Ovindu Atukorala yearns for a radical change that will boost development

Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera

Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: I think Sri Lanka is a blessed country. Be it sandy beaches, scenic mountain ranges or any other natural resource, the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ has it all. We Sri Lankans are a very friendly and hospitable people, and that makes living here quite a pleasant experience.

One of the few negatives is how it has been and continues to be led. There seems to be no long-term plan or focus among those leading our country. The emphasis is more on trying to gain power in the short term.

This along with widespread corruption has placed Sri Lanka on a backward trajectory, which is very disappointing as we’re a nation with so much potential for growth.

I’d say one of the ugly aspects is the attitude of a few Sri Lankans who constantly try to run down our country. I think we should all realise that even though we’ve been unfortunate to have incompetent leaders in the past, Sri Lanka is a blessed country to live in.

I do believe that if we all work together, we’ll be able to uplift Sri Lanka to greater heights.

Q: And what are some of the major challenges facing the country today?
A: Most of the issues are due to the incompetency of our leaders. The main challenge would be to elect suitable leaders who will work for the betterment of our country. If we can overcome this problem, I believe we can solve all the other financial and social issues in Sri Lanka.

Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day? And if so, why?
A: In spite of a protracted civil war that plagued our country, Sri Lankans have become quite united compared to most other nations. But there is room for improvement, and I believe we can transcend our differences and live in harmony in the future – especially because of the attitude and broad-mindedness of the younger generation.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: I can’t predict where I’ll be in 10 years’ time; but will strive to be successful in whatever I undertake. And I hope that I’ll be able to make a positive difference in the lives of others, as well as be a source of inspiration to the younger generation.

Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade from today?
A: In a decade from today, I’d like to see Sri Lanka as a more developed nation with a stable economy.

I would also like to see a self-sufficient island that can proudly stand with other developed countries in the world. And by that time, I hope the leaders of our generation would have taken us to success.

Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about these?
A: We’re all responsible for global warming and climate change, and it’s our duty to mitigate its effects. People must create awareness with regard to the climate crisis; and then, through a collective effort, it will be possible to minimise the damage caused by it.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: I believe that the growth of social media in the world has its pros and cons.

We have more opportunities for learning, enterprise and obtaining information through social media; but there are also problems such as cyberbullying on some apps. So it’s up to us to harness the benefits of social media while consciously minimising its ill effects.

Q: Where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?
A: I’m quite excited to see where the world will be in a decade from now. With technology such as AI and machine learning, we will be able to move away from repetitive jobs to more creative occupations.

Developments in areas such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and also space travel, are improvements to look forward to. I also believe that in the next 10 years or so, we may be able to rectify the damage we’ve caused to the environment – especially through renewable energy sources.