Category Archives: transport and communications

Mattala Airport in China’s Game-Plan

Brook Larmer,  courtesy of New York Times Magazine , 13 September 2017, where the title reads What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence”

   

The four-lane highway leading out of the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota gets so little traffic that it sometimes attracts more wild elephants than automobiles. The pachyderms are intelligent — they seem to use the road as a jungle shortcut — but not intelligent enough, alas, to appreciate the pun their course embodies: It links together a series of white elephants, i.e. boondoggles, built and financed by the Chinese. Beyond the lonely highway itself, there is a 35,000-seat cricket stadium, an almost vacant $1.5 billion deepwater port and, 16 miles inland, a $209 million jewel known as “the world’s emptiest international airport.”

Continue reading

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, authoritarian regimes, China and Chinese influences, disparagement, economic processes, foreign policy, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes

Captain Cook’s Endeavours Revisited: ONE

Trent Dalton,  from The Weekend Australian, 2 September 2017, where the main title is “The Story of Us”

The story was always too big, too complex to fit neatly inside the plaques of big city statues. The story of Captain Cook’s first epic voyage of discovery is too grand, too long to fit neatly inside a tweet or a T-shirt quip or a few cheap words spray-painted in a hurry.

The first man to tell the story was James Cook himself. He told it as it unfolded, the spellbinding tale of his three years aboard a frumpy-bottomed coal boat called Endeavour; three years of wonder, adventure, miraculous survival, navigational genius and breathtaking courage that he detailed in short, sharp sentences scribbled on to a series of cabin papers that would form a doorstopper of a journal that would come to be called “Manuscript One”, the founding document of the National Library of Australia.

  Captain James Cook in a 1775 portrait by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, and HMS Endeavour in a painting by naval historian Gregory Robinson; next year marks the 250th anniversary of Endeavour’s sailing from Plymouth in England on a three-year journey that took it across the world and included the British discovery of Australia Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, Australian culture, australian media, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, transport and communications, travelogue, world events & processes

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.”

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, commoditification, cricket for amity, cultural transmission, democratic measures, economic processes, education, female empowerment, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, rehabilitation, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Reviewing “Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean”

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

Leave a comment

Filed under centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, growth pole, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, Middle Eastern Politics, population, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, transport and communications, unusual people, world events & processes

Travis Sinniah appointed Sri Lanka’s Naval Chief

P K Balachandran, courtesy of Newsin Asia …. https://newsin.asia/sri-lanka-gets-tamil-navy-chief-47-years/

After a gap of 47 years, Sri Lanka on Friday appointed a Tamil as the Commander of its navy. Rear Admiral Travis Jeremy Liyanduru Sinniah, who was made navy chief by President Maithripala Sirisena, is the second Tamil to head the country’s navy after Rear Admiral Rajanathan “Rajan” Kadirgamar who served between 1960 and 70. H ailing Adm.Sinniah’s appointment, President Sirisena tweeted saying that he had served the Sri Lankan navy “with immense loyalty for many decades.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under communal relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, patriotism, politIcal discourse, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, war reportage, world events & processes

Imminent Disasters? Exploiting Sri Lanka’s Mineral Resources

Ashley de Vos, in The Island, 16 August 2017, where the heading runs thus: “The exploitation of minerals of Sri Lanka”

If there is an asset, should it be exploited to the fullest in the shortest period of time? The traditional view would be based on very careful and controlled use. Today, in the global market place an asset is viewed very differently. As most investors in a business are interested in an ever increasing the bottom line question of eventual sustainability raises questions that need answers. Unfortunately, all exploitation has limits and if profit is the only criteria, whatever the pontification, it cannot and is not sustainable in the long term. It will always be a short term solution, to what could be a long term disaster.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, economic processes, environmental degradation, heritage, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, population, power politics, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions, world events & processes

A Tale of Resistance: The Story of the Arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, a reprint of an article published in 1989 in Ethnos, vol. 55: 1-2, pp.69-82.

  This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Mārayā, the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces. The piecemeal reinterpretation of this short text, however, must be overlaid by a holistic perspective and the realisation that its rendering in oral form enabled its purveyors to lace the story with a satirical flavour: so that the Portuguese and Catholicism are, like demons, rendered both disordering and comic, dangerous and inferior—thus ultimately controllable. In contending in this manner that the folktale is an act of nationalist opposition, the article is designed as an attack on the positivist empiricism which pervades the island’s historiography and shuts out imaginative reconstructions which are worked out by penetrating the subjective world of the ancient texts.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, Uncategorized, unusual people, world events & processes