Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2011

Higher Education in Sri Lanka

Academic Freedom and Quality of Education: Looking for a scapegoatDecember 4, 2011, 12:00 pm


After listening to an interesting, controversial and thought provoking presentation by Prof. Desmond Mallikarachchi at the International Philosophy Day Seminar organised by the Department of Philosophy, University of Peradeniya, I have decided to take up once again the issue previously raised by Dr Jayantha Dhanapala in his open letter and Comrade Carlo Fonseka’s response to it in The Island a couple of days ago although Prof Mallikarachchi’s presentation is not directly related to the issue discussed by two learned persons. The question Prof Mallikarachchi posed was: Is Mahavamsa a Meta-Narrative, i. e. a comprehensive and all-encompassing story? I must record in passing that the way in which the University of Peradeniya has treated Prof Mallikarachchi, an eminent scholar, after his retirement, is disgraceful.
Is there a correlation between the quality of university education and the autonomy o…

Youth and Politics

Are Youth Back on the Path of Revolt?November 20, 2011, 7:36 pm


While young people all over the world are experimenting with new forms of social resistance, the young, energetic and brave 24 year-old daughter of the slain politician, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra (BLP), Hirunika Premachandra in her interview with Sirasa, Kingsly Ratnayaka, proposed that in order to understand the incident that occurred at the local government election day, it has to be located in a broader political landscape of the island. The anger, grief and determination she displayed at the interview have demonstrated not only her personal feelings in the face of the assassination of her father but also the general anger and despair of the younger people today around the world. It was the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor aroused the young people in the Arab world to flock at short notice through text messages and social networks to streets, squares and other public places for prolonged protest and resi…
State and expropriation of PropertyNovember 13, 2011, 8:05 pm


The assertion of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French anarcho-socialist philosopher, that property is theft (What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government) is well-known to students of political science. The word ‘theftocracy’ was used by Managala Samaraweera to denounce President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family and associates in the discussion on The Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Bill (RUEUAB). As the term property is now used loosely, it is pertinent at the outset to define what I mean in the course of this article by property since the term is subjected to gross misinterpretation in the human right discourse. There are two kinds of property, exploitative and non-exploitative. If a person individually or as part of a family own a house for their living, the house can be put into the category of non-exploitative property while a house that is rented to get rent in…
Drugs, Crimes and Politics Sumanasiri Liyanage While waiting at the airport lounge for Delhi bound flight, I was practicing a bad habit of eavesdropping to a conversation between two guys just sitting behind me. It appeared that they were from Negambo area as so much inside information not excluding rumors, half-truths and total lies had come out of their conversation. The focus or rather the starting point of the conversation was the search of a local politician Nimal Lansa’s house with the order of the IGP but without a warrant issued by the magistrate. Hence, one positive thing that came out through this event was that even the high-level politicians tend to accept a common ethico-legal norm that magistrate’s warrant is a requirement prior to the arrest of a person or search of a place. Will that norm be applied by the police hereafter in case of the arrest of an ordinary person or search of her/his house? Sorry, I am deviating from my topic. Why did the police special task force mak…

Crisis in Global Economy

Crisis of global capitalism and OWSOctober 23, 2011, 6:43 pm


While we gather here to discuss the crisis of global capitalism, the workers, students, unemployed youth and other marginalized and excluded people in Western capitalist countries have begun a massive protest against banks, finance and insurance companies and stockbrokers. The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has gathered momentum as many big cities have organized their own OWS campaign. It has been reported that in Italy, protesters fought with the police. The fragile economies of almost all Western capitalist countries are yet to come out of the economic crisis that surfaced in September 2008 with the collapse of mega banking and financial companies. Growth rates were below one percent; inflation and unemployment rising. As one woman protester informed us angrily, "I have a degree, but I make coffee". People have expressed their anger over the system, the system that has failed to ensure a reasonable living standard and j…

Politics

The meaning of SarkozyOctober 16, 2011, 6:40 pm


One may wonder whether translating a book on an election held in 2007 in France and its results is of use and relevance to Sri Lanka. I think Vangeesa Sumanasekera’s effort is welcome for two reasons. As history has shown since French Revolution, French political events have universally significant theoretical and political ramifications. Secondly, if we substitute a name of a present or past political leader (like Obama, Blair, Bush or Mahinda Rajapaksa) who exercised governmental power for Sarkozy in the title, book still makes sense. Hence the book has a universal relevance. Alain Badiou, the author of the book, The Meaning of Sarkozy (MS) is a French Marxist philosopher. The first chapter of the book was written just before the 2007 French presidential election that made Sarkozy the president of France. The last two chapters were later developed in his recent book, The Communist Hypothesis (CH).
Like in many countries, France has two h…

Tamil National Question

Accountability to whom? Inversing the OrderSeptember 26, 2011, 7:12 pm


The term ‘accountability’ is in vogue these days. Advice that comes as a ‘friendly pressure’ as Robert OBlake puts it is that Sri Lanka should be accountable to what happened in the last days of its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Although it has not been expressed in explicit terms, the implication is that Sri Lanka and other poor countries should be held accountable to the Imperialist West usually disguised under some such coy pseudonym as ‘the international community’, ‘free world’, ‘democratic countries’, ‘liberal democracies’ etc. My Longman Dictionary defines ‘accountable’ as ‘responsible for the effects of your actions and willing to explain or be criticized for them’. In my opinion, ‘accountability’ in the current conflict discourse goes beyond this simple and uncomplicated meaning. The imperialist countries and civil society organizations funded by them have demanded that an interna…

International Politics

India, China and Rest of the WorldSeptember 18, 2011, 6:58 pm


Many seem to ask if Sri Lanka is moving towards China away from India. Those who answer the question in the affirmative hold two opposite views. While the first group seems to be happy about Sri Lanka’s increasing ties, economic and otherwise, with China, the other appears to see it as a danger because our closer ties with China would result in antagonizing India and the West. Sri Lankan foreign policy, especially when the UNP was in power, was oriented towards the West. Although the SLFP-led governments adopted more balanced foreign policy regime, they always valued the importance of close links with the USA and its allies. During the past six years, we have witnessed a kind of paradigm shift in the Sri Lankan foreign policy placing more emphasis on the countries in the region. As I have argued on many occasions, this is a positive change. Where could India and China be located in this new foreign policy shift? Can we affor…