Breaking

Tuesday, 9 May 2023 00:00 –      – 66

 

 It is not getting back to “normalcy” of the past we need, but going for a “new normalcy”, people will have to decide upon

The IMF program will therefore not focus on law and order and social discipline with peace and democratic rights for a civilised society in Sri Lanka. Designed to impose axing of public expenditure and dismantling of SOEs with heavy retrenchments, “normalcy” will be far more rigidly regimented than ever before, argued as necessary for improving the economy. What probably comes with IMF therefore is “pre-COVID normalcy” with all its indecent, uncivilised cruelty under an arrogant kleptocratic rule

 

We need to get back to “normalcy”! That certainly has national consensus.

“Normalcy” is what is essentially promised in numerous statements by numerous experts, working for the IMF program and with President Wickremesinghe. Most urbans now believe President Wickremesinghe would establish “normalcy.” But “normalcy” is not defined, nor explained by any political head of a government or by economic experts who say IMF assistance remains the only path to “normalcy.”

“Normalcy” in a modern society is generally accepted as an environment with socio economic stability, is conflict free, democratic and peaceful. A society People have an economically comfortable, contended life with freedom and democratic rights assured. This normalcy depends on economic growth with social justice and a government accountable to its People.

Our “normalcy” we think we are familiar with, had neither an economy with social justice for a comfortable life for all people nor freedom proper in a functional democracy. People know this free market economy is corrupt to the core. They know all governments cater to the filthy rich. But any employee who demands a good enough living income for a “08 hour working day” is simply discarded as irresponsible and lazy. They are told “even in the US people work after normal working hours for extra income”. That in this free market economy is expected to be accepted as “normal” living.

People are generally not aware that the “normalcy” they were living in, has left the richest 20% of the households with a 50.8% share of household income by 2016 and it kept increasing. They would not know the poorest 20% had only a measly share of 4.8% (CBSL Socio Economic Data 2020). This inequality is a growing phenomenon and “normalcy” is that in free market economies, especially in our part of the world.

Free market economies are essentially mega city centred and more entrenched a society becomes in a free market economy, more the migration of labour from marginalised rural and plantation societies to urban centres. Proof, there is no equality and social justice in these economies but that remains the accepted “norm.” After nearly 40 years in this free market economy in 2016, the “richest group” (20%) in Colombo district had accumulated 72.9% of the household income leaving 27.1% to the rest of the 80% in Colombo (Sachin Parathalingam – GroundViews) Fast changing Colombo skyline is apparent proof of this barking disparity in income and wealth that decides “normalcy”.

Economic growth measured in abstract indicators like GDP, inflation, per capita income, per capita consumption and other similar indicators, do not account for mega corruption and fraud, and for erosion of democratic rights in their calculations. Hypothetically, if there was no corruption and fraud, if we were ruled by a transparent government accountable to the People, not only our GDP, inflation, per capita income, per capita consumption and the rest of the indicators, but the very appearance of the general quality of people’s lives would have also been far more improved and impressive in defining “normalcy”.

“Normalcy” the people were placed in pre-COVID-19 Sri Lanka had no such promising factors. Even the most essential social needs were wholly messed up with. Erratic introduction of the private bus service people were forced to adopt and compelled most to own their own daily transport, leading to an abnormality hitherto unknown in normal life. Uncertainty and indiscipline in private bus services and unresolved heavy traffic in urban and suburban areas still have a ruinous impact people have to cope with. Emergence of private sector health services have burdened people’s lives with rural State hospitals left partly ignored. Formal education too with private businesses allowed to initiate educational institutes outside the national education system, has clear discrimination in opportunities and facilities between urban and rural children. As a cluster of social necessities, they kept restricting the routine life of the people, leading to an extremely competitive consumerism that has since become the norm.

With free market economy came attacks on Tamil communities in 1977 and 1979, adoption of the PTA as temporary but made permanent, 1981 June havoc in Jaffna including the burning of the Jaffna library and the 1983 July pogrom. All that made certain of a bleeding civil war in the North-East. This war had a devastating impact on social life. It led to militarising the State and society. There also were “patriotic” campaigns to recruit Sinhala-Buddhist youth as soldiers. All campaigns for war establishing the Sinhala-Buddhist ideology as a fiercely dominating social ideology, every possibility of a negotiated, peaceful and a civilised answer to the political conflict was denied. Militarily concluded in May 2009 the war left over 1,100 soldiers in the Indian Peacekeeping Force, over 100,000 civilians, around 30,000 State security forces personnel and about 27,000 LTTE cadres killed and many more thousands missing. All along, that Sinhala-Buddhist dominance left a bleeding normalcy eliminating “social peace”.

Thereafter, Sinhala-Buddhist extremism came to be campaigned on anti-Muslim slogans as in present India and Myanmar. That too has destroyed lives and property in many areas including Aluthgama, Ampara, Digana, Udispaththuwa and Negombo. All these remain accepted as “normal” especially in the Sinhala South.

The other most savage feature in this free market economy is its absolute disregard for the environment. Almost all landslides and earth slips during past decades that accounted for deaths, displacement of families, damage to housing and property in Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces and flash floods in Colombo and Seethawaka area are man-made, though rubbed off as “natural disasters”. It is an accepted fact that during the past 40 years within the neo liberal global market economy, the whole world is caught in Global Warming and Climate Change. Nothing normal in that.

Filthy rich in free markets cannot afford law and order, ethics and morals upheld and respected in society for unaudited “profiteering and asset accumulations.” One does not need long explanations and political theorising to establish there was serious breakdown of law and order and extensive spread of crime at intolerable levels in pre-COVID “normalcy.” Few numbers like “Abductions – 10,980 and Kidnappings – 10,030 totalling 21,010. Extortions – 5,040. Robberies – 4,770. Cases on counterfeiting currencies and possession – 6,709. Murder – 2005 and Dangerous Drugs related offences including possession, import and export – 10,012 in just one year (2019) convey the message.

This in our society is the most cruel and inhuman legacy of this free market “normalcy.” Trashing of ethics, morals, social values and humanity for indecent accumulation of income and wealth. In one year, 1,674 women above the age of 16 years have been raped. That same year 67,543 girls below the age of 16 years have also been raped. Of them 10,765 rapes are Statutory Rape, as consent of a “minor” is not legally accepted as “consent”. There was more abuse on children that same year. There were 8,921 cases of unnatural offenses/grave sexual abuse related to children. Another 256 cases of Sexual Exploitation of Children and 90,400 cases of Cruelty to Children. (Grave Crime Abstract for the Year 2019 – was available on the Police website till June 2021).

This “normalcy” that we lived with was in a country that has organised Sunday religious schools for nearly a hundred years. Ours is the only country on the world map that has Full Moon days declared public holidays, a privilege for Sinhala-Buddhists. It’s everyone’s knowledge that all crimes committed do not get reported. Yet can anyone imagine a country where over 67,500 underage girls get raped in a year? Can anyone imagine 90,000 plus cases of cruelty against children in that same year? Also abductions/kidnappings totalling 21,000 in that year alone?

Let me stress. They were just “normal.” Thus “normalcy in this free market economy” by 2019 was all about, mega corruption and fraud, violent Sinhala-Buddhist campaigning, inefficient and politicised State administration, militarisation of society, deforestation and destruction of the environment, unaccounted numbers of extra judicial killings, extortions, murder, dangerous drugs related offences, rape of women and underage girls, sexual abuse of and cruelty to children and everything else a civilised world would not live with.

Will the IMF program therefore support Sri Lanka to eliminate all destruction and criminal inhumanity in regaining economic stability with “normalcy”? IMF prescription speaks only about “corruption” in getting back to previous normalcy. There is nothing more than “corruption” for the IMF. They do not see anything else as evil, criminal and inhuman in pre-COVID “normalcy”.

The IMF program will therefore not focus on law and order and social discipline with peace and democratic rights for a civilised society in Sri Lanka. Designed to impose axing of public expenditure and dismantling of SOEs with heavy retrenchments, “normalcy” will be far more rigidly regimented than ever before, argued as necessary for improving the economy. What probably comes with IMF therefore is “pre-COVID normalcy” with all its indecent, uncivilised cruelty under an arrogant kleptocratic rule.

This poses the question, is that the “normalcy” we should accept? A serious social discourse is now necessary to define a “New Normalcy” with (i) a democratic, secular and inclusive State (ii) environmental safeguards and reforesting (iii) eliminating socio-economic inequality and (iv) a White Paper on “National Reforms”. Thus it is not getting back to “normalcy” of the past we need, but going for a “new normalcy”, people will have to decide upon.

 

Powered By

 

 

Author


Hit Counter provided by technology news