Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sri Lanka's new leader

After a hard fought election, the new leader assumed power about two months ago. The new leader, who sets the agenda and takes all decisions in non other than V. Prabhakaran. All the others, including Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) form little more than the supporting cast.

The nation is in a state of complete confusion as attempts to familiarise himself with the levers of power. Prabhakaran, in the meantime, has stolen the agenda. It he who now sets the agenda and takes the decisions, all everybody else is doing is reacting. And reacting very slowly at that.

It is difficult not to pity Mahinda's position. Lumbered with an unweildy and fractious coalition, the grim political realties now seem to be puncturing his utopian idealism. The man seems quite horrified, nay, petrified by what he sees. He seems frozen solid with shock and unable to do anything. According to the Sunday Observer he is seeking a southern consensus-which is expected to arrive in three months. Given the number of delegates (5 per party from the SLFP,JVP,JHU,UNP and several other minor parties) which by my last count was around 45-60 it will be a miracle if they can agree on anything within three months.

Unfortunately, while political reality seems to be dawning very slowly, economic reality is yet to bite.

Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist of the early 20th century, nicely sums up Mahinda's illusion: “It may sometimes be expedient for a man to heat the stove with his furniture. But he should not delude himself by believing that he has discovered a wonderful new method of heating his premises.”

I have said elsewhere that Sri lanka is headed the way of a Banana Republic. I used to think it might take 20 years to arrive at that destination. Now we seem to be getting on the fast track.