Wednesday 16th April 2014

The issue of term limits

Published : 12:18 am  September 17, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  Leave a Comment  |  788 views  |  
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Recently the world famous author and investment advisor Ruchir Sharma was in Colombo to deliver the 63rd anniversary lecture of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Sharma is the Head of the Emerging Markets Equity Team at Morgan Stanley Investment Management USA, based in New York, and acclaimed author of the best seller ‘Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracle’. He has over US$ 25 billion assets under management. Educated at Mumbai, Delhi and Singapore, Sharma completed his undergraduate studies at Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi and first joined a securities trading company. He was a columnist for the Observer and the Economic Times in India, the column entitled ‘For... 

Media arrangements for CHOGM 2013

Published : 3:45 am  September 13, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  1 Comment  |  1,182 views  |  
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What is CHOGM? The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is held every two years to enable leaders of Commonwealth countries to come together to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to decide on collective policies and initiatives. The Commonwealth is home for two billion citizens of all faiths and ethnicities and includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. Member countries come from six regions: Africa (19); Asia (8); the Americas (3); the Caribbean (10); Europe (3); and the South Pacific (11). This year, CHOGM is taking place in Sri Lanka, the first time an Asian country is hosting the summit. Every CHOGM is jointly organised by the host... 

Successor to the Ugly American: Is China a candidate?

Published : 12:00 am  September 10, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  Leave a Comment  |  3,298 views  |  
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Readers will recall the novel ‘The Ugly American,’ published in 1958 by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. In 1963, a hit movie was made starring Marlon Brando. The novel became a bestseller and greatly influenced American and worldwide thinking. The novel presents in a fictionalised guise the experience of American expatriates in South East Asia and allegedly represents, by pseudonyms, several real people, living and working in Viet Nam at that time. The novel describes a fictional country called Sarkhan (meant to allude to Viet Nam) and details how the Americans lost the struggle against communism in Viet Nam. Much later, this aspect was referred to as the ‘Battle for Hearts and Minds’. The... 

Chinese tourism: An opportunity for Sri Lanka

Published : 12:00 am  September 4, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, OPINION  |  Leave a Comment  |  801 views  |  

A visitor to China today will be overwhelmed by China’s domestic tourism. The economic power unleashed by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, decades ago, has generated an affluent middle class hungry to travel. Within China this has created a massive industry. Tour guides, transport providers, restaurants are thriving. Locations like the Great Wall, Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors near Xian, Xian’s Muslim Street, the Huangguoshu Waterfall near Guiyang (Asia’s largest), Shanghai’s Bund, the restaurant district and the night river cruise are all packed with visitors, primarily Chinese but increasingly more and more foreign tourists. Airports and highways operate at full capacity.... 

Access to university education

Published : 12:00 am  August 27, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  Leave a Comment  |  836 views  |  
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The potential in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) solutionThe problem which Sri Lanka is grappling with is one of large numbers of students ‘qualifying’ to enter State-run universities and the inability of the State system to absorb these numbers. The few who are successful in accessing the State universities, except for courses like medicine, science, engineering, architecture and law, face major issues in finding employment opportunities after graduation. At one time a solution for the first problem was attempted to be solved, by the provision of ‘external’ degrees, in which the universities tested students who sat for an external degree exam, and gave them credentials if they... 

China, Myanmar and Africa

Published : 12:00 am  August 20, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  1 Comment  |  1,008 views  |  
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Lessons for Sri LankaA recent 10-day tour of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), covering four cities – Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and Guiyang, gave a group of Sri Lankan professionals a glimpse of the potent might of the Dragon Kingdom. It contrasted with a tour one of the touring party had made in 1982 of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the People’s Republic, which showed the same Chinese descendants of Confucius and the Emperor of the Middle Kingdom, once resplendent in the Forbidden City in Beijing, thriving under four diverse systems of government. The PRC is well on its way to dominate the world, as it did before the Europeans colonised huge parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America... 

India’s Aadhaar scheme brings benefits

Published : 12:25 am  July 30, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,583 views  |  
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India has launched an identity management scheme called Aadhaar, to issue biometric identity cards to all 1.2 billion citizens. This was announced in January 2009. In June 2009, Nandan Nilekani, a businessman and entrepreneur, co-founder of the famed, computer services and software giant, Infosys, was given Cabinet status and appointed to run the scheme. Nilekani, a thoughtful man and author of the bestselling book ‘Imagining India,’ in which he makes out a case for such a biometric identity card for all Indians, must now deliver, with a budget of Rs. 1 billion. Nilekani, using his software jargon, sees his Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) ‘as a vast server, loaded with biometric... 

MOOCs II: Distance education at tertiary level and beyond

Published : 12:00 am  July 24, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,171 views  |  
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In February 2013, I wrote a column on the effect Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were having on tertiary level education worldwide. Within the last few months there have been a number of new developments. The sector is expanding in an unanticipated rapid manner. On 14 May, the Georgia Technology University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, announced that it would offer the first master’s degree course in computer science and that the degree can be had at a quarter of the cost of a typical on-campus degree. This is the first time full academic credit is being offered in a graduate course of study by an American University through a Massive Open Online Course. The USA and the world are facing up... 

Democracy, devolution and development

Published : 1:27 am  July 16, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  2 Comments  |  861 views  |  
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Empowering the regionsAt a time when Sri Lankans are debating the merits and demerits of devolving power, in a democratic system and the unit of devolution, whether it should be the village, an existing local government unit, the administrative district, the province or a combination of provinces, it would be useful to look at some examples from other parts of the world for comparative purposes. The first issue to sort out is what we mean by a democracy. Unfortunately some rulers interpret a democracy in a narrow sense to mean a ‘Ballot-O’cracy’. Just by the winning one or more contests for the ballot, one cannot claim to be democratic. Unfortunately many ‘democratic’ rulers like Ergodan... 

When politicians have to listen

Published : 12:25 am  July 9, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, COLUMNS  |  Leave a Comment  |  920 views  |  
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Examples from Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Sri Lanka and elsewhere International Footballs’ Confederation Cup, a lead-up to the World Cup, is being played out in Brazil. You would expect that the ‘Beautiful Game’ would be the total focus among football crazy Brazilians. But more than a million people in over 100 cities have erupted in anti-Government protests. Things became so intolerable for the Brazilian Football elite that the icon of Brazilian Football, the renowned Pele, appealed to his countrymen to “forget the protests and concentrate on football”. He was howled down and had to retract, declaring that he too supported peaceful protests. The protests began over an increase of 20 centavos... 

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