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Monday, June 17, 2024

On the periphery of a Failed State – Editorial, Ceylon Today

Sri Lanka’s decline seen through the lens of international standards seems obvious and inevitable. The economic optics reflects the ‘real’ situation as opposed to those that are vigorously and spuriously marketed by the Central Bank and its ‘pundits.’ Over the last few years, the Central Bank has been floating statistics for public consumption, which though implausibly sanguine on paper, have been a tough sell for the average man on the street, for whom reality is the skyrocketing cost of living that makes three square meals a near impossibility, and the breakdown in the law and order situation which has given rise to an ugly culture of impunity.

It is this reality that is reflected in the recently released Failed State Index by Fund for Peace, an independent Washington, DC-based non-profit research and educational institution, which ranks Sri Lanka 28th, placing it in the critical category with a grand score of 92.9. Last year Sri Lanka tied for the 29th place with Bangladesh, with a score of 92.2. Incidentally, Bangladesh still retains the same ranking, with Somalia heading the list with a score of 113.9.

The Failed States Index assesses the pressures experienced by nations based on social, economic, and political indicators such as demographic pressures, refugee flows, uneven economic development or severe economic decline, and human rights, among others. The Index uses colour-coded maps, tables, and a ranking system of ‘Critical,’ ‘In Danger,’ ‘Borderline,’ ‘Stable’ and ‘Most Stable’ to determine the current conditions and negative potential in the future.

Post-war, human rights have been a contentious issue that has seen Sri Lanka dragged to the UNHRC and given a painful rap on the knuckles, in the form of two consecutive resolutions. Also post-war the uneven economic development has seen the rich getting richer and the poor poorer, with additional burdens being placed on the poor almost on a daily basis.

Add to this the artful concoctions, where stock market indices are artificially fattened by quasi-legal business practices, financial estimates in government tenders are ingeniously inflated to accommodate commissions, and the massive amounts of cash borrowed from the international banking sector at exorbitant interest rates – and you have a situation where nothing is what is claimed to be, especially in the economic front. The real tragedy lies in the fact that once these statistics are released to the public, the very people who manipulated and released the bogus figures become ready believers in their own concoctions although this is not something that has escaped the international probes and spotlight.

In the ‘Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance’ category of the Failed State Report, only Pakistan, South Sudan and Sudan are worse off than Sri Lanka. No doubt the impeachment of the ex-Chief Justice, Duminda Silva-Bharatha Lakshman saga, the infamous ‘white-van’ incidents, persecution, murder and disappearances of journalists, overindulgence in Sinhalese-Buddhist triumphalism, unrestrained activities of organizations such as Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balakaya, the open defilement of other religions given expression to by some leading members of the Cabinet of Ministers, would have all played a decisive part in placing Sri Lanka among the bottom-dwellers in this category.

Another category that Sri Lanka should be ashamed of being in is ‘Rise of Factionalized Elites.’ This obvious fact that many Sri Lankans are contemptuously aware of, has caught the eye of the ‘Fund for Peace.’ When all facts and figures are taken into account, the rise of factionalized elites would not escape the thinking of even the most mundane citizen in the country. Sri Lanka has no one to blame but itself and its leaders, both in Government and Opposition.

For Sri Lanka to help paint such an abysmal picture on the fabric of ‘Social’ indices, the factors and facts must have been really appalling and indisputable. ‘Failed State’ is no badge of honour nor is it a garland of sweet fragrance to be worn around the neck. The only positive aspect of this entire study is that we are occupying so low a layer, that the only way out is to travel up



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