Exercising Power Fairly More Important SDG Yardstick than Democratic Accountability

By Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – In its 2017 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) makes an interesting argument in regards to achieving the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in seemingly downplaying the importance of democratic accountability and emphasising that how power is exercised is more important. Continue reading “Exercising Power Fairly More Important SDG Yardstick than Democratic Accountability”

Asian-Fuelled Heritage Tourism Could Be An SDG Enabler

By Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, held for the first time in Southeast Asia, pivoted on how Asia-fuelled tourism would impact the industry worldwide. The discussions also centred around whether tourism could be an enabler of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if it were heritage-focused offering community experiences – rather than “exotic” sites – so that significant leakages of tourism revenue could be tapped. Continue reading “Asian-Fuelled Heritage Tourism Could Be An SDG Enabler”

Asia needs ‘thinking’ media to avoid ‘Arab Spring’ chaos

April 25, 2017

By Kalinga Seneviratne

Special to The Nation (Thailand)

In December last year two UN agencies – UNDP and Unesco – organised a gathering in Bangkok called “Case 4 Space” where young activist communicators from Asia were brought together and largely addressed by westerners on how to demand space for their voices to be heard.

The event was coordinated by an activist group from the UK called “Restless Development” that was promoting a “restless” type of activism for “democratic” development – the same recipe of the “Arab Spring” uprising that has created chaos and mayhem in the Arab world. 

Attending the event as an observer, I was alarmed by the fact that these two UN agencies were able to organise this event in Asia without being scrutinised by Asian media or the governments in the region. Continue reading “Asia needs ‘thinking’ media to avoid ‘Arab Spring’ chaos”

Thailand Discovering the Power of Woman Travellers

By Kalinga Seneviratne

BANGKOK (IDN) – Thailand has long been a magnet for male travellers from the West, but now the kingdom’s tourism authorities are recognizing the power of woman travellers especially from Asia – among others from India, China and Japan.

“Sun is rising in the East (for Thailand),” says Srisuda Wanapinyosak, Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and South Pacific) at Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). “Asian economies are good and people travel. This is a good opportunity for Thailand,” she tells IDN.

With European economies in the doldrums, Thailand has lost much of its former tourist market, but Asians have compensated for the decline, says Srisuda. There were nearly 8.8 million visitors from China in 2016 and 1.2 million from India visiting Thailand. The gender ratio was almost equal. Continue reading “Thailand Discovering the Power of Woman Travellers”

Iran: Rolling Out The Red Carpet

12 January 1997

By Kalinga Seneviratne

(This article has been extracted from the January 1997 issue of Men’s Review in Malaysia)

A beautiful country with friendly people: In Sydney, where I live, I tell an Australian friend that I am planning a holiday to Iran. They say, “what? a holiday to Iran of all places? Good luck to you mate.”

A few weeks later, my wife Priyani and I are at Tehran’s southern bus terminal, trying to catch a bus to Rasht, on the Caspian coast, a good four to five hours drive north of the Iranian capital. The signs are all in Persian including the numbers (using their own numerals). While most commuters in this busy, somewhat chaotic bus terminal cannot speak English, we somehow manage to find our way to a bus heading to Rasht. Continue reading “Iran: Rolling Out The Red Carpet”

Bringing Science, Ethics & Buddhism Together To Save Humanity

By Kalinga Seneviratne

This article is the 11th in a series of joint productions of Lotus News Features and IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

RAJGIR, India (IDN) – Participants at a conference convened in this historic capital of the Magadha kingdom of the Buddha’s time by the Nava Nalanda Mahavihare (NNM) shared the view that, for humanity to survive, science, ethics and Buddhism’s mind-centric approach to understanding nature and society could help. Continue reading “Bringing Science, Ethics & Buddhism Together To Save Humanity”

India’s Yogi Chief Minister May Rewrite Democracy Textbooks

Analysis by Kalinga Seneviratne

NEW DELHI (IDN) – From across Asia to Europe and the United States voters have shown their dismay at corrupt political systems by voting in unconventional politicians who promise to “clean the swamp”.

So the election mid-March of a Yogi Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state – may well herald in a new era for Asian politics, where religion could step in to clean up the corruption in politics. Continue reading “India’s Yogi Chief Minister May Rewrite Democracy Textbooks”