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‘America First’ clashes with India’s bid for strategic autonomy

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By P.K.Balachandran
India and the US have designated themselves as “strategic partners” with political, economic and military dimensions to the relationship. But the partnership has kept coming under strain. The reasons are two-fold: Firstly, its contours are not defined. Secondly, Washington’s‘America First’ policy and its tendency to pursue a foreign policy almost exclusively in its own immediate interest, clashes with India’s penchant for maintaining ‘strategic autonomy’despite its increasing economic and military dependence on the US. Vaccine Raw Material Controversy The latest irritant was the US refusal to ...Continued

Shut the stable door, the horse has bolted.

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By Rathu Hattakari
State Minister of Primary Healthcare, Epidemics and Covid Disease Control SudarshiniFernandopulle told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the public cannot choose which Corona virus vaccine they take.  She said they must take what is given to them. This is a rich statement coming from SudarshiniFernandopulle. Meaning she is talking through her hat! Why? Because before a person takes the vaccine for Covid– 19 s/he has to sign a form giving their consent to it. Either Ms. Fernandopulle is ignorant of this or she knows about ...Continued

Can SAARC come out of the doldrums?

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  The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) came into existence 36 years ago in 1985. The South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) had come into existence in 1993 and the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) was operationalized in 2006. Thanks to SAARC, South Asia’s intra-regional trade rose from 4.5% of its total trade in 2008 to 7.6% in  2015, and 6.9% in 2018. But SAARC’s achievements have been significantly low as compared to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Intra-ASEAN ...Continued

The envisaged legal structure of the Colombo Port City Economic...

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By P.K.Balachandran
Colombo, April 18: A leading Buddhist monk, Ven.Muruththetuwe Ananda Thero, head of the politically influential Abayarama temple in Colombo, has thrown his weight behind petitions in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court against the China-funded US$ 1.4 billion Colombo Port City (CPC) project. The CPC is now at the crucial stage of getting a separate legal structure meant to get foreign investors. Ven. Ananda Thero told a press conference on April 15 that his organization “Rata Rakina Jana Handa” had supported President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his ...Continued

Have US sanctions been effective?

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By P.K.Balachandran
On Thursday, April 15, US President Joe Biden imposed a new round of sanctions against Russia. The Treasury Department blacklisted six Russian technology companies that supportedthe cyber program run by Russia’s intelligence services. Eight persons and entities associated with Russia’s actions in Crimea were also sanctioned as were 32 entities and individuals who had allegedly carried out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election through disinformation spreading and interference. In response, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (the upper house ...Continued

Targeted sanctions against Sri Lanka?

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By P.K.Balachandran
    Former UN top brass and experts back UN Rights Commissioner’s recommendation in a joint statement The statement based on unverified sources, has major lacunae           A number top-notch former UN officials and independent experts have called on the international community to take “immediate steps” towards justice and accountability “to end Sri Lanka’s cycles of violence.” They have supported the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s call to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to consider taking Sri Lanka to ...Continued

Ending 10 month long ban, Lankan PM says burial of...

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P.K.Balachandran - Colombo
The coming UNHRC session and the visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan may have influenced the reversal of the highly divisive policy of not allowing the burial of COVID victims. Colombo, February 10: The Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told parliament on Wednesday, that government would allow the burial of those who had died of COVID, thus ending a 10-month long controversy over the disposal of the bodies of those who had died of COVID-19. Responding to a question posed by opposition ...Continued

Tamils up the ante to put Lankan government in a...

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By P.K.Balachandran
    The Pottuvil-Poligandy long march united antagonistic Tamil parties and brought together disparate Tamil-speaking communities including Muslims.     Colombo, February 9: Due to the high profile majority supremacist policies of the government, disparate and mutually antagonistic Tamil-speaking communities of Sri Lanka have come together to jointly struggle against the Rajapaksa regime. Though the complaint about Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarian dominance was decades old, the minority Tamils and Muslims were stung by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s assertion of his Sinhala-Buddhist identity in his Independence Day oration on ...Continued

President lays his cards on the table in Independence Day...

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By P.K.Balachandran
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa indicated that he will safeguard the unitary nature of the constitution, usher in uniform laws. I am a Sinhala Buddhist Leader and I will never hesitate to state so     Colombo, February 4: Addressing the nation on the 73 rd. Independence Day of Sri Lanka from a podium in Colombo’s Independence Square on Thursday, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made no bones about what he stands for.   In response to the clamor of the minority Tamils and Muslims for their ...Continued

COMMENT: India-Lanka relations under strain over denial of East Container...

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P.K.Balachandran in Colombo
  New Delhi to issue statement on the Lankan cabinet’s decision to back out on the East Terminal deal and offer the West Terminal instead as a sop.   Colombo, February 3: India-Sri Lanka relations have come under strain following Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from its written commitment to give Colombo port’s Easter Container Terminal (ECT) to India, and to offer the West Container Terminal (WCT) in lieu of it as a sop. A disappointed Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister ...Continued

Sri Lanka gears up for a hard battle at UNHRC 

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  UNHRC resolutions are not binding, but powerful countries could use them to arm-twist targeted States into submission or wrest political and economic concessions from them.   By P.K.Balachandran   Colombo, January 25: Sri Lanka is gearing up for a hard battle at the 46 th.,Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in February –March. While the core group, comprising UK, Canada, Macedonia, Germany and Montenegro, are working on a draft “consensual resolution”, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, has ...Continued

Violent and secessionist movements in US history

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By P.K.Balachandran
  Colombo, January 20: To admirers of American democracy and America’s ability to absorb diverse cultures, ethnicities and political views, outgoing President Donald Trump’s shenanigans and the violence that followed came as a rude shock. As preparations were on for the installation of Joe Biden and Kamala Devi Harris as President and Vice President, the Capitol was turned into a fortress with barricades, razor wire and 7 ft. fences to prevent a repletion of the ugly January 6 attack on it by Trump’s Right wing ...Continued

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