Colombo’s new casinos: A high risk venture?

Published : 12:01 am  November 26, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  2,004 views  |  
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At the recent Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo, the Australian tycoon who is the key investor in the much-touted ‘Iconic integrated resort’ with a casino which is to be built in Colombo was a star performer. A local newspaper quoted him as saying, “Nothing will stop Sri Lanka from becoming a top end gambling Mecca.” A profound prediction for this thrice-blessed Dhamma Dweepa! It is difficult to access any definite information on the current status or dimensions of his proposal, especially in the context of existing law – the Casino Business Regulation Act No. 17 of 2010, which inter alia requires that the minister issues a license to a casino and that the minister specifies a... 

Princelings and nepotism

Published : 12:01 am  November 19, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  1,238 views  |  
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An alternative path to development? In the context of the recently-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, for which delegates from Britain and her former British colonies were in town, it is a good time as any to look at important issues on succession to power and the route to economic development. Princeling is a word which emerged out of China, the Middle Kingdom. During the time of the Emperor, senior courtiers close to the Forbidden City’s Palace often lobbied directly with the Emperor, the Empress, senior concubines and eunuchs for their relatives to be appointed to high positions in the Imperial Bureaucracy. This was to consolidate their power and influence. It... 

Finland-isation and Bhutan-isation

Published : 12:01 am  November 12, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  1,120 views  |  
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Good fences make good neighbours – Robert Frost Robert Frost, American poet, four times Pulitzer Prize and Congressional Gold Medal winner, in ‘Mending Wall,’ a poem published in 1914, used this line, which according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations originates in the 17th century. Frost could not see the need for a fence between his farm in New England and his neighbour’s land. But his taciturn neighbour insisted on a wall and only said, “Good fences make good neighbours,” in response to Frost’s query on the need! In the context of CHOGM going on in Colombo, it is useful to contextualise this concept in international relations. In most situations, e.g. where you live or... 

The gender gap narrows

Published : 12:01 am  November 5, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  795 views  |  
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Yet, there are issues to be addressed The World Economic Forum (WEF), which organises the iconic Economic Summit at Davos, Switzerland, annually and other regional economic summits worldwide, has recently published the 2012 Gender Gap Report, for the eighth consecutive year. The report indicates that in most countries the gender gap decreased slightly in 2012. In the three sectors of Political Participation, Education and Health and Economic Equality, the Nordic countries of Iceland, Finland and Norway come out tops out of 136 nations included in the survey. These countries had closed over 80% of the gender gap, with 100% representing full equality. Yemen was at the bottom of the list, while... 

Is the future with solar power?

Published : 12:26 am  October 29, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,240 views  |  
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With alternative energy sources improving their economic performance virtually by the day, combined with the USA accessing more and more domestic sources of crude oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing technology, the state of play in the power sector has undergone a revolutionary change. South Asia’s power producers are faced with mammoth problems with galloping consumption of electricity. Conventional energy generation is in a mess in most South Asian countries, except Bhutan and Nepal, which have vast untapped hydro resources and low demand/consumption. Importing coal, gas or oil is expensive; even in countries like India, which has coal resources, the State coal monopoly is unable to... 

An ageing population

Published : 12:14 am  October 22, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  4,908 views  |  
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Is migration a solution?Population ageing occurs when the median age of a nation rises due to rising life expectancy, people living longer and/or combined with a fall of the birth rate. In the developed world, an increase in life expectancy has in the past caused the median age to increase and the population to age rapidly. More recently, even in less developed countries, this has occurred, except for 18 nations declared to be ‘demographic outliers’ by the United Nations, those that do not fit into the world standard norm. The fact that the population is ageing is the reality in every other country in the world. In recorded human history, the world has never before experienced an aged population... 

Measuring happiness and its sustainability

Published : 12:00 am  October 15, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  770 views  |  
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Recently, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, published the World Happiness Report 2013. Happiness was measured by this American University utilising indicators such as economic growth (GDP), life expectancy, level of social support, perception of corruption, and the freedom to make choices on lifestyle, etc. The analysis was based on data available between 2010 and 2012 and with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The Earth Institutes analysts concluded that the world had become ‘a slightly happier and more generous place over the past five years’. Denmark was adjudged to be the world’s happiest nation with a score of 7.693. Norway was second with 7.655.... 

The Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015: What next?

Published : 12:05 am  October 8, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  5,009 views  |  
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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by which the world community set out to achieve by 2015 certain targets aimed at reducing social deprivation, were adopted in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit at Copenhagen. The eight goals were: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality rates, improving maternal health, combating HIV Aids, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. The Secretary General of the UN submitted a report to the Millennium Summit entitled ‘We the People: The Role of the United Nations... 

The rape volcano

Published : 12:22 am  October 1, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  984 views  |  
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Brave Heart triggers a pent-up avalancheIn a recent survey of 10,000 men conducted in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea, led by South Africa’s Medical Research Council, about one in 10 of the men surveyed admitted raping a woman who was not their partner. When the wife or girlfriend was included, the figure rose to about a quarter. The research was funded by several UN Agencies and Australia, Britain, Norway and Sweden. A previous study by the WHO found that one third of women worldwide said they had been victims of domestic or sexual violence. Rachel Jewkes of South Africa’s Medical Research Council, who led the studies, commented: “It’s clear that... 

Social development or investment in infrastructure?

Published : 12:10 am  September 24, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  905 views  |  
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Economists and planners have debated the issue of whether a nation should invest in its social development, things like education health and women and children’s sector development, as against investing in physical infrastructure and industrial development, creating jobs, from time immemorial. Recently two groups of prominent economists who focus on India have brought this debate into prominence. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen of Harvard and Jean Dreze, who is a Professor at Allahabad University, in their book ‘An Uncertain Gory: India and Its Contradictions’ raised the conundrum as to why India’s social development record is so negative, in a country where there have been six decades of... 

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