Fishy relations

With Tamil Nadu due to go to the polls within weeks, the issue of Indian fishermen being attacked in the waters between India and Sri Lanka has once again made the news. The oceanic border between India and Sri Lanka has no visible demarcations and fishermen often find themselves on the wrong side. While Sinhala fishermen (often seeking tuna) have been arrested in Indian waters and later released, there has also long been a history of the Sri Lankan navy attacking and killing Indian fishermen.

IMF: Sri Lanka’s exports/GDP falling ‘for years’

"[Sri Lanka’s] export earnings , as a percentage of GDP, have been falling for years . So the first thing for Sri Lanka is to boost its exports to where it was 10 years ago .” - IMF Asia Pacific Director Anoop Singh . (See The Island’s report here .) Interestingly, ten years ago Sri Lanka was gripped by high-intensity armed conflict. And, as the IMF’s chart (click more below) shows, Sri Lanka’s export/GDP ratio today is the same as in 1987 - when the JVP’s second insurgency erupted, and the IPKF intervention began. While Sri Lanka’s Central Bank says export earnings would grow strongly in 2011, the National Chamber of Exporters recently said it would not be able to deliver half of the Central Bank’s expectations. The exporters blame growing energy costs (for their production) and the strengthening rupee (making their products expensive in the global market). See ‘ Why Sri Lanka’s exporters are gloomy ’ Meanwhile, what exactly does the IMF want Sri Lanka to do? Diversify export destinations (to Asia from US and EU), and export products (from garments and tea to more sophisticated ones).

Tamil Nadu wants stronger Indian naval presence

As India again warned Sri Lanka that the killing of Indian fishermen by the latter's navy was damaging bilateral relations, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Tuesday called for a stronger Indian naval presence, “The coastal waters of south need to be paid some attention through resources and personnel [just] as land borders in north, west and east are being attended to,” Karunanidhi said. “It is requested that our demand for more vessels, police stations and manpower, and better air surveillance capabilities may be considered favourably,” he said. [See also related posts: ' Terror in Jaffna II: blocking international efforts ' and ' Sri Lanka's fishy story '.] Delhi Tuesday rejected Sri Lanka's claim a 'third force' was to be blamed for the attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen and noted that such incidents don't happen even on the Pakistani border.

Bank lending and ethnicity

Figures released recently by Sri Lanka’s Central Bank reveal an increase in bank lending to the private sector (see p6 here ). But an industry body said this week major exporters were not borrowing as they are gloomy about economic prospects. What could this contradiction mean?

Secession and peace: lessons from Sudan

A Sudanese voter casts a ballot as others wait in line. More than 99 percent are predicted to have voted in favour of separation from the north. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

Hawaii temple joins Thai Poosam celebration

The Kadavul Temple in Hawaii was amongst the thousands of Saivite temples celebrating the festival of Thai Poosam this month. The Kadavul temple is attached to the Kauai Aadheenam or monastery, which traces its guru lineage directly from Jaffna’s well known sage Yogaswami . The guru lineage is named Kailasa Parampara, after the Kailasa mountain range in the Himalayas where the earliest of these yogis is said to have meditated. Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii’s main islands. The Kauai Aadheenam was established in 1973, by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, an American priest initiated by Yogaswami in Jaffna in 1949. In 1986, the World Religious Parliament in New Delhi honored Sivaya Subramuniyaswami as one of the five Hindu spiritual leaders outside India who had most dynamically promoted Hinduism in the previous 25 years. He passed away in 2001 .

State-of-the-art US avionics to China in 50 year deal

Here’s something for pundits of US-China military rivalry to think about: The US giant General Electric, one of the aviation industry’s biggest suppliers of jet engines and airplane technology, is to share its most sophisticated airplane electronics with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). State-owned AVIC also supplies China's military with aircraft and weapons systems. Avionics are the electronic and computer systems that control an airplane and determine its capabilities. The Chinese government insists Western companies operating there should be “willing to share technology and know-how.” However, the G.E.-AVIC avionics joint venture, analysts say, appears to be the deepest relationship yet and involves sharing the most confidential technology . See reports by the New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The deal will help China's manufacturers eventually compete with the US aircraft industry, which is one of America's strongest manufacturing sectors, as well as the European one.

‘A supremely pragmatic actor’

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao at their bilateral meeting last month in Seoul before the G20 summit . Photo Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images It has become routine in much analysis of international affairs to position China as an opponent of the West (i.e. not just a competitor), and as prioritizing state sovereignty and non-interference in a state’s internal affairs above other international principles. The one is also often suggested as the explanation for the other. However, China’s changing role in Sudan over the past two decades demonstrates that neither can be taken as a given.

Terror in Jaffna I: smothering politics and economic revival

The all-pervasive climate of terror being engineered in the Jaffna peninsula is intended to stifle the revival of Tamil political and economic activity there. The brutal killings, abductions, ‘disappearances’ and intimidation are not random or manifestations of ‘lawlessness’, but a deliberate campaign of targeted violence with specific political and economic goals.

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