Q: In your view, has the aragalaya led to a united Sri Lanka – and if so, is this unity sustainable?
A: I think that through common understanding, there was a single overbearing issue – the government. And people have united in ways so rarely seen before. People from different backgrounds and unique problems to overcome have banded together to champion the ousting of the common enemy.
Be it the Tamils in the north who have always had their demonstrations met with state violence, the crackdown on Muslims who faced unfair condemnation in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks or even the rampant homophobia and transphobia, people are now championing these issues together as opposed to individually.
The burden of problems that were considered unique to a few is now shared among all of us.
Q: How do you view the aragalaya – and how do you think the voices of the youth should be heard?
A: In difficult times, when the country rejects the conventional paradigm of governance, voices of the youth become ever so important. The new perspectives and constant evolution of social norms are something the government of Sri Lanka has not, and likely will not, adapt to unless a path is provided for the next generation to evince these realities.
The cabinet has been looking at these issues with worn out and outdated lenses. The aragalaya is a movement, a struggle, to develop Sri Lanka sociologically as much as politically.
Q: How will you be the change you want to see?
A: By leading by example. I have always been influenced by my seniors and other people in my life. I don’t think that looking up to a person who doesn’t share your opinions and ideas is a bad thing.
Character defines a person; therefore, my objective is to improve myself, and to be a role model to my peers and juniors.
Q: As far as our education system goes, what are the pros and cons?
A: I think the issues manifest mainly in the poor job market and lack of adequate measures to fill gaps in labour. Educated individuals must have the scope for career development and underemployment should be reduced. The biggest advantage is that it’s free and available to the vast majority; but without understanding its value, even free education is meaningless.
The drawback is the lack of entrepreneurial spirit as the system does not encourage start-ups and risk taking. This lacklustre attitude will not help grow the economy.
MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH
Always stay informed. It adds a lot to character to have your own nuanced and genuine opinions on heated issues.
SRI LANKA: FIVE BURNING ISSUES
Poor job market
Misallocation of our indigenous resources
My father – It was he whom I wanted to be like the most. Throughout his long journey to success, his character and values never wavered.
This is the time for humanity and compassion. A long and gruelling road is ahead, and the only way to weather it is together. The only way to solve these issues is to introduce new and fresh ideas, and hold accountable those responsible for derailing the future of our country.