Yehan Ranasinghe is optimistic that Sri Lanka will have a brighter future

Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera

Q: What is the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: There is a reason why Sri Lanka is known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean.’ It’s a beautiful country with lush greenery, amazing landscapes and a rich heritage.

This island is also home to many amazing people who live together in a multiethnic environment with mutual respect for each other. The need for coexistence is inculcated in us from a young age as a means of explaining what our national flag represents.

On the other hand, Sri Lankans lack the motivation to change for the better since many have concrete ideologies and are less keen to understand different perspectives. This will hinder our progress in developing together as a nation.

Q: And what are the challenges facing the country today?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has massively impacted us and continues to do so.

Another critical environmental problem is pollution – a recent example was the sinking of the MV X-Press Pearl and consequent damage to the marine environment.

Furthermore, the accumulation of debt poses a grave danger to the economy. By the end of April, the total outstanding external debt exceeded US$ 35 billion.

Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day? If so, why?
A: If we are referring to everyone in our country respecting each other and standing together as one, Sri Lanka will not be united – and neither will any other country in the world.

However, we have overcome many challenges such as the civil war, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Easter Sunday bombings with a commendable level of unity.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: I expect to be a professional and become a pioneer in my field of study. Moreover, I see myself being a philanthropist and helping people around the world to ensure equal rights for all.

Since the journey of my life is based on the decisions I make along the way, I hope the choices I make will play to my strengths and help me grow.

Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade from today?
A: The majority of our politicians are considered to be corrupt. Similar to the saying ‘with a rotten head, the limbs cannot function,’ it will be very difficult for the country to prosper with corrupt leaders.

Even if the politics remain, it is up to the people to use their power to wheel the country forward.

A decade from today, the problems associated with the pandemic will most probably be over and this should help Sri Lanka develop. If the country can come out of this cycle of negativity, we can hope to see a better nation in the years to come.

Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about it?
A: It is almost impossible for development to occur with no destruction to nature. However, we must look towards sustainable development as climate change and global warming are dangerous to the planet.

Protecting the Earth is our responsibility as its destruction directly affects everyone. There must be greater investments in renewable energy and a reduction in deforestation. The decisions being taken at global summits to combat climate change and global warming are good, and the goals must be pursued by all countries.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: The impact of social media is a controversial topic as its use can have both positive and negative outcomes.

Positive features include processes such as online petitions to address problems, and the drawbacks encompass issues such as the widening of the information gap, cyberbullying and theft.

Q: And where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?
A: People would be more concerned about issues that threaten the planet – such as global warming and the melting of polar icecaps that result in rising sea levels. The world would have learnt lessons from the pandemic, and hopefully be more respectful of Mother Nature and each other.

Furthermore, AI will be playing a bigger role by automating various aspects of our lives.