Harvard were founded by them. In a number of cases, their descendants might have benefited greatly from it.

                • 1
                  0

                  The upward social mobility of the Nadars started early in the 20th Century. They defied the Brahmin-Vellala order much earlier (re the right of women to wear blouses).
                  They made money. Gains in education were slower, but ongoing.
                  CP Athithan’s Tamil nationalism (Nam Thanizar!) had an anti-DMK touch to it. The Suthanthiran was rather naive about Tamilnadu politics.
                  He was a businessman first. He ditched Nam Thanizar probably before his grandson finished schooling.
                  Thinaththanthi was a business success.
                  *
                  My comment concerned “(Tamils holding) proportionately more than (6%) in Cabinet and institutional power at the Centre”.
                  Any error?

                  • 3
                    0

                    SJ,

                    I know that S.Jaishankar, Nirmala Sitaraman, Subramaniam Swamy, and Mani Shankar Aiyar are Brahmins, but I don’t know the castes of others from TN who have held power at the center to be able to answer your question.

                    I have heard from Indian friends that Chidambaram is a Chettiar, not a Brahmin. DMK’s T.R. Baalu, T. Raja, Dayanidhi Maran, and the late Murasoli Maran held power at the Center, all unlike to be Brahmins.

                    • 0
                      0

                      Agnos,
                      I have the impression that both the DMK and the AIADMK are anti-Brahmin. So, their members who get cabinet positions in Delhi through coalitions are not likely to be Brahmins. The troika you mention are Tamil Brahmins, but not elected from TN.

        • 3
          1

          OC
          Direct election to an all powerful post has its dangers when an electorate is not well informed.
          Choosing among a handful of people that one has at best heard about in the media whose credibility is suspect is folly. We made the most disastrous choices in 2015 and 2019.
          I will go further to suggest election of MPs by delegates of small populations (order of 1000) so that the people know their delegate personally and the delegate is answerable to his/her electors.
          A congress of delegates can elect the President.
          There should be the right for the public to recall delegates, MPs and the President.

          • 0
            0

            SJ,
            “There should be the right for the public to recall delegates, MPs and the President.”
            Yes, but in this country, it might result in a rather high turnover among MPs.

      • 7
        2

        A new recruit to the RW Fan Club?

      • 7
        1

        “Ranil Wicramashinge as President is making many courageous measures for rectifying long festering economic crisis.”

        srikrish

        Could you please mention/identify one by one what these measures are?

        So we can discuss/argue about their merits.

        • 3
          4

          nimal fernando,
          .
          Thanks for knowing when to clown, but also when to be serious.
          .
          NV has twice suggested, in identical comments, that you should meet PTR Thiagarajan. I endorse that!

        • 0
          3

          Nimal Fernando,
          Merits or demerits? I only said courageous,not correct!
          he stands firm, look at the tax increases, prize increases, strong actions against strikers, and many other unpopular decisions,not to allow holding elections.
          He never blinks in face of heavy opposition!

          • 3
            0

            srikrish,

            Has he got the courage ……. not appoint 37 + 2 ministers? :)) ………. That’s a profile in courage, buddy!

            Sure, he has the “courage” to beat-up unarmed people with his bribed police and army goons.

            Great courage to bring in a new PTA, eh?

            Gota had your type of courage too ………. to ban ………. !!

            Do you really believe Lanka will be better when Ranil is through? :)))

            • 3
              0

              “He never blinks”

              Kim Jong-un never blinks.

              Stalin never blinked.

              Adolf never blinked.

              Benito never blinked.

              Pol Pot never blinked ………..

              Were their people/countries better for it? :))

          • 0
            0

            SK,
            Who are we to quibble? Even a famous JVP supporter like Dr Ameer Ali says there is no alternative.

    • 9
      4

      S S S.

      The PhD.thesis of Dr.Colvin.R.de Silva [ British rule in Ceylon ] had this to say……….
      The Kandyan Chieftains betrayed their King to the British in 1815.
      Well the Sinhala Chieftains betrayed their Tamil/ Telugu King and with that began the 150 odd years of British rule in the Island.

      Even now to marginalise the minorities racism knows no boundaries.

      • 4
        1

        Not only that, unlike the Thamizh kingdom of Jaffna, which fought against the Portuguese and lost, the Chingkalla kingdom of Kotte, did not put up a fight but meekly surrendered and then sent more than 500 Chingkalla soldiers to fight with the Portuguese against the Thamizh Jaffna kingdom. It was the Chingkallams who invited the Dutch into the island to chase away the Portuguese and then the British to chase away the Dutch and also as you stated betrayed the Telugu-origin Thamizh Madurai Niacker king of Kandy to the British. Funny these so-called Chingkalla chieftains and aristocrats, who betrayed the king, themselves were largely of recent South Indian Thamizh Naicker/Pandian ancestry. This is why the Kandyan convention was largely signed in Thamizh. This includes the ancestor of Mrs Banfaranaicke a well-known anti Thamizh and many other anti-Thamizhs. Anti-Thamizh of recent South Indian Thamizh ancestry. Just like the vast majority of the present-day Chingkallams.

  • 9
    1

    What every citizen in the country considers as Challenges in this new year are:

    1. Establishment of Law: In this connection AG and Judiciary act independently and impartially without acting to satisfy politicians’ demands.

    2. Establishment of order: Police and Armed Forces act independently and not to follow the illegal orders of the politicians or political parties but maintain law and order respecting the rights of the people that are enshrined in the constitution of Sri Lanka. Bribery and corruption in the Police and Armed Forces.

    3. Establishment of clean politics: President does not appoint crooks as Ministers and political party leaders not to give nominations to drug lords, rapists, kappam guys, murderers, and those who have bribery and corruption accusations.

    5. Bribery and corruption: Bring before the courts all the crooks including politicians, senior armed forces and police officers, government servants, and private company executives who have benefited by paying bribes.

    4. Lastly resolve economic revival. If the above three are satisfied then people will wait a longer period of time to resolve the economic revival as they understand that it cannot be done overnight as the political crooks have for decades robbing the country.

    In this order.

    • 9
      4

      Yet another well though out researched article from SS. The expectations of Buddhist 1 are much more realistic but mandatory. May be some of the true changes he suggests may alleviate ASD’s concerns ( rightly so) that race and economy can only be fixed by addressing together and not alone. Like in many countries a vibrant juficiary and steps against corruption helps to certain degree in dealing with race conflicts which SSS calls as root cause. But the real situation we have now is SB monks and racists threatening judiciary, intimidating Law and Order, taking the law into their own hands , flouting court orders , burning constitution in public, making threats of further violence and functioning like a Parallel Religious Mafia/government, through out history. Our governments supressed by labeling, genuine Minority struggle as Terrorism and uprising of youth as armed insurrection but throughout financed and supported SB terrorism to flourish which is now out of control, not only endangering the the very existence of crooked and corrupt politicians but bankrupting our immoral nation.

    • 3
      1

      B1,
      “the above three are satisfied then people will wait a longer period of time to resolve the economic revival as they understand that it cannot be done overnight”
      I doubt that very much. Most people will vote for the first crook that promises to get it done overnight. You know, like “organic in 24 hours”.

      • 8
        4

        OC
        Many of us like to believe that scrambled egg can be unscrambled.
        Correcting the causes of the problem is a good thing, but sadly it will not on its own solve the problem.

        • 3
          4

          “Correcting the causes of the problem is a good thing, but sadly it will not on its own solve the problem.”

          Let us demand Surgeon General, Kamala, Wimala, ….. Shenali .. 6.9 Million built a dictatorship of proletariat challenging indecent feudal, capitalist, retrospective….. Hindian state.

          • 3
            5

            Have you decided if you agree or disagree with the view?
            Perhaps agree with SJ’s view but instinctively want to disagree with SJ, so the outcome is a muddle.
            Poor you. Have you seen the doctor?
            *
            Remember, I really really really care very very very much for your health, and I mean every word of it.

      • 2
        0

        Old Codger,

        Thank you for your comment. If the people of the country do not understand financial restructuring takes a long time and vote for crooks, then they deserve to wait in line for essentials and beg for food.

        • 3
          3

          Dear Buddhist1,
          .
          Yes, you had to contradict old codger on that. We have to run the risks inherent in insistence on conducting elections; if the people vote for crooks, they may have to suffer the inevitable consequences.
          .
          However, I wouldn’t say that they deserve to starve.
          .
          All of us must face up to the difficulties of the decisions, the necessary risks being run, but also stay the course.
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

          • 2
            0

            SM,
            No, that wasn’t a contradiction by B1. It is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. Why should we blame politicians when it is the voters who elect them? And yes, starvation is a great teacher.

            • 1
              0

              SM,
              Since you complain so much about deprivation of various rights, such as franchise, equal treatment, economic rights, political rights, etc, would you name just one country that provided all these rights and also became First World prosperous? Just one?

            • 1
              0

              No, oc, I won’t try to take you up on this.
              .
              The reason is that if I were to name a country which has become First World, it would still be possible for you to find that at some point in its history that it has deprived people of their rights. About six weeks ago, Tisaranee Gunasekara had written about Finland. It seems to be a wonderful place, and I know some people who are there.
              .
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/taxing-times/
              .
              What I think that we should do is to get the overdue Local Government Elections held and then take stock of the situation. If Ranil puts us ahead of his obsession with personal power, he would go ahead with the elections. Future generations will thank him for statesmanship.
              .
              You don’t buy his statements about lack of funds, do you?

              • 1
                0

                SM,
                If no country has progressed while providing all rights to its citizens, even in prosperous times, why are you calling for these in a bankrupt country?
                “You don’t buy his statements about lack of funds, do you?”
                Let me put it this way:
                Go out and look at the hospital near you. Are there or are there not sufficient drugs? Ask the three wheeler guy if he gets enough petrol.
                Where do YOU think Ranil is hiding the funds?

                • 1
                  0

                  SM,
                  Why don’t you get off your diet of JVP youtubes, and watch this one of Ali Sabry very intelligently describing how the crisis started, his relations with Cabral, AND his opinion of AKD ‘s unwarranted attack on Nandalal Weerasingha:
                  https://www.youtube.com/live/KutBGvOj9dk?feature=share

                  • 0
                    0

                    Dear oc,
                    .
                    I have watched
                    fifteen out out of the 86 minutes of the Sabry video.
                    .
                    Why not more? That is from the 10th of April 2023. What dominates my mind more than all else is the dishonesty about the conducting of Local Government Elections. If those elections are not held, all this talk is of no use.
                    .
                    I wasn’t very keen on trotting out examples of Developed Countries without bad records of Human Rights. What we must do is to examine what we have done, and correct our faults, irrespective of the faults of others. LM doesn’t contest that Finland has developed, but then speaks of the climate of that Arctic Land. What could the inhabitants have done about that?
                    .
                    I recognise the danger for all of us, of listening only to our partisans. However, I do try to listen to other views. I’d like LM to know that I actually successfully submitted a comment on Professor Sarath Wijesooriya. It got accepted, but I think it was past the cut off time for that article by Asoka Seneviratne. These exigencies we must put up with.

                  • 0
                    0

                    SM,
                    You must listen to Ali Sabry demolishing AKD’s arguments on the IMF.
                    I am no fan of Sabry, but compared to AKD’s puerile
                    logic, this guy comes across as factual.

              • 2
                0

                Very good morning to you both from Central Europe@

                AS USUAL SM MIXED IT UP… right?

                1- Old codger is asking SM to name a developing world country with all balanced qualities mentioned above – as usual our self-proclaimed school teacher (one and only man with NIC on his display) turns it around. It may be in his genes (koheda yanne malle pol).
                I have asked him x number of times about unanswered questions regarding “NPP and JVP” but SM acts like he has not heard about them. ????????????

                2. SM is instead talking about Finland. a country from developed world. ?????

                I also have colleagues in Helsinki and Vaasa. My then subtenant was also from Helsinki. Further to this, I have German friends who visited Finland on vacation. Most of them have one thing in common, which is that they would not choose to live forever due to coldness and cloudy weather.

      • 2
        0

        They are prone to vote on on inducements than Rational view point, which has been proven many times over!!??????
        “Handeng Haal Genawa wage thama”i!!!

  • 3
    1

    old codger

    Here is a recent interview:
    Tamil Nadu Fin Minister PTR Thiagarajan on country, culture, economy | Shoma Chaudhury
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7F_khFb13I

    He also discusses about the need to devolution.
    Can you not arrange our nimal fernando to meet him?

    • 1
      1

      Thank you, Native Vedda for the link. The link could not open. Yet I managed to have access to this brilliant interview. He had presented the virtue of devolution to the lowest level- to the grass root! brilliant observations, very educative, insightful!
      Thank you NV. Please provide more and more this type of links as you do in addition to your insightful comments though i do not agree with some.

      • 3
        2

        srikrish

        In the past 6 months I have listened to several of his brilliant interviews, You can access all on youtube. The one with Sashi Tharoor is funny and educative.

  • 8
    2

    What the author states is 100% correct. As per law, the Thamizh language is a national and official language on par with the Chingkalla language and all government notices should be in both languages However, this deliberately flouted and the use of the Thamizh language is now being increasingly being ignored and omitted by it during independence celebrations, singing of the national anthem, or government proclamations. The latest is the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, which has hundreds of thousands of local Thamizh supporters,, it has deliberately sent out its new greetings only in Chingkallam and English and deliberately omitted the Thamizh language, which is against the law.

  • 3
    0

    I fully agree with the author on JVP / NPP ‘ underestimation’ of the economic
    consequence of four decades long war in the North , as one among many other
    reasons for the bankruptcy of the economy that might take another three
    decades to return to a reasonable standard . Japan has not yet fully recovered
    from its 1989 crash . How many times US economy failed and bounced back
    and keep failing over and over again ? Suppose the Mid East suddenly for some
    reason , goes bust ! How much shock are we prepared to absorb ? We are
    dependent on daily wage , and even that daily wage has lost its power for three
    meals in many cases ! If we do not take into account the problems that we
    create for ourselves , among ourselves , in the name of rights and religions ,
    the recovery time for us will only be a distant dream ! Quicker the better . Time is
    running out .

    • 4
      5

      ww
      Globalization has hurt more than helped the US.
      The US overplayed its hands in global politics.
      Count the number of countries that are moving away from not just the USD but the US itself.
      Macron’s recent declaration about not being anyone’s vassal is a shock, as France has played proxy to the US in Africa.
      Sanctions against Russia have backfired in a big way. Ukraine needs peace, but the US wants war not to save Ukraine but to ruin Russia.

      • 1
        0

        SJ,
        “Globalization has hurt more than helped the US.”
        True, it was probably expecting to use its industrial prowess to export. So it needed to eliminate protective tariffs in the receiving countries. But it didn’t anticipate the receivers being better at this game, and lost practically all its heavy industry to overseas competition.

        • 1
          0

          OC
          True.
          The industrial base began to be undermined some years before Globalization came into full play. The US however had advantage in the hitec sectors.
          US capitalism having moved to the finance capital phase, relied on its control of production in overseas industrial bases to make profits abroad while feeding the US consumer.
          *
          Greed for the huge Chinese market and cheap labour was its undoing. Cheap Chinese goods combined with severe indebtedness (including to China) wrecked the US economy even its niche sectors.
          Trump had a point in his protectionist agenda. But delivering on it was not easy.

        • 0
          0

          o c ,

          Yes and No ! Many before it had lost their empires in many ways
          so , the US knows very well it is only a merry-go round ! But the
          battle , at the end , it knows it will have to face the music . It is
          going to be the same for any new replacement ! Some school are
          of the idea that Deindustrialisation and Deglobalisation should be
          tried .

      • 2
        0

        Yes S J , you are right but as for your take on Macron , I heard similar
        tones from some of his predecessors , decades ago ! Sometimes they
        too play to the gallery . Thanks for your voice !

  • 0
    0

    A well thought out, excellent article written with a knowledge of our colonial and post colonial context. Such articles are rare in the current debate. Class analysis is sound. However, what we need to understand is what are the progessive forces(Sinhala,TamilMuslim and others) that are striving to make a change in the system and the forces that are digging their heels to preserve their privilages. by any method including the manipulation of law, government, parliament and police etc?NPP/JVP is one group that is working to create change in the political and economic system.There are otehr minor groups such as Frontline Socialist party. When it comes to the crunch time, SJB consist of politicians that have no radical agenda to create a more egalitarian society including for the plantation workers, and those facing harsdships. They dont have a program to improve production in idustry,agriculture,manufacturing etc. either. As the current leadership of government is creating legal and other conditions. suitable for a dictatorship, the time is ripe for all political forces concerned abut the future of democracy and freedoms to come together and develop a common agenda. Some commentators in this paper tend to harp on past Sinhala-Tamil conflict too much. When people lose their democratic rights, there will be no difference whether you are a Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim?

    • 0
      0

      PCT
      The JVP has some luggage that it has to be freed of. It has to come clean on several matters to gain wider trust.
      They are bogged down by their sectarian ideology of the late 60s.
      Sad that the Tamil emigre community lacks forward thinking. If the likes of Dr SS cannot persuade them, it is bets to forget them. There is work to do at home where attitudes are not as bad as we read here.

      • 0
        0

        …it is best to forget them

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