Have the Superpowers ever helped the Third World Countries?
Posted on October 13th, 2019

By Garvin Karunaratne

Many authorities in Sri Lanka  are waiting with open arms to grab the MCC Grant of $ 480 million. They do not care that some 28% of the country will be sold off to the USA for two hundred years.. Two hundred years is well over the period that Sri Lanka was a colony of Great Britain! Britain ruled Sri Lanka for only 132 years. It is said that one of our major political parties will sign the MCC contract immediately after winning the elections. It means that a major chunk of land with the two ports of Colombo and Trincomalee and including the Eppawela phosphate and Pulmoddai Illmenite deposits will be sold to the United States for 200 years. Sri Lanka will be divided into three sections and with the prestigious section going to the USA, the rest will inevitably disintegrate. Is that the fate of our beloved country?

In this context it is worthwhile assessing whether the Superpowers ever helped our countries.

From the Fifteenth Century, the Superpowers conquered over half the World and imposed their colonial domination. Sovereign countries that had till then enjoyed peace, had self reliant and self sufficient economies were structurally altered to produce crops for export and also to be the consumers of the manufactured products of the Superpowers. The highlands lands in the hills, that enabled people to obtain their firewood and building materials, where their cattle were tethered during the paddy cultivation and also retained water throughout the drought months for cultivation was taken over under the Crown Lands Ordinance which deemed that all unoccupied land belonged to the State. These lands were then sold to Europeans at some five shillings an acre for opening up plantations.

In Sri Lanka the railways were built to bring down tea and rubber from the hill country. To build the Railway lines the British used Rajakariya- forced labour, (normally enlisted for two weeks a year,  to maintain the village infrastructure of tanks and channels), to pull down the forest, clear the rail track and laydown rails. People were forced to travel from far. It is reported that the number of people killed by snake bites while laying the rail track  is more than the number of sleepers on the rail track.

The Superpowers benefitted from the colonial economies. From Bengal, a small state of India, when the East India Company defeated Shiraj Ud Daulah, the ruler of Bengal 2,750 million pounds was sent to Britain,- in the first eight years of Company rule, 5.9 million pounds were extracted out of Bengal…In the 1770 famine where a third of the population of Bengal died, more taxes were colleted than in the earlier year…. the yearly drain of wealth from India represents at least pounds 35 million.” This income from all colonies enabled Britain to become wealthy, build skyscrapers, develop social security and free health  systems for their entire population.

When the colonies became sovereign states the Superpowers had to change their modus operandi.  Then it became controlling the countries very unofficially, covertly and at times enforced with threats.

Let us see what happened.

One can quote Professor Jeffery Sachs: The USA has thrown elections through secret CIA financing- putting foreign leaders on CIA payrolls.”(From; Commonwealth Economics for a Crowded Planet)

In 1953, a  CIA Coup was staged in Iran.   . The CIA ousted the democratically elected ruler, Mohammed Mosadegh, ushered in a quarter century of brutal rule under the Shah and stimulated the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and anti Americanism in the Middle East.(Stephen Kinzer: All the Shah’s Men)

Mossadegh had sought to make Iran a full democracy. He nationalized the Iranian Oil industry   that belonged to the Anglo Iranian Oil Company. In August 2013, the CIA formally admitted  that it was involved both in the planning and the execution of the coup, including the bribing of Iranian politicians, security and army high ranking officials as well as pre-coup propaganda.”(wikija.org)

Rohith , a Director of Adult Education in Afghanistan was a batchmate of my doctoral studies at Michigan State University in 1978. He told me again and again to take a month’s leave after studies and come to Afghanistan when he promised to take me all over the country when he goes on circuit. Afghanistan was a prosperous country till the USA and Russia invaded it under various pretexts.  Today it is a country torn between war lords.

The sovereign countries mustered their resources and developed their agriculture and industry. Sri Lanka was in the forefront and achieved self sufficiency in paddy, the staple crop by 1970 and did wonders in the import substitution type of industry.

The countries developed their agriculture by having streamlined extension systems, also using people’s organizations like cooperatives and cultivation committees to plan and enlist the participation of the people. The USA itself- its,  Agency for International Development and  its  Ford Foundation backed by expertise at Michigan State University, spearheaded a rural development programme in the Kotwali Thana of the Comilla District. In under a decade the yield of paddy was doubled, industries were developed and poverty was totally alleviated. Kotwali Thana is today an oasis within a poverty stricken country. Its method was through cooperative extension work and total development,

Third World agricultural development had to be stopped .

This the Superpowers did in around 1978, through the World Bank. As each trained agricultural officer at the village level had over a thousand farmers, cooperatives were used to enable the farmers to cooperate. In Sri Lanka there were two peoples organizations- the multipurpose cooperatives and the cultivation committees to organize paddy cultivation. The World Bank barred agricultural officers from using peoples organizations. Instead the officers were asked to contact farmers direct.  To make the various countries accept this system, an Aid package was offered . The Training and Visit System is financed under IDA Credit where funds are brought in on foreign aid  to meet the salaries of local officers and servicing costs. The IDA Credit is also based on a grace period of 10 years so that the Government that takes the loan  has nothing to worry about the consequences of repayment.” (From: Karunaratne:Administering Rural Development in the Third World(1983)

The adoption of the Training & Visit System totally destroyed the agricultural extension systems that had been built up in Sri Lanka and other similar countries.

The USA was very keen to develop their sale of wheat. The USA came up with Public Law 480(PL480) which provided wheat at concessionary rates to Developing Countries. Food Aid was provided till the countries came to depend on it.  A USA Department of Agriculture Officer once said: We taught people to eat wheat, who did not eat it before.” Orville Freeman, US Secretary of State said; “in the last seven years our agricultural exports to Taiwan climbed by 531%  and to South Korea by 643%.  PL480 makes good sense.”(From Lappe & Collins; Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity)  It has been proved that the inroads of wheat sales has had a detrimental effect on local agriculture in that bread found a place and ousted local grains, yams etc. that  were consumed by people earlier.

The Third World countries were at the forefront of developing new varieties of paddy,  Sri Lanka established seed producing stations  and developed new varieties well before 1955. This enabled the doubling of yields. To undo this the Superpowers through the IMF advised the privatization of seed farms. Many important seed farms were privatized. The USA also established the International Rice Research Institute in Manila, Philippines in 1990 and sought to undermine the  production of new varieties by countries.  In my words: Sri Lanka was the first country to come up with miracle paddy seeds. In 1955 we had H4 and immediately afterwards H 8.

We privatized most seed farms and thereby cannot assure our farmers of high yielding certified seed. Distributing high yielding certified seed and organizing cultivation was the mantra by which we became self sufficient by 1970.  Our country was deprived of certified seed as well as the extension service through cooperatives, all at the behest of the World Bank.

Further, multinationals in the USA  that deal with seeds  are engaged in a massive campaign to buy all the seed farms all over the World… Led by Monsanto they are buying seedfarms.. The multinationals are seeking patents for the seeds they develop and they have also developed ‘terminator technology’ whereby the crop that is produced from the certified seed does not germinate. It follows that once the multinationals develop new varieties the farmers even in the remotest areas  will have to purchase new seeds from the multinationals. Gone are the days when farmers can retain their stock of seeds from the earlier harvest to the next.”(From: How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka is blessed with many resources.

The Superpowers  have tried again and again to wrest control of these resources. Eppawela has a major Phosphate resource . A US multinational was interested in securing this phosphate and I quote from the Report done by scientists appointed by Minister Batty Weerakoon once Minister of Technology.(who passed away today-6/01/2019):

The proposal of the US mining company will exhaust the resource in 30 years, with insignificant benefit to the country. The proposal is highly environmentaly damaging and does not serve in the national interest in any manner. Mountains of gypsum, an unwanted byproduct  will accumulate polluting the environment”

The invasion on phosphate had to be stopped by a  Supreme Court order.

In order to enable people-farmers to increase their production and thereby alleviate their poverty, Sri Lanka had in place a development infrastructure. This included the Marketing Department(MD) activities- the Vegetable and Fruit Purchasing Scheme under which the MD purchased vegetables and fruits from producers at a higher rate than what was offered by traders,  This produce was transported to the Cities and sold at Fair Price Shops at cheap rates. The MD kept a margin of 15% for handling and wastage as opposed to 100% kept by traders. The fruits were processed into Jam and Juice, which enabled the country to become self sufficient. The MD ran rice mills which milled paddy into rice. The MD had a Bakery which produced bread and pastries. The MD used to run canteens at festivals like Kataragama where food was sold at cheap rates, competing with hoteliers. This was the infrastructure we had to combat inflation. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forbid the countries from attending to commercial undertakings and the MD was abolished.  With this the producers found it difficult to sell their produce and this reduced production. Imports increased.

Under the advice of the IMF, which is run by the Superpowers, development was brought to a standstill.

Once President Clinton tried to entice Bangladesh. Let me narrate what happened:

Despite the overtures of President Clinton on his current visit to Bangladesh, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh has refused to change Bangladesh’s long held stance  against the liberalization of  of gas exports until local needs were met and a fifty year reserve was assured. President Clinton had earlier announced $ 97 million in food aid, $ 84 million in clean energy initiatives and $ 8.6 million to reduce abusive child labour, ‘debt for nature’ swap and forgave $ 6 million  in Bangladesh’s external debt but Prime Minister Sheik Hassina stood her ground stating, ‘we would like to lead a life of dignity’. The decision of the Government of Bangladesh disappointed US and British Companies as well as the World Bank. Their idea was to prise open the gas reserves of Bangladesh for exploitation by multinationals and the bulk of the wealth created would flow to the Western Companies.”

One can go on for ever detaling how the Superpowers have tried again and again to ruin Third World countries. This is a never ending saga. They have never helped us. Instead they want us to produce raw materials, sell it to them and buy their manufactures.

Sri Lanka is already trapped by the International Monetary Fund- the IMF by their imposing the Structural Adjustment Programme on us which advised us to spend foreign exchange which we did not have and advised us to meet the shortfall with loans. We are now an indebted country to the extent of $ 60 billion, of which say half was spent on development projects-Mahaweli, roads and armaments to win the war etc and half spent to help the rich, on IMF advice.

It is time we shake off the shackles of domination from foreign Superpowers and their IMF. Instead we have to follow a non aligned path and develop our resources, help our people to increase production get employed in industry and alleviate poverty   becoming self reliant. .

Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D. Michigan State University
Former G.A. Matara
Author of: How the IMF Ruined SriLanka & Alternative Programmes of Success(Godages:2006) from which I have quoted.
How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle/Godages:2017)

12/10/2019

2 Responses to “Have the Superpowers ever helped the Third World Countries?”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    The answer is a resounding no.

    Very soon Sri Lanka will sign MCC and SOFA agreements with USA. That is signing the death certificate of the nation.

    No main candidate has said he will not sign it. Both main candidates support it.

    A very bleak future awaits Sri Lanka.

  2. Nimal Says:

    They will never help the third world,only use the crooked leaders to rob the assets and deposit the wealth in their countries or make conflicts to sell the arms. We should not vote for any politicians who have stashed up our taxpayers’ money there.Eventually they will confiscate it under money laundering and racketeering.
    Money stolen from VNZ and invested in US will be confiscated soon and the roughs will spent time. This cycle will go on until our assets are depleted.
    Out two bit ambuda wearing politicians keep the population calm and bribed by pretending to be good Buddhists by entertaining the rouges in the temples. That is the sad fact in our para Darmadeepaya.

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