The Hindu Morning Digest: December 31, 2023

With announcement of new notification, Census to be delayed till at least October 2024

The deadline to freeze the administrative boundaries of districts, tehsils, towns, and municipal bodies, among others, has been extended till June 30, 2024, a senior government official told The Hindu. This means that the decennial Census exercise, initially scheduled to be begin in 2020, will now be postponed till at least October 2024 as it usually takes about three months after the boundaries are set to identify and train the enumerators.

Ayodhya airport takes off ahead of January 22 Ram Temple consecration ceremony

The world awaits the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Saturday in Ayodhya, adding that no stone will be left unturned to develop the holy place. Given the security arrangements that would be in place, the Prime Minister requested people to visit the temple city only after the consecration ceremony. 

Punjab Police form SIT to investigate Nicaragua ‘human trafficking’ case

The Punjab Police set up a Special Investigation Team on Saturday to probe a suspected human trafficking case related to Indian passengers on an aircraft run by Romania’s Legend Airlines, originally destined for Nicaragua, but detained in France. Though the passengers have now returned to India, no victim has yet come forward to register any case.

PM Modi visits 10th crore beneficiary of Ujjwala scheme in Ayodhya

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit on Saturday to the Ayodhya home of Meera Manjhi, the tenth-crore beneficiary of the PM Ujjwala Yojana, and had tea at her residence during his one-day tour of the temple city.

Launched in May 2016 to provide subsidised LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households, the Ujjwala scheme aims to empower women, protecting their health and reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

BJP president releases commemorative stamp on 200 years of Indian origin Tamils in Sri Lanka

BJP President J.P. Nadda on Saturday released a commemorative stamp on 200 years of arrival of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka. BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit chief K. Annamalai said that PM Narendra Modi has always considered Sri Lanka, “our civilisational twin” and has been instrumental in supporting the country with humanitarian and financial aid during its times of distress.

The release of the commemorative stamp has strengthened this commitment of unwavering support to the Indian-origin Tamils living in Sri Lanka, a statement released by the Sri Lankan govt. said.

In biggest election year ever, politics may have impact on India’s foreign policy the most

Domestic policy, rather than geopolitical events, could be a major factor in foreign policy in 2024, given that more than a fourth of the world, in terms of population and number of countries, will go to vote during the year. For India, which will hold the world’s largest election, the diplomatic calendar and focus will be decided by countries in the neighbourhood, global powers and major countries in the Global South, all of which will hold parliamentary or presidential elections next year.

Centre releases draft guidelines to make Railways more user-friendly for persons with disabilities

The government has released draft guidelines on accessibility of railway stations, facilities in trains for persons with disabilities, highlighting the need for integrating technology-enabled features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms. The Department of the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) has asked stakeholders and the public to give their comments, objections and suggestions by January 29 on the proposed guidelines to create a more user-friendly environment.

India seeks extradition of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed from Pakistan

India has asked Pakistan to extradite Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind and a United Nations-proscribed terrorist, who is wanted by Indian probe agencies in a number of terror cases. India also took note of reports of Saeed’s son Talha Saeed standing for elections in Pakistan and said the “mainstreaming” of radical terrorist outfits in that country is nothing new and that it has been part of its state policy for a long time.

Singapore envoy praises tripartite pact with ULFA faction

The peace pact signed with the pro-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) will pave the way for investment into the northeastern region, the High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong has said. The envoy had earlier in November observed that products of Assam have a ready market in Singapore.

This is the first response from a foreign representative on the pact that was signed on Friday under which a time-bound programme would be made by the Home Ministry to fulfil the demands of the ULFA and a committee would be constituted to monitor its progress.

6.5 magnitude earthquake shakes part of Indonesia’s Papua region, no immediate reports of casualties

A powerful earthquake shook Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.5 quake was centered 162 kilometers (101 miles) northeast of Abepura, a subdistrict in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. It happened at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency said there was no danger of a tsunami but warned of possible aftershocks as the earthquake was centered in land.

British actor Tom Wilkinson, known for ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Michael Clayton’, dies at 75

Tom Wilkinson, the Oscar-nominated British actor known for his roles in “The Full Monty,” “Michael Clayton” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” has died, his family said. He was 75. A statement shared by his agent on behalf of the family said Wilkinson died suddenly at home on Saturday. It didn’t provide further details.

China eases visa application for U.S. tourists

China will simplify visa applications for tourists from the United States from Jan. 1, cutting the documents required, according to a notice on Friday on the website of the Chinese embassy in Washington. The move is the latest by China to revive tourism and boost the world’s second-largest economy following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major blow to Imran Khan as Pakistan’s top poll body rejects his nomination papers from two seats

In a major blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ahead of the February 8 general elections, Pakistan’s top poll body on December 30 rejected nomination papers of party founder and former Prime Minister Imran Khan and several of his stalwart colleagues on what they described as “flimsy grounds”.

Finance Minister meets heads of PSBs, reviews financial performance

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Saturday held a meeting with heads of public sector banks and reviewed their financial performance. During the meeting, concerns related to cyber security and the risks on the financial sector were discussed, sources said. Issues related to fraud and wilful defaulters and progress on the National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL) also came up for discussion.

India in South Africa | Rohit Sharma focuses on Mukesh during net session, Jadeja goes full tilt

It was an optional session at the Supersport Park but for India skipper Rohit Sharma, skipping the nets wasn’t an option. Outfoxed by South African pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada in both innings of the opening Test, Rohit was present as skipper and batter in equal measure during a two-hour session.

The Indian captain was focussed on facing Mukesh Kumar, who bowled only to Rohit for at least 45 minutes.

Dominic Thiem survives qualifying and a brush with venomous snake at Brisbane International

Former U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem had a brush with one of Australia’s most venomous snakes during a qualifying match at the Brisbane International on Saturday The former world No.3 was a set down to 20-year-old Australian James McCabe in a first round qualifying match when fans courtside spotted the snake.

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New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Live Score, Cricket World Cup 2023: Daryl Mitchell Solid As Three-Down New Zealand Cruise Towards Victory | Cricket News

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Live Score Updates: Sri Lanka are struggling against New Zealand.© PTI

NZ vs SL, ODI World Cup 2023, Live Updates: Daryl Mitchell is solid in the crease as three-down New Zealand are cruising towards the 172-run target against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru. Devon Conway (45) and Rachin Ravindra (42) took New Zealand off to a solid start in the paltry chase. Earlier, Trent Boult took three wickets as New Zealand bowled out Sri Lanka for 171 after Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bowl first. New Zealand always had an upper hand in the game as they kept on scalping wickets at regular intervals. For Sri Lanka, Kusal Perera was the highest scorer with 51 runs. (Live Scorecard | Points Table)

Live Updates: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Live | NZ vs SL, Straight from Bengaluru

  • 19:21 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT!

    Angelo Mathews has got the wicket of Kane Williamson. The New Zealand skipper played the ball on his stumps. New Zealand are three down but that won’t worry even a bit as they are almost there. They need only 42 runs to win.

    NZ 130/3 (18.2)

  • 19:14 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: SIX!

    New Zealand are in some sort of hurry to finish the game it seems! Daryl Mitchell comes down the track and hits the Maheesh Theekshana delivery over long-off for a six.

    NZ 124/2 (17.2)

  • 19:13 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR!

    16.4 – A strong shot from Kane Williamson on the off-side and New Zealand are now 56 runs away from a win over Sri Lanka.

    A total of 10 runs came off the first over of Angelo Mathews.

    NZ 118/2 (17)

  • 19:02 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR!

    Easy pickings for Daryl Mitchell. It was bowled on the pads from Maheesh Theekshana and Mitchell just flicked it away to wide of long-on for a four.

    NZ 103/2 (15)

  • 19:01 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: SIX!

    A six over the long-off from the bat of Daryl Mitchell. It was a powerful shot from the Kiwi star on the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera. New Zealand need 73 more to win.

    NZ 99/2 (14.4)

  • 18:57 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Another WICKET!

    A bit of motivation here for Sri Lanka. Maheesh Theekshana has dismissed Rachin Ravindra and New Zealand are now two down. Conway wanted to go over the extra cover fielder but he got a thick inside-edge on the delivery and Chameera took the catch at mid-wicket. Ravindra is gone for 45 off 42 balls.

    NZ 88/2 (13.3)

  • 18:48 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: WICKET!

    Devon Conway is gone at his score of 45 off 42 balls. Dushmantha Chameera gets the wicket for Sri Lanka and the side at least has something to celebrate. New Zealand need 86 runs more to win and they are still in command of this game.

    NZ 86/1 (12.2)

  • 18:36 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: A superb start for New Zealand!

    New Zealand openers Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway have taken the side off to a solid start in chase of a paltry target of 172 against Sri Lanka. New Zealand need 99 runs more to win with a required run rate of around 2.5 per over. It must be a cakewalk for them from here.

    NZ 73/0 (10)

  • 18:27 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: SIX

    SIX!!! Rachin Ravindra hits a six off Dhananjaya de Silva’s delivery. Ravindra plays a slogsweep over the deep mid-wicket as the ball goes sailing over the fence.

    NZ 58/0 (7.3 overs)

  • 18:21 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Devon Conway inches closer towards his half-century as he is dealing in boundaries. In the previous over of Dilshan Madushanka, he smashes two back-to-back fours as New Zealand are confidently approaching the target of 172. Conway is currently standing unbeaten at 34. 

    NZ 51/0 (7 overs)

  • 18:17 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: SIX

    SIX!!! Rachin Ravindra smashes a huge six off Dhananjaya de Silva’s delivery. Ravindra smashes it hard towards the extra cover as the ball lands straight into the crowd for a maximum. 

    NZ 40/0 (5.3 overs)

  • 18:14 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Devon Conway hit another boundary in the same over of Dilshan Madushanka. Conway plays a terrific down the ground shot as the fielder fails to stop it from going for a four. 

    NZ 32/0 (5 overs)

  • 18:11 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Devon Conway hits a boundary off Dilshan Madushanka’s delivery. The ball hits the top edge of the bat and dodges the wicketkeeper and goes past the boundary line for a four. 

    NZ 22/0 (4.2 overs)

  • 18:09 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: 2 runs off the over

    Maheesh Theekshana bowls an excellent over and gives a sigh of relief to Sri Lanka. In the previous over, he concedes only two runs as Sri Lanka eye some quick wickets. 

    NZ 18/0 (4 overs)

  • 18:04 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Good start for New Zealand

    Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway are standing steady for New Zealand in the chase. In the first over, the duo scores four runs, followed by eight runs in the next over. They aim to get some boundaries in the coming overs. 

    NZ 12/0 (2 overs)

  • 17:51 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: We are back

    Hello and welcome to the second innings of the match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. In the chase of 172, Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway have opened for New Zealand while Dilshan Madushanka will be bowling the first over for Sri Lanka. 

  • 17:24 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Sri Lanka 171 all out

    Sri Lanka got bundled out for 171 in 46.4 overs against New Zealand. For Sri Lanka, Kusal Perera scored 51 while Maheesh Theekshana remained unbeaten at 39. For New Zealand, Trent Boult took three wickets while Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner took two wickets each. 

  • 17:07 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Good partnership for Sri Lanka!

    Maheesh Theekshana and Dilshan Madushanka have added 34 runs off 59 balls for the last wicket so far. This pair is frustrating the New Zeland bowlers. Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult, who all together took 7 wickets out of the 9, have already completed their quota of overs. 

    SL 162/9 (42)

  • 16:58 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Injury scare for Sri Lanka!

    A short ball from Lockie Ferguson hit Maheesh Theekshana on the arm. The play was halted for a bit of time but it has resumed now with Tim Southee bowling the 41st over.

    SL 155/9 (40)

  • 16:49 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR!

    A boundary comes after a long time for Sri Lanka. The Lockie Ferguson delivery had a good pace and Dilshan Madushanka just guided the short ball over the 30-yard circle for a four. The ball went over the backward point region for a four.

    SL 150/9 (37.4)

  • 16:43 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Sri Lanka continue to struggle!

    Maheesh Theekshana has been joined by Dilshan Madushanka, the last man to come out to bat, after the wicket of Dushmantha Chameera. New Zealand just need one good ball to wrap up the Sri Lankan innings.

    SL 144/9 (37)

  • 16:38 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT!

    32.1 – Sri Lanka are nine down. Rachin Ravindra dismissed Dushmantha Chameera and New Zealand are only one wicket away from bundling out Sri Lanka to a really low total.

  • 16:24 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Close call!

    A Trent Boult delivery hit the front pad of Maheesh Theekshana. Since the ball seemed to be going down the leg side prima facie, the umpire was unmoved on the LBW appeal. New Zealand went upstairs but ball tracker revealed that the umpire was right.

    SL 128/8 (32)

  • 16:11 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Sri Lanka need a big partnership!

    The onus is completely on lower-order batters Maheesh Theekshana and Dushmantha Chameera to keep the team going. On the other hand, New Zealand bowlers are bowling really tight and it won’t be a surprise if Sri Lanka fail to cross even 150. 

    SL 125/8 (29)

  • 15:51 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Lockie Ferguson has taken his second wicket of the day as he dismissed Chamika Karunaratne for 6. Chamika fails to judge the delivery as the ball hits the edge and wicketkeeper Tom Latham takes a catch behind the stumps. 

    SL 113/8 (23.3 overs)

  • 15:45 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Maiden over

    Lockie Ferguson bowls an excellent over and creates pressure on Sri Lanka batters. In the previous over, he bowls a maiden as New Zealand aim to end Sri Lanka’s innings at the earliest. 

    SL 112/7 (22 overs)

  • 15:36 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Mitchell Santner has taken his second wicket of the day as he dismissed Dhananjaya de Silva for 19. The ball hits the top edge and Daryl Mitchell takes a brilliant catch at the slip. Seventh wicket gone for Sri Lanka. 

    SL 105/7 (18.3 overs)

  • 15:22 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Mitchell Santner has taken his first wicket of the day as he dismissed Angelo Mathews for 16. Mathews tries to flick it for a boundary but ends up giving a catch to Daryl Mitchell. Sixth wicket gone for Sri Lanka. 

    SL 104/6 (16.4 overs)

  • 15:19 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: SIX

    SIX!!! Dhananjaya de Silva smashes a huge six off Tim Southee’s delivery. Dhananjaya simply lofts it over the fence as the ball lands straight into the crowd for a huge maximum. 

    SL 102/5 (16 overs)

  • 15:13 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: 4 runs off the over

    Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva are standing steady as five-down Sri Lanka rely on their partnership. In the previous over of Mitchell Santner, the duo scores four runs and aims for boundaries in the coming overs. 

    SL 95/5 (15 overs)

  • 15:08 (IST)

    New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Live Score: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Dhananjaya de Silva smashes a boundary off Lockie Ferguson’s delivery. Dhananjaya stays back and punches it away to leave deep third man as the ball comfortable goes across the boundary line for a four. 

    SL 90/5 (13.4 overs)

  • 14:59 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Angelo Mathews hits a boundary off Lockie Ferguson’s delivery. Mathews makes a good use of the short ball as he places it perfectly towards the fine leg and steals four runs. 

    SL 83/5 (11.3 overs)

  • 14:54 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Lockie Ferguson joins the party and takes his first wicket of the day in the form of Kusal Perera for 51. Perera smashes it hard but the ball goes up in the air as Mitchell Santner takes a stunning catch. Fifth wicket gone for Sri Lanka. 

    SL 70/5 (9.3 overs)

  • 14:52 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Trent Boult has taken his third wicket of the day as he dismissed Charith Asalanka for 8. Boult strikes directly onto the pads of Asalanka but the on-field umpire signals not out. Later, the DRS reviews shows that the wickets were hitting and Asalanka was declared LBW out. 

    SL 70/4 (8.2 overs)

  • 14:40 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Perera hits 50

    FOUR!!! Kusal Perera hits a boundary off Lockie Ferguson’s delivery and brings up his half-century in style. It is his 17th half-century in the ODI format and he brings it up in 22 balls. Terrific batting from Perera. 

    SL 70/3 (7.3 overs)

  • 14:36 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Perera nears 50

    Kusal Perera is standing like a strong wall for Sri Lanka as he is fearlessly smashing boundaries and inching closer towards his half-century. In the previous over of Tim Southeee, he smashed three boundaries and a six while in the next over of Trent Boult, he hit two boundaries. 

    SL 61/3 (7 overs)

  • 14:30 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Trent Boult have struck twice in the same over and this time he dismissed Sadeera Samarawickrama for 1. Sadeera fails to judge the delivery as the ball hits the edge and Daryl Mitchell takes a brilliant catch at the slip. Third wicket gone for Sri Lanka. 

    SL 32/3 (4.4 overs)

  • 14:23 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: OUT

    OUT!!! Trent Boult has provided New Zealand with their second wicket as he dismissed Kusal Mendis for 6. Mendis tries to smash it hard but fails to time the shot as the ball goes up in the air and lands into the hands of Rachin Ravindra at the third man. 

    SL 30/2 (4.1 overs)

  • 14:21 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: Perera on fire

    Kusal Perera completely changes the momentum of the game with his powerful hitting. In the previous over of Tim Southee, he smashes two boundaries and a six and the pacer leaks 15 runs. Terrific batting from Perera. 

    SL 30/1 (4 overs)

  • 14:18 (IST)

    NZ vs SL Live Score: 12 runs off the over

    Sri Lanka get a big over and Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera start dealing in boundaries. In the previous over of Trent Boult, the duo scores 12 runs, which include one boundary from both the batters. 

    SL 15/1 (3 overs)

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Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Highlights, ICC ODI World Cup 2023: Pakistan Record Highest-Ever World Cup Chase, Beat Sri Lanka By 6 Wickets | Cricket News

PAK vs SL Highlights, World Cup 2023: Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets.© AFP

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Highlights, ODI World Cup 2023: Mohammad Rizwan scored 131 not out while Abdullah Shafique hit 113 as Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets to record the highest chase of World Cup history. Earlier, fiery centuries from Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama guided Sri Lanka to 344 for 9 in 50 overs. Opting to bat first, Sri Lanka lost an early wicket of Kusal Perera but they got back on track. Mendis smashed 122 runs while Sadeera scored 108. (Scorecard | Points Table)

Here are the Highlights of the ODI World Cup 2023 match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka:

  • 22:28 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Pakistan win!!!

    Pakistan have won the game by 6 wickets. They have recorded the highest-ever World Cup chase. What a win this is for the side! They lost two early wickets in this chase of 345 runs but Mohammed Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique scored impressive centuries to help the side win the game.

  • 22:14 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Pakistan four down!

    Pakistan have lost the wicket of Saud Shakeel of late, but they are still solid in this chase, thanks to Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten century. Apart from their poor bowling, Sri Lanka also have their poor luck to blame. Pakistan need 26 runs in 24 balls.

    PAK 319/4 (46)

  • 21:53 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Century for Rizwan!

    Mohammed Rizwan races to his third ODI century in 97 balls. He still there at the middle despite struggling with his fitness. This is turning out to be a wonderful knock for Pakistan.

  • 21:31 (IST)

    ODI WC Live:Injured Rizwan continues to fight!

    Mohammad Rizwan seems to be suffering with cramps but he continues to bat for Pakistan. They need 94 runs in 78 balls. Meanwhile, Rizwan is 90 not out off 82 balls.

    PAK 251/3 (37)

  • 21:11 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT!

    The partnership for the fourth wicket has finally been broken! That’s a stunning catch from a substitute fielder Hemantha to dismiss Abdullah Shafique at backward point. The batter has to depart at the score of 113 runs and Sri Lanka will take a sigh of relief, at least for sometime now. 

    PAK 213/3 (33.1)

  • 21:00 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Shafique on fire!

    A fantastic four from Abdullah Shafique on the off side. He has put his foot on the accelerator pedal and Pakistan are in complete control of this chase now. 19 runs came off the Dilshan Madushanka over.

    PAK 207/2 (32)

  • 20:56 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Century for Shafique!

    A four to wide of long-on and Abdullah Shafique gets to his maiden ODI century in his first World Cup appearance for Pakistan. What a player he is! Pakistan needed the opener to deliver tonight and here he is… right on the money! 

    PAK 192/2 (31.2)

  • 20:44 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Fifty for Mohammed Rizwan!

    Mohammed Rizwan hit his fifty in 58 balls. Both he and Abdullah Shafique are well set in the crease and Pakistan are bossing the chase now. Sri Lanka badly need a breakthrough to stay alive in the game.

  • 20:23 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Pakistan in control!

    Pakistan are going well in this chase with both Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique solid at the crease. However, the only thing the Babar Azam-led side need to look from here is that the required run rate doesn’t go too high.

  • 20:07 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Fifty for Shafique!

    Abdullah Shafique raced to his half-century in 58 balls. The milestone for the player came on the final ball of the 19th over. Dunith Wellalage bowled the 20th over and six runs came off it. This partnership between Shafique and Mohammad Rizwan now looks threatening for Sri Lanka.

    PAK 110/2 (20)

  • 19:51 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Pakistan make recovery!

    Abdullah Shafique is getting close to his half-century. Pakistan are looking in control of this chase now as Mohammad Rizwan is also solid at the other end.

    PAK 81/2 (16)

  • 19:19 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Sri Lanka lose a review!

    That was more of a desperate review from Sri Lanka and they lose it. A bouncer from Dilshan Madushanka hit the helmet of Abdullah Shafique before the fielder caught the ball. Sri Lankan players thought there was an edge but they were completely wrong as confirmed by the snickometer.

    PAK 48/2 (10)

  • 19:05 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT!

    Babar Azam is out! He has literally thrown his wicket away to a poor ball in such a crucial chase. Sri Lanka will take it with open arms though. It was bowled down the leg side from Dilshan Madushanka and Babar nicked it to wicketkeeper Samarawickrama.

    PAK 37/2 (7.2)

  • 18:45 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: WICKET!

    This is a really good start for Sri Lanka now. Dilshan Madushanka has got the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq and Pakistan are in a bit of trouble here.  

    PAK 16/1 (3.3)

  • 18:33 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Pakistan’s chase underway!

    Pakistan have kicked off their chase of 345 runs. Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique have opened the batting for the side. Six runs came off the first over that was bowled by Maheesh Theekshana.

  • 17:58 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Sri Lanka 344/9 in 50 overs

    Sri Lanka end their innings at 344/9 in 50 overs against Pakistan. For Sri Lanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama scored 108 runs while Kusal Mendis scored 122. Apart from them, Pathum Nissanka scored 51. For Pakistan, Hasan Ali took four wickets while Haris Rauf took two wickets. 

  • 17:56 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Haris Rauf dismisses Maheesh  Theekshana for duck. Theekshana completely fails to judge the delivery as the ball dislodges the off stump. 

    SL 343/8 (49.1 overs)

  • 17:54 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Dunith Wellalage hits a boundary off Shaheen Afridi’s delivery. He smashes it hard towards the deep extra cover and steals four runs. 

    SL 343/7 (49 overs)

  • 17:49 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Hasan Ali takes his fourth wicket of the day and this time he removes Sadeera Samarawickrama for 108. Sadeera tries to play a scoop shot but the ball hits the edge and Rizwan takes a brilliant catch behind the stumps. 

    SL 335/7 (48 overs)

  • 17:40 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Shaheen Afridi has taken his first wicket of the day and he removes Dasun Shanaka for 12. Shanaka smashes it hard for a six but fails to time it as the ball lands safely into the hands of Babar Azam. 

    SL 324/6 (46.3 overs)

  • 17:36 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Sadeera hits ton

    Sadeera Samarawickrama takes a single off  Hasan Ali’s delivery and brings up his century. It is his maiden ton in the ODI format and he brings it up in 82 balls. Terrific batting from Sadeera.

    SL 318/5 (45.5 overs)

  • 17:27 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: SIX

    SIX!!! Sadeera Samarawickrama smashes a huge six off Mohammad Nawaz’s delivery. Sadeera makes room outside the leg-stump and plays a beautiful inside-out loft over extra-cover. 

    SL 305/5 (43.3 overs)

  • 17:19 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Mohammad Nawaz has provided Pakistan with another breakthrough as he dismisses Dhananjaya de Silva for 25. De Silva smashes it hard but ends up giving a catch to Shaheen Afridi. 

    SL 294/5 (41.1 overs)

  • 17:15 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: 11 runs off the over

    Sri Lanka are in a fiery mode as Sadeera Samarawickrama and Dhananjaya de Silva are dealing in boundaries. In the previous over of Hasan Ali, the duo scores 11 runs, which include two boundaries from Sadeera. 

    SL 294/4 (41 overs)

  • 17:02 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Dhananjaya de Silva smashes a boundary off Shadab Khan’s delivery. He plays a shot towards the deep mid-wicket and steals four runs. 

    SL 270/4 (38 overs)

  • 16:54 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: 8 runs off the over

    Sadeera Samarawickrama is standing like a huge wall for Sri Lanka as he is regularly dealing in boundaries. In the previous over of Shadab Khan, he smashes two boundaries as the spinner leaks eight runs. 

    SL 255/4 (36 overs)

  • 16:41 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Sadeera hits 50

    Sadeera Samarawickrama takes a single off Shadab Khan’s delivery and brings up his half-century, It is his sixth half-century in the ODI cricket. Terrific batting from Sadeera. 

    SL 240/4 (33.1 overs)

  • 16:35 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Good over from Shadab

    Shadab Khan bowls an excellent over and controls the flow of runs. In his previous over, he leaks only two runs as Pakistan aim for another wicket. 

    SL 232/4 (32 overs)

  • 16:31 (IST)

    PAK vs SL Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Hasan Ali has taken his third wicket of the day and this time, Charith Asalanka becomes his prey. The ball hits the edge of the bat as wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan taken a good catch. Fourth wicket gone for Sri Lanka. 

    SL 229/4 (30.1 overs)

  • 16:22 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Hasan Ali has taken his second wicket of the day and this time he removed Kusal Mendis for 122. After hitting two back-to-back sixes, Mendis tries to go for the third one but ends up giving a fantastic catch to Imam Ul Haq at the long-on. Third wicket gone for Sri Lanka. 

    SL 218/3 (28.5 overs)

  • 16:18 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: SIX

    SIX!!! Kusal Mendis smashes two back-to-back sixes off Hasan Ali’s delivery. The first one comes after he places a shot towards the leg-side. While the other one comes after he hammers a shot towards the long-off. Mendis is on fire. 

    SL 218/3 (28.4 overs)

  • 16:15 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: 5 runs off the over

    After leaking too many runs in the past few overs, Pakistan finally take a sigh of relief as Iftikhar Ahmed bowls an economical over. He concedes only five runs as Pakistan aim to break the partnership between Sadeera and Mendis. 

    SL 204/2 (28 overs)

  • 16:10 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Mendis hits ton

    Kusal Mendis smashes a huge six off Hasan Ali’s delivery and brings up his century in style. It is his third century in the ODI cricket and he brings it up in 65 balls. Terrific batting from Mendis. 

    SL 192/2 (26.1 overs)

  • 16:04 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Mendis nears ton

    Kusla Mendis is on fire!! In the previous over of Shaheen Afridi, he smashes three back-to-back boundaries as the pacer concedes 14 runs. With this, Mendis has gone past the 91-run mark and inching closer towards his ton. 

    SL 181/2 (25 overs)

  • 15:56 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: FOUR

    FOUR!!! Kusal Mendis smashes a brilliant boundary off Mohammad Nawaz’s delivery. He smartly places a shot between backward point and short third man and steals four runs. 

    SL 166/2 (23 overs)

  • 15:44 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: SIX

    SIX!!! Both Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama punish Haris Rauf with two huge sixes. The first one comes after Mendis smashes it hard towards the deep square leg. While the other one comes after Samarawickrama makes a good use of the short delivery and hammers a maximum. 

    SL 147/2 (21 overs)

  • 15:39 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: 12 runs off the over

    In the previous over of Shadab Khan, Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama score 12 runs. the over includes one boundary from both the batters. 

    SL 127/2 (20 overs)

  • 15:28 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: OUT

    OUT!!! Shadab Khan has provided Pakistan with a major breakthrough as he dismissed Pathum Nissanka for 51. Nissanka tries to steal a boundary but ends up giving a catch to Abdullah Shafique. Second wicket gone for Sri Lanka.

    SL 107/2 (17.2 overs)

  • 15:25 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Mendis hits 50

    Kusal Menids hit a boundary off Mohammad Nawaz’s delivery and brings up his half-century in style. He takes 40 balls to go past the 50-run mark. 

    SL 107/1 (17 overs)

  • 15:23 (IST)

    PAK vs SL, Cricket WC Live: Nissanka hits 50

    Pathum Nissanka takes a single off Mohammad Nawaz’s delivery and brings up his half-century. It is his 10th half-century in the ODI cricket and he brings it up in 58 balls. Terrific batting from Nissanka. 

    SL 101/1 (16.3 overs)

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Fresh conflict brews in post-war Sri Lanka | The slippery slope to the Kurunthurmalai hilltop

It takes barely 10 minutes to reach the Kurunthurmalai hilltop, but the climb requires some manoeuvring of the uneven, slippery slope. Clutching the thick, white rope tied to tree trunks along the path is a safer option to get to the solitary spot that has now turned into a site of fierce contestation in Sri Lanka’s northern Mullaitivu district.

Tamils from the surrounding Thannimurippu area, who have frequented the location for years to offer prayers to Aadi Aiyanar (their local Siva deity), have been contending with disruptions to their regular prayers by Sinhalese mobs led by Buddhist monks, and increased security and surveillance. The latest episode was in August, during a special pongal prayer ceremony.

Bhaskaran Susilathevi, 57, a resident of Thannimurippu, is appalled by the turn of events. “A Buddhist vihara has been built there. The Sinhalese want to come and worship at Kurunthurmalai, but we are not allowed to go to our temple. We have a majoritarian government that is not afraid to violate a court order,” she says, her voice reflecting both rage and resignation. Her terse summary echoed the prevalent sentiment among Tamils who have returned to their homes after being displaced by the war.

A stupa has come up in Kurunthurmalai just a few yards away from the Tamils’ place of worship.
| Photo Credit:
Meera Srinivasan

For many like Susilathevi, intimately familiar with the terrain around the Siva temple, the rapid structural changes on the premises are disorienting. An imposing, unfinished brick-stone stupa stands a few yards from the Hindu place of worship. A plaque on dull-grey granite is installed beside it, with a note on the “Kurundi stupa’s glorious history” and its lotus-shaped design. The inscription credits the Bauddhaloka Foundation, the chief incumbent of the local Buddhist temple; the Department of Archaeology; and the “effortless contributions” of the Sri Lanka Army and Civil Security Force for the “excavation and conservation”. It mirrors the state apparatus as Sri Lanka’s minorities know it, neatly framing government authorities, the Buddhist clergy, and the military together in stone.

Escalating tensions

For the Sri Lankan state and Sinhalese at large, the end of the civil war between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009 marked the beginning of peace. For the Tamils living in the island’s north and east, the 14 years after the battle ended — its final phase unfolded in Mullaitivu with tens of thousands of civilians being killed — have been a relentless daily struggle for truth, justice, land, and livelihoods. From their viewpoint, the ethnic conflict that triggered the war remains unresolved. Archaeological excavation is its latest manifestation.

Kurunthurmalai and 78 acres around it have been part of an archaeological reserve since 1933, when the British colonial government gazetted it as a protected area. All the same, Tamils in the area continued visiting the hilltop temple and worshipped a trident, a symbol of Aadi Aiyanar or Siva, as their ancestors had done.

Trouble began in 2018, when a group of Sinhalese, led by Buddhist monks, tried to install a Buddha statue at the location. Stiff resistance from locals prompted the police to intervene. However, amid recurring claims that the site contains ruins of an ancient Buddhist shrine, authorities in the former Gotabaya Rajapaksa government ordered fresh excavations. The new “research” was ceremonially launched in January 2021 by then State Minister, Vidura Wickramanayaka, who is now the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs. In a blatant violation of an earlier court order, a Buddha statue was placed at the contested site. Visuals of the minister, accompanied by uniformed soldiers, offering prayers went viral at the time.

Recalling the incident in Parliament in April 2023, Jaffna legislator M.A. Sumanthiran said soldiers “broke the trident” worshipped by the Hindu Tamils and “threw it into the shrubs”. He pointed to the Archaeology Department’s logo and told the House: “What does it have? It has a dagoba [a dome-shaped shrine common in Buddhist temple architecture] and a Dharmachakra [symbol used to represent the Buddha’s dharma]. It is like the Ministry of Buddhasasana. Why does the Department of Archaeology have a logo of one religion? That shows what this department is protecting, and what it is determined to destroy.” Sumanthiran also referred to similar tensions in Vedukkunarimalai in the neighbouring district of Vavuniya.

Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology functions under the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs. The Minister, Wickramanayaka, was not reachable for a response. When contacted, Secretary to the Ministry Somaratne Vidanapathirana said, “It is unethical to comment on this when cases [on Kurunthurmalai] are pending in our courts.”

Politics of history

Where an ethnic conflict lingers, the politics of interpreting history and heritage must be carefully scrutinised, experts point out. According to Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, Professor of History at the University of Colombo, history is often used as an ideological and cultural tool by dominant communities at the expense of others. “In the case of the contested site at Kurunthurmalai, it is highly problematic that some link the site to a particular ethnic identity. While [archaeological] evidence may suggest that the site was linked to certain Buddhist practices, we don’t know the ethnic identity of the people who engaged in those practices,” he notes.

Indicating that history, in this instance, is more about the present than the past, Dewasiri says: “Claims that the community that lived in these sites was Sinhala-Buddhist are mainly driven by contemporary political compulsions; they are not evidence-based.”

That is perhaps why Tamils have lost faith in the Archaeology Department. “We are not opposed to archaeological research that is carried out scientifically and professionally. But when the department furthers a political project by building new Buddhist shrines in our area in the name of restoration, we cannot accept that,” says Thurairajah Raviharan, a political activist based in Mullaitivu.

He believes that Tamils would have had more administrative powers over land if the provincial councils had been functional. The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, introduced following the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, led to the creation of nine provincial councils. It assured a power-sharing arrangement to enable all of them to self-govern to an extent. But with subsequent governments postponing elections to the provincial councils, their terms stand expired for about five years now. Raviharan is a former Tamil National Alliance member of the now-defunct Northern Provincial Council.

“We do not think that the 13th Amendment is our final political solution to the Tamil national question, but its full implementation would have given us some power to deal with land conflicts,” he says. The contentious power devolution that Raviharan refers to is long pending, despite the Tamil leadership’s relentless demand for it. In his latest pledge on the 35-year-old legislation, President Ranil Wickremesinghe offered to implement it without the police powers that it guarantees to the provincial councils. The Tamil parties were quick to reject the proposal.

“The Archaeology Department not only functions in a centralised manner, but its activities are also highly militarised,” says Mahendran Thiruvarangan, an academic at the University of Jaffna. Thiruvarangan, who is also a member of the People’s Land Commission, constituted by organisations and individuals working against land grabs across Sri Lanka, says, “These panels looking into archaeology rarely have minorities. We must ask whose histories are foregrounded, whose cultural and religious identities are prioritised in these efforts. What we see in the north and east is that the recent archaeological initiatives not only lack credibility, but are polarising our communities.”

‘Deliberate project’

Although the threat to land has heightened across the Northern Province’s five districts, it is most acutely felt in Mullaitivu. With large expanses of cultivable land and an efficient irrigation system, the coastal district is among the most resource-rich in the region.

“It is clear that they are after our land. What is significant is that land grabs have official sanction now, either through the Forest Department or the Archaeology Department. That makes it harder for us to assert our rights,” says Arumugam Shanmugalingam, 64, who lives in Kokkuthoduvai village in Mullaitivu. For long-time residents like him, “conservation” is simply a euphemism for “Sinhala Buddhist colonisation”.

The village has recently been in the news after workers laying water pipelines stumbled upon a mass grave, in another reminder of the atrocities yet to be unearthed in the former war zone. After being displaced multiple times since 1984, Shanmugalingam returned to his village only in 2011, to find that large plots of agricultural land held by his family for generations were occupied by migrant Sinhalese families. “I only get to see my land from the fence, like an outsider. They have all been settled here by authorities,” he says. The next big conflict, he predicts, will be over water.

While the recent conflicts may seem centred on the district’s natural resources, the motivation behind them is more sinister, in his assessment. “Bringing in Sinhalese into this district is a conscious effort to change the demography of this district. You may wonder why Mullaitivu. Remember this is the district that connects the north and east. Changing its composition can forever prevent the merger of these two provinces,” he says, referring to yet another demand of the Tamils that figures in the Indo-Lanka Accord.

This accusation adds up with the concern raised by Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims living in the Eastern Province, in Kuchchaveli and Pulmoddai towns that border the Northern Province. The drive to construct Buddhist shrines intensified under former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who set up a task force for Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province in 2020. The all-Sinhalese task force, led by Buddhist monks and top military officials, was tasked with the management of archaeological heritage in the province, “by conserving and restoring such identified sites and antiquities”.

Three years since the panel was set up, and more than a year after Rajapaksa was ousted by a people’s uprising following the island’s economic collapse, at least 23 new Buddhist shrines are coming up in Kuchchaveli in Trincomalee district, in villages where Sinhalese constitute roughly 1% of the population, as per official sources. Recently, Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman directed authorities to prevent any illegal construction of Buddhist shrines in these areas. Enraged Buddhist monks protested against him, storming a meeting he was chairing in Trincomalee and threatening him. “Such constructions are provocative and could cause communal disharmony. We cannot allow that to happen. I told them just that,” he says.

Members of the Buddhist clergy have been agitating to assert their claims over “heritage sites” in the north and east and have taken up the matter at the highest level. In June, responding to a monk’s letter voicing concern over transferring land ownership to the public in sites where “scattered ruins” of monasteries are said to be present, the President’s office said Kurundi Viharaya (the term used by authorities and Sinhalese to refer to the Kurunthurmalai area) “holds significant archaeological value” for Sri Lankans. The office reassured him that no decision had been taken to transfer government lands associated with the temple to any other party.

On the other hand, Tamil legislators too have been raising the matter within Parliament and in meetings with the President. However, despite Wickremesinghe’s promise to address the issue, locals see little change on the ground and worry that tensions might aggravate if left unchecked. Referring to the ongoing land conflicts in the island’s north and east, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights noted in a 2022 report that the disputes “further jeopardised reconciliation and created new conflicts.”

Far from being conciliatory, the recent responses of some southern politicians only validate growing fears of possible escalation in communal discord, hate politics, and physical violence. In August, hardline Sinhala-Buddhist legislator Udaya Gammanpila led a protest outside the outspoken Tamil MP Gajen Ponnambalam’s Colombo residence, calling him a “terrorist”. In what critics called a glaring abuse of parliamentary privilege, ruling party MP and former Minister Sarath Weerasekara referred to the Mullaitivu magistrate hearing the case as a “mentally ill person”, drawing strong condemnation from lawyers. Another controversial former minister, Mervyn Silva, vowed to behead those who obstruct Buddhist monks engaged in building [Buddhist] temples in the north and east.

In a strong judgment on August 31, the Mullaitivu Magistrate Court held that the Archaeology Department had violated three court orders from 2022, by altering the site. The department, tasked with protecting ancient sites, “can’t do as it pleases,” the judge said. Other cases related to the Kurunthurmalai conflict are pending in the Magistrate Court and the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, locals wait anxiously to see if they can visit their favourite hilltop temple and offer a prayer in peace. “When we went up there those days, it felt really calm and secure. That is all we ask for,” says Susilathevi.

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Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live Score, Asia Cup 2023: Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam Strike To Keep Bangladesh Alive vs Sri Lanka | Cricket News

BAN vs SL Live Updates Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka are chasing 165 runs against Bangladesh© Facebook

Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, Asia Cup 2023 Live Updates: Taskin Ahmed dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne while Shoriful Islam removed Pathum Nissanka to provide early wickets to Bangladesh. Sri Lanka are two down in chase of 165 runs in Pallekele. Earlier, the hosts bundled out Bangladesh for 164 runs, thanks to Matheesha Pathirana’s four-wicket haul (4 for 32). The visitors posted a poor total despite Najmul Hossain Shanto’s 89 runs off 122 balls. Maheesh Theekshana struck twice while Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka and Dunith Wellalage took a wicket each after Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan won the toss and opted to bat first. (LIVE SCORECARD)

Here are the LIVE updates of the Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, Asia Cup 2023 clash:

  • 19:39 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Short stoppage in play!

    Kusal Mendis has pulled up his muscle while going for a dive. The physio is currently checking him and everthing seems well. Game is set to resume soon.

  • 19:34 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: FOUR!

    5.5 – A half-volley outside off stump from Shoriful Islam and Sadeera Samarawickrama hit a beautiful cover drive on it for a four. He is looking in great touch. The right-handed batter has hit three fours so far in his 10-ball innings.

    SL 31/2 (6)

  • 19:25 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Consecutive FOURS!

    That’s a superb start for Sadeera Samarawickrama. He first played a beautiful cover drive for a four before playing a glance shot towards fine leg fence for another four. Both were poor balls from Taskin Ahmed.

    SL 24/2 (4.2)

  • 19:21 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: OUT!!!

    Another wicket for Bangladesh and they are back in the game. That’s poor batting from Pathum Nissanka and he will have to pay the price for it. It was a length ball from Shoriful Islam going well away from Nissanka yet the batter threw his bat to it to get an edge. Mushfiqur Rahim comfortably took the catch behind the stumps.  

    SL 15/2 (3.3)

  • 19:13 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: WICKET!

    An early wicket for Bangladesh. This is what Bangladesh exactly needed in the defence of a paltry total. Coming back to the delivery, it was bowled fuller from Taskin to Dimuth Karunaratne. The ball swung into the batter and rattled the stumps. Karunaratne fell for 1 runs off 3 balls.

    SL 13/1 (2.1)

  • 19:09 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: FOUR!

    First boundary of the Sri Lankan innings! It was a short ball from Shoriful Islam and Pathum Nissanka pulled it to square leg for a four.

    SL 11/0 (1.5)

  • 19:02 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Run chase begins!

    Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne opens the batting for Sri Lanka as they chase a modest target of 165. Bangladesh will need early wickets to fight back in this game and Taskin Ahmed will begin proceedings. 

  • 18:32 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: OUT! Bangladesh all out for 164!

    Matheesha Pathirana has caught Mustafizur plumb in front of the stumps and that will see him end the Bangladesh innings with a four-fer. 

    BAN 164 (42.4)

  • 18:28 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: WICKET!

    Matheesha Pathirana has got the wicket of Taskin Ahmed. It was a slower ball smartly bowled from Pathirana and Taskin was not at all expecting it.

  • 18:24 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Shanto is gone!!!

    Shanto is out at the score of 89 off 122 balls! It was a carrom ball from Maheesh Theekshana that got better of Shanto. The Bangladesh batter wanted to flick the ball on the leg side but played the wrong line. As a result, the ball went through the gate and creasehed onto the stumps.

    BAN 162/8 (41.2)

  • 18:17 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: WICKET!

    Mahedi Hasan has been given out! He seems plumb prima facie and so did was the thinking of umpire, who raised his finger without wasting time. Bangladesh have taken a review but that could not save Mahedi as the ball was found to be clipping the leg stump.

    BAN 162/7 (40.5)

  • 18:12 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Chance missed!

    Sri Lanka could have sent Bangladesh seven down but Kusal Mendis has failed to effect a stumping. Maheesh Theekshana outplayed Mahedi Hasan with a ‘doosra’ but Mendis failed to collect the ball properly before taking the bails off. This game Mahedi enough time to put his back leg inside the crease.

    BAN 157/6 (39.1)

  • 17:54 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: OUT!!!

    Mehidy Hasan Miraz is run out! The batter nudged the ball down the leg side in front of mid-wicket fielder and ran a steps forward before denying a single to Shanto. The latter, however, ran to the next end with Miraz being outside the crease when the bails at the non-striker’s end were taken off. Mehidy falls for 5 runs off 11 balls.

    BAN 141/6 (36.3)

  • 17:50 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: FOUR!

    A boundary comes after a long time for Bangladesh. A short ball from Dhananjaya de Silva and this is a good footwork from Shanto that helps him get a four. He hit the ball from the left of mid-on fielder for the boundary.

    BAN 139/5 (35.4)

  • 17:39 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: WICKET!

    Superb planning from Sri Lanka and they have deservedly got the wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim. It was a bouncer delivery outside off stump from Matheesha Pathirana and the Bangladesh batter hit it right into the hands of Dimuth Karunaratne at third man. He departs for 13 off 22 balls.

    BAN 127/5 (32.4)

  • 17:27 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Lucky there, Shanto!

    A short ball from Matheesha Pathirana and with the mid-on well inside the circle Najmul Hossain Shanto decided to go for a lofted shot. He failed to time his pull well but he was lucky that the ball fell just behind the mid-wicket fielder.

    BAN 125/4 (31)

  • 17:10 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: FOUR!

    Was there a catching opportunity? Najmul Hossain Shanto hit the ball towards the leg side but the ball fell a bit away from the diving deep mid-wicket fielder. 12 runs came off the Dunith Wellalage over. 

    BAN 114/4 (27)

  • 17:05 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: 100 up for Bangladesh!

    Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mushfiqur Rahim are in rescue act for Bangladesh. The side has crossed the 100-run mark with 24 overs of play left in their innings.

    BAN 102/4 (26)

  • 16:58 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Review lost!

    Sri Lanka have lost a review. Dunith Wellalage’s delivery hit the front pad of Najmul Hossain Shanto but umpire was unconvinced with the appeal for an LBW. Sri Lanka opted to go upstairs and that saw them losing one as the ball was found to be missing the leg stump.

    BAN 95/4 (24.1)

  • 16:55 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: OUT!

    The 59-run partnership for the fourth wicket has been broken by Dasun Shanaka. The Sri Lanka skipper trapped Towhid Hridoy in front of the stumps and then followed it up with a brilliant review as the umpire was unconvinced with the appeal. Pressure is back on Bangladesh.

    BAN 95/4 (24)

  • 16:52 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Fifty for Shanto!

    Najmul Hossain Shanto races to his half-century in 66 balls. This has been a solid knock from the southpaw so far. He slams his fourth fifty in the ODI format and he gets there with a four.

  • 16:50 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Shanto solid!

    Najmul Hossain Shanto is really close to his fourth ODI half-century. He has held the Bangladesh team really well. He came after the wicket of Tanzid Hasan on the second over and dug in his heels really well.

  • 16:32 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Bangladesh seek acceleration!

    Only seven runs have come off the last three overs for Bangladesh. Their scoring rate is 3.83. They need to do better than this to stand a chance against Sri Lanka.

    BAN 69/3 (18)

  • 16:25 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Short stoppage in play!

    A bit of rain stopped the game for a while but the covers are being taken off now and the players are back on the field for resumption.

    BAN 65/3 (16.1)

  • 16:18 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Drinks break!

    Najmul Hossain Shanto is batting at the score of 33 off 50 balls. He is solid at one end but he needs support from the other end too, something that he has been missing so far. Shanto and Towhid Hridoy have added 28 runs off 32 balls for the fourth wicket so far.

    BAN 64/3 (16)

  • 16:12 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: FOUR!

    A short ball from Matheesha Pathirana on the body of Najmul Hossain Shanto and the batter has comfortably pulled it away for a four. The ball ran to the right of deep fine leg fielder. 

    BAN 61/3 (14.4)

  • 16:10 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Sri Lanka in command!

    Sri Lanka are in command in this game. They have already got the Bangladesh top-order batters with only 55 runs on the board for the opposing side.

    BAN 55/3 (14)

  • 15:57 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Shakib is out!!!

    This is a really big wicket for Sri Lanka and Matheesha Pathirana, who is bowling his very first over in the game. It was bowled across and Shakib edged it to wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis. It was a good catch from Mendis and that sends Shakib off. No need to mention that Bangladesh are in serious trouble. 

    BAN 36/3 (10.4)

  • 15:47 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: FOUR!

    8.5 – Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan gets off the mark with a beautiful four on the off side. His side badly needs him today. In case you don’t know, Shakib is the number 1 all-rounder in ODI rankings for men.

    BAN 31/2 (9)

  • 15:41 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: WICKET!

    Another one goes down and Bangladesh are in some real trouble now. Mohammad Naim has played the ball into the hands of Pathum Nissanka at point. Two early wickets for Sri Lanka has put them on top now.

    BAN 25/2 (7.4)

  • 15:31 (IST)

    Live Score: Good start for Sri Lanka!

    Six runs came off Maheesh Theekshana’s third over. Najmul Hossain Shanto hit a four on the fourth ball before giving the strike to Mohammad Naim, who took a single off the last ball to make it a six-run over.

    BAN 18/1 (6)

  • 15:26 (IST)

    BAN vs SL Live: Dropped!

    Floored! Shanto looks to break the shackles. Misjudged the pace, only for Shanaka to grass his effort.

    BAN: 11/1 (4.1)

  • 15:21 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: Over!

    And Naim manages to sneak a boundary! Slower ball full on middle, and he taps it gently past the non-striker. That will release some pressure

    BAN: 8/0 (2.5)

  • 15:17 (IST)

    BAN vs SL Live Score: 0,W,0,0,0,0!

    A wicket maiden from Theekshana! Excellent over from the CSK man. Bangladesh are rattled. Only negative Sri Lanka, they lose a review for that shocking DRS on the final ball.

  • 15:10 (IST)

    BAN vs SL Live: Interesting!

    Well, Theekshana is rolling his arms. Shanaka decides to try a spinner from the other end. SL are on the attack and Theekshana strikes with his second ball. What a delivery. Tanzid makes the smart choice by not taking the DRS. That looked plumb

    Tanzid Hasan lbw b Theekshana 0 (2)

    BAN: 4/1 (1.2)

  • 15:09 (IST)

    BAN vs SL Live Score: Boundary!

    Naim is up and running! Full ball outside off and he drives through covers. Gets the boundary

    BAN: 4/0 (0.4)

  • 15:04 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: About time!

    Right, the national anthems are done! We are moments away from live action in Kandy. Kasun Rajitha has the new ball in his hands.

  • 14:47 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: SL Playing XI!

    Sri Lanka (Playing XI): Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis(w), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka(c), Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana

  • 14:45 (IST)

    Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live: “Good toss to lose”

    “We would have liked to bat first but it is a good toss to lose with rain around. The wicket should also assist us under lights. Even though we have four key players injured, the bases are well covered. Generally, I expect some turn here because there’s a bit of tear in these wickets. Very much excited. We have six batters, two all-rounders and three genuine bowlers. Matheesha Pathirana and Dunith Wellalage are playing,” SL captain Dasun Shanaka says.

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40 years since ‘Black July’, little space in Sri Lanka to remember the dead

When a handful of individuals convened near the Borella Cemetery in Colombo on July 23, to mark the 40th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s anti-Tamil pogrom in 1983, a few angry young men disrupted the proceedings despite heavy police presence.

Members of an extremist Sinhala nationalist outfit — known for its visceral hate for the island’s ethnic minorities — the men barged into the gathering with familiar aggression and hurled abuse at the participants at the peaceful remembrance, branding them as “Tiger” (to connote the LTTE) and “terrorist”. It was an exact replay of the scenes witnessed at the same venue on May 18, at a rare Colombo commemoration of the end of the civil war. On both occasions, the huge contingent of riot police asked the activists, not disruptors, to disperse immediately.

‘Can’t remember, Can’t forget’

For families of Tamil victims killed in the many cycles of violence in Sri Lanka, remembering the dead has not been easy. Forgetting those traumatic times is even harder.

Cheryl Arnold recalls the events that unfolded over the last week of July 1983 like they happened yesterday. She was 13 and studying at a famous girls’ school in Colombo, with children from different ethnic backgrounds. “Until that time, I was not conscious of my ethnic identity. We were all in the same class, we were friends. But that week changed everything for our family.”

The tension was palpable and everyone around was talking about it. “I couldn’t follow everything at the time, but I understood that the Tamils were in danger.” And very soon, the danger came close to her home located at the heart of Colombo, when the family saw a mob set fire to the house on top of their lane, where an elderly couple lived. “My brothers tried to douse the fire there and had apparently been noticed by the mob… days later, the mob came to our home and threatened us. One of them put a knife to my brother’s neck,” she said, of her older sibling’s narrow escape.

Ms. Arnold comes from a mixed ethnic family, her mother is Sinhalese and her father is Tamil. “My mother somehow spoke to them… while my father and I stayed at a neighbour’s home.” As violence began escalating on July 24, some friends drove her, along with her parents, to an uncle’s home. “It must have been barely two hours since we left, we heard that our house was ablaze.” Her three brothers each had their own “equally traumatic escape story” before the family converged at a church days later. It had turned into a refugee shelter for many like them who were “fortunate to be alive”.

Her parents subsequently left the country and sought asylum abroad. Deeply affected by the violence and loss of their home built with his hard-earned life savings, her father took ill. It was when Ms. Arnold tried to visit her ailing father that the reality of being Tamil in Sri Lanka hit her hard. In her case, even being half a Tamil was enough to face high risk and discrimination from fellow citizens and foreigners. “The embassy treated me like some sort of suspect… as someone who was trying to migrate to never return. They rejected my visa…by the time I reapplied and got it, it was too late,” she said, fighting tears. Her father had passed on. The family was scattered across countries and could never live together as they did before.

Although the Tamils living on the island, including the Malaiyaha (hill country) Tamils, faced periodic bouts of mob violence right from the 1950s, the pogrom of 1983 that claimed thousands of lives and rendered several thousands homeless, proved a watershed in Sri Lankan history. ‘Black July’, as the period is often described, propelled a festering ethnic conflict into a full-blown civil war lasting decades.

It changed every Tamil individual’s life in significant ways. Many families, including professionals from various walks of life, fled the country. Tamil women dreaded wearing the pottu (bindi) for years, fearing it would give their ethnic identity away. “1983 brought about a drastic shift in our lives changing the course of our history… somewhat like BC and AD,” said Jaffna legislator M.A. Sumanthiran, recalling his family’s unsettling journey by sea from Colombo to Jaffna.

Challenging the dominant narrative

The death and destruction during the time have been documented in detail.

The Civil Rights Movement (CRM) of Sri Lanka, one of the oldest human rights organisations in the country, termed the series of incidents a “holocaust”. “The shock and horror of recent events when many Sri Lankans were hunted out, assaulted, killed, their homes and possessions destroyed, and places of business burnt for no other reason than that they belonged to the Tamil community permeate our lives today and will continue to do so for a long time to come,” the CRM said in its report.

It especially drew attention to the massacre of 53 Tamil prisoners at the high-security Welikada prison in Colombo during the week of gruesome violence.

Further, ‘Sri Lanka: The Holocaust and After’, authored by L. Piyadasa — a pseudonym of scholar-activist C.R. Hensman — offers crucial information based on eyewitness accounts on the role of the police and army during the violence.

However, the dominant narrative about the 1983 violence reduces it to a spontaneous southern retaliation to the killing of 13 soldiers in Jaffna in an LTTE ambush. As per this version, “riots” erupted on the evening of July 24, when the bodies of the slain soldiers were brought from Jaffna, and that the Government “lost control” of the situation.

The well-known activist group University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna (UTHR-J) called this retaliation claim “pedestrian”. Similar, targeted attacks on Tamils in the central hill country and the eastern Trincomalee districts in the preceding months, suggested there was little spontaneity in the July 1983 manifestation of what appeared a gradual but definite buildup of violence against the Tamils, only aggravated by the killing of the soldiers.

Angry mobs identified Tamil homes based on electoral lists, smashed up their property and set their homes on fire, knowing well there were people inside. “The fact that there was no investigation into the violence of July 1983, made it easy for Sinhalese in general to opt for versions that distanced their government and hence themselves from the holocaust,” the UTHR-J observed in its characteristically in-depth, meticulously corroborated report on July 1983.

President J.R. Jayewardene swiftly proscribed the LTTE, as well as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the Nava Sama Samaja Pakshaya (NSSP) and the Communist Party from the southern left that he saw as a threat. Neither Mr. Jayewardene’s government in power then, nor any of the successive governments, has condemned the mass atrocity. Nor has a single perpetrator been brought to book in these 40 years.

Awaiting justice

Those reeling under the impact of 1983 are acutely aware of the absence of justice. “Bringing a perpetrator to justice is not a reality in this country,” Ms. Arnold said matter-of-factly. “Not only in the case of 1983, but this is true in every other instance of injustice in our history.”

“You can’t diminish the experience, the struggle or the impact this [1983 pogrom] has had on individuals or communities, but we also must recognise that we are not the only ones who have had this experience,” she said referring to Sinhalese youth killed during the JVP-led armed insurrections, or Muslims who came under attack more recently. “It is one of the many injustices that we see.”

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For Sri Lanka’s forex-earning garment workers, it’s a daily battle for survival

“I came to Colombo with a dream. Now I have lost it,” the young garment factory worker said, sounding dejected.

She left her hometown in Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka, six years ago to take up a job at the Free Trade Zone in Katunayake, about 35km north of capital Colombo. “The current cost of living is so high that I barely manage to survive, let alone save a penny,” she said, requesting anonymity. For many like her in the island nation, the economic crisis of last year has hardly let up, although shortages have eased and queues have vanished.

At the end of June, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka pointed to a “sharp decline” in headline inflation, to 12%, and a decrease in food inflation to 4.1%. Except, the figures are in relation to last year’s dramatic rise in prices, as headline inflation surged past 70%, and food inflation hit almost 95%. While cold data may show a reduction in the rate of inflation, consumers do not feel any relief yet. Especially since wages and incomes, across most sectors, have remained stagnant.

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, which took off on a big scale after the country liberalised its economy in 1977, has proved crucial to both its economy and labour force. It is the island’s largest foreign exchange earner — $5.6 billion in 2022 — and employs nearly a million people, mostly women, directly and indirectly across some 400 factories. Garments made in Sri Lanka are exported largely to the U.S. and the EU, to big brands, including, C&A, GAP, H&M, Marks and Spencer, PVH and Victoria’s Secret. The growth and global reach of the industry would make for a great “success story”, if only workers did not have their own story to share.

“Even if we work really hard and make some 30,000 rupees a month (roughly ₹9,340) with all the incentives, it is worth much less today. We are unable to afford the very basic life we lived before the crisis,” said another worker, explaining how her salary has drastically shrunk in real value. “A small bun at the tea shop round the corner used to cost 50 [Lankan] rupees (roughly ₹13). Now it’s 150!” She, too, requested not to be named, fearing punishment for speaking to the media. “Even if this job is hard and pays much less than I need, I can’t afford to lose it. I must somehow support my children,” the mother of two said.

The apprehension of workers is not baseless. Far from isolated personal experiences, their accounts reflect the predicament of scores of workers employed in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, according to unions and labour rights organisations.

“The financial pressure on workers, especially manpower [contractual] workers, is very high. Despite their best efforts braving exacting working conditions, their wages are just not enough to cope in our country’s current situation,” contended Ashila Dandeniya, Executive Director of Stand Up Movement. “Desperate to supplement their incomes so they can support their families, many young women are taking up commercial sex work in the area. And there are many challenges that come with that,” she said. Instead of spending on “so-called” CSR activities, manufacturers need to pay workers a fair living wage, in her view.

Manufacturers are yet to heed to the demand. For Sri Lanka’s garments sector, the first big blow came well before the economic meltdown, in the form of COVID-19. As factories were forced to shut, workers were left in the lurch. When operations resumed, many found themselves jobless. Worker unions have estimated about 50,000 job losses in the industry through the pandemic and economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Those who remained had their share of difficulties waiting.

In a study on the impact of the pandemic on Sri Lanka’s apparent sector, Shyamain Wickramasingha, research fellow at the University of Sussex, U.K., found that workers’ take-home pay has decreased by LKR 15,000 to 20,000 due to the lack of overtime and other incentives, while targets increased by 50% or more. “Many workers said they were skipping meals, water, and even washroom breaks in order to meet these targets,” Ms. Wickramasingha said, while presenting her findings at Colombo’s Social Scientists’ Association recently. If the plight of permanent workers is difficult, that of manpower or contractual workers is only more precarious, according to Rashmini De Silva, an independent researcher studying gender and labour. “Many of them stand by the entrance to the EPZ [export processing zone] by 4.30 a.m. for a shift that starts at 7 a.m. to make sure that they make it to the quota of workers chosen for work that particular day. The manpower agencies negotiate a daily wage per worker with the factories, and often keep 25-30% of the pay meant for the worker to themselves,” she said, based on her recent research. Further, she found that trade union leaders were under heavy scrutiny by the employers, and abrupt, illegal dismissal of workers engaging in trade union activity was not uncommon.

Despite evidence from multiple research studies, garment manufacturers have repeatedly refuted allegations of rights violations or exploitation. On the other hand, they point to challenges facing the industry owing to the global economic slowdown. “Recent data shows apparel exports declining by 14.95% year-on-year to $1.18 billion in the first quarter of this year… which is the lowest since the first quarter of 2013. The industry projects it could be five to six more months before it sees a recovery in global demand,” observed Yohan Lawrence, secretary general of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), in an interview to the State-run Sunday Observer last month.

The Forum, made up of Sri Lanka’s top garment manufacturers, has also been making a fervent case for the EU to renew Sri Lanka’s ongoing Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus status — a trade incentive offered to vulnerable developing countries — to help the industry recover from the crisis.

Workers and their unions, however, do not see the GSP+ status in isolation, even if it might help secure jobs in the sector. “We want the GSP+ status, but we also want human rights and labour rights to be respected and protected in Sri Lanka. We want our environment to be safeguarded,” Ms. Dandeniya said. The EU regularly monitors if GSP+ beneficiary countries implement the international conventions, including on human rights, labour rights and climate protection, and Sri Lanka is due for review end of this year.

Unions are already voicing concern over likely labour law reforms that authorities are mulling. Last week, the Ranil Wickremesinghe government’s decision to recast pension funds, including EPF, brought more bad news for workers, including in the apparel industry. In a letter to the Central Bank Governor last week, Anton Marcus, joint secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union, slammed the government for taking a decision that would impact millions of workers, without any consultation.

Meanwhile, the average worker is hardly preoccupied with Sri Lanka securing trade benefits in the EU, or her own rights when everyday survival has become a battle. “I don’t know what to say about my future. I am struggling to find my dream again, because I must first find my next meal,” the worker from Jaffna said.

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Mano Ganesan moots Tamil caucus in Sri Lankan Parliament

In a bid to ensure Sri Lanka’s main political parties do not “take numerical minorities for granted” anymore, Opposition MP Mano Ganesan has recently mooted setting up a “Tamil caucus” in Parliament.

The “caucus”, he said, would allow Tamil legislators to express the “collective desire” of the island’s Tamil speaking peoples. Although Sri Lanka’s Tamils in the north and east, the Malaiyaha Tamils living across Central, Uva, Southern and Western Provinces, and the Tamil-speaking Muslims, may have different aspirations and political aims, their shared desire to live “within an undivided Sri Lanka, sharing wealth and power as combined stake holders of national sovereignty” must be collectively articulated, the leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) said.

“It [the caucus] will help us commence a collective dialogue with all the national political parties, and beyond politicians, reach out to the Sinhala community leaders and organisations; as well as the international community and development partners, and urge them to use their good offices to ensure Sri Lanka stands by its international commitments,” Mr. Ganesan told The Hindu at his Colombo residence. So far, some parties have responded positively, he said.

Also read | Sri Lanka MP Mano Ganesan seeks assistance from T.N. CM for Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka

Currently part of the main Opposition alliance led by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB or United People’s Force), the TPA, representing Malaiyaha Tamils, was among the few political groups to retain all of its six parliamentary seats in the last general election. Mr. Ganesan’s recent outreach comes amid speculation over national elections next year. Sri Lanka’s twice-postponed — owing to “lack of funds” — local government elections may not be held anytime soon, despite Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court restraining authorities from withholding funds, but all signs point to a presidential poll early next year, according to the legislator.

Presidential poll

“I met President Ranil Wickremesinghe one-on-one recently. He told me that he would run [for President],” said Mr. Ganesan, who was a Cabinet minister in the former Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.

Six-time Prime Minister Mr. Wickremesinghe was elected President through an urgent parliamentary vote in in July 2022, after Gotabaya Rajapaksa was unceremoniously ousted by a people’s uprising at the height of Sri Lanka’s crisis. The country’s constitution bars a President elected by Parliament when the office falls vacant as it did last year, from calling for early elections. Such a move would require a constitutional amendment, and possibly a referendum.

Mr. Ganesan said his efforts in uniting Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party, diminished to a single parliamentary seat in the last election, and the breakaway SJB proved futile. Predicting a three-cornered contest in the next presidential election, Mr. Ganesan said Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa, and the Leader of the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), were the other likely contenders to the country’s top office.

“It appears that Mr. Wickremesinghe hopes to be the common candidate in an entity that brings young members of both, the SLPP [Rajapaksas’ ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna or People’s Front], and the SJB, along with the minority parties together,” the MP said, adding that the TPA would engage with all parties and decide closer to the elections. “We will fit in with any government,” he said, if it is receptive to the Malaiyaha Tamils’ demands.

In Mr. Ganesan’s view, it is “too early” to comment on the President’s efforts towards economic recovery, but the increase in tourist arrivals and worker remittances are “positive” signs, although much remains to be done. “The Sri Lankan economy crashed due to three main reasons — corruption, mismanagement & wastage. I have not seen any serious efforts from the government other than the notice of the anti-corruption bill. Pity, President Wickremesinghe is living with the wolves.”

Making a case for closer trade ties with Sri Lanka’s international partners, the TPA Leader said greater access to the Indian market, with preferential trade terms, will help small and medium enterprises in Sri Lanka. “India is booming as the world’s 5th largest economy. Look at booming Tamil Nadu, the closest Indian state [to us]…We must grab this opportunity and grow with India.”

Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with the TPA delegation in Colombo years ago, Mr. Ganesan said: “He [Mr. Modi] told us ‘Tamils should be united’, but immediately qualified his statement saying that ‘Tamil unity should strengthen Sri Lankan Unity’. Whether it is the BJP or the Congress, Indian national policy is unity in diversity. They preach to us what they practice at home,” he said, adding that India was Sri Lanka’s “greatest security shield” against any internal or external challenges. “Sri Lanka should understand this basis and come over semi-hostile phobia.”

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka must stop playing India and China against each other, he contended. “Mainstream Sinhalese politicians thought they were being clever in using India-China rivalries. But this foolishness has brought this country to this level,” he said, adding: “India is our greatest security shield against any internal or external challenges. Sri Lanka should understand this.”

200th year

Sri Lanka is marking the 200th year since the British brought down indentured labourers from south India to work in the island’s plantations. The British government has a “moral responsibility” towards the community who developed the profitable tea export industry, the island’s motor and railroad network, and the Colombo port in then Ceylon, he stressed. “I have started a dialogue with the British establishment on this recently.”

The responsibility of Indian state “is equal or even more”. “Our people were subjected to arbitrary and involuntary repatriation to India, notably by the Sirimavo-Shastri pact (1964)…We were not consulted, but treated like cattle,” he said. “Indians thought keeping Colombo happy served its national interests. This greatly diminished the political status and socio-economic wellbeing of our community. If not for this repatriation pact, the current strength of our MPs in Parliament of Sri Lanka, which is nine today, would have reached not less than 25.”

The Indian government and policy makers have been briefed “many times,” Mr. Ganesan said, expressing disappointment over the execution on ongoing projects. “India is helping build [14,000] houses for the families living in the plantations, but it is going on at a frighteningly sluggish pace. At this rate, it may take another 50 years to complete the project. Generous socio-cultural- economic development projects of India in Sri Lanka seldom reach our community,” he said. “Even in Tamil Nadu, most think that Sri Lanka’s Tamils live just in the north and east. Their awareness of the plight of Malaiyaha Tamils is very low,” he said.

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In Sri Lanka, a long and rocky road to economic recovery

For Sri Lanka’s ruling establishment and its backers, March 20 was a good news day. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) finally responded to the government’s distress call following the collapse of the debt-ridden economy last year, by approving a $3 billion loan aimed at restoring economic stability and growth. “Sri Lanka will no longer be deemed bankrupt,” President Ranil Wickremesinghe said during a special address to Parliament, projecting the deal, which he desperately coveted, as a crucial economic milestone. “We have the opportunity to uplift our motherland again.” Sri Lanka would “regain recognition” in the international arena, its banks’ letters of credit would be respected by international financial institutions, it would now be able to borrow low-interest loans from other international financial institutions, foreign investors’ confidence in the country would be restored, new opportunities would emerge, and the foundation to build a strong new economy will be laid, he said optimistically.

Wickremesinghe’s supporters rejoiced; some burst firecrackers. For them, it was not just a breakthrough in economic recovery, but also the political redemption of an accidental president. The United National Party (UNP) helmed by Wickremesinghe was virtually wiped out of Parliament in the last general election in 2020. His ascent to presidency was made possible only with support from the party of Sri Lanka’s disgraced former ruling clan, the Rajapaksas, who were dramatically ousted in a citizens’ uprising last year. While the diminished UNP is now represented in Parliament in a lone seat, Wickremesinghe loyalists see his credentials as a crafty, resolute, veteran politician restored in three other letters: IMF.

The IMF deal for Sri Lanka — its 17th since 1965 — entails a $3 billion loan over four years based on several conditions, including arresting corruption. An IMF governance diagnostic mission has started to assess Sri Lanka’s governance and anti-corruption framework in the agency’s first such exercise in Asia. The government hopes to tap more rapid credit, including from other multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. A year after defaulting on its sovereign debt, Sri Lanka is looking to borrow more to stabilise its economy.

Global scrutiny

Sri Lanka’s political parties and civil society organisations are mostly united in the conviction that an IMF programme is the “only way out” of the crisis despite the agency coming under growing global scrutiny for the painful aftermath of its programmes in indebted countries. Evidence from the developing world shows that an IMF loan is no “bailout.” Its “structural adjustment” programmes rarely see countries decisively exit debt traps. In fact, critics accuse the IMF of facilitating more external borrowing in already heavily indebted countries. Economists and foreign debt experts around the world have also been urging the IMF to suspend the use of surcharges, in addition to potentially high-interest rates, arguing that these punish developing countries, aggravate their financial vulnerabilities, and act as sanctions on a country for being poor.

In Sri Lanka’s case, the IMF officially stepped in as an arbiter of economic affairs in September 2022 when it reached a staff-level agreement with the government. Anticipating an IMF package, the government took a slew of measures, including a pre-emptive default on its $51 billion foreign debt, a sharp hike in banking interest rates, a decision to float the Sri Lankan rupee (it depreciated from around 200 to 360 against the U.S. dollar), revise taxation, and increase fuel prices and electricity tariffs.

But Sri Lankans did not have to wait for the austerity measures to fully kick in to experience the effects. They had been facing acute shortages of essentials, long power cuts, and staggering food inflation of over 90% for months in 2022. The year saw the Sri Lankan economy contract about 8%, and crash. Coming on the heels of job losses and a drastic fall in real incomes during the pandemic, the economic crisis pushed poor citizens into existential agony. Depending on supplies available, families carefully chose what to eat, and how much. Many others who could not afford the food items had to consider which meal to forego or, worse, which child to feed.

Regardless of the government’s cheer over securing the IMF programme, almost everybody in Sri Lanka admits that it will be a painful year. But there is considerably less acknowledgement that some citizens may feel the pain much more than others. While poverty is hard to miss, inequality is convenient to ignore.

Deepening disparity

For a tourist visiting any of Colombo’s upmarket restaurants or bars, the crisis would seem a dated story. Affluent residents throng these venues in their SUVs and comfortably foot big bills. Away from the music and lights, at virtually every traffic junction are men, women and children asking motorists for money — a rare sight until the crisis.

There are “many Colombos,” pointed out Kolin Peter, a community worker and digital marketing professional. Peter, 29, lives in a high-rise government housing complex in Colombo, where about 3,000, mostly working class, families reside. They were all displaced from different parts of the city as part of a “beautification” drive some years ago. “An outsider would think things are normal in our country… no more protests, no more shortages. But many families are skipping meals, pawning jewellery or taking loans just for daily survival,” he said. “Some children go to school just so they can have the mid-day meal. In some other homes, parents are unable to send children to school because they can’t afford the transport costs anymore.”

The disparity, in Peter’s view, is also geographic: “We are a small country with enviable natural resources. But every youngster outside Colombo sees a job prospect only in the capital. Why can’t the government create jobs in other areas?”

Activists from anti-government trade unions take part in a protest demanding tax reforms, outside the ports authority in Colombo in February.
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For him, the real chances of recovery lie in addressing these glaring disparities and not merely in securing billions in new loans. “I don’t get the euphoria around the IMF programme. At the end of the day, it is a loan for an interest, right? The IMF won’t bother whether we recover meaningfully or not. What has changed for people to warrant celebrations like this? More people are starving every day and our leader is talking about holding grand Vesak (an important Buddhist festival in May) celebrations. We just don’t learn.”

The government’s exuberant celebration of Sri Lanka’s 75th year of Independence also came under attack from some. Detractors see no justification for pomp when authorities postpone local government elections citing the lack of funds, or seek urgent private funding to keep the country’s critical ambulance service afloat.

On the other hand, eager to project a positive image to attract potential foreign investors and tourists, both of which are crucial now, the government frequently spotlights the indicators that signal a version of recovery – more tourists, increasing exports, vanishing queues, waning protests, and declining inflation.

Authorities unfailingly highlight “reduced” inflation, now around 50%, but the number belies the persisting economic strain on the consumer who still pays steep prices for food and other essentials, while incomes remain stagnant or have fallen. Pointing to a “rapid erosion” of purchasing power, Colombo-based independent economist Rehana Thowfeek contended that over the long term, incomes must be adjusted in line with inflation rates to maintain purchasing power. “Last year, Sri Lanka had really high inflation rates which meant the cost of living rose rapidly. Now, the inflation rate is less than last year. A lower, positive inflation rate means the prices are still rising, but at a slower rate compared to last year,” she said. The inflation rate measures the year-to-year change in the general price level. “This year’s price increase is on top of last year’s, so cost of living is in fact still increasing,” she said.

The World Food Programme found that a third of Sri Lankan families continue to be food insecure. The government and mainstream economists see austerity measures as inevitable while reviving a battered economy. However, these “austerity measures” look different depending on whether they are abstract numbers from a selective reading of macroeconomic indicators or realities of daily life and basic survival. Inflation figures, without factoring in real wages, are deceiving. The country’s economy, after all, is that of its people.

The electricity tariff hikes are a case in point. Sri Lanka increased tariffs twice since the crisis escalated last year — first in August 2022 by 75% on average, and in February 2023 by 66%. “The hike came during acute fuel shortages, when families were struggling without gas, and food inflation had hit about 90%. Bills suddenly doubled or tripled, and consumers were threatened with notices of possible disconnection if they didn’t pay up,” said Iromi Perera, Director of Colombo Urban Lab, a think tank working on urban development policy. This coincided with the huge backlog of bills accumulated during the pandemic. “There is a misunderstanding about energy consumption in poor, working-class households,” she explained. “Some think they use about 30 units, but most families in an urban settlement use between 100 and 150 units. They need fans, lights, a refrigerator. Families switched to electric rice cookers when there was no gas. The reliance on electricity grew even more after the shortages last year.”

Activists from anti-government trade unions protest demanding tax reforms, in Colombo.

Activists from anti-government trade unions protest demanding tax reforms, in Colombo.
| Photo Credit:

In what Perera termed the “weaponisation of the grid,” authorities, such as the Urban Development Authority, have issued letters and notices threatening to cut water supply for some consumers who failed to pay their electricity bills, even though the two utilities are handled by different entities.

If it is hard enough to be poor in a booming economy, it only gets much worse in an enduring crisis, where even those minimal choices available to the poor disappear. A debilitating crisis such as this has a multi-generational impact on their health, livelihood, education, and hard-earned assets. The World Bank estimated that between 2021 and 2022, poverty doubled to 25% in Sri Lanka. During the same period, urban poverty tripled. A further increase of over two percentage points has been projected for 2023. The crisis will push more people into poverty, and those already poor into destitution.

The IMF and the government emphasise the need for “social safety nets” to protect the poor and vulnerable. However, Perera sees little promise in the new enumeration exercise undertaken by the government’s Welfare Benefits Board. A questionnaire with 22 indicators will determine whether a family is poor enough to receive financial support. “This kind of targeting is cruel,” Perera said. “You can own a small house, but still struggle to put a meal on the table, still drown in debt, still be unable to send your children to school because transportation costs are so high. Targeted social welfare will also cut off many people from future social security services.” Perera argued that Sri Lanka must opt for universal social security instead.

Trade union members during a protest against the big hikes in taxes and electricity rates, in Colombo in February.

Trade union members during a protest against the big hikes in taxes and electricity rates, in Colombo in February.
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Resistance and recovery

Meanwhile, the government appears to be on guard. Trade unions protesting tax hikes or moves to privatise have been labelled “disruptors” standing in the way of stability and recovery. Police habitually tear gas agitators. Ministers threaten protesting “essential services” workers with termination of employment.

Most unions are not protesting the IMF programme per se, but the specific austerity measures that they associate with increased economic hardships. Even so, Leslie Devendra, General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (Free Workers’ Union), one of the country’s largest unions with nearly 80,000 members spanning the energy, electricity, mining, and civil aviation sectors, said that workers must “play their part” and not “add to the problem” during a crisis. “Going to the IMF was a very difficult decision to take, but there is no alternative to help us get out of this mess. Our union feels we must face the stark reality of economic recovery. That will mean everybody will have to make certain sacrifices,” he said. These include the government’s move to restructure state enterprises by privatisation, which some other unions are opposing. “Whether enterprises are run under socialism or capitalism, they have to be run according to basic economic principles. Transparency and social dialogue are very important in the reform of public enterprises.”

For Sri Lankans, the months ahead will be far from easy. A messy and likely long-drawn process of debt restructuring with a diverse set of creditors awaits the government, while ordinary citizens reel under its “corrective” fiscal measures.

Scores of people are fleeing economic deprivation, looking for educational or employment opportunities elsewhere. Official estimates show that more than a million Sri Lankans left the country in 2022. “We witnessed the Aragalaya (struggle) last year. The protesters wanted Gota (then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) to go home and made sure he did. They also wanted a system change, but are we seeing that? The same set of politicians are calling the shots,” said Peter, voicing the disillusionment among the young. He worried that despite a historic people’s uprising, the ruling class has returned to politics and business as usual. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens continue to bear the ever-increasing cost of the crisis.“All that our politicians care about is holding on to their power and wealth,” he said.

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The all-powerful Sri Lankan Presidency

The main ask — and the most popular chant — of the ‘Janatha Aragalaya’ [people’s struggle] witnessed in Sri Lanka last year was “Gota go home”. Scores of angry citizens, who took to the streets to protest acute shortages of essentials and long power cuts, squarely blamed the country’s most powerful leader for their misery. They deemed the former military man unfit to govern or occupy the country’s top office, and ousted him dramatically.

At the same time, some who were part of the protest movement confronted another question. Will the mere ousting of a failed President do, if ‘system change’ is what the country needs? What if another leader in his place resorts to destructive policy choices, such as Mr. Gotabaya’s overnight ban on agrochemicals in 2021, that continues to hurt farmers and the country’s annual crop yield? An impulsive leader wasn’t the only problem, they concluded. The office of the executive president, which bestows unchecked powers on one individual, was as much, if not more of a problem.

The Executive Presidency system came under focus, and the call to abolish it emerged loud and clear and dominated public discourse for a while.

Origins of unlimited power

The demand to abolish the executive presidency, however, did not seem outlandish to Sri Lankans. It wasn’t as new, virtually every President who has held office since it was introduced in 1978 had promised to do away with it, even if they conveniently forgot the promise once in that addictive seat.

From the time of its Independence in 1948, Sri Lanka was a parliamentary democracy. It adopted a republican constitution in 1972, in which parliamentary democracy continued. In 1978, the second republican constitution changed it into a presidential form of government and vested the President’s office with enormous powers.

The resistance to this system of governance, from within Sri Lanka’s polity and civil society, began just as former President J.R. Jayewardene began toying with the idea in the early 1971s, even before enshrining it in Sri Lanka’s second republican constitution in 1978. Sri Lanka’s Left, especially, played a major role, according to senior constitutional lawyer Jayampathy Wickramaratne, who cited key debates from the time, in a media article some years ago.

Colvin R. de Silva, a founder of the Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and one of the finest legislators in the region, succinctly captured the dangers of executive presidency in the Constituent Assembly in 1971. Being Minister of Constitutional Affairs at the time, he contended, “There is undoubtedly one virtue in this system of Parliament … and that is that the chief executive of the day is answerable directly to the representatives of the people continuously by reason of the fact that the Prime Minister can remain Prime Minister only so long as he can command the confidence of that assembly. We do not want either Presidents or Prime Ministers who can ride roughshod over the people and, therefore, first of all, over the people’s representatives. There is no virtue in having a strong man against the people.”

Subsequently, when the J.R. Jayewardene-led United National Party (UNP) won a five-sixths majority in the 1977 general elections, promising economic progress with open economic reforms, the Left was wiped out of Parliament. Even so, leftist politicians continued to spearhead the campaign against executive presidency from the outside. N.M. Perera, also a leader of the LSSP, wrote a scathing critique of the 1978 Constitution.

The reign of the Executive

However, executive presidency soon found a secure spot in its architect Jayewardene’s office, and the new President, in turn, found in the system all the power he needed to nourish his ambitions. Two years into office, he brutally crushed a massive general strike of workers in 1980, sacking about 40,000 public sector workers using emergency regulations. With the same powers, President Jayewardene did little to curb Sinhalese mobs that killed and looted scores of Tamils in the anti-Tamil pogrom three years later. The bloodbath of July 1983, which he is accused of condoning and even backing, sparked a deadly civil war that gripped the island nation for about three decades, costing tens of thousands of Tamil civilian lives.

In the following decades, Sri Lanka saw half a dozen other presidents elected to the office, with almost all of them promising to abolish executive presidency once elected. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge proposed the abolition of the executive presidency and won the 1994 presidential election. But eventually, she did not abolish it.

Further, apart from habitually breaking the poll pledge, leaders occupying the highest office were seen abusing their unfettered powers. In fact, they sought to make it even more powerful.

Months after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President for the second time in 2010, on the heels of the military defeat of the LTTE which his party aggressively sold as “war victory” to its southern Sinhalese constituency, his government passed the 18th Amendment. It made the President even more powerful, by removing the two-term limit, and important checks and balances on the exercise of executive power.

Empowering Parliament

However, in what was widely seen as a rare and welcome departure during his successor Maithripala Sirisena’s term, the government, co-led by Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, passed the 19th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.

It was the first instance of a constitutional amendment seeking to empower parliament by clipping executive powers. Except, even the residual powers of the office gave Mr. Sirisena the confidence to abruptly sack Mr. Wickremesinghe and dissolve Parliament, triggering a constitutional crisis for over 50 days in late 2018. The Supreme Court ruled that the President’s move was illegal. Lawyers who had mounted a legal challenge based their argument primarily on the 19th Amendment.

In November 2019, Gotabaya Rajapaksa won big in the presidential polls and in less than a year, his government overturned the 19th Amendment, passing the 20th that effectively restored the previously reduced presidential powers.

The Wickremesinghe administration, in September 2022, passed the 21st amendment, claiming to return to the arrangement envisaged in the 19th Amendment, but critics dismissed it as an “eyewash”. The attempts to “tame” the presidency, in their experience, had proved futile. It is not a system that lends itself to reform, it is one that allows concentration of excessive power, and needs to be repealed in its entirety, they argued.

As of today, the president can still hold any number of ministerial portfolios, which the 19th Amendment sought to limit and disallow. The president still has the power to determine the number of ministers and ministries, as well as to assign subjects and functions to such ministries. The president can use his discretion in appointing secretaries to the ministries as well. The independence of the Constitutional Council which enables and monitors independent commissions has also come into question.

In vesting all powers with the Centre, that too in one office, the executive presidential system seriously restricts the scope of governance at the provincial level. Even within the limited ambit of provincial council administrations, the Governor as a representative of the Executive, wields considerable powers.

Colvin R. de Silva called the system of government under Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution a “constitutional presidential dictatorship dressed in the raiment of a parliamentary democracy.”

Sri Lanka is currently witnessing frequent protests by worker unions and university students, against persisting economic hardships and austerity measures. Police are responding with tear gas and water cannon. Critics of President Ranil Wickremesinghe are already likening him to his uncle J.R. Jayewardene.

Sri Lankans have debated the need to abolish executive presidency for decades now. Last year’s crisis yet again put this model of governance in sharp focus. But the island nation is yet to find a leader who would get to the top, and then agree to renounce his or her own power.

This is the last part of a series of articles looking at Sri Lanka’s economic recovery and political course

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