From Mahesh Abeyewardene
Sri Lanka recently featured on CBS’ hit show Madam Secretary which stars Téa Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, the shrewd, determined Secretary of State who drives international diplomacy, battles office politics and circumvents protocol as she negotiates global and domestic issues, both at the White House and at home.
In Season 3 Episode 14 “Reading the Signs”, Elizabeth McCord seeks creative solutions when the president of Sri Lanka’s astrologer convinces him to not move forward with a trade agreement with the U.S.
In the episode, the United States tries to secure a telecom trade agreement with Sri Lanka, while President Nandasiri visits Washington.
The Sri Lankan president travels to Washington in with his astrologer, who advises the president to go for a Chinese deal versus American. Secretary of State Elizabeth and her President are forced to find a creative to persuade their Sri Lankan counterparts as the American investor grows tired and vows to take his investment to the Maldives.
The episode shows the importance of the tea industry as the Sri Lankan president and his American counterpart enjoy Ceylon Tea in the Oval Office. Sri Lanka’s faith in astrology and the prominence of tourism also play key role, however, nepotism too creeps up in the show.
In 2014, The Big Bang Theory highlighted Sri Lankan community in Los Angeles and astrology.
In reality, a Sri Lankan leader has not visited the White House for a bilateral visit in nearly 15 years.
The last visit was by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in November 2003 when he met President George W. Bush, however, the visit was overshadowed by a political firestorm in Colombo.