It was the white man’s oil companies and their off-white marionettes (merchants, moneylenders, landlords) who’ve frustrated industrial renaissance in Sri Lanka.
How did merchants, moneylenders and landlords come to dominate cultivators and the entire economy on behalf of multinational corporations? They simply refuse to invest in modern (machine) industry!
Is it autos or tractors we need to make? US and Indian multinationals, never known for their sharing of knowledge, promised this week to fulfill a 30% local sourcing requirement for auto assembly. Has this promise been made many times before? No details are provided about supply chains, how these parts will be made and by what instruments.
Laxapana architect DJ Wimalasurendra named names 100 years ago: it was the white man’s oil companies and their off-white marionettes (merchants, moneylenders, landlords) who’ve frustrated industrial renaissance in Sri Lanka. They’ve instead promoted Gandhian (Senanayakian) romanticism, which Nehru ignored for India.
Saroijini Dutt, ‘Nightingale of India’s Independence’, who called her friend Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Chocolate Mickey Mouse’, once quipped, after watching the frenetic ‘handicraft’ activity at Gandhi’s ashram: “It has cost the nation a lot of money, to keep Mickey Mouse poor!”
While we don’t expect instant panaceas, there’s no official pronouncements and no media discussion is even allowed about large industry – cement, steel, machinery, chemicals – which provide the industrial raw materials for small industry. Philip Gunawardena and William de Silva declared large industry vital 60 years ago? Yet there’s lots of blabber about MSMEs (Medium & Small Enterprises), etc. So who’s afraid of LMEs (Large), which can employ and skill 10,000s?
The media is busy blaring other high-pitched orchestrations instead. The topmost screeching is against the 20th Amendment, with a recurrent ostinato against ‘dictatorship’. (Ostinato are musical motifs relentlessly repeated in the same voice – from Latin for ‘obstinate’). The stage being set to undermine the people’s will, through the usual Sorosian ‘color’ revolutions.
The other ostinato is the cry for exports (e.g., garments), which need expensive MNC imports (machines, yarn, thread, needles, pins, etc). Then there’s the lament for foreign investments. Indeed, ostinato may be a portmanteau: Obstinate + NATO!
Yet underneath buzzes the dogged drone to maintain the dictatorship of the colonial import-export plantation regime, which Sri Lanka has lived under for the last many centuries.
The news is all aflutter about buoyant stock markets – “Stellar week in ‘Super September’ for CSE”. Yet the stock market has little to do with the real economy (see ee Economists, Varoufakis). A quick glance through each ee Finance section repeats regular news items dedicated to the state of the rupee. Each week the news follows an unerring pattern of ‘Strong’, ‘Flat’, ‘Weak’, ‘Firm’, etc, as if observing a patient’s heart in the ICU. The same goes for the WB, IMF, ADB forecasts on the economy. The same goes with the casino stock market, where eternal ‘price disturbance’ is the name of the game, and sharks and piranhas beguile the guppies, by claiming the sea is an exciting equal-opportunity arena.
While the World Bank destroyed cultivation committees here, farmland in China still belongs to rural collectives. This was mainly based on the solidarity of villagers organized into communes, which our half-bright fullbrights insist were dismantled after Mao. Not so! 100,000s of these Township & Village Enterprises (TVEs) based on communes, became the root of China’s great rise, turning into industrial collectives! Economics departments and economists promote nonsense, having no idea about how some Asian countries have really advanced.
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