Life and debt

Published : 12:01 am  June 24, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists, Opinion  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,455 views  |  
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A debt crisis in the north east? Recently in Colombo there was an event at which a research study entitled ‘Life and Debt’ was presented. The study was by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), initiated and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC). The purpose of the study was to understand whether the Owner-Driven Housing Assistance (ODHA) scheme, being implemented with donor support in post-conflict north and east of Sri Lanka, increased indebtedness of beneficiary households and the implications of such debt on the level of vulnerability of the households to economic shocks. The study was on a sample of 347 households in the Districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and... 

From Na-Mo to P.M.O.

Published : 12:00 am  June 17, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists, Opinion  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,041 views  |  
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The Modi Aandhi (Storm) The resounding chant by the massive crowds who gathered at BJP rallies in Northern India’s ‘Cow Belt,’ the Hindutva conservative base, ranging on a north-south axis from the states of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, parts of Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka, which greeted the arrival of the helicopter carrying BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to rallies, there and throughout India, was ‘Na Mo-Na Mo,’ an acronym for Narendranath Damodardas Modi. How Na Mo structured a journey from the remote village of Vadnagar, about 100 km from Ahmadabad to the Prime Minister’s... 

The federalisation of Ukraine

Published : 12:22 am  May 6, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Opinion  |  Leave a Comment  |  4,025 views  |  
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A comparison with Sri Lanka and India Russia moved in its troops, without any national, formation or regimental markings on their uniforms, mounted on Russian vehicles and bearing state-of-the-art Russian weapons and communication equipment, into the Southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and rapidly annexed the region into the Russian Federation. The United Nations General Assembly condemned the move, and at the UN Security Council, Russia vetoed a Resolution condemning the move. China abstained from voting in the Security Council. While the troops were in place in Crimea, a referendum was conducted in which the majority of Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation. Slights to the status... 

Microfinance: Rehabilitated

Published : 12:00 am  April 29, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  3 Comments  |  6,197 views  |  
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Confusion in Batticaloa The dynamic development of Microfinance (MF) worldwide continues. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently created history, by granting for the first time a banking license to a microfinance organisation – Bandhan Financial Services. Bandhan was set up in 2001, based in Kolkata and works with ‘socially disadvantaged and economically exploited women’. It has 2,016 branches across 22 states. In February 2014 Bandhan had over 5,233,000 borrowers and in February 2014 had disbursed Indian Rs. 963 crores of loans. The total loans outstanding are Indian Rs. 5,704 crores. The RBI in a statement said that it had assessed the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the application,... 

Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Cause

Published : 12:20 am  April 22, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  2 Comments  |  1,538 views  |  
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Policy paralysis It is reported that Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Cause (CKDu) is decimating the young male population of the North Central Province, parts of Uva Province and even reportedly in the Central Province, North Western Province and Eastern Province. A case study has found, together with anecdotal evidence, that the most vulnerable group are men over 40 years of age, who have been working as rice farmers for over a decade. A hypothesis has emerged that consistent exposure to agro chemicals, combined with hard work in the hot sun, dehydration, hard water, and allegedly, in addition, heavy consumption of illicit liquor, among factors combined with others is the cause for this... 

Accountable government

Published : 12:01 am  April 8, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,232 views  |  
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The liberal democratic model The events concerning Sri Lanka at the UNHRC at Geneva have focused our minds on the issue of the accountability of a government. A liberal democracy is, by any objective standard, the only system of governance which has within it the checks and balances, mechanisms, processes and procedures that can, up to some extent even, provide for a responsive system of government, where the rulers have even a modicum of accountability to the people they govern. But it is not perfect. A liberal democratic system of government wherein the government is accountable to the governed has been described by analysts and commentators, as the only form of government suitable for grownups!... 

Fishy politics in Palk Bay

Published : 1:04 am  April 1, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  Leave a Comment  |  3,795 views  |  
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Indian Prime Minister stakes Domestic politics in Lanka and imminent Parliamentary elections in India have brought into sharp focus the issue of fishing in Palk Bay. The Government in Colombo seems unable to reconcile itself to conceding a role for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) controlled Northern Provincial Council (NPC) in dealing with India on this issue; only Ministers from Delhi, Colombo and Chennai, Tamil Nadu State and not the NPC have met on this issue. Recently a group of Lankan fishers from the Jaffna Peninsula met with their counterparts from Tamil Nadu, in India to have a discussion on the issue of alleged poaching by Tamil Nadu fishers in the Lankan waters of Palk Bay. The... 

The Crimean Precedent!

Published : 12:03 am  March 25, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,805 views  |  
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A sequel to Finlandisation and Bhutanisation? On Monday 17 March 2014, Vladimir Putin, ex of the KGB, Communist Russia’s autocrat, recognised Crimea as an independent state. A referendum had been held in Crimea, condemned as contrary to international law by the world community, at which an overwhelming majority of Crimean’s had allegedly voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. In the UN Security Council, Russia vetoed a resolution condemning Russia’s actions. Interestingly China abstained at this vote, breaking ranks with its erstwhile Russian ally. Both the European Union and the United States of America have urged Russia not to absorb Crimea into Russia, a step that undermines... 

China, Africa, Myanmar and Lanka

Published : 12:41 am  March 18, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  Leave a Comment  |  5,128 views  |  
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Lessons to be learnt An analyst has commented after reviewing the People’s Republic of China’s recent economic and political incursions into the continent of Africa that “Africa is China’s honey pot. Where else would China find political leaders so easy to buy!?” China has over the last 10 years carried out a sustained political and investment push into Africa. Visits have been made at the highest political level to several leading African countries; loans, grants and investments have been made in logistics and natural resources; and thousands of Chinese citizens have migrated to work, to carry on business and trade in African countries. There has also been, at the same time, large... 

Skills mismatch

Published : 12:12 am  March 11, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  3,686 views  |  
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The never ending saga of Sri Lanka’s job market The words skills mismatch entered Sri Lanka’s job market vocabulary after the first youth revolt in 1971. The Government of the day obtained the assistance of UNDP and ILO to get the services of Prof. Dudley Seers, Director of the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Sussex, England, to look into the reasons for youth unrest. In a groundbreaking report, Dr. Seers pinpointed the skills mismatch which existed in the Sri Lanka employment scene as the fundamental reason for the unrest. The process of education produced a type of youth whose skills were literacy in the national languages, some numeracy and knowledge in the humanities... 

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