Writing in the Caravan, Viruben Nandakumar details the worrying militarisation of Sri Lankan society and the influence Sri Lanka’s war crimes accused security forces continue to wield.
“While the country’s political establishment and civil government face a crisis of legitimacy, the military seems poised to weather the turmoil with its considerable might intact or even enhanced relative to other centres of power,” he writes.
Drawing on the scholarship of Rajesh Venugopal, Nandakumar details how an embrace of market reforms by the Jayawardene administration led to deepening inequality and growing militarisation as a means of poverty alleviation.
Nandakumar also draws on the work of Darini Rajasingham-Senanayakeite to detail how a similar “unequal, militarised and skewed neoliberal development model” allowed for the rise of Pakistan’s military regime.
Despite the dire economic crisis, the Sri Lanka government continued to allocate 15% of the state budget to the armed forces. Off the books, the military runs a string of “hotels, restaurants, a golf course, an airport, an airline, a travel-booking service, a scuba-diving centre and more”.
The growing political influence of the military is also evidenced by the former President’s appointment of military officials to key civilian posts. As the Economist notes, “generals, past or present, are in charge of customs, the port authority, development, agriculture and poverty eradication”.
Read the full piece here.