Thursday, June 25, 2009

Congratulations Pakistan!

(I meant to write this on Monday but its been a crazy week!)

The Twenty20 Finals on Sunday nite was amazing. Sri Lanka, which had played so well up until the finals, had its luck run out .. and Pakistan, which had a sputtering start, really got into high gear and um, whipped our butt :-). Congratulations Pakistan - after all the troubles you've had this is a great victory!

Pakistan showed how to win fair and square; without needing extra balls ;-).

For our own team - wow, what a run. Having an unbeaten run in a game like Twenty20 cricket where one little slip up can mean the game either way is amazing. I'm proud of our guys for having the "do whatever it takes to win" attitude and for delivering amazing results! It bodes well for our World Cup chances next year.

Congratulations to Dilshan on being recognized as the player of the series! What a batting experience that was :).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sri Lanka cricket: an example of what we can do together

The 3Ms have been anchoring our bowling attack for a while now: Murali, Malinga and Mendis. But last nite's semi-final against brought out another M-powered bowling weapon: Matthews. Wow, what a game .. of course Dilshan's amazing knock of 96 was the key that gave the bowlers the room they needed to destroy the West Indies. One more bit of work left :-).

So this blog is not about cricket. Its really about how Sri Lanka can perform when we work as a single country instead of a group of people divided on all kinds of lines. Our cricket team has had their ups and downs, but we have been a dominant force in every sense for a long time. We won the cricket world cup in 1996 and are on track to win the Twenty 20 World Cup now. We've won numerous matches in between and for the most part are considered one of the stronger teams in the world.

Take a look at our cricket team - its not Sinhalese, its not Tamil, its not Muslim, its not Buddhist, its not Christian, its not Hindu etc.! Its ALL of those put together. There are rich Colombo kids, there are poor village kids, there are those who speak eloquently in English, there are those who can barely stammer out a few grammatically correct sentences, and there's even an Army officer on the team!

(Yes yes I'm not stupid to think the team selection process is perfect and without politics. That doesn't happen anywhere except Eutopia. The results, however, speak for themselves.)

We're a small country with incredibly strong foundations in so many aspects. Our economy is 1/3rd the annual revenue of IBM. It is SOOO easy to make Sri Lanka into a great nation that people look up to and instead of trying to run away from, want to come to.

Yet instead, we attack each other by drawing boundaries along racial lines, religious lines, caste lines (within the races), city/village lines and so on. Who are we competing against? Ourselves. In the modern flat world, there is nothing local - everything is global. So fighting against each other simply makes us a pawn of others who are trying to improve themselves. That's what has happened to us in the last 30+ years .. we let our own stupidity take over and allow to be exploited by others for their own advantage.

Yes I blog regularly about how world politics is screwing with us yet. I will continue to do so.

However, the world can do that only as long as WE ALLOW THEM TO DO SO. It is our opportunity to screw up. It took us one election cycle after independence in 1948 before we became idiotic and acted in politically expedient ways that destroyed our future. Now we have another chance - and for once a hard fought independence from the clutches of terrorism.

We have incredibly high literacy rates. Life expectancy rates that match up the best in the world. Infant mortality rates that are better than many western nations. Our people are not dying in their thousands out of malnutrition and starvation.

It is up to the majority Sinhala Buddhist people to reject politics of separation. It is up to the minorities in whatever form, to support politicians that want unity and not separation. Its time for all of us to say bye to racially and religiously focused political parties; what we need are national politics, not one that is hell bent on gaining advantage for one fragment of our population over the rest. We need political parties that are hell bent on taking Sri Lanka on to the global championship and can produce winning teams, no matter what the game is!

We in Sri Lanka love to blame our politicians for all the misgivings of the country. Given that we're a democracy, the blame lies squarely on our own shoulders: we are ALLOWING the politicians to do whatever and get away with it.

The baton is in our hands; let's run with it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sri Lanka May Become ‘Hong Kong of India’ After War

Finally, an article that reflects the optimism that at least I personally feel is now common here in Sri Lanka.

Here's a small excerpt:
June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s economy can bounce back from its weakest growth in six years and become the “Hong Kong of India” as the end of almost three decades of civil war boosts business opportunities, HSBC Private Bank said.

Decades of fighting on the Indian Ocean island shackled its $32 billion economy, which according to figures released yesterday expanded 1.5 percent last quarter from a year earlier as the global recession intensified the slowdown. Ports, retailers, apparel and tea exporters could lead a recovery after the Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated last month.

“The rebound will be spectacular,” said Arjuna Mahendran, the Singapore-based chief investment strategist for Asia at HSBC Private Bank, which oversees $494 billion in assets. “To start with, Sri Lanka’s location gives its port a natural advantage.”

Its interesting that the entire Sri Lankan economy is less than 1/3rd of IBM's annual's revenue. If that elephant can dance, so can we.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New LSF project: peer-to-peer distributed Web cache

The Lanka Software Foundation started a project at the beginning of this year to develop a P2P application framework (called Dalesa) and then a set of applications on top of that. Wathsala Withanage leads that work and has two other great team members working with him (Nuwan & Nishshanka).

Wathsala has recently blogged about the architecture of Dalaesa and the DCache application - a distributed, peer-to-peer Web cache which is an alternative to Squid-like centralized caches. The architecture figure Wathsala drew is the following:

There are lots of potential applications that can be built on top of a P2P application framework. The DCache was basically a POC .. to show that the lower layer works. Other more interesting apps include building autonomous security boxes that mesh together and provide a P2P monitoring layer. Have ideas? Contact Wathsala and join the project!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Michelle Obama's Arms Meet With Sri Lankan Refugees

So cool to have those arms here in Sri Lanka. Damn! They didn't invite me to come and shake 'em!!!!!

You know Sri Lanka's become main-stream newsworthy when The Onion decides to send Michelle's arms to Sri Lanka! I hope our tourism guys notice this and figure out what to do with the arms!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In Sri Lanka: Explaining the Tamil Tigers

This is a great article by a US writer (Jim Luce) on the LTTE story. If you read nothing else about Sri Lanka's terrorism story, please read this article - it gives a good dose of reality on what the LTTE became and is.

And this bit of text explains quite well why I've been ranting and raving about "the world" lately in my blog:
Disturbingly, another factor may also be involved. Racism. I often wonder why the Fight Against Terrorism seems to be a white man's fight, and when in the word's of Teddy Roosevelt, our "little brown brothers" stand up for themselves, somehow charges of abuse and rights violations are leveled by the West.

When the U.S. invaded Iraq, with the full cooperation of the U.K., many civilians were killed. As have been killed in Afghanistan. Not to mention abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Perhaps the specter of a developing nation conquering terrorism is galling to us in the developed world, knowing Osama Bin Laden has eluded our best efforts to capture him.

We seem to suffer from Empty Nest Syndrome. We need to accept that our former colonies have grown up - and can now stand for themselves.
Its incredibly frustrating to see how (primarily) western governments are politically trying to destroy Sri Lanka even at this time. Its only the politicians though - their own militaries and intelligence agencies etc. are fully aware of what's going on, what happened etc. and have never done anything negative. Its the paid for, bought-out politicians who only care about their own careers and not their country, who are trying to destroy us.

Jim's closing comments are also quite illuminating of the double standards that we are meted out:
And the hatred continues. One angry commenter to my last story in the Huffington Post hoped the LTTE remnants would assassinate Sri Lanka's president and defense minister. In the U.S., threatening the life of the president is a prisonable offense.

The Sri Lanka government has no intention of allowing one of the world's largest terrorist organizations back into its nation -- anymore than the U.S. would allow Bin Laden to renounce violence and run for the U.S. Senate.
I wonder whether the world will ever be able to treat all people equally.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sri Lanka under attack .. still

Wow, I was just watching Al Jazeera and its amazing the global attack still going on against Sri Lanka. It looks like the world is very concerned about what may or may not have happened in the last 2 weeks of a 30 year war. Our military killed 20,000 people in 2 weeks after carefully avoiding civilian casualties all the time before and hanging around for months to wait for the Indian election to finish and more. Yeah, sure, that makes sense.

Then there's the story of the Captain Ali. A ship that is carrying "relief supplies" and tries to come into Sri Lanka unauthorized. Dudes (from ActNow who sent the ship), we gotta navy you know .. and a damned good, war-veteran one too. That's why its kinda under custody now. (The dude from ActNow who was interviewed has apparently been on hunger strike from May 18th. Hmm, sure looked too healthy for that ... maybe a Double Cheeseburger finds its way in there once in a way?)

Oh yes then there's the "international aid agencies" that are not allowed into the IDP (internally displaced person) camps. Sri Lanka must be killing the innocent Tamil people to not let these wonderfully well-intentioned international aid agencies into help. Um, sure. Yes, these would be the same aid agencies whose equipment, money and facilities were used to build up the LTTE. This would also be the same groups who have been caught trying to smuggle people out of the IDP camps. People who were LTTE members.

We won the war after 30 years of struggling and getting screwed by most of the world. You expect us to let you get back in and mess it up? Dream on.

On Wednesday there was a massive military parade in Colombo to celebrate the victory. It was the time to pay homage to the military for the tremendous sacrifices they made to give Sri Lanka freedom, again. For the first time, we have a freedom that has been fought for militarily. You see, unlike the US, we didn't have a culture of thanking the military for our freedom - we got our independence from UK basically free .. on the coat-tails of Indian independence. Now after 30 terrible years, all of Sri Lanka has gained independence again .. thanks to the hard work of our military. There are tens of thousands of permanently disabled troops and many thousands of troops who lost their lives in the process. We owe our freedom to their hard work and sacrifices.

(Its really hard for non-military people to understand or appreciate their sacrifices - I've met one person (a sergent) who spent 16 years in the war zone .. all the while having a wife and kids in the south who he saw but once or twice an year. As a father, I cannot imagine how he survived. His children too have paid a tremendous price for us to enjoy our freedom.)

Now, if the world thinks we're gonna give in and let you run all over us again after all this work, think again. NEVER.

Are we out of the woods with this military victory? Of course not. Its only the opening that was critical for the political system to fix the underlying issues and get us on the right path. I am confident that will happen; this president means business and I believe he will get it done.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Apache Stonehenge releases first milestone!

Apache Stonhenge, the project we helped start in the Apache Incubator to build a set of SOA apps to demonstrate interoperability, just did their first milestone release. Congratulations to the team!

Its quite a bit of work to get the first milestone out as the developers have to align the project with ASF requirements, learn the release process etc.. But its a great feeling when its all done!

Download it and give it a whirl .. you may be surprised at how interop is much more real now!