3 March, 2024

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Will India Be The Game Changer For RW?

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The timing of the arrival of India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar carrying an invitation from his Prime Minister to President Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW), and the unpacking of a series of Indian initiatives to help the struggling economy, could be the manna for RW and a game changer to save him politically.

New Delhi had always been supportive of Sri Lanka in times of need; but the assistance promised now and the initiatives announced so far come at a crucial moment when the President and his unpopular parliament are due to face a Local Government Election (LGE), which is almost taking the form of a referendum on RW’s Presidency. Given the delay and uncertainty over the promised emergency funding from IMF, which is also delaying additional funds expected to flow from other sources, all because of difficulties in getting the debt restructure issue resolved, had thrown into doubt whether RW’s economic recovery plan would eventuate at all. Adding to this pessimism are the burden of new and higher rates of taxes introduced in RW’s 2023 budget. There is therefore widespread discontent over the regime’s pledges and performance, and to conduct LGE in this climate of discontent would, in all probability, spell disaster to the regime. Frantic efforts are therefore underway to get the elections postponed on chiefly on grounds of (a) financial unaffordability and (b) threat to the reforms and revival of the economy. The first of the two reasons appear weak in the face of assurance given by the Election Commissioner that the necessary expense of Rs. 5 billion could be met without a problem. But the second is bound to receive added strength following fresh hopes arising from India’s verve of economic assistance.         

At a special press conference in the presence RW and his Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, the Indian visitor listed a series of proposals that his government would undertake to develop Sri Lanka, such as turning Trincomalee into a renewable energy hub, increasing Indian investment and tourism and promoting infrastructure development. He reiterated his government’s 2022 commitment to grant $4 billion worth credit facilities with roll over terms to help Sri Lanka’s import needs. More importantly and after extending financing assurances to IMF, Dr. Jaishankar urged other creditors to take “proactive steps” to help the island’s economic recovery. He also reminded, perhaps with geopolitical reasons, that all bilateral creditors be treated equally. All this initiative were couched under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy, which, in relation to Sri Lanka, was deemed a civilizational duty by the Indian Prime Minister in a trilogy of lectures in 2020. 

Either coincidentally or as reaction to India’s initiatives the Exim Bank of China, which was accused of dragging its feet over debt restructuring, had written to RW in his capacity as Finance Minister, that the bank had decided to offer two-year moratorium, quipped by some as not “hard assurance”. However, IMF sees this as positive sign. But China’s offer be enough for IMF to release the promised $2.9 billion is not sure. Yet, India’s proposals and China’s response, would at least help quickening the process. That itself would be good news to RW. All in all, the vigorous Indian initiative looks to be a game changer, and RW and his team would now strengthen their case and argue for the postponement of LGE. It would be interesting to watch how things are going to over the next few weeks.     

Outside that special press conference, and in a separate meeting with the President, the Indian minister opened the controversial subject of the 13th Amendment, and urged its “full implementation” followed by Provincial Council Elections. The fact that this subject did not receive any mention at the press conference is significant. Does it convey that its importance been devalued to be raised separately like an addendum to the main text in order to satisfy the Tamil lobby alone? In this regard, RW’s bold attempt to resolve once and for all the so-called national question before this year’s Independence Day has now been given up, and instead, to satisfy India more than the Tamils he has agreed at a meeting with TNA stalwarts to (a) release five Tamil prisoners held without charges by 4th February, and another 10 against whom charges have not been filed yet to be released once the Attorney General’s Department prepares the necessary documents; (b) allow management of land and police powers by Provincial Councils, once the Land Commission is set up; and (c) permit 9 of the 10 Deputy Inspector Generals to be managed by each Provincial Council. In the context of a mellowed Sinhala Buddhist electorate which is more concerned with economic issues than communal politics, RW-TNA decisions may have a reasonable chance of being implemented once emergency funds become available and India’s promises are delivered.   

Yet, it is needless to stress that it is devolution of power that is at the heart of Tamil demand and of the 13th Amendment. Dr. Jaishankar would have been aware too well how the former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa made a promise to implement that amendment in front of Indian Prime Minister Modi in 2020, and after returning home how he was forced to renege on that promise because of raging anger from his Sinhala Buddhist backyard. Is it therefore any wonder why the visiting diplomat did not open that subject at the special press conference? Diplomacy works in strange ways.  

For the moment, if the Indian push comes to shove, moves IMF to release the funds quickly and urges Paris Club members to be proactive over debt restructuring, that would strengthen RW’s case for LGE postponement. But whether, even with that postponement, financial assistance and debt restructuring alone would be sufficient to revive the economy and set on a sustainable growth path is doubtful without system change. There seems to be a general view among most Sri Lankan politicians including RW, and many intellectuals that system change would be easier once growth and prosperity occurs. This was why former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa publicly announced that solution to power devolution was economic development. It should be the other way round in Sri Lanka, because it is the system that was put in place after independence, which had been the major contributor to economic slowdown and disaster. Had the system been fair and just there wouldn’t have been a national question today. It was this realization that made the aragalaya youth to call for system change. 

Finally, while India’s vigorous push and international response to it would make RW’s IMF backed “One Plan Framework” to become operational, the parties in the opposition except NPP are busy forming coalitions to defeat the UNP-PPP at LGE. It is a pity that none of them except NPP has a comprehensive alternative to the IMF model. If India’s initiatives appear to be a game changer to RW politically, NPP’s alternative framework would be the game changer to the country. It is only NPP that is talking about a non-corrupt, transparent, accountable and economic democracy with social protection and inclusive national identity, which in total amounts to system change. But whether that party could sweep the election is the sixty-four thousand dollars question.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, W. Australia

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Latest comments

  • 13
    6

    Consider this for an example. Kurunegala MC spent a colossal amount of Rs. 60 MILLION to remove a stone to construct child and maternity clinic , when Rs. 9 Million was officially approved. By producing fraudulent price analysis , 51 MILLION was siphoned with the approval of Technical officer, quantity surveyor, Municipal commissioner and Engineer. Just multiply this to all the B.S going around in the name of development. First of all, why cant they pick, an alternate site so that no stone needs to be removed . Suddenly I see all of our old farts repeating 13 as a mantra. For decades SB governments pretended by giving excuses such as referendum, constitution, Supreme court, constitutional experts, threats from prelates and yellow robed, racist A. Holes like Wimal, Ealam threat . . . . . and now everyone , wanting to implement 13. Even “Mother of all Crooks ” Mahinda says he too wanted to implement. Modi being of their same league, would have given the warning orally and the rest/ cash in written. Now that Modi is here to stay, and India representing every council / body including security council , Lanka does not have the luxury to buy time (hoping for a govt change ) or play one against other.

    • 4
      1

      “NPP’s alternative framework would be the game changer to the country. It is only NPP that is talking about a non-corrupt, transparent, accountable and economic democracy with social protection and inclusive national identity,”
      I don’t think that’s unique to them Are there any parties that openly promote corruption? Talk is cheap.
      As to the rest of it, Social protection to start with requires money. That has to come from taxes, which are popular. Why not impose, for example, a small charge on every patient using a government hospital? In any case, they have to buy many or most drugs outside. This can be tied up with Samurdhi, so that have-nots get more subsidised healthcare. What is the point of keeping up the charade of “free” health care?
      Probably the NPP has higher ideals about national identity, but I suspect it doesn’t want to rock the boat by revealing too much. Its vote base after all, is still mostly Sinhala Buddhist, a species to whom the minorities are foreigners, only to be tolerated. In that respect, the NPP is just like any other political party, making policies on electoral rather than moral grounds.

      • 2
        2

        Actually, the NPP’s bash at the Galadari (?) was quite interesting. A very slick presentation, with a very attractive and very bilingual presenter. No beards or berets, and no giant posters of Wijeweera.
        The panel included AKD and several other subject experts, mostly university faculty. The JVP’s version of the Viyathmaga?
        AKD went into great detail about the cause of losses at the CPC. He did mention the overstaffing, but not the bloated salaries. I find this rather hypocritical, because the JVP’s own unions didn’t raise any objections when all this was going on. So, which is the real JVP, the slick one at the Galadari or the union at the CPC?
        On education, AKD said private education will be allowed, subject to control of fees. Good, but one cannot get a quality product without paying for it. The solution is not to discriminate against those who can afford to pay, but for the state itself to charge for its services from those who can pay.

        • 3
          1

          To tame a Cobra you must know how to recognize one. I do not see that the NPP leadership has that talent. First and foremost is the warped minds of the Srilankans. They only know one-upmanship is by cheating the other person. The public sector workers and state sector workers are paid monthly salaries for almost doing nothing. Instead of they being productive the lethargic way they discharge their duties takes the country economically backwards . Over bloated Cabinet is a typical case of “too many cooks spoil the Broth”. The entire membership of the Parliament have one thing in common. How to plunder the coffers.

          • 2
            0

            People have no choice. The whole people have now a thirst to see the Rajapaksas hanging from their balls.

            That’s for sure. Perhaps in the near future we will have an opportunity to drain the Rajapakses and their close relatives, as happened in Tripoli.

            Aluthgamage and Johnston are tasteless people. If the kind of high criminals would be hung, people will learn the lessions. I am against public execution, but these men deserve such punishments if I am very honest.
            .
            But when JVP/NPP wants to lead this nation, they must assure the nation that no extra judicial killings will be legalized under a JVP led regime.
            I would agree being severely punish all those who break the law, regardless of caste, race and religion, including the Pinguttara community. But enforcement of rigorous law and order is not everything, however, it can pave the way for a better society.
            Further to this, I do not want civilians to take the law into their own hands, as happened in this country during the brutal era of 89-92.

    • 4
      1

      Double trouble in the Pacific front for friends long time coming.
      Delhi trouble in the local front with relatives long time going
      Money talks,money talks, money talks for now
      Que sera sera

  • 2
    0

    “ that system change would be easier once growth and prosperity occur“
    We can not wait for economic prosperity to happen in order to get the System Change(SC).
    SC that we like to see is to get rid of all the parliamentarians soon after the New Constitution (NC) is passed by referendum. We need independent Government Institutions that can Audit government expenditures/ eliminate bribery/ maintain Meritocracy in appointments senior positions/ Supreme Court judges that don’t give judgement’s to suit the government etc

  • 6
    0

    “could be the manna for RW and a game changer to save him politically.”

    Now they are one and the same. ………… Who is India trying to save …….. RW or the Rajapakses? I guess it’s the latter.

    I reckon India was never a great fan of RW ……. if India is trying to save the Rajapakses, Ranil gets a free ride.

  • 0
    0

    Will India Be The Game Changer For RW?

    RW will say that all agreement will signed after I become the president to get the votes, What will happen if RW loses, is these agreement be valid for alternative governors ,REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT

  • 1
    0

    ” There seems to be a general view………………….that system change would be
    easier once growth and prosperity occurs ” . Once upon a time , we recorded
    top performers of Tea exports and also exported coconuts and rubber !
    Where are we with them today ? They were nowhere near to bring prosperity
    and we from about 1982 or 83 , up to date , started exporting Men and Women
    (Fathers and Mothers) to the Middle East , to earn more Dollars , in the name of
    prosperity but in reality , at the cost of family well being ! And in many
    circumstances family break ups and disasters ! No need to talk about Garment
    girl’s dignity ! What is left now towards prosperity and growth ? Of course we
    can now export babies for adoption and with those Dollars we can build a New
    Sea Port in Kandy with the Sea Diverted from Negombo ? And we can ask
    Mahinda for an address of a Company in China to fund the project and Ranil
    can start working out a plan to sell it off to China itself ! Mahinda , loser and
    Ranil , winner ! We keep repeating the practice until Ruwan and Namal
    become the System Change ! Anyone Tries to jeopardise the plan , Remember ,
    Big Brother ready with First Aid !

  • 6
    14

    “New Delhi had always been supportive of Sri Lanka in times of need”
    Was it?
    Even from 1978 to 1987 when India was training and funding Tamil militants?
    As well as when undermining the peace talks between 2002 and 2005?
    The catch may be in the phrase “in times of need”— whose need being the issue.

    • 6
      0

      China’s Man In SRi Lanka

      “Even from 1978 to 1987 when India was training and funding Tamil militants?”

      It was mother’s tough love.
      Mother had to teach the naughty boy JR the lesson he wouldn’t forget.

      “As well as when undermining the peace talks between 2002 and 2005?”

      Peace talks were essentially undermined either by Thiruvengadam Vellupillai Prabaharan,,,,,,or Ranil and his party.

      • 0
        9

        Good morning.
        Still feeling a bit groggy?
        Drink in moderation and avoid gazing the glass ball in the morning after.
        I care very much for you and your failing sanity.
        Please see ASAP the doctor who you seemed to need desperately.

  • 9
    0

    “Dr. Jaishankar would have been aware too well how the former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa made a promise to implement that amendment in front of Indian Prime Minister Modi in 2020, and after returning home how he was forced to renege on that promise because of raging anger from his Sinhala Buddhist backyard.”
    Was he not aware of earlier pledges on which the SL government went back?

    • 1
      5

      I saw in the DM this morning that Modi’s favourite Indian super capitalist Gautam Adani has been accused of pulling the ‘largest con in corporate history’.
      Jai Hindutva!

      • 6
        0

        China’s Man In Sri Lanka
        now believes Western Media is providing valuable, facts based, truthful, …… news.

        What a marvelous news.

        How about stories about revolutions by Mao, Banda, Siri Mao, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Abimael Guzmán, Nicolae Ceaușescu, ……
        Weren’t the news reports in Western media fact based?

        • 5
          0

          Native, not me. I do not believe anything unless and until, confirmed by “China Daily ” most reliable source on Indian / World Financial Matters.

          • 0
            0

            Dr Dingdong
            Are you so embarrassed to confirm or deny the Adani story?

    • 7
      0

      China’s Man In Sri Lanka
      believes, expects and demands Hindians to deliver what the China’s other good friends in Sri Lanka promised while he tends to forget what his hero Banda (and Siri Mao) destroyed and later promised to deliver in later part of 1950s.

      Okay why does not China’s Man In Sri Lanka expect and demand China the cancellation of all debts in the name of Mao’s Maoism?

      Hypocrisy, double standards, ………………..
      Maybe gone mad.

      • 3
        0

        Modis financial partners consist of opportunists.
        Again I say trouble from Modi gimmicks bad as it is, doese not justify the double trouble from Chinas controlled commi media.
        The pacific bullyboy is now poaching in the Indian Ocean after its henchman fell from grace to further its own interests.
        Priests,Politicians and Pimps, Pens for hire , collect their hand outs…..wherever the payroll bankrolls for them

        Right now there is an investigation on China funds on white mans Zone and will hit the western media while wealthy chinese leave the mainland.
        The new state new looters are often worse than the old !

        • 3
          0

          Fakeculturebug, through out there were doubts and I believe Adani group was investigated a few times by the IRS and other related Indian agencies. But as alleged by short seller, the whole scheme could have been complicated and well planned / hidden. As the report says it took almost 2 years to unearth facts. Regardless Adani was punished by the share holders losing almost 1/4 of their asset value overnight. (tens of Billions ) If true this will be just the beginning. For that matter, do anyone know about Chinese and Lankan firms / stock markets ????

          • 3
            0

            As I mentioned here before, Stupid Lankans feel elated and euphoric seeing their gutted neighbor’s house, unaware that, their’s on fire.

            • 0
              3

              You always claim to have said things before, but what has the story about a big conman amount to the house of India getting gutted?

          • 0
            2

            We are full of excuses for a notorious swindler, but jump at the slightest opportunity to pounce on smaller thieves.

  • 0
    0

    The local govt elections should not be postponed under any circumstances.the people have had a gutfull with their politicians and have to have their rights to vote not taken away too.That will be like salt on the wound and the country will erupt and RW will not be able to concentrate on his job to finish his term.the indians would not have rushed with some proposals unless pressure was on them because of the date fixed for the election.The chinese also would not have given the 2 year moratorium if not for the indians helping us as they don’t want to look like the black sheep.

    if that 4 billion USD credit line is still there with the indians for our imports then a paltry 2.9 bln USD of the IMF does not look that important for us.I don’t know whether we have already used up that 4bln usd credit line wih india.It is a bit confusin wihout knowing the full details.

    As for whther indians will save rw’s arse depends on how important adani is to his buddy modi for getting reelected as he must be a major contributor To the BJP coffers.

    Guess who will be given the task of going to make trinco the hub of asia for renewables.

  • 2
    4

    Mr. Ameer: :India’s very smart, FM, Dr,. Jaishankar came to Sri Lanka just before the American Eagle landed for its CARAT-MAREX war games with its Japanese proxy and the SL Navy as the US 7th Fleet ship Anchorage docked in Trincomalee. .
    It is no secret that the US has always wanted a military base in Sri Lanka and that the mysterious IS attacks at Easter Sunday 2019 were to enable setting up of a “Lilypad” base in the Eastern Province, puportedly to fight Islamist ISIS terror in the Indian Ocean Region. The Muslims are the US catspaw – from the Chechens in Russia to the Uygurs in China, all over the world… So please wake up from your daydreams…
    The Indian FM came to Sri Lanka to send a message as to where Sri Lanka belongs in the great games unfolding in the Indian Ocean. India despite being a member of QUAD did not participate in the CARAT -MAREX war game and is not a member of AUKUS. India is close to Russia too and will not let a US military base in Sri Lanka ever!

  • 2
    0

    Modis financial partners consist of greedy opportunists.
    Again I say trouble from Modi gimmicks bad as it is, doese not justify the double trouble from Chinas state controlled commi media.
    The pacific bullyboy is now poaching in the Indian Ocean after its henchman fell from grace to further nothing but its own interests.
    Priests,Politicians and Pimps, Pens for hire , collect their hand outs…..wherever the payroll bankrolls for them
    Right now there is an investigation on China corrupt funds on white mans Zone and will hit the western media while wealthy chinese leave the mainland as in the past.
    The aspiring new states new looters are often worse than the old !
    We have seen it in this crucible Island and its naked kings and need no more tales!

  • 2
    3

    Also the crashed empire is desperate to stage a war between Asian Giants China and India and is now monitoring the Sino-India borders in the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean.
    This is to stymie the Asian 21st Century and the rise of China, BRICS and the Indian Ocean World as the Euro_American NATO war machine expands and over reaches and dies..
    When empires fall the world is a dangerous place. Muslims have always been used as the CIAs Cats paw to weaponize religious conflict all over the world and Divide, distract and loot Asia, Mid East, Africa and South America.

    • 0
      2

      D
      “Muslims have always been used as the CIAs Cat’s paw to weaponize religious conflict.”
      Not just Muslims.
      Anything that divides the people is a CIA weapon.
      The Arabs have got sharper. The will not antagonize Russia or China just to please the US anymore.

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