Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo

HELPING HIGHFLYERS TO SOAR

Dilrukshi Perera asserts that the state must nurture high achievers more

Q: What are the challenges facing Sri Lanka today?

A: Of the many challenges facing the country at present, instability in the government and uncertainty among citizens are the major challenges. We need to have a secure platform of confidence for all citizens to invest their efforts, resources and time for a better tomorrow.

Q: Do you see changes in the context of nation building and reconciliation?

A: While I am unable to comment on what’s happening at government level, it was encouraging to see Buddhist priests joining Friday prayers at the mosque – a show of solidarity to protect those attending prayers following the recent unfortunate incidents in the Kandy District.

Nation building and reconciliation must begin in the family nucleus and in social circles. At Hillwood College, with its mix of diverse religions and races, we learn from inception to look beyond differences and call each other a ‘friend.’ Respect and empathy towards each other is mandatory.

Q: How can Sri Lanka retain the talent it has?

A: We hear of many eminent Sri Lankan nationals living overseas who have received the highest accolades. Initially, we need to plan and implement infrastructure to facilitate higher studies for students who do not gain university entrance in Sri Lanka, which is currently only 10 percent.

The number of students who want to continue their higher studies increases annually. While the affluent and influential travel abroad to further their education, what happens to the rest? The government must implement a system to provide funds for R&D, identify high achievers, give them due recognition and retain them for their contribution in the future.

Q: Do you think we have young leaders who can take the country forward?

A: We certainly do and there are many. But will they be given the opportunity to contribute outside conventional and accepted systems? And would these young leaders be motivated to apply their dynamism in an environment of restrictive political manipulation?

These leaders should focus on national development and not self-development – and have a clear vision and the courage to carry out their mission to take the country forward.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

A: My life has always revolved around sports so it is only natural that I would choose to follow a degree in sports management and sports science. Law has also been a subject that has intrigued me and I’d like to qualify in this area as well. I would love to have the opportunity to be a sports ambassador or work with the IOC.

Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about it?

A: We are all responsible. From large-scale industries to users of hair sprays, we have all contributed to climate change and global warming. Even though the present levels of climate change and global warming are beyond our control, rectification is within our control.

Deforestation should be stopped immediately. All development projects – whether they be housing, hotels or highways – must be mandatorily environmentally friendly. Tree planting campaigns should be implemented through schools. Giving back to nature is far more practical than taking away conveniences from human beings.

Q: What challenges do young people face in a global context?

A: There are many challenges. With technology replacing manual and physical jobs, and the ever increasing global population raising the level of competitiveness to achieve even the simplest things in life, the younger generation faces an immense challenge to lead a life of quality.

We’re also constantly reminded about depleting natural resources, impending natural disasters and the importance of being tolerant in society, which contributes to the daily challenges we face.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?

A: The importance per se is a personal perspective – because what I perceive as being important may not be so to someone else. To me, the positive aspect of social media is that I can keep in touch with family and friends. On a larger scale, people advertise, seek help, share important information and enjoy reunions.

The negatives would be when social media is used to engender hate crimes, slander individuals, stalk people and for pornographic purposes. One should be sensible to filter the good from bad.