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Refuge for refugees

A World Refugee Day came and went on June 20 without much ado. Sri Lanka has the unique distinction of being a refugee exporter and refugee importer, so to say. Additionally, it is also a country that has its own domestic refugees, known as IDPs (Internally Displaced People). Thus, it is a subject that the [...]

We pay, but we do not know

It bodes ill for any country when a government conducts business on the principle that what the people do not know will not hurt them. Sri Lanka has become such a nation. Despite its elephantine Cabinet, power is concentrated in the hands of a few. Many ministers are figureheads who learn of crucial decisions only [...]

Buddhism betrayed by extremist monks

It is the supreme irony of our time that, in claiming to defend Buddhism, a handful of monks with their hate speech and instigation to violence have managed to do quite the opposite. The mob attacks this week on Muslim houses and businesses in Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dharga Town drew international censure. Attracting equal, if not [...]

The mini SAARC summit

Much has been said over the week since India’s new Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi pulled a rabbit out of the hat and invited the leaders of all South Asian nations for his swearing-in ceremony last Monday. The move has been widely hailed as ground-breaking; a new beginning in good neighbourliness and an effort to [...]

A strategy to deal with Modi

The just-concluded general elections in India have clear significance in the entire region, including Sri Lanka — and especially when there is a new dispensation of unknown qualities at the helm of affairs in New Delhi. The theory across the board is that the election of Shri Narendra Modi from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) [...]

Yes to Pope; No to Dalai Lama

The announcement earlier this week that the popular Pope Francis would make a State visit to Colombo on the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka would have warmed the hearts of the Sri Lankan Catholic population. Visits by Sri Lankan leaders from the President onwards, regular pilgrim parties and a local Cardinal with strong links [...]

Vesak: Turn the lights inward

Sri Lanka commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha with Vesak Poya falling next week. More money is now spent on heralding this thrice-blessed event than ever before. The major cities are illuminated with pandals, lanterns and multi-coloured electric bulbs. In northern Jaffna, the Security Forces are putting up the tallest pandal [...]

The workers forgotten on May Day

May Day has come and gone and the working class will need to wait until next year to be commemorated again. In the intervening 364 days, the working people will face the overt threat of Police riot squads and water cannon if they take to the streets making demands, and the covert moves by the [...]

India: Vibrant democracy, but no Pancha Seela

India — the ‘biggest democracy on planet Earth’ is now voting to elect a new Government. There is no hint of vote rigging. There is no abuse of State machinery, and even if there was, a truly independent Elections Commission with ‘teeth’ to prosecute the high and mighty can impose strictures. These are elections where [...]

Minister distorts free education

Education Minister Bandula Gunewardena has issued a new circular defining the conditions for admission of students to Advanced Level classes of national schools. One criterion is that national schools must not take children of international schools for A/Levels even if such students had followed the national curriculum and passed the local Ordinary Level examination. Minister [...]

Flood and blood as dengue rages

With the monsoons have come the deluge – and the dengue. Flooding has become a perennial problem; however much we say we have faced it before, we do not seem competent to meet the challenge. In just a week of the clouds opening up after a heat-wave in April and May, the casualty figures are [...]

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