13 August 2015

How will Indians coming to live/set up 
business affect Sri Lanka & You?
Shenali D Waduge

This is a very serious agreement. It will affect the national security of the country, future ethnic composition of the country, the livelihood & employment of Sri Lankans, the question of resources to meet a large flow of Indians arriving in Sri Lanka & the capability of laws to protect the fundamental rights of Sri Lankans, conflicts of interest arising, land ownership & the sovereignty, territorial integrity of Sri Lanka in agreeing to sign an agreement with India legally allowing Indians to set up business & live without any restrictions.

In what India must feel was a windfall when in 2002 then PM Ranil Wickremasinghe pushed for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India successive governments managed to dodge the clause including allowing ‘service sector’ to enter Sri Lanka.

India has reached consensus with PM Ranil again whose other idea of a road/rail link with India has quickly advanced to feasibility studies and ADB funding stage. The people’s opinion on the road/rail link as well as Indians being allowed to set up business and live in Sri Lanka has been totally ignored.

Nonetheless, whatever fancy stories are being sold about the good that will come out of enabling Indians to start businesses in Sri Lanka, we cannot ignore the practical realities.

These realities affect all of us and will shatter the lives of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims who within time will realize they have lost the sovereignty and independence of Sri Lanka as well as the territorial integrity! Sri Lankans at every level professional, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled are likely to be affected when a massive influx of Indians start pouring into Sri Lanka.

Some facts
·         Chapter 4 of Article 2 under the proposed CEPA refers to the movement of natural persons.
·         India’s population is 1.3billion / Sri Lanka’s population is 20million
·         There are 56million unemployed in India / Sri Lanka’s unemployed are 500,000
·         26.5 million students enrolled in Indian higher education in 2014-15 and 9 million graduates. 
·         Most multinational corporations already in Sri Lanka are owned by Indians or have their headquarters based in India. They send Indians to work in Sri Lanka without proper work permits and they quickly return to evade immigration and send a replacement. Some Indian companies in Sri Lanka give work to Indians on tourist visas! They go back & forth and the Tourist Board is happy logging entry but totally ignoring the violation.
·         Indians are masters at finding loopholes in laws & manipulating them
·         60,000 Indians now work in Sri Lanka legally, we don’t know how many are in Sri Lanka illegally (note LTTE Tamilselvan is on record for saying 33% of LTTE cadres were from Tamil Nadu, how many of their families are pretending to be Sri Lankan Tamils!)
·         India is using its position at the UNHRC/UN and the resolutions against Sri Lanka to leverage control over Sri Lanka using guarantees of assistance for support against the resolutions (such bribery tactics is unwarranged and unfair)
·         Sri Lanka has always been considered a paradise by Indians who suffer regular droughts, excessive rains/floods, excessive cold – Sri Lankans enjoy better living conditions than Indians at any economic level.

Here are some questions to ask yourself

Indian businesses setting up in Sri Lanka
§  Tragically the Sri Lankan businesses some of whom are cut throats will automatically view this as a golden opportunity to gain bigger profits by employing cheap labor from India. Before long Indians who will immediately set up their own ventures employing the cheap Indian labor will completely wipe out Sri Lankan businesses who will find they will end up having no business! (for their cheap thinking they lost their own business and livelihood as well!)
§  All seven copper industries operated by Indians had unskilled Indian labourers as their managers.
·         Will the self-employed Sri Lankans have a chance when Indians arrive?
·         Will the farmer survive already Ranil speaks about farmers in jeans which invariably means there will be no farmers in time to come.
§  What will happen to the indigenous industries – they will probably be taken over by the Indians.
§  How about the computer/software and similar other ventures of locals how will the Indians impact their businesses. We all are aware of the highly competitive Indian software/hardware market & IT technology.

Indian education
§  Of course Sri Lanka will serve to gain via Indian education but these will be at a price and again Sri Lankans will end up competing with Indians in a market that Indians will control inside Sri Lanka

Where will all these Indians live?
§  Initially many would think it a windfall to make additional money from rent but when more and more Indians start coming and there is no legally allocated number or visa restrictions what is going to happen when accommodation becomes an issue and relying on flats/condominiums would invariably mean Sri Lanka would create a concrete Island completely destroying the natural environment.

Marriage – nationality / land status
§  When Indians begin to marry and over period of time this increases in the case of Indian men marrying Sri Lankan women the child will automatically take the father’s name then the question of citizenship will arise
§  What about when a Sri Lankan female marries and Indian and her ownership of land can be transferred to the Indian husband, with time what will happen?
§  How will the ethnic composition of Sri Lanka change!

Legal status of the International Maritime Boundary Line
§  Having approved a road/rail link while CEPA only allows deep sea fishing it has not stopped Indians from poaching and stealing fish in Sri Lankan waters and no amount of diplomacy has worked in stopping Indians using illegal bottom trawlers to soon destroy the marine bed belonging to Sri Lanka.
§  Therefore a question arises with Indians arriving to set up businesses in Sri Lanka the level of influence they will exert on Sri Lanka and officials in securing what merits India and Indians and the eventual

Have Sri Lankans benefitted by doing business with India/Indians?
§  Many a Sri Lankan would agree that doing business with Indians have left them bankrupt, profitless or profit stolen!
§  Enough of examples prevail to showcase that Sri Lankan industries have become poorer after business dealings with India.

Isnt the BOI able to do what CEPA is pretending to do?

Cultural impact
§  CEPA clause also includes 40% cinema to Indian movies which invariably aims at changing the Sri Lankan cultures and values to Indian and with time the entire indigenous cultures will be wiped out

Do we need CEPA?
§  While Indians can easily create jobs in Sri Lanka it will be only a handful of already established Sri Lankan businesses that can do the same in India – compromising the rights of an entire nation for the lucrative gains of a handful of companies in Sri Lanka is unethical. Besides these companies have already established themselves in India without CEPA therefore the companies that wish to venture in India have already ventured we do not need CEPA which in current context sees profit and benefit only for India and long term detrimental to Sri Lanka at every level.
BOI agreements enable a revocation but CEPA being bilateral cannot be changed or revoked and if India is being a bully forcing Sri Lanka to sign the delayed clauses it is not difficult to imagine the pressures India will exert if Sri Lanka does not stick to terms after realizing too late the folly it has made.

American “robber barons” at the turn of the century were families like the Duponts, the Carnegies, the Rockefellers and the Morgans, whose fortunes were made through tax evasion, bribery, corruption and outright murder and Indian white collar criminals come very close! What we see today is under the guise of trade liberalization a manipulation and hijacking of the country’s financial system to finance corporate robbery. It is their subsidiary companies/think tanks etc who come forward chirping the benefits of these liberal programs and attempt to use media to build public opinion in favor of the robbery being planned. Sri Lanka’s initial sojourn with capitalist liberal economy ended up with 100,000 people being fired just because they sought a Rs.10/- salary increase!

There is no ‘can I have a little more please’ in the liberal corporate world and when we are having a giant next door that has been historically trying to invade and occupy Sri Lanka we would be very daft to jump at the idea. Whatever signed on paper when an influx of people come legally is our army to shoot them down! So it is in viewing the practicality of these agreements that CEPA should be thrown into the dustbin for good

Yet with UNP Leader being the architect of both the CEPA clause & road/rail link will this become a reality if UNP is voted into power and Ranil does have a habit of ignoring people's opinion including that of his own cabinet as proven by the manner he signed territory to LTTE in 2002 without even the sanction of the then President.