Editor, News-in-Asia, 2 January 2018, where the title is Sri Lankan PM undertakes inspection tour of China funded Port City project””
Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Tuesday made an inspection tour of a 1.4 billion dollar mega port city which is being constructed close to the Colombo Harbour in the island’s capital.
The Colombo Port City, which will be the first of its kind in South Asia, is being constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). Wickremesinghe, who was accompanied by several ministers, was briefed by the Port City management on the overall project and the present stage of construction. “This project which will also be a financial center will convert Sri Lanka into a global hub in the Indian Ocean region,” Wickremesinghe told reporters at the site of construction.
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Chandre Dharmawardana, in The Island, September 2017, with title “Unit of Devolution – look in cyberspace!“
It is interesting to read the debate about what the unit of devolution should be. Recent articles, by Dayan Jayatilleke (Island, Sep. 20, 2017) and Neville Ladduwahetty (Sep. 23, 2017) argue for the Province (DJ), and for the District (NL). Interestingly, both the TNA, and their counter organizations pay homage to “the indivisible nature of Sri Lanka”, the “Orumiththa Nadu” and the “aekeeya Rajya”, while also supporting “maximum devolution”, i.e., the opposite objective! In our view, the issue of power devolution to units of government is an obsolete question. However, we discuss them as usual and lastly look at the enormous technological possibilities that exist to leap frog into a system compatible with the 21st century.
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Richard Fynes, reviewing Marie-Françoise Boussac, Jean- Françoise Salles & Jean-Baptiste (eds.) Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean, Delhi: Primus Books. 2016. ISBN 97893840820792 …………… in IIAS Newsletter, Summer 2017
This edited volume delivers much more than is suggested by its title, since it includes discussions of emporia as far inland as Delhi, the time-scale covered by its articles extends from the 20th century BC to the 18th century AD, and since not only the Indian Ocean, but also the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea are discussed by the various authors. Given the wide range and disparate nature of the twenty-four papers in the volume, how should one orient oneself among them? Best to begin with Elizabeth Lambourn’s ‘Describing a Lost Camel’ – Clues for a West Asian Mercantile Networks in South Asian Maritime Trade (Tenth-Twelfth Centuries AD). The volume taken as a whole forms a contribution to the genre of world history and Lambourn provides a clear-eyed assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. Although Lambourn’s paper is primarily concerned with the two hundred years from the tenth- to the twelfth centuries AD, her masterly analysis of the sources and criticism of the various methodologies in which they are employed provide the reader with a prism with which to view the remaining papers in the volume. Lambourn begins her account with a review of the relevant archaeological and documentary evidence. It is salutary to learn just how insecure is the dating of many South Asian ceramic types and consequently of the archaeological sites whose dating has been largely derived from ceramic evidence. Lambourn notes the problems posed by pluridisciplinary character of the sources and their simultaneous use. Her paper focuses on the port of Sanjan, in the domain of the western Indian dynasty of the Rastrakuta, where, for the tenth century there is rare conjunction of evidence from archaeology, Arabic geographical writings and Indian epigraphy. Her discussion is rich both in evidence and insight, and she gives due acknowledgment to the work of Ranabir Chakravarti, whose work has led scholars to reformulate the questions they ask of the sources. Lambourn’s findings lead her to speculate on the nature of world history and the relationship between micro- and macro history, as she expresses dissatisfaction that she is “left with an eclectic collection of small insights and few satisfactory larger narratives.” Such honest appraisals of the conclusions of one’s research invite further questions and are thus a stimulant to further research. Continue reading
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Neville Ladduwahetty, in The Island, 2 August 2017, an essay entitled “Ä Special Rapporteur’s visit”
The visit of Ben Emmerson Q.C., aUN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, to Sri Lanka from July 10 to 14 was concluded with a statement to the media in which he warned Sri Lanka of “dire consequences” unless the Government fully implemented the Geneva Resolution 30/1. An Associated Press report in The Washington Post of July 15 states: “…that even those as recently as late last year have been subjected to torture…”. Continuing he had stated: “In Sri Lanka however, such practices are very deeply ingrained in the security sector, and all of the evidence points to the conclusion that the use of torture has been and remains today endemic and routine”. His report adds that torture is routine, “for those arrested and detained on national security grounds.”
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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 ….firstname.lastname@example.org
“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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