Sri Lanka Is Calm Again. That Doesn’t Mean Things Are Any Better.

After an economic collapse and political upheaval, Sri Lankans have become resigned to leaner meals and reduced horizons.

On the surface, calm has returned to Sri Lanka since the South Asian nation plunged into political chaos and virtual bankruptcy last summer. Gone are the fuel lines that snaked for blocks; a seaside expanse that had been the site of a monthslong protest encampment was resplendent over the holidays with Christmas lights and carnival rides.

But underneath, the island’s economy remains on a ventilator, with the government yet to secure a way out of crushing debt. Sri Lankans have become resigned to a sad reality: pared-down meals, shrunken incomes and reduced expectations.

Many young people are desperately trying to find a way out of the country. Those who cannot escape are left to reckon with the likelihood that any economic rebound will be modest at best, all but erasing the earlier promise of mobility in this once middle-income nation.

Perhaps most of all, what has taken the wind out of Sri Lankans is that, even after a popular uprising ousted the strongman president in July, the same political elite still call the shots, with little accountability for the mismanagement and excess that wrecked the country.


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