The Collective for Economic Democratisation in Sri Lanka is deeply saddened by the untimely passing away of our comrade Vijay Nagaraj on Friday, August 25.
An erudite and eloquent advocate of redistributive politics and economic democracy, Vijay was an active member of the Collective, leading many initiatives challenging structural inequalities and dispossession of the poor.
He made a significant contribution to an ongoing debate on Economic, Social and Cultural rights within the constitutional reform process.
ETCA has become the talk of the town lately. What really is ETCA?
There is now a significant tradition of constitutions articulating principles and mechanisms enabling the exercise of people’s sovereignty over and democratisation of economic affairs. Such foundational norms do not merely serve to temper executive privilege but to also catalyse popular mobilisation and participation in economic affairs.
Ongoing debates in Sri Lanka concerning unrestrained, non-productive and even ‘hidden’ international borrowing to inequitable bilateral economic relations to unfavourable international procurement further underline the need for such norms.
In the post-war North and East housing is a dire need. The provision of permanent housing, as well as livelihood creation, is pivotal for the resettlement of communities. As such, a Cabinet decision to build 65,000 houses for war-affected communities seemed to be a move in the right direction for a Government that came into power on promises of reconciliation and economic prosperity.
The heavy international focus on prosecutions for war-time human rights abuses in Sri Lanka is a reductive view, often shutting down discussion as opinions become divisive. On the one hand, calls for prosecution come with the demand to have international judges, to ensure a credible process that addresses the deterioration of the criminal justice system. On the other hand, prosecution is often said to betray “war heroes” and international participation to undermine sovereignty.
A bill was recently passed in parliament on March 11 that ensures private sector workers earning less than Rs. 40,000 will receive a mandated Rs. 2,500 increase. In addition, the bill fulfils a pledge from the Rajapaksa era to institute a national minimum wage of Rs. 10,000. While some details may be modified in the process of turning the bill into an act, it is worth addressing its content. The current government should be commended for making good on its promises from last year to increase private sector wages.
The global economy is in crisis. The global recovery that was hoped for following the Great Recession of 2008 has failed and is now in the throes of deflation. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has the dangers of deflation - leading to falling prices and falling demand in a downward uncontrollable spiral - shaken the global economy on this scale.
By Ahilan Kadirgamar, Lakmali Hemachandra, Mahendran Thiruvarangan, Niyanthini Kadirgamar and Swasthika Arulingam on behalf of the Collective for Economic Democratisation
The current process of constitutional reform has given much needed importance to concerns such as structures of the State, rule of law, separation of powers and power sharing arrangements. However, such an approach to Constitution-making has ignored a major concern for the people, of economic depravity and harm caused by development projects.
Each January politicians and corporate executives from across the world gather at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos – with a Hollywood celebrity or glamorous royal in tow to excite the assembled media.
Respect for the right to truth is recognised as central to post-war justice. The rightful demands of victim-survivors and their families for justice and the truth regarding many grievous harms and human rights abuses are at the heart of emerging transitional justice processes in Sri Lanka.
Exactly a year after his election, President Maithripala Sirisena has initiated a welcome process to rewrite the country’s Constitution. The government is also moving ahead on transitional justice processes to address the UN Human Rights Council resolution unanimously adopted in September last year. However, progress on both the constitutional and transitional justice fronts, which seem to have the consensus of both the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe coming from historically opposing parties, depends to a large extent on the country’s economic future.
The annual Asia Floor Wage Alliance meeting held on December 17-20th at the Sri Lanka Foundation was a critical opportunity to bring activists together from across the region to discuss the pressing needs of garment workers. Participants arrived from over nine countries to highlight issues in an industry that provides clothing for much of the world, including for famous brands such as Gap, H&M, Marks and Spencer, Next, Inditex, and Adidas.
Public education has been at the centre of many struggles in Sri Lanka. While images of the brutal attacks on the HNDA student protests are still fresh in our minds, another budget has been presented to us by the Government. Increases in the allocations for education was announced as a highlight of the 2016 Budget. As a sector that has a widespread interest among the people, this Government’s policy direction for education proposed in the budget has generated much debate.
The 2016 Budget has been welcomed by the business and economic establishment. The big question is whether economic policies good for business are necessarily good for the economy and the people? To what extent are the economic policies in the 2016 Budget and the Prime Minister’s Economic Policy Statement different from the crisis-prone economic policies of the past?Economic policies in recent decades have been dominated by a neoliberal vision of transforming the economy to ensure the greater accumulation of profits by finance capital.
A common refrain today among many in Jaffna town is about its youth “perpetuating social evils.”
Offering a ready analysis of post-war Jaffna society, they are often quick to point to the “rowdy behaviour of youngsters who simply loiter on the roads and harass people”, or are “forever speaking on their mobile phones.” This moral judgment is problematic in its generalisation. It not only fails to appreciate the complex reality faced by a generation that was born during a war, but also ignores the nature of transformation that our society has undergone.