Indo- Lanka green revolution and economic integration
By Sunil Karunanayake
Our columnist discusses the benefits of the economic agreement with India and says that expanding economic and trade ties with the country’s neighbour is important and essential for Sri Lanka’s progress.

Given the increasing trends of trade between India and Sri Lanka it is fitting that the Central Bank chose the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India (CEPA) as the topic for the recent 24th anniversary lecture of the Bank’s Centre for Banking Studies.

At the same time the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) invited respected Indian Scientist Prof M S. Swaminathan as the chief guest for their annual sessions.

Being a large economy with long standing cultural and trade ties with Sri Lanka, India is now on a fast track to become a global industrial giant as well as a hub for global services by 2015. Our neighbour growing at 7% is well known for high-income earners and big spenders and a key supplier of goods and services to the world. The Indian experience, achievements and growth trends offer many lessons to Sri Lanka.

Prof Swaminathan has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th Century along with Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Considered the father of Economic Ecology, Prof Swaminathan was the chairman of the UN Science Advisory Committee, Independent Chairman of the FAO council and President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. A plant geneticist Prof Swaminathan’s contribution to the evergreen revolution has earned him a title of world leader in the field of food security.

He was happy that Sri Lanka is now offering many incentives to the agricultural sector to boost food security in keeping with the ideals of the evergreen revolution. Emphasizing sustainable food production as a corner stone for green revolution Prof Swaminathan warns that intensive cultivation of land without conservation of soil fertility and soil structure would lead ultimately to the springing up of deserts, Indiscriminate use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides could cause adverse changes in biological balance as well as lead to an increase in the incidence of cancer and other diseases. Pursuing with an exploitative agriculture without a proper understanding of the effects of changes introduced into traditional agriculture may lead us into an era of agricultural disaster in the long run, rather than to an era of agricultural prosperity. He advocates an enhancement of productivity perpetuity without associated ecological or social harm.

Sustainable agricultural practices, genetic engineering techniques, etc and the accompanying evergreen revolution has vastly contributed to the improved food security in India and has enhanced the comparative food price stability in a country of over one billion people.

The Indian experience in sustainable food production and the consequent evergreen revolution justifies the efforts of the CEPA process to align with a fast growing economy and reap its economic benefits. For an island economy like Sri Lanka the size appears as a limitation in reaping advantages of scale.
Apart from agriculture India has made vast strides in the knowledge economy, science and information technology to emerge as the back office for the world accounting million-dollar BPO business portfolio.

The process of regional economic cooperation and integration offers huge opportunities to generate economic surpluses at an unprecedented rate.
This is the only option to move people away from poverty and eradicate conflicts leading to destruction of human lives and property.

As elaborated by two leading economists in the country, Dr. H N Thenuwara and Dr Saman Kelegama increasing trading and economic relationships between India and Sri Lanka has brought about an upsurge in trade and investment in both countries. Big names of India such as Taj, Indian Oil, Ambuja Cement, Ashok Leyland Apollo, Tata and many others are active in Sri Lanka. Many Sri Lankan companies like Munchee, Sierra have established solid bases in India now the fourth largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka with a total investment of over US$143 million.

The CEPA intends to promote this healthy relationship further by attracting more Indian professionals to Sri Lanka; these include dental surgeons, lawyers, English teachers (a rare commodity much in demand) and architects to provide further integration. Today Asia is moving towards economic prosperity by working together in many ways by building new alliances and free trade agreements. A smooth new highway is reported to be coming up to connect Cambodia to Vietnam and the former forbidding border stations are said to be replaced by new facilities to welcome visitors and tourists.

The bus link between Sri Nagar and Muzzaffabad is a further step in Indo-Pak integration. It is unfortunate if not tragic that Sri Lankan leaders have not been able to control the internal strife that has bled the country for over two decades.

Back to Top  Back to Business  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.