Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo
THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW
Chathusha Dalpathadu’s clarion call to our young and upstanding citizens
Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?
A: COVID-19 has posed a huge threat not only to our lives but also the economy, education and freedom. The economy has witnessed major devastation particularly in developing countries such as Sri Lanka.
Despite the prevalence of online education, there are constraints that have impacted young people negatively. Not all Sri Lankans are able to afford the required facilities with those in rural areas especially being at a severe disadvantage.
And while people are expected to be responsible citizens by adhering to health and safety guidelines by wearing face masks, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel, all of these impact individual freedoms.
Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: The ‘good’ refers to the hospitable people, a trait known all over the world that makes me proud to be Sri Lankan.
But irresponsibility, selfishness and corruption are the bad and ugly traits, which are a concern.
For example, the conduct of some citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak highlighted irresponsible behaviour and this in turn demonstrates selfishness. While there are those who follow the straight and narrow, the fact remains that corruption is frequently observed everywhere
Q: What changes do you see in the spheres of education and healthcare?
A: In education, students have been engaged in online studies, which could be beneficial for higher education in the future – i.e. whereby online classes will be the norm. This would reduce the present financial burden faced by parents when it comes to higher education.
The healthcare sector is unfortunately taking a turn for the worse across the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. But this is compelling us to make lifestyle changes vis-à-vis health and safety guidelines, which can be favourable to everyone.
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day?
A: Sri Lankans have always been united until the unfortunate ‘ethnic conflict’ took root in 1983. The end to this however, was not through the choice of the majority because most often, racism is provoked for personal gain or political agendas.
My belief is that steps to sustain this preferred unity will be taken by our generation as a majority of us are rational thinkers.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: I’ve always had a passion for engineering, which could be due to my family background and an interest in mathematics.
Having always been keen to serve my country, I will complete my education here in Sri Lanka and pursue career options in the engineering field as the nation is in dire need of professionals. Serving my country is a priority for me; and as a civil engineer, I would be able to do that.
Q: What are your expectations of the world and its people?
A: My expectations are that the world’s people will be rational thinkers who are selfless and instigate equality, which would result in peace and harmony.
The Black Lives Matter movement in America has shone a spotlight on discrimination and gained international attention, and these incidents reiterate the importance of having a world that has the type of people I mentioned above.
Q: Who are today’s pragmatic leaders – and why are they at the top of your list?
A: The President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Army Commander Shavendra Silva and the [former] Director-General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe are the pragmatic leaders of today.
They have been at the forefront to manage unprecedented times during COVID-19. Apart from this, the president is a man of principles, the Army Commander has served with great courage during the war and the pandemic, and the [former] Director-General of Health Services is renowned for his work – including as Vice Chairman of the WHO and an efficient medical administrator.
Q: And how do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: It is definitely a part of our daily lives but has its pros and cons as with all areas. The majority however, are the pros.
During the pandemic, social media was a blessing in disguise as people gained information, were able to work and study from home, and multitask while maintaining physical distancing.