POLITICS UNDERMINES UNITY
Madhusha Udalamaththa notes that political conflicts have impeded unity
Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: Our nation’s long history and culture especially its hospitality are highly appreciated. The country’s natural resources and geographical location deliver numerous economic benefits.
Despite the presence of a strong legal system, it doesn’t seem to be effective as policing and legal judgements are seemingly determined on the basis of status, wealth and political standing.
While this is the ‘bad,’ the ‘ugly’ includes corruption, inefficiencies in government institutions, injustice and alcoholism.
Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?
A: Even in this modern age, Sri Lankans remain somewhat conservative and dogged by non-progressive traditional beliefs. The employment of women – or lack of employment opportunities for them – is a case in point. If we don’t obtain women’s inputs for the economy, growth will decline.
Lack of infrastructure too deters foreigners from investing in the country, which has resulted in a dearth of employment among skilled graduates. This has led to a brain drain and growing emigration.
Moreover, international interference is becoming an obstacle to implementing sovereign policies and progressive strategies for the country.
Q: So how can Sri Lanka retain the talent that it has?
A: Attitudinal change among citizens is crucial. Whereas the government has a responsibility to provide infrastructure and opportunities, the lack of such facilities prompts brain drain.
Political interference in assigning employment opportunities should be eschewed and meritocracy ought to be the overarching factor to retain the impressive talent that Sri Lanka possesses.
In addition, people must be motivated to protect the nation’s resources and not permit them to be usurped by other countries.
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day?
A: Having put a three decade long war behind us, we have united as a country to some extent. If we could recover from such violence, it wouldn’t be difficult to be a truly united nation.
However, even after experiencing such violence, we continue to witness divisions among ethnicities – as in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks. Political conflicts and alienation could be cited as the main obstacles to uniting the country while international pressure makes it impossible to remain truly independent.
If these issues are dealt with, the country will unite.
Q: Where do you see Sri Lanka in 10 years’ time?
A: If the administrative structure remains the same, there won’t be a major difference. However, if we optimise the use of human and natural resources, the country can achieve higher goals.
The education system must improve whereby students work with the latest technologies and opportunities expand. In the long term, the standards of living and infrastructure will improve.
Q: How do you view global poverty and war?
A: Today, global poverty is a massive challenge with the lack of food and water, and income disparities, being the causes. As the gap between the rich and poor widens, the situation becomes more arduous with basic needs not being met and expectations sundered.
This leads to people’s uprisings that result in wars. The cycle continues to lower the standards of living and with basic human rights being neglected as well.
Q: Who is really responsible for climate change and global warming?
A: Every one of us is responsible. People display scant regard for the environment and are extremely selfish when it comes to their individual needs. Factories and vehicles emit harmful gases in the name of ‘development.’
The Earth’s lungs – the Amazon rainforest – were partially destroyed by fires recently in yet another example of how humans do not place that vital importance on preserving the environment.
Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: There are positives and negatives. Older generations habitually speak critically of social media; but as the world develops, these methods will drive communication around the world and be a platform for exchanging diverse ideas for growth.
However, an addiction to social media can weaken family structures, and news and posts that are shared by people can lead to civil conflict. Prohibiting social media is not the answer and everyone must be responsible in ensuring that its positives are encouraged.