ETCA: Holy and unholy issues
Posted on August 16th, 2016

The proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between Sri Lanka and India continues to dominate public discussion. The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has reiterated its position that the formulation of a national policy on international trade pacts must precede the inking of the ETCA. Else, doctors say they will go all out to torpedo it. They are capable of shoving bitter medicine down the throats of self-important politicians. In fact, they have done so on several occasions in the past. Maniacally determined to sign the ETCA, the government has embarked on a mission to debilitate the GMOA by setting up a parallel health administration with non-medical personnel in key slots. For, the government doctors’ strength is derived from, inter alia, having their trade union members in top positions in the health sector.

The GMOA is not alone in the fight against the ETCA; it has the backing of several other professional organisations whose members fear India will use the controversial pact to be signed to solve part of its unemployment problem and expand the market for its goods and services at the expense of Sri Lankans.

Interestingly, while the Sri Lankan professionals are on the warpath, the campaign against ‘Indian expansionism’ has reached celestial heights, so to speak, with some people resisting an alleged attempt to build a branch of an Indian kovil here. There was a street protest the other day against what was called a move to set up a ‘Tirupati kovil’ in Kataragama; the protesters claimed a vast extent of land belonging to the Kataragama Devale had been cleared for that purpose. The Basnayake Nilame of the Devale has, however, rejected the allegation as baseless. Let the benefit of the doubt accrue to him.

We are wary of dealing with issues concerning holy shrines, which we believe, are best left to the deities concerned. However, it needs to be added that the gods and religious leaders of Indian origin have gained wide acceptance here. After all, the majority of Sri Lankans are followers of the Buddha, one of the greatest sons of India, and there is a school of thought that even God Kataragama is not of Sri Lankan origin. Most political leaders of Sri Lanka are often seen at famous shrines in India including Tirupati Temple, making votive offerings. (Cynics say a great deal of valuable forex could be saved if branches of those shrines could be established here!) So, it may be argued that people’s resistance to the alleged attempt to build an Indian Kovil in Kataragama stems not so much from their antipathy towards foreign deities but their aversion to the increasing Indian involvement in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs, the Ramayana Trail and Hanuman Bridge projects which have stirred up a real hornets’ nest here. It is only natural that there are people who look askance at even the Indian-funded ambulance service.

Indophiles may accuse the opponents of ETCA etc of seeing more devils than vast hell can hold, but, the latter’s fears stem from many a RAW deal Sri Lanka has received from a domineering India including the creation of the terrorist problem here. Suspicions many Sri Lankans harbour as regards India and its projects boil down to a chronic goodwill deficit, which has also caused India’s standing in the region to take a heavy beating. The best way India can overcome this problem, if it cares to, is to act as an elder brother in keeping with the Gujral doctrine and not as Big Brother. As for the controversial ETCA, New Delhi can allow Colombo enough time to formulate a national policy on international pacts and, thereby, allay the doubts, suspicions and fears in the minds of Sri Lankan professionals and others if it has nothing to hide.

7 Responses to “ETCA: Holy and unholy issues”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Great Editorial here !
    Our thanks to the Editor, Island.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    India gave us the inestimable gift of a 30 year Eelam War.

    Now they are seeding various Tamil/Hindu cultural icons in Sri Lanka ranging from the Ramayana Trail, 16 Vellalar (?) statues, the Hanuman Bridge, Indian Language Institutes, Multiple embassies, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

    Are these attempts to ready Sri Lanka as a hospitable place for the Indians (mostly Tamil) projected to flood into and settle permanently in Sri Lanka under the ETCA?

    I have only ONE REQUEST to make to India, STAY THE HELL OUT OF SRI LANKA, and take your 3-wheelers with you!

    We want NOTHING from India; just STAY OUT!

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Building anymore religious shrines in Kataragama is totally unacceptable. God Kataragama was a Sinhala man by the name Mahasena (not Mahasen who is a different god by the name God Minneriya). He was a warrior. He was not Alexander the Great, Skanda, Kadira, Murugan, Al Kadir or Dionese – Greek war god (wrong spelling). Sinhalese must not restrict into Buddhism and must protect their pre-Buddhist religions centred around ancestor worship. Hindu gods are totally different and mostly aliens in their appearance and powers.

    Tragically, no political party (except JVP) promises to tear down ETCA if signed. It will become part of law as 13A has. GMOA must field candidates for the next general election and possibly presidential election too. At general election, grateful people will elect a few of them to parliament for standing up so strongly against ETCA. At the presidential election they can negotiate with the aspirant to either promise to cancel ETCA or suffer defeat.

    Since 2010 Sri Lanka has been in an unenviable position. At least 3 external parties are invading the island nation – India (including Tamils), USA and middle eastern extremist fronts. The north was demilitarised since 2010 and turned into Tamil-only. Separatist chief ministers were allowed to function in the northern and eastern provinces.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    The real target of ETCA is Buddhism. India is determined to wipe out Buddhism as it wiped out Buddhism in India, Nepal, Jaffna, Batticaloa and Vanni districts (all Hindu majority districts) of Sri Lanka. It was not the Europeans or Arabic invasions that did most damage though they contributed. Muslim majority Ampara district still has Buddhists and Christian majority Puttlam district too has Buddhists. But no Hindu majority district has Buddhists. India reduced Buddhist population to a microscopic 0.7% of the population by 2011.

    The best and only way to save Sri Lanka now is to declare the nation a Buddhist nation and create a supreme Sangha council (elected by vote from the members of the Sangha) which will yield veto power on important external dealings.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    And who do you think will do that? UNP, TNA, SLFP, JO, JVP? Or Endia, USA, China? No point discussing BIG PLANS that cannot be implemented! HOW is more important in SL than WHAT. Everyone knows WHAT to do but NO ONE knows HOW to do even 1% of that.

    For all that to happen a MILITARY TAKEOVER must take place. That suspends the CON-STITUTION. The military should get wise people to do a GOOD CONSTITUTION for SL that should have clauses that CANNOT be tampered with. Then hold elections under a new election system (NO preference votes and NO murderers, drug dealers, etc.) and elect a civilian government.

    Who saved SL by sacrificing 26,500? Politicians? NO! The military. They are the GUARDIAN GODS of SL. We need them when there is no hope like now. It was the MILITARY that saved SL for 5,000 years; not religion; not politicians and not other nonsense.

    Look at other Buddhist countries – Burma and Thailand. Who saved them? The MILITARY.

    If anyone here honestly thinks this JAMAN-PALANAYA govt. can be sent home by an election or by making noise, they are living in a fantasy.

    Elections are not held in this BANANA REPUBLIC. Even when elections are held, they are RIGGED by Endians and BRIBED by Americans. Maru Sira and Run-nil know this very well. So the ONLY HOPE is a military takeover.

    Some people don’t like military takeover BUT still want to SAVE SL from the JAMAN-PALANAYA govt. They must be JOKING. You can’t eat the cake and have the cake untouched at the same time. PICK your preference and stick with it.

    NO military takeover = YAPA(LA)NAYA.

  6. plumblossom Says:

    India has over 400 million poor people and over 40 million people in India are unemployed. If this ETCA is signed and the Hanuman bridge is built all these desperate people in India will come in droves to Sri Lanka since the socio-economic situation of Sri Lanka is a million times better than the socio economic situation of India. I would urge the uncaring and cruel Indian government to provide basic housing, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, food and clothing to these desperately poor 400 million Indians rather than spending US 5.2 billion dollars in building a Hanuman bridge to Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka signs this ETCA with India it will be Sri Lanka’s end. Sri Lanka should not sign any such trade deals where people can come here to work freely, unless the country we are signing the ETCA with has a similar or a better socio-economic situation than Sri Lanka. I would urge the uncaring, corrupt and cruel India Government to immediately stop building space stations and nuclear weapons and use that money to provide basic housing, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, food and clothing to the 400 million desperately poor people of India which is a government’s basic responsibility. Sri Lanka should stop immediately the signing of ETCA with India and urge the Indian Government to carry out the above task rather than serving the rich people of India only which the uncaring and cruel Indian Government seems to be doing.

  7. plumblossom Says:

    Mr. Udaya Gammanpila Sir,

    Apart from highly commending you for taking legal action against the treacherous CBK (Chaura Rejina) regarding the defamatory and utter lies she keeps repeating to defame her rivals, legal action should be taken against her for stating that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial Councils within the new constitution. Does this evil woman CBK think she owns Sri Lanka and that she is the one who is going to draw up the new constitution of Sri Lanka (according to the wishes of the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists)? The constitution of Sri Lanka should satisfy first and foremost the majority of people of this island i.e. the Sinhala people and the Sinhala people firstly do not want to draw up a new constitution nor do they want any more powers whatsoever be provided to the provincial councils.

    Someone has to go to the supreme court and take action against treacherous CBK for suggesting that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial councils within the yet to be drawn up constitution since this means the treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala have already drawn up a constitution to satisfy the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists which is illegal.

    Beyond this, this yahapalanaya government, CBK, Sirisena, the JVP, the JHU, Sarath Fonseka and the like are extremely corrupt and are enjoying perks such as Pajeros, official vehicles, official residences, Rs.200 lakhs loans, doing deals such as renting buildings for example to house the agricultural ministry at very high rents, the bond scam, paying supporters very high salaries and hiring them as ‘consultants’ who are not really consultants such as at the RDA, the rice mafia of Sirisena brother making massive amounts of money at the expense of poor rice farmers, the coal deals of Champika making yet more massive amounts of money, all these corrupt deals are being done and the country is being betrayed in this way by collecting the required two thirds majority in parliament to ensure that treacherous acts such as the missing persons act are approved by parliament.

    All the while valuable infrastructure that should be marketed all over the world such as the Mattala Airport was used for storing rice rather than enticing airlines all over the world to use this airport or at least divert half the airplanes which use Katunayake to Mattala, especially tourist planes.

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