The United Nations has now been approached for support to address the emergency needs of the poor and vulnerable amongst the country’s 22 million people on the brink of an acute food shortage. Once called the ‘Granary of the East’, Sri Lanka is also considering tapping the SAARC Food Bank – from the buffer stocks [...]


Appealing to the world for our daily rice


The United Nations has now been approached for support to address the emergency needs of the poor and vulnerable amongst the country’s 22 million people on the brink of an acute food shortage. Once called the ‘Granary of the East’, Sri Lanka is also considering tapping the SAARC Food Bank – from the buffer stocks of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The country is not only financially bankrupt, it is facing a famine in a few months. From a middle-income country not long ago, it has come to this.

What an inglorious comedown for the country and humiliating stigma for its people no better personified by the presence of its Foreign Minister and chairman of the ruling party accepting a container of food aid from abroad at the Colombo harbour.

Brought about by stupendously irresponsible agricultural policy decision-making at the highest levels of Government, it is now humble-pie that is left to be eaten as Sri Lanka appeals to the world for food in the midst of a global economy facing recession, inflation, and a hurricane of shortages of oil, gas and wheat. The United States is officially in recession. If a Sri Lankan Minister flippantly warned his countrymen this week to be ready to eat dog and snake, a UK newspaper, The Telegraph, reports that Britain has launched a GBP 2 million project with the University of Bath and others where people could soon be eating grass as their scientists develop ways to turn pasture to food.

Having laid the groundwork by preparing the long-suffering people about how gloomy a picture is the state of the economy, a mini-budget has already been introduced before the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister’s proposed mini-budget next week. All the paw-prints of the IMF are there to be seen in the new taxes that have been heaped on the people as the country begins to dismantle the long decades of the welfare state it has been enjoying; a country living beyond its means on subsidised food, education, health, transport, water and the like.

For nearly two decades, prices of essential services like electricity have not been revised and taxes were cut in 2019 relying on reckless borrowings, artificial foreign currency rates and rampant corruption at various levels of government. The astronomical price increases announced this week, as a continuation of increases over the past few months ought to have been gradually brought in over the past two decades. However, like the sudden jump in the exchange rate two months back, the price increases have caught the public wrong-footed and entering the realm of ‘impossibility’ to meet. The social consequences of the economic consequences are slowly but surely, beginning to show in rising crime.

One would have imagined the IMF in the modern era would be more sensitive to the realities of the poor. Its statements reflect this by referring to ‘safety nets’ for the poor. But these price hikes compounded by the printing of currency leading to runaway inflation are like thunderbolts from the blue for the economically downtrodden. Workers demanding higher salaries with strike threats will only lead to the vicious cycle of more money printing and higher inflation. Some call it stagflation given the retarded economy. Call it what one may, it will be a case of the fundamental economic principle of “too much rupees chasing too few goods” giving way to the IMF prescriptions for stabilisation of the economy one of; ‘operation successful, patient dead’.

Jubilee greetings from Sri Lanka

The British public, and part of Britain’s former Empire now called the Commonwealth, have been enjoying a right royal party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee. Having ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, the Queen is longest-reigning British monarch, third-longest in world history, and was for 20 years, Queen of Ceylon.

Street parties with scotch eggs, sausage rolls, finger sandwiches and puddings have been the order of the day and night since last Thursday throughout the United Kingdom. Along a 2.6 mile route outside Windsor Castle, 488 tables have been laid out to break a world record for the longest lunch table today (Sunday) with 90,000 or more having signed up for community lunches throughout the British isles and 600 such lunches being held in Commonwealth countries. Meanwhile, thousands of refugees from modern conflicts Her Majesty’s Government has actively been involved in – Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan – will also be given a meal.

In Sri Lanka, which just marked its golden jubilee of becoming a Republic while remaining in the Commonwealth – people are lined up for their daily essentials. The British mission in the country has shown some sensitivity to the ground situation by forsaking any such celebratory banquets in the circumstances.

Universally beloved for her dedication to duty, the Queen has soldiered on for seven decades with grace and courage in the midst of some very public family scandals and personal heartache. Though frail now, she is the rock keeping the British monarchy intact and relevant, in this day and age.

An avowed believer in the Commonwealth, the Queen frequently visited the former British colonies including Sri Lanka twice (1954 and 1981) during her reign. She unfailingly attended Commonwealth summits and met Commonwealth delegations visiting Britain and in return Commonwealth countries kept her as head of their group of 54 now independent nation-states.

The Queen reigns but does not rule and modern-day British politicians don’t seem to share the same sentiments towards the Commonwealth. Britain jumped in to a United Europe only to jump out of it lately, but not entirely back into the Commonwealth fold. Her Majesty’s Government is even leading the charge against a fellow Commonwealth country at the UNHRC in a hypocritical holier-than-thou approach pandering to its local constituents for parochial electoral benefits rather than driven by any altruistic reasons. It is a state that permits violent non-state actors to use its soil to attack Commonwealth governments.

Still, Queen Elizabeth will probably have the very best personal wishes of Republican Sri Lankans, even if they no longer sing ‘God Save the Queen’.

Share This Post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
Comments should be within 80 words. *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.