Home Contact Us  

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5237, 18 February 2017
Forecast 2017: Sri Lanka
Asanga Abeyagoonasekera
Director General, Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), Sri Lanka & Columnist, IPCS

It was less than half a million votes that restored democratic order in Sri Lanka and set the nation in the correct direction three years ago. 8 January 2015 saw the dawn of good governance locally and a recalibration of the island’s foreign policy. The draconian 18th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution was scrapped by an (extra) ordinary man who took on the challenge to topple the existing government. Expectations were and are high to change existing political cultures. Adoption of new ways is difficult for individuals who believed deeply in a set of values because it represents a shift from an established zone of comfort and influence. Fresh recommendations, new methods of fighting corruption and much more have to be absorbed and proven instead of rejecting every idea.

On the economic front, in Sri Lanka, 2016 began with the visit of George Soros. While his visit did not bring with it the anticipated investment, Prof Riccardo Hausmann from Harvard University shared valuable insights. The appointment of the new governor to Sri Lanka’s Central Bank was appreciated by many due to the controversy surrounding the former. 

The bipartisan unity government with deep differences in political ideologies experimented with different methods of working together throughout 2016 but failed to deliver on many promises. However, the effort to work together with differences must be appreciated. The biggest challenge is in finding a common ground to execute differing ideas. Civil society experts could perhaps educate the government on bipartisan methods and models instead of destroying the new model. The nation will have only one choice if the present model is reset. The Sri Lankan governance model is evolving towards a technocracy. People expect a technocratic rule by technical experts to deliver results in areas such as infrastructure, clean air, water management, reliable transportation, public safety, ease of conducting business, good schools, quality housing, freedom of expression, access to jobs etc. Result oriented technocratic governance structures and high quality civil servants with delivery of results is what the country requires and what the people seek.

President Sirisena’s Third Year
At a ceremony to mark the beginning of third year in office, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena invited Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of India’s Andhra Pradesh state, as his special guest. The visiting chief minister shared lessons learnt from the technological development of Andhra Pradesh’s economy, particularly on water and power management. According to President Sirisena, poverty in Sri Lanka stands at between 25 to 27 per cent. This is ample reason to declare 2017 as the year to eradicate poverty – a challenging task given the present economic situation. 

Looking back, in the past two years, there has been an improvement in the human rights situation in the country, particularly with regard to media freedom. There has not been a single incident of murder or incidents reporting on journalists departing the nation due to fear during President Sirisena’s time in office. However, the perpetrators of the murder of veteran journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga  - who was killed on 08 January 2009 – are yet to be brought to justice. Social media comments regarding this delay raise questions that as to whether this investigation would meet the same fate as that of Richard de Zoysa, another veteran journalist who was assassinated in 1990. Not all solutions can be found in 24 months but the media is highlighting the people’s frustrations.

Cyber crime and threats to state security domains on this frontier remain. The hacking of the president’s website and the recent Muslim Cyber Army claim for hacking the Health Ministry website are incidents the government should immediately curb. There have been multiple incidents of hacking by the same group in India and other places but these were a first in Sri Lanka. Rise of violent non-state actors in the cyber domain has become a complex geopolitical problem that threatens many countries today. 

Sri Lanka and the New World Order
China’s rising naval power has built one of the largest submarine fleets. Their fleet is causing a tense situation in making port calls in the Indian Ocean, which sets to further unfold in next few years, especially in the South China Sea. In this global power tapestry, Sri Lanka has to find its path to gain the best geopolitical and economic benefit; but this is a challenge, because of the strategic interests of the global powers. According to Prof Indra de Soysa “Our strategic position is likely to be of great political interest to great powers that will be tempted to meddle in the internal politics of Sri Lanka. This means that Sri Lankan policy must synchronize with regional and extra-regional powers with an interest in the region. On this count, Sri Lanka could potentially take a lead role in establishing a movement that demilitarizes and de-securitizes the Indian Ocean by building a regime for peaceful cooperation.”

Challenges in 2017
In 2017 the nation will face 3 key challenges: 

First, is its debt crisis. According to the governor of Sri Lanka’s Central bank, the country is still in the hospital but not in ICU. FDI remains at a very low rate compared to last year. Two global reports were unfavorable towards Sri Lanka: Bloomberg ranked it among the highest risk countries in the world for investors; and the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) placed the island-state at the 95th place – from 94th in the previous year. The primary focus should be on the economic crisis the nation is facing. 

The second challenge is the human rights issue that the government has to face in March 2017. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, there are credible reports to show white van abduction has taken place under Sirisena government. International pressure on these baseless allegations questioning the island country continues by the same individuals accusing of no structural reform to tackle systemic failures of the justice machinery. The Sri Lankan government needs to effectively counter these challenges. The Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) appointed by government recommended a hybrid court with foreign judges, and was endorsed by the Global Tamil Forum and the Tamil National Alliance. Reportedly, the president expressed his displeasure towards the idea of a hybrid model. This position was clearly expressed even in the past. 

The third challenge is the local government elections and the new constitution with internal political pressure created by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The recent political rally and protest by the villagers and the joint opposition members at the opening ceremony of the Sri Lanka-China Industrial Zone in Hambantota near the Chinese built port Hambanthota is a clear indication of the same. The government’s decision to lease 15000 acres of land to a Chinese company was viewed as a serious threat to the nation’s sovereignty. The project is moving forward despite the protest. Clearly the island country holds substantial strategic value due to its geographical position and the Sri Lankan government owes Beijing $8 billion (more than 12 per cent of its total $64.9 billion debt).

2017 began with the loss of one of the country’s most eminent jurists and visionary for peace. Justice CG Weeramantry was instrumental in introducing peace education to the world and although he was a recipient of the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, he failed to introduce the same to his own country. Peace education and global dignity are programmes that are operational in over 60 countries. Such programmes should be introduced to Sri Lanka. Given the right set of universal values, children may one day unite the broken country.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Sri Lanka: The New Regime and the Revolution

Changing Political Horizons in Sri Lanka?

The Geopolitics of Floating Bases and the New World Order

Monuments Over Mortality?

Sri Lanka: Leveraging the Politics of Geography

The Forgotten Professions: The Plight of a Nation

Crisis and Foresight Analysis

Steering Co-operation Across Oceans

Sri Lanka: National Interests in a Globalised World

Re-building Sri Lanka: An Island at a Crossroads

Sri Lankan Foreign Policy: Diaspora and Lobbying

Securing Sri Lanka's National Interests

Understanding our “Blindspot” to Make Peacebuilding Comprehensive

Oceans of (Dis)trust

Death and Democracy

The Island and the Mainland: Impact of Fisheries on Indo-Lanka Relations

New Delhi-Tamil Nadu Relations and India’s Sri Lanka Policy

Remembering Tagore in Turbulent Times

Politics of Promise: Between Sirisena and Rajapaksa

Conflict to Co-existence: Debating Heritage and Homogenisation

Forecast 2016: A Roadmap for Sri Lanka

China Prepares for a Modern War

Riot and Responsibility: Governance in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and the World: Terrorism and Effective Reconciliation

Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.