Category Archives: commoditification

The War is Past. Paradise is Regained

Michael Buerk,  in the The Telegraph, 5 September 2017, where the title is “The war is history: Michael Buerk returns to Sri Lanka” ** Note Editorial Comment at End 

The Tigers’ lair was deep in the jungle. It was difficult to find and tough to get to; two hours jolting, semi-prone, in a trailer dragged by a tractor, watching for mines. This was a war zone for decades. The paddy fields were abandoned long ago to the peacocks and their perpetual courtship, dozens of them everywhere, each male made fabulous by desire. The man-made lake that once fed the fields was covered in lotus flowers. A crocodile basked on a rock in the shallows, jaws gaping as if in wonder at the lonely beauty of it all. Well into the thicker brush, down a maze of paths and tunnels through the thorn trees, we came first to what was left of the Tigers’ guard post. Just rubble now where 30 fighters held part of the perimeter of what was, in effect, a separate state. Their latrine, the only recognisable structure left, was now home to a 15ft Indian rock python.

  Buerk was in Sri Lanka for the BBC at the beginning of the war, in the Eighties

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Political Fiddling undermines Economic Growth and Stability in Sri Lanka

Sirimevan Colombage, courtesy of Daily Mirror, 4 September 2017,where the title is “Politics of Socio-economic Development in Sri Lanka”

The ultimate goal of socio-economic development is to improve people’s quality of life dependent on access to the basic needs such as food, safe drinking water, shelter, clothing, education and healthcare. An important factor that determines these dimensions of quality of life is income – usually measured in terms of the per capita income, which is equivalent to gross domestic product (GDP) divided by population. Money is not everything but one could also argue that money is needed to buy everything to fill the basket of basic needs listed above. Hence, GDP growth is an essential ingredient for socio-economic development.

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Speaking of the Self: Gender Issues in South Asia

Niroshini Somasundaram, in IIAS Newsletter, reviewing A. Malhotra & S. Lambert-Hurley. 2015. Speaking of the self: gender, performance, and autobiography in South Asia. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822359838

In the last few decades, scholars of South Asian history have disputed the notion that South Asian cultures do not possess the autonomous representation of the individual, particularly in documenting histories, compared to their European counterparts. To that end, the numerous ways in which self-representation has been practiced in this region in different forms and time periods have been increasingly explored in scholarship. The rich collection of essays in this volume, edited by Anshu Malhotra and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, challenge the existing boundaries and discourses surrounding autobiography, performance and gender in South Asian history by presenting a varied and fresh selection of women’s autobiographical writing and practices from the seventeenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The compelling choice of authors explored in the essays include Urdu novelists, a Muslim prostitute in nineteenth century Punjab, a Mughal princess, a courtesan in the Hyderabad court and male actors who perform as female characters. It moreover challenges conventional narratives in the field of autobiographical studies by relaying in careful detail the different forms which ought to be encompassed within the genre of autobiography such as poetry, patronage of architecture and fiction. Continue reading

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Kumar Sangakkara’s House in Galle Fort: The Game-Changer

Juliet Coombe, on “Kumar Sangakkara, Professional Cricketer, Part-Time Philosopher” and The Game-Changer. at 76 Leyn Baan Street, Galle Fort …. in her illustrated book, Around the Galle Fort in 80 lives, (2017) …ISBN 978-955-0000-005

“I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.” …  Kumar Sangakkara deeply moved everyone at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London in July of 2011, in his speech in which he explored the nature of Sri Lanka. It is this rich mix of religions and nationalities that attracted Kumar to Galle Fort, which has been a part of his life for almost as long as cricket has, a place that captured his father just as powerfully as it has entranced him. It was his father who, he says, “told me one day, if you’re ever thinking of buying property, the Fort is one place you should look at. He had a great appreciation for the Fort and the life of the Fort and the old families living in the Fort and ever since that day it’s stayed with me.”

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Hambantota Port Deal from Many Angles

PTI Item: “Sri Lanka, China sign USD 1.1 bn Hambantota port deal” Jul 29, 2017

Sri Lanka today signed a USD 1.1 billion deal with China to sell a 70-per cent stake in the strategic Hambantota port to a state-run Chinese firm, a move that could raise security concerns in India.  The deal had been delayed by several months over concerns that the deep-sea port could be used by the Chinese Navy.
Cash-rich China has invested millions of dollars in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure since the end of a brutal civil war in 2009.  As part of the deal, the stake in the loss-making port has been sold to China’s state-run conglomerate China Merchant Port Holdings (CMPort).

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James Taylor, Tea and Empire in Victorian Ceylon

“Tea and empire. James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon ” by Angela McCarthy and Tom Devine … is now in print,  July 2017, Manchester University Press, 272 pp, ISBN: 978-1-5261-1905, Price: £25.00

 

This book brings to life for the first time the remarkable story of James Taylor, ‘father of the Ceylon tea enterprise’ in the nineteenth century. Publicly celebrated in Sri Lanka for his efforts in transforming the country’s economy and shaping the world’s drinking habits, Taylor died in disgrace and remains unknown to the present day in his native Scotland. Using a unique archive of Taylor’s letters written over a forty-year period, Angela McCarthy and Tom Devine provide an unusually detailed reconstruction of a British planter’s life in Asia at the high noon of empire. Continue reading

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Fashioning Sri Lanka’s Development: A Retrospective Overview

Godfrey Gunatilleke, being the final chapter entitled  “Hindsight and Retrospect – A Brief Commentary” in a new book Towards a Sri Lankan Model of Development, 2017 Marga Institute, ISBN 978-955-582-134-6 ….publications@margasrilanka.org

 

Introduction

“History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors”  This line from Eliot’s Gerontion is a good  starting  point to begin reflecting on Sri Lanka’s development after independence .  Retracing the development path that Sri Lanka took and pausing at every twist and turn to ask “What if we took another turn?” is always a fascinating  exercise . How useful it is in guiding us in our future actions is another matter. There are always lessons to be drawn from the successes and failures of the past. But when this is done we need to recognize the inherent limitations of an effort to learn from the past and project past trends to the future.  Eliot as a poet and Schumpeter as an economist found knowledge derived from past experience to be of limited worth in predicting how the future would unfold and enabling us to take control of it.  Eliot pointed out  that the past imposes a pattern and can falsify one’s vision of the emerging future as  “the pattern is new in every moment and every moment is a shocking valuation of all that we have been”   Schumpeter perceived how innovations and discoveries which were not  foreseen led to historic and fundamental changes  and  based his model of growth on the “creative destruction”of the past . Their insights about the “unpredictability” of the future has important implications and challenges for development policy and planning. Continue reading

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