Aid for all
is heartening to note that the Japanese aid consortium currently
in the country, will discuss aid projects for the entire country
and not just the North and East. Undoubtedly, the North and East
provinces are devastated, and need to be rebuilt. And there is a
need to turn AK 47 automatic rifles into plough shares in order
to wean away the youth from a lifestyle of violence towards economic
development. But, the two insurgencies of 1971 and 1987-89 were
also due to the poor socio-economic conditions of the deprived youth
of the South, which were craftily exploited by a manic leadership
which drove thousands to their deaths.
We do not want
yet another massacre of the innocents due to the same reasons. Meanwhile,
the World Bank has now consented to disburse payments under their
supervision on the pledge made by foreign donor nations on the North
and the East.
As our front
page story of today states, it is the people of all Sri Lanka who
have to repay the loans taken for the reconstruction of the north
and east. But this time at least we may have to grudgingly agree
on the LTTE's lament on this score.
since independence hardly trickled to the North and the East. These
two provinces did not benefit from the country's biggest project,
the Mahaveli scheme - - certainly not the North. And what monies
that accrued to Colombo over the years as foreign aid for disbursement
throughout Sri Lanka, were partly purloined by politicians and bureaucrats
from every Government. Even if you look at this Government's record,
we can see that the credit line that was negotiated with India was
first used to serve themselves, and the parliamentary Opposition
(except the JVP) by voting themselves new vehicles for their use.
This is not the example that any Government or Opposition must set,
when the ordinary folks are being asked to tighten their belts for
the sake of fiscal discipline, surely.
January 11-13 was yet another non-event
in the South Asian calendar. They were the dates on which seven
South Asian leaders were scheduled to meet and take decisions aimed
at uplifting the living standards of teeming millions who are enslaved
in abject poverty. As often being the case, the summit was postponed,
once again indefinitely, due to bickering between the two South
Asian nuclear giants, India and Pakistan.
as well as postponements have become so commonplace today that they
hardly have any effect on the South Asian body politic. Also making
little or no impact on the day-to-day life of more than 1.5 billion
South Asian people is the much bragged about co-operation. Ask any
South Asian whether they feel their lives have been changed for
the better as a result of South Asian cooperation. Most of them
will say no.
But ask SAARC-wallahs; they will come up with an impressive list
of areas where agreements have been reached, and argue that people-to-people
co-operation in the region is in full flow.
political bickering exists the sublime that manifests itself in
the absence of politics. We are talking about people who are bound
together by common ties that range from culture to culinary tastes.
Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar's imagery in a speech in New Delhi last
week of seven sisters who are mothers and share a common home stirs
hope even in a gloomiest situation for a revival of regionalism
in South Asia, although he sees many a boulder on the road on which
SAARC travels. The Prime Minister last week suggested an apex European
Court style judicial tribunal for the region as a stepping-stone
for an Asian Court. For that to happen, for a South Asian unity
to be struck at a people-to-people level, both India and Pakistan
will have to make sacrifices.