Nation-building is the people’s duty – Pubudu Prasanna Karunarathne

Q: What’s the good, bad and ugly here, in Sri Lanka?
A: The ‘good’ is our cheerful and lively people. They are compassionate and hospitable, with a charitable attitude towards helping and caring for others.

However, people tend to be very laid-back, probably due to nature generously providing everything that we need to live in this beautiful country. This could be considered ‘bad,’ because it begets laziness and a lackadaisical attitude.

The ‘ugly’ is that people remain divided along religious and racial lines, and do not unite as one nation.

Q: And what are the challenges facing the country, today?
A: Alleviating poverty is one of the major challenges. But this isn’t easy, although increasing productivity is an imperative; this is a good place to start.

Another challenge is sustainable development and managing deforestation.

Sri Lanka’s development initiatives require a sustainable plan, which must include methods to combat deforesta- tion and the destruction of the natural beauty of the island.

Q: What progress do you see in nation-building and reconciliation?
A: There are some changes in people’s attitude, but more needs to be done. We must not wait for politicians or foreign powers to build our country.

It is we who must build the nation, by transforming our individual perspectives and

proactively changing individually. If we initiate change in our own communities, then nation- building will surely flourish. Let’s start by building better bridges with our neighbours.

Q: How can Sri Lanka retain the talent that it possesses, and curtail the brain drain?
A: By creating better opportunities in the country and promoting entrepreneurship, both these problems can be assuaged. My school’s motto

is ‘Country Before Self.’ Before putting ourselves first, we need to stop for a moment and ask ourselves whether we’re actually doing anything worthwhile for our country.

I believe that our leaders must lead by example, and the rest will follow. The Government has a responsibility to provide  a higher quality of living, in a safe and secure environment.

Q: Where do you see yourself in a decade or so from now?
A: In 10 years’ time, I hope to be a young entrepreneur, with a degree in business management and corporate experience.

Launching an event management company is one of my biggest dreams, because it will create numerous career opportunities for our youth.

With this venture, I will be giving something back to my country, which is what I’ve always wanted to do.

Q: What challenges do young people face, in a global context?
A: Cultural restriction have become a pressing matter for today’s youth. Due to these restrictions, levels of creativity have declined.

On the other hand, due to globalisation and rapid develop- ment in information technology, the youth of today can access information without any restrictions. This access to information, which can be an advantage, will also leave young people perplexed; this is because sorting positive and important information from the misleading and negative can be challenging.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media?
A: Social media plays a vital role in today’s context. It has become the most powerful and influential communication tool in the world. Therefore, people using social media must be more responsible and accountable for their actions

It is we who must build the nation, by transforming our individual perspectives and proactively changing individually…and behaviour, and be aware of the consequences of their actions.

While the argument is that expression of thoughts and views is an individual right, this freedom should be used cautiously – it should not be detrimental to others.

Q: Where do you see the world in 2025?
A: If the world continues to evolve as rapidly as it has in the last few years, especially in the socio-political sphere, it certainly will not be a pleasant place in which to live. Conflicts are widespread, and people lack empathy towards each other and their environments.

As the inhabitants of Planet Earth, we must be more tolerant and understanding of each other, realising the seriousness of what we have turned this world into.

A change in perspective will be a good place to start.