20 June, 2024


Blind Men, Mahouts & The Elephant In National Politics

By Rifaq Azhar

Rifaq Azhar

Nowadays, the trending in social media particularly #GotaGoHome or #WeAreWithGota has dragged the attention of a wider audience. Perhaps, those might have either spontaneously emerged or artificially brought to limelight. However, it became the fate of our people to run behind any periodical tendencies or sensational issues created by some elements behind the veil either for their political motives so that they will be able to keep deviating the general public from the essence of the socioeconomic problems or any other cause.

It is bitter truth if I am not mistaken that since independence, we have been politically ignorant or I would say we lack intelligence albeit we reached 92% literacy rate. We may assume that we are well aware of the nook and corner of this political gambling that has been staged in this country by so called politicians throughout the decades. In fact, as common men, we know nothing about it. Our situation is similar to that of the parable of the blind men and an elephant. There are many resemblances between us and those of blind men when it comes to national politics. The reason why, l intend to commensurate this parable with the present context in Sri Lanka with little alteration is just to create an insight into ground realities in the political arena.

In reality, we play the role of blind men who imagined the appearance of the elephant based on the illustration given by several mahouts. Those mahouts know very well how exactly the elephant is and what its nature is, but they never attempt to depict the real image of a particular elephant to those blind men due to their vested interest. Meanwhile, they have a covert agreement among them not to reveal the true portrayal of the elephant. Besides, each blind person has clung to one of mahouts for knowing the truth and keeps believing in what their respective mahout feeds to them. The group of blind men, the mahout and the elephant are respectively innocent general public, pseudo politicians and national polity.

Our weakness is not only being a blind but also our blind loyalty to a particular pseudo politician to whom we clung to in pretext of ethnic or religious identities. As long as people have been duped into blindness and ignorance under any hypocritical slogan, those political thugs together with their own entourage would survive and find their way to exploit the spring of this nation in the same way termite swarms expand its colony and annihilate the structure gradually.

However, I don’t say that we have been periodically fooled by so-called politicians. In fact, they are very smart and clever when it comes to their career. They have been doing their job perfectly. What if, any collateral damage entailed in the political sphere affecting the general public. They would simply say it is not because of them and so it is not their responsibility or nothing to do with their business. So, I am completely against the ambiguous claim that we have been fooled by smart politicians, because it is a bitter truth that we basically lack intelligence. Besides, our short-memory and subsequent shortsighted decisions are another effect caused by this blindness. If we retrospectively think of what occurred in the past and has been contemporarily going on around us, we will surely be able to grasp the factuality. Each and every day, there would be any burning issue. It apparently seems not interconnected with each other but, if we keep digging deeper, we could see a strong connection between each incidence in the political arena.

I would say this blindness is not the root cause of certain illnesses, but it is barely a syndrome of infectious disease caused by a particular virus. As long as the virus is unidentified and prevails in our political system, people will continue to suffer not only from prevailing syndrome but also new deadly diseases supposed to emerge in course of time. Let’s think of healing the blindness which is of course curable if we go for proper clinical procedures at both micro and macro levels. Macro level means political system that has been in practice whereas clinical trial at micro level aims at redesigning the education system to achieve the real goals.

Corrupt political System

Many political analysts have diagnosed the root-cause that deteriorated our country. They all unanimously point out the prevailing political system vested with broad executive power to the president as the root-cause of the present economic crisis. They consider it as a cancer cell in our national body rather than an infectious virus. It is much more dreadful than a virus. It has created many severe syndromes, predominantly rampant corruption, abuse of power and unstable policy decisions enabling those in power to plunder public money, deplete government revenue, engage in fraudulence and increase the debt burden exponentially. Due to this system issue, the public has been paying an enormous price. On top of that, the country has plunged into snobbish extravagance due to inadequacies in economic and monetary management and lack of sustainable and credible policies.

Further, they describe this system as the predatory and rowdiest system of administration turning a blind eye to acquiring public properties by undue manner and abuse of power to gain ill-gotten wealth and take revenge in politics. As such, this corrupt system also enables those in power to conduct rowdiest administration with the support of mercenary force. Besides, they are in view that most development schemes pursued on foreign aid or foreign loans were of no significance to the country, instead, those mega projects had been exclusively designed and executed by pseudo politicians to plunder public funds in an official way. All these diseases and some others yet to be identified have been spreading on account of this cancer cell.

Failed System of education

On the other hand, we cannot keep passing the ball all the time to so-called politicians, their affiliated high rank officials and their mercenary forces for the present plight in this country. As public, we should also blame ourselves for being reckless and unaccountable when it comes to our behavior and attitude which are molded by our education system. For instance, let’s ask ourselves. Are we using public properties in a secure manner and thinking of preserving them for the future generation. Do we follow the instructions or adopt designated bureaucratic procedures and guidelines for something to be done?. Rather our minds at first think of shortcuts or bribery to do so at any cost. No matter what harms others or the system. It shows our mind is too corrupted. We never concern others or future generations. Our mind to certain extent is affected by greediness and selfishness.

According to many eminent educationists, they indicate that our education system failed to impart patriotism and dignity in our minds and souls and also to foster high moral values and ethics. Nowadays, a popular slogan namely ‘patriotism’ was used for only political expediency. Apart from that, our education system does not give much prominence to improve the aptitude, intelligence and hidden talents of students; instead it focuses merely on testing memory power and inculcating greediness. Similarly, it never aims at creating a well-disciplined society equipped with moderate thoughts and competencies keeping the national interest in forefront. It has been designed to produce certificate holders who are merely looking for prestigious positions with lavish lifestyles. Plight of the country is not a matter as long as they are in a safe zone and their pockets are filled abundantly by the time they tend to run behind every sensational issue without delving deeper into the matter. Further, this system also failed to fill the knowledge gap that our nation needs and build bridges between ethnic communities.

We have been blessed with abundance of natural resources such as agricultural land, sea, fresh water and even strategic location and so on, Is it a pride to a nation, which was once self-sufficient and major producer of agricultural export with abundance of historical economic statistics, to anticipate others to guide us as to how it should utilize its resources productively?. This is none other than another failure in our education system. We prefer market oriented education to glorious legacies that our ancestors imparted and enabled us to record trade surplus. As the structural failure in politics and education, we happened to lose our identities along with natural abilities and became fatefully dependent on others.


To conclude, I would like to bring a scenario which is a simple illustration as to how we think due to failure of systems. Minorities dreamt of a country with no racism whereas the majority sought a country with their own identity. So both achieved what they wanted under incumbent leadership. But we all ultimately lost the country along with its spring and treasure. That is to say, the operation was successfully conducted but the patient happened to die. We all focus solely on conducting the surgery at any cost but we never thought of saving the life of the patient. Both, corrupt political system and the failed system of education didn’t create a true patriotic and intelligent generation.

The corrupt political system has paved the way for plundering the national treasure and enabled those in power to abuse it whereas the education system encourages every citizen to think about their own wellbeing. As a consequence, from top to bottom, we habituated ourselves to think and do on the criteria of self-benefits instead of the national interest. It is not an exaggeration that corrupt minds will choose corrupt leaders to develop a corrupt system. Now, we all face the consequences and pay the price. Therefore, it is high time to march forward to rectify our mistakes and begin a journey unitedly towards a prosperous nation.

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Latest comments

  • 2

    Azhar, I agree in general with you. The financial problems were identified as early as in year 2000, became a significant concern by 2010 and now being told as failed and bankrupt. The problem between communities was there created by our very own politicians from the time of INdependence, but people identify the time of origin according to their convenience, Corruption ,mis management , nepotism were there from the time of independence, JR exploited it but “mother of all” Rajapaksas took it to a different level, They made it to a living and culture. The media, intellectuals and the rest pretend as though it was never there before.

  • 3

    I would say we lack intelligence albeit we reached 92% literacy rate.

    Having the 92% literacy rate, and identified early as in 2000, the present Government came to rectify such. And did not fight the past corruption when you don’t take a stand against corruption you tacitly support it, the achieved the hidden agenda.

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