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R. Nithyanandan

Sri Lanka and Lebanon are countries that have experienced the economic collapse of their respective countries against the contemporary same socioeconomic and political backdrop in comparison Sri Lanka and Lebanon are countries that have experienced the economic collapse of their respective countries against the contemporary same socioeconomic and political backdrop in comparison.  

These two countries are countries that have fundamentally different political, social and religious situations. Lebanon is seen as a multi-ethnic social organization of Christian, Shia Muslims, and Sunni Muslims. This country is governed by a complex political system that aims to maintain an unstable balance of power across religious and political communities.

Although Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country, it is a nation composed of Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, and other minority groups. The social environment in Sri Lanka and Lebanon was different, with the 1948 Palestinian war against Israel, and Palestinians fleeing as refugees to Lebanon due to pressure from Arab states.  A rebellion broke out in the country in 1958 when Lebanon tried to become a member of the Arab Republic. When the Israelis were defeated by the 1970 Palestinian movement the Palestinians emigrated to Lebanon and became involved in the struggle against Israel.

As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, the Tamil minority people have been fighting for federal demands since independence. It erupted into violent communal riots in 1961. Then gradually it turned into a national demand for a separate Tamil nation and burst into a thirty-year ethnic war. Meanwhile, in 1971, and 1989 JVP insurgency, and in 1977, 1981, and 1983 ethnic riots against Tamils affected Sri Lanka’s economy.  

In recent times, the Easter attacks against Christians in 2019, the subsequent Covid-19 outbreak in Sri Lanka, loans for failed economic projects, tax cuts, the bankruptcy of the country’s treasury, and Sri Lanka’s economy have deteriorated…Because of this, since independence, Sri Lanka has been a debt-ridden country with a budget deficit. Its culmination was the worst corruption scandal of the Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka, which turned into a popular uprising in May 2022 due to poor governance.

 Following the 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon is mired in a deep economic crisis as it is caught in a debt trap. Banks were paralyzed, the currency depreciated, the currency lost more than 90% of its value, and banks locked out depositors’ accounts. According to some estimates, the debt amount of 2021 reached 495% of GDP, and the Lebanese pound lost in early 2022 more than 15% of its value, pushing desperate families already struggling to afford food, electricity, and fuel deeper into poverty.  In 1975 civil war started in Lebanon.

The country has been in a tense situation for a long time with continuous street violence, sectarian strife, killings and demonstrations, shootings, and war activities. With the arrival of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, the long-term civil war, and the current state of debt, the country’s economy has become a degraded country.

 Similarly, in Sri Lanka, due to unsuccessful economic projects, debt accumulation, and tax reduction, the country’s treasury has gone bankrupt and the country’s economy has deteriorated.  While Lebanon’s uprooted Syrian and Palestinian refugees suffer from a corrupt regime, Sri Lanka’s corrupt government today faces an economic crisis due to politicians hoarding assets and money abroad and unplanned development activities.

External debt service payments to Sri Lanka stood at USD 7 billion against USD 1.9 billion at the end of March 2022. Sri Lanka suffers from an acute shortage of food, fuel, medicine, and other essential commodities. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are severely affected. As foreign reserves dried up, the country was unable to pay the interest on the debt and Mayra Lanka on Tuesday announced a pre-emptive default on all its foreign debt totaling $51 billion as a “last resort” while the island 25, it declared that even the 1 billion debt could not be repaid.

The country owes $51bn (£39bn) to foreign lenders, and $6.5bn to China,  Both countries are suffering from fuel shortages, food shortages, rising prices, and inflation. The fundamental problem facing these two countries is debt settlement and food security. Deficits, inflation, and price rise are losses of income.

 Unemployment is a growing problem for Lebanon’s growing youth population, with 47% of the population unemployed due to the recent economic downturn.  According to recent survey results, Lebanon’s unemployment rate rose from 11.4% between 2018-2019 to 29.6% in January 2022, This is almost a third in January 2022. This indicates youth unemployment.  

On the other hand, the monthly salary of those who are employed has decreased by 25 dollars. So a large number of young people have left the country. or have become anti-government protesters. Commenting on Lebanon’s situation, Johns Hopkins University professor ‘Steve Eghan’ says the country’s 30-day inflation has exceeded 50%. Currently, Lebanese parents are more likely to send their children to work than to school.

It is therefore generally accepted that civil strife in both countries is as much a root cause of today’s depressed economic climate as war corruption. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, three out of 10 households face severe food insecurity. This represents a population of 6.26 million out of Sri Lanka’s total population. 65600 of them are suffering from severe famine. In the last three months, Sri Lanka has faced a difficult situation. Two in five households here say their income has halved. 6.7 million people are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

 .In Lebanon, teachers are not coming to schools due to fuel shortages and non-payment of salaries. Children leave school for 4-5 hours and simply go home. In Lebanon, students are at risk of not being able to return to the classroom due to the country’s economic crisis. UNICEF says Lebanon’s deep economic crisis is causing children to drop out of school midway

The situation is almost the same in Sri Lanka where children’s school attendance has decreased due to traffic problems. Teachers often take leave. As far as urban areas are concerned, 50 percent of children cannot go to school. . Teachers often take vacations. At present, the government and privet schools are conducted only three days a week.

In the last three months, Sri Lanka has faced an unprecedented crisis. Two-fifths of households here say their income has halved. 6.7 million people are now in need of urgent humanitarian aid. Lebanon and Sri Lanka in general are very concerned about how to cope with the basic daily needs of their children.

Similarly, livelihoods, education, health, agriculture, and infrastructure have been affected in 126 municipal areas in Lebanon. It is against this background that the Lebanese people started a food strike in October 2019 because of their poverty. They are fighting against food shortages, petrol, tobacco, mobile phone tax hikes, electricity shortages, water shortages, and the secret economy of banks.

 In Lebanon, as in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned from his post on 15 July 2019 at the height of the popular protests. Then Education Minister Hasan Diab became the next Prime Minister but Parliament and the Cabinet did not resign. So the popular struggle continued and he submitted his resignation on 10 August 2020 after riots broke out in Beirut, after which Najib Mikadi formed a new government on 10 September 2021.

   Inflation in Sri Lanka increased by 57.4 percent at the end of June. Farmers started protests demanding chemical fertilizers. Due to power cuts, shortage of fuel, shortage of gas, and rise in prices, people’s protests got stronger…Bloomberg has warned that there is an 85 percent chance of the economy heading into a further recession in fiscal 2023, up from 33 percent in previous estimates. 

People think that President Gotabhaya was at the center of Sri Lanka’s economic problems.  people believe president Gotapaya was the main for the present economic crisis The protestors started their protest from the “Gota  Go   Gama” at Galle faces of the protest site. At its peak, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Rajapaksa resigned on May 9. But as in Lebanon, politicians did not change, and the “P du P Yamuna” ruled the country.  The protesters continued the struggle.

 .But the political situation in Sri Lanka is different from Lebanon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party, who was rejected by the people, became the Prime Minister. President Gotabaya believed that he could establish good relations with the Rajapaksa family and build the country. But the world countries were reluctant to give loans to Sri Lanka.

  Protests started again against Prime Minister Diab in Lebanon. Lebanon’s struggle erupted into violent protests. More than 200 people were killed and thousands were injured. After this, 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate storage tank was burnt to ashes. But the people did not give up their struggle against the regime. Like Sri Lanka, nothing has changed in Lebanon, poverty, food, and people continue to struggle.

Lebanese protested against the government by burning tires and blocking the road. Like Kanchana Wijesekhara, the government minister there “Ronda Gajar” says there is no fuel to supply to fuel stations. The riots continued until August 2021. More than 28 people have been killed in a massive explosion at a major fuel station in northern Lebanon. The country was plunged into darkness without 24-hour electricity, much like Sri Lanka. Lebanon’s pound plummeted. The election was postponed.

 As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, all the trade unions joined the Keta Kogama protestors and launched a massive strike. At its peak, Janapatipati Gotabaya resigned on July 9. But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as Acting President, became President with the support of 134 members of Parliament. But when Ranil Vikram took office as Prime Minister and later as President, he could not solve the problems of the country as expected. Dhammika Perera, who was appointed as the investment minister, had publicly stated that Ranil had no proper economic plans and that Ranil should step down from the post of finance minister.

  . The protest, which started in May 2022, was led by the “Keta Ko Kama” militants as a major protest to oust the President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya. It is a struggle organized by people of all ethnic groups regardless of party affiliation.

 .But Lebanon’s struggle is not like that, the movement of Hezbollah supports Aparat. Here we see again and again in Lebanon the serious consequences of the debt crisis exposing the deep structural gaps of the global financial crisis and affecting the implementation of human rights, says Atiya Waris, a UN external debt expert.

 The IMF expects the economic crisis to reflect a unique human rights agenda.   

 .Lebanon is governed by a complex system that aims to maintain an unstable balance of power across religious and political communities.

  Sri Lanka is also a drama with an unstable balance of power between ethnic and religious political evils, corrupt politicians, wealth hoarding, and inefficient management.

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