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Sri Lanka the Bamboo Lounge

The democratic political system assumes a certain minimum level of ethical behaviour, responsibility and civility on the part of elected government officials that is above what is explicitly spelled out by the constitution. If those ethics are absent — well, democracy just isn’t going to work.

by Roy Ratnavel

Some people like to collect coins, first edition stamps, retro comic books or sports memorabilia. I collect spoken words. I hunt and gather these words when I overhear them on the street while watching movies, in my living room via television. These words of the mouth include cultural sayings, turns of phrase, proverbs, quips, and impromptu bon mots that have been uttered over the years.

A friend who worked in law enforcement — more importantly in the financial fraud squad years ago asked me if I ever heard of Rumanian Box. “Never,” I replied. He looked shocked given that I’m in the financial industry, and then said, “You must remember where you came from.” “I do, I said.” He piped up again and said, “The rate among Sri Lankan politicians to create their Rumanian Box is 100 percent.” So, I looked it up.

The legendary Depression-era con man Victor Lustig who wrote the famous "Ten Commandments for Con Men,” used to sell a money-making machine called the "Rumanian Box." This was a little machine that a mark would put a blank piece of paper into, only to see real currency come out the other side. The brilliant Lustig sold this Rumanian Box repeatedly for vast sums. Rumanian Box became part of my collection of bons mots, ever since.

But Lustig has been outdone by the modern rulers of Sri Lanka, who managed to manufacture their version of the Rumanian Box. Sri Lankans at large seem to be the unsuspecting buyers of it. At least recent and historic examples show that the Sri Lankan naivety for this catchy epigram, the memorable phrase, especially in politics, is inexhaustible.

The only reason such apathy exists, however, is because there’s still a widespread misunderstanding among the Sinhalese population as to how badly their fellow citizens of the country — the Tamils, are treated, with emphasis on the quotation marks around "badly." The question every Sinhalese should be asking, as one politician after another, drain money from the system — is this: In an economy as horrible as Sri Lanka, which ironically looks like those hollowed-out ghost ships we see on History Channel Documentaries like Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, wherein the hell did country’s leader’s eye-popping wealth come from, exactly? 

All countries swaddle themselves in myths, and the Sri Lankans are just as self-indulgent as others, but this country houses a vast number of demagogues and many lunatics with the gift for endless hyperbole, hucksterism and a dizzying array of old-school hustles. They are certainly more persuasive and sophisticated than the legendary Depression-era con man Victor Lustig.

Sri Lanka’s ingrained anti-Tamil sentiments and whipped-up nationalist hysteria is a very powerful cement for the most odious system, which makes it easier for the leaders to con its citizenry. Sure, mugging the blind is against the law, but it’s also easy. To prevent it, civil society depends, for the most part, not on the police but on civilized people making the conscious decision not to do it. 

Con artists have a word for the inability of their victims to accept that they’ve been scammed. They call it the "True Believer Syndrome." That’s sort of where the Sri Lankans are, in a state of nagging disbelief about the real problem in Sri Lanka. It isn’t so much that Sri Lanka has inadequate rules or incompetent corrupt leaders, although both things are certainly true. The real problem is that it doesn't matter what rules and regulations are in place if the people running the country are rip-off artists and the citizenry suffers from a pre-existing condition called racial hate.

With such racial hate, the country had become one giant dope house, where a few major players like Rajapakses extracted the valuables from race-obsessed people of the country the way junkies share needles. But it is also comforting for many Tamils like me — as we collectively revel in the saying, “That people get the government they deserve.” In that spirit, a brief history of Rajapakse years is the best Rumanian Box scam the country has ever seen.

The Germans would call how Tamils feel about the current situation in Sri Lanka, “schadenfreude”: pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune. What Sri Lanka needs is fresh new leaders with unifying ideas to uplift this deeply fractured nation. And those leaders should not be associated with any political dynasty of the past or present.

Sri Lanka is a prime example of why countries like this have not progressed economically and evolved politically from the dawn of independence. Since then, these countries have been governed by leaders with a penchant for redrafting history. It is symptomatic of countries light-years away from attaining true nationhood. In 1948, when Sri Lanka got its independence, it was considered to be the post-colonial nation most likely to succeed economically and democratically. Unfortunately, since then, Sri Lanka has been governed by leaders with racial hatred for Tamils. Through their hatred, they have destroyed the country.

The democratic political system assumes a certain minimum level of ethical behaviour, responsibility and civility on the part of elected government officials that is above what is explicitly spelled out by the constitution. If those ethics are absent — well, democracy just isn’t going to work. In the absence of an overwhelming and fundamental change in Sri Lankan attitude and behaviour, equality of race, religion and gender will never be possible in that country.

The true greatness of a nation — like Singapore — is its willingness to accord all communities status and dignity equal to the majority, to weld those diverse groups into a harmonious polity. Unless, and until Sri Lanka can produce leaders who can realize that truth and are willing to act on it — it will continue to be dismembered by conflict well into the future.

More to the point, the fact that even after all these economic misfortunes and colossal failures, no one has done much of anything to change the rules and behaviour of the people of Sri Lanka shows that they still don’t get it. Instituting racial dominance and vehement denials of oppression of Tamils regardless of the nasty past is like the addict coming back to the con man to get the lost money back. Sri Lankans must ask themselves how well that ever works out, as they get ready for the reload. 

Speaking of ‘the reload,’ returning Ranil Wickremesinghe for a sixth term as Sri Lanka's PM with the country mired in political and economic crises is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 

Fans of the movie Goodfellas will recall Henry Hill — played by Ray Liotta and Tommy DeVito — played by Joe Pesci, taking the same approach to the Bamboo Lounge nightclub they'd been gouging for years. Roll the Ray Liotta narration: "Finally, when there's nothing left when you can’t borrow another buck . . . you bust the joint out. You light a match."

Sri Lanka is the current-day Bamboo Lounge!

Sri Lankan politics today between the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke

 It is very much clear that since we gained independence in 1948, successive governments have failed to protect the natural rights of people in Sri Lanka. The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa not only failed to protect the natural rights of the people but also started to endanger the sovereignty of this country.

by a Patriotic Lankan in the UK 

The primary objective of this short article is to evaluate and measure the political behaviours of the  Sri Lankan politicians and people in light of the political thoughts of 17th century two English Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.  More importantly, to compare the political slogans and demands of the Sri Lankan people in Galle Face with the political ideas of these two English philosophers. What happened on the 9th of May in the Sri Lankan capital reminds us of the political struggle of the English people and their civil war in the 17th century.We must formulate a formidable system of government to avoid the recurrence of a political crisis of this nature once again. It is not perfectly appropriate to compare the English civil war of the 17th century with the political upheaval in Sri Lanka and yet, the mission and objective of all these political struggles are the same. It is done to free people from political subjugation, autocracy, dictatorship, nepotism, and anarchies.  People in Galle Face are highly educated. They know well about their political rights, and they know well how politics work in this modern world. They know well politics controls every aspect of human life. So, they want to teach our politicians that people cannot be fooled by our politicians any longer. 

The political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke revolutionised the politics of western Europe. Modern western political ideas and traditions were devised on the philosophical thought of these 17th-century English political philosophers. They advocated the social contract theory in their writing. Their social contract theory deals with some fundamental questions in politics. How should be people ruled and what should be the nature of government? how did the idea of government come about?What are the duties and responsibilities of the sovereign? What are the duty and responsibilities of people toward the sovereign?  How much power and authority a ruler should have over his people?In his book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes advocated the idea of political absolution. His political ideas were crystalised after the civil war in England. Heexperienced the civil war and came up with some political ideas to reconcile political conflicts and disagreements. His ideas are reconciliatory political ideas to avoid civil war over authority. He argues that manis by nature greedy for power, position, and posts. Hobbes tells us to ponder what would be life look like in a state of nature without any organised system of government. He argues that such a state of nature would be like a “state of war” even worse, a war of “ all against all.” He says, “ war of every man against every man”. Now consider what happened on the night of 9th May in Sri Lanka. It looked like a mini civil war in Sri Lanka. Some political thugs attacked the innocent public in Galle Face and in return, the protestors became furious and burned down houses and some buses belonging to some members of Parliaments. It was a  chaotic situation. This is what exactly Hobbes predicted with his political philosophy. 

Hobbes argued that without peace people will have to live in a state of continuous fear and uncertainty even in a state of danger of violent death. Without a system of government and law and order,  life will be chaotic “ solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Although Hobbes was arguingin support of monarchy in his life, he called for an effective system of government with absolute authority. Such absolute power is imperative to maintain law and order. He believed that people do not have the right to rebel against the government.   For this reason, he argues that people should not protest the government. They should not make any political revolution to change the government rather they should always obey the government. People have the right to protest or disobey the government only when the government starts to oppress people or kill people.I do not think such 17th-century political thought is appropriate to our condition today.  Contrary to what Hobbes argued, our political crisis started with the misuse of executive power. We failed to develop an effective government in Sri Lanka. The executive president and his family exploited the power vested in them.Our political leaders made people starve to death. They let them die out of hunger and starvation. The people of Sri Lanka suffer today due to the failed political behaviours and policies of the Mahinda government. The treasure was emptied due to mismanagement, corruption, and wrong economic policies. 

 Consider for instance all those unsustainable megaprojects that the former President Mahinda initiated. From Hambantota port to Colombo city port, all his projects are utter failures, and the entire 22 million people are suffering from this economic crisis because of his mismanagement. No ship comes to his Hambantota port and yet, Sri Lanka must pay back all the money borrowed for the construction of that port, no flight lands in Mattala airport and Sri Lanka must pay back all the money borrowed for the construction of that airport, now investment comes to Colombo city port and yet, Sri Lanka must pay back all the money borrowed to build that city port. Likewise, most of his projects were unsustainable. It is alleged that all these projects were done to get 20% commissions from these Chinese companies. Likewise, it is alleged that many of his cohorts have looted public money through various projects. Mahinda and his cohort behaved arrogantly without any transparency, accountability, or responsibility. We all know how his cohort behaved in the Sri Lankan parliament a few years ago. We all know how they came in groups to attack peaceful protesters in Galle Face. Mahinda started to behave like a patrimonial ruler and actedas he wanted with his elite groups of oligarchy. He was regarded as a king by some people. They all collectively brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and economic downfall. 

In old days, some European believed in the theory of “ divine right.” They believed that God awarded kings the power to rule over people. As a result of this divine right, people did not have the right to question the kings. People did not dare to fight for their rights. Mahinda and his brothers behaved like kings and  People did not dare to question them at all. They feared the white vans and they feared for their lives. Yet, all these protests nationwide tell us that people have had enough of this executive presidential system, and they no longer want to have this old fashion politics. Now they demand a system change in politics. Because they completely lost their faith and confidence in Sri Lankan politics. Contrary to Hobbes, John Locke believed that people have every right to defend their life, health, liberty, and possessions. For this reason, people have the right to protest and make a political revolution to win their basic political and democratic rights. It is argued that the philosophies of John Locke laid the foundation for the political ideals of the USA and its constitution. He argued that rulers should be removed from the power when they failed to deliver and protect the basic political right of the people. The political demands and aspirations of the people in Galle Face are very much identical to the political ideals and ideas of Jhon Locke of the 17th century. When the rulers do not deliver their public service people must have the right to protest and remove them from the power. After all, they have been appointed by the public and they are accountable and responsible to the public. According to him, “man is a political animal.”  Both Hobbes and John Locke believed that the government should be based on the social contract. The government are needed to create social order and system in the communities and John Locke believed that people have the right to protest the government when the rulers do not protect people and their properties and freedom. 

            It is very much clear that since we gained independence in 1948, successive governments have failed to protect the natural rights of people in Sri Lanka. The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa not only failed to protect the natural rights of the people but also started to endanger the sovereignty of this country. With all their wrong economic policies they started to lease out some parts of this country. Mahinda and his cohort started to loot the public fund shamelessly. They started to violate the fundamental rights of people. They started to oppress and suppress the will of the people and they started to deny the natural rights of people. People started to find it very much difficult to make their end meets in Sri Lanka. Many of them do not have food to eat. All this has validated the actions and activities of the people in Galle Face. According to the philosophical thought of Jhon Locke, people in Galle Face, have every right to demonstrate and demand their natural rights from their government. They have every right to overthrow their government which does not protect their natural rights. It is part and parcel of natural rights for people to have basic needs and necessities of life. Food, shelter, cloth, drinking water, clean air, education, and jobs to feed children and families are part and parcel of the natural right of people. The government is politically, legally, constitutionally, and morally obliged to provide all these basic natural rights. Ranil may have read the political philosophy of John Locke. That is why he says that it is his number one priority to provide for all these basic needs and necessities of people. Without these basic needs and necessities, people will die one by one, and the government will be responsible for manslaughters if people started to die out of hunger and poverty. Any good lawyers can file a good legal case against the rulers for their negligence and can prosecute them for manslaughters.  However,  Hobbes believed that protesting the government could create a chaotic situation and even violence as we have seen on 9th May 2022 in Colombo. Some clerics and politicians in some Arab countries allude to the political philosophy of Hobbes to argue that people should not protest the government, and they strongly believe that this could create a chaotic situation in their country as in the case of Syria and Iraq. They argue that avoiding violence and the chaotic situation is better than trying to remove tyrant rulers. Yet, this political philosophy is not suitable for our country. Because people in Sri Lanka have inherited some democratic traditions that are unpreceded in Arab countries. 

How they differ in their political thought

Politics of Ranil in the shadow of these two political philosophies

 It is argued that Ranil has been promoting the neo-liberalism of western politics in Sri Lanka. There is no doubt among all other Sri Lankan politicians, Ranil is a smarter and cleverer politician. He is politically educated, wise and intelligent. Now, he has been appointed for the six-time as PM and takes the premiership to fix the economic mess of the county. It is not an easy task as he repeatedly reiterated many times.  Because the previous government has already emptied the treasury. As a result of that, it would be a daunting task to fixthe economy and yet he has promised that he will do his best.  He understands the economic crisis and its depth very well. I think that it will do better than other Sri Lankan politicians in the economy.

Ranil is a shrewd politician. He knows well that the political culture, tradition, customs, and attitudes in Sri Lanka are different from western political traditions, culture, and methods. He knows well that the concepts of freedom, liberty, human rights, and democratic rights in Sri Lanka are different from those concepts in western countries. He knows well how the judiciary works freely in western countries and how it works in Sri Lanka. He knows well how the rights and responsibilities of politicians in western counties differ from our country. He knows well how to control and how manipulate our politicians in Sri Lanka. It is already alleged that he is trying to buy some politicians to support him in the parliament. He looks like he is very much an accountable, transparent, and responsible politician.  Yet, his history tells us that he is not an honest politician. Sri Lanka lost billions in the central bank scam when he was a PM last time. people have not forgotten it yet. 

 Mahinda and his brother came to power by fooling people that they will prosecute Ranil for the central bank scam and yet, they did do it. Likewise, Ranil did notprosecute Mahinda and his cohort when he was a PM last time. People know all the crafty politics of Mahinda and Ranil. That is why people in Galle Face do not want to support Ranil. They know that he will do any deals with anyone to fulfil his political dream. He would not promote all those liberal ideas as people want and yet, he would not behave as Mahinda behaved in politics. Mahinda and his cohort looted public money openly and yet Ranil would not do that. He does not need to accumulate wealth and money for some obvious reasons. He would be authoritarian in the Sri Lankan style. People want to punish Mahinda and his cohort for stealing public money. Will Ranil support the judiciary to question Mahinda and his cohort impartially? Ranil says he is not going to protect them and yet, people do not trust what he says. Yet, he did save Mahinda last time and people know that has got some deals with the Mahinda family. If Ranil is an honest politician, he would have punished Mahinda for all his wrongdoing as Mahathir Mohammad did in Malaysia with the Malaysian former PM.

 The people who are staging a protest in Galle Face want to see some real changes in Sri Lankan politics. 1)  They want to see a total change in our political system. 2) They want to punish all those who looted public money, 3) They want to punish all those who attacked protestors in Galle Face and 4) they want to have an interim government for some time and call for a general election.  yet,I do not think Ranil will comply with all those demands. He argues that his priority is to save the country from economic collapse and bankruptcy. As Hobbes argued people will go to the “state of nature” and create a chaotic situation if there is no good system of government in place. People without food to eat will create trouble in the country and people have suffered enough and they cannot suffer any longer. The country must maintain law and order. This economic condition would be an excuse for Ranil to do what he wants to do in poetics in Sri Lanka. 

I think that Ranil has more experience, skills, and talent to run the country through this difficult time than many others. You must choose the best among the best in this difficult time, or you must choose the lesser evil among the evils. What the country needs the most are economic recovery and political stability. We cannot secure any political stability without economic recovery.  Ranil knows geopolitics and its trends more than any other politician in Sri Lanka. He knows how to talk to western countries, how to talk to India, how to talk to China, and how to talk to Arabs and How to talk to far east countries. We cannot read the geopolitical ambitions of all these countries from one perspective. We should have profound skills, talents, and knowledge to benefit from these countries. No state person is shrewd enough to understand this geopolitical trend than Ranil at this difficult time. It is through his personal and political interactions he has earned some good rapport with the international community and regional powers. Unlike Mahinda and his cohort, Ranil is highly educated, and he will choose the most qualified, experienced, and skilled people when he appoints some MPs, civil servants, and diplomatists and yet, I do not know whether opposition parties would support him in this task. He will try to give people some freedom and liberty as John Locke advocated and yet, it would be in the Sri Lankan context with some limits and limitations. When things go out of control, he would not dare to use the force to control the crowd as his uncle did during the JVP insurgency. 

What Sri Lanka badly needs today is not absolutism of any kind but rather constitutionalism.  Our constitution defines the rule of law in this country, and it defines the duties and responsibilities of rulers and the subjects. Our constitution is the reference point for all our political disputes and differences and yet, our politicians do not abide by our constitution. They do not respect and appreciate the words and sentences of our constitutions. We all wish that Sri Lanka should become another Singapore in Asia.The country is blessed with all-natural and human resources to complete Singapore in development and progress and yet, our politicians have messed it up. Now, people are awakening politically in Sri Lanka. Will our politicians honestly live up to their political assurance and promise? Will they have the willpower and sincerity to listen to people and make some real change in Sri Lankan politics? Sadly, Sri Lankan is caught up in the personal interest of our politicians and the national interest of the country. Politicians should know how to give preference to the national interest of the country over their personal interests at this difficult time. 

References: 

1) Noel Malcolm, Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, Oxford University Press 2014,  

2) The selected political writings of John Locke. ( Norton Critical Editions) Sigmund, John. Sigmund, Paul.E

The new moment of India

India is now responsible for bringing these two countries out of the economic crisis. With the help of Western-controlled economic world forums of organization, India has to move forward to overcome the economic crisis between the two countries. India has already advanced in Sri Lanka. And they are working fast there.

by Swadesh Roy

The Non-Aligned Movement, the Soviet Union, and so on and so forth, are now a thing of the past. With which there is no further addition of the present. On the one hand, just as globalization has changed the nature of the human psyche and economic dynamics around the world, so the Ukraine war has changed the dynamics of the post Covid pandemic. At this time, India is not only a big country in South Asia, but also a country inhabited by one-fifth of the world's population and after all, there is no way to deny its economy, military might and economic market. It is only natural that the foreign policy of such a country should change at its own pace, keeping pace with the changing and realities of the world.

India's top enablers

Indian Foreign Minister Jayashankar told reporters after talks with his European counterparts in Delhi in the last week of last month that the ongoing Ukraine war was a "wake-up call" for Europe. And a challenge for Asia as well. Because, Asia also has to move forward on the rule based order in the region. Between the lines of his words, the truth is that Europe and America in Asia must do the right thing in that rule-based way. No irresponsibility should be shown. Here Jayashankar brings up the issue of Afghanistan quite emphatically. He says there has been no real government for almost a year now. The country’s civil society has been thrown out of the country. In his words, 'thrown from the bus'.

In fact, the biggest problem for Europe at the moment is Ukraine, just as Afghanistan is the biggest problem for South Asia. When a country's educated middle class and thoughtful civil society is excluded from the state, then in reality that country is no longer a country. Afghanistan is occupied by the world- fiery terrorist group Taliban. No one in Europe or America really has that kind of headache in this South Asian country. But they are largely responsible for this situation. Shme Panah, a representative of Afghanistan's think tank civil society, was an adviser to the government that was toppled by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US-based think tank on Afghanistan said that the US had made an immature decision on Afghanistan. As a result, the situation in Afghanistan is now dire. And a country without a government has been going on for about 9 months. The melody of Shme Panah's words is similar to the melody of Jayashankar's words. And in reality, a real government in Afghanistan, with the addition of an educated, modern middle-class society and a thoughtful civil society without it, not only peace in South Asia, the world will not be free of terrorism. So not only will the Western world be involved in the Ukraine war, it will have to play a role in forming a real government in Afghanistan. As they have done in the past with the help of India, now the only way is open for them.

As I wrote earlier that the Ukraine war will be protracted. Now that the matter is clearer, the war may go on for a long time. Because European countries, especially their big power Germany, say they will stop importing oil from Russia by the end of this year. In fact, it is not surprising that NATO is engaged in an indirect war with Russia over Ukraine, as well as tightening the ongoing economic blockade, even though it may take a few years for this war to end.

In this situation, the time that India is getting, it is seen that they are also slowly making way to move away from Russia. First, Russia's relationship with present-day India is in no way compatible with that of the former Soviet Union. This is a very less relationship. Even then, the foreign policy that India has adopted here implies that they will come out of Russia just like them. And the biggest reason for this is that India does not want the biggest threat at the moment. This China is now a friend of Russia. So India has to decide for itself because of China. As it turns out, not only India, but all the opposing powers of China are now slowly consolidating their power with similar decisions. Although it is not possible quickly. All countries will take time for this. For example, within China and Australia, trade has been growing at the same rate as it was a few years ago, but Australia has slowed it down. And they have a back-to-back trade agreement with India as a military and economic alliance. A review of the trade agreement shows that Australia has allowed India to enter their country much more duty free. Instead, Australian goods will enter India with a higher tariff. Indian students will also get walking visas there on weekends. So that they can earn legally.

In addition, during the visit of the British Prime Minister to India, a stronger working committee has been formed to work on trade between the two countries. Work was already underway to increase trade between the two countries. Following the visit of the British Prime Minister, it is expected that the Committee on Trade between the two countries will reach the stage of Free Trade Agreement between British and India by next October. On the other hand, the discussions that took place during the EU chief's visit to Delhi last month made it clear that the EU was considering how much of its trade with China could be brought to India.

Shortly afterwards, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three important European countries - Germany, France and Denmark. counterparts of Narendra Modi in all three countries have called on him to stand up against the Ukraine war. He did not take sides in the Ukraine war. However, he called for an end to the war through diplomatic talks. Shri Modi's foreign minister Jayashankar is saying the same thing. There is a sound in Jayashankar's words about the way Henry Kissinger was instrumental in resolving the Middle East war in 1973. Jayashankar is a great diplomat. He is fluent in Russian along with a few other languages. Moreover, his extramarital affair with Japan. So with the help of America, Central Asia, Asian power Japan and above all Europe, will Jayashankar be able to play the role of Henry Kissinger? Not much hope is seen here. Because, in 1973, America was a very big single power from all sides. Now America does not have that power. Moreover, those with whom Kissinger worked were leaders of much larger stature. In contrast, the situation in Ukraine is different now. Putin, the leader of Ukraine's rival Russia, is not at all like Kissinger's Middle East Egyptian President Anwar Sadat or even Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Putin is basically a leader like South Korean President Kim or Hitler. Many even put China's XI Ping on the same line with Putin, Kim and Hitler. In fact, it would be wrong to put XI Ping in that line. Although XI Ping is an autocrat, he is not an authoritarian dictator like Putin, Hitler or Kim. So there is no point in negotiating with dictatorial dictators like Putin or Hitler. Which Churchill realized well during World War II. The leftist Attlee did not understand. Because,  true dictators  always present two kinds of deeds and words together. Normal people or liberal people believe in the logical part because of its mental structure, they want to discuss based on it. Wants to establish peace. But the mindset of dictatorship is to do irrational things till the end. So no matter how much India talks, they have to keep in mind that Putin is not a normal head of state. He is a dictator. The election he went through is far worse than the election of Hitler. When good people are elected through such bad elections or illegal elections, their mental structure also changes. He too eventually became a dictator of strange behavior. Therefore, it is rare in the history of the world that peace talks with dictatorships have finally come to fruition.

So just as India has turned its attention to the European Union to shift its economic horizons, to Australia, so too has it moved away from ASEAN under Trump, but now India will side with Biden again. Besides, Modi has received an invitation from G-7 during his visit to the European Union. But along with this economic diplomacy, India is moving away from its military equipment and military weapons formula. At one time, for historical reasons, India was heavily dependent on the Soviet Union for military equipment. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the adoption of India's liberalization policy, they began to move away from the Soviet Union. Under Modi, an agreement has already been reached to build a US military aircraft plant in India. Now Modi's visit to Europe has shown that they are leaning towards more European weapons. According to media reports, France has already been informed about six modern well equipped submarines for the Indians. The fact that they will buy military equipment from the Germans is also clear from the tone of the talks between the two countries.

In fact, after the Chinese Doklam attack, the issue of India's military equipment came to the fore. With the Ukraine war, it has become much easier for India to move closer to the US and Europe at the moment, to relocate to modernize their military equipment. Basically, the Sino-Indian war of 1962 helped India to become self-sufficient for the first time and they needed modern weapons. Then in the Pakistan-India war of 1965, they fought against modern armaments, but at the end of the war, they realized that for the war, a strong intelligence war is much needed for the country. India steps on that path. Which brought them success in 1971. Even then, India lags far behind the sophisticated armaments of the United States and the Western world. The Ukraine war is pulling India out of its past history and adding sophisticated weapons. And their foreign policy is moving in that direction.

But it is clear that the economic power in the world today is greater than the military power in the war of Ukraine against Russia. So the appointment of their new Foreign Secretary Vinoy Mohan Kwatra is a big proof that India has given up all historical dependence on its foreign policy and given importance to the economy. Vinoy Mohan Kwatra is a career diplomat and has spent most of his career in trade and economics. So his appointment makes it clear that the economy will be emphasized in their diplomacy at the moment. Bring Kwatra here. And by the time he arrives, Modi's two neighbors, Sri Lanka and Nepal, are suffering from an economic crisis. India is now responsible for bringing these two countries out of the economic crisis. With the help of Western-controlled economic world forums of organization, India has to move forward to overcome the economic crisis between the two countries. India has already advanced in Sri Lanka. And they are working fast there. At the moment, India has a big role to play in protecting Sri Lanka's economy by uniting European countries, America and Japan of Asia. India will gradually move away from here. Similarly, China was heavily involved in Nepal's politics and economy - Vinoy Mohan Kwatra, the then High Commissioner to Nepal, and Harsh Vardhan Sringla, their then Foreign Secretary, acted as worthy allies in getting Nepal out of there. Now Nepal is very close to India. Even then, in all the countries of South Asia, China is extending its hand of economic and political aggression. It is also very clear that Vinoy Mohan Kwatra will use his experience in Nepal as an aide to Foreign Minister Jayashankar. On the other hand, a Nepali minister said that Nepal's population on the Chinese border is also low. Moreover, trade and movement is not easy. In that case, only India can give them good cooperation. They remarked that Narendra Modi's visit to Nepal on May 16 is a milestone from there. In fact, in order to solve the economic problems of Sri Lanka and Nepal, India has to give more importance to this.

Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal are currently facing the biggest crisis in South Asia. The current Indian Foreign Secretary has been working on both sides of Afghanistan, including Afghanistan after succeeding as High Commissioner of Nepal. Therefore, it is clear that his appointment as a worthy collaborator of Jayashankar. And from Shri Narendra Modi to Vinoy Mohan Kwatra, a closer look reveals that they are moving away from the history of the past and moving towards a new foreign policy.

Author: Senior Journalist and Writer. Received state award for special contribution in journalism.

India Has a Key Role to Play in a Possible New World Order

India, under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been firmly in the U.S. camp, taking part in reviving the Quad and signing three foundational defense agreements with the United States.

by Prasanth Radhakrishnan

In the first half of April 2022, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made some revealing remarks at a press conference in Washington, D.C. He was standing beside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. When asked about India’s purchase of Russian oil, Jaishankar said: “If you’re looking at energy purchases from Russia, I’d suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe. We do buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security. But I suspect, looking at figures, our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon.”

Modi

Jaishankar’s statement was not unusual. He and his colleagues have been pushing back against the West’s “concerns” and “advice” to India about its stance on Russia in the Ukraine conflict, including India’s refusal to vote against Russia at the United Nations as well as India’s discussion with Russia to set up a payment mechanism that would bypass sanctions imposed by the West. Visits by Western diplomats to India did not help to alter the Indian government’s actions.

India, under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been firmly in the U.S. camp, taking part in reviving the Quad and signing three foundational defense agreements with the United States. These moves suggest that India strongly agreed with the United States’ focus on the containment of China. Has India then shifted from this alignment with the United States based on its dealings with Russia? Is nonalignment back on the table? The answer to this question is far more complicated than it would appear on the surface.

Economics

Part of India’s recent response can be explained by simple economics. For a government dealing with mounting inflation, the prospect of oil at discounted rates from Russia was too good to resist. Also, Russia continues to be India’s largest arms supplier, although the dependence seems to be decreasing (imports from Israel and the United States have surged in the past 30 years). A much less noticed fact is that India also depends on Russia for fertilizers that are vital for its agricultural sector. These economic bonds are too profitable to sever. There are precedents for this too. After all, India did not give in to U.S. pressure and even the threat of sanctions when it came to procuring the S-400 missile system from Russia. Geopolitically, Russia remains key if India wants to engage in its immediate neighborhood where it has previously missed the bus at key moments, such as during the crisis in Afghanistan.

However, at the current moment, purely economic and geopolitical perspectives are perhaps inadequate.

Strategic Autonomy

India’s post-Cold War approach has often been defined as strategic autonomy, which has encompassed groupings as diverse as the BRICS alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; and the Quad, comprising the United States, India, Japan and Australia. However, India’s foreign policy in the past few decades has been characterized by a more transactional approach, taking advantage of what has made financial and strategic sense at a particular moment than any long-term perspective.

The responses of the West and its allies to the war in Ukraine indicate that such an approach has limited utility. The sanctions regime, the seizure of assets and freezing of reserves and the attack on Russia’s currency are not mere responses to an armed conflict. They mark actions that have been weaponized previously and deployed against countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Iran and are a warning to anyone who seeks to challenge the hegemony of the United States and its allies. They are a sign that any substantive challenge to the current global order will be met with a harsh response. The target is Russia today. Could it be China tomorrow? India the day after?

A Robust Nonalignment

The current moment calls for a fresh approach, and this is where the proposal for nonalignment crops up. Although it is not a new idea, it may now have found its moment of urgency.

The genesis of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) lay in the tradition of anti-colonial struggles. For instance, an emergent NAM intervened critically in liberation movements in Africa. In contrast with colonialism, which evolved and continued its predatory activities, NAM was reduced to a moral voice, and its members were isolated and preyed upon by the neoliberal global order that rose from the 1970s.

So, what does nonalignment mean today when a few men and women, with the stroke of a pen, can seize billions in foreign reserves and bar trade between two sovereign countries? It is clear that in order for nonalignment to be effective, it cannot be restricted to transactional relationships or mere moral posturing.

It is also clear that the nonalignment of today must be based on the demand for the transformation of the world order, which will entail the rejection of the dictatorship of the World Bank and the IMF and the enduring impact of debt, the abolition of sanctions as a tool of war, and a more equitable United Nations. This requires the building of structures for which there are precedents. The BRICS nations had the right idea with the New Development Bank, referred to as the BRICS Development Bank previously, which can be a model for future blocs. Organizations like the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Latin America provided examples of such groupings in action.

Such structures are, however, not built in isolation or merely because a few leaders decree it. Their foundation must be based on a two-pronged strategy by individual countries. One prong must be a renewed emphasis on self-reliance in economic development and scientific and technological research. This is perhaps what India lost out on when it abandoned central planning and ended up being a supplier of skilled human resources and a mere recipient of both technology and goods.

The other prong has to be economic relationships that play to the strengths of each of the countries, and which can be achieved despite political and diplomatic differences. Trade and commercial blocs in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America all have provided hints of what this could mean and how profoundly it could affect the global order.

For India and other countries in the Global South, this moment offers immense challenges and provides glimpses of a possibility of a new world. Will India transcend its transitional approach and embrace this possibility? There is little reason to expect any desire for change from the ruling class—but its possibility is integral to the agenda of people’s movements.

This article was produced by the Morning Star and Globetrotter.

Prasanth Radhakrishnan is a journalist with Newsclick and Peoples Dispatch.

Sri Lanka: Sampantan’s failed leadership in the Mullivaikal tragedy

 Please don’t play to the gallery. Most members of your team will not make any valuable contribution but only make statements and speeches to favour them at the next election.

by V. Anadasangaree

I am writing to you this open letter, since I am unable to resist my temptation, after reading your speech in Parliament reported on 7th June in the Media. Most of the matters you referred to in your speech are based on democratic norms, in which case you have no moral right to talk about democracy. First of all you have mentioned about a new culture of escaping from punishment for offences committed. You know that. If so you should be punished for the same offence you have committed repeatedly, some of which I like to enumerate here, for you to refresh your memory.

Don’t you remember my appeal made to the TNA on 11.01.2009 under the caption “TULF calls upon the TNA to save the innocent Tamils trapped in Vanni or to quit Parliament”. If you had taken prompt action, almost all those people could have been saved without giving any opportunity to anybody to harm them.

I wrote to Thambi Prabakaran under the caption “Last chance to save our people” on 16 March 2009, wherein apart from many other matters, I warned him that he will be earning the curse of over 330,000 people belonging to about 81,000 families. Unfortunately there was no response from the LTTE. It being a militant organization and their cadre was recruited at random by various means they cannot be expected to follow certain rules. I will not blame them for not responding to my request. But you could have persuaded.

On the 20th of March 2009 the Secretary to His Excellency the President, convened a meeting of Political Parties on the 26th March to discuss the prevailing situation in the country. The most serious issue the country was facing at that time was, the war and the detention of thousands of innocent people. The TNA boycotted this meeting. If you had been present, you could have requested the President for some arrangement made to bring the people safely to a war free zoon or any other arrangements could have been made. Without holding any position and only as the Leader of the TULF, when the President claimed that there were only about 85,000 people still trapped in the war zone. I disputed his claim and when I said that the figure was over 300,000, he felt very angry and shouted at me. But I still maintained my position.

On the 10th of April the Indian Foreign Secretary Shri. Shiv Shankar Menon wanted all of you to come to Delhi, Mr. Senathirajah had met only 9 other TNA members and decided not to go to Delhi, till a ceasefire was declared and informed Delhi about their decision.

On 11th April I issues a press statement under the caption, “TNA Parliamentarians’ decision to reject the Indian Foreign Secretary’s Invitation is Foolish and detrimental to the cause”. If you all had gone to Delhi or at least you, I am dead sure that the Indian Government would have definitely taken some positive action to save our innocent people. Whom are you blaming now?

On the 2nd of May 2009 I wrote to His Excellency the President, among other suggestions that “If an arrangement is not made to bring out the civilians safely the whole thing will end up in a national disaster” and wound up my appeal with the words “I Suggest that an International Agency acceptable to the government, be selected to visit Vanni and persuade the LTTE to allow the innocent people to go out freely, with an offer of a General Amnesty to those who surrendered with arms. A period of two weeks may be given to the Agency to make the necessary arrangements”. What prevented you from attending the meeting convened by His Excellency the President at which you could have demanded their release on certain conditions.

Knowing fully well, that the country was going to face a national disaster, without taking prompt action, you had met a visiting British Parliamentary Delegation and told them, that you were anticipating something detrimental will take place, soon after the Indian Election Results come out and requested the delegation’s assistance to have them released. This means you and your team very much anticipated some disaster to take place in Vanni, after the Indian elections. Are you not ashamed Mr. Sampanthan, to make such a speech in Parliament having permitted at least 12 members in your team to go abroad? May I know from you at least now whether or not the allegation that all the telephones of the TNA MP’s remained dead during the last lap of the war.

I am in full agreement with you that the war crime should be tried but I am very much opposed to trying anyone from the LTTE for war crimes. They should be treated like under aged children, for any crime committed, because most of them were conscripted and sent to the war front under compulsion and with hardly any training. They had to obey the orders not to question why but to do and die.

Very serious crimes had been committed during the war. I don’t deny that. But permit me to point out to you that you are supporting a Government that had very clearly declared that no soldier will be permitted to be cross examined for war crimes. Furthermore permit me to point out that with one witness in a test case, from your side, the case will go for a six. I hope you will understand what I really mean. I don’t want to embarrass you.

Please don’t play to the gallery. Most members of your team will not make any valuable contribution but only make statements and speeches to favor them at the next election.

It may not be out of place if I remind you once again to demand the release of all the Political prisoners without doing it in batches. Please understand that the Government is delaying the release of the political prisoners, because they are kept as a trump card, with a hidden agenda.

 V. Anadasangaree, Secretary General - TULF 

Sri Lanka: Island Aflame - An Indian View

As the country faces economic collapse and little hope for the proximate revival of the critical tourism sector, amidst widespread disorders, it remains to be seen how the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will restore a measure of stability.

by Deepak Kumar Nayak

The political crisis started in the Island nation on October 26, 2018, by President Sirisena abruptly ousting Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Rajapaksa, is expected to continue for quite some time… Sri Lanka: Fueling Uncertainty, November 12, 2018.

On May 12, 2022, Ranil Wickremesinghe (73), leader of the United National Party (UNP) was sworn in as the new Prime Minister (PM) of Sri Lanka for the sixth time by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at President's House in Colombo. The newly sworn-in Prime Minister proceeded to the Walukarama Temple, Kollupitiya, to seek blessings and thereafter assumed his duties. Wickremesinghe was appointed following the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, on May 9.

It is useful to recall here that in a political slugfest, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was sacked on October 26, 2018, and Mahinda Rajapaksa took his place. Wickremesinghe had been removed by Maithripala Sirisena, who became President after the Elections held on January 8, 2015, defeating the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Significantly, on May 11, 2022, in a special address to the country, the embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa refused to step down and insisted that he would appoint a new Prime Minister and Cabinet within the week. He asserted that he would work with the new administration to empower Parliament and restore the 19th Amendment in a manner that gives more powers to the Parliament. He further claimed that he would abolish the executive presidency once the country stabilized, arguing,

The new Prime Minister will be given the opportunity to present a new program and take the country forward. At this critical juncture I request your support to continue the functioning of the state mechanism to protect the lives of the people and their property and to provide all the necessities for the people without allowing the country to collapse. Therefore, I earnestly urge all Sri Lankans to act peacefully and prudently at this juncture.

In the interim, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe declared that he had accepted his new position to save the nation from its present crisis:

I accepted the Prime Minister’s post to save the nation and to see that people of this country get three square meals while essential goods such as fuel, gas and electricity are available. I cannot do it alone and therefore I need international help. I also intend to obtain support of all MPs [Members of Parliament] in Parliament to save the nation.

Afterward, President Rajapaksa informed opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) that, as he had refused to accept any responsibility within an interim government under his Presidency, he could not change the decision to appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister at the present juncture. However, President Rajapaksa invited opposition Leader Premadasa to inform him, without delay, if the SJB was ready to accept Ministerial portfolios in the new Cabinet. He also stated that the appointment of the Cabinet could not be delayed further in a situation where the country was facing serious political and economic crises and asked Premadasa to convey his decision soon.

Significantly, on May 11, 2022, opposition Leader Premadasa had stated that his party was ready to form an interim government to bring about economic and political stability in Sri Lanka subjected to four conditions:

Respecting the will of the people, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa must agree to step down within a stipulated minimum period of time.

The President should not exert any undue influence on the all-party interim government to be formed for a short period of time.

Action will be taken to abolish the Executive Presidency in accordance with the existing provisions of the Constitution, within a very short period of time with all-party support.

After restoring the normal life of the people and establishing the rule of law, Parliamentary elections must be held quickly to give the citizens of Sri Lanka an opportunity to form a stable government.

On May 11, 2022, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne, during a special media briefing held at the Defence Ministry, Defence Headquarters Complex, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, stated that the death toll following the recent turmoil on May 9, 2022, had risen to nine, including two Police officers. A total of 219 persons were injured, 41 vehicles set on fire, 61 vehicles and 136 properties were damaged, he stated during the briefing.


According to a Sri Lanka Police Media Division release on May 10, 2022, eight persons had been killed in violent riots. Among the dead were a Member of Parliament (MP), a Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, a Sub-Inspector of Police and a Police Sergeant. A person who was injured in a clash in Colombo succumbed to his injuries. A Sub-Inspector of Police died due to a tear gas canister exploding. Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala and his security guard were killed when his vehicle was surrounded by protesters in Nittambuwa, while a youth was shot dead by the MP. Two persons were killed and eight persons were injured in a shooting at a protest held near the residence of the Chairman of the Weeraketiya Pradeshiya Sabha. The Chairman of the Imaduwa Pradeshiya Sabha, A.V. Sarath Kumara succumbed to his injuries after he was attacked at his residence. Prominently, among the injured was Deshabandu Tennakoon, the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) in charge of the Western Province, after he was assaulted by a group at Perahera Mawatha, Colombo.

A total of 136 properties were set ablaze, including the ancestral home of the Rajapaksas in Hambantota. Video footage showed the entire house of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Medamulana in Hambantota city burning. Moreover, Mahinda Rajapaksa's House in Kurunegala was also set on fire by protesters, while a mob also destroyed the D.A. Rajapaksa Memorial – constructed in the memory of the father of Mahinda and Gotabaya – at Medamulana, Hambantota.

Indeed, on May 9, 2022, unprecedented violence erupted in Sri Lanka after supporters of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa attacked peaceful anti-Government protesters who were demanding his ouster, blaming him for the country's worst economic crisis, even as acute shortages of staple food, fuel and power escalated.

Openly, on April 9, 2022, thousands of youths gathered at the Presidential Secretariat at Galle Face Green to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the incumbent SLPP-led Government, protesting against the acute shortages of food, fuel and other essentials. Since then, large numbers of people have been protesting day and night in front of the Presidential Secretariat, the demarcated Demonstration Site, and in front of the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. The protestors’ main slogan was #GotaGoGama [ “Gota” is part of the President’s name and “Gama” means Village in Sinhala. Thus, the slogan read, "Gota Go Village," or “President Go Home”].

The protests which had been building up from late February in response to Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since its independence, turned into a nationwide uprising, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and removal of the Rajapaksa family from politics.

Interestingly, the Rajapaksa brothers, immensely popular among Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese population because of their role in crushing Tamil separatists and ending a 26-year civil war in 2009, were elected as President and Prime Minister of the country. On November 18, 2019, SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa (70) was sworn in as the eighth Executive President of Sri Lanka during a ceremony held at Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura, while Mahinda Rajapaksa became the Prime Minister on November 21, 2019.

According to an April 1, 2022, report, during their rule Sri Lanka also moved closer to China, borrowing almost USD 7 billion for infrastructure projects, many of which turned out to be white elephants, mired in corruption. A dire shortage of foreign currency, needed to pay Sri Lanka's debt, forced the Government to ban swathes of imports, causing severe shortages of essentials. Millions voted to elect a new President to lead the country out of its deepest economic slump in over 15 years after it was hit by a tourism slump in the wake of the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 2019 that killed 262 people, and then wrecked by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, economic mismanagement by the Rajapaksas was also to blame, including years of chronic budget deficits and ill-advised tax cuts. The recent crisis, caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, meant that the country could not pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and exorbitant prices.

On March 31, 2022, hundreds of angry protestors marched to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s house in Colombo late night, after the island experienced a 13-hour-long power cut.

Meanwhile, on April 1, 2022, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide State of Emergency amidst a spate of protests. He issued a special gazette notification late in the night of on April 1, 2022, declaring a public emergency in Sri Lanka with immediate effect, declaring,

Whereas I am of opinion that by reason of a public emergency in Sri Lanka it is expedient to do so in the interests of public security the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.

According to an April 6, 2022, report, as the ruling coalition appeared to have lost its majority in the 225 member Parliament with over 40 MPs declaring independence from the ruling coalition, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa late in the night of April 5, 2022, revoked the State of Emergency with immediate effect. The gazette notification declared that the President had withdrawn the Emergency Rule Ordinance which gave Security Forces (SFs) sweeping powers to curb any disturbance in the country. Significantly, the Emergency was imposed because of the mass scale protests planned for April 3, 2022, against the economic hardships faced by the people. Later, the Government imposed an island-wide curfew. However, protests continued despite the curfew and the State of Emergency, with senior ruling party figures having their homes surrounded by angry protesters who urged the Government for solutions to the economic crisis.

Meanwhile, on April 3, 2022, all 26 Ministers in the Cabinet aside from Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, submitted letters of resignation at a late-night meeting. Cabinet members who decided to resign included three members of the ruling clan – Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, the last of whom was among the first to resign at a heated discussion among Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Cabinet members.

As protests continued the Sri Lanka Police shot dead one man identified as Chaminda Lakshan, and injured 10 others on April 19, 2022, in the first fatal clash with demonstrators protesting the island nation's crippling economic crisis. In a Tweet on April 20, 2022, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared,

Sri Lankan citizens’ right to peacefully protest won’t be hindered. @SL_PoliceMedia will carry out an impartial & transparent inquiry re the incident at Rambukkana which led to the tragedy for which I’m deeply saddened. I urge all citizens to refrain from violence as they protest.

According to an April 28, 2022, report, more than 100 trade unions, some affiliated to the Rajapaksas' ruling SLPP party, joined the general strike, as demands grew for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family members to resign.

In the interim, on May 6, 2022, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a State of Emergency effective midnight on May 6, 2022, for the second time in five weeks, giving SFs sweeping powers, as a nationwide strikes demanding his resignation brought the country to a standstill.

Succumbing to the pressure of the escalating protests, in a step that would enable his younger brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go for a government of national unity, Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from the post of Prime Minister on May 9, 2022. Taking to Twitter, Mahinda wrote, “Effective immediately I have tendered my resignation as Prime Minister to the President.” In his resignation letter, Mahinda stated,

I write to inform (you) that I have decided to resign from the post of prime minister with immediate effect. This is in line with your request made at the special cabinet meeting held on May 6, wherein you said that you intend to set up an all-party interim government.

The current eco-political crisis emerged as the ruling administration’s biggest political challenge, after President Rajapaksa’s thumping poll victory in 2019, and his party’s subsequent big win in the 2020 general elections. As the country faces economic collapse and little hope for the proximate revival of the critical tourism sector, amidst widespread disorders, it remains to be seen how the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will restore a measure of stability. The continuance of President Rajapakse at his post is also likely to be a red rag for an enraged public.

The writer, Research Associate,  Institute for Conflict Management in India