In the Media


A recent national survey showed that only 10% of Indians aged 15 and above who were employed during what they considered the most severe lockdown worked from home. 68% of respondents considered the Janata curfew and subsequent nationwide lockdown between March and May 2020 to be the most severe lockdown.
A recent national survey showed that only 20% of school-aged children who were enrolled in the formal education system received remote education during COVID-19 induced school closures. School aged children were considered those between the ages of 5 and 18.
A recent national survey showed that Internet use had more than doubled in the past four years, and that COVID-related shutdowns contributed significantly to the increased demand for connectivity. Among the aged 15-65 population, 49% said they had used the Internet, compared to only 19% of the aged 15-65 population claiming the same in late 2017. This translates to 61% of households in 2021 using the internet compared to 21% in 2017.
LIRNEasia Chair, Rohan Samarajiva speaks about the Future of Work, what role technology will play and what can be expected under a Digital Sri Lanka on the BISNOMICS Episode 112 DIGITAL – 31-OCT-2021.
“In October 2006, the Government mandated a 50% margin deposit on the invoiced value of 44 listed items.” However, in September 2021, “the margin deposit is 100% for a much larger list.
“A LIRNEasia focus study conducted in Gampaha during Sri Lanka’s second pandemic lockdown last year found that only 48 per cent of households with children had access to a smartphone or a computer and only a third of households with children had an internet connection. This (34 per cent) is on average: poorer, rural households are systematically worse off as the number drops to 21 per cent in the lowest socioeconomic group households.
The fears are that those who are connected or corrupt will get free vaccines, even if they are not on the priority list; or that vaccines obtained for the free channel will be diverted to the pay channel, allowing private providers to make excessive profits which will feed the corruption.
There was overlap between budget analysis and an invitation to contribute to thinking on how things could be made better for Jaffna using ICTs. The result is described here.
Chair Rohan Samarajiva was interviewed by Roar Media on the implications of using drones for identifying those violating curfew orders.
The ITU’s ICT Price Trends 2019 report was just published. Below is an excerpt from an op-ed published today in the Daily FT: One cannot use data without 3G and 4G coverage. This is not available in all localities. Coverage is the necessary condition for data use. Content is the sufficient condition.
Now is the right time to rethink food-supply chains. As the expected shocks from climate change (longer droughts, more floods, etc.) we need to place greater weight on resilience. The question is whether we build resilience through decentralized market mechanisms or by command. In both cases credible real-time data are needed for decisions by all actors in supply chains.
Senior Research Fellow Sujata Gamage‘s op-ed in today’s Daily FT concludes thus: Sri Lanka and most developing countries have come a long way from a situation where owning a phone was a luxury to where, for example in Sri Lanka, 97% of households have access to a mobile phone. However, access to the internet is available for less than 50% of households in Sri Lanka. If parents see the benefits of their children learning to learn using supplementary content and note that children with better access to the internet have more and better content, those parents will go the extra mile to secure internet access for their children. According to the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey of Sri Lanka, parents in Sri Lanka already spend 50% of their education expenditure on tuition. If the need for tuition is reduced through fewer number of examinations to be faced by children and students are required to learn on their own supplementing textbooks with e-content, it could well be that education will be the driver of digitalisation of Sri Lanka.
In previous research going back to 2006, LIRNEasia has studied food supply chains, including, but not limited to, fruit and vegetable supply chains in Sri Lanka centered on Sri Lanka’s largest wholesale market in Dambulla which was recently shut down by the government along with several other wholesale markets. The closures were preceded by scenes of massive over supply, frustrated farmers throwing away unsold produce in large quantities, claims that the traditional traders were exploitative “middlemen,” and counterclaims that politicians were seeking to replace them, etc. On the other end, consumers confined to their homes under COVID-19 preventive measures were complaining not only of difficulties in getting adequate supplies but also in some cases of low quality and high prices. The government’s response included efforts to purchase unsaleable produce directly from farmers and to redistribute through government channels. Some may argue that COVID-19 is a black-swan event which is impossible to prepare for.
LIRNEasia has been studying food supply chains almost from inception. Our then Consultant Lead Economist Harsha de Silva had been trying to fix problems in the Dambulla DEC, the country’s largest agri wholesale market from even before that. So we were understandably unhappy when the government shut down the wholesale markets in the context of the COVID-19 response. First thoughts were in this op ed. Given the difficulties many potential users have had in understanding the difficulties of scaling up the customer facing side of e commerce it should come as no surprise that there is even greater ignorance about the far end of the supply chains.
E commerce vendors in Sri Lanka were having a hard time making sales. And these were companies that were dealing with items that do not go bad. The demand that spiked in the past weeks was mostly for goods such as dairy, fruit and vegetables that require care in storage and transportation. Obviously, any system that is designed for a low level of use will experience difficulties when there is a sudden spike in demand. And with perishables for which the greatest demand arose, the systems had to be developed from scratch.
Inclusion is central to everything we do at LIRNEasia. We are also cognizant of windows of opportunity for getting issues on the policy agenda. Thus this oped on elections in a time of pandemic. EVMs can be designed to allow persons with disabilities to exercise their right to vote. They can reduce errors in tabulation and speed up the release of results, but they do not eliminate the need for people to congregate.