Book Review: Sri Lanka – “Nation-Building”

In late May 2009, I happened to be visiting Rome, walking on a Sunday afternoon with my Rome-based brother near one of the city’s

Photo by Marcus Spring,

lovely parks, when we noticed a huge and apparently cheerful crowd of people at the nearby Sri Lankan embassy… We spent about 45 minutes enjoying Sri Lankan hospitality and some delicious kiri-bath. In that short time, the Ambassador and two members of his staff each pulled me aside and spoke earnestly of the importance of creating genuine reconciliation in the country. It was a moment of honesty and hope.

Gnana Moonesinghe’s wide-ranging collection of essays is another response to that moment, in the same spirit. She sets the tone in the Editor’s Note that begins the volume: “This publication is a response to the post war dilemma of how best to bring together the different communities and build a nation on strong foundations, of inclusivity, fairness, justice, equality and contentment for all.”

Read my review of Gnana Moonesinghe’s book Nation-Building, published in the Colombo Sunday Times July 10, 2011.

Cleaning Up India’s Culture of Sleaze

Scam-o-ramas erupting across India have transfixed public debate in India, leading to a popular social movement, in the Gandhian tradition, aimed at ending corruption. It has been a heady and exciting moment, powered by Facebook and the Internet. But whether this is a transformative movement in Indian life largely depends on the middle class’s continued engagement in the issue.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s analysis, published on May 3, 2011.