National Prosperity: Are Vaccines for Political Viruses Possible?

By Ananda Ariyarathne | Published: 2:00 AM Feb 25 2021
Columns National Prosperity: Are Vaccines for Political Viruses Possible?

By Ananda Ariyarathne

Political stability of a country is the foundation for the stabilisation of the economic activities and it shall be that stability which shall matter in the generation of wealth which shall in turn decide whether country should become prosperous or not. If the nation is prosperous, the people will be better nourished, clothed, sheltered and healthier. A prosperous nation shall not be looking out for the mercy of other nations and can always negotiate from a point of advantage. The opposite of that is the universal truth that ‘Beggars cannot be Choosers’ and beggars never get the best choices. That kind of environment reduces a nation to such a low level across any negotiating table and at the end we would achieve only sweet nothing.

Latest trends 

During the period under the last Government, the meaning of National Prosperity was completely forgotten. It was evident from the very symbolic insult caused to the Port of Hambantota and its affiliated airport at Mattala.

A simple school boy sitting at a place like Kirinda shall not miss the vessels passing and it shall not be difficult for him to understand the significance of Hambantota as an obvious sea-route confluence. In a world where freight costs have started becoming prohibitive. It happens so due to the vessels not carrying the most economical loads. If there can be convenient International Trans-shipment points freight costs willl be more economical. So, the idea of locating an International Trans-shipment port in a more globally justifiable location is definitely not a silly idea.  

For example, the onion importers wish to import when the time is right and they go to the extents of creating that right time too. The local producer is completely destroyed. Future gates shall be opened. That is what we call having Free Trading.

The present protective gestures of the Government gave a lot negative signals to those speculators, especially in India. Local cultivation was never encouraged to improve as the real profits were in imports. On one hand, the trading started getting tighter than before. This has given enough reasons for those who are behind the scene where this ‘Drama’ is played. In the meantime, the opened gate policy allowed Indian goods to come freely into the Sri Lankan Consumer market without any restrictions up to the very recent developments that started with the developments that were connected with the Colombo Port Issue. On one hand, Sri Lanka became concerned about the need to avoid unnecessary imports but it became a gesture like the ‘gala time’ has come to an end. The aspiration that became popular in Sri Lanka with the openly declared programmes to conserve foreign exchange and the popular cry to save Government ventures which were getting slowly commandeered by private sector, leaving the opportunities for Foreign Collaborations, definitely could have given negative signals for the Indian business magnates who were expecting a gradual encroachment into the business potential of Sri Lanka.

The swift changes that took place regarding the Colombo Port gave the signal that it was not going to be a cakewalk  and very swiftly the Indian Government demanded the settlement of a facility that had been given to Sri Lanka when the going was good. The indication that, even the Hambantota deal, which was clearly a one sided development should definitely have compelled the Indian strategists to start tightening the grip.

If Sri Lanka can be made busy in trying to establish the political scene, that would give the time needed to reorganise and come back with more force for intimidation. If Sri Lanka can be bogged down again in turmoil one after the other, that would have been the best. 

The best way out is to try to arouse Tamil sentiments again. So, there is a pattern setting to destabilise the scene. And therefore, a country in political trouble shall have no time for economic development and aspirations about a prosperous future.  

Political stability

There was a time we had a leader who was brash enough to talk about a cow and a calf and antagonising the powerful neighbour who should have been handled with respect and understanding. India has reasons for becoming unhappy because of low quality statesmanship further complicated by short-sighted economic policies.

For India Sri Lanka is definitely a god-given market and the magnitude of that influence can be understood by what you can see and hear from the early hours of the day to the late hours. Peep out, one would hear the noise of the engine of the number of vehicles that ply throughout. We have become so dependent upon India and even in a simple village a house kitchen cannot prepare the cheapest  of dry-fish curry without Indian onions.

We brag about our free economy and our favourite curries cannot get the require colours and flavours from the spices which can be easily grown in Sri Lanka. 

Yet, we talk about prosperity..

Indian concerns becoming louder 

Very recently, an important Indian guest voiced his opinion at a Media briefing. Jaishankar said, “It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled. That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.” 

It could not have been his personal opinion and it was a kind of a mild warning given to us to enforce the 13th Amendment, the “Bridge that was forced on Sri Lanka, to cross any river.” Quickly behind that statement, the MP for TNA, M.A. Sumanthiran told Parliament that he thanked the Indian External Affairs Minister for his remarks supporting the reconciliation process and devolution in the country. Jaishankar in his remarks said it is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled.“That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The progress and prosperity of Sri Lanka will surely be advanced as a consequence,” the report mentioned.

In the first place what do not our Tamil brethren enjoy out of those? The standing the TNA now has among Tamil people has already eroded. It is really heart-warming to see how Tamil youth mixing with Sinhala youth in the Southern Regions, working and living together as one kind of people. And those sickly minds imagine that Tamil people have problems and it sounds really silly to note the high Indian officials voicing their opinions. How grave the trend has become is indicated by what the Prime Minister of India had to say. “Devolve powers as envisaged in the Constitution”. Is not  that an indication of what the central government of India trying to please some factions?

We all know how that was passed in the Parliament.

It is a fact that the people of Tamil Nadu are not that keen to be narrow- minded as the majority are happy to be together as one Nation of one country. The Tamil people in India know very well that they are better off together.

But, still, those extremists are still there working hard to make a country for Tamil people somewhere and it so happened that Sri Lanka is the most convenient place for that.

The Indian officials know that the first step towards separation is the 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka and try to promote something entirely different in context compared to ban enforced in the Indian Constitution, in 1963. May be they feel it is bad for Sri Lanka.

In the first place, we must work hard to become economically flourishing and should always maintain our neutrality so that India shall have no concern to be agitated. We shall be able to do that only as one country and not divided geographically demarcating land and its resources. All the resources should be freely available for all the citizens and they in turn should have equal opportunities.

13th Amendment is a trick that would keep communities at each others’ throats all the time. As one land all are free to be anywhere.

The Law and Order should be very seriously maintained and upheld showing no mercy for any kind of extremism. The biggest virus we have is extremism that retards the minds of people. It is a wonderful sight now to see people mingling and learning to share. That is real harmony. Let us not look for ways to see our external differences because we are the same people internally. Prosperity shall never come to a country divided.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who enjoys greater powers according to the recently tabled 20th Amendment Bill, has been very correct in saying that he would focus on “development rather than devolution”, and told The Hindu in an interview last year that he would not proceed on devolution “against the wishes and feeling of the majority [Sinhala] community”.

Let us not create the virus and the start looking for vaccines.

By Ananda Ariyarathne | Published: 2:00 AM Feb 25 2021

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