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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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BARONESS THATCHER, THEY CALLED HER

There probably aren’t two figures as far apart as Margaret Thatcher and Hugo Chavez. But editorializing on Margaret Thatcher’s passing no doubt would be different from doing so on Chavez’s passing – something that was done in this space a few weeks ago.

The headline writers couldn’t help themselves almost. The Iron Lady is dead, they say. But those who are old enough to remember would recall Mrs. Thatcher as the diminutive lady who visited this country to ceremonially declare open the Victoria Dam, and then the Mahaweli Centre in the eighties.

She may also be remembered for her bouffant coiffure. Other than that, the politically conversant would associate her with J. R. Jayewardene, the late Iron Gent of Sri Lanka, who said he could not make a man a woman and a woman a man -- but could do all else.

Margaret Thatcher, no disrespect intended, was sometimes thought of as woman made man in Great Britain. Writers cannot say enough about the male enchantment with her ‘machismo’; there were enough cliches about her being the only man in her Cabinet, which of course was the original wag’s line attached to the world’s first woman Premier, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

The irony about the Iron Lady is that the news of her death has prompted polarized reactions that for a brief two days at least brought back the anxieties of the most divisive age in Britain in recent memory. Her good relations with J. R. Jayewardene were kindred - but those two ages, that of Thatcher and JRJ in history, would be remembered for similar reasons in the two countries.

In Britain, they remember Thatcher as the person that changed British values irrevocably. Nothing is the same in Britain any more after Thatcher, they say. Nothing is the same after J. R. Jayewardene as well, and for much the same reasons.

Thatcher was insensitive to the poverty she spawned with her ‘reforms’, and the social polarizations that ensued as a result. J. R. Jayewardene was in her first carbon copy, though the Economist famously had J. R. first and then Thatcher and Reagan in that order, featuring the triumvirate as the harbingers of the global strike back of the untrammeled forces of Capital. In Brixton therefore it is not surprising that they are chugging beer and whenever possible cheering on with the bubbly to celebrate Thatcher’s death to chants of ‘Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead, dead, dead.’

But what is the Iron Lady’s legacy then, is it all dark as some writers in the Guardian (UK) have claimed, or is there anything redeeming? There probably is. She privatized the state behemoths in Britain too, and therefore, as a result, it is easy as it is now to get a telephone from Sri Lanka Telecom, for a Londoner to get it from a private service provider such as Vodaphone! This certainly had not been the case before her.

So what Thatcher did primarily was to dismantle the romanticized narrative about the left-leaning welfare state. A good healthy dose of capitalism in other words, brought Britain up to scratch and the Thatcher-Regan blowback capitalism certainly had its heady moments.

But the duo – trio if JRJ is to be counted - also presided over the excesses, and the deterioration of the new economic ethos to the point at which neo-liberalism threatens all humanity, though that might sound hyperbolic.

In the main, it is hard for humane people to agree with all that Thatcher did. We could all write a bit about the spectacle she made - her gender defined leadership image, and the resultant drama. That is why in part the newspapers are full of news of her demise, including this one.

But in the main while the passing of a past friend of Sri Lanka is noted with some almost nostalgic sadness, the fact that with her that era of polarizing insensitivity is getting a wee bit more behind us is an uplifting thought, though anybody’s death and therefore certainly Margaret Thatcher’s death diminishes us. Undoubtedly, after the tumult of her years, she would and should Rest In Peace.

A former India Today Editor’s take on the India foreign policy debacle viz Sri Lanka:

Himalayan Blunder

In voting against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC for a second time, New Delhi made a pusillanimous display of Pax Indiana’s opacity in a region crucial to its geopolitical stability and security. And New Delhi has missed out on or deliberately ignored crucial home truths. http://asiantribune.com/sites/asiantribune.com/files/images/2012/Inder%20Badhwar_3.jpgInderjit Badhwar

Full Story

A RAY OF HOPE FOR GOLDEN KEY DEPOSITORS

On March 4, 2013 The Supreme Court ordered that a Special Task Force be set up to ascertain the assets of the Golden Key Credit Card Company’s former Board of Directors including its Chairman Lalith Kotelawala. The bench was headed by His Lordship Mohan Peiris Chief Justice of Sri Lanka and comprised Their Lordships Justices P. A. Ratnayake and Priyasath Dep. This order was made order consequent to accepting a plan submitted by the Central Bank to repay the Golden Key Credit Card Company depositors on behalf of the Monetary Board according to the SC order of March 4.

Full Story

The Human Dimension

THE BEST ANTI-AGEING MEDICINE…

The media is full of magic potions and lotions that are supposed to halt ageing in its tracks and make us all more youthful. Not a day goes by without yet another high end miracle being launched in the powerful skincare world that promises bigger returns. Yet, some of us have known for years what really slows down the process of ageing.

Full Story

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