Any ‘nation’ is rich in historical lessons, and Sri Lanka is not different.
Sri Lanka , having moved through a period open to limited regional domination at times, entered the era of European Nations trying to get a foothold wherever possible, globally and could not escape that inevitability. Even more powerful nations like India and China also could not escape. The military might was replaced by domination commerce and through manipulation of Global Resources. The struggle continues. Sri Lanka has not got the grips yet. The historical lessons learnt are enough and what are not learnt need not be attempted even for the simple reason, they give the same message.
See what is wrong in our country and then see what our resources offer. Then remember that we are not alone in this world. If we can think of mutual co-existence that will be the beginning; locally as well as globally, rather than trying to outsmart others. It is not a game anymore.
Changing roles of ‘nations’
Although there was a different role played by India as a major raw-material supplier to British Economy, with the political changes globally, and independence, the world could see a gradual change taking place there which reduced the British domination. The Indian political leadership made use of global powers, the Western Capitalist Block and the Socialist Block. Today, India is not only militarily powerful, but also economically, and it did not happen overnight. It was the Indian Political Leadership that did not shift from her political and economic goals. The presence of a very large domestic market provided the required basis.
Japan reached the highest standards making use of the American Technology by blending it with the Japanese inputs to become known as a technological giant whose standards are now respected globally. Japanese, with the help from the USA took their currency- the Yen to greatest heights through their technology aimed at exports. In late 70s, six out of ten cars sold in Germany were Japanese.
China also made use of the changing global picture to capture markets and we all know their strength now. As far back as 1960s, Chinese thought of Africa, and by the time it was late 1960, they became involved in investments too. TANZAM Railway, which was a Chinese project linked Tanzania with Zambia which is a land locked nation.
Sri Lankan situation
In the Sri Lankan scene, it became a trend to do everything locally. Although some industries were set up here, their efficiencies were never chased. Our specialists bragged about becoming selfsufficient, but in a limited market which had a population which was roughly in the region of the annual increase in India in sixties, we tried to stabilise. The great industries, tyre manufacturing based on local rubber, steel , textiles and flour milling that could have prospered instead became ‘employment providers’ for our great politicians who took turns until such time they became failed industries.
The global scene has changed from military to commercial domination and the uncontrolled ‘open economy’ killed the Sri Lankan initiative, in both the industries and agriculture.
Through developed irrigation rice cultivation also increased, but we did not have wise guys to plan for global varieties and global markets. Instead, we had financial experts who supported the principle of ‘guaranteed prices’ while only less than 30% of the population could have been benefited by the increased paddy prices. They were and some are still blind to the fact that almost 70% of the people have to spend more to buy the staple diet. At the end, even the paddy farmers have no meaning in getting a higher guaranteed price as they spend more for what they need. We now spend valuable foreign exchange to import produce that can be easily grown here.
Sometimes it looks too scary to think about this country, given into foreign pressure, but on the other hand a flexible government at this end reduces the impact. Such negative international pressure was caused due to immature handling of such complicated issues, in the past. The political leaders who were there, then, left those negative legacies for the future. That future has become present by now. What is important for the government is to be conscious about the possibilities and that this land will never prosper as a divided land. If that happens, it will be beginning of the end.
The present government is not a true national government as all are not represented. When all agree to have a national government why do we need a strong Opposition? The whole Parliament can be the Opposition. National Government means working together. If Wrong projects come, they can oppose. By being outside what can they do ? The problem is, what all want to do is to be in the driving seat.
It is clear, our country has misunderstood priorities. We think changing leaders is more important than finding solutions.