de Silva Wijeyeratne, G. (2007). Old-Fashioned Progress. LMD. February 2007. Page 168. Volume 13, Issue 7. ISSN 1391-135X.
Looking for a developed nation to invade us.
Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne gets desperate and looks for invaders

Green Path had begun to look conspicuously green, by the end of the last quarter of 2006. Following the failed assassination attempt on the Secretary of Defense, it was looking even more green. Posted at 100 m intervals would be soldiers in green battle fatigues. Green Path was looking green for the wrong reasons. A sign of the change of times. Originally the ‘green’ in Green Path was a reference to the flora. It was part of a cinnamon plantation and it was called Green Vert by the Dutch. The British adopted it and anglicised it to Green Path. In a rash of patriotism, several centuries of tradition were over-turned and it was re-named Ananda Commaraswamy Mawatha.

This re-naming of road is not something I am in favour of. This is not anything personal about Ananda Coomaraswamy. He was a scholar of international standing and played a major role in re-kindling an interest in Sri Lanka culture. Some of his books are treasured items in my collection. What I am not happy about is erasing history, when history is something we can cherish. History is also sellable.

There are two reasons why I don’t like what we have done with the colonial past. Firstly it shows a nation too embarrassed and too lacking in self confidence in being able to admit to its past. Do we see the Britons re-naming London into something else because its Roman roots Londinium show it was a nation conquered by the Romans? What are we so embarrassed about? They came and modernized us. At their own cost in return for commercial benefit. Today the foreigners are still doing their damndest to modernise us but only after we have buried ourselves with paperwork to nurse through the donor aid applications for the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, GTZ, CIDA and the rest of the maze of acronyms.

It would be so much easier if we did it the old fashioned way, and had a foreign colonial power invade us, saving us the all the paper work. Perhaps the invasion can be negotiated so that we only put up a token fuss. The Navy can fire a few of their guns, perhaps not the twenty year old plus guns a former admiral nearly saddled us with. The airforce can fly their Mig 27s manufactured in the 1980s. At least they are not so old for the token defence of the realm by air, to be mistaken as a vintage aircraft show. Once the token defence is done with. The invading country, carefully chosen, can get on with its business. I suppose this invasion can be crafted with an exit policy, say in 25 years, when we have caught up with Singapore or Malaysia. The invasion treaty can have the re-instatement of independence linked to GDP performance benchmarked to Singapore or Malaysia for example.

Well of course there is the matter of payment. This is can be the old fashioned way where the invading country takes it back in the form of taxes on us natives or though the profits of its companies. Perhaps the East London Motorway Company will build us a new framework of highways and makes its money on tolls. A new breed of plantation companies can breathe life back into a plantation economy in tatters.

The risk I run is that I may sound terribly un-patriotic. Hell no. I am thinking very much Sri Lanka first. I want my fellow Sri Lankans to enjoy the same quality of life and per capita income as their fellow Asian brethren in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan or Japan. One way of fast tracking development and getting the necessary infusion of know how and capital would the old fashioned way of being invaded.

Well, sadly we all know this is just a pipe dream. The developed economies are too busy powering their way into the age of nano-technology and genetically modified crops to be pre-occupied with an island of no significance, once an economic crown jewel, but now badly slipped into the bottom of the class. Well, there was this other traditional method we used to use, when we could not settle our differences. We used to import a King from India. Now that’s an idea, perhaps an advertisement in the Hindu and Deccan Herald. “Wanted one Indian prince to rule over fractious island. Must have proven track record of labour management to unite and stimulate workforce. A good grasp of financial performance will be helpful. Must show initiative and be prepared to work long hours”.

The re-naming of roads, a bitter ethnic struggle, these are all symptomatic of the same malaise. A lack of leadership in a nation which has become too pre-occupied by looking inwards and not forwards. Not everyone of course, the smart people and the smart money are going out. If it is not arrested, before long only the empty-heads like me will be left with just a handful of intelligent people who will still be fighting to put the nation back on track.

Accountant & Banker turned wildlife populariser, Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne lobbies for progress. E-mail him at gehan@jetwing.lk to subscribe to his wildlife e-newsletter.