Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prince Charles Announces appointment Of Dr. Chris Nonis To The Advisory Council Of British Asian Trust

Fri, 2013-02-22 01:51 — editor
London, 22 February, (
Prince of Wales, President of the British Asian Trust, announced the new appointments to the British Asian Trust’s Advisory Councils, at the 5th anniversary dinner of the Trust, held at Windsor Castle on Monday 11th February.
Mr Mukesh Ambani - Managing Director and Chairman of Reliance Industries, was appointed to head the Trust’s India Advisory Council, and Dr. Chris Nonis, Chairman of the Mackwoods Group and Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK was appointed to head the Trust’s Sri Lanka Advisory Council. They join Tom Singh, OBE, founder of New Look Fashion, who heads the Trust’s UK Advisory Council, and Arif Naqvi, founder and CEO of Abraaj Group, who heads the Trust’s Pakistan Advisory Council.
The British Asian Trust is one of Prince Charles’ charities, founded in 2007, and is dedicated to help disadvantaged communities and rural upliftment through education, health and livelihood initiatives that generate self-sufficiency. The Trust has already touched the lives of more than 800,000 people across South Asia. The Advisory Councils are intended to provide the British Asian Trust with further in-country insight and assist with their rigorous selection of future projects.
Prince Charles, during his speech to an audience of over 200 at the Trust’s Anniversary dinner, whilst announcing the Advisory Board appointments, said that “I am hugely grateful to Mukesh Ambani who has offered his support in India, also to Arif Naqvi in the lead in Pakistan, Dr. Chris Nonis in Sri Lanka and Tom Singh here in the UK. We are incredibly lucky to have such important and supportive people.”
Dr. Chris Nonis stated that he was honoured to have been entrusted with this role, and that his experience in Medicine, Pan-Commonwealth development issues and International Affairs, Business, and Charitable work, will assist him in helping to realise the aims of the Trust.
- Asian Tribune -

Indian High Commissioner to participate in the Church feast at Kachchativu

Fri, 2013-02-22 02:15 — editor
High Commissioner of India Mr. Ashok K. Kantha will be visiting the annual feast of St. Anthony’s Church at Kachchativu Island.
According to a press release, Mr. Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India will be on a two-day visit to Northern Province on 23-24 February 2013. Besides participating in various events in Jaffna and Vavuniya during his visit, High Commissioner will also attend the annual feast of St. Anthony’s Church at Kachchativu Island.
The Press Release further said, The Annual Feast of St. Anthony’s Church on Kachchativu Island recommenced in 2010 after a gap of 26 years. Since then, this feast has been conducted every year with the participation of a large number of Indian and Sri Lankan devotees. In 2012, nearly 3500 Indian devotees participated in this traditional pilgrimage.
This year the ceremony is scheduled to be held on 23-24 February 2013. About 4000 Indian devotees are expected to participate in the feast. The Indian devotees will be arriving on the island on 23 February and will return on 24 February after the morning Mass.
The High Commissioner will visit Kachchativu Island on the morning of 24 February to attend the Mass. He will also meet with the Indian devotees during his visit.
Facilitation and full support is provided by the Government of Sri Lanka for this annual pilgrimage. The High Commission of India, Colombo and the Consulate General of India, Jaffna also deploys officials to the Island to assist the pilgrims.
- Asian Tribune -

The truth must be told

February 22, 2013 | The Hindu
New photographs of a 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran in the apparent custody of Sri Lankan security personnel in the final days of the war against the Tamil Tigers have caused widespread anguish and outrage, and understandably so. Last year, when another photograph showing the body of the LTTE chief Prabakaran’s son with visible bullet wounds on his chest surfaced, Sri Lanka’s explanation that the boy died in crossfire seemed plausible. But the photographs obtained by Channel 4 Television, in which Balachandran is seen sitting inside a sandbagged military enclosure, suggest an entirely different story of how the boy’s life ended, one that underscores other allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka. Colombo has dismissed the photographs as “concocted lies, half-truths and speculations” intended to embarrass the country at the forthcoming Human Rights Council session in Geneva. If that is so, it is in Sri Lanka’s own interest to begin immediately an honest and credible investigation to find out how Balachandran died, and make the findings public. If the young boy was indeed in an army bunker, as the photographs indicate, the chain of custody can easily be established and those responsible for his eventual killing in cold blood must be identified and handed down exemplary punishment. For its part, Channel 4 says that experts consulted by it have established the three photographs were taken with the same camera. It has also openly said that its reason for releasing the new evidence at this time, and a documentary next month, is precisely to bring maximum international pressure on Sri Lanka to make it accountable for civilian deaths in the final weeks of the war in 2009.
It took three years for the Rajapaksa government, which first spoke of “zero civilian casualties” to accept that some civilians died, though how many and in what circumstances are still contentious issues. It undertook to implement the recommendations, as advised by the 2012 HRC resolution, of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, but a “national action plan” towards this end displayed on the government website gives no sign of progress. New Delhi, which worked to tone down the language of last year’s resolution before casting its vote for it, will need to chalk out a more well thought out response to the new photographs than its initial reaction that their “authenticity” needs to be established. Reactions from political parties in Tamil Nadu, and the State government’s decision to cancel the July Asian athletics meet to avoid hosting Sri Lankan participants indicate that the issue is set to take a toll on the traditionally good ties between people of both countries. Quickly and confidently, before the situation deteriorates, India needs to chart a course that can convince its own people and the international community that it is on the side of what is right and just in this matter, while impressing on Colombo that the issue will not fade away just by stout denial, as it seems to hope.

Sri Lanka invites Indian investment

21 Feb, 2013, 06.48PM IST, PTI
MUMBAI: Sri Lanka today invited Indian business community to look at investment opportunities in its sectors such as ports, tourism and financial services.
"Sri Lanka is now the fastest growing economy in South Asia. With impressive growth expected in key sectors such as ports, tourism, real estate, financial services and outsourcing industry, this is the most propitious time for existing and potential investors to capitalize on the business and investment opportunities," Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told reporters here.
"We are looking at India based and offshore funds to invest in Sri Lanka," Cabrall said on the sidelines of investors forum 'Invest Sri Lanka'.
Sri Lankan economy is growing at 7-8 per cent per annum and we are looking at higher growth. The government also plans to allow private sector to raise foreign funds.
Commenting on FDI, Cabrall said, Sri Lanka's attractive investment climate has helped the country capture substantial FDI inflows.
The recent relaxation of exchange control regulations should boost FDI inflows. The government is confident of achieving an FDI target of USD 1.5 billion in 2013, he said.
Nalaka Godahewa, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) said, "Sri Lankan economy has been on the upswing following the end of the civil strife in mid-2009.

"To capitalize on the country's strong economic growth trajectory, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka is taking major steps in capital market development and regulation to increase investor confidence in the islands' financial market."
"With accelerating growth prospects and great diversification opportunities, Sri Lanka is emerging as a promising destination for foreign investors, as it offers higher returns than investments in developed countries whose economies are slowing down," Godahewa said.
Krishan Balendra, Chairman, Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), said, "The market has grown significantly in value in the last 3 years. Foreign participation has increased with unprecedented net foreign inflows in 2012. Given the post conflict growth prospects for the economy, the market is poised to see sustained growth going forward."
The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) operates the only share market in Sri Lanka. The CSE is licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) and it is taking concrete measures to increase free float and market depth in order to improve investibility, Balendra said.

Sri Lanka’s Authoritarian Turn

Colombo/Brussels  |   20 Feb 2013

As the UN Human Rights Council prepares to open its 22nd session next week, the Sri Lankan government has made no meaningful progress on either reconciliation or accountability and instead has accelerated the country’s authoritarian turn, with attacks on the judiciary and political dissent that threaten long-term stability and peace.
Sri Lanka's Authoritarian Turn: The Need for International Action, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the government’s recent consolidation of power and sets out critical steps for an effective and coordinated international response.
“The Rajapaksa government’s politically motivated impeachment of the chief justice last month reveals both its intolerance of dissent and power sharing and the weakness of the political opposition”, says Alan Keenan, Crisis Group’s Sri Lanka Project Director. “By incapacitating the last institutional check on executive power, the government has crossed a threshold into new and dangerous terrain. It is threatening prospects for the eventual peaceful transfer of power through free and fair elections”.
Analysts and government critics have warned of Sri Lanka’s growing authoritarianism since the final years of the civil war, but the impeachment has considerably worsened the situation. The removal of the chief justice completes the “constitutional coup” initiated in September 2010 by the eighteenth amendment, which revoked presidential term limits and the independence of government oversight bodies.
Sri Lanka is faced with two worsening and interconnected governance crises. The dismantling of the independent judiciary and other democratic checks on the executive and military will inevitably feed the growing ethnic tension resulting from the absence of power sharing and the denial of minority rights. Both crises have deepened with the government’s refusal to comply with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC)’s March 2012 resolution on reconciliation and accountability. While it claims to have implemented many of the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) – a key demand of the HRC – there has in fact been no meaningful progress.
The government has conducted no credible investigations into allegations of war crimes, disappearances or other serious human rights violations and has rejected the LLRC’s recommendations to establish a range of independent institutions for oversight and investigations.
The international community has a number of tools at its disposal to encourage Colombo to account for the deaths of up to 40,000 civilians in the final months of the war; to halt the current trajectory towards authoritarianism; and to build a country for all, not just some, Sri Lankans.  Chief among these are the levers of the UN, including the HRC, Sri Lanka’s reliance on development assistance and the prestige of hosting the forthcoming heads of government meeting of the Commonwealth.
“Strong international action should begin with Sri Lanka’s immediate referral to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and a new resolution from the HRC calling for concrete, time-bound actions to restore the rule of law, investigate alleged war crimes and rights abuses, and devolve power to Tamil and Muslim areas of the north and east”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “Sri Lankans of all ethnicities, who have struggled to preserve their democracy, deserve stronger international support”.