Sri Lanka, the country known for its tropical paradise has become a hotspot of political protests. The city of Galle which wears remnants of history is now seeing destruction sparked by anti-government agitation. And while some of us continue to dream of relishing the coconut-infused cuisine of the land, the country battles with food scarcity. Sri Lanka, the paradisical land with ease of access and convenience for tourists, hardly receives the attention it deserves. After weeks of protests, deepening political crisis, power blackouts, and soaring inflation, just after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country of 22 million people is facing the worst economic crisis since its independence.
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 10, 2022
An acute shortage of food, fuel, cooking gas, and medicines are the stark reality of Sri Lanka, which unfortunately does not find a space on social media, as much as its travel itineraries. The country has an outstanding foreign debt of nearly $35 billion and is discussing with the IMF to take loans. Mismanaged government and a severe shortage of foreign currency have led to an inability to continue imports of essential goods. Deep tax cuts imposed by the Rajapaksa government also wiped out its economy considerably. With the COVID-19 pandemic debilitating its tourism industry, the country had no inflow of foreign currency. But somehow, the country still appears on numerous listicles of cheapest international countries to visit every year.
It is disheartening to see the country that attracts with its serene blue beaches, does not get that much of a voice it so needs to highlight what’s happening here currently. The unprecedented economic crisis has led its residents to defy the curfew norms, set homes and shops ablaze, violently protest, and ransack government offices. In the latest development, the Defence Ministry has given shoot-on-sight orders to quell the rioters who question this political apathy.
Message from #SriLankanProtests : muscular nationalism and majoritarian politics is no solution when an economic crisis explodes. Identity politics won’t feed hungry stomachs! #SrilankanCrisis #SriLanka
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) May 11, 2022
The US, EU, and the UK are all expressing concerns over the turmoil and condemn the violence but how much of a diplomatic stance can really help at this time? Following the resignation of PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, his supporters turned violent and set ablaze the houses of lawmakers. The mammoth misgovernance has led the people of the nation to fight for themselves while we still somehow only scroll through the top beaches to visit in the island nation someday.
What Sri Lanka really deserves is for us to take down our rose-tinted glasses and look beyond the filtered photos, for the reality that it harbors for its survival.
A writer who categorically misfits as 'Words are better than actions'. Spilling thoughts on travel, food, and lifestyle to everything in between.