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Children of a Lesser God

by Tisaranee Gunasekara justice by its very nature has to have a universal reach, rather than being applicable to the problems and predicaments of some people but not of others. Amartya en !The "dea of #ustice$ ! %ctober &', ()'&, Colombo, ri Lanka Guardian$ *s.'.+ billion ,as spent on building one kilometre of the -atunayake.Colombo e/press,ay. That ,as more than the ()'0 1udgetary allocation for Child 2evelopment and 3omen4s Affairs !*s.'.(0 billion$, Culture and Arts !*s.'.0+ billion$, Telecommunication and "ndustrialisation Technology !*s.).567 billion$, 3ildlife *esources and Conservation !*s.'.&' billion$, 8ational 9eritage !*s.'.(: billion$ or ;oreign <mployment =romotion and 3elfare !*s.).6+ billion$.

The total cost of the ne, e/press,ay ,as *s.06.7 billion, reportedly sufficient to purchase 7 tonnes of gold at current market prices(. The money spend on this one short e/press,ay is higher than the ()'0 1udgetary allocation for <ducation !*s.&+.+0 billion$, "rrigation and 3ater *esource >anagement !*s.0'.( billion$, Agriculture !*s.00.07 billion$, 9igher <ducation !*s.(5.6 billion$, =o,er and <nergy !*s.(&.70 billion$, Technology and *esearch !*s.&.7: billion$, <nvironment and *ene,able <nergy !*s.0.(: billion$ or ocial ervices !*s.0.& billion$. The outhern </press,ay is a loss.maker !around *s.6.6 billion annually, due to debt.service costs&$? there is no reason to think that the -atunayake.Colombo </press,ay ,ould fare any better. This danger is particularly acute given that the ne, e/press,ay ,as built ,ith a Chinese

loan and the Chinese seems to be more prone to hylockian methods than even the Americans or the ">; . as evidenced by the sudden punitive increase !6@$ in the interest on the loan for the jobless.9ambantota =ort. !The ordinary homes of ordinary people near the ne, e/press,ay have become structurally compromised. They are yet to receive the promised compensation A and may never ,ill.$ According to ;itch *atings, post.,ar ri Lanka has been remarkably unsuccessful in attracting foreign direct investment !;2"$? the average net ;2" since ())5 is a miniscule '.(@ of G2=. BThis is lo, in comparison ,ith most regional peers and has fuelled a reliance on debt.creating capitalC.. This has kept the e/ternal debt burden at 67@ of G2= ,hich is much higher than all other emerging Asian markets, e/cept >ongolia0. =redictably the largest chunk in the ()'0 1udget is set aside for 2efence and Drban 2evelopment. A recent ne,s item indicates the confoundingly illogical manner in ,hich some of this mammoth allocation might be spent. According to the 2aily >irror, post.,ar ri Lanka is planning to buy #;.'7 Thunder combat plane!s$ from =akistan6. The jets are being manufactured as a =akistan.Chinese joint venture? the minimum production cost of a plane is estimated at D E '6 million. <ven if Colombo buys only one fighter.jet and does so by paying only the lo,est production cost, it ,ould cost the country a behemothic *s.'.5: billion. 3hy does ri Lanka, ,hich is not menaced by any armed threat internally or e/ternally, need to buy fighter.jets at such a mountainous costF China is reportedly keen to find buyers for the #;.'7 combat planes A since ()''. o far only the =akistani Air ;orce has actually agreed to purchase the jets. Are ,e buying ,eapons ,e do not need, due to Chinese pressureF 9ave the Chinese adopted the D G3estern practice of tied. aid and taken it to still more e/ecrable lengthsF "s >ao4s ,arning about the H ugar.coated bullets4 of the bourgeoisie more applicable to the international economic policies of his successorsF China is the ,orld4s fifth largest e/porter of major conventional arms, according to the tockholm "nternational =eace *esearch "nstitute. Tiny ri Lanka reportedly accounts for (@ of total Chinese arms sales:. 3ill ,e have to spend increasing amounts of our national ,ealth A and incur more Chinese debt A to purchase superfluous pieces of e/orbitantly.priced military hard,are, as our Hcontribution4 to China4s gro,ing military.industrial comple/F Are the *ajapaksas beggaring the nation and burdening countless future generations ,ith a colossal debt to appease their Chinese patrons and keep the money coming for their megalomanic projectsF <ven as national security costs become rooted at stratospheric levels, the security of ordinary people continues to erode. %rdinary Lankans are menaced not just by increasingly violent criminals and increasingly ubiIuitous criminal politicos but also by the discriminatory politico. economic.social polices of the *ajapaksas. "n the '55)4s the D82= ,arned about false gro,th paths ,hich can undermine a country4s futureJ #obless Gro,th, Koiceless Gro,th !gro,th ,ithout participation, empo,erment and democracy$, *uthless Gro,th !gro,th ,hich ,idens the rich.poor gap$, *ootless Gro,th !gro,th ,hich destroys positive cultural traditions$ and ;utureless Gro,th !gro,th ,hich denudes the environment$. The *ajapaksa economic strategy seems to be a concourse of many of these false A and anti.developmental . gro,th paths. The 9ambantota 9arbour is a classic e/ample for H#obless Gro,th4 ,hile the incidents of ,ater and air poisoning in 3eli,eriya, 2orape and 1atakettara indicate that people might find their habitats unliveable in the most

basic sense, sans breathable air and drinkable ,ater. !"ncidentally, such basic environmental degradation can affect the rich and the po,erful as ,ell$. The upreme Court ruling against the residents of lave "sland has opened the door to mass. eviction of people from their homesGcommunities in the name of development. <mboldened by the D8=4s indifference !a mindset common to *anil 3ickremesinghe and ajith =remadasa? neither one nor the other has come for,ard to protect Colombo4s poor ,ho are also D8= supportersGvoters$ the regime is likely to intensify its land.grabbing. "ncidentally, the seven acre prime.land freed from its Lankan inhabitants ,ill be given to the "ndian TATA company. "n -attu,an 8orth, #affna, the military has begun demolishing houses to e/pand army bases. 1rigadier *u,an 3anigasuriya dismissed this dispossession by claiming that it ,as being done legallyJ BThere could have been legal o,ners previously. 1ut no, the lands have been taken over by the government7. ;rom 8orth to outh, the iblings ,ill use the *ajapaksa.judiciary to provide legal cover for acts of pillage by the *ajapaksa.state. And ordinary people, of all ethnicitiesGreligions, ,ill be left ,ith no protection, succour, recourse or rescue. 2iscriminatory Governance 2iscrimination is a fundamental *ajapaksa trait, a defining characteristic of the iblings4 political and socio.economic policies. Treating ordinary Lankans !including their o,n supporters A e/. 3eli,eriya$ as Hchildren of a lesser god4 is a basic tenet of *ajapaksa rule. Adam mith ,arned that the Bdisposition to admire, and almost to ,orship, the rich and the po,erful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean conditionCisCthe great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.+ That attitude has become the leitmotiv of *ajapaksa Governance, as is evidenced by sharp contrast bet,een the iblings4 juvenile e/citement about the Common,ealth or their reverential ,elcome to the likes of #ames =acker and their total indifference to the socio.economic trials and travails of ordinary Lankans. An economy can be neo.liberal or state socialistGcapitalist? it can be market or state dominated or a combination thereof. 1ut if policymakers do not place human ,elfare at the centre of development or factor human ,elfare in crafting and implementing economic strategiesGtactics, development ,ill remain an abstraction as far as the majority are concerned. To use a 1iblical parable, it ,ill be the kind of economy ,here the stealing of the poor man4s sole e,e by the rich man is depicted as development. "sn4t that the *ajapaksa.3ayF ' The title is from an American movie ,hich in turn ,as inspired by a line in a Tennyson poem, H"dylls of the -ing4. (httpJGG,,,.lankabusinessonline.comGne,sGan.e/press,ay.paved.,ith.goldG'5605'&'&' & httpJGG,,,.ceylontoday.lkG(7.(+0('.ne,s.detail.southern.e/press,ay.incurs.rs.66.b. loss.html 0 httpJGG,,,.fitchratings.comGg,sGenGfitch,ireGfitch,irearticleG ri.Lanka4s.*esilienceF prLidM+)656&NcmLspMhomepage.L.;itch3ire.L.@() ri@()Lanka4s@()*esilience @()>asks@()>edium.Term@()Credit@()*isks 6 httpJGG,,,.dailymirror.lkGtop.storyG&77((.pakistan.to.sell.jf.'7.fighter.jets.to.sl.report.html : httpJGG,,,.thehindu.comGne,sGinternationalG,orldGchina.shoots.into.top.arms.e/porters. clubGarticle06((7:(.ece 7 httpJGG,,,.bbc.co.ukGsinhalaGsriLlankaG()'&G')G'&')(+LjaffnaLhousesLland.shtml?httpJGGcol ombogaOette.comG()'&G')G(5Garmy.says.land.acIuired.legallyG

+ The Theory of >oral entiments