Human Rights

Sri Lanka’s Independence Day: Revisiting the Journey to Find Way Forward

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Whilst enveloped in deep socio-economic crises caused by the successive inept and divisive political leadership in power, since the island country gained its independence from the British colonial rule, in  February 1948, the preparations are afoot to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the existence of the country, as a free nation.  

At the time Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, was granted independence with the dominion status, it was a prosperous country with a comparatively strong economy. The country was regarded as one destined to be a model amongst the nations gaining their freedom from the colonial masters, after the second world  war. The trend was to decolonize the nations from the yoke of centuries of colonial rule of the European powers, some benign and some not so benign.  

The grant of independence to Sri Lanka was hurried and ill-thought through. The governance of the independent Ceylon as envisaged was nothing but a change from the colonial rule to the neo-colonial rule  of the Sinhala nation with a hardened Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. 

The Soulbury constitution which was the framework for the governance of Ceylon was most inappropriate as it failed to recognize the existence of the two distinct nations – the Sinhala nation and Tamil nation. It created a situation where the nations were reduced to the majority and minority communities. The Tamil nation was left at the mercy of the Sinhala nation who were handed over the gift of a perpetual supremacy  simply on the basis of numbers. Even basic safeguards to protect the interest of the Tamil nation were not written into the constitution except for a confused clause preventing “the majority community” enjoying  privileges which were not extended to the “minority communities”. 

The Soulbury constitution which was largely a replica of the unwritten Westminster styled constitution totally distorted the socio-political realities of Ceylon. Soon after the independence the Sinhala Buddhist government of the day took steps to ensure that a well pronounced section of the Tamil nation, who were  the backbone of the then economy of Ceylon lost their citizenship. This was aimed to reduce the representation of the Tamil nation in the governance of the newly independent nation.  

This was the first step in their long journey to deprive the Tamil nation of their rightful place in the economy education, employment and the political life of the country. The introduction of the constitutions in 1972 and 1978 further marginalized the Tamil nation from the body politic of the Sinhala led unitary state. These took away even the basic safeguards provided by the Soulbury constitution. The current socio political crises of the nation is a result of these deeply sectarian approach of the Sinhala Buddhist led governments.  

The Tamil nation reacted to this initially by entering into political dialogue. On realizing that the democratic concepts hardly had an impact on the thought process of the Sinhala nation, by then, well intoxicated with the political power gained over the decades, took to arms as the last resort to prevent the decimation of  the Tamil nation. The sixth amendment to the 1978 constitution took away even the breathing space for the Tamil nation to express its political will. The main justification for the armed struggle is the sixth amendment. If the parliament ceases to be forum where else the long oppressed Tamil nation can voice  its political expression? 

The international community is well aware of the brutal reaction of the Sinhala nation to the legitimate expression of the political will of the people of the Tamil nation for us to repeat those here. Suffice is it to  say that every armed struggle is not an act of terrorism. 

The post war oppression continues unabated. The state aided colonization continues to distort the  demography of the traditional Tamil homeland and the heavy presence of the armed forces takes away  even the semblance of the life without fear. 

The planned lobsided economic development over the decades has left the peoples of the Tamil nation  the “poor cousins” of the Sinhala nation. 

The war reparation, restoration of the civil society, and the accountability from the war crimes are foreign concepts to the Sri Lankan government. 

Even the attempt to implement the watered-down Indo Sri Lanka accord in the form of the “13th Amendment” is now being vociferously objected to by the Buddhist clergy. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. 

In nutshell, the democracy is practiced in Sri Lanka only in the breach and any hope of a internally evolved solution to the political crises in the island of Sri Lanka is fast disappearing, if not its has already  disappeared. 

The international community must not allow itself to be misled by the Sinhala nation any longer. The history of the island of Sri Lanka is too dire to be ignored by the civilized nations of the world.  

The international community must realise that continuing to support Sri Lanka in its current form will not bring prosperity to the country. For the Sinhala nation the current crisis is socio economic but for the Tamil  nation, it is an existential crisis. 

Unwarranted Defence Expenditure – A Main cause to Sri Lanka’s Current Crisis  

Among the several causes of Sri Lanka’s failure to secure its economic stability, the defence expenditure remains a major factor.  

The cycles of violence culminated in anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983 and then the genocidal war of three decades, the effect of which will not be easily erased from Tamil peoples’ memory for several generation to come.  

Continued and the concerted military occupation of traditional Tamil homeland in the North & East make the return to normalcy impossible.  

While the international community gallops to save Sri Lanka from its current crisis, it must take note of the following and lay stern conditions. 

The historical data produced by reputable organizations prove that Sri Lanka’s defence spending has been in the increase. Macro Trends report provides that, Sri Lanka’s Budget Expenditure on Defence since 1960 have been as follows:

Period Total US$ Billion Average/ year US$ Billion
1960 to 1982 0.52 0.024
1983 to 2009 14.92 0.553
2010 to 2019 (Post war) 17.28 1.728
Total 32.72

The World bank reports provide that Sri Lanka has spent USD$ 34.3 billion on its defence up to 2020. This implies that Sri Lanka had spent USD$ 1.58 billion on defence in 2020 alone. The defence budget covering the post war period (US$ 17.28 Billion) is higher than that of civil war period (US$14.92 Billion). 

It is also noteworthy to consider India’s former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon’s statement that Sri Lanka’s internal war which ended in May 2009 had cost the country around US$ 200 billion. This US$ 200 billion is enormous and appeared to have gone unaccounted from the Sri Lanka’s records.  

From the foregoing details, it is unequivocally evident that Sri Lanka has been spending significant amount of its budget in increasing the military presence in the island even after the end of the war in 2009.

The military size increase by 94,000; from 223,000 to 317,000; after the war ended in 2009 signifies the increased deployment of military personnel in Tamil homeland of North and East of the island. We consider that the economic crisis of USD$ 50.7 billion foreign debts could have been mitigated to a large extent if only Sri Lanka had not wasted its resources on defence expenditure.

It should also be noted that Sri Lanka has more military personnel than the United Kingdom. Does Sri Lanka need that numbers of military personnel, while it has no external or internal threats when compared to the UK, which obviously has more security concerns.

In the interim, we would urge the international community to take preliminary actions to compel Sri Lanka to end the heavy militarization of North and East of the island and also to demobilize the military as a step towards mitigating the surging national expenditure.

Will the international community impose strict conditions before it takes ad-hoc measures to save Sri Lanka?

Resettlement of Tamil People

If the country were to prosper, the Tamil people ought to be allowed to live in their own land with their legitimate political rights acknowledged.

The state aided colonization, depriving equitable socio economic development, the war and the embargos have forced Tamil people to flee to other destinations. An estimate of over 200,000 such Tamil people, who should be living in their own homes in the North and East, are internally displaced.

Additionally, the civil war has caused over a million of Tamil people to seek shelter in foreign countries and about 100,000 who fled to India, are still living as stateless people.

It is imperative that all these people have the freedom of returning to their own homes to live in peace and dignity.

The Way Forward

Having mentioned the foregoing facts and figures, the British Tamils Forum urges the following as the way forward to not only make Sri Lanka a conflict free region and a prosperous country.

• Demilitarise the North East and demobilise the security forces in the island.

• As the united voice of the elected Tamil representatives in the North East calling for a political solution based on the federal principles and the right to self-determination, we request an international arbitration process led by India, USA and a core group of countries to find a long term political settlement.

• The “culture of impunity” must cease, and the perpetrators of atrocity crimes must be brought to justice under the international criminal prosecution mechanism.

• Apply all available leverages including further sanctions, travel ban, asset freeze, etc. on civilian and military perpetrators.

Statement issued by the Global Tamil Forum

Starvation in Sri Lanka: Is it A Product of Policy Makers and Professionals? – Part 1

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16 mins read

Self-sufficiency in food was the focus of the agriculture sector policy in Sri Lanka, even before the independence. But the quality and the display of the local food items offered to consumers in the market are yet to be improved substantially. The prices are exceptionally high compared to many citizens’ purchasing power and the country’s per capita income. According to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey -2019, Sri Lankans’ average monthly household expenditure on food is 35.1%, leaving a low share for non-food expenses, which is an indicator of the poor quality of life. The situation could be much worse among the middle and low-income groups, and the malnutrition level is increasing. Sri Lanka’s agriculture, especially the food crop subsector, is yet to be modernised with new technology and commercialised. Despite those constraints, the country had reached near self-sufficiency in essential food items by 2022.

The aftermath of Covid-19 and the government’s policy mismatches suddenly brought the country into a catastrophe in 2022 without sufficient local or imported food. According to the Colombo Consumer Finance Index, food inflation in September 2022 has risen to 94.9 %, which means citizens’ food affordability has been reduced by almost 50%. According to the FAO, 78% of the population suffered from food insecurity in the latter part of 2022. Most people attribute the whole responsibility for the food crisis of 2022 to banning agrochemicals. Though it was the immediate and foremost reason, several other structural issues have aggravated the situation. The situation could be returned to the pre-2022 position in a few seasons after lifting the ban.  Still, the shortcomings inherited over a long period in local food production may continue unless those are adequately addressed. Food prices are yet to come down to match the income levels of the majority through improved productivity and quality. Therefore, this article aims to understand the present food crisis in relation to the policies and strategies followed by the different governments over eight decades and their pros and cons. The focus is to discuss some remedial actions based on historical evidence and my brief experience in the sector.

The Sri Lanka National Agriculture Policy paper, prepared by the government in 2020, says, “The agriculture sector will continue to play an important role in the application of strategies targeted towards planned socioeconomic development of the country. Rapid growth for the agricultural sector, particularly the domestic food production, floriculture, and export crop sectors, is essential to achieve self-reliance at the national level, ensure food security and bring about equity in the distribution of income and wealth for alleviating poverty.” It shows that policy-wise, the government has firmly committed to developing the agriculture sector as a strategy for macroeconomic development. According to the population figures in 2021, eighty-one per cent of Sri Lanka’s population lives in rural areas. As per the labour force statistics, in 2021, 27.3 % of the total labour -force was employed in agriculture. Still, their contribution to the GDP was only 6.9%, which shows that the farming population is relatively poor. As a cultural practice, almost all rural people in Sri Lanka engage in agricultural activities in one way or another. If not for their main employment, they do agriculture as a source of supplementary or secondary income or at least to produce their food. As such, the Sri Lankan labour force engaged in agriculture is much higher than the figures shown in labour force statistics. Despite many drawbacks, local food production had increased considerably by 2023, but at a very high cost to the public coffer for over eight decades.

Evolution

Under the colonial administration, plantation crops were the priority sub-sector of agriculture. Domestic agriculture, especially food production, was not a priority. In 1931, under the Dhonurmore Constitution, the decision-making power for local matters was substantially transferred to the State Council of Ceylon, represented by elected local representatives. Since then, the translation of nationalism and patriotism into action was commenced in many aspects of society. D. S. Senanayake’s vision as the Minister of Agriculture and Landin the State Council of Ceylon was that colonising the thinly populated dry zone is the only solution to land hunger poor peasants in the densely populous wet zone, self-sufficiency in rice and food security.D.S. Senanayake’s imagination in the colonisation programme seems to create a group of contented middle-class farmers like the rural elites in the traditional villages. Accordingly, 5-10 acres of irrigated and high lands were alienated to colonists. It was also expected to reduce the increasing pressure on land to produce food and housing in the hill country and the wet zone and generate full-employment opportunities for the peasant community. Accordingly, he prioritised domestic agriculture and the Dry Zone Colonization programme. After becoming the first prime minister of Ceylon in 1947, his son Dudley Senanayake was appointed as the minister in charge of the subject to continue the programme with the same priority. Also, the second World War outbreak validated the need for food self-sufficiency. The food scarcity in the war environment encouraged the peasantry to food production and the colonisation programme. During wartime, in 1942, a scheme to purchase paddy under a guaranteed price well above the market price was also established. Since then, the guaranteed price for paddy, above the market price, has become a permanent feature.

The colonisation scheme was a massive and ambitious program involving the supply of irrigation and drinking water, social and physical infrastructure, housing, land clearance for farms, settlement of people in a complex, unfamiliar environment, establishing the public administration and public service delivery system, etc. All settlers were allocated an equal extent of land, which could not operate with the family labour. Different from the wet zone, there was no agricultural proletariat or social arrangements to work on medium size farmlands, especially during the cultivating and harvesting periods. Unlike in the wet zone, sharecropping arrangements (Ande Cultivation) or hiring casual labour was impossible, as all settlers were landowners. Farm mechanisation was also rare in the early stages, but many colonists became unemployed during off-seasons. Unlike in the wet zone, there were no modern large plantations to find wage employment during off-seasons. The colonisation programme reinforced the same peasantry agriculture in local food production, creating a dichotomy between plantation agriculture and local food production. Though there were many economic and social issues at the beginning, with continuous and substantial government supports, these colonisation schemes became sustainable. In addition to the above programmes, in line with the then policy, government-owned farms were also established in different parts of the country under the department of agriculture. These were considered model farms to introduce new farming technics, increase food production, create wage employment, seed production, etc.

The colonisation program helped to reduce the population pressure in the wet zone and increase rice production to a certain extent. However, it was an extension of the area under cultivation with the traditional smallholder farming system, more than increasing productivity under modern farming practices using technology.  Also, most of the second and third generations of settlers became unemployed. Many of the settlers were socio-economically backward and needed to gain experience even in agriculture at the beginning. Under this socio-economic environment, only a few entrepreneurs ventured into non-agricultural activities to generate employment for the second and third generations.

Green Revolution

Though there were some shortcomings in the D.S Senanayake’s Agriculture policy and strategies (expansion of the area under cultivation through land alienation, irrigation facilities, colonisation, model farms, and guaranteed paddy prices Etc.), its positive factors were attractive. The policy continued without many changes during the Bandaranaike governments from 1956 to 1965. In 1965, Dudley Senanayake’s government also prioritised the agricultural sector and continued along the same path. Moreover, the international program of the Green Revolution influenced the agriculture policy and the program in this period. The agriculture sector benefitted from the productivity improvement agenda of the green revolution, such as farm mechanisation, chemical fertiliser, highbred seed, pesticides, weedicides, etc. Consequently, productivity and local food production have significantly increased.

In addition to the smallholder sector, the Dudley Senanayake government gave prominence to large-scale farming, enabling the transfer of new technology and thereby reducing the cost of production, improving quality, and providing wage employment for the rural poor. To this end, his government leased relatively large plots of land in the dry zone to the corporate sector and entrepreneurs. The government facilitated lessees to import machinery, equipment, vehicles, etc. This is a deviation from the previous policy of the dry zone colonisation program at a high cost to the national budget and reinforcing the smallholder system. However, large-scale farms and large landholdings were not compatible with the Land Reform Policy of Mrs Bandaranaike’s government, which came into power in 1970 with a coalition of left-wing parties. Under the land reform policy, land ownership was limited to 50 acres per person. Most of these farms were acquired by the government or abandoned by the owners due to the fear of acquisition and lack of government policy support. If this programme had been continued, it could have become much cheaper than colonisation schemes to create employment, increase production and productivity through technology, and transfer the technology to local farmers.

The newly established Mahaweli Programme had much potential for large-scale commercial farming. The open economic policy had been introduced by this time, and trade was liberalised. But the government followed the same concept of smallholder farming. Several large land blocks of marginal lands without water and infrastructure have been leased out to entrepreneurs. Due to the threats of wild animals, lack of water, agriculture proletariat and other infrastructure, the tenants abandoned most of such blocks. They passed them on to several hands with little development. All settlers in Mahaweli were equally poor, and most could not purchase agricultural equipment. Unlike their original villages, in the beginning, there were no entrepreneurs who could afford to hire equipment for small-scale farmers. If extensive holdings had been allocated to entrepreneurs randomly on arable lands, they could have been instrumental in diversifying and changing the economic structure. It could have been a facility for the poor settlers to obtain inputs and other services required for farming and daily needs. Also, they could have generated employment in off seasons and for the second generation. Sri Lanka missed both opportunities (Mahaweli and Dudley’s leasing scheme of more extensive holdings) to establish large-scale private-sector farming for rice and other food crops. If Sri Lanka had utilised the above opportunities, the food crops subsector would have been commercialised and modernised, leading to high quality and low cost with value addition, like in many other countries.

Import Ban/Restriction of Food Items

During the 1970/77 period, the policy of self-sufficiency in food and the promotional strategies for local food production has been further strengthened through import controls. Regulations were introduced to reduce rice consumption and encourage the consumption of locally gowned pulses, yams, grains, etc. A massive Food Production Drive named ‘’WagaSangramaya” was launched in 1973, and a vast enthusiasm was created among the citizen to cultivate and economise the food. All government-owned farms were fully utilised, increased seed production and introduced new crop varieties. Import bans resulting in high prices encouraged the cultivation of marginal land and uneconomical crops to the country’s agroecological condition. This overenthusiasm led to the mal-allocation of land and other resources and high-cost and low-quality products. The ban on importing all food items was not a result of the 5-Year Development Plan of the then government. Still, it was necessitated due to the foreign exchange crisis, like the situation in 2022. Before the 1970/77 period, local food production was mainly a subsistent activity of poor peasants. Due to the import restrictions, a dichotomous situation has been created in domestic agriculture. While poor peasants were doing subsistent farming, some people commenced commercial agriculture aimed at the broader local market but at low quality and high prices. However, during this period, many import substitutes, such as lentils, chillies, yams, milk, sugar etc., emerged from subsistent farming to commercial farming. Suppose the government had continued tariff protection and advisory services, with corrective measures for a few more years. In that case, some products with comparative advantages could have been established as viable economic activities.

Sluggishness

The free trade policy introduced in 1977 allowed the import of almost everything without restrictions. The market was flooded with imported cheap food and consumer items creating a new demand for foreign exchange. The newly open trade sub-sector did not increase the foreign exchange earnings to match the increased need for food imports. Due to the sudden and unplanned trade liberalisation, commercial farmers could not face the competition from imported foods and were compelled to abandon farming. It resulted in rural unemployment, especially among the agricultural proletariat. The poor peasants, who could not integrate with the new economic order, remained subsistence farmers. The Banking system also prioritised the trade sector, which is less risky and profitable than agriculture lending. Domestic agriculture lost the policy support and backup services such as research, seed production, extension services and bank lending. Meanwhile, Mahaweli Authority established its own system to provide advisory and input services for Mahaweli farmers undermining the regular agriculture department’s authority.

The Department of Agriculture is one of the oldest departments in the country, manned by highly qualified professionals. Sri Lanka had a well-organised extension service for the food crop sector under its department of agriculture, integrated with research, demonstrations, model farms, demonstrations, in-service training for officers and a comprehensive field network comprising district-level officers (assistant directors), subject matter specialists, zonal officers (agriculture instructors) and village-level officers (KrushiVyapthiSevaka). The extension division and the research arm at the centre supported the field network. From time to time, different systems of extension service have been experimented with and implemented nationwide with uniformity. As such, extension service has been developed over the years through an evolutionary process till the late 1980s.

After establishing the provincial council system in 1987, agriculture extension was devolved to provincial councils. Since then, the sub-national level network of the extension service has lost connectivity with research and other divisions of the Agriculture Department and the Ministry. Also, the village-level extension staff (KVSs) were absorbed into the cadre of Grama Niladari, creating a vacuum at the field level. Later, in 1999 a new cadre of field officers named “Agriculture Research and Production Assistants” was appointed, but they did not have professional qualifications or experience in research or extension works. They coordinate agriculture inputs delivery and enforce agriculture-related Acts of Parliaments such as the Agrarian Development Act, The Paddy Land Act etc.Agriculture extension, especially the food crops sub-sector, has been severely affected after the devolution of power to nine independent provincial councils. Occasionally extension programmes are being implemented by provincial and national agencies without proper coordination between the two levels. Sometimes, those are incompatible with each other. Since the government has an aloof attitude toward the extension service, unprofessional business-minded agrochemical vendors are filling the vacuum with non-scientific advice. Therefore, a comprehensive national policy and strategies with a coordination mechanism at the national and sub-national levels are paramount.   The extension service needs more recognition from the government at both national and provincial levels. When the government attempted for organic farming-only policy, vacuums of the extension service were visible. There was no field network of extension staff to educate farmers on organic farming, and neither the farmers nor the fertiliser vendors had scientific and practical knowledge of organic farming. 

Contented at a Low Level of Achievements

For several decades, with some degree of ups and downs, a unique smallholder farming system has been developed in the country with a combination of government subsidies, some degree of tariff protections, some elements of subsistence farming and the modern agriculture techniques introduced under the green revolution (highbred seeds, chemical fertiliser, other agrochemicals, modern machinery, and equipment etc.). Under this equilibrium, the labour component of the farm inputs has decreased, and the land and labour productivity increased considerably. The country became nearly self-sufficient in rice, vegetable, fruit, and coarse grains such as maise production. Inputs supplies, prices, farming practices, farmer behaviours, consumer preferences and logistic aspects had stabilised to match this equilibrium (sufficient quantities at a relatively high price and low quality, but all stakeholders are substantially satisfied). So, to a considerable extent, the security of essential food items was ensured through local productions.

Moreover, those developments have brought the country many social and environmental benefits. Childlabour, which was abundantly used under the traditional farming system, was released from farmlands enabling them to continue with education. The customary use of women’s labour in farming was also considerably reduced, allowing them time for childcare, family welfare and other non-agricultural activities. In addition to the family food needs, most farmers could produce a marketable surplus that improved the physical quality of life. The Chena-farming (slash and burn) system, which increases the demand for land and harms the environment, has been reduced dramatically. Instead of moving from one land to another, farmers started cultivating the same land regularly with the blessing of the improved farming system. Consequently, many new settlements have developed with urban facilities, which changed the lifestyle, bringing many social and economic benefits.

Interruption

However, during the Government of good governance (Yahapalana Government), from 2015 to 2019, except for chemical fertilisers, other necessary agrochemicals, especially weedicides,were suddenly banned. Sri Lanka depended for many decades on agrochemicals for weed and pest control.By this time, farmers had lost the traditional knowledge of insects and weed control.The Chena Farming system, which doesn’t require agrochemicals also not in practice. Characteristics of improved/highbred seeds were incompatible with conventional weed and pest control practices. Farm labour was not readily available, and the cost of manual wedding had become high. It is yet to develop planting and weeding tools/machinery and planting practices appropriate to our agroecological conditions, soil conditions, and terrain and acceptable to smallholder farmers. This new situation mainly affected tea plantations and Paddy cultivation. Seed broadcasting, the paddy cultivation practice commonly used by farmers, is inappropriate for mechanical weeding. So, farmers could not positively respond to the new challenge. Consequent to the new challenge, farmers faced increasing production costs, while productivity fell below the previous years. Some farmers abandoned the cultivation. After banning the agrochemicals, the Paddy production in the 2016 Yala season dropped to 1,517,392 metric tons from 1,942,408 metric tons in Yala, 2015. Further, the production of the 2016/17 Maha season has fallen to 1,473,832 from 2,902 693 metric tons in the 2015/16 Maha season. This downfall is not purely attributable to the agrochemical ban; climatic and other factors may have contributed to it.

For many years, the use of herbicides had been promoted as a cost-cutting technic in the tea plantation. When labour became more expensive, weedicides became a blessing in disguise for the tea plantations to reduce the cost of production.  Like the paddy sector, the country had not developed planting methods and appropriate tools/ machinery for weed control in tea plantations. Consequently, the cost of production increased, and productivity dropped. In 2016, tea production fell to 292,000 metric tons from 328,960 tons in 2015.

The Sri Lanka National Agriculture Policy- 2020 accepts that the productivity of the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka still needs to improve. It further says, “The agriculture sector was also not geared to absorb the rural unemployed compared to the other sectors of the economy. It is necessary to reverse this trend and improve the agricultural sector to meet the aspirations of the people, particularly that of the farming community.” Further, the policy highlights the need for promoting the production and utilisation of organic and bio-fertilisers and gradually reducing the use of chemical fertiliser through the Integrated Plant Nutrition System, ensuring timely availability of chemical fertilisers in sufficient quantities, and providing soil and plant testing facilities for their rational use and minimising the use of synthetic pesticides through promoting bio-pesticides and integrated pest management.  This policy and strategy about agrochemicals seem sensible and timely. However, any attempt to absorb the ever-increasing unemployed into agriculture would be an attempt to share poverty with the second and third generations.

Going Backword

While farmers were attempting to adapt to the situation created by banning agrochemicals by the the Mithripala government, banning the import and use of chemical fertilisers without prior notice, preparedness, and alternatives by the Gotabaya government in April 2021, affected the entire society and the economy facing famine by much of the population. It is contradictory to the documented policy and strategies of the agriculture sector.  The move is suspected of an attempt to save US$ 300 to 400 million in foreign exchange, which the country spends annually to import fertiliser. Before the public, the President justified this move as the remedy to prevent increasing kidney disease and materialise the Sri Lankans’ rights to non-toxic food. He further promised to compensate for the income loss due to organic fertiliser application and import organic fertiliser to fill the gap due to the sudden decision. He also expected Sri Lanka to be the first to adopt the 100 per cent eco-friendly organic farming policy.

The farmers’ attempt to produce organic fertiliser in homesteads failed due to a lack of sufficient biomass and the long gestation period. Fertilisers produced by some entrepreneurs were of inferior quality, not acceptable to farmers and many malpractices were evident. An attempt to import organic fertiliser from China failed due to the debate on quality and procedural issues. The desperate government attempted to import organic liquid nitrogen from India. But that also ended up with quality issues and corrupt practices. The production loss was enormous, and the government did not have sufficient funds to compensate for the income loss of farmers. Eventually, the government ended up with a nightmare of wasting more foreign exchange, which was in short supply, to import fertiliser and essential food items. The outcome is creating a black-market price for agricultural inputs and food items. Towards the end of 2022, 78% of the population became food insecure.Most of the farmers abandoned the cultivation of seasonal crops. The productivity and quality of plantation and perennial crops have dropped drastically. Paddy production in the 2021/22 Maha season dropped to 1,931,230 metric tons from 3,061,394 metric tons in the previous Maha season. The average production per hectare also dropped from 4,307 Kg. to 2,853 kg.

After creating a big socio-political and economic nightmare, the government wriggled out of the concept of organic farming. Restriction for importing and using agrochemicals, including chemical fertiliser, was removed in early 2022, leaving long-lasting adverse effects. Though the ban was lifted, the agrochemical market was distorted by unscrupulous importers and traders, making the price unaffordable to farmers. This distortion may remain for a few more cultivation seasons. Perhaps some farmers who have left farming may not recommence. This nonsensical policy decision of 100% organic farming destroyed the entire agriculture sector built through subsidies and some degree of scientific inputs for more than 80 years. The government should have realised that the country doesn’t have sufficient biomass to produce the organic fertiliser required for 100% organic farming. Most of the land used for seasonal crops in Sri Lanka cultivate for 2 or 3 crops a year without a fallow season, leaving little room for the natural process of soil enrichment. Therefore, using a high dose of fertilisers is a must.

The Mithripal-Ranil government and the Gotabaya Rajapakse government justified the ban based on the assumption that the cause of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin is the continuous use of agrochemicals in agriculture. However, it is yet to be proven scientifically. Though we exaggerate the ancient glory, the high price, periodical and seasonal scarcity of food and starvation was common problem till the recent past, which highly affected the poor. Though agriculture has not developed as it should, consequent to the green revolution and the Mahaweli scheme, the food supply situation improved, and the price became affordable for most of the population. Whatever the economic and political issues we face from time to time, farmers cultivated without room for famine. The immediate impact of the organic food policy was that food inflation in September 2022 had increased to 94.9%, per the Colombo Consumer Price Index. According to a survey conducted by WFP in September 2022, more than 1/3 of the population is in food insecurity, which rapidly increases child malnutrition.  Though organic farming is a good move to provide healthy food, if the country continues with that policy, most people will not be able to afford the high price of organic food. They may face starvation and periodic and seasonal food scarcity again. Then, the better-off, who can afford the expensive organic food, would live longer, while the life expectancy of the majority is decreasing.

Layman consumers believe that the frequent insecticide/fungicide sprays on vegetables and fruits are more dangerous than weedicides and chemical fertilisers. The fundamental problem in Sri Lankan agriculture is not the use of agrochemicals but the overdose for various reasons. The farmers’ knowledge of fertiliser and other agrochemical applications in what quantity, time, soil types, type of pest etc., are limited. They learn by trial-and-error method, not by understanding the chemical composition. If one chemical is not answering, they use another. Vendors prescribe those, and vendors also learn from the trial-and-error experience of farmers. In most farmlands, broadcasted urea is exposed to sun and rain, allowing a considerable amount to evaporate, or wash off.

To be Continued

Armed Rebellion against the State: A Violation of Islamic Law

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4 mins read

Pakistan’s present issue of armed rebellion against the state has become a serious source of concern for the country and its people. The growth of militant groups, as well as their use of violence and intimidation to oppose the authority of the government, has led in major instability, loss of life, and disruption of everyday life. These groups, working under various political and ideological banners, strive to impose their own vision for society via the use of force, which is directly contrary to the state’s promotion of the ideals of peace, justice, and order.

The issue of armed insurrection against the state is critical in the current situation because it has far-reaching repercussions for the country and its people’s destiny. It calls into question the state’s ability to maintain law and order while also ensuring the safety and security of its residents. It also weakens the country’s political and social stability, producing an atmosphere of dread and uncertainty that pervades all parts of life.

Islamic law, as outlined in the Quran and Hadith, promotes peace, justice and obedience to the state. The Quran explicitly states that

“O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination” (4:59).

The use of violence for political or ideological objectives is severely forbidden in Islam and contradicts the religion’s precepts. One of the main reasons why armed revolt against the state is haram is because it violates the idea of loyalty to legal authority. Islam believes that obeying legitimate authority is a religious requirement, and that Muslims should respect and follow people in positions of power if their directives are in accordance with Islamic law. Individuals who engage in violent rebellion are basically rejecting this concept and striving to topple rightful authority, which is regarded a terrible sin.

Based on the ideas outlined in Islamic law, the thesis statement of this article is that armed revolt against the state in Pakistan violates Islamic law and contradicts Islamic teachings. The use of violence to attain political or ideological ends not only violates the ideals of peace, justice, and loyalty to the state, but it also jeopardizes the country’s and its people’s stability and security. This article will present a thorough review of Islamic law addressing armed rebellion against the state and show how terrorist groups in Pakistan are acting in clear violation of these principles.

Islamic Law and Its Stance on Armed Rebellion Against the State:

Islamic law, commonly known as Sharia law, is a complete legal and moral guiding system based on the Quran and Hadith. It encompasses all areas of life, such as personal and social behavior, economic transactions, and political issues.

The Quran and Hadith are unequivocal in their condemnation of violent insurrection against the state. As previously stated, the Quranic verse 4:59 mandates obedience to those in power, and using force to dispute this authority is deemed a breach of the ideals of peace and obedience to the state.Additionally, the Hadith states that

“Whosoever kills a person who has a treaty with the Muslims, shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance may be smelt from a distance of forty years”.

This emphasizes the sanctity of life and the importance of respecting treaties and agreements.

Top Islamic scholars and clerics believe that using force against the state is prohibited in Islam. They believe that because the state was founded by the will of the people, it has the right to employ force to preserve law and order and defend its residents. The use of violence to oppose the state is regarded a breach of the ideals of peace and justice, and it contradicts Islamic teachings.

The Islamic community as a whole agrees that violent insurrection against the state is not allowed in Islam. This viewpoint is shared by academics and practitioners from many sects and schools of thought within Islam, and it is founded on the principles given in the Quran and Hadith. The Islamic community’s agreement on this topic serves as a powerful reminder of the significance of peace, justice, and loyalty to the state in Islamic teachings, as well as the sanctity of life.

The Impact of Armed Rebellion on Society and Religion:

Armed rebellion against the state has far-reaching and detrimental consequences for society and its people. Militant groups’ use of violence and intimidation causes instability, fear, and disorder, which impacts all sectors of life. The loss of life and property as a result of armed conflict disrupts society’s regular functioning and impairs the state’s capacity to deliver basic services and maintain the safety and security of its residents.

Armed revolt also has a negative impact on Islam’s reputation as a religion of peace. Many perceive the conduct of violent organizations claiming to operate in the name of Islam as directly contradicting the religion’s values of peace and justice. This hinders the Islamic community’s attempts to present a favorable image of the religion and weakens knowledge of Islam’s actual character as a peaceful and just way of life.

Armed rebellion against the state weakens and destabilizes the state’s ability to maintain law and order and secure the safety and security of its population. The use of violence to challenge official authority produces a climate of dread and uncertainty that pervades all parts of society. This affects the state’s capacity to deliver essential services like health care, education, and infrastructure, as well as eroding confidence between the state and its population. The disruption and instability caused by armed revolt also fosters the propagation of extreme ideology and the recruitment of new members by militant groups.

Conclusion:

Armed insurrection frequently results in violence, damage, and death. Human life is highly valued in Islam, and the killing of innocent lives is considered one of the most serious crimes. According to Islamic religious edict, any armed action against the state of Pakistan constitutes a rebellion and is prohibited (haram) under Islamic law. This is a consensus shared by top Islamic scholars and clerics who have stated unequivocally that the use of force to implement Sharia, including armed confrontation against the state, sabotage, and all forms of terrorism, is categorically prohibited by Islamic teaching and is considered a rebellion or mutiny.

Armed revolt against the state is not only a breach of Islamic law, but it is also a grave threat to the country’s stability and security. The emergence of non-state actors and terrorist attacks in Pakistan has alarmed both the government and the general people. In Pakistan, there have been episodes of armed revolt against the state, most notably terrorism and sabotage. These behaviors not only violate Islamic law, but also hurt Islam’s and the Muslim community’s reputation. They also hinder the efforts of those fighting for the country’s peace and stability.

Vatican urges to have Separate Cardinal for North-East of Sri Lanka

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The bishops of the North and East provinces have requested the Vatican to appoint a separate Cardinal for the two provinces of Sri Lanka. Father Joseph Pathinathar Jebaratnam, who spoke in Jaffna, said that he made this request because he felt that the minority Tamil Catholics of Sri Lanka were being betrayed by the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka.

Father Jebaratnam also stated that it is not wrong for the Archbishop of Colombo to request justice for the people who died in the Easter Sunday attack, but because no one appears to do justice to the people who died in the North East war, he had to make such a request.

“In 1995, 147 people were killed and 200 injured in the bomb attack on Navali St. Peter’s church in Jaffna.

“At that time, the attention of the bishops of the north and east was drawn to this matter, but there was no response from the south.”

“Seven priests and several nuns died in the war.”

“In 1995, Reverend Mary Bastian was shot dead in her home. Then Colombo media reported that she was publicly killed before going to India. “

“With the intervention of the Jaffna nun, a Colombo nun organized a memorial ceremony for Hon. Mary Bastian. The Bishops of the South had said that they did not want to participate in this event.

“We are not opposed to the Archbishop of Colombo asking for justice for those who died in the Easter Sunday attack. In the same way, when the Tamil people were killed, why did they not demand justice for the Tamil people?” he asks.

The Bishops of the North and the East are calling for international intervention regarding the Tamil people who were killed in the North East, while the Bishops of the South said that it was unnecessary.

Flight MH 17 and The Little Dutch Girl – A Personal Reflection

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You are an open wound

And we are standing

In a pool of your blood

Rupi Kaur

25th of January 2023 was significant from a judicial standpoint, but it was a grim reminder of how many lives were stolen in the most violent and egregious way.

The Destruction

One of the worst atrocities in the annals of civil aviation was perpetrated when Flight MH 17 was destroyed over Eastern Ukraine by a ground-based missile. Was Russia to blame? Or was it Ukraine? Or even the airline for flying over dangerous territory?  The aircraft operating the flight was shot down in eastern Ukraine about 60km from the Russian border on 17 July 2014, allegedly by pro-Russia separatists.  All the 298 passengers – 193 of whom were Dutch – are believed to have died, and some of the remains of those who perished were never recovered. It is now revealed that death was not instantaneous.

Everyone seemingly responsible for the heinous act started deflecting blame, and a little girl (and all others on board) on the flight was forgotten, except for her  devastated father who grieved the unbearable loss of his only child. 

From then on, everything became clinical and adjudicatory.

Seven and a half years later, The European Court of Human Rights ruled on 25th January 2023 – on a purely procedural and technical issue –  that complaints against Russia from Ukraine and the Netherlands should go to trial, but it was not about what the little Dutch girl lost. Who would care anymore, anyway?

The European Court of Human rights, in a press release said: “Among other things, the Court found that areas in eastern Ukraine in separatist hands were, from May 11, 2014 and up to at least January 26, 2022, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation” , referring to “the presence in eastern Ukraine of Russian military personnel from April 2014 and the large-scale deployment of Russian troops from August 2014 at the latest.”

The Little Dutch Girl

One day in mid July 2014 a young girl –  full of hope for her future and bubbling with the energy of youth – boarded a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, in Amsterdam.  She had everything in life to be thankful for  – a university education,  romance and courting, a good life  with a warm home and a family – all  in front of her.  The best was yet to come.  It was time for new life to start with the freshness of hope and all the happiness that her young  heart could take.  Her  penalty for being born was not even in the distant horizon.

Her destination was Kuala Lumpur, and she was looking forward to a lighthearted romp on a fun flight and a glorious holiday with her family who were travelling with her.  

Yet she did not make it.

Every day, people die of accidents caused by their own negligence, or diseases beyond their control. People also die of intentional killing by others. Somewhat rarely, people suffer death through random acts of violence – like the little Dutch girl. For her there was no second chance.  There was no going back to the perfumed meadow of Summer. It was as though an alien sky swallowed her that clear day and the future became an illusion.

There are no answers no good, no evil only a million promises not kept that day when it raised its ugly head.  We can only fill the craters with ashes; level the furrows plant grass, trees, flowers lay white gravel path some rustic benches – a public park and hush the cries of orphaned parents.

But there was no one when darkness fell that night and all the lights went out.  She should have had someone that she could find.  She should not have been alone to weep.

My Reflections

Today, that little girl would have been in her early twenties. What would she be doing? Perhaps reminiscing over her first and only love at university? The first time she saw him and looked down and walked away? How memories of him protecting both under a tiny umbrella when they walked alone in the rain flood her mind? How she forgot to tell him what was on her mind? How she hurt for having forgotten to tell him what was on her mind? How excited she felt when she scored high grades and ran up to tell him? The look on dad’s face when she told him of her grades.

Maybe she would be holding her first born lovingly and tenderly, while her baby peered at her radiant like a pearl in an oyster that had a little door. She would have been overwhelmed with joy as though her whole world had been invigorated by the touch of a butterfly and the splash of a drop of dew. She could have had many days walking through tender meadows of sunshine and warmth amidst the laughter and joy of simple pleasures.

We Failed Her

We did not keep our promises to a little girl who depended on us for her safety We did not have stringent regulations, and Standards to stop that flight.  We knew the area was dangerous,  infested with unscrupulous elements holding  ground-based missiles. Yet we did nothing to prevent the ominous and grave risk that was posed to the flight. We did not have a system of sharing and disseminating threat information in a timely manner. We did not know to whom this information should have been relayed.  We don’t seem to have known what risk avoidance was – that it involved a risk assessment technique that entails eliminating hazards, activities and exposures that place valuable assets at risk.  In the case of civil aviation within the context of conflict zones this would mean eliminating hazards by avoiding the airspace over that zone entirely.  Unlike risk management, which is calculated to control dangers and risks, risk avoidance totally bypasses a risk.  The information to States on threats posed to their civil aviation over conflict zones would therefore had  to be disseminated through policy and procedure, training and education and technology implementations.

We did not do that.

Sorry little girl. May the doors of heaven open at the sound of your footsteps May a bright angel watch over and follow you  through your  inevitable journey. May we meet again on the horizon of eternity when our ship finally sails beyond every limit of our sight.

Above all, may we never walk away from you.

US Authority Must Response to Pfizer Fraud

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An undercover video featuring an allegedly Pfizer executive bragging about how his company was exploring intentionally mutating COVID strains to profit from future mRNA vaccines has exploded across social media recently.

In the video, Jordon Trishton Walker, described as Pfizer Director of Research and Development, Strategic Operations and mRNA Scientific Planning, claims that his company is exploring a way to “mutate” COVID via “Directed Evolution” to preempt the development of future vaccines. The man told a Project Veritas journalist about Pfizer’s plan for COVID vaccines, while acknowledging that people would not like this information if it went public.

Pfizer on Friday issued a statement in response saying “in the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research,” but it added “In a limited number of cases when a full virus does not contain any known gain of function mutations, such virus may be engineered to enable the assessment of antiviral activity in cells.”

The video has sparked wide public concern with over 41.2 million views on Twitter alone.

Walker also bluntly said in the video that COVID is going to be a “cash cow” for Pfizer for a while going forward. Is Pfizer really manipulating COVID-19 for profits and does it in secret? How far has the research gone? What risks will it bring? The public naturally has many questions and demands answers. However, most of the US and Western mainstream media outlets and US politicians have collectively kept mum on the issue revealed in the video. This is quite abnormal in the American public opinion field known for its diversity.
The authenticity of this video has yet to be confirmed. In the face of public doubts, shouldn’t the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lawmakers and the media conduct further investigations and give the public an explanation?

Till now, the vast majority of US media outlets and politicians are ignoring it. This is in stark contrast to their keenness to hype the odds of new COVID mutations after China optimized its COVID policies. On the issue concerning a big US pharmaceutical company, it seems American media outlets are all much more “professional and rational.” They are quite prudent to make any conclusion.

If an undercover video of similar kind was exposed in China, there is no doubt that the Chinese public and officials would take it very seriously. Not only the company involved must give a detailed explanation, relevant authorities will quickly conduct an investigation to find the truth.

Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News, was a rarity among US media persons on this issue as he touched upon the topic. “In this country, drug companies spend more on lobbying the Congress than any other industry, a lot more than any other industry and they don’t do it by accident. They do it because it pays off,” Tucker said.

According to data from Pfizer, more than 4.3 billion Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines were shipped to 181 countries across the world by the late of 2022. Not long ago, Albert Bourla, Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, encountered a series of tough questions from a journalist about the efficacy of its COVID vaccine on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting.

“Western media doesn’t speak for truth, but is profits-oriented,” a Chinese expert who requires anonymity told a Beijing based daily Global Times. “Everyone knows that major American pharmaceutical companies and capital-controlled mainstream media are inextricably linked by interests. The silence of many media outlets in face of the video once again reflects the hypocrisy of US media.”

Source: Global Times

Palestine Mission in Colombo Requests Public to Stand against Israel Brutality

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Palestine Embassy in Colombo appeals to all believers of Justice and Humanity to raise your voice in support of Palestinians who are presently under a bloody Israeli attack

The Embassy of the State of Palestine presents its compliments to the Members of  Parliament from all Political parties in Sri Lanka, Human and Civil rights organizations, the Print and Electronic Media and Friends of Palestine and has the honour to urgently inform, that Israeli apartheid forces in a criminal and bloody operation which is still ongoing from the early hours of this morning, have killed at least nine Palestinians including an elderly woman and wounded over a dozen others in an outright massacre in Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership has warned the world that this extreme and racist new Israeli government had a clear will and intention to commit such crimes against Palestinians. This government from day one highlighted its racist agenda and apartheid policies in all spheres to make the lives difficult for Palestinians, ranging from political, economic, invading holy places, confiscating lands, building settlements and increasing the arrests of innocent Palestinians.

This volatile escalation will fracture the stability not just in Palestine but also in the region and around the world.

Therefore, we appeal to all responsible governments, States and supporters of justice and humanity in the world to not just only condemn the Israeli apartheid regime and its ruthless crimes of violence against Palestinians but also to take the much-needed steps to protect the lives of Palestinians and end the apartheid regimes acts of brutality. The international community’s deafening silence makes Israel feel that it is above the law and can commit its violations without being held accountable and do as they please. Israel should abide by international law and international humanitarian law and be held accountable in all its crimes against humanity.

The Embassy of the State of Palestine avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Members of the Parliamentary of all Political parties in Sri Lanka, Human and Civil rights organizations, the Print and Electronic Media and Friends of Palestine, the assurances of its highest consideration.

Statement issued by the Palestine Embassy in Colombo

Inside Corporate: Bitter Truth Behind India’s Adani

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Excerpts of the research paper published by Hindenburg Research

Today we reveal the findings of our 2-year investigation, presenting evidence that the INR 17.8 trillion (U.S. $218 billion) Indian conglomerate Adani Group has engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades.

Gautam Adani, Founder and Chairman of the Adani Group, has amassed a net worth of roughly $120 billion, adding over $100 billion in the past 3 years largely through stock price appreciation in the group’s 7 key listed companies, which have spiked an average of 819% in that period.

Our research involved speaking with dozens of individuals, including former senior executives of the Adani Group, reviewing thousands of documents, and conducting diligence site visits in almost half a dozen countries.

Even if you ignore the findings of our investigation and take the financials of Adani Group at face value, its 7 key listed companies have 85% downside purely on a fundamental basis owing to sky-high valuations.

Key listed Adani companies have also taken on substantial debt, including pledging shares of their inflated stock for loans, putting the entire group on precarious financial footing. 5 of 7 key listed companies have reported ‘current ratios’ below 1, indicating near-term liquidity pressure.

The group’s very top ranks and 8 of 22 key leaders are Adani family members, a dynamic that places control of the group’s financials and key decisions in the hands of a few. A former executive described the Adani Group as “a family business.”

The Adani Group has previously been the focus of 4 major government fraud investigations which have alleged money laundering, theft of taxpayer funds and corruption, totaling an estimated U.S. $17 billion. Adani family members allegedly cooperated to create offshore shell entities in tax-haven jurisdictions like Mauritius, the UAE, and Caribbean Islands, generating forged import/export documentation in an apparent effort to generate fake or illegitimate turnover and to siphon money from the listed companies.

Gautam Adani’s younger brother, Rajesh Adani, was accused by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) of playing a central role in a diamond trading import/export scheme around 2004-2005. The alleged scheme involved the use of offshore shell entities to generate artificial turnover. Rajesh was arrested at least twice over separate allegations of forgery and tax fraud. He was subsequently promoted to serve as Managing Director of Adani Group.

Gautam Adani’s brother-in-law, Samir Vora, was accused by the DRI of being a ringleader of the same diamond trading scam and of repeatedly making false statements to regulators. He was subsequently promoted to Executive Director of the critical Adani Australia division.

Gautam Adani’s elder brother, Vinod Adani, has been described by media as “an elusive figure”. He has regularly been found at the center of the government’s investigations into Adani for his alleged role in managing a network of offshore entities used to facilitate fraud.

Our research, which included downloading and cataloguing the entire Mauritius corporate registry, has uncovered that Vinod Adani, through several close associates, manages a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities.

We have identified 38 Mauritius shell entities controlled by Vinod Adani or close associates. We have identified entities that are also surreptitiously controlled by Vinod Adani in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore, and several Caribbean Islands.

Many of the Vinod Adani-associated entities have no obvious signs of operations, including no reported employees, no independent addresses or phone numbers and no meaningful online presence. Despite this, they have collectively moved billions of dollars into Indian Adani publicly listed and private entities, often without required disclosure of the related party nature of the deals.

We have also uncovered rudimentary efforts seemingly designed to mask the nature of some of the shell entities. For example, 13 websites were created for Vinod Adani-associated entities; many were suspiciously formed on the same days, featuring only stock photos, naming no actual employees and listing the same set of nonsensical services, such as “consumption abroad” and “commercial presence”.

The Vinod-Adani shells seem to serve several functions, including (1) stock parking / stock manipulation (2) and laundering money through Adani’s private companies onto the listed companies’ balance sheets in order to maintain the appearance of financial health and solvency.

Publicly listed companies in India are subject to rules that require all promoter holdings (known as insider holdings in the U.S.) to be disclosed. Rules also require that listed companies have at least 25% of the float held by non-promoters in order to mitigate manipulation and insider trading. 4 of Adani’s listed companies are on the brink of the delisting threshold due to high promoter ownership.

Our research indicates that offshore shells and funds tied to the Adani Group comprise many of the largest “public” (i.e., non-promoter) holders of Adani stock, an issue that would subject the Adani companies to delisting, were Indian securities regulator SEBI’s rules enforced.

Many of the supposed “public” funds exhibit flagrant irregularities such as being (1) Mauritius or offshore-based entities, often shells (2) with beneficial ownership concealed via nominee directors (3) and with little to no diversification, holding portfolios almost exclusively consisting of shares in Adani listed companies.

Right to Information (RTI) requests we filed with SEBI confirm that the offshore funds are the subjects of an ongoing investigation, more than a year-and-a-half after concerns were initially raised by media and members of parliament.

A former trader for Elara, an offshore fund with almost $3 billion in concentrated holdings of Adani shares, including a fund that is ~99% concentrated in shares of Adani, told us that it is obvious that Adani controls the shares. He explained that the funds are intentionally structured to conceal their ultimate beneficial ownership.

Leaked emails show that the CEO of Elara worked on deals with Dharmesh Doshi, a fugitive accountant who worked closely on stock manipulation deals with Ketan Parekh, an infamous Indian market manipulator. The emails indicate that the CEO of Elara worked with Doshi on stock deals after he evaded arrest and was widely known as a fugitive.

Another firm called Monterosa Investment Holdings controls 5 supposedly independent funds that collectively hold over INR 360 billion (U.S. $4.5 billion) in shares of listed Adani companies, according to Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) data and Indian exchange data.

Monterosa’s Chairman and CEO served as director in 3 companies alongside a fugitive diamond merchant who allegedly stole U.S. $1 billion before fleeing India. Vinod Adani’s daughter married the fugitive diamond merchant’s son.

A once-related party entity of Adani invested heavily in one of the Monterosa funds that allocated to Adani Enterprises and Adani Power, according to corporate records, drawing a clear line between the Adani Group and the suspect offshore funds.

Another Cyprus-based entity called New Leaina Investments until June-September 2021 owned over U.S. $420 million in Adani Green Energy shares, comprising ~95% of its portfolio. Parliamentary records show it was (and may still be) a shareholder of other Adani listed entities.

New Leaina is operated by incorporation services firm Amicorp, which has worked extensively to aid Adani in developing its offshore entity network. Amicorp formed at least 7 Adani promoter entities, at least 17 offshore shells and entities associated with Vinod Adani, and at least 3 Mauritius-based offshore shareholders of Adani stock.

Amicorp played a key role in the 1MDB international fraud scandal that resulted in U.S. $4.5 billion being siphoned from Malaysian taxpayers. Amicorp established ‘investment funds’ for the key perpetrators that were “simply a way to wash a client’s money through what looked like a mutual fund”, according to the book Billion Dollar Whale, which reported on the scandal.

‘Delivery volume’ is a unique daily data point that reports institutional investment flows. Our analysis found that offshore suspected stock parking entities accounted for up to 30%-47% of yearly ‘delivery volume’ in several Adani listed companies, a flagrant irregularity indicating that Adani stocks have likely been subject to ‘wash trading’ or other forms of manipulative trading via the suspect offshore entities.

Evidence of stock manipulation in Adani listed companies shouldn’t come as a surprise. SEBI has investigated and prosecuted more than 70 entities and individuals over the years, including Adani promoters, for pumping Adani Enterprises’ stock.

A 2007 SEBI ruling stated that “the charges leveled against promoters of Adani that they aided and abetted Ketan Parekh entities in manipulating the scrip of Adani stand proved”. Ketan Parekh is perhaps India’s most notorious stock market manipulator. Adani Group entities originally received bans for their roles, but those were later reduced to fines, a show of government leniency toward the Group that has become a decades-long pattern.

Per the 2007 investigation, 14 Adani private entities transferred shares to entities controlled by Parekh, who then engaged in blatant market manipulation. Adani Group responded to SEBI by arguing that it had dealt with Ketan Parekh to finance the start of its operations at Mundra port, seemingly suggesting that share sales via stock manipulation somehow constitutes a legitimate form of financing.

As part of our investigation, we interviewed an individual who was banned from trading on Indian markets for stock manipulation via Mauritius-based funds. He told us that he knew Ketan Parekh personally, and that little has changed, explaining “all the previous clients are still loyal to Ketan and are still working with Ketan”.

In addition to using offshore capital to park stock, we found numerous examples of offshore shells sending money through onshore private Adani companies onto listed public Adani companies.

The funds then seem to be used to engineer Adani’s accounting (whether by bolstering its reported profit or cash flows), cushioning its capital balances in order to make listed entities appear more creditworthy, or simply moved back out to other parts of the Adani empire where capital is needed.

We also identified numerous undisclosed related party transactions by both listed and private companies, seemingly an open and repeated violation of Indian disclosure laws.

In one instance, a Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity with no signs of substantive operations lent INR 11.71 billion (U.S. ~$253 million at that time) to a private Adani entity which did not disclose it as being a related party loan. The private entity subsequently lent funds to listed entities, including INR 9.84 billion (U.S. $138 million at more recent substantially lower exchange rates) to Adani Enterprises.

Another Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity called Emerging Market Investment DMCC lists no employees on LinkedIn, has no substantive online presence, has announced no clients or deals, and is based out of an apartment in the UAE. It lent U.S. $1 billion to an Adani Power subsidiary.

This offshore shell network also seems to be used for earnings manipulation. For example, we detail a series of transactions where assets were transferred from a subsidiary of listed Adani Enterprises to a private Singaporean entity controlled by Vinod Adani, without disclosure of the related party nature of these deals. Once on the books of the private entity, the assets were almost immediately impaired, likely helping the public entity avoid a material write-down and negative impact to net income.

Adani Group’s obvious accounting irregularities and sketchy dealings seem to be enabled by virtually non-existent financial controls. Listed Adani companies have seen sustained turnover in the Chief Financial Officer role. For example, Adani Enterprises has had 5 chief financial officers over the course of 8 years, a key red flag indicating potential accounting issues.

The independent auditor for Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas is a tiny firm called Shah Dhandharia. Shah Dhandharia seems to have no current website. Historical archives of its website show that it had only 4 partners and 11 employees. Records show it pays INR 32,000 (U.S. $435 in 2021) in monthly office rent. The only other listed entity we found that it audits has a market capitalization of about INR 640 million (U.S. $7.8 million).

Shah Dhandharia hardly seems capable of complex audit work. Adani Enterprises alone has 156 subsidiaries and many more joint ventures and affiliates, for example. Further, Adani’s 7 key listed entities collectively have 578 subsidiaries and have engaged in a total of 6,025 separate related-party transactions in fiscal year 2022 alone, per BSE disclosures.

The audit partners at Shah Dhandharia who respectively signed off on Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas’ annual audits were as young as 24 and 23 years old when they began approving the audits. They were essentially fresh out of school, hardly in a position to scrutinize and hold to account the financials of some of the largest companies in the country, run by one of its most powerful individuals.

Gautam Adani has claimed in an interview to “have a very open mind towards criticism…Every criticism gives me an opportunity to improve myself.” Despite these claims, Adani has repeatedly sought to have critical journalists or commentators jailed or silenced through litigation, using his immense power to pressure the government and regulators to pursue those who question him.

We believe the Adani Group has been able to operate a large, flagrant fraud in broad daylight in large part because investors, journalists, citizens and even politicians have been afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal.

We have included 88 questions in the conclusion of our report. If Gautam Adani truly embraces transparency, as he claims, they should be easy questions to answer. We look forward to Adani’s response.

Click here to read the complete report

Sri Lanka: Ramifications of Sheer Negligence

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Liberal Democrats leader and MP for Surbiton, Edward Jonathan Davey, recently urged British Premier Rishi Sunak’s government to follow Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau on the Sri Lanka war crimes issue. Obviously, Davey was referring to the unprecedented unilateral Canadian sanctions, recently imposed on former Presidents, Mahinda Rajapaksa (Nov. 2005-Jan. 2015) and Gotabaya Rajapaksa (2019 – Nov.-2022 July).

The occasion was what the Tamil Guardian called a night of festive celebration, musical performances and classical dance, in Central Hall, in Westminster, to celebrate Thai Pongal and Tamil heritage month. The event was described as a joint effort by the British Tamil community.

The Tamil Guardian quoted Ed Davey as having declared that the Canadian decision to impose sanctions on the Rajapaksa brothers was ‘absolutely right’ and that ‘the time for fine words has gone.’

The World Tamil Historic Society, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, Tamils for Labour, Tamil Coordinating Committee, British Tamil Chamber of Commerce, and British Tamil Conservatives, contributed to the event.

As a result of sheer negligence, Sri Lanka has ended up being categorized as a perpetrator of war crimes, and those who had fought for the country are mercilessly targeted. There cannot be a better example than Air Marshal Sumangala Dias who suffered due to Sri Lanka’s failure. Canada refused to accept Dias as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner though the former Sri Lanka Air Force Commander has never been under human rights scrutiny. Subsequently, the government proposed Dias as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Italy. That move, too, failed. Italy, as a member state of the EU, pursuing war crimes accusations against Sri Lanka, declined to accept the retired SLAF Chief. The Foreign Ministry should accept responsibility for its failure to brief the inept political leadership of the stand taken by Canada and Italy on this issue. In spite of knowing what would be the outcome, the Foreign Ministry allowed the normal process to go ahead. At the end, both Canada and Italy declined to accept the retired Air Chief.

In fact, the Darusman report could have been used to counter lies. If acknowledged the discrepancy in the number of deaths caused during the final phase of the conflict. Darusman on the basis of unnamed sources alleged 40,000 deaths during Jan-May 2009 whereas the UN mission in Colombo on the basis of records made available by ICRC, hospitals et al reported between 7,000 and 8,000 deaths between August 2008 and May 2009.

There shouldn’t be any issue over the celebration of Thai Pongal, Tamil heritage month, as well as the contribution the Tamil community made to British society, with the participation of British politicians.

British politicians, at such events, reflected the importance of the British Tamils, of Sri Lankan origin, as a significant vote bank.

The Westminster event was attended by several senior representatives of political parties, including Chairman of the Conservative Party, Nadhim Zahawi. The event reiterated commitment of all stakeholders, for justice and accountability.

Labour MP for Eastham, Stephen Timms, too, urged the British government to impose sanctions on individuals who, the British knew, were responsible for war crimes. The MP underscored the need for an ‘independent, international investigation’ in the absence of a domestic reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.

Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer, sent video messages, appreciating the contribution made by the British Tamil community.

In the wake of the UK MPs’ demand for sanctions on Sri Lanka, Foreign Secretary, Aruni Wijewardane, received UK’s Permanent Under Secretary of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Sir Philip Barton, at the Foreign Ministry, in Colombo, on January 17. A lengthy statement, issued by the Foreign Ministry, described the discussion as a constructive bilateral engagement in the 75th year of UK-SL diplomatic relations. The visiting official was accompanied by British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Sarah Hulton.

The media release didn’t indicate whether Sri Lanka will take up the contentious accountability issue, as the UK spearheads the high profile campaign against Sri Lanka. Therefore, the writer rationally ascertained that no other matter had been taken up at the discussion.

With the Canadian declaration that the Rajapaksa brothers, during Eelam War IV (2006-2009), perpetrated ‘gross and systematic violations of human rights,’ the campaign against Sri Lanka has entered a new phase.

The international media quoted Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mélanie Joly, as having said that they took decisive action to end international impunity against violators of international law. The Canadian measures, include travel bans and asset freezes.

The latest action should be examined against the backdrop of the Canadian Parliament recognizing Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka.

Over 14 years, after the successful conclusion of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka is yet to counter lies. The failure on the part of successive governments to defend wartime political and military leaderships has facilitated the Western agenda. Sri Lanka’s bankruptcy has accelerated their despicable agenda.

Successive inept and treacherous Sri Lankan governments, and its often much compromised diplomatic service, never made a genuine attempt to set the record straight in Geneva, New York or Washington. In fact, they cooperated with those who propagated lies by conveniently failing to properly address issues at hand. Sri Lanka seemed determined not to defend its war against the LTTE, one of the half a dozen terrorist groups, formed by India.

Canada and the UK are not interested in inquiring into the origins of terrorism here. They do not care about the Tamils, who died in the hands of the Indian Army, during its deployment in the then temporarily merged Northern and Eastern Provinces. The loss of 1,300 officers, and men, and injuries suffered by more than double that figure in combat, during the period, 1987-1990, revealed the ferocity of fighting between one-time guardians of Sri Lankan terrorists and their ‘students.’

There had been numerous excesses and reprisals but such strategies were definitely not Indian policy at that time, but what happens in most wars. These Western paragons of virtue, what did their forces do, across the world, during the colonial past, and how do their law enforcers behave to this day, especially against blacks, natives in Canada, Australia and America.

Post-war national reconciliation hindered

During the war, there had been many excesses. The Sri Lankan military cannot, under any circumstances deny that fact. However, that hadn’t been the government policy. Unfortunately, in the absence of a cohesive strategy, Sri Lanka remains accused of genocide, and the recent Canadian actions meant that the two Presidents were now categorized as war criminals.

But the billion dollar question is where is the justice for far greater war crimes, committed by the West, in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc. Easily, more than a million innocent civilians would have perished by now, in these countries, because of those endless wars, fermented by the West on trumped up, or purely frivolous excuses, like Saddam Hussein is having weapons of mass destruction, or Gaddafi is butchering his own people, while everyone knew that a man like Saddam should be given a prize for keeping a divided nation, like Iraq, in one piece, or that Gaddafi was one of the most benevolent leaders in the entire world.

Foreign Minister, Ali Sabry, PC, in response to a query raised by the writer, at a Foreign Ministry media briefing, last year, said that sanctions had been imposed on entire fighting divisions. That was months before the categorization of the two Presidents as war criminals.

It would be a grave mistake, on the part of the Western community, to believe humiliation of the military would help post-war national reconciliation. On one hand, the Western community wants the Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) abolished, the remaining terror suspects released, and a one-time political arm of the vanquished LTTE, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) political demands met. On the other hand, the grouping wants the military punished on unsubstantiated war crimes allegations. Canadian measures are in line with that despicable strategy.

The Sri Lanka Parliament, as the supreme institution, should be ashamed of its pathetic response to the Western war crimes campaign. Sri Lanka has conveniently failed, at least to remind the Western community how R. Sampanthan’s TNA served the LTTE interests by declaring terrorist leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people.

The TNA bestowed that honour, on the LTTE, in 2001. The Sri Lankan military restored the TNA as the principal political group in the Northern and Eastern provinces, after the elimination of the LTTE, militarily, in May 2009.

Instead of recognizing Sri Lanka’s achievement, the Western community has targeted Sri Lanka, basically for two reasons, namely (1) Colombo’s relationship with China and (11) the Diaspora factor.

Actually, Sri Lanka never had a strategy to counter lies. That is the undeniable truth. Incumbent UN Chief Antonio Guterres’s predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, once compared the Vanni offensive with that of Ruwanda and Serbia genocides in the 1990s. Former UN Secretary General, South Korean Ki-moon played his part to facilitate the Western agenda, in spite of his own mission, in Colombo, contradicting unsubstantiated accusations.

How SL facilitated Western strategy

Sri Lanka never made use of a golden opportunity, given by British Lord Naseby, in Oct. 2017, to prepare a solid defence of the armed forces. His stunning revelation, in the House of Lords, two years after Sri Lanka, under the shameful Yahapalana regime, co-sponsored accountability resolution against our own country, at the Geneva Human Rights Council, exposed the British duplicity.

On the basis of hitherto confidential dispatches from the British High Commission, in Colombo, during the last phase of the war – January-May 2009, the Conservative politician contradicted the very basis of the three-member UN Darusman report. This report, released on March 31, 2011, had been the primary reason for the 2015 accountability resolution that faulted the Sri Lanka Army.

The World War II fighter pilot fought a near three-year battle with the British administration to secure the confidential dispatches and was finally able to obtain a highly redacted version, to contradict the lies, in the second week of Oct. 2017. Although the then Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC, in his address to the UNHRC, made a reference to Lord Naseby’s revelations, Sri Lanka never requested Geneva to examine the British dispatches.

The author of British dispatches, Lt. Col. Anthony Gash, has never challenged the authenticity of heavily censored dispatches, disclosed by Lord Naseby.

Sri Lanka, in June 2011, squandered a similar opportunity to make a strong case for a revisit of the one-sided Darusman report. The then US Defence Advisor, in Colombo, Lt. Col. Lawrence Smith, quite convincingly defended the Sri Lanka Army, at the 2011 Colombo Defence Seminar. The American contradicted unsubstantiated allegations, raised by a retired Indian Major General Ashok K. Metha, formerly of the infamous IPKF. Lt. Col. Smith must have made that declaration, based on information available to the US Embassy, in Colombo, as well as other dispatches from the war zone. And, most importantly, the American officer made the declaration within three months after the releasing of the Darusman report. Sri Lanka never used British and American dispatches in her defence.

Western powers continue to harass Sri Lanka on the basis of unsubstantiated war crimes accusations Geneva moves to further investigate Sri Lanka should be challenged as the previous accusations, that led to the 2015 Geneva resolution, remained uninvestigated.

According to the Darusman report (paragraph 23: Confidentiality of the Panel’s records), the accusations cannot be examined till 2031. This strange stipulation has a further clause stating that the time bar could be extended for a further period. We must be the only country not allowed to examine specific accusations, directed at its armed forces. Successive governments never took the entire gamut of issues, into consideration, before making representations, on behalf of the country.

The incumbent Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa administration is no exception. In spite of repeated vows to defend the armed forces, the previous Gotabaya Rajapaksa-led government pathetically failed in its duty and responsibility.

Sri Lanka’s handling of accusations, relating to the Mannar mass graves, during the Yahapalana administration, revealed how the Foreign and Defence Ministries neglected their responsibilities. But even after the change of government, in the wake of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory at the 2019 presidential poll, Sri Lanka did nothing to change the strategy.

The Mannar mass grave lie was contradicted by a reputed Miami-based laboratory. It cleared the war-winning Sri Lanka Army of any responsibility for extra-judicial killings there. The independent carbon testing report, from the internationally recognized US laboratory, concluded that the victims likely died up to 615 years ago — predating even the first European colonization of the country by the Portuguese.

Sri Lanka’s Office on Missing Persons (OMP) funded the tests on the remains to determine whether the victims were killed, during the conflict.

But, by then, Geneva has directly blamed Sri Lanka for the Mannar Sathosa ground mass graves. The then Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, audaciously went to the extent of referring to the Mannar mass grave site, in her annual report (section 23), submitted to the UNHRC. The following is the relevant section: “On May 29, 2018, human skeletal remains were discovered at a construction site in Mannar (Northern Province), Excavations conducted in support of the Office on Missing Persons, revealed a mass grave from which more than 300 skeletons were discovered. It was the second mass grave found in Mannar, following the discovery of a site, in 2014. Given that other mass graves might be expected to be found in the future, systematic access to grave sites by the Office, as an observer, is crucial for it to fully discharge its mandate, particularly with regard to the investigation and identification of remains, it is imperative that the proposed reforms on the law relating to inquests, and relevant protocols to operationalize the law be adopted. The capacity of the forensic sector must also be strengthened, including in areas of forensic anthropology, forensic archaeology and genetics, and its coordination with the Office of Missing Persons must be ensured.”

Geneva never expected the US report on Mannar mass graves to go against its strategy. The TNA, too, reacted as expected. The one-time LTTE ally never expected the US report to contradict high profile allegations. Colombo based diplomats, and foreign officials, visited the scene ,as interested parties propagated lies.

On behalf of the TNA, a lawmaker, representing the Vanni region, has called for a fresh testing in another lab in some other country. Our Vavuniya correspondent, Dinasena Ratugamage, quoted Mullaitivu District MP Nirmalanathan Sivamohan as having said: “This is not to say that we do not accept the reports sent by a lab in Florida, US, but given the importance of the Mannar grave site we need to get a second opinion.”

There were many other developments ranging from a spate of WikiLeaks revelations to political decisions that exposed the Western strategy. But, perhaps the irreversible defence of the military was provided by the Tamil community, living in the Northern and Eastern electoral districts, at the 2010 presidential election. The war-winning General Sarath Fonseka, in spite of suffering massive defeat in the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa, comfortably won all predominately The Tamil speaking electoral districts, in those provinces, despite the TNA and the Tamil Diaspora, having accused him and his Army of committing war crimes. The Tamil community overwhelmingly responded to the TNA’s call to vote for Fonseka, who contested as the common candidate, fielded by the UNP-led alliance that included the JVP.

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka never bothered to officially take up this development to counter propaganda. Even if the TNA asked for the Tamil community to vote for Fonseka, the electorate wouldn’t have overwhelmingly done so unless it was convinced the eradication of the LTTE was a necessity.

When the People Have Nothing More to Eat, They Will Eat the Rich

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On 8 January, large crowds of people dressed in colours of the Brazilian flag descended on the country’s capital, Brasília. They invaded federal buildings, including the Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace, and vandalised public property. The attack, carried out by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, came as no surprise, since the rioters had been planning ‘weekend demonstrations’ on social media for days. When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula) was formally sworn in as Brazil’s new president one week prior, on 1 January, there was no such melee; it appears that the vandals were waiting until the city was quiet and Lula was out of town. For all its bluster, the attack was an act of extreme cowardice.

Meanwhile, the defeated Bolsonaro was nowhere near Brasília. He fled Brazil prior to the inauguration – presumably to escape prosecution – and sought haven in Orlando, Florida (in the United States). Even though Bolsonaro was not in Brasília, the Bolsonaristas, as his supporters are known, left their mark throughout the city. Even before Bolsonaro lost the election to Lula this past October, Le Monde Diplomatique Brasil suggested that Brazil was going to experience ‘Bolsonarism without Bolsonaro’. This prediction is supported by the fact that the far-right Liberal Party, which served as Bolsonaro’s political vehicle during his presidency, holds the largest bloc in the country’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate, while the toxic influence of the right wing persists both in Brazil’s elected bodies and political climate, especially on social media.

The two men responsible for public safety in Brasília – Anderson Torres (the secretary of public security of the Federal District) and Ibaneis Rocha (the governor of the Federal District) – are close to Bolsonaro. Torres served as the minister of justice and public security in Bolsonaro’s government, while Rocha formally supported Bolsonaro during the election. As the Bolsonaristas prepared their assault on the capital, both men appeared to have abdicated their responsibilities: Torres was on holiday in Orlando, while Rocha took the afternoon off on the last working day before the coup attempt. For this complicity in the violence, Torres has been dismissed from his post and faces charges, and Rocha has been suspended. The federal government has taken charge of security and arrested over a thousand of these ‘fanatic Nazis’, as Lula called them. There is a good case to be made that these ‘fanatic Nazis’ do not deserve amnesty.

The slogans and signs that pervaded Brasília on 8 January were less about Bolsonaro and more about the rioters’ hatred for Lula and the potential of his pro-people government. This sentiment is shared by big business sectors – mainly agribusiness – which are furious about the reforms proposed by Lula. The attack was partly the result of the built-up frustration felt by people who have been led, by intentional misinformation campaigns and the use of the judicial system to unseat the Lula’s party, the Workers’ Party (PT), through ‘lawfare’, to believe that Lula is a criminal – even though the courts have ruled this to be false. It was also a warning from Brazil’s elites. The unruly nature of the attack on Brasília resembles the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former US President Donald Trump. In both cases, far-right illusions, whether about the dangers of the ‘socialism’ of US President Joe Biden or the ‘communism’ of Lula, symbolise the hostile opposition of the elites to even the mildest rollback of neoliberal austerity. 

The attacks on government offices in the United States (2021) and Brazil (2023), as well as the recent coup in Peru (2022), are not random events; beneath them is a pattern that requires examination. At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we have been engaged in this study since our founding five years ago. In our first publication, In the Ruins of the Present (March 2018), we offered a preliminary analysis of this pattern, which I will develop further below.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Third World Project withered as a result of the debt crisis, the US-driven agenda of neoliberal globalisation prevailed. This programme was characterised by the state’s withdrawal from the regulation of capital and by the erosion of social welfare policies. The neoliberal framework had two major consequences: first, a rapid increase in social inequality, with the growth of billionaires at one pole and the growth of poverty at the other, along with an exacerbation of inequality along North-South lines; and second, the consolidation of a ‘centrist’ political force that pretended that history, and therefore politics, had ended, leaving only administration (which in Brazil is well-named as centrão, or the ‘centre’) remaining. Most countries around the world fell victim to both the neoliberal austerity agenda and this ‘end of politics’ ideology, which became increasingly anti-democratic, making the case for technocrats to be in charge. However, these austerity policies, cutting close to the bone of humanity, created their own new politics on the streets, a trend that was foreshadowed by the IMF riots and bread riots of the 1980s and later coalesced into the ‘anti-globalisation’ protests. The US-driven globalisation agenda produced new contradictions that belied the argument that politics had ended. 

The Great Recession that set in with the global financial crisis of 2007–08 increasingly invalidated the political credentials of the ‘centrists’ who had managed the austerity regime. The World Inequality Report 2022 is an indictment of neoliberalism’s legacy. Today, wealth inequality is as bad as it was in the early years of the twentieth century: on average, the poorest half of the world’s population owns just $4,100 per adult (in purchasing power parity), while the richest 10 percent owns $771,300 – roughly 190 times as much wealth. Income inequality is equally harsh, with the richest 10 percent absorbing 52 percent of world income, leaving the poorest 50 percent with merely 8.5 percent of world income. It gets worse if you look at the ultra-rich. Between 1995 and 2021, the wealth of the top one percent grew astronomically, capturing 38 percent of global wealth while the bottom 50 percent only ‘captured a frightening two percent’, the authors of the report write. During the same period, the share of global wealth owned by the top 0.1 percent rose from 7 percent to 11 percent. This obscene wealth – largely untaxed – provides this tiny fraction of the world’s population with a disproportionate amount of power over political life and information and increasingly squeezes the ability of the poor to survive.

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report (January 2023) forecasts that, at the end of 2024, gross domestic product (GDP) in 92 of the world’s poorer countries will be 6 percent below the level expected on the eve of the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2024, these countries are projected to suffer a cumulative loss in GDP equal to roughly 30 percent of their 2019 GDP. As central banks in the richest countries tighten their monetary policies, capital for investment in the poorer nations is drying up and the cost of debts already held has increased. Total debt in these poorer countries, the World Bank notes, ‘is at a 50-year high’. Roughly one in five of these countries are ‘effectively locked out of global debt markets’, up from one in fifteen in 2019. All of these countries – excluding China – ‘suffered an especially sharp investment contraction of more than 8 percent’ during the pandemic, ‘a deeper decline than in 2009’, in the throes of the Great Recession. The report estimates that aggregate investment in these countries will be 8 percent lower in 2024 than had been expected in 2020. Faced with this reality, the World Bank offers the following prognosis: ‘Sluggish investment weakens the rate of growth of potential output, reducing the capacity of economies to increase median incomes, promote shared prosperity, and repay debts’. In other words, the poorer nations will slide deeper into a debt crisis and into a permanent condition of social distress. 

The World Bank has sounded the alarm, but the forces of ‘centrism’ – beholden to the billionaire class and the politics of austerity – simply refuse to pivot away from the neoliberal catastrophe. If a leader of the centre-left or left tries to wrench their country out of persistent social inequality and polarised wealth distribution, they face the wrath of not merely the ‘centrists’, but the wealthy bondholders in the North, the International Monetary Fund, and the Western states. When Pedro Castillo won the presidency in Peru in July 2021, he was not permitted to pursue even a Scandinavian form of social democracy; the coup machinations against him began before he was inaugurated. The civilised politics that would end hunger and illiteracy are simply not permitted by the billionaire class, who spend vast amounts of money on think tanks and media to undermine any project of decency and fund the dangerous forces of the far right, who shift the blame for social chaos away from the tax-free ultra-rich and the capitalist system and onto the poor and marginalised.

The hallucinatory insurrection in Brasília emerged from the same dynamic that produced the coup in Peru: a process in which ‘centrist’ political forces are funded and brought to power in the Global South to ensure that their own citizens remain at the rear of the queue, while the wealthy tax-free bondholders of the Global North remain at the front.  On the barricades of Paris on 14 October 1793, Pierre Gaspard Chaumette, the president of the Paris Commune who himself fell to the guillotine to which he sent many others, quoted these fine words from Jean-Jacques Rousseau: ‘When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich’.

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