The Sri Lanka crisis should tell us a story; a story of unbridled power, of clannish politics and of the lack of economic planning. The entire Rajapaksa clan had been propped up by the Sri Lankan people as a strong hand that can take the island nation to great heights. The opposite has happened. Not only that, the entire effort put forth by the Rajapaksas has only enriched themselves and the Chinese. The public has been left in the lurch.
The lesson from this is for the public, for the Establishment, as well as for the international community. Sparkling optics can take you through the election process and to the chair. Governance, however, needs sterner stuff.
Think of the debt burden on a small country like Sri Lanka. It is not just that it defaulted (for the first time) on a loan of $ 51 billion. There will be more to come when the Chinese demand their pound of flesh for constructing a white elephant port (Hambantota) and giant stadium, and many more ‘facilities’ that are of no use to the nation.
With the Rajapaksas, the nation moved away from India and into the hands of the Chinese. For Sri Lankans, it was possibly a case of jumping from the frying pan to the fire. They have been burnt, but left lessons in its wake.
The public must not be swayed by huge optics that add little to the basic needs of roti, kapda, makaan. Unless the public is sure of the basic needs, nothing else really matters. If the economy crashes, what point is there in massive, useless construction projects? What use is there if a road, if it leads to nowhere, and if the road cannot even generate a rupee of revenue? And it is regressive, when such construction demands payback with interest.
Whether the Rajapaksas got kickbacks or not will be a matter of investigation, but the very fact that they were swayed by fairytales woven by the Chinese makes them look less than smart. By inference, the people who believed in the Rajapaksas’ stories and elected them, now look pretty foolish indeed.