Liyaanah Rauff believes the next generation will bring positive changes

Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera

Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: The ‘good’ lies in Sri Lanka’s rich diversity, culture and natural heritage. It’s undeniable that this country offers many more experiences than one could expect to enjoy even in a lifetime. The ‘bad’ lies in our failure to embrace the diversity we’ve been blessed with.

And the ‘ugly’ is the mani­festation of our inability to reconcile these differences.

Q: And what are the challenges facing the country today?
A: COVID-19 has been the single largest issue the country has faced in recent history. It has had a detrimental impact on the economy – especially in industries such as tourism, which contributes substantially to the nation’s GDP.

Combatting the impact of the pandemic has proven to be an enormous challenge and a prominent by product of the pandemic is inflation, which is spiralling out of control and affecting all segments of the population.

Other challenges in the efforts to revive the economy include the rapidly depreciating Sri Lankan Rupee, dwindling forex reserves and crippling debt.

Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day – and if so, why?
A: I believe this country has the capacity to reconcile its differences. What’s holding us back is our unwillingness to let go of past prejudices.

The younger generation are more accepting of differences than their parents were and I feel this is a promising indicator of what’s to come.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: I have interests in specific fields – viz. mathematics, business and design. In 10 years’ time, I hope to be involved in a field that covers at least one of these areas – and in a capacity where I can be an asset to the community.

Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade from now?
A: While I believe there’s always hope for better times, I recognise that overcoming the current challenges will prove to be a daunting task.

However, I do believe that with a number of major changes and a gradual revival of industries such as tourism to their previous state, Sri Lanka can return to being the ‘resplendent isle’ it’s been known to be.

Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about it?
A: We all contribute to global warming and climate change, and individual action to mitigate it is as important as collective efforts.

While individual accountability and responsibility are important however, it’s both unfair and counterproductive to blame ordinary citizens when it is undoubtedly the large corporations that inflict the most harm.

We expect people who may not have the means to be eco-friendly to comply with norms while fossil fuel companies aren’t being held accountable for their actions. This isn’t what the fight against climate change needs despite it being the sad reality today.

Q: What’s your take of the growing importance of social media in the current landscape?
A: The role it plays in our lives today is undeniable and it’s expected to feature even more pro­minently in the future, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Social media has its dark side but the value it has brought in terms of spreading awareness and knowledge, and providing individuals with a platform, makes it a tool for great things in the right hands.

I believe that social media will continue growing as an instrument of change as globalisation continues to make our world smaller; and as long as we don’t let our­selves fall prey to the dangers it poses, its power is ours to wield.

Q:And where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?
A: The youth of today show promise and I choose to believe in the hope we bring. The dream is that we move farther in the direction that we’re heading now, and become a population that sees past differences and shows more responsibility in all spheres of life.

These include engaging with nature and doing our part for the community by embracing individuality, balancing fairness with power and using technology to reach the heights that we are capable of reaching.