Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo


Taariq Jurangpathy calls on the young to be mindful of global realities

Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?
A: Unemployment appears to be the main challenge faced by the youth of today. Most of them tend to leave the country and seek job opportunities overseas because the prospects – to suit their qualifications – in Sri Lanka are few.

Q: And what’s the good, bad and ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: Peace is a fundamental need that every Sri Lankan is striving to achieve and what’s good is that people are working towards establishing communal harmony.

While maintaining our own identity in terms of Sri Lankan culture and conventional thinking, we must balance it with developing global trends. The efforts that we infuse into living in harmony must be consistent even when we travel abroad, to assimilate into a foreign country. Our youth are as good as their counterparts in the rest of the world and I hope that they can be absorbed into the global community while maintaining their own identity.

Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. But sadly, a few extremists try to negate this beauty and harmony. The ugly is that a signboard proclaiming ‘Welcome to the City of Colombo’ is located right next to garbage – a reminder of the continuing problem of pollution that people face.

Q: What opportunities do you see for young Sri Lankans such as yourself?
A: Besides academia, the new generation is all about entertainment and social interaction. And if Sri Lanka decides to develop these dynamics in terms of theatre, culture and engagement – and thereby create a platform for these talented youngsters to showcase themselves – they will not leave Sri Lanka in search of other avenues.

Q: Do you believe that our nation will be truly united one day?
A: For a nation that lived in fear for almost three decades, the end to the war was surely a relief. Peace was a far-fetched dream back then; but if that dream could come true, I firmly believe Sri Lanka will be united within the next 10 years – provided that extremists from all communities don’t prey on and arouse communal feelings that disturb the country’s harmony once more.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: I’m pursuing quite a few paths but my main dream is to be a pilot. Around that dream are sub-paths to which I will be committed. I also plan to return to school one day to watch my juniors take the spotlight, making my alma mater even more proud of its 140-year history.

Q: What is the good, bad and ugly of the world in which we live?
A: The good is that the world is closer in terms of communication with technology having eliminated borders and the world now being on a single platform. The bad would be the wars that are fought between countries, which bring death and strife to innocent people.

Every human being born into this world should have a place to call home without being chased away by a handful of people. The funds spent on nuclear weapons could be channelled towards the millions who are dying of hunger, and being denied clean water, sanitation, quality education and access to healthcare.

I believe that absolute poverty in most parts of Africa, Bangladesh and Afghanistan could be eradicated through the proper intervention of the United Nations (UN).

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: With today’s youth adapting to new technology and know-how, social media is used as a channel to connect even the older generation. It is now the global leader in engagement and communications.

But social media can also cause damage as it does to some world leaders and security aspects, and by the misuse of confidential information. It is also a tool that triggers hatred and false information, so it would be sensible to establish a controlling and monitoring process to prevent abuse.

Q: And lastly, what challenges do young people face in the global context?
A: There are obstacles that the youth face in the 21st century that are very different from the issues that confronted young people of past generations. These include unemployment, fragile livelihoods, HIV/AIDS, abuse, exploitation, crime and violence, few facilities for higher education, issues in families due to generation gaps that sometimes create disharmony and some talented youth being unable to showcase their talent.