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Indo-Sri Lanka Fishery Conflict: An impediment to Sustainable Development, Traditional and Human Security

By Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman & Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, Director Centre for India -Sri Lanka Initiatives of the Pathfinder Foundation


Introduction: Fish do not respect boundaries but humans should!

India and Sri Lanka are two neighbouring Indian Ocean states. A shallow and narrow strip of sea called the ‘Palk Bay’ and the ‘Gulf of Mannar’ separates the two countries. There is a clearly demarcated, mutually agreed upon and legally binding International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), separating the territorial waters of the two countries. There are binding commonalities in the form of linguistic, cultural, religious and vocational, between Tamil Nadu and the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Until the signing of IMBL agreements in 1974 and 1976, fishermen from coastal districts of both countries used this sea, mainly for traditional fishing. There was a harmonious coexistence between these communities for a long time. However, Tamil Nadu fishermen changed their fishing methods in late 1970s and upgraded to steel hulled fishing vessels and engaged in bottom-trawling in order to boost production. Continuous bottom trawling in the Indian side of the IMBL resulted in depleting fish stocks therein. Gradually, these trawlers began to cross over to the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL. The newly introduced Indian trawlers were much bigger and more powerful than the traditional craft, as they had to trawl and recover nets heavy with the catch. The fishermen of northern Sri Lanka found it extremely difficult to venture in to the sea during the days when Indian trawlers were poaching, as they feared damage to their boats and fishing gear, as well as safety for their lives.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 November 2016 15:10

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Capitalizing on the Maritime Silk Road Initiative to Achieve Win - Win - Win Situation

By Sarah Hettiaratchi, Project Executive - Pathfinder Foundation

The Maritime Silk Road (MSR) and Economic Belt policy initiatives unveiled by President Xi Jinping in 2013 were identified as significant elements of an overall Chinese attempt to leverage China’s growing economic power and influence along its geographic boundaries. The objectives of this enormous development initiative is to strengthen and expand cooperative interactions, create an integrated web of mutually beneficial economic, social and political ties, and ultimately lower distrust and enhance a sense of common security.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 December 2015 11:50

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Making Colombo a Global Financial Centre

By Sarah Hettiaratchi, Project Executive - Pathfinder Foundation


Since the change of government early this year, the country’s new leadership has announced a few mega development projects, which when implemented, can catalyse economic transformation. The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) in this article wishes to highlight the links between the high priority mega development projects and the objective of establishing Colombo as an important world class financial centre.

The development of financial centres is of great interest to businessmen and policy-makers around the globe. Not only does it help to develop the basic infrastructure within the area, it also provides significant benefits to a country’s economic growth and prosperity of the people. A well-functioning international financial centre is a vital component of an economic infrastructure needed to not only for effective inter mediation in the domestic economy but also to promote Sri Lanka as a regional/ global financial hub.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 November 2015 12:11

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The Flagship Project Megapolis: Concept and Scope in Sri Lankan Context

By Sarah Hettiaratchi, Project Executive - Pathfinder Foundation

The new government, elected to govern the country for the next five years, has vowed to implement its flagship Megapolis project which was included in its election manifesto. It was reported that the conceptual plan was initially mooted in 1991 by the then young Sri Lankan Minister of Industries, Science and Technology, Ranil Wickremesinghe, when he made a presentation in the presence of the visiting Japanese Prime Minister, Hon. Toshiki Kaifu. The objective of the presentation was to seek Japanese government assistance to implement this mega project. In spite of this initiative, further development of the concept came to a halt with the change of the government in 1994. Once again, during the 2001-2002 period the same urban development concept was considered for implementation, at least on a phased basis, giving priority to reclamation of the sea near Galle Face and areas adjacent to Colombo 03 to develop an extended city within Colombo. The new government is now ready to embark upon its flagship project as the Western Region Megapolis Project (WRMP) which will help transform the entire Western Province, enveloping the Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara districts and positioning Colombo as the best city in the South Asian region.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 09:42

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Indo – Lanka Relations: Building Confidence and Boosting Bilateral Cooperation

A series of high level visits during the course of this year have formed the basis of attempts to re-set Indo-Lanka bilateral relations. There has been an exchange of visits involving President Sirisena, Prime Minister Modi and Foreign Ministers Samaraweera and Swaraj. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s forthcoming visit will be the first after the Parliamentary Elections, which have completed the transition to a new political dispensation. This visit offers the opportunity to seek concrete outcomes, which promote the declared goal of a bilateral relationship of ‘irreversible excellence’. This would entail addressing sources of continuing friction between the two countries as well as strengthening economic and cultural links.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 09:46

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Structural Change of the Sri Lankan Economy and its Policy Implications

By Sarah Hettiaratchi, Intern - Pathfinder Foundation

Structural change is the process by which the distribution of economic output, the total of all sectoral shares with respect to a country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), shifts from one sector to another. Typically an economy can be divided into three main sectors : agriculture, industry, and services. Usually when a country experiences economic growth and development its structure tends to change. With this structural change, the distribution of economic output shifts from agriculture to the industrial and then to the services sector. Technical progress is seen as crucial in the process of structural change as it leads to the improvement in productivity of the industrial sector, and eventually leads to a reduction in the relative contribution of the agricultural sector.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 10:10

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Fishy State of Relations Contentious issue of Palk Strait fishing: can we learn from India’s own policy?

Authored by Mr. Bernard Goonetilleke, Former Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the Pathfinder Foundation

The spirit of good neighbourliness is a cherished attribute particularly when nations share natural resources. Legal experts at the UN developed draft principles on shared natural resources, which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 (Res. 34/186). Principle 3 of the guideline states, “States have… the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction”.

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 July 2015 11:15

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Defensive and corrective approaches towards destruction……? No steps forward many steps backwards

Authored by Dr. Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof of Economics, University of Colombo for The pathfinder Foundation


When we look at the developments in the economic policy arena after the Presidential elections, we hardly see any way forward for Sri Lanka. Apart for revisiting governance issues, what we find is policy actions that were “defensive” and “corrective” in form but is “destructive” in substance.

When I bring this to the notice of others what I hear is that “The government is now focused on the 100-day programme; and therefore, we are to wait and see how things change after that”. Surprisingly, no one seems to understand that what the government does from day one will impact the country, beyond the 100 days. After 100 days it may be too late to correct the negative repercussions of our policy blunders as they may be irreversible at least in the short-run.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 10:20

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Avoiding Bleeding of Forex Market

Dr. SirimalAbeyratne, Prof of Economics, University of Colombo and Senior Fellow, The Pathfinder Foundation
There were two shocking items in the Sri Lankan media during the past few days that caught the attention of theobservers which focuses on Sri Lankan policy issues:

• First, is that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has sold over USD 700 million during the five month period from the end of August 2014 to January 2015 to defend the exchange rate; this has prevented the exchange rate from depreciating more than 2.5% against the USD during the same period. With political imperatives taking precedence over the economic issues, this has continued after January too. Chart 1 shows that, we have stabilized the exchange rate in the month of February 2015, by containing the possibility of depreciation through a combination of the use of reserves to defend the Rupee and moral suasion by the CBSL.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 March 2015 09:56

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Modernizing Municipal Governance: to Serve People Better


For the first time in human history, there are more people living in urban areas than in the rural sector. Responding to rapid urbanization is one of the key challenges of the 21st Century. The demand for basic services and infrastructure among the rapidly increasing urban population is a daunting task for many governments in the developing world.

The increasing gap between the demand for services and infrastructure on the one hand and the resources available on the other in large swathes of the world has focused attention on ways and means of modernizing Municipalities. On the eve of local government elections in Sri Lanka’s Municipalities, it is timely to address some of the issues related to modernising Municipal governance. In doing so, it would useful to address the following issues: the principles that should underpin modernization of Municipal governance; a possible Citizens’ Charter; local government service partnerships; financing Municipalities, including funding for infrastructure; increasing accountability through performance management; communication strategies and public relations; and central government/Municipality relations.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 20:41

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Can Sri Lanka Win by Being a Bridge for Indo – China Economic Relations?

Historical Perspective

The end of the civil conflict, a government with a decisive majority and economic geography combine to provide Sri Lanka with an unprecedented opportunity to shift to a higher trajectory of growth and development.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 20:21

Hits: 2817





View Point Introduction

Since November, 2010 the PF has issued a number of View Point articles providing alternative perspectives on  social and political issues of concern to the citizenry.

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