Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo
NO PLACE FOR EXTREMISM
Ahzin Lafeer objects to fanaticism that disrupts peaceful coexistence
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day?
A: Our nation will be united only when radicals and racists understand that despite our differences, we cannot change our true identity as Sri Lankans. During the struggle for independence, the entire nation was united as one community with its leaders promoting freedom collectively – regardless of language or religion.
Decision makers must ensure that students are given the opportunity to learn about our diversity in religion and culture – this will instil an understanding of all communities, and prompt peace, prosperity and coexistence.
Q: How can Sri Lanka retain the talent that it has?
A: To retain talent, the opportunities and facilities in our nation must be improved. This should not be focussed only on improving employment opportunities in line with modern technological developments but also enhancing living standards.
It is also essential that the attitude of serving our nation is inculcated among the youth by making them understand that they contribute towards a prosperous nation by being productively employed.
Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?
A: The lack of employment opportunities, which triggers brain drain, is one of the major challenges. Talented and qualified professionals are migrating, and this is impacting our economy.
Unfortunately, it is the state that facilitates their education – yet, they migrate for better opportunities, which not only makes the prevailing situation worse but also encourages future generations to follow a similar pattern.
In addition, the lack of infrastructure and credit facilities for investment in rural areas is leading to poverty. Businesspeople must be open-minded to change and go beyond their conventional thinking as it constrains national development.
Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly in Sri Lanka?
A: The good is our rich history and culture, and the contribution made by past leaders, which has contributed to formulating a strong legacy for the nation and creating a unique identity for all Sri Lankans.
The bad however, are the extremist fanatics who disrupt peaceful coexistence and unity. And the ugly is corruption and the insensitive extravagance that compromises national prosperity.
Q: What opportunities do you see for young Sri Lankans like yourself?
A: I perceive many opportunities in education. Due to state prompted development and the increased presence of private universities, young people such as myself have an array of options to formulate our career paths.
The steady growth of modern tech based employment opportunities will pave the way for better lifestyles aided by smart technology. In tandem, increased foreign investment will lead to higher economic growth.
Q: What are your expectations of the world and its people?
A: Unfortunate incidents of violence are triggered by disagreements within families, communities and political parties, spewing hatred and resulting in a tragic loss of life.
Sadly, those impacted most are children who should never be exposed to such situations. My belief is that we must protect the future of this world, striving diplomatically to ease tensions and ensure that peace is protected.
Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: By interconnecting individuals, social media has diminished the physical distance between people. It enables us to grasp a wide range of knowledge, interact with other cultures, and create a bond of unity that bridges the gaps between wealth, culture and social status.
However, the misuse of social media can cause disunity and distrust. So it is imperative that users are educated on the consequences and dangers of misuse.
Q: How do you view global poverty and environmental degradation?
A: Global poverty impacts all of humanity; it runs much deeper than hunger and homelessness. And it affects life expectancy stemming from inadequate nutrition and unsafe water consumption. Due to being deprived of basic necessities, those living in poverty are forced to opt for desperate measures that include violence.
The state of environmental degradation is the main cause of global warming. It has become a global phenomenon due to unplanned industrialisation, as well as improper disposal of chemicals and toxic materials as a means of cost cutting.
Individuals are responsible for this so they must reduce the harmful effects of what they do – however, it is the ignorance of a majority that continues to encourage its existence.