Pleasure – and Superego of Pleasure-Seekers

In a recent viral video, the Dalai Lama can be seen asking a seven-year-old boy, at a widely attended public ceremony, to give him a hug and then, “Suck my tongue.” The immediate reaction from many in the West was to


South Eastern University in Sri Lanka: Apocalypse Continues Due to Government Indifference

South Eastern University of Sri Lanka has had a very steady growth during the last two decades since its establishment. As a significant success story of the university, the establishment of the Engineering Faculty can be considered. This university is producing thousands of graduates in a year. The products of this university comprise students from all parts of the Island with different ethnicities, cultures and languages. The existence of this diversity at the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka makes it as a national asset. The main pillar of the university has been the academic integrity maintained throughout the last two decades since its establishment.  Unfortunately, recent reports from the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (SEUSL) is making shocking revelations regarding the current academic bankruptcy related to its academic members.

Academic integrity and academic quality are the main components of a university or an educational institute. The overall quality of the graduates produced from these institutes mainly depends on these factors. When these factors are compromised due to various reasons, then the downfall of an institute can be inevitable and it can affect the undergraduates produced. This can challenge their employability too. There are obvious evidences to show the downfall in the academic integrity and academic quality at South Eastern University of Sri Lanka.

The contributing factors for the loss of academic integrity should be looked very carefully. The appointment of Professor M.M.M. Najim as the Vice Chancellor to this institute has been the starting point to the downfall in administration, academic quality and integrity. Professor Najim has been encouraging the number of publications and professorships throughout his period as the vice chancellor. The numbers were astonishingly very high and the university had many hundreds of publications from the academic members. But Professor Najim has totally forgotten to maintain the quality of these publications.The evaluation of these publications and the professorships are giving evidence of significant poor quality in academic nature. It’s rational to raise a question; whether Professor Najim did this intentionally or he left these matters unnoticed. The harvests of these publication mafias can be seen at this university. There are many numbers of professors and academic staff at SEUSL without proper publication ethics and academic integrity. These staff members have been awarded Senate awards and Vice Chancellor awards during the period of Prof Najim being the vice chancellor. It’s astonishing to see where all those scrutinizing mechanisms gone away during his period! People with publications in predatory journals and false index metrics have been awarded as best researchers!!  The similar scenarios are hardly to be seen in other universities and institutes. The same award-winning papers have been the instrumental to become the professors for such academics at SEUSL. Many questions can be raised about the measures which were taken by Prof. Najim to maintain the academic integrity at SEUSL!He himself being a professor left things going unnoticed in front of his eyes where a publication mafia was operating within the institute. The term ‘publication mafia’ can be used properly to explain the situation existing at SEUSL. Significant number professorships offered during the period of Prof Najim is an evidence to this scenario. The current vice chancellor Rameez Aboobacker and another professor with MSc from SLIIT at the department of Management and Information Technology (MIT), SEUSL are main examples. They had the boosted publication numbers within a year and have applied for the professorships during the next year. The professor at Department of MIT, SEUSL has published the maximum number of publications (nearly 20 indexed publications) during a period of one year and the next year he has become as a professor in Management and Information Technology, SEUSL. The academic community from other universities and the UGC, Sri Lanka might wonder how one individual can publish such a big number of indexed publications himself without involving at any major research projects. But the autopsy of these publications shows that there are various activities of fraudulences associated with these publications (this can be published as a separate investigative article). The SEUSL would be the only university in the whole Sri Lanka which was reluctant to provide the list of publications used by the existing professors to claim their professorships under the Right to Information Act!The Information Officer and the Designated Officers at SEUSL are purposefully violating the provisions in the Right to Information Act in many ways to hide the academic and administrative malpractices occurred within this institute.

The contribution done by Professor Najim in the loss of academic integrity and quality at SEUSL didn’t come to an end with his completion of two terms. The newly appointed vice chancellor, Professor A. Rameez is being another instrumental in bringing this institute to a standstill and to the graveyards. The readers may wonder why the vice chancellors are responsible to these downfalls. To explain precisely, they are the chief academic officers maintaining the academic quality and the smooth functioning of the university.

The story behind Professor A. Rameez is well known to the readers. He has been proven to be a research fraud and his academic integrity is in a big question. But he is the chief executive officer of this institute. When his research fraudulence are looked at in detail, they give a solid evidence for his unsuitability to continue as a vice chancellor and as an academic member. The undergraduates are not allowed to copy or plagiarize in their academic activities according to the examination rules. There are many examination rules and regulations in place to maintain the academic standard among undergraduates. But not a single regulation has been followed with regard to academics, especially in the case of A. Rameez. Professor. Prof. Najim promoted A. Rameez as a professor in sociology within a short period of time to prepare him for the vice chancellor’s chair.  But Professor A. Rameez is making himself a greater example for various types of malpractices related to his academic achievements.  One may wonder, whether the A. Rameez’s professorship application was properly evaluated at various levels! A question to ask is, whether a person with ALL these malpractices may focus on maintaining the academic standard of the programs offered at this institute. The answer is obvious; He cannot maintain the quality of the programs offered at SEUSL. Because he hasn’t had any feeling of guilty or inhibition in his fraudulence.

The history of downfall in academic integrity has started with Professor Najim and it has been accelerated with the appointment of Professor A. Rameez as the vice chancellor. The appointment of Professor A. Rameez as the vice chancellor to SEUSL has occurred in a controversial manner. He has been in the third place in the selection list and he has bypassed the top two candidates in the list by doing nasty politics. It is still a big question, how A. Rameez got appointed while he is having these academic inefficiencies. Even after getting appointed as the vice chancellor, he never tried to restore the academic integrity. The ongoing scenarios are making the situation worse and worse at SEUSL. He is trying to promote various academics as professors with poor academic quality and academic inefficiencies. This may increase the number of professorships at SEUSL, but a significant number of them may fail to prove their academic integrity.

SEUSL is catering for the whole nation. Thousands of students from all parts of the country are doing their studies here. Their academic standard is crucial for their better future and betterment of the nation. Billions of revenuesare being invested here annually. If there is no proper system to investigate and monitor the functioning of this institute by the government, then the responsible authorities also contribute knowingly or unknowingly to this downfall. When this institute reach an irreparable situation, the problem may become a national issue in various ways.

But the University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka has initiated investigation about the academic and administrative practices regarding Prof A. Rameez and it has been evidence that the UGC has suggested appointment of a Competing Authority to SEUSL while removing A. Rameez. Because, one cannot enquire an academic theft with administrative incapacity while he is serving in a big seat of the particular institution. The Minister of Education and H.E President have the main responsibility in this regard. This issue, if not attended immediately by the Minister of Education and H.E President, this is going to affect many generations who are undergraduates here. The quality of the courses, degrees and research programs offered at SEUSL will be in a huge turmoil!

It’s evident that the UGC has recommended the measures to be taken to rectify the situation at SEUSL; the delay in implementing the decision by the Ministry of Education is raising questions whether the government of Sri Lanka is treating this university with partiality without considering it as a national university under any political circumstances or any other reasons.The Ministry of Education and the Government of Sri Lanka should implement an absolute decision immediately to rectify the academic fraudulency and administrative inefficiency at SEUSL to open a way for the investigation and rectification. The delay in implementing the decision by UGC is a greater betrayal to the whole country, where the Ministry of Education allows the fraudulent professors to enjoy the tax payers’ money during this miserable situation of the country!

The True Test of a Civilisation Is the Absence of Anxiety About Health


A few years ago, a minor medical problem took me to the Hospital Alemán-Nicaragüense in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua. While I was being treated, I asked the doctor, a kindly older man, if the hospital had been built in association with a German missionary organisation, given its name (in Spanish, alemán means ‘German’). No, he said: this hospital used to be called the Carlos Marx Hospital, and it was built in collaboration with the German Democratic Republic (DDR), or East Germany, in the 1980s. The DDR worked with Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to build the hospital in the working-class area of Xolotlán, where three hundred thousand people lived without access to health care. A massive solidarity campaign in the DDR helped raise funds for the project, and East German medical professionals travelled to Xolotlán to set up a camp of provisional medical tents before beginning construction. The brick-and-mortar hospital opened on 23 July 1985.

When the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) took power in 1979, the revolutionaries inherited a country where infant mortality rates had skyrocketed to 82 per thousand live births (which would be the highest rate in the world today) and where health care was a privilege restricted to a small minority of the population. Besides, by the time the FSLN rode into Managua, whatever health care apparatus had been built by the regime of the Somoza family during their 43-year rule had been shattered: the 1972 earthquake destroyed 70% of the city’s buildings, including the military and Baptist hospitals and most of its health care facilities. The Carlos Marx Hospital was an act of immense solidarity by the socialists, built in Managua on the ruins of a society brutalised by the country’s oligarchy and by their enablers in Washington (as US President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1939 of the dictator at the time, ‘Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch’). Socialist internationalism, from the DDR’s assistance to the efforts of Cuban medical personnel, along with the development of the Sandinista health campaigns, markedly improved the lives of Nicaraguans.

I was reminded of the Carlos Marx Hospital by the newest edition in our series Studies on the DDR, jointly produced by Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and the Internationale Forschungsstelle DDR (IFDDR) and entitled ‘Socialism Is the Best Prophylaxis’: The German Democratic Republic’s Health Care System. The information about the Carlos Marx Hospital comes from a brief section in the study on the DDR’s international medical solidarity, which also included, among many other examples, building a hospital in Vietnam during the US war on that country and training thousands of doctors from across the Third World in the DDR. But the study is not focused on medical solidarity, which was a part of the DDR’s wider socialist internationalism that will be taken up in a later edition in the series.

The study is about the DDR’s attempt to create a humane and just health care system in a country devastated by World War II, with few resources available (and a population one-third the size of West Germany’s). The title of the study, ‘Socialism Is the Best Prophylaxis’, comes from a statement made by Dr. Maxim Zetkin (1883–1965), the son of the communist and international women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin (1857–1933). Zetkin’s words became a widely propagated slogan in the DDR and the leitmotif for the public health care system that the DDR sought to build with and for its population, emphasising that health care must be preventative, or prophylactic, and not reactive, or merely concerned with treating illness and injury after they occur. Truly preventative care did not reduce health to medical treatment but focused on the general well-being of the population by continuously improving living and working conditions. The DDR recognised that health must be understood as a social responsibility and a priority in all policies, from workplace safety to women’s universal access to reproductive care, nutrition and check-ups in kindergarten and school, and the need to guarantee holidays for the working class. But Zetkin’s quote also highlights how preventive care can only be realised by a system that eliminates the profit motive, which inevitably results in the exploitation of care workers, inflated prices, patents on life-saving medication, and artificial scarcity.

The DDR created a network of medical institutions that worked to improve diet and lifestyle as well as to identify and treat ailments early on rather than wait for them to develop into more severe illnesses. All of this had to be built in a heavily sanctioned country where the physical infrastructure had been destroyed by the war and where many doctors fled to the West (largely because roughly 45 percent of German physicians had been Nazi Party members, and they knew that they would be treated leniently in the West while they would likely be prosecuted in the DDR and in the Soviet Union).

The DDR’s commitment to comprehensive health care was based on the idea of social medicine (Sozialhygiene), developed by the founder of modern pathology Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902) to examine the socio-political determinants of health, and on the Soviet Semashko ‘single payer’ health care system, developed by Nikolai Semashko, People’s Commissar for Health in the Soviet Union from 1918 to 1930.

Among the key aspects of the DDR’s health care system detailed in our study are polyclinics and the community nurse system. When a person in the DDR felt sick, that person would go to a polyclinic, which would be located within their neighbourhood or workplace. Any person could walk into the polyclinic, inform the staff of their ailment, and see a doctor, who would, in turn, direct them to one of the clinic’s many specialist departments (such as internal medicine, oral medicine, gynaecology, surgery, paediatrics, and general medicine). Medical professionals were publicly employed and remunerated and could thus focus on healing the patient rather than on prescribing unnecessary tests and medicines simply to overbill insurance companies or the patients. The different medical professionals and specialists who worked in a single polyclinic consulted each other to find the best course of treatment. Furthermore, on average, 18 to 19 doctors worked in each clinic, allowing for extended hours of operations.

The DDR was not the only place to build a health care system based on this kind of socialist polyclinic format: two years ago, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research published dossier no. 25 on the polyclinics run by communists in the Telugu-speaking regions of India, entitled People’s Polyclinics: The Initiative of the Telugu Communist Movement. The most vital aspect of these polyclinics for our time is that no money was exchanged for care (which is particularly notable in India, where there are extraordinarily high out-of-pocket expenses for health care).

One paragraph in our study stopped me in my tracks:

In order to extend preventive care to rural areas and scattered villages, rural outpatient centres were built and staffed with up to three doctors, with the number of these facilities rising from 250 in 1953 to 433 by 1989. In many towns, physicians worked in public medical practices or temporarily staffed field offices to provide residents with consultation hours and home visits, while mobile dental clinics visited remote villages to provide all children with preventive care. In addition, the profession of the community nurse was developed in the early 1950s to alleviate the initial shortage of doctors in the countryside, with the number of community nurses expanding from 3,571 in 1953 to 5,585 by 1989. This extensive rural infrastructure helped to provide less densely populated regions with medical services comparable to what was available in urban areas.

In 2015, the International Labour Organisation published a report that found that 56 per cent of rural population worldwide lacks health coverage, with the highest deficit found in Africa, followed by Latin America and Asia. Meanwhile, in the DDR – which lasted a mere forty-one years, from 1949 to 1990 – the socialist project built a rural health care system that linked every resident to the polyclinics in nearby towns through the Gemeindeschwester (community nurse) system. The nurse would get to know every one of the residents in the village, give preliminary diagnoses, and either offer treatments or await the weekly visit of a doctor to each village. When the DDR was dismantled and absorbed into unified Germany in 1990, the community nurse system was disbanded, all 5,585 community nurses were laid off, and rural health care in the country collapsed.

We hope you will join us in an online panel discussion on February 28 to discuss how socialist systems of the past and present have transformed health care to serve the needs of the people rather than profit.

Northwest of Managua, in the city of León, lived the poet Alfonso Cortés (1893–1969), who had been declared ‘mad’ at the age of 34 and chained in his bedroom. Another of Nicaragua’s great poets, Ernesto Cardenal (1925–2020), grew up not far from the home of Cortés. As a child, Cardenal said he used to walk by the Cortés home from the Christian Brothers School and once he saw the ‘poeta loco’ in his chains. A lack of health care condemned Cortés to this humiliation. On one occasion, on his way to see a doctor in Managua, Cortés was driven past a thousand-year-old Genízaro tree in Nagarote, a tree to whom the ‘poeta loco’ wrote a beautiful poem of hope:

I love you, old tree, because at all hours,
you generate mysteries and destinies
in the voice of the afternoon winds
or the birds at dawn.

You who the public plaza decorate,
thinking thoughts more divine
than those of man, indicating the paths
with your proud and sonorous branches.

Genízaro, your old scars
where, like an in an old book, it is written

what time does in its constant falling;

But your leaves are fresh and happy
and you make your treetop tremble into infinity
while humankind goes forward.

End of Sri Lanka’s Public Health Sector



“The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend.” – Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister

The day Dr. Senaka Bibile died mysteriously in a foreign land, Sri Lanka’s future of public medicine was jeopardized. Dr. Bibile was not only an influencer in Sri Lanka but also in many South Asian and other developing countries. However, it was clear that the West, led by the United States, was not in favour of Bibile’s public health policy as their pharmaceutical companies struggled to penetrate the local market. With Bibile gone, his public health policy also disappeared, marking the beginning of the decline of Sri Lanka’s public health sector.

Since then, many pharmaceutical companies have flocked to Sri Lanka, and private hospitals have boomed. However, the public health sector has survived by overcoming greater challenges. Yet, the system itself is now in peril, and the entire system may soon shut down. While successive governments are responsible for this breakdown, the medical community as a whole bears a greater degree of responsibility. Irregularities in medical education, acutely politicized trade unions, and excessive staffing have added fuel to the fire.

Now, it is evident that giant corporations originating from the US and India will take over the entire system, and the once well-functioning, internationally acclaimed public health sector will soon be a thing of the past in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was not alone; many countries faced the same scenarios. Let’s take Chile as an example.

Chile is often cited as an example of how neoliberal policies can have a devastating impact on public health. In the 1970s, the Chilean government implemented a series of neoliberal reforms, including privatizing the health care system. The government provided subsidies for private health insurance while cutting funding for public hospitals and clinics. The result was a two-tiered health care system, where those who could afford private health insurance received quality health care, while the poor and vulnerable were left to suffer. The privatization of health care also led to skyrocketing healthcare costs, making it even more difficult for those who could not afford private insurance to access quality care.

The decline of Sri Lanka’s public health sector is a significant loss, not only for Sri Lankans but also for the entire South Asian region. Dr Bibile’s public health policy was based on the principles of affordability, availability, and accessibility of medicines. However, with the rise of multinational corporations, the focus has shifted from public health to profit-making. The multinational corporations’ primary objective is to make profits, which means that drugs are often expensive and inaccessible to the poor. This is not the case with Dr Bibile’s public health policy.

It is crucial to revive Sri Lanka’s public health sector and restore Dr Bibile’s vision if Sri Lankan policymakers have the mind and heart to protect the country’s basic foundation. This requires political will, a commitment to public health, and a shift in focus from profit-making to public service. The medical community must also play a significant role in restoring public confidence in the public health system. By working together, Sri Lanka can restore its once world-renowned public health system and once again provide affordable, accessible, and quality health care to its citizens.

The rise of private hospitals in Sri Lanka has also contributed to the decline of the public health sector. Some private hospitals operate like mafia enterprises, pursuing profit at the expense of human lives. Patients are often subjected to unnecessary tests, procedures, and surgeries, all in the name of maximizing profit. Doctors are incentivized to perform more procedures and prescribe expensive drugs, regardless of whether they are necessary or not.

Moreover, private hospitals often cherry-pick patients based on their ability to pay. Wealthy patients receive preferential treatment, while poor patients are left to fend for themselves in overcrowded public hospitals. This has created a two-tiered healthcare system in Sri Lanka, where those who can afford it receive the best care, while the poor and vulnerable are left to suffer. Private hospitals have also contributed to the brain drain of Sri Lanka’s healthcare system. Doctors and nurses are lured away by the promise of higher salaries and better working conditions in private hospitals, leaving the public health sector understaffed and under-resourced. This has further weakened the already fragile public health system, making it difficult for it to compete with the private sector.

To address this issue, there is a need for greater regulation of the private healthcare sector in Sri Lanka. The government must ensure that private hospitals are not operating like mafia enterprises and that they are held accountable for their actions. There is also a need for greater investment in the public health sector, to ensure that it can compete with the private sector and provide quality health care to all Sri Lankans, regardless of their ability to pay. As Dr David Satcher, former Surgeon General of the United State says that “public health is the science of social justice, the art of preventing disease, and the calling of healers and caregivers.”

The decline of Sri Lanka’s public health sector is a significant loss for the country and its people. The rise of private hospitals driven by profit has only exacerbated the problem, creating a two-tiered healthcare system that is inaccessible to the poor and vulnerable. It is time for Sri Lanka to prioritize public health over profit, and to restore the vision of Dr Senaka Bibile, who believed in affordable, accessible, and quality health care for all. Otherwise, successful control of the Covid-19 pandemic will be marked as the last national endeavour of Sri Lanka’s public health system.

Hundreds of species of wildlife worldwide contaminated with “forever chemicals:” study

Toxic “forever chemicals” are known to cause health problems in humans, and very low doses have been linked to suppression of the immune system. Research also increasingly suggests wildlife could suffer similar harms.

Widespread pollution from the toxic “forever chemicals,” known as Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS), is contaminating and potentially harming hundreds of species of wildlife around the world, said a new study published on Wednesday.

The study, released by the Environmental Working Group, an American nonprofit environmental group, reveals the global extent of the PFAS pollution problem with a first-of-its-kind map using rigorous data to show the sheer scale of the threat PFAS pose to wildlife.

Pollution from the “forever chemicals” contaminates polar bears, tigers, monkeys, pandas, dolphins and fish and has been documented in more than 330 other species of wildlife around the world, some endangered or threatened, said the study.

Researchers pointed out that hundreds of studies have found PFAS chemicals in a wide variety of other wildlife species globally, including many types of fish, birds, reptiles, frogs and other amphibians, large mammals, like horses, and small mammals, such as cats, otters and squirrels.

“From country to country, and across continents, PFAS pollution is everywhere. No matter the location, no matter the species, nearly every time that testing is done we find contamination from these toxic chemicals,” said researchers in the study.

PFAS are known to cause health problems in humans, and very low doses of PFAS have been linked to suppression of the immune system, said the study, adding that research increasingly suggests wildlife could suffer similar harms when exposed to PFAS.

There may be more than 40,000 industrial polluters that may discharge PFAS in the United States — tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, municipal landfills and wastewater treatment plants, airports, and sites where PFAS-containing firefighting foam has been used are potential sources of PFAS discharges into surface water, according to the study.

Researchers noted that national and international regulatory action is urgently needed to protect wildlife from PFAS contamination.

Ideologies: Swimming against the current


In general, the dissolution of the USSR was marked as the triumph of liberal democracy over Communism by creating a rift in the ideological realm of the West. However, the euphoria erupted from the West, which was exaggerated as the end of history by Fukuyama was short-lived with the emergence of different narratives from the different corners of the earth. Especially, the ideologies appealing to civilizational romance replaced the vacuum created by Communism in the most fervent manner, which vehemently critiqued the pitfalls of the Western liberal discourse as a decadent machinery reflecting the demerits of crony capitalism. It was an interesting phenomenon that some of the intellectuals who hailed and nurtured themselves under the bliss of Communist ideology felt enthusiastic in seeking different approaches to confront the West.

The common feature which is palpably evident in tracing the ideological avenues between Alexander Dugin of Russia and Nalin de Silva in Sri Lanka is their initial encounters with Communism regardless of their later disinclination towards it. It may appear to be rather ironic in viewing both of their philosophical contributions to their own state apparatus. Silva has been largely hailed as the sage of current Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism which was used as the populist trumpet for the political victory of the ruling regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa in post-war Sri Lanka and Dugin is personified by the Western media as Putin’s Rasputin with his wider influence in creating Russia’s nostalgia for its imperial pre-Soviet past. The most vivid and consequential formulation of Dugin and Silva’s ideological narrative needs to be examined in the context of the socio-political unrest that pervaded their home spaces. Both Russia and Sri Lanka were swallowed by an unprecedented wave of discontent after both countries embraced the pure form of Western liberalism as the last resort at different junctures. A conspicuous step taken was the dismantling of all the traditional forms that existed in both countries as the hoorah for Liberalism that resulted in creating an ideological limbo and it was the moment both Dugin and Silva gave birth to the potency of their ideologies which were interwoven with the native culture in their respective countries.

Nalin de Silva took a rapid shift from his initial hobnobbing with Communism after authoring his seminal work “ MageLokaya” in the 1980’s, which remains to be his prime text questioning the Western perception in knowledge. In developing his theory on how the mind affects knowledge creation, Prof. Nalin de Silva applies his stance on the intrinsic relationship between the observer and the observation to the whole sensory world. In explaining this anomaly, Prof. Silva gives prominence to the cultural tradition that generates knowledge. The Indic and Buddhist traditions that prevailed in South Asia provided no ground for the construction of knowledge devoid of mind.  Contrary to the traditional Popperian manner of falsification, Silva admits the presence of mystical knowledge as the foundation of Sinhalese Buddhist knowledge, which is a stark reflection of how Dugin tries to bring Orthodox mysticism and other forms of occultism to his views on knowledge.

Also, it should be noted that his writings often critique the knowledge in the West as a hegemonic discourse which is confined to a set of intellectuals devoid of Non-European upbringing.  In Silva’s lexicon, this process is called “Greco-Jewish Christian” discourse, likewise, it has been reiterated by Dugin from a different term in his writings. His views posit Russia as a unique civilization, which is neither Western nor Eastern and his depiction of the West as modern-day Carthage, a decadent civilization echoing the need materialistic economic market approach relates to Nalin de Silva’s stark criticism of both Liberalism and Marxism which are endemic to the Western discourse. In making his criticism of the Western knowledge and sciences, Silva affirms the importance of creating a different knowledge system based on Sinhalese Buddhist ethos.

There is no doubt in denying any possible intellectual collaboration between these two ideologues living in two different geopolitical spaces, in a context both of them have carved their narratives on completely different premises. But, the commonality that links two them is rooted in their sheer reluctance to the Western ideology. Given their appealing nature, which tends to restore the nostalgia in their countries, both of these ideologues have become vocal advocates for nationalist politics in Russia and Sri Lanka. In particular, Putin’s legitimacy of his invasion of Ukraine has been frequently viewed as a gesture stemming from Dugin’s idea of a religiously tinged civilizational clash: Russia against Atlantism. In Putin’s view, bolstered by Dugin, a unified Ukraine without Russia is a pervasion of the spirituality of Ruskimir. In Sri Lanka, Nalin de Silva’s writings became stimulating rhetoric for the Rajapaksa administration in the post-civil war context in a situation where the government was lampooned by the West for alleged human rights violations.  Especially, the political emergence of Gotabaya Rajapaksa was imbued with Silva’s favourable views that elevated Gotabaya to a strong candidate who has the competency in confronting the Western influence on Sri Lanka.

All in all, making a short comparative analysis between Alexander Dugin and Nalin de Silva raises our concern on the new ideological front arising outside the West as a significant factor influencing the non-liberal discourse. When “Sinhalese Buddhist chinthanaya (ideology ) becomes Silva’s main instrument in his narratives, Dugin yearns for Russia’s Orthodoxy and these two elements have solidly altered and impacted the early 21st-century socio-political consciousness in both Russia and Sri Lanka, which further proves the futility of liberal mantra in the political praxis of both countries.

ChatGPT in Sinhala: How can you get me there?


As an AI language model, I understand the importance of developing a Sinhala version of ChatGPT. Sinhala is the primary language spoken by the Sinhalese people, the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka. With over 16 million speakers worldwide, it is essential to have a Sinhala language model that can help combat the spread of fake news and misinformation while also aiding in research conducted by universities.

Developing a Sinhala version of ChatGPT will undoubtedly take time, as it involves training a machine learning algorithm to understand and generate human-like language in Sinhala. The process requires large amounts of data and computational resources to create a robust and effective model.

However, the benefits of such an endeavour would be immense. With the spread of fake news and misinformation on social media and other digital platforms, it is crucial to have reliable sources of information in local languages to combat the spread of falsehoods. A Sinhala ChatGPT could help ensure that Sinhala speakers have access to trustworthy and accurate information online.

Moreover, a Sinhala language model could also be beneficial to universities and other research institutions. Language models like ChatGPT can be used to analyze large volumes of text, extract meaningful insights, and help researchers understand trends and patterns in various fields of study. For instance, a Sinhala ChatGPT could be trained on medical research papers to aid in the development of new treatments for diseases prevalent in Sri Lanka.

In addition, a Sinhala language model could also benefit businesses and organizations operating in Sri Lanka. As companies increasingly seek to engage with local communities, a Sinhala ChatGPT could help improve their communication with Sinhala speakers and expand their reach into new markets.

Developing a Sinhala version of ChatGPT is an essential step towards combatting fake news and misinformation and facilitating research and innovation in Sri Lanka. While the process may take time and resources, the benefits of having a reliable and robust Sinhala language model would be far-reaching and impactful.

Certainly, developing a Sinhala version of ChatGPT could also have far-reaching effects on the education sector in Sri Lanka. By providing students with access to high-quality, AI-powered language tools, it could revolutionize the way they learn and interact with information in their native language.

Currently, the Sri Lankan education system is struggling to keep pace with the rapid changes happening in the world. Public education is underfunded, and private tuition has become an unregulated, monopolistic industry. As a result, students from lower-income families often struggle to keep up with their peers and have limited access to quality education. This has led to a growing inequality in the education sector.

A Sinhala version of ChatGPT could help level the playing field by providing students from all backgrounds with access to high-quality language tools. This could help improve literacy rates, aid in the acquisition of new language skills, and provide students with a better understanding of complex concepts.

Moreover, a Sinhala ChatGPT could also provide teachers with new resources to enhance their teaching practices. Language models like ChatGPT can generate engaging learning materials, assist with the grading of assignments, and provide instant feedback to students. By leveraging the power of AI, educators could create more personalized learning experiences for their students, increasing their engagement and retention.

Developing a Sinhala language model using ChatGPT is a next-level project that requires expertise in natural language processing, machine learning, and deep learning. Local universities in Sri Lanka have an abundance of talented individuals with expertise in these areas, who could contribute to the development of a Sinhala ChatGPT model. By harnessing the skills and knowledge of these experts, we can ensure that the model is developed to the highest standards and is well-suited to the needs of the Sri Lankan population.

To work on this project, universities and software experts can collaborate and form interdisciplinary teams to contribute to different aspects of the project. For example, one team can focus on collecting and preprocessing the Sinhala language text data, while another team can focus on training and optimizing the model. Working in teams can also help to identify and address any issues that may arise during the project and ensure that the final product is of high quality.

In addition, universities and software experts can also leverage their existing resources to support the development of a Sinhala ChatGPT model. This can include providing access to powerful computing resources, hosting workshops and training sessions to develop the necessary skills, and collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure that the model is widely adopted and used.

The development of a Sinhala language model using ChatGPT is a significant undertaking that requires the collaboration of experts in natural language processing, machine learning, and deep learning. Local universities and software experts in Sri Lanka have the potential to contribute significantly to the project and help ensure its success. By working together and leveraging their existing resources, they can create a Sinhala ChatGPT model that is well-suited to the needs of the Sri Lankan population and can help unlock the potential of the country’s language data.

In conclusion, a Sinhala version of ChatGPT could help re-engineer the public education system in Sri Lanka and curtail the monopoly playing by unaccountable tuition mafia. By providing students and teachers with access to high-quality language tools, it could help level the playing field and improve the quality of education across the board. While the development of a Sinhala language model may take time and resources, the potential benefits are enormous, and could have a positive impact on generations to come.

Time to Act: Sri Lanka’s Need for a Hong Kong Style Anti-Corruption Initiative


Corruption is a persistent problem in many countries, including Sri Lanka. It hinders economic development, undermines public trust in government, and erodes the rule of law. One solution that has been successful in combating corruption is the Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism. In this article, let me explore why Sri Lanka needs such a mechanism and how it could be implemented.

Firstly, let’s look at what the Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism entails. Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established in 1974 and has since become a model for effective anti-corruption measures. The ICAC is an independent agency that investigates and prosecutes corruption cases without interference from the government. The agency has a high success rate in convicting corrupt officials and has been instrumental in reducing corruption in Hong Kong.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has a long history of corruption. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Sri Lanka ranks 94 out of 180 countries, indicating a high level of perceived corruption. Corruption in Sri Lanka is widespread and affects all levels of society, from the police to politicians to public officials. The country has faced several high-profile corruption scandals in recent years, including the Central Bank bond scam, which led to a loss of over $11 million.

The current anti-corruption mechanisms in Sri Lanka have proven to be ineffective in combating corruption. The existing anti-corruption bodies lack independence and often face political interference. The Bribery Commission, which is responsible for investigating corruption cases, has been criticized for being understaffed and underfunded. The legal framework for combating corruption is also weak, with low penalties for corruption offences.

A Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism could be the answer to Sri Lanka’s corruption problem. The mechanism would involve establishing an independent commission, similar to the ICAC, that would have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. The commission would have the resources and the authority to operate independently of the government and other institutions.

The commission would also be responsible for educating the public on the dangers of corruption and promoting transparency and accountability in government. The commission could work with civil society organizations, the media, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of corruption and promote good governance.

To implement a Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism in Sri Lanka, several steps need to be taken. Firstly, the government must demonstrate a commitment to combating corruption by establishing an independent commission and providing it with the necessary resources. The commission should also have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption cases without political interference.

Secondly, the legal framework for combating corruption needs to be strengthened. Penalties for corruption offences should be increased, and the legal process for prosecuting corruption cases should be expedited. The government should also consider enacting a law on whistle-blowing to protect those who report corruption.

Finally, the public needs to be educated about the dangers of corruption and the importance of transparency and accountability in government. The commission could launch a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of corruption and promote good governance.

In conclusion, Sri Lanka’s corruption problem is a major obstacle to economic development and good governance. The current anti-corruption mechanisms are ineffective, and a Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism could be the answer to combatting corruption in the country. Establishing an independent commission, strengthening the legal framework, and promoting public awareness of corruption are necessary steps to ensure the mechanism’s success. The government and civil society organizations should work together to implement these measures and ensure a corruption-free future for Sri Lanka.

Bottom line is that as the late leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew says, “the fight against corruption is not a fight that can be won by government alone. The ultimate solution lies in the attitudes and values of the people.”

Unexplained Aerial Phenomena – Some Policy Issues


Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not alone.  Both are equally terrifying.  Arthur C. Clarke

All sorts of sightings seem to hover over American and Canadian skies these days.

On 13 February 2023 Brian Eversteen reported on Aviation Week that “President Joe Biden has ordered his national security team to begin a review of the policy implications of the series of sightings of unidentified objects that were then downed by U.S. fighter aircraft, as both U.S. and Canadian authorities attempt to recover debris and determine what the objects are.

U.S. fighters shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon on Feb. 4. Then, over the course of three days (Feb. 10-12),they downed three other unidentified objects in Alaska, northern Canada, and Lake Huron near Michigan. Debris from the latter three objects have not yet been recovered, as crews face treacherous sea ice, wilderness and deep waters in the locations”. 

It has been reported that some of these objects are “benign” – whatever that means, and also that they may not be alien objects. However, it has also been reported (in Free Press Journal FPJ) that the “Chief of the US North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, General Glen VanHerck stated that he has not ruled out the possibility of extraterrestrial origin behind the recent series of shoot-downs of unidentified flying objects in North American airspace”.

In this context, it is relevant to note that the military shoots down unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP) primarily because of the threat they may post to civilian air traffic. Another reason might be that these  UAPs could pose a security threat to the country.

Some experts have (perhaps correctly) said that the appearance of the Chinese balloon should not have prompted the scheduled postponement of the Secretary of State  Of the United States to Beijing, arguing that diplomacy must go on. Purely from both a geopolitical and strategic perspective, the idea of increased surveillance  seems appropriate.  However, President Biden’s call for a policy review on such sightings sounds both pragmatic and politically  appropriate, given that the existing policy should first be carefully considered.

In  2021 The Office of The Director of National Intelligence of The United States  issued a Preliminary Assessment: of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena – Airborne objects not immediately identifiable. This assessment stated: “The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP…in a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis. There are probably multiple types of UAP requiring different explanations based on the range of appearances and behaviors described in the available reporting. Our analysis of the data supports the construct that if and when individual UAP incidents are resolved they will fall into one of five potential explanatory categories: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, USG or U.S. industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, and a catchall “other” bin”.

International Policy 

International policy regarding UAPs emanating from terrestrial sources can be seen in Article 8 of the Chicago Convention of 1944 which provides that no pilotless aircraft can be flown over or land in the territory of a State without authorization of that State.

There is seemingly no known international policy or agreements on unexplained or unidentified arial phenomena that are of extraterrestrial origin. Avi Loeb writing to Scientific Journal in April 2021 says: “If extraterrestrials eventually arrive at our doorstep, the question is: how should we respond? Clearly, interstellar affairs are not an imminent policy concern for any nation at this moment, so there is no international protocol issued by the United Nations for what to do”.  Much would depend on international policy and law on State sovereignty over airspace and the law and policy of individual States.

If in a hypothetical context, one of these UAP is brought down or arrive on land with beings on board, there is some policy that has been  propounded, though not in a formal sense.  In 1953, Andrew Haley – US attorney and former vice president of the International Astronautical Federation – put forward in an article he published some basic tenets that should be followed if we were to encounter aliens  at wherever the meeting takes place: The principles Haley enunciated were a mixture of humanitarian law and natural law to the effect that aliens should be treated as any human would want to be treated, despite the fact that they come from somewhere else. This principle, later recognized as “metalaw had the following aspects: humans should not harm aliens; aliens and humans are equals; humans should recognize the will of aliens to live and to have safe space in which to do so.  

There is also no known international policy on who would own extra-terrestrial resources or technology that falls on earth or is brought down.  The international community may have to scramble (presumably in the United Nations) to carve out some principles.  In this case, the fundamental question would be : would the State in whose territory the property lands own the property? Or, would the international community ascribe analogy that lies in the Outer Space Treaty (OST) – that property that comes from outer space is the province of all mankind? Would the analogy be taken from the Outer Space Treaty ( which incontrovertibly applies to activities in outer space) that  prohibits  national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means? Alex Gilbert and Morgan Brazilian writing in The National Interest say “While the ownership and use of space resources under the OST remains hotly debated, prevailing legal opinions increasingly indicate the use of space resources may be permitted”.

It remains to be seen.

National Policy

In the case of UAP that has its genesis terrestrially and falls on the territory of a sovereign State the picture is somewhat clearer as principles of State sovereignty – which have been extensively discussed and established – would take over, giving way to applicable laws within the territory of that State.  In pursuance of Article 8 of the Chicago Convention, a State flown over can exercise its sovereign right to take measures as deemed fit to protect the interests of its people and of that State. Article 1 of the Chicago Convention provides that all States (not only those that have ratified the Convention) recognize that States have sovereignty over the air space above their territories. The Permanent Court of International Justice, when requested for a definition of “air space” in the 1933 Eastern Greenland’s Case, was of the view that the natural meaning of the term was its geographical meaning. The most fundamental assumption that one could reach from this conclusion is that air space is essentially geo-physical, meaning that it is space where air is found. Simplistically put, “air space” has been considered as going upwards into space from the territorial boundaries of a State and downwards to the center of the Earth, in the shape of an inverted cone. This theory, advanced mathematically, in terms of space where air is found, would encompass the atmosphere, which has is layered into components starting from the troposphere (from sea level to about 10 kilometres); the stratosphere ( from about 10 to 40 kilometres up); the ionosphere ( from about 40 to 375 kilometres); and the exosphere ( from 375 to 20,000 kilometres). Based on this methodology, a recent development in aerospace – the sub-orbital flight, which goes up to about 62.5 miles (100 kilometres) above the landmass of the Earth, would hover somewhere in the lower level of the ionosphere, has prompted the conclusion that it is a space flight traversing outer space, while others would maintain that the vehicle does not leave the Earth’s atmosphere and therefore is airborne.

This inexorably ascribes to States the sovereign right to enact domestic laws to the exclusion of other States.

All Sets to Sign first-ever Treaty on High Seas Biodiversity


The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on Tuesday urged governments to protect the world’s oceans by finalizing a long-awaited High Seas Treaty at the United Nations (UN) in New York this March.

The first-ever treaty on high seas biodiversity would provide a globally recognized mechanism to designate marine protected areas, and is crucial in order to achieve the goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s oceans, Jessica Battle, WWF’s senior global ocean governance and policy expert told Xinhua in a video interview.

One of the main impacts of human activities on the ocean is fishing, Battle highlighted.

At the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) which took place in Vancouver, Canada, from Feb. 3-9, the WWF called on policymakers to accelerate global ocean protection from 8 percent to 30 percent within eight years.

Previously, at COP15 in Montreal in December, the goal of protecting and conserving at least 30 percent of the world’s marine and coastal areas was adopted by 196 countries under the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

“China played a very strong role at COP15, making sure that we did get an agreement by the 196 parties to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030,” said Battle, who will attend the negotiations in New York.

In a resolution in December 2017, the UN General Assembly decided to convene an intergovernmental conference to draw up the text of an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and use of marine biodiversity.


However, the UN’s negotiations for a High Seas Treaty stalled last August as delegates said more time was needed to reach an agreement on a final text.

Governments must ensure that the ocean receives the level of attention and protection it needs in order to provide for the future, Battle said.

Waters which lie beyond national jurisdictions, known as the high seas, comprise nearly two-thirds of the ocean’s area. However, only about 1 percent of this huge swath of the planet is protected, WWF said.

Battle said the treaty would be ratified when 30 countries sign up to it, and it is then implemented into national legislation.

It is critical that the treaty should enter into force quickly, Battle said.


WWF also said that the ocean faces new potential threats such as deep seabed mining, a nascent industry with the potential to cause irreparable harm to fragile deep-sea ecosystems.

“We are seeing a growing number of countries calling for a global moratorium … This will be agreed at the International Seabed Authority which meets three times a year in Jamaica,” Battle said.

“We need to safeguard this very important environment in order to reach biodiversity goals, and also to safeguard the ocean as a carbon sink.”

Many ocean areas play a key role for important species of shark, tuna, whale and sea turtle, and they also support billions of dollars of economic activity annually, WWF has said.

In its “Reviving the Ocean Economy” report, the organization outlined that the goods and services that flow from the ocean and coasts are worth at least 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars each year, and the overall value of the ocean as an asset is 10 times more.  ■

Sri Lanka: Is Ranil solving the Economic Crisis?


It is widely acknowledged that the current economic problems in Sri Lanka are complex and multi-faceted, and will likely require a range of solutions and approaches to address effectively.

Whether or not President Ranil Wickremesinghe, as an individual politician, can solve these problems without a mandate from the people is a matter of debate. Some might argue that political leadership is an important factor in driving economic reform and progress and that a leader with experience and a track record of success could bring valuable insights and solutions to the table. Others might argue that, without a mandate from the people, a leader may struggle to secure the support and resources needed to implement their ideas and drive meaningful change.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of any political leader in addressing the economic problems of Sri Lanka will depend on a range of factors, including their ability to work with other key stakeholders, secure the support of the public, and effectively implement their policies and initiatives.

In order to address the current economic problems in Sri Lanka, political leaders might consider the following steps:

Forming a united front: One of the key challenges in addressing economic problems is political polarization and division. Leaders from different political parties need to work together in a united front to develop a common vision and approach to tackling economic issues.

Addressing corruption: Corruption has been identified as a major contributor to economic problems in Sri Lanka. Political leaders need to take a strong stand against corruption and put in place measures to tackle this issue effectively.

Implementing structural reforms: The economy of Sri Lanka needs structural reforms to become more competitive and attractive to investors. Political leaders need to work with stakeholders to identify the reforms required and implement them effectively.

Encouraging private investment: Encouraging private investment is key to driving economic growth and creating jobs. Political leaders need to create a favorable business environment that encourages investment and fosters innovation.

Promoting financial stability: Political leaders need to work with the central bank and other financial institutions to promote financial stability and restore confidence in the financial system.

Fostering inclusive growth: Political leaders need to ensure that economic growth is inclusive and benefits all segments of society, particularly those who are marginalized and disadvantaged.

It is important to note that these are complex and challenging issues, and there are no easy solutions. However, with the right leadership and a collaborative approach, it is possible to make progress and address the economic problems facing Sri Lanka.

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