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Sri Lanka: interview with Dr Muthukrishna Sarvanathan November 11, 2010

Posted by sandygordon in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Serge DeSilva Ranasinghe

Editor’s note: this is a short extract from a longer interview by Serge DeSilva with Dr Sarvanathan.  The full interview may be viewed here.  Dr Sarvanathan is the principal researcher at the Point Pedro Institute, which is a not-for-profit think tank that provides analysis and advocacy on political and economic issues afflicting the Sri Lankan Tamil population in the north.

DeSilva: Tell us about the general situation facing Tamils in Sri Lanka since the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009.  What has been achieved in terms of restoration of normality? What’s the general sentiment of the civilian population towards the LTTE and to the GoSL?

Dr Muthukrishna Sarvananthan: A great deal of normalcy has been established gradually since the end of the war; e.g. (i) several hitherto closed roads have been opened-up for public use (A9 highway being the prime example), (ii) security check points have been drastically reduced both in the North and rest of the country, (iii) areas under high security zones have been cut back, (iv) security restrictions on certain vocations such as fishing have been lifted, (v) although the restriction on travel to Colombo (and rest of the country) from Jaffna (by way of obtaining a pass from the army) has been done away with, the registration of household members at the local police station has been re-instituted in Colombo since May 2010 (after the general elections).

Dr Muthukrishna Sarvanathan


How to count nuclear installations November 10, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , comments closed

Vikas Kumar

India’s civil nuclear liability legislation (The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010) has been controversial ever since the draft Bill was introduced to the Parliament in May 2010. In a hurry to get the Bill passed in the Parliament before the US President’s visit to India, the government did not even check if it dovetailed with existing legislation and case law. In fact, the Act abounds in internal inconsistencies. For instance, the Act caps the total liability in respect of a nuclear accident in terms of Special Drawing Rights whereas the cap on the operator’s liability is expressed in Rupees. Since the residual liability rests with the state it has to bear the cost of currency fluctuations. Thanks to this inconsistency the state is expected to take care of its nuclear liabilities at the cost of its fiscal responsibilities and development commitments. Between December 2007 and August 2010, when the Bill was passed, SDR appreciated by 15 per cent in comparison to the Rupee. A similar currency fluctuation in future would raise the public share of the total liability for each nuclear accident by Rupees 3182 million, equivalent to the annual budget allocation for smaller provinces under the Education for All program.

Map showing India’s nuclear power plants – Source, Official Indian map as at mapsofindia.com.


Sovereignty and separatism in China and India: The myth of difference November 2, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Guest author: Dibyesh Anand, Associate Professor in International Relations, London’s University of Westminster

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum on 20 October 2010.

When it comes to dealing with dissent within the country, the contrast between the two rising powers in Asia — China and India — is distinct. The Chinese government believes in total co-option or complete marginalisation of intellectuals; the foreign ministry’s strong response to the Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo is an interesting case study in this regard. In contrast, the response of the Indian government to international recognition of critics — such as Binayak Sen of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, known for his campaigns against state-sponsored armed vigilantes in Naxal-affected Chhattisgarh in central India — is usually muted. An active civil society, competing media sources, multi-party electoral system, and effective judiciary — all with their own flaws, no doubt — cannot ensure an accountable government in India, but it does mean that dissenting voices aren’t suppressed as easily. This different attitude toward intolerance of dissent is to be expected as India is a multiparty democracy and China is a Party state (where no redressal mechanisms exist against the ruling party).

But it would be misleading to buy fully into a democratic India versus authoritarian China narrative and assume that more plurality, openness and fairness flows automatically out of the former. Anti-minority violence perpetrated by Hindu fanatics, often with state complicity, reminds us of the precariousness of life as a minority in India. While majoritarian nationalisms (Hindutva in India and Han chauvinism in China) are dangerous threats to the mainstream multiethnic nationalisms in both the countries, their lethality is more obvious in India than in China. The Chinese system is authoritarian, but it is so for everyone. Many Han Chinese feel that the government appeases the minorities but they cannot do anything about it. In India, this feeling of perceived appeasement of minorities contributes to the success of rightwing political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).