Category Archives: modernity & modernization

Pointers from Singapore towards the Appraisal of the Hambantota Port Scheme

Fair Dinkum

When Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819, the British set about creating the Port of Singapore. In time, with much hard work, the port became successful. In the 1960s, the Singapore government set about further expansions of its ports along the south of the island, with five additional gateways operating by the 1990s. It is now one of the biggest and busiest collection of ports in the world. Having visited these ports over the years, the scale of operations is extraordinary. The success of Singapore Ports was built up over time. It didn’t come easily or immediately. The same with the Piraeus Port in Greece, although it became successful and profitable quickly.

  Hambantota — a Pix and a Sketch

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A Versatile Beauty, Yvonne Gulamhusein nee Toussaint

Information sent by Harry De Sayrah, September 2021 …. supplemented by Notes from David Sansoni and Others

El Patio Yveony, Bambalapitiya: The beautiful home and mansion, “El Patio Yveony”, owned and lived in by Onally Gulamhussein and his celebrity wife Yvonne Toussaint starts off the next block of land adjoining Station Road. Onally, nicknamed “Jutehessian” and his wife the socialite Yvonne Gulamhussian, nee Toussaint, was refereed to as Mrs. Ooh La Jute Hessian.

Yvonne weds Onally: Extracted from HI Magazine Online – http://www.hi.lk

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No Debt Trap at Hambantota: False Picture on China’s Role

Deborah Brautigam & Meg Rithmire,  in The Atlantic, 6 February 2021, where the title is The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth “

The narrative wrongfully portrays both Beijing and the developing countries it deals with. China, we are told, inveigles poorer countries into taking out loan after loan to build expensive infrastructure that they can’t afford and that will yield few benefits, all with the end goal of Beijing eventually taking control of these assets from its struggling borrowers. As states around the world pile on debt to combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster flagging economies, fears of such possible seizures have only amplified.

Ben Shmulevitch

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September 11: Back to Square One 20 Years After

David Kilcullen, in The Weekend Australian, 11-12 September 2021

Twenty years after 9/11 the terrorism threat is larger and more widespread, the Western alliance is weaker, and the US is in sharp ­decline relative to its rivals. Democratic societies are less free, stunted by “safetyism”, less resilient and more divided.

The abandonment of Afghans amid the return of an unreformed triumphant Taliban just in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, underlines the failure of the global war on terror and the need for a radical rethink. This is particularly true for Australia, which faces the most threatening geopolitical environment in a century.

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Lakshman’s Hambantota Diarrhoeas

Lakshman Gunasekara … with highlights being the intrusion of The Editor, Thuppahi

I recall reading both these articles,[1] or at least parts of these articles just a few weeks ago sent by you.

1) China:- I am an admirer of China (just as much as I am an even bigger admirer of India, simply because of cultural and geographical affinity) and I am specifically an admirer of China’s role in the world today as a relatively civilised and certainly civilisational (in terms of Difference) counter to the old, beginning-to-fade Western imperialism. This is not to say that I do not have problems with China’s internal, unnecessarily repressive, political system. While I am a long-time Communist and I continue to watch with interest the successes and failure of the single-party system (the Communist Party is not at all the typical western-liberal-style ‘political party’), I am surprised at the lack of more dedicated practice of electoral politics within that one-party system, especially at the higher levels of national structures. Theoretically, I prefer the Communist one-party state than the bourgeois-liberal multiparty competitive electoral system as the best way toward greater democracy and consolidating social democracy.

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Spats about Ports in Sri Lanka: The Bigger Picture

  Mick Moore**

To the extent that we can make any confident prophesies about world affairs in this very fragile current context, it is reasonable to predict that (a) global political, military, economic and ideological competition between China and the US is going to continue to loom large and (b) Sri Lanka, for a range of historical and geographical reasons, is likely to remain caught up in that competition. We can expect to see many more partisan spats, like those between Jonathan Hillman and Fair Dinkum in relation to the Hambantota Port, counterposing good/wicked China against wicked/good US. Some claims will be right, and some wrong. My guess is that in 10 years or so, the two combatants will earn similar levels of positive and negative points.

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American Schemes of Global Bifurcation behind Hillman’s Story on Hambantota Port

Fair Dinkum

I am unfamiliar with the work of Jonathan E. Hillman. So, I spent time researching his background before reading this article. I wanted to read the article with an open mind. With this type of article, it is important know who the author is; what his relationship is with Sri Lanka, China and the US; the organisation he is affiliated with and what their goals are; and why did he decide to write this essay and for what purpose?

Greece may be on the fringe of the EU geographically, but it has become a key focus in the intensifying scramble for global influence. Sri Lanka could go the same way.  Illustration by Henry Wong

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Buddhist Revitalization in Sri Lanka in the Early Twentieth Century: Some Thoughts

Uditha Devapriya, in The Island 12th & 19th August in two parts, with this title  “Early 20th Century Buddhist Revival”  …. https://ceylontoday.lk/news/a-short-note-part-1-early-20th-century-buddhist-revival AND https://ceylontoday.lk/news/a-short-note-part-2-early-20th-century-buddhist-revival

The colonial bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka did not form a monolithic class. They were divided horizontally as well as vertically: horizontally on the basis of income and inheritance, and vertically on the basis of primordial attachments such as caste ideology. Various factors, mainly economic conspired as much to unify the bourgeoisie as they did to divide them, distinguishing them by their homogeneity as well as by their heterogeneity.

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The Rise of Tribalism

Tony Donaldson

I can remember a time back in the early years of this century when the age of cosmopolitanism was in fashion. It was a beautiful time. One of the great benefits of cosmopolitanism is that it allowed us to throw off the shackles of nationalism. We could take on different identities of our own choosing at any time in our lives with an absolute sense of freedom.[1] We could travel anywhere and engage with cultures and peoples around the world without political interference. We could build partnerships in business and trade that benefited all of us. Nationalism was in decline, and it was a positive direction for humanity.

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From Empiricist Conflation to Distortion: Caste in South Asia

Michael Roberts, responding in 1985 to a Review Essay by Susan Bayly of Cambridge University  on his book on Caste Conflcist and Elite Formation, CUP 1982

Susan Bayly** has done me the honour of reviewing the book on Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of a Karava Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500-1931 at considerable length.’ Her essay is appropriately entitled ‘The History of Caste in South Asia’. This title provides a clue to the interpretative pathways which have led her systematically to misunderstand the arguments within the book. No less problematical is her implicit belief in the possibility of constructing a composite picture of the caste system qua system on the basis of empirical data drawn from different regions, regions as widely different as Sri Lanka, southern India and western India. Let me elaborate this charge, and in doing so reiterate the arguments which I presented.

Susan Bayly

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