Thursday, October 3, 2013 (All day)


It is clear now -- the good governance advocates cannot govern themselves!

The United States government was officially shut down this week, and apparently this resulted from a legislative wrangle over universal healthcare, which is of course a basic right in most functioning democracies.

Not surprisingly however, the U.S President Barack Obama making a speech on the implications of the shutdown said that U.S troops that are stationed abroad will not be affected by it -- before he added also rather sheepishly that the ‘mail will be delivered.’

For a country that advocates good governance and cautions leaders of other nations about elections not ensuring democracy by themselves -- that advice must be packaged and returned to sender.

The government shut down in the U.S will result in the furlough of 800,000 or so state workers who will not be able to pay their bills. However, the fact that this state of affairs is over universal health care for all citizens, something taken for granted in most countries, offers a rather accurate indication of what kind of democracy the United States is, and about what kind of quality of life the good governance principles that the ambassadorial pundits from that country regularly pontificate on engenders.

The plain fact is that the worst mercenary instincts of mankind have trumped in the U.S, and the government elected by the people is no longer either humane or ‘of the people.’

Coming from the world’s most prolific exporter of democracy, this strikes as being quite the absurd drama indeed, but then there is nothing funny about a government shutdown, as many Americans would find it difficult to make ends meet when they are not being paid in the duration of the closure.

By contrast, governments of other countries that don’t either export democracy as a commodity or extol regularly the virtues of good governance, seem to function under the most difficult of circumstances.

After three decades and more of war in Sri Lanka, there is a brand new provincial administration in the North of the country for instance, and from issues dealing with landmines and child conscription by a terrorist group, the new administration in the North can now move over to the issue of fishermen whose livelihoods are being disrupted by poachers crossing the maritime boundary, stealing what would have been their catch.

The Indian fisher issue may have escaped the attention of the TNA and its new leadership in the North, as was evident from the fact that the matter was not mentioned once in the party’s manifesto. But the Sri Lankan government is not about to be remiss in its duty, and though it is a thorny issue, everything is being done even at the risk of keeping alive a major irritant in India Sri Lanka bilateral relations, to ensure that the fishermen – mostly Tamil -- in the North are not robbed of their livelihoods on a permanent basis.

It seems strange indeed that at least on the face of it what’s referred to as the ‘Sinhala government’ by some of the pundits, is the only one that is interested in the welfare of these poor people. TNA politicians fuelled and driven by diaspora funding and diaspora plans for the future of the North, and of course the international do-gooders who issue statements at the drop of a hat on human rights concerns, probably think that the fishermen’s issue is beneath them -- it being classified as a strictly bilateral irritant between two governments.

It seems that certain powers do not mind shutting down governments, and that certain other powers do not mind shutting the door on livelihoods. The Working Group meeting that is supposed to bring about clarity to the issue has essentially been ignored on the Indian side. Instead, the matter is now being addressed in an ad hoc manner, through the agency of various roving state representatives. But at least one government is interested in not shutting the door on livelihoods and on shuttering people’s income sources, and curiously, that’s the one that is being regularly harangued by the U.S and some of her regional allies in Asia about good governance! 


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