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Independence and Fraternity – A thought on Sri Lanka’s independence day

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Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Thomas Paine

Independence Day in Sri Lanka has now both a national and an international connotation.

It is indeed curious that the 4th of February each year marks the commemoration of Sri Lanka’s independence which Sri Lanka achieved from the ruling British Raj in 1948 and The International Day for Human Fraternity, which was the collective initiative of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 2021.   The United Nations Resolution which adopted The International Day for Human Fraternity – which was co sponsored by 34 Member States of the United Nations – expressed deep concern for acts that advocate religious hatred and undermine the spirit of tolerance and recognized “ the valuable contributions of people of all religions and beliefs to humanity and underlines the role of education in promoting tolerance and eliminating discrimination based on religion or belief. It commends all international, regional, national, and local initiatives and efforts by religious leaders to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue”.

In recent times many significant attempts have been made by the religious leaders of Sri Lanka to eliminate discrimination based on religion or belief. Tolerance, recognition and respect for the Christian faith has been nobly demonstrated by the members of the Buddhist clergy and this recognition has been reciprocated by the Christian church leaders, thus bringing together a collective rejection of religious and cultural bigotry.  Both Buddhism and Christianity have commonalities, as was said by James Fredericks of Loyola Marymount University: “Practices that Buddhism and Catholicism have in common include monasticism and clerical celibacy, meditation and chanting (we call it the “rosary”). Catholics have lots of devotions. Buddhists also like devotional practices. We should teach each other about the Blessed Virgin and Kannon Bosatsu”. Pope Francis in 2020  called  on Catholics to “reach out to those who follow other religious paths” encouraging Catholics to enter into what he calls a “dialogue of fraternity” that is calculated to work together in the wider community to promote the common good and human flourishing.

One instance that brought to bear this empathetic trend was seen in   the aftermath of the Easter Sunday devastation on 21 April 2019 caused in three churches in Sri Lanka, as well as in  three luxury hotels in the commercial capital, Colombo.  More than 100 people were killed in the three churches as well as  39 tourists outside.  In a rare gesture of fraternity Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim leaders joined the commemoration of the destruction on Easter Sunday at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, where they offered prayers and observed a two-minute silence to remember the dead.  Monsignor Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo said:”“ Catholics of Sri Lanka should play an active role, along with other religious communities, in creating a united country, giving space and respect to different ethnicities, faiths and political organizations”. Two years after the bombing, on Easter Sunday during Mass, Cardinal Ranjith is reported to have said: “ “Today Holy Father Pope Francis has visited Iraq and has had a discussion with the Shia leaders (in Iran). It shows religious leaders in the world think about unity and brotherhood, not about creating strife. Therefore, I request anyone inclined to create conflict on account of religion to give up that idea”.

Another significant milestone in the demonstration of fraternity was seen politically where, irrespective of religion or ethnic background, thousands of Sri Lankans demonstrated peacefully in what was called “ Aragalaya” in 2022 – an independent and collective effort of people power without visible single leadership – which forced the political leadership of Sri Lanka to vacate office.  The Aragalaya was a signal combination of the independence of the citizen demonstrated with abiding fraternity. The thousands of youth and elders invoked   what is now called “collective leadership” – a form of leadership that has become a trend where multiple individuals exercise their leadership roles within a group whereafter the entire group collectively provides  group leadership to the entire populace involved in protesting. Collective leadership has been further explained by David Trafford, Co-author of Beyond Default and Managing Director of Formicio, a strategy and change management consultancy, and Peter Boggis, Co-author of Beyond Default “It’s a fluid and flexible approach to leadership, where roles and resultant accountabilities evolve in response to changing circumstances”.

Aragalaya brought to bear the true meaning of independence of the people and was pursued by all without racial, religious and ethnic barriers. The protesters gave a valuable lesson in the context of the words pertaining to the extinguishing of impressions created by the flaws of constitutional democracy.  When they fought for removal of the existing leadership, the argument given by the rulers was that leadership could be changed only through a constitutional process which allowed the leadership to remain for a couple of years more.  The implication was that the people had no independence to summarily throw out an unacceptable regime. The attempt to kill the principles of the protesters by the argument seemingly based on democracy was obviated by the protesters who showed collective strength of the principle “salus populi est suprema lex” (the welfare of the populace is the supreme law). The Aragalaya has also did something very significant and valuable for Sri Lanka and its present and future generations: it finally put to rest the perceived implacability of the so-called democracy and parliamentary process behind which mendacious leaders take solace.  The protesters exposed  this fallacy and demonstrated their true independence.

True independence of the nation (people) was eloquently  elaborated by the Hon. D.S. Senanayake, then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka when the Union Jack was finally lowered to make way for the Lion flag on 4 February 1948: “Freedom carries with it grave responsibilities. Our acts and omissions henceforth are our own. No longer can we lay the blame for defects and errors in our administration on others. It is, therefore, the duty of every citizen of Lanka to grasp this opportunity and to strive and toil willingly for advancing the happiness and prosperity of the country. Our nation comprises many races, each with a culture and a history of its own. It is for us to blend all that is best in us, and to set ourselves with the resolute will to build up that high quality, and to join with the other nations of the world in establishing peace, security and justice for all peoples.”

If this isn’t a testimony to independence and fraternity and their symbiosis, nothing else is.

Writing About a Joy That Invades Jenin

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Israel calls its latest military campaign Operation Break the Wave, a lyrical description of a brutal reality. This year, 2023, will be the seventy-fifth year after the Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948 when Israeli troops illegally removed Palestinians from their homes and tried to erase Palestine from the map. Since then, Palestinians have resisted against all odds, despite Israel’s formidable backing by the most powerful countries in the world, led by the United States.

Operation Break the Wave started in February 2022 with the assassination of three Palestinians in Nablus (Adham Mabrouka, Ashraf Mubaslat, and Mohammad Dakhil) and continued with terrible violence along the spine of the West Bank, spreading into brutalised Gaza. On 26 January 2023, Israeli forces killed ten Palestinians – including an elderly woman – in Jenin and in al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, and then shot at an ambulance to prevent it from assisting the injured – a clear war crime. The Jenin massacre provoked rocket fire from Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza, to which the Israeli Air Force responded disproportionately, shooting at the densely populated al-Maghazi refugee camp in the centre of Gaza. The cycle of violence continued with a lone Palestinian gunman killing seven Israelis in the illegal settlement of Neve Yaakov in East Jerusalem. In reaction to that, the Israeli government has put in place ‘collective punishment’ systems – a violation of the Geneva Conventions – which allows the state to target the gunman’s family members, and the Israeli government will make it easier for Israelis to carry firearms.

The Israeli government launched Operation Break the Wave in response to habbat sha’biyya (‘popular uprisings’) that have begun again across Palestine and express the frustration generated by Israeli pressure campaigns and the near collapse of economic life. Some of these uprisings took place not only in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza where they are more common, but amongst Palestinians living inside the 1948 Green Line of Israel. In May 2021, these protestors gathered under The Dignity and Hope Manifesto and called for new agitations, a ‘united Intifada’ which unites Palestinians in exile, inside Israel, and in the Occupied Territories. These moves and the gains of Palestinians in the United Nations system indicate a new dynamism within Palestinian politics. Most recently, on 31 December 2022, the UN General Assembly voted 87 to 26 to ask the International Court of Justice to provide an opinion on Israel’s ‘prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation of Palestinian territory’. The new phase of Israeli violence against Palestinians is a reaction to their achievements.

In the midst of all this, the Israeli people voted Benjamin Netanyahu into office to form his sixth government since 1996. Already, Netanyahu has been Israel’s prime minister for over fifteen of the past twenty-seven years, as he heads into another seven-year term. His government is fiercely far-right, although from the standpoint of the Palestinians there is steady continuity in Zionist state policy, whether the government is led by the far-right or by less right-wing sections. On 28 December 2022, Netanyahu defined his government’s mission with clarity: ‘The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel – in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan, Judea, and Samaria’.

Netanyahu’s maximalist standard – that the Jewish people, not just the Zionist state, have the right to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – is not something that has appeared precipitously in this government’s statements. It is rooted in Israel’s Basic Law (2018), which says, ‘The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established’. This legal manoeuvre established Israel as the land of Jewish people, not a multinational or multi-ethnic territory. Furthermore, every administrative definition of the ‘State of Israel’ asserts its control over the entire territory. For example, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has, since at least 1967, inaccurately counted any Israeli living to the west of the Jordan River, even in the West Bank, as an Israeli, and official Israeli maps show none of the internal divisions produced by the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Israeli state policy, rooted in a settler-colonial mentality, leaves no room for a Palestinian state. Gaza is throttled, the Bedouins in an-Naqab are being displaced, Palestinians in East Jerusalem are being evicted, and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank are growing like a plague of locusts. Netanyahu’s governmental partner Otzma Yehudit (‘Jewish Strength’) is willing to conduct Palestinicide in order to create a Jewish-only society in the Levant. The promise of Oslo, a two-state solution, is simply no longer factually possible as the Palestinian state is eroded and contained. The idealistic possibility of a binational state – made up of Israel and Palestine with Palestinians given full citizenship rights – is foreclosed by the Zionist insistence that Israel be a Jewish state, an ethnocentric and anti-democratic option that already treats Palestinians as second-class residents in an apartheid society. Instead, Zionism is in favour of a ‘three-state solution’, namely expelling Palestinians to Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.

In 2016, the United States and Israel signed their third ten-year Memorandum of Understanding on military aid, which runs from 2019 to 2028, and under which the US promises to provide Israel with $38 billion for military equipment. This aid is unconditional: nothing in the agreement prevents Israel from using the equipment to violate international law, kill US citizens (as it killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a reporter), or destroy humanitarian projects funded by the US government. Rather than mildly rebuke Israel for its ethnocidal policies, US President Joe Biden welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu, his ‘friend for decades’, to assist the US in confronting illusionary ‘threats from Iran’. Furthermore, just after Netanyahu’s government deepened Operation Break the Wave, the US military arrived in Israel in force to conduct a joint military exercise called Juniper Oak, the ‘largest and most significant exercise we have engaged in’, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder. Backed to the hilt by the US and nonchalant about condemnation from international bodies, the Israeli state continues its fatal project to erase Palestine.

Maya Abu al-Hayyat, a Palestinian poet living in Jerusalem, wrote a beautiful poem called ‘Daydream’, which settles into a rhythm of Palestinian life and geography defined by little towns in the West Bank. There are children playing, women dancing, life where life is denied by an occupation that has lasted for generations and generations, where the screams of the occupied mimic the loud alarm of the Palestine Sunbird, the national bird.

I’ll write about a joy that invades Jenin from six directions,
about children running while holding balloons in Am’ari Camp,
about a fullness that quiets breastfeeding babies all night in Askar,
about a little sea we can stroll up and down in Tulkarem,
about eyes that stare in people’s faces in Balata,
about a woman dancing
for people in line at the checkpoint in Qalandia,
about stitches in the sides of laughing men in Azzoun,
about you and me
stuffing our pockets with seashells and madness
and building a city.

My pockets are filled with rage and hope, an expectation that our struggles of solidarity alongside the Palestinian people will prevail, because the ‘process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible’.

The abuse of the concept of “populism”

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ALL regimes based on class antagonism require a discourse to legitimise class oppression and this discourse in turn requires a vocabulary of its own. The neoliberal regime too has developed its own discourse and vocabulary and a key concept in this vocabulary is “populism”. This concept is given great currency by the media, which is peopled by members drawn from the upper middle class who have been major beneficiaries of the neo-liberal regime and have therefore developed a vested interest in its continuation. So pervasive is the reach of this concept that even well-meaning and progressive members of the literati have fallen victim to its abuse and employ the term with the pejorative connotation typically imparted to it by the corporate-owned media.

The term “populism” of course is not an invention of the neo-liberal intelligentsia. It has been used much earlier but with a meaning very different from what is given to it now. The Russian Narodniks for instance were called “populists” by Russian Marxists, including Lenin, but the term was used to denote the fact that the Narodniks did not make class distinctions within the mass that they indiscriminately called the “people”. The idea was not to discredit the use of the term “people”, for Lenin himself used the term “working people” to denote workers and peasants; it was to avoid the obliteration of distinctions among them which needed to be theoretically drawn. Under neo-liberalism, however, the term is used to refer to any appeal made to any segment of the working people, whether to mobilize them on grounds of religious chauvinism or by making fiscal transfers to them.

The term “populism” in its current use, therefore, covers both fascist and semi-fascist appeals to the people on issues that deliberately camouflage their oppression, as well as all attempts to secure some gains for them to alleviate their oppression. The former is sometimes called “Right-wing populism” while the latter is called “Left-wing populism”. The ideological obfuscation is obvious here: not only is there no class perspective behind the use of the term, but by treating both “Left-wing” and “Right-wing” populism on a par as unwholesome tendencies, there is a privileging of the “middle”, i.e., a liberal bourgeois position as the only “sensible” one. A concept used in a rigorous theoretical critique with regard to the cognition of a mass entity, as was the case with the Russian Marxists, has now been converted into an apotheosis of the liberal bourgeois position.

This is not just a case of obfuscation; it is positively misleading as well. The hallmark of the fascist, neo-fascist and semi-fascist positions that are labelled “Right-wing” populism is that they have nothing to offer by way of economic benefits to the masses. By contrast, what is called “Left-wing” populism demands welfare state measures, and, at the very least, economic transfers to the people; by putting the two on a par and debunking “populism” in general, the dominant discourse essentially debunks all economic transfers to the people. It, therefore, advances a position according to which any economic concessions made to the people must be eschewed and the government’s focus must be entirely on the growth of the GDP; since transfers to the people eat into resources that could have been used for making investments which would have accelerated growth, such transfers are a waste, made under duress only because of electoral compulsions, but otherwise utterly unwise. An extension of this logic is the argument that any attempt on the part of the government to reduce economic inequality in society is also unwise.

This discourse is perfectly in keeping with a neo-liberal regime. Before it was introduced, nobody would have been critical if an agenda of reducing inequality and eliminating poverty had been advanced. In fact, Indira Gandhi won an election on the slogan of Garibi Hatao; of course, she did not do it, but the criticism against her was not that she advanced the slogan but that she did not do it. Amartya Sen had argued long ago that devoting just 5 per cent of GDP would eliminate poverty in India and that the country should do it by foregoing total consumption by an amount equal to just one year’s GDP growth (which was then about 5 per cent per annum). Reduction in inequality and the elimination of poverty were thus considered primary tasks before the economy during the dirigiste period; but not so now, even though there has been a massive increase in income and wealth inequality under the neo-liberal regime. And recourse to the pejorative use of the term “populism” is a means of debunking all such demands for greater egalitarianism, an ideological weapon in the hands of corporate capital and the burgeoning upper middle class to beat down all proposals for economic transfers to the poor.

Prioritising economic growth has always been a feature of bourgeois economics, but with a difference. Adam Smith had argued for the removal of state interference that, he believed, stood in the way of economic growth, even though he knew perfectly well that the benefits of this growth would not come to the working class. In his view an increase in the wealth of the nation was an important goal per se; where he differed from his predecessors was in arguing that this wealth consisted not in the acquisition of gold and silver but in the accumulation of capital stock that could be used for producing goods. David Ricardo too was all for the accumulation of capital stock and hence for the growth of output, even though he knew that there was a limit to such accumulation. (Indeed, Karl Marx had lauded Ricardo for advocating accumulation even though the latter believed that such accumulation would run into a cul-de-sac when what was called a stationary state was reached). Ricardo also believed that the working class would not be benefitted by such accumulation.

The reason why both Smith and Ricardo thought that the working class would not be benefitted by such accumulation is because any improvement in its condition tended to bring forth an increase in its population. The only way that workers could benefit from capital accumulation, therefore, was if they restricted their propensity to procreate. But that was a matter that they alone could influence, though the classical economists were in favour of their becoming better off through restricting their population growth. The classical advocacy of growth however was independent of whether workers benefitted from it.

The current advocacy of growth is different. Nobody today believes that the conditions of the working people are miserable because they procreate too much; nobody believes that their conditions cannot be improved through the efforts of the State by bringing about income transfers in their favour. And yet such transfers are sought to be avoided by neo-liberal bourgeois economists on the grounds that they would jeopardise economic growth. The classical advocacy of growth is taken over by modern neo-liberals, but without the classical economists’ sympathy for the working class. Thus, the bourgeoisie’s class animosity against the working class is now reflected in the attitudes of the economists as well.

The emphasis on growth to the exclusion of economic transfers to the poor, which are sneeringly labelled as “populist measures”, is doubly offensive to the poor. On the one hand it prevents an improvement in their living standard that could have been achieved if the transfers had taken place; on the other hand, the quest for growth invariably involves a number of projects that entail the ousting of peasants and labourers from the land that they cultivate, and of people at large from their habitats, which leaves them even worse off than they were to start with. True, employment is created on such projects and also in downstream activities created by them; but the displaced are scarcely the beneficiaries from such employment generation, and even the employment that is created often falls short of the employment that is destroyed. And rehabilitation of the displaced people that is promised when the project is undertaken is scarcely ever realised. If growth was being effected under the aegis of collectives of the people themselves, through for instance peasant collectives themselves starting industrial projects, then matters would be different; but that is not the way that growth occurs under capitalism.

The debunking of welfare state measures by referring to them pejoratively as “populist”, and emphasising GDP growth exclusively as the objective of state policy, are cynically anti-people; but that is the hallmark of neo-liberalism.

Sri Lanka: End of the Tunnel

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The abuse of official power by the heads of state in Sri Lanka to amass illegal wealth or to allow their cronies to do so, and also to encourage the public representatives elected to legislative bodies such as the Parliament and Provincial Councils to transact trading business with the Government which is contrary to the law, can be considered as the prime origin of state level corruption in Sri Lanka.

So much so, a corrupt policy which allows the cronies of the head of state to earn wealth illegally and also letting the ruling party members of parliament to transact business with the Government against the law while the heads of state themselves are involved in amassing wealth using or rather abusing the enormous power they have, has become a widespread practice in Sri Lanka. The Members of Parliament of any country where a system of democratic governance prevails are not allowed to transact business with the government. It is considered as a serious offense that leads to depriving the person committing the offense of his seat in parliament.

According to the current law of Sri Lanka, transacting business with the government by a member of parliament is considered to be a punishable offense that could result in the deprivation of the seat of the culprit. It is the Soulbury Constitution and not the 2nd Republican Constitution applicable for this subject. Albert Silva, the UNP candidate elected to the Galle constituency at the 1977 general election was deprived of his parliamentary seat by the Court because he possessed a license for distribution of kerosene oil issued by the Petroleum Corporation in his name. President Jayewardene changed the good policies, practices and traditions that had been maintained by the state administration until then, and turned them upside down and maneuvered the power to rule the country into an easy way for the power group of the ruling party including the head of state to amass wealth by unlawful means.

President Jayewardene launched the parade by giving the valuable land owned by the Land Reform Commission to his MPs and his close friends and cronies at a nominal price. In order to dispel any doubt that the MPs might have had about acquiring land against the law, the President himself set a precedent by exchanging a barren coconut estate owned by him for a fertile one belonging to the Land Reform Commission. Along with that, the President also allowed the ruling party MPs to transact business with the Government contrary to the law.

Consequently, the members of the ruling party became government contractors, suppliers or buyers and also the licensed businessmen of the Government.

Although it was illegal for the members of parliament to do so, the President prevented the law from being implemented against them. Forcing the UNP member who represented the Kamburupitiya constituency to resign from the seat and appointing Albert Silva who was deprived of his parliamentary seat by the judiciary, as a chit MP to Kamburupitiya constituency is one example that can be cited to illustrate this fiasco.

Defending the corrupt system

The main opposition of the parliament and the other opposition parties that represented diverse political trends knew that the corrupt tradition introduced by President Jayewardene was contrary to the accepted democratic parliamentary traditions as well as the rule of law.

But strangely no one representing the parliament has uttered a single word in parliament against this corrupt and ugly practice.

Even after some unpleasant and horrible facts pertaining to this situation were disclosed by the recorded phone conversations between the United National Party MP Ranjan Ramanayake and some prominent figures in the country i.e. after the revelation that there are owners of distilleries, owners of taverns, contractors and licensees doing business with the Government among the Members of Parliament surprisingly, none of the political parties or party leaders or members of Parliament has submitted a proposal to investigate this situation which is illegal and has undermined the prestige and the dignity of Parliament.

Why is that? Is the “appalling silence” maintained by all of them in relation to this issue an unfortunate coincidence? Or is it something that should be treated as an inexplicable phenomenon from a political point of view? What have the political parties or the leaders of those parties got to say about it? Why did the Speakers of the Parliament fail to perceive this dreadful and illegal situation as a heinous crime?

Darkness only and no silver linings

At the outset, if at least one MP, not a large group of them had stood up against this ugly and corrupt system it would have become unsustainable. But all or most members of the opposition wanted to see it prevail until they came to power. After getting power, what they did was to add new elements to it thereby making the system stronger than it was and get the maximum advantage of it. Now, 45 years have passed since this corrupt system has been established, but during that long period, no political party, party leader or a Member of Parliament has spoken strongly against MPs doing business with the government which is illegal and contrary to the law.

Apparently there is an interconnection between the MPs doing business with the government and presidents making illegal earnings from public property in their charge. The presidents have traditionally adopted a policy of allowing the members of the ruling party to do business with the government because it has become a necessary condition for the presidents to have the support of the members of the ruling party to acquire wealth for themselves illegally as well as for allowing their cronies to do the same.

Corruption in the country has become an uncontrollable issue due to the fact that the Executive and the Legislature that steer the helm of the country have tended to act on a policy of making undue wealth. The generation of old politicians, almost all of them, in one way or the other, have been a party that has defended the prime source of this corrupt system. As such, a serious or far-reaching change in the subject of corruption cannot be envisaged even if they get the government power. It is unlikely that a completely new group will gain power in the next election. Even if such a group will secure power by something like a sleight of miracle, they do not seem to possess the wisdom and discipline necessary to bring about a tangible transformation. In that sense, Sri Lanka is not in a stage where new hopes can be kindled for a better future, quickly.

The dilemma of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka can be considered as a country that is caught up deeply in a three-pronged crisis: social, political, economic or financial. Another negative aspect of Sri Lanka’s crisis is that many of the things that should have been reformed have now become long overdue, making reforms extremely difficult. In the balance of payments crisis, the IMF was approached only after the country fell bankrupt, not before. It made the ability to overcome the crisis enormously difficult. The need for resolving the national crisis which is primarily centred on the issues of caste, race and religion was contemplated not immediately after concluding the internal civil war, but only after 13 years. The need for restricting the number of employees in the public sector to 700,000, which is the realistic cadre required to maintain it, was seriously thought about only after the number has exceeded the limit of 1,500,000, and not at least before it reached the 1,000,000 mark.

The dire need for eliminating corruption in public service was also contemplated not when the share of income earned by corrupt public servants by corrupt means remained at a level of 10-15% of their income, but only when it has increased to 75 or 100 percent or sometimes even more of their total income. This situation can be described as the biggest dilemma that Sri Lanka has to face in the subject of reforms. Accordingly, Sri Lanka is not in an easy situation to introduce the essential reforms; it is going through a tremendously difficult situation as far as reforms are concerned.

When President Ranil Wickremesinghe invited the other political parties to join a reform program and if those parties were able to reach a common consensus for a reform program leading to a major change in the system and also if they had been successful in making it a public participatory program with an interim constitution being adopted so that no one could change it for narrow and subjective purposes, even under the present circumstances where things have gone too far from solving the problems easily, still it would have been possible to solve the crises to a large extent, though not completely.

But now Sri Lanka is in an unfortunate situation where it has lost that opportunity. The political future of the country is also in a weird situation which is vague, uncertain and chaotic. If the powerful countries extend their help, Sri Lanka will be able to solve the balance of payments crisis sooner or later. But, Sri Lanka and its people will be compelled to live for a long time in the current socio-political environment which is corrupt and unpleasant.

The world’s biggest Tech Show at Las Vegas

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Tech titans and gadget geeks were all at Vegas last week January 5-8, 2023, for CES – The Consumer Electronics Show. It is the premier event of the entire technology eco-system. It is the world’s gathering for the business of consumer technologies and new innovations. Who would doubt that it has to be in “Las Vegas Convention Center”, Nevada, US ofA.

BMW Chairman and CEO, Oliver Zipse was there among many business moguls/ dignitaries, to showcase how the future of mobility by car can merge the real and virtual worlds and present BMW’s vision of the “ultimate digital driving machine”. I leave it to my readers to create rather than elucidate. In this short piece,

Capturing imagination

In a world full of uncertainty and imponderables, it is no longer enough to capture a consumer’s attention, you have to capture the public’s imagination and learn how inventions are winning the hearts and minds of their devoted fans but followers.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we are told the show was extraordinary, From the Robot “Wowwee” Dog, which has one million combinations of lights, sounds and personality traits, displaying texts and emoji’s when it wags it tail, to the colourful cars and fridges which changes colour to match your outfit or mood, BMW’s i-Vision Dee,(which stands for Digital Emotional Experience) the idea is to provide a more personal and customised driving experience, designed to push the boundaries between  physical with the virtual “digital perception” worlds. This so called, “fun model” will arrive in 2025. 

The CES Show, always has something utterly bonkers. This year the slot was reserved exclusively for “Withings U-Scan”, Wi-Fi connected, Urine Analyser, as you sit on your porcelain throne. Results are reported on the App – Alongside. The advert states it is an actionable tip to improve health.

The great thing about CES, in my opinion is discovering “Tech you never knew you needed”. This is shown in L’Oreal’s brilliant at Home Electronic Eyebrow make-up applicant. All you have to do is fire up the App ,Scan your face, choose the desired Shape, Thickness and Effect, say the instructions, then run it across your face,

But, for us men, it is LG brand’s Colour changing Cool Box –Mood-Up Fridge, to keep cans of beer, it can be customised to match your mood or your kitchen colour scheme.

It has a built in Bluetooth speaker, which will even sync with music for when you are in the party mood.

For the Laptop enthusiast, Lenovo “Yoga Book” 91, is completely rewriting the rules of portable computing, with multi-tasking, dual screen OLED Laptop, with No Key pad or Track Pad in sight. Instead, the Laptop comes bundled with a Bluetooth keyboard, stylus and stand, enabling it to prop up vertically on a desk or table. This seems to be the future of folding Laptops.

Life is but a dream?

Need I say that everything in the world of tomorrow. Is but a dream, an escape from reality. It is all about building your own connection, both physical as well as personal connection and community in a “Nonstop World”. To us oldies, it threatens “Reality”.

It seems as if we play life in a world of new experience. But it is not the world of tomorrow, but according to the CEO of Delta Airlines, USA, it will free Wi-Fi for all who fly their airlines from 1 February 2023.

How close to real life and health is all this experience?

Let us not be fooled, with all this “Americanism”. Visitors to the Show heard about the exploring ways that Technology Innovation is enabling, and in my view, impacting our health, in particular. We are warned that there is going to be a new model of patient care – one that blends in person care with virtual diagnostic and other tools for a more holistic and accessible patient experience, leading to better health outcomes.

My question is providing access to economic mobility, including physical mobility as we age, is the object for a changing world order, but how much of this commands everyone’s free choice and how much is imposed in the name of progress? This is an ethical question, which needs an ethical resolution?

Socialism Is Not a Utopian Ideal, but an Achievable Necessity

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3 mins read

In May 2021, the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, wrote an article urging governments to cut excessive military spending in favour of increasing spending on social and economic development. Their wise words were not heard at all. To cut money for war and to increase money for social development, they wrote, is ‘not a utopian ideal, but an achievable necessity’. That phrase – not a utopian ideal, but an achievable necessity  – is essential. It describes the project of socialism almost perfectly.

Our institute has been at work for over five years, driven precisely by this idea that it is possible to transform the world to meet the needs of humanity while living within nature’s limits. We have accompanied social and political movements, listened to their theories, observed their work, and built our own understanding of the world based on these attempts to change it. This process has been illuminating. It has taught us that it is not enough to try and build a theory from older theories, but that it is necessary to engage with the world, to acknowledge that those who are trying to change the world are able to develop the shards of an assessment of the world, and that our task – as researchers of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research – is to build those shards into a worldview. The worldview that we are developing does not merely understand the world as it is; it also takes hold of the dynamic that seeks to produce the world as it should be.

Our institute is committed to tracing the dynamics of social transcendence, and how we can get out of a world system that is driving us to annihilation and extinction. There are sufficient answers that exist in the world now, already present with us even when social transformation seems impossible. The total social wealth on the planet is extraordinary, although – due to the long history of colonialism and violence – this wealth is simply not used to generate solutions for common problems, but to aggrandise the fortunes of the few. There is enough food to feed every person on the planet, for instance, and yet billions of people remain hungry. There is no need to be naïve about this reality, nor is there a need to feel futile.

In one of our earliest newsletters, which brought our first year of work (2018) to a close, we wrote that ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the earth than to imagine the end of capitalism, to imagine the polar ice cap flooding us into extinction than to imagine a world where our productive capacity enriches all of us’. This remains true. And yet, despite this, there is ‘a possible future that is built to meet people’s aspirations. … It is cruel to think of these hopes as naïve’.

The problems we face are not for lack of resources or lack of technological and scientific knowhow. At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we believe that it is because of the social system of capitalism that we are unable to transcend our common problems. This system constrains the forward movement that requires the democratisation of nations and the democratisation of social wealth. There are hundreds of millions of people organised into political and social formations that are pushing against the gated communities in our world, fighting to break down the barriers and build the utopias that we require to survive. But, rather than recognise that these formations seek to realise genuine democracy, they are criminalised, their leaders arrested and assassinated, and their own precious social confidence vanquished. Much the same repressive behaviour is meted out to national projects that are rooted in such political and social movements, projects that are committed to using social wealth for the greatest good. Coups, assassinations, and sanctions regimes are routine, their frequency illustrated by an unending sequence of events, from the coup in Peru in December 2022 to the ongoing blockade of Cuba, and by the denial that such violence is used to block social progress.

In his introduction to philosophy in 1997, the German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch wrote, ‘I am. But I don’t have myself. And only therefore we become’. This is an interesting statement. Bloch is reformulating René Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am’, an idealist proposition. Bloch affirms existence (‘I am’), but then suggests that human existence does not flourish due to forms of alienation and loneliness (‘But I don’t have myself’). The ‘I’ – the atomised, fragmented, and lonely individual – does not have the capacity to change the world alone. To build a process towards social transcendence requires the creation of a collective ‘we’. This collective is the subjective force that must strengthen itself to overpower the contradictions that stand in the way of human progress. ‘To be Human means in reality to have Utopia’, Bloch wrote. This phrase resonates deeply with me, and I hope that it touches you, too.

In the new year, we at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research will reflect at length on the pathways to socialism and the barricades that seek to prevent the world’s billions from going beyond a system that extracts their social labour and promises greatness while delivering the barest minimum of life’s possibilities. We walk into this new year with a renewed commitment to the simple postulate, socialism is an achievable necessity.

Newsletter issued by Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

What goes up, must come down!

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Energy prices have shot up in recent months, but recent mild weather in UK and over Europe, according to The Guardian, is driving down wholesale gas prices. The milder conditions have reduced demand for heating and have contributed efforts by the Government, Business and particularly households, to cut their energy consumption and their bills.

Norway has helped the effort in UK to fill gas storage facilities with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Consolation for the hard pressed

The question on the minds of consumers is that if wholesale gas prices is sustained, consumers could reap benefits in a few months.

Britain has averted power cuts during one week of sub-zero cold snap in December 2022, without emergency measures. The rationale is that energy suppliers typically buy their Gas and Electricity in advance allowing them to fix some of their costs. This means wholesale price rises and falls are not immediately passed on to consumers. But, we cannot read much into this optimism.

How much have prices fallen?

On Wednesday, 4 January 2023, Gas price closed at 155p/per therm compared with 200p/per therm at start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Oil prices as the pumps have also come down with Brent crude $150 per barrel. But, this is no argument for delay of imposition of a “Windfall Tax” on oil companies. However, according to Exxon Mobil, such a tax would result in lower investment in fossil fuel extraction. What about Climate Change?

Noticeable change in mortgage rates and CPI

With the dawn of the New Year, mortgage rates which have increased exponentially over the past 12 months, peaked around 6.65% after previous Chancellor Kwarteng Mini Budget, have since come down to below 6% – 5.99% for a two year fixed mortgage and 5.78% for a 5 year fixed mortgage, When you consider a year ago in January 2022, it is miniscule.

The latest figures seem to suggest inflation has peaked as CPI fell to 10.7% in November 2022, from a 41 year high of 11.1% in October 2022.

What is the New Year tweaking?

“What goes up, must come down,” is a phrase often quoted by politicians, around the world. But just the other day, Halifax research has revealed that over the past 40 odd years house prices have gone sky high, making it impossible for young people wanting to get on to the property ladder in UK.

The days of owning a property in UK is beyond the reach of many who are unable to save enough in their working career to place the required 10% deposit for a house mortgage. The new mantra is “Shared Ownership” rather than outright mortgage.

The days of thinking of an Englishman’s home as his castle, is long over. Over the past years there has been a staggering +974% in house price increase seen since 1983.

Thus, while at present there is a drop in house prices in London due to cost of living pressures driven by higher food and energy cost, when viewed through a historical lens, a 10% or even a 15% drop over the next few months, would only represent a minor blip. House and Flats prices in London, in my opinion, would never ever reach a drop of more than 5% as house building has never met demand. We would very soon be competing with Europe, to be a nation of renters, not owners of property.

Can Year 2023 Be Better in Anyway?

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Dawn of the year 2023  will be celebrated with people all over the world welcoming the year with bright illumination, bursting of firecrackers and exchange of good wishes, with soothsayers and astrologers predicting the events in the forthcoming year and leaders of various governments across the world greeting the people promising an era of peace and prosperity. Of course, prayers are also offered in religious centres seeking prosperity and happy conditions.

Events in the past several years show that such celebrations and wishes on new year’s eve have not been followed by showering an era of peace and harmony but the world continued to be strife-torn with conflicts and animosity between nations and individuals remaining undiminished.

Of course, in the year 2023, there would continue to be spectacular achievements in the field of science and technology with a greater reach in communication facilities and in a variety of other fields. But, however, what is unlikely to change is the mindset of people.  It appears that violence and self-centredness in the hearts of men and women all over the world would remain at the same level.  This is the experience of mankind over several decades. 

The year 2023 will continue to be confronted, like the previous years,  with several challenges and issues like global warming and climate change, terrorist attacks, conflicts between nations,  atrocities against women and so on. 

Climate challenge :

COP 27, a global meeting to discuss and deliberate on the global climate threat has concluded in Egypt,  after animated discussions and passing paper resolutions, with  COP 27 ending no better than COP 26 earlier. 

The fundamental issues posing climate challenges like the need to eliminate fossil fuels do not look like happening at anytime soon. Oil-rich countries do not want to stop the production of crude oil and natural gas and coal-rich countries do not want to reduce the production of coal.  All promises made in COP 27 look like going for a toss.

Russia Ukraine war :

Russia Ukraine war is now going on for nearly ten months now, with Russia attacking Ukraine, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent people in Ukraine mercilessly and forcing millions of citizens of Ukraine to run out of Ukraine as refugees. 

It is a war taking place on Ukraine’s territory and not on the territory of Russia, obviously indicating that Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is only a defender. 

With USA and NATO countries supplying arms and ammunition to Ukraine to defend itself and making no real efforts to end the war and  Russia is absolutely not concerned about the world opinion against its aggression and United Nations simply discussing and watching the scenario helplessly, it is obvious that the objective of world peace remains a far cry

Certainly, the year 2023 would continue to be war-torn in one part of the world or the other.

Terrorist attacks :

Terrorist attacks are continuing to take place in different countries, almost every day due to one reason or the other. 

Apart from terrorist attacks due to political reasons, what is known as Islamic terrorism is a grave concern, with people being killed by terrorists due to religious fanaticism.  As yet, it appears that terrorists across the world continue to have a field day.

Slaughter of innocents:

 The frequent shooting down of innocent people in public places in USA and other countries,  for no apparent reason except due to blind hatred feeling of the shooter, only highlights the fact that violence is firmly rooted in the mindset of several individuals and there is no indication that such mindset would be reformed.

Atrocities against women :

While it is claimed that the world is forging ahead due to technological developments, such developments seem to have no impact on modernising the thoughts of certain religious heads and extremists in some countries.

The suppression of women and denial of rights of women,  as a matter of policy,  by governments in Iran and Afghanistan and a few other Islamic countries, clearly point to the fact that prejudice of men against women continues to prevail in some parts of the world.

 While the atrocities against women and restrictions imposed on women’s lives have shocked many people, nothing could be done to stop such atrocities.  The women in such countries continue to suffer,  with people in other parts of the world watching the scenario like fence-sitters.

Poverty issue :

Deep poverty continues to prevail in several African and Asian countries, with no hope that the conditions there would improve anytime soon. 

Developed countries which are in much better positions and have adequate resources, have not come forward to help the poor countries to overcome these poverty conditions in a significant way.

On the other hand, it is often alleged that advanced countries and multi-national companies based in developed countries exploit these poor African nations by exploiting their vast mineral and natural resources.

Offenders go scot-free:

There have been deep atrocities committed by one nation against another and offenders have not been taught a lesson.

An immediate example is the atrocities committed by China against Tibet,   by forcibly occupying the defenceless land after killing the Tibetan protesters.

This indicates that” might is right” conditions have been prevailing in the world for several decades. There is no indication that these conditions will change in the foreseeable future.

Isolated group of good samaritans :

The fact is that there are still small and isolated groups of people in the world, who want to promote compassion, peace and love but these groups are too few and far between and really have no significant impact on world conditions. 

There are great philosophers who try to explain the essence of life and the futility of war and hate feelings. But, their preachings also seem to be ending up as mere listening posts.

Is the world celebrating the new year in a vacuum?

Now, what is the hope and where does the world go from here?

In such circumstances, the pessimism of thoughts as it may look, the ground reality has to be seen and realised without wishful thinking that the year 2023 would be any better than the previous years.

With the thought process and mindset of people in the world not having changed over several decades and wars and conflicts and self-centredness becoming part of the global events amongst countries and people, should we conclude that the wishes and greetings on the new year’s eve have no significance?

The pre-conditions for the wishes on the eve of the year 2023  for peace and harmony to be realised is that the battle for the future has to be fought and won in the minds and hearts of the people.  Will it happen in the year 2023? 

Sri Lanka in 2023: Challenges and beyond?

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“A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker – It’s not what you say but what you do that defines you – Buddha

“Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.” – Buddha

The year 2022 will end as the year that turned Sri Lanka on its belly. It demonstrated that while some political leaders were well-meaning and did what they thought was good for the country, the collective effort of 75 years of independent governance had ended in the economic bankruptcy of the country and owing more than what it is economically worth. It has demonstrated that the country is good at living on borrowed money, and it had demonstrated that the country has functioned without a clear vision and a clear strategy as to how to achieve that vision.

It is not the time to dwell on the past unless one is doing so to learn lessons from the past. What is more important is the present, and what one could do to avoid mistakes of the past, create a new vision for the future and move to a better future. 

Not blaming politicians alone for such mistakes is one lesson one should learn as they are a product of the political system in place. Creators of the system and its participants includes the people who elect the politicians. So, collectively, the people, their representatives and the system in place have all failed the country. In saying this, the vast strides made in different sectors of the country are recognized, and so are some leaders who spearheaded such improvements. The achievements of the country are however looked at from the prism of where it is now, an economically bankrupt nation.

One may argue that after 75 years of independence, this bankruptcy extends beyond economic bankruptcy and to social, moral, and ethical standards despite the teachings of three major religions of the world, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam which are well entrenched in the country. Some would take the view that the strengthening of cultural, ritualistic aspects of these religions rather than practices based on the original teachings of these religions have contributed to the social, moral, and ethical bankruptcy that is being experienced. In this regard, it is the religious institutions that should look inwards and question themselves of the part they have played by just mouthing, but not living the teachings of the founders of the major religions.

Politics and religion, or rather the religious institutions and the political establishment has a symbiotic relationship of inter dependance. This is markedly so when it comes to the Sinhala Buddhist institution and the political establishment. Early in independent Sri Lanka, the leader who is hated and loved in equal measure, one who is recognized as the one who gave the Sinhala Buddhist community their due place, and at the same time who is recognized as the person who was the cause of the Sinhala Tamil rift, SWRD Bandaranaike, born a Christian, converted to Buddhism. Whatever the reasons for this conversion, there cannot be any doubt that this helped his political objectives considering that in post independent history, being the first citizen of the country has not been possible unless one were a Sinhala Buddhist.

In terms of the future, a question must be asked where this symbiotic relationship would take the country? More of the same? If the status quo continues, how could leaders of the two institutions, the religious and the political, work together to advance the country rather than themselves? This is one of the most important challenges for the future. While the Buddhist institutions argue that their role is to ensure the protection of Buddhism, their activities have gone well beyond this. Divisions within Buddhist Monks, the institutions they belong to, and their partisan preferences and actions as to who and which party should govern the country, have clearly indicated the real motive of some individual Monks and more broadly the   institutions. This motive being the desire to be a key stakeholder in political governance. In this context, as influential stakeholders, they have contributed in equal measure to the sorry state of the country today. 

The Buddhist clergy is supposed to abide by the Vinaya Pitakaya, the code of conduct applicable to them as Buddhist Monks. Today, this is a joke if one looks at the behavior of some Monks. The Buddhist institution is replete with various internal judiciary positions, all of which are no more than figurehead positions that do not seem to be performing their tasks as outlined in the Vinaya Pitakaya.

While it may be controversial to some, the role and power of the religious institutions and Buddhist Monks, their conformity with the Vinaya Pitakaya and their influence on political governance arising from their political partisanship is a challenge that the country will have to confront with. If their political partisanship, power and influence should remain, and their role as stakeholders in political governance continues, a truly bi partisan economic framework will not be possible to take the country forward. This political bipartisanship has not happened partly due to the actions of some influential members of religious institutions who have exerted a significant degree of influence with the voters who elect politicians and political parties to govern. In this context, such an influence factor contributes either to the success or otherwise of the country’s economic development. If the present status of bankruptcy is to be a yardstick, it can be taken that this influence factor has failed the country. 

Ideally, no religious institution nor its members should engage in politics, and if they wish to do so, they should leave their religious institutions and do so as lay persons. The ability to make this happen is in the hands of the people, and they should clearly and unequivocally send this message to all religious institutions.

Another key challenge for the country and its public is the need for a long-term development framework, at least the contours of such a framework. The very nature of the political system of 75 years has resulted in short term planning of not more than 5 years. There has never been a bi partisan development framework, even within a span of 5 years, let alone any period longer than that. The country needs such a framework of not less than 10 years, and it is heartening to note that the current President is said to be working on a 25-year framework. 

It is vital however for such a framework to have bi partisan (or multi partisan) agreement, and for such an agreed framework to be periodically reviewed and updated to keep it in line with global developments including technological developments.

Such a framework should include major economic drivers such as an export development plan, an import substitution plan, a tourism plan, an agriculture plan to assure food security, a plan to maximize land and water utilization, an industrial development plan that includes Port development, sustainable energy development etc., and an education plan that prepares the future generations to meet the challenges posed by such an economic framework. Besides these, the health of the nation is paramount, and the framework should include plans for long term primary and curative healthcare in the country.

It is questionable whether the people nor their representatives, and other institutions that influence governance planning and decision making will have the foresight nor the guts to make far reaching decisions for the benefit of future generations. Ad hoc planning has been the order of the day for 75 years, and sadly, it is quite likely that this situation will continue for another 75 years if not more. 

Sri Lanka has faced its gravest economic and social crisis since independence, and this has not been sufficient for the political leaders and their parties, in particular the Opposition parties, to work with the governing party and agree on an economic framework to lift the country out of its morass. Calling for fresh elections is the only plan they have offered to the country.  

Even if elections were held, history has shown that generally, the vote between the governing party and Opposition parties have been split in the ratio of 55 % to 45%. 

If this were to be the case at an election the Opposition is clamoring to have, what will suffer most will be the way forward for the economy as political partisanship, split in the manner described above will stand in the way of a commonly agreed economic development framework.

The country is bankrupt, and yet, the singing and dancing goes on. It has been reported that the appointment of more cabinet ministers is imminent. The Titanic is sinking, but more deckhands are said to join the captain. This may defy logic, but it does fit in with the reality that the morals and ethics of most politicians have already sunk far below the level of economic bankruptcy. 

India Should Checkmate China by Recognising Tibet as Independent Country

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China has never concealed its hostility towards India in the last few decades.  China initiated a war against India in 1962 and is still occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian Territory. Pakistan gifted some area in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to China to spite India and China has gleefully accepted this region as its own, not bothering about India’s protest.

After the 1962 war, there have been several times that Chinese forces tried to enter Indian Territory in the Ladakh area.  China now demands that the Arunachal Pradesh state in India belongs to China. The recent clash between Chinese troops and Indian troops in the Dawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh will not be the last military clash between India and China and many more similar clashes will take place in the coming years, as China would continue its efforts to subdue India in variety of ways and will provoke a frequent clash with India.

Certainly, the hostility between India and China would continue, as China will maintain tension with Indian troops as part of China’s expansionist strategy.

Under the circumstances, India has to realise that it has to necessarily checkmate China in whatever way it is possible for India, under the present circumstances. 

India’s response

While China is openly hostile to India, the present Modi government and the past Indian governments have been giving the impression that India wants to have peace with China, which has repeatedly proved to be an unreal expectation.

Claim on the territory of other countries

China’s efforts to expand its territory commenced with the occupation of Tibet using military force during the 1950s and since then, China has been ruling the Tibet region with an iron-like grip, suppressing whatever protest that has been happening by  Tibetan people in Tibet against China’s occupation.

Apart from demanding Indian Territory, China is making claims in the South China Sea, Senkaku Island and other places, which are opposed by several nearby countries.

While China has progressed in industrial, technological and economic status in a very impressive manner, the ground reality is that several countries suspect China’s motives and are concerned about China’s aggressive, expansionist greed and ambition to dominate the world by emerging as a superpower. 

Increasing unpopularity:

China is steadily becoming unpopular in the world due to its human rights violation in Hongkong, Tibet and Xīnxiāng and its suppression of the rights of Uyghurs. China’s often-declared objective to occupy Taiwan by using military force has been detested by several countries and they are watching the developing scenario with concern.

Even in countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and several African countries where China is trying to dominate the region by extending the huge loan and participating in the industrial and economic activities of the region, China’s interference has created a  sort of animosity towards China amongst the local people in those regions.

Certainly, there is the worldwide view that China is treating world opinion, which is suspecting China’s territorial greed and aggressive postures, with contempt.

Most countries which have no issues with China do not want to come openly against China now, due to the large market base and trade opportunities that China provides.

India’s compelling need to checkmate China

In any case, China now considers India as its number one enemy, as China thinks that India can be a hurdle for China in its efforts to emerge as a superpower in the world.   India has no alternative but to oppose China and checkmate the Chinese government.

One way for India to effectively checkmate China is to accord recognition to Tibet as an independent country. Of course, this move will not make any difference to the suppressed people in Tibet immediately.  However, this move certainly would push China into a defensive posture and this will bring the plight of Tiber to the attention of the world and China’s human rights violations and aggressive occupation.

Certainly, China will become more hostile towards India, when India would recognise Tibet as an independent country. But, China cannot do more harm to India than it has already been doing.

China is unlikely to enter into a full-fledged war with India,   as it will have worldwide repercussions and western countries and USA cannot simply watch the scenario of China overpowering India and they cannot keep quiet, as it will cause serious geopolitical imbalance.   Further, the Indian army has been considerably strengthened now and any future war between India and China will not be like the 1962 war between both countries when China overran and occupied Indian Territory.

Trade relations:

Of course, some people in India may argue that India recognising Tibet as an independent country would be a calculated risk,   as India is still dependent on the import of several chemicals and products from China and a war with China will cause set back to India’s steadily growing economy.

However, any disruption of the trade between both countries will affect China too, particularly as there is a sort of trade war already going on now between China on one side and USA and European Union on the other side.

No other alternative for India:

With China thinking that India has to be subdued to ensure China emerges as a superpower, there is no alternative for India but to stand against China, politically, diplomatically and militarily.

The checkmating of China has now become a necessary need for India to protect its territorial integrity, as China cannot be made to behave responsibly by following a policy of appeasement.

Providing recognition to Tibet as an independent country would be a strong and much-needed response by India to China’s posture against India.

India has morally erred by not protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet earlier and later on India accepted China’s occupation of Tibet as legitimate.  This is a grave error that has been made by India, which has made China take India for granted.  India is now paying a price for not protesting earlier against China’s occupation of Tibet.

India recognising Tibet as an independent country will make China realise that India is not a soft belly anymore.

 Further, with recognition of Tibet by India, several other countries may also recognise Tibet in the course of time and this will be the starting point for the ultimate liberation of Tibet and restoring its glory of Tibet in the eyes of the world.

Views expressed are personal

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