Have the Superpowers ever helped the Third World Countries?
Posted on March 23rd, 2021

by Garvin Karunaratne

Today at the UNHRC in Geneva we have seen the UK and other Developed Countries sponsor a vote against our country. In detail,  this resolution involves the UNHRC establishing a programme to document human rights violations and find and preserve evidence against our war heroes for prosecution in International courts for incidents where they had to use fire power to defend the sovereign country. It is time we stop adoring the UK. It  follows that sanctions will inevitably follow. 

 Even India that should have stood with us abstained. Yet we implement the 13 th Amendment imposed on our country by force- our President Jayawardena shivered in his boots and gave in and he even incarcerated his members of parliament in a Four Star Hotel and marched them to Parliament to approve the 13 th Amendment, the implementation of which will someday split our country into two. He held letters of resignation signed by his members of parliament which he threatened to use to deprive them of their seats in Parliament if they refused. That was the ‘democracy’ of Jayawardena, the Don Juan Dharmapala of our time who sold our country to India and the IMF.  

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.. 

This paper will also appear in my forthcoming book: Selling the Motherland & Ideas for Development at Godages 

Garvin Karunaratne  

Former GA Matara. 23/3/2021

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

  1. Nimal Says:

    This is exact argument I have with the Western democracies. I was a victim of it in SL where US turned against my dear American friend who invested his life’s investment in SL because he gave us employment to so many with 3 textile factories. Their plan to deport him was aided by the Tamil deputy immigration offices in Colombo,JR who was the state minister under Dudley.I left the island in disgust and when I met Dudley at the London HC he was saddened and shocked to hear about the wrong done under his very nose.When the workers and I protested outside Dudley’s office his aide chased us away.
    Only person who had some sympathy was Mr Philip Gunawardana and one Upali Wijewardana,latter was a no nonsense man worked at Liver brothers.In my very young dads I learned a great deal fro Upali.When we invited to a meal at Akase Kade at Cylinco building, he never spoke idle gossip but very business like and he should have been the President of SL.He wold not hug cement and mud statues or venerate before religious monks of any religion but a down to earth business like man and so was Mr Philp Gunwardana. He had an office close to Cylinco where the old colonial Parliament was.
    So we don’t need foreign help of any kind and we should be able to develop the country ourselves, but of cause we need foreign technology and hire foreign expert to begin with.

  2. aloy Says:

    You are correct on every thing else but this:

    “So we don’t need foreign help of any kind and we should be able to develop the country ourselves, but of cause we need foreign technology and hire foreign expert to begin with.”

    Nobody will give us technology, even the Brits who actually gave us ‘Free Education’ at the later stages does not give it to anybody. Just think of it:
    The tool that they invented the “Colossus” after a great effort helped them to break the German coding that they sent to their subs was kept under the wrap for 30 years. This was the tool that their men in Cambridge Uni tried to invent for ages (since the days of Babbage & Lady Ada Lovelace).

    Even South Korea and Taiwan did not get it free from anybody; it is through hard work and foresight of two individuals in the respective countries that they are leading in the tech industry today.

    At least we should start by teaching history on technology in our schools, then they will begin to appreciate and understand the what goes under the hood in the little machine in everybody’s hand today.

    But I do not think we can go anywhere with the two penny politicos and their followers we have in the country. For them tricks are the way to go.
    From the highest man in the land to the lowest in the “pradesiya saba” they want to do things using tricks.

    Someone in a high office is taking all of them by the nose. That is our problem.

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    It’s rubbing salt to the wound they caused calling these countries third world! Where is second world? It is a derogatory
    term coined by the same people who robbed these countries and then finally destroyed never to get up on their feet.
    Why? The countries were changed forever by the colonial menaces by shifting people from different countries who
    don’t want to be part of those countries after centuries and centuries. Dutch bar stewards brought the worst culprits and
    look where Sri Lanka today. Not content with killing 100,000+, using UNHRC etc. west’s cat’s paw to trouble Sri Lanka
    nationally and internationally.

    The traitor foreigners killed 100,000+ to achieve their drealam and still haven’t given up the project. Whoever can
    afforded a plane ticket was dispatched to developed countries by traitor alugosuwa (to Sinhalese Buddhists only)
    thambi mudiyanselagejr@. Now the traitors are driving nail after after nail using their block votes to blackmail deshapaluwas in those countries and putting all sorts of trouble through UNHCRapists (impotent in Syria, Yemen rampaging rapists in Sri Lanka). Looked everywhere to find thambi mudiyanselage jr@ to thank for all the ills Sri Lanka facing today after colonial menace done half the job. Unfortunately traitor alugosuwa is long dead and still some people, including some Sinhala dhrohiyas revere the monster.

    Why not call these countries developing countries. Haven’t they suffered enough to be rubbed salt on their wounds
    which are never going to heal thanks to planting these undesirables who are plotting to kill the natives! Sri Lanka is a
    melting pot today. Thanks to colonial menace and anti Buddhist, anti Sri Lanka, anti Sri Lanka, minority worshipin,
    Mother Lanka dismembering UNPatrioitc_party!

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