Money, power and progress

Sri Lanka is idyllic, incredibly beautiful and diverse with rich soil and plentiful rainfall. In comparison, India can be harsh. Yet the country isn’t financially secure with high inflation (food 17%) and all too familiar issues with governance. All is not well in Eden.

As a tourist it’s hard to understand, and too easy to try to explain the situation; but with the pandemic hitting tourism which used to account for around 10% of GDP, world markets controlling the price of commodities like tea and bananas, and china enviously eyeing resources and leasing land in Colombo for its sovereign territory (as the British did with Honk Kong) It’s also hard not to feel that after all the experience of aid programmes in the developing world, the game remains skewed toward profit. 

The railway line into Ella has a mixture of sleepers; the wooden ones, which were likely laid in colonial times, and stretches of more modern concrete ones. It’s patched up, like modernity’s been patched in and the trains which trundle upon them, physically hand over keys at stations to ensure they are the only ones on that stretch of line. I don’t know when that system was phased out in the UK, probably a good few years before the British Leyland (a motor marque from the 70s) buses and trucks which spew exhaust fumes from tired engines were imported.

Similarly civil administration is paper based with journeys being made to government offices in order to get documents manually stamped. Yet mobile phones are everywhere.

I wonder if it’ll be possible for economies such as Sri Lanka’s to forego industrialisation and leapfrog into the digital age with people and administrations connected through satellite communication and solar providing reliable, affordable energy.  What else might digital nomads bring besides their Macbooks and surfboards?

Modernity can be confusing.

Train, selfie pic and Mahabbat courtesy of Shmulik

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