Author Archives: Deane

TEDxColombo on Sri Lanka Today

YaTV’s Sri Lanka Today Program featured a segment on TEDx Colombo, now available on youtube:

Some YaTV content is now happily available  on twitter and the Sri Lanka Today program seem to be runing their own blog.

TEDxColombo. This Sunday @ Punchi (Speakers Revealed)

As readers of this blog would know, we are hosting TEDxColombo, a spin off from the world renowned TED conference. Based on the theme of “Ideas for Sri Lanka’s Future” at this important juncture in our history, the event would feature 4 live speakers and 3 Ted talks and lots of space for discussion, debate and lots of good ideas.

Date :  Sunday, 19th of July @ Punchi Theatre from 9.30 to 4.30 pm (registrations start at 9 am).

The speakers for the event are as follows,

  • Rohan Samarajiva (Chair of Lirneasia) on the topic of implementing tri-lingual government services.
  • Nushad Perera, CMO of Dialog Telekom on the topic of “Fixed vs. Mobile”.
  • Asantha Sirimanne, Editor-in-chief of Lanka Business Online on Fiscal Responsibility.
  • Lakshman Gunasekera, former Editor of Sunday Observer. on the Topic of Transforming Sri Lanka’s Media Culture

Watch the TEDxColombo twitter for updates and connect to us from Facebook. If you’d like to attend the event, register online. We are fast running out of places.  If you need quick info feel free to give us a buzz on 0774186560

Thanks for all the bloggers and tweeps who are helping us spread the word (blogs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ) All of you deserve free tickets. email tedxcol[at] with the subject line “Blogger tickets” to get one.

We won’t be streaming the event, but we’ll be recoring it and sending it to TED, who might it put up on their site if they think it’s worth it.


Engaging Youth in the Post-Conflict Process

YaTV speaks to Mohomad Hisham, a national steering committee member of the Sri Lanka Youth Parliament and a good friend of Beyond Borders. The interview is below:

“The Best cup of Nestomalt I’ve had in my life!!!”

Let alone Nestomalt, it was the best cup of anything I’ve ever drunk in my life. Honestly speaking, it was the first cup of Nestomalt I’ve ever drunk, cos’ I hate the stuff usually. Enough about me and Nestomalt, let me tell you why it was the best cup I’ve ever drunk!

I’m going to be starting with the end this time…it was approximately 7 pm and two of us were just finishing off our last distribution of some tea, sugar and “Nestomalt,” to the last ward. Once we were done, we decided to sit down and have a little chat with some of the patients and their families. We barely had any time to have a chat with anyone this time, because distribution was an absolute “logistical nightmare!” Anyway, as a direct result of a part Sinhala, part Tamil, part English and part sign language chat I had with one of the families, they discovered that we hadn’t had lunch as yet. And to make matters worse, I told them that I was “setthu poochi” (dead)! After having a good laugh possibly at my heavily accented Tamil, and also what I said, I guess, I moved to another group of patients, and as far as I was concerned, that was the end of that. That was of course until, around 10 minutes later, I get a little tap on my shoulder and a little girl hands me a little stainless steel tumbler full of piping hot Nestomalt!

Read the rest of this entry

Disabled, Differently-abled or Super-Abled?

I once had an argument with a friend, whom the most of society would recognize as being disabled, about the acceptable terminology for someone like her. She didn’t seem to mind being called disabled,  and I wasn’t buying it.  

I argued that we all have different disabilities and abilities. It’s just that society expects that we  be somewhere around most common standard.  She said she knows the arguments, but some just preferred to be identified as disabled.  

Those were the thoughts running through my mind as I watched this wonderful Ted Talk by the beautiful Aimee Mullins, who’s dozen pair of legs give her super abilities. A must watch.

That shattered some barriers.

— Deane.

BB on Citizen’s Journalism

YaTV’s Sri Lanka Today program featured this blog and others on a segment of Citizen’s journalism. 

Our TOT on Citizenship Education

working on something

working on something

Went well. Most of the guys who applied were a bit older than we expected, but we had diverse range of  organizations and backgrounds were represented. Hopefully some of these guys would start their own initiatives of civic education in their communities. 

What Beyond Borders hopes to achieve is to create a bunch of people competent enough to run workshops with young people so that they get exposed to and start thinking about citizenship issues, something which doesn’t happen with the official education system in Sri Lanka.

Soon, we will be publishing a toolkit of sorts containing activities, games and sessions on citizenship issues.  The toolkit  can be utlizied by anyone with a passion and dedication for civic issues to design and run training sessions, workshops, etc. for young people. Watch this space for more. The project is supported by Oxfam Australia through OIYP.

Event Pictures on Flickr.

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The Financial Crisis and it’s Impact on Sri Lanka

Last week, I was at a workshop on the financial crisis and it’s impact on South Asian economies put together by LYSA – Liberal Youth of South Asia – a network of South Asian youth organizations based on liberal values.

The workshop was mainly handled by Dipankar Sengupta, professor of economics at the Jammu University, an interesting chap with wide interests. From my conversations with him I gathered he’s mildly sympathetic to the Austrian School and the work of Hayek, et al.

Dr. Harsha De Silva, also made a guest appearance for a session on the global recession and South Asia mainly focusing on the plight of Sri Lanka. His presentation was surprisingly fun, something I didn’t expect from him.

The following are some broad points by the two speakers from my notes and by no means complete and comprehensive.

What really happened

The narrative of what exactly happened in the U.S. mortgage market which led to the financial crisis and what caused those problems are very relevant. However, because I’m too lazy to put it down, I will post a couple of links which I think captures the (classical) liberal narrative of what happened in the financial crisis and largely conforms to the narrative given by Prof. Sengupta.

The first is a video on youtube and second is this article by Lawrence White at Cato unbound.

The Impact on the rest of the world

According to Sengupta, the reason for the impact of the financial crisis on the rest of the world, particularly in Asia, is pretty simple. U.S. and Europe is the largest export market for most Asian economies, when the economy in those countries goes into recession, demand for foreign exports fall, when exports fall demand for labor in export industries also fall, resulting in adverse economic conditions in exporting countries.
Impact on Sri Lanka

Adding on, Harsha de Silva made the following points.

  • Sri Lanka is only now beginning to feel the brunt of the financial crisis, its impact on top of our already mismanaged macroeconomic conditions will hurt us even more.- Sri Lanka for example, refused to depreciate the currency even when other countries in South Asia, such as India, did so. (see LBO’s recent fussbudet Column).
    – We have had a problem of high inflation for a very long time
  • Financial crisis will impact Sri Lanka in number of distinct ways.Middle-eastern domestic workers who Sri Lanka depends on so much might loose their jobs, resulting in a loss of foreign exchange.There is no liquidity in the market, so borrowing for government for example is going to be tough.

    The ‘patriotic bond’ which the Sri Lankan government tried miserably failed, raising only 1% of the expected amount. CPC alone has a debt of about US$ 800 million which needs to be paid.

  • The Government however keeps harping on the high GDP growth. GDP however can be misleading when government expenditure is high, particularly for things like the military. It’s an example of Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy.
  • Sri Lankan companies are already hurting. Last quarterly results of all traded companies showed that profits have declined by 61% in Q1. If one were to take the banks out of the equation there have been a decline of 81% in profits in the rest of the sectors.
  • As solutions,Policies like the fiscal stimulus have less impact on Sri Lanka, because there’s already a lot of government spending.“Looking inwards” is also a bad policy, and not practical since Sri Lanka is a small country.

    Need to somehow raise private investments or go begging to the IMF. No real silver lining in the dark cloud.

Dipakar Sengupta:

  • Focus on the long term and reforms is one way to cushion the adverse effects of recessions. For example high labour costs force exporters to become niche producers and cater to niche markets (e.g. expensive lingerie in the case of SL) which are most vulnerable when it comes to recessions.

— Deane.

Deane is Core Group Member of Beyond Borders and formerly a blogger.  The workshop was organized by Liberal Youth Guilds, the Sri Lankan partner for LYSA.  BB is now an observer member of LYSA.

To Speak the Truth and Die

Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed for being a vociferous proponent of what he and many others thought was the truth, the world has seen a great many good souls who have been mysteriously killed for speaking the truth. Many have spoken about how Lasantha was great in what he did.

I have another person who i am a very ardent follower of. Robin Cook was the former British foreign secretary who rather unexplainably was “pushed off a cliff” off the scottish highlands. And this took place in the immediate aftermath of him making the following statement.

“The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity,the country behind this propaganda is the US”

“Secret societies” could be tolerant of people who making such claims, but it may have been a bit too much if the person who made such a claim was at that time the British foreign secretary and leader of the house.

One of my favourite resignation speeches is when Robin Cook made his resignation speech, it is very inspiring and has always inspired me to go back to it and listen to it, just like i go back to lasantha’s editorial and re read. The above video is part 2 of his Robins resignation speech, part 1 can be seen here and the full text here.

The video is highly recommended.

— Raashid Riza

Raa is a BB-ite and a student of architecture currently based in the UK.  This post was initially published on his blog. The views expressed are his own.