Economic Freedom: The Path to Economic and Political Emancipation of the Conflict-Affected Region in Sri Lanka

Muttukrishna Sarvananthan2

1. Introduction

(March 09, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is, slowly but surely, emerging out of a vicious civil war that has lasted over twenty-five years (July 1983 – May 2009); armed conflict since 1972; and the conflict per se ever since independence in 1948.The amount of human, material, environmental and psychological destruction caused by this long drawn out civil war, especially in the conflict affected Eastern and Northern Provinces, is immeasurable and would last for generations; though some quantitative and qualitative estimation do exist (Arunatilake, et al, 2000; Gunatilleke, 2001; Sarvananthan, 2008; Somasundaram, 1998).

The purpose of this policy brief is to set out the contours of a broad political cum economic policy framework for rebuilding the conflict region (Eastern and Northern Provinces) of Sri Lanka from the ashes. It is not intended to get into specific sectoral or sub-sectoral strategies, policies, programmes or projects. On the contrary, it charts out a political cum economic path that should be followed by the conflict region, and an enabling environment that the national government should create and foster for speedy recovery from the ruins. Economic resurrection of the conflict region, undoubtedly, would have a spillover effect on the national economy as well.

Germany and Japan are two prime examples of successful resurrection of battered minds and economies after ruinous adventure of war. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan pursued militaristic paths for dominance of their respective geographical regions of the world. In the same way, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or the ‘Tamil Tigers’) waged a relentless and ruthless war for separation of the Eastern and Northern Provinces from Sri Lanka. The consequences have been disastrous for the Tamil minority community in particular, and for Sri Lanka as a whole. Though the German and Japanese military pursuits of dominance were transnational wars, LTTE’s separatist war was national. However, it could be argued that, though in pretence LTTE’s war against the Sri Lankan state was internal, its ultimate intent was to create a pan-Tamil national state based in Eastern and Northern Provinces of Sri Lanka (Bandarage, 2009; Sarvananthan, forthcoming).

However we frame the LTTE’s war of separation (whether national or transnational), as a matter of fact, LTTE was an institution that resembled militaristic adventurism of the regimes of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the run up to and during the Second World War. The modus operandi of the LTTE also has close resemblance to the Khmer Rouge (Pol Potist) regime of Kampuchea (now known as Cambodia) in the late-1970s (Sarvananthan, forthcoming).

As Sri Lanka enters a post-LTTE era after a nasty war of attrition and consequent comprehensive defeat of the LTTE and elimination of its military cum political leadership, it is time for introspection, self-criticism and remorse by the Tamil community and charts a way out of the current morass. There are two potential pathways ahead for the Tamil community in particular, and Sri Lanka as a whole; one is that pursued by Germany and Japan in the aftermath of the Second World War, and the other followed by post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia.

Post-Second World War Germany and Japan rebounded from ashes following pacifism, resolute adherence to democracy cum rule of law, and industriousness; as a consequence became economic powerhouses in the world within a short span. On the other hand, Cambodia is dogged by democratic deficit, corruption, nepotism and low-intensity authoritarianism even after the ouster of Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and end of Vietnamese occupation in 1989; thereby continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world. Thus, whilst post-war Germany and Japan reflect prosperity, post-war Cambodia reflects pauperism.

It is imperative for the people of the Eastern and Northern Provinces in particular, and Sri Lanka as a whole, to draw lessons from historical experiences of these two sets of contrasting post-war countries. Naturally, I would argue in favour of the path pursued by both Germany and Japan in the aftermath of the Second World War for the Eastern and Northern Provinces in particular and Sri Lanka as a whole to pursue in this post-war (not yet post-conflict) era.

2. Tamil Polity

Historically, politics among the Tamil community has been narrowly focused on linguistic and religious nationalism cum freedom, and barely touched on economic emancipation cum freedom. Since the beginning of the twentieth century to date, politics among the Tamil community has been dominated by three strands of class cum caste politics at different time periods. I am clubbing class and caste together because the latter is originally and primarily (though not exclusively) based on occupation, and thereby class.

In the early part of the twentieth century there was no distinct Tamil politics as such. Tamil politicians at that time were part and parcel of the Ceylon National Congress (ala Indian National Congress), which advanced the cause of independence from the British colonial rule. Three leading Tamil politicians of that time (in alphabetical order) were Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, Sir Vaitilingam Duraiswamy and Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. All three were well-educated, upper-class elitist proponents of Hindu renaissance/nationalism, who along with leading Buddhist revivalists like Sir Baron Jayatilake, felt that under colonial rule both Buddhism and Hinduism were marginalised and Christianity promoted. Besides, the aforesaid Tamil political leaders were largely based in Colombo though hailing from Jaffna (Northern Province).

Disgruntled with the upper-class elitism and Hindu nationalism of Arunachalam, Duraiswamy and Ramanathan trio and their alliance with Buddhist nationalism, G.G. Ponnambalam established the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) in competition to the Ceylon National Congress in the early-1940s. Subsequently, Stanley James Veluppillai Chelvanayagam established the Federal Party in the late-1940s advocating federal political set up for the Tamil dominated Eastern and Northern Provinces in the event of the end of British colonial rule in Ceylon. Thus, Tamil political leadership shifted from upper-class elitist Hindu nationalists likes of Arunachalam, Duraiswamy and Ramanathan to middle-class Chelvanayagam and Ponnambalam duo (though the latter could be classified as upper-class). The Federal Party formed an alliance with the Tamil Congress and the Ceylon Workers Congress (hill-country Tamil trade union cum political party - CWC) to form the Tamil United Front (TUF) in 1974, subsequently renamed as Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976, in order to advance the cause of the Tamils (both North East & hill-country), after Ceylon becoming a republic and renaming to Sri Lanka in 1972.

Disillusioned with the continued non-fulfillment of political aspirations of the Tamils, some Tamil youths took up arms against the Sri Lankan state in 1972, which resulted in the formation of several armed militant groups among the Tamils. These Tamil youths not only revolted against the Sri Lankan state, but also challenged the middle-class Tamil political leadership as embodied by the TULF and individual Tamils who were members of the national political parties such as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP). Moreover, most of the original leaders of the first wave of armed Tamil militant groups were youths from dispossessed castes (but not necessarily dispossessed class because, for example, the leader of the LTTE was from a middle-class family despite being from the fishing community). Thus, the class base of Tamil political leadership evolved overtime from upper-class elitist, to middle-class, and finally to dispossessed caste/class.

History has proven that none of these three distinct class-based political leaderships have been able to fulfill the political aspirations of the minority Tamil community entirely. However, though the upper-class and middle-class Tamil democratic political leaderships had failed to fulfill the Tamil aspirations, their efforts did not bring about destruction of their community. On the other hand, the dispossessed caste/class-based violent armed struggle to win the (real or perceived) aspirations of the Tamils in the post-1972 period has brought immeasurable destruction to the community, both physically and psychologically, which was pure militarism sans politics (Sarvananthan, forthcoming).

Tamil democratic politics requires profound reform. All the present Tamil political parties (former armed groups) having ‘Eelam’, ‘Tamil Eelam’ or ‘Tiger’ in their name (Eelam People’s Democratic Party - EPDP, People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam – PLOTE, Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front – EPRLF, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation – TELO, Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students – EROS, Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal – TMVP – Tamil People’s Liberation Tigers, Popular Front of the Liberation Tigers – PFLT) should rename their parties. ‘Eelam’ or ‘Tamil Eelam’ has been a disaster to the Tamil community. Even the TULF should take off ‘Tamil’ and ‘Liberation’ from its name.

All the aforementioned Tamil political leaderships have been largely preoccupied with language, land, religious, and political rights with only a marginal interest in economic rights and freedom. Thus, Tamil politics throughout the twentieth century was heavily concentrated on ethnic cum linguistic politics. It is time for the Tamil community to take a deep breath and ponder, what went wrong? Narrowly focused ethnic cum linguistic politics should be replaced with regional politics by fostering Eastern and Northern regional identity, which is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-caste, multi-class, and multi-gender.

A rainbow coalition of different peoples of the Eastern and Northern Provinces is the need of Tamil politics in the twenty-first century. It is the TULF that is best suited to spearhead this reform and transformation of the Tamil polity, albeit under a reformed name (e.g. North East People’s Party - NEPP), because of its steadfast commitment to democracy, rule of law and independence from Tigerism. As one of the oldest and most popular democratic party among the Tamils of North East, TULF has an historical duty to build a broad-based democratic coalition and lift the Tamil community from the present hopelessness. Such a broad democratic coalition should be multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-caste, multi-class, and multi-gender with regional identity (as opposed to racial or ethnic identity) as its political motto.

Historically, leaderships of the Tamil political parties in the North East have been Jaffna-centric that has alienated the non-Jaffna Tamils, particularly those of the Batticaloa district. Economic emancipation and freedom of the people of Eastern and Northern Provinces should take precedence over parochial linguistic nationalism of the days gone by. It is not that language is unimportant, but it should not take precedence over economic well-being. Thus, a fundamental re-orientation of Tamil politics is long overdue. I hope that the present TULF leadership will seize this historic opportunity to transform the Tamil political landscape and discourse by reaching out to other ethnic, linguistic, religious, caste, and class groups. My humble suggestion to all former Tamil militant armed groups is to disarm, dissolve and integrate with the erstwhile Tamil democratic political parties such as the TULF and ACTC.

3. Economic Freedom

A laypersons definition of Economic Freedom is freedom to do business locally, nationally and internationally with minimal cost and minimal interference of the local, national and international governments. Economic freedom is an essential ingredient of democracy like political freedom. Yet economic freedom is less understood, and even less underscored, compared to political freedom.

According to Gwartney and Lawson (2008: 3) “the key ingredients of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and protection of person and property.” A country’s adherence to economic freedom is measured by the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index developed by the Fraser Institute based in Vancouver, Canada. The EFW index is based on 42 variables (including 22 survey-based variables derived from the International Country Risk Guide, Global Competitiveness Report and Doing Business Report of the World Bank). The EFW index has a scale of 0 to 10: zero denoting no economic freedom at all and 10 denoting highest economic freedom.

The EFW index is subdivided into 5 major components: (i) Size of Government: public expenditures, taxes and public enterprises; (ii) Legal Structure and Security of Property Rights; (iii) Access to Sound Money; (iv) Freedom to Exchange with Foreigners; and (v) Regulation of Credit, Labour and Business. Further, the ‘Size of Government’ is subdivided into 5 components3; ‘Legal Structure and Security of Property Rights’ is subdivided into 7 components4; ‘Access to Sound Money’ is subdivided into 4 components5; ‘Freedom to Exchange with Foreigners’ is subdivided into 9 components6; and ‘Regulation of Credit, Labour and Business’ is subdivided into 17 components7 (Gwartney and Lawson, 2008: 5). Hence, altogether 42 variables compose the EFW index.

There is a positive correlation between economic freedom and economic growth, per capita income, life expectancy, poverty, income inequality, literacy rate, access to safe sanitation facilities and safe water (see Gwartney and Lawson, 2008: 18-21 & chapter 2). Moreover, a cross-country study by Eriksen and de Soysa (2009: 496-498) establishes that there is a positive relationship between economic freedom and human rights; i.e. higher the economic freedom index, better the condition of human rights. Another cross-country study by de Soysa and Fjelde (forthcoming) disputes the argument that free-market economy is associated with political violence

Based on the conceptual framework of economic freedom as noted above, we would argue that the guiding principle of economic renaissance in the conflict-affected region of Sri Lanka should be economic freedom, whereby the national, provincial and local governments should create an enabling environment for private sector-led economic emancipation of the people, with private cum public partnerships where absolutely necessary.

4. Accountability, Integrity and Transparency

Accountability, integrity, and transparency should be the cornerstone of provincial and local governments and provincial and local public administrations in the conflict region, as well as rest of the country. A vibrant market economy could function effectively only when rule-of-law is supreme; merit and productivity are sine qua non; accountability, integrity and transparency are paramount.

In order to attain such an ethical system of governance, independent, efficient and credible Department of Auditor General, Bribery Commission, Public Services Commission, Police Commission, Human Rights Commission, and Media are indispensable. The existing similar national level institutions are limited in scope and heavily politicised. The present government has undermined the functions of the Public Services Commission, Police Commission, and Human Rights Commission set up under the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution by deferring the appointment of members to these commissions indefinitely. While an independent and proactive media is sine qua non for a vibrant, modern market economy (The World Bank, 2002), the media in Sri Lanka is bruised and battered by extra judicial killings and public beatings under the present low-intensity authoritarian regime.

The functioning of the Auditor General’s Department and the Human Rights Commission is undermined by apportioning inadequate financial and human resources. The latter is also politically interfered with at times. Further, the Bribery Commission has severe limitation on three counts: firstly, the legislative act setting up the Bribery Commission is fundamentally flawed because it restricts its functions to bribery and corruption in the public sector only. Secondly, Bribery Commission has authority to make investigations only when complaints are made orally or in writing (reactive). It has no power to proactively investigate suspected bribery and corruption on its own initiative. Thirdly, the abrupt transfer of the Director General of the Bribery Commission last year is just one of many examples of blatant political interference in its functioning. Hence, the legislative act should be amended to incorporate the private and non-governmental (NGOs) sectors as well under the Bribery Commission’s purview, and allow it to proactively pursue cases against suspected bribery and corruption anywhere and in any sector.

The national integrity system encompassing the foregoing supposedly independent institutions should have been the watchdogs of democracy, justice, and rule-of-law. However, in reality they have become just lapdogs of the powers that be. The President of Sri Lanka said, on May 19, 2009, that we have to find “home grown solutions” to our political problems and that he does not require “lectures” from foreigners, with which I concur. But, is he ignorant of the fact that the foregoing national institutions and the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution were entirely home grown and duly enacted by the national legislature? Is he going to deny the fact that, the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC), members of which were personally and solely appointed by none other than himself, came up with a home grown solution to the political conflict (the majority report) that was scuttled by none other than himself? Obviously, the President’s words do not match his deeds.

It is true that the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution enacted in 1987 was imposed by India through the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord of August 1987 that established a second tier of government, viz. the Provincial Councils. However, all other constitutional cum political proposals those were home grown since the early- twentieth century were far more empowering the regions/provinces than the Thirteenth Amendment, barring the District Development Council proposal of the early-1980s (see Edirisinha, et al, 2009 for the entire constitutional cum political proposals by various governments of Sri Lanka since 1926).

Due to the aforementioned shortcomings in the national institutions, each province should set up regional institutions to foster good governance within its province. The corresponding national institutions could undertake the oversight of the provincial institutions. When there are truly independent, impartial and non-partisan governance institutions such as the foregoing, external interference or interventions on governance in the country would become irrelevant.

Moreover, an equal opportunities law should be enacted in order to stamp out discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, caste, regional origin, physical disability, political party affiliation, etc, and promote merit-based system of economic, social, and political governance. On this score, the conflict-affected provinces should become exemplary to rest of the provinces and the national government.

5. Education and Knowledge Economy

Historically, the bedrock of regional preeminence of the North, particularly the Jaffna peninsula, has been education and knowledge. It is time to spread that to the East as well. Relatively, the North is endowed with marginal natural resources in comparison to other provinces. Therefore, education was the pathway to prosperity by way of entering professions and public sector employment. Thus, the competitive advantage of the people of North has been education and knowledge (human capital).

Although the Eastern and Northern Provinces are touted as primarily agriculture cum fisheries economy, it is no more the case due to the protracted civil war resulting in mass displacement, mining of agricultural lands and coastal areas, and exodus of kith-and-kin overseas causing a ‘demonstration effect’ to migrate domestically or overseas (Sarvananthan, 2006 & 2008). During the conflict time, services sector was the largest contributor to the provincial economies of the East and North (over 65%), which was larger than the services sector’s share in the national economy (just over 50%). However, presently (and since 1990 at least) the services sector in the two conflict-affected provinces is dominated by defence and public administration sub-sectors those are sterile and have minimal productivity (Sarvananthan, 2008).

These minimal-productive services sub-sectors could and should be transformed into dynamic and highly productive modern knowledge economy in order to compete in a globalised market place. The emerging economies in the conflict-affected provinces should seize this opportunity to foster and promote a knowledge-based economy. Information technology and English language are two indispensable ingredients of a knowledge economy. Besides, totally independent, private schools and tertiary educational institutions (such as universities and technical/vocational higher education colleges) are also indispensable to build a knowledge economy. State-owned and run schools, universities, and further/higher education institutions should be made to compete for students with corresponding private institutions. The state should provide financial resources directly to needy students so that they could buy the educational services from either the public or private institutions according to their own choice.

Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries in the world where Vice Chancellors of Universities are appointed by a political authority, viz. the President of the country, which is ridiculous to say the least. Appointments to the independent governance bodies such as the ones noted in the foregoing section, judiciary, educational institutions, and the Central Bank should be made by groups of independent, non-partisan eminent persons in respective fields in order to inculcate merit cum competence and productivity based public administration and governance structures.

6. Fiscal Autonomy

Fiscal decentralisation has gained momentum in capitalist and communist/socialist countries (in China, for instance) and in unitary and federal states alike since the last quarter of the twentieth century. Country experiences have shown that fiscal decentralisation do enhance public goods and services delivery and poverty reduction (Ehtisham and Brosio, 2009). However, designing of fiscal decentralisation should be country-specific (Fedelino and Ter-Minassian, 2009). Our case for fiscal autonomy is not based on the dichotomy of unitary versus federal constitutional cum political model, but based on the evolving business model globally towards subcontracting and outsourcing the production line and the supply chain. However, not everyone agrees that administrative, political and fiscal decentralisation is the panacea for economic efficiency (see Hewavitharana, 1997).

In post-war Sri Lanka, the national government should abdicate most of its functions and responsibilities to all nine provinces, except monetary currency, defence, and foreign affairs. The national government’s primary function should be regulator of the provincial governments under a unified country, such as imposing a cap on provincial budget deficit. In order to fulfill its functions and responsibilities, provincial governments should be given fiscal autonomy. That is, the power to raise and earn income and spend on public goods and services within the respective provinces. Each province should impose and collect taxes, except import duty, excise duty, and value added tax on imports. Hence, the national government’s revenue should primarily accrue from duties and taxes on international trade. Businesses within each province should register with their respective provincial government and pay taxes (both direct and indirect) to their respective provincial government. Both the public and private sector employees within each province should pay income tax to their respective provincial government. At the same time, national government employees (such as the Central Bank staff, employees of the three armed forces, Ministry of Finance employees, et al) should pay income tax to the national government.

By providing fiscal autonomy to provinces, the national government could promote competition among provinces to attract businesses and investments (both domestic and foreign). The fiscal space envisaged to the provinces by the aforementioned method would create an environment for productive competition among provinces. The national government should do away with the nanny state it currently operates, vis-à-vis the provinces, by providing annual grants to the provinces based on certain criteria. Present transfers from the centre to the provinces are barely adequate to pay for salaries, pensions, and recurrent expenditures of the provinces. On the contrary, provinces should be encouraged to earn and spend their own money.

The total revenue of the national government is insufficient to meet even the recurrent expenditures of the government for the past twenty years (since 1989). Therefore, part of the recurrent expenditure and entire capital expenditure of the government is financed through domestic and external borrowings. Furthermore, bulk of the annual government revenue goes for repayment of public debt (both domestic and external). Therefore, it is high time the national government thinks out of the box to fix its fiscal deficit by transforming the nature, content and extent of the fiscal architecture of the national government vis-à-vis the provincial governments.

Government’s avowed strategy of economic revival of the conflict region is focused on physical (dwellings, roads, bridges, etc), economic (electricity, water, telecommunications, railways, etc), and social (schools, hospitals, etc) infrastructure development, which are indispensable. However, I have serious reservations about the financing of such infrastructure projects. Given the very tight fiscal space of the government as noted above, I do not think the government has adequate resources to finance such infrastructure development, because they are costly. Moreover, in the context of global financial crisis coupled with precarious external political relations of the present government, it is unlikely that the government will be able to mobilise adequate concessionary finance from external donors (both bilateral and multilateral).

In this scenario, only option left for the government is to attract private capital (both domestic and overseas) for investment in infrastructure in the conflict region and beyond, under BOO (Build, Operate, and Own) or BOT (Build, Operate, and Transfer) modalities. The government’s attempt to re-build the rail line beyond Vavuniya up to Kankesanthurai (in the Jaffna peninsula) is laudable, because the northern rail line (legendary ‘Yarl Devi’) used to be the highest revenue earner for the Ceylon Government Railways (CGR) prior to its termination in the mid-1980s as a result of the civil war. Besides, rail transport is cheaper than road, ocean or air transport due to lower fuel cost per passenger, and absence of traffic congestion and security checkpoints.

However, I do not think the government has sufficient financial resources to spend on this ambitious and worthwhile project. Government is explicitly appealing to the people for contribution, and Sri Lanka’s diplomatic missions abroad are organising ‘benefit show’ to mobilise finance from the diaspora, which are highly unlikely to yield desired results. According to the Central Bank (2008: 69), the Department of Railways incurred operating loss of Rs.12.5 million every single day during 2008 (annual loss was LKR 4,553 billion or approximately USD 43 million). Our suggestion is that, whilst the government could invest its own money as well as borrow from a foreign donor/s to re-build the rail tracks and stations (infrastructure), it should open up the passenger transport to the private sector (both domestic and foreign). That is, locomotives and rail cars/carriages could be invested, managed, and operated by the private sector. This kind of public-private partnerships could be the best way to beat the fiscal crunch faced by the government. Although the national government should re-build the rail tracks and stations initially, the maintenance of the same should be handed-over to the respective provincial government.

7. Conclusion

Comprehensive and decisive defeat of the LTTE provides challenges and opportunities. Tamil political leaderships and the national political leaderships should transform themselves to meet the challenges of post-war Sri Lanka and seize the historical opportunities it has bestowed. The broad policy framework we would suggest for post-war Sri Lanka in general and the conflict region in particular could be summed up as follows:

1. Economic strategy – economic freedom as the guiding principle in the conflict region as well as rest of the country; locally, provincially and nationally.

2. Cluster-based strategy – knowledge economy is the key to economic renaissance and leapfrogging of the conflict region to catch up with rest of the country.

3. State reform – transformation from a nanny state to an empowering state; i.e. instead of transfers from the national to provincial and local governments, the national government should create a conducive and enabling economic policy environment for provinces to compete with each other and globally through the provision of fiscal autonomy.

4. Political reform of the Tamils – transformation from a parochial linguistic cum ethnic identity towards a regional identity.

5. Governance reforms – truly independent governance bodies that would safeguard and promote democracy and ensure justice and rule-of-law without fear or favour.

6. Reform of the fiscal architecture – fiscal autonomy is the key to realisation of the foregoing economic cum political reforms and empowerment of the regions and the people.

Need of the hour for Sri Lanka is statespersons likes of Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk from both sides of the ethnic divide. Unfortunately, I am yet to discover potential candidates from either side of the ethnic divide. Wish I were proved wrong. The spirit of the people of Sri Lanka, particularly of those in the conflict region, should be the likes of the Japanese and the Germans in the aftermath of the Second World War. Together we rise from the ashes, or bury ourselves. It is a make or break situation. Would those who dare to hope stand up please?


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Muttukrishna Sarvananthan Ph.D. (Wales) M.Sc. (Bristol) M.Sc. (Salford). B.A. (Hons) (Delhi) hails from Point Pedro (Northern Sri Lanka) and is a Development Economist by profession and the Principal Researcher of the Point Pedro Institute of Development. He was a Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. during October 2008 – July 2009. Amongst his many scholarly publications, a book titled Children of War: Aspirations and Opportunities received the first prize under the research award scheme of the Sri Lanka Economic Association in 2008 and an article titled “Recovering from the Tsunami: People’s Experiences in Sri Lanka” in Contemporary South Asia, Vol.16 No.3 (September 2008), was amongst the top twenty articles downloaded from the publisher’s (informaworld) own portal during 2008.