Country first

Prabhash Subasinghe

The focus of organisations is to drive business results to achieve excellence. The organisational framework includes advancing the socioeconomic wellbeing of the nation as a by-product.

“While a lot of good is being done to advance the national cause by corporates, this is being realised piecemeal as isolated efforts at the business entity level,” says Prabhash Subasinghe.

He adds: “Even industry bodies naturally look to further the causes that impact their areas of focus. Business or industry charters don’t necessarily feel compelled to address the need to collectively advance the interests of the greater national cause.”

Subasinghe believes that it is this “collective conscience that needs to be taken into consideration and addressed when driving a national perspective.” And he continues: “Until we have that way of working firmly rooted in our culture, it will be difficult to see ourselves as working towards a national perspective or greater goal.”

In order to be considered ‘nation minded,’ all socially responsible entities – whether they’re individual businesses or industry representing bodies – have a responsibility to pull together in one direction to further the progress and address the needs of a nation, he avers.

“Harnessing the strength of the collective and placing the country’s interest before the interests of the individual businesses or sectors or industry is the essence of embodying nation mindedness. This would mean that business interests and decision making need to align with not just what is good for the company but also with what’s good for the nation as a whole,” adds Subasinghe.

This does not mean that businesses must work against their corporate objectives in the interests of the nation. What it does mean however, is that corporates must identify how best their businesses can grow and develop whilst giving due consideration to the country’s requirements in the process so that sustainable value generation is created holistically.

Commenting on whether nation mindedness is a priority for business establishments in the present context, Subasinghe observes: “Nation mindedness must always be a priority in any context because a collective alignment by corporates should always supersede an individual business’ or industry body’s agenda when operating to enhance the socioeconomic framework of the country.”

“A country can only benefit if its corporates collectively align their respective business agendas to be in line with the needs of the nation,” he stresses. And he opines that a country can be both nation minded and venture out globally without the two concepts being in opposition to each other.

Subasinghe elaborates: “We need to look at the issue from this lens and identify how best they complement each other; and how best a business or corporate may function in line with this framework to preserve the national interest. If going global is a means to serving the long-term socioeconomic agenda to uplift a nation, then it must be pursued.”

Recalling success stories in which nation mindedness paid dividends, he notes that there are many examples one can choose from where the collective interest of corporates surpassed individual business priorities.

The aftermath of the tsunami is one example of when corporate entities united under a collective national banner to help rebuild the country. Another example, and a more recent one, was during the pandemic – that of corporates coming together to support hospitals to function and serve, by providing assistance in the way of food and medical supplies.

Therefore, business leaders have an important task of integrating a sense of nation mindedness into their corporate culture, and ensuring that they influence and shape the minds and attitudes of employees to always think ‘country first,’ he concludes.

Prabhash Subasinghe is the Managing Director of Global Rubber Industries (GRI)