22 May, 2022


Development Or Destruction

By Janaka Goonetilleke

Dr. Janaka Goonetilleke

Dr. Janaka Goonetilleke

Why Asia Should Go Back to Its Roots: A Sri Lankan Perspective

Since Vas go De Gama attacked and took over the peaceful international Spice market in Calicut , Asia embarked on five centuries of violence and subjugation that continues to this date. At the time 50% of the worlds GDP was of India and China. Today the joint percentage of GDP is about 20% after the recent increase in economic activity china vastly improving its status to 16% but with a greatly increased environmental damage that was not evident then.

The present system of destruction continues with monetary pressure from the IMF/ World Bank, Geo political pressure and Military pressure of the neo colonial powers with the agreement and the connivance of the Bankers, corporatist and politicians. The latest accusation of Human Rights violations by the Sri Lankan Army is a casing point. Military activity creates human rights violations whether one likes it or not. It is inevitable. If it is true for SL army then it is true for the American army that has killed so many in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc. This hypocrisy is to apply pressure on the SL Government to allow it self to be subjugated so that they can have a controlling power over the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Lord Macaulay’s education system of enslavement is still working perfectly as the government bends backwards to appease.

Sri Lanka is a microcosm of the so-called developing Asian countries be it Bangala desh, India, Burma etc. An example to understand the rest of Asia.

Today humanity is made to breathe polluted air, eat polluted food, drink polluted water with cancer rates proliferating at a unbelievable rate and more importantly dehumanizing society which is the most concerning. A process created by money economics’ and the illusion that the rulers are well in control when they are not. Mindlessness in pursuit of greed and quick fixes of creative destruction is the philosophy.

The rulers have embarked on a process of self-agrandialisation to impress on the people their infallible nature, a mental disease defined as narcism of emotion but narcism of materialism, which is greed, is not defined as a mental disorder as yet. This is evident by the number of cut outs of politicians one sees on every street corner ironically with a beggar begging at the bottom of the cut out. Unknown to the many the country is now at its debts door perfectly presented by the media of a successful progressive country awaiting yahapalanaya (Good Governance) the answer to all ills when in reality the country is in regression, with environment damage of land slides, flooding etc and a un payable debt. All the time the rulers have been selling the rights of its citizens to slavery and debt or selling off the countries wealth. They have bankrupted the country that even made their children abandon the country. More cynical people will say they leave to enjoy the ill-gotten wealth of their parents.

Unless a serious rethinking of the bankrupt policies of JR Jayewardene is abandoned and a new economic sustainable path is looked for the country will become a failed state. We only have to look at our history and culture and the path would be very enlightening.

Jobs should go to the people and people should not be going to the jobs. That is the only way society that has been completely dismembered, where families are separated can stabilise. A revival of the rural economy would be least disruptive.

FDI And Slavery

In the last ten years there was a new program of infra structure development by Chinese aid and loans with very little care for the effects on the environment with a highly overestimated costs to attract Foreign Development investment (FDI). The Southern Highway and the recent landslides is a case to ponder. This is a new prerequisite for development. A new name for neo colonialism as FDI will only go where there is slave wages. The world bank/IMF and US Aid designed the whole project in 2005 as a plan to Regain Sri Lanka. Instead the plan is a white elephant where the over estimated costs are a burden on the country, which has been pushed it towards bankruptcy not forgetting the environmental costs. This is nothing more than predation or stealing the only beneficiaries are the Mr. 10% or is it Mr 50%.

The rest are sent to the Middle East (ME) for slavery. The death rate of Sri Lankans in the ME is more than the death rate in Sri Lanka. Oblivious to all this the country boast of foreign earnings that unfortunately is also misused. The poor pay the price of social disruption and modern day slavery so that the elite can have their lavish existence of Whiskey, Dances and the extravagance.

Human behaviour and evolution- Dehumanisation

Civilised social behaviour evolved over 2 million years. Our big brain is also called social brain developed to achieve harmonious social interaction, which is called civilization. Thus social responsibility, care and motherhood are part and parcel of this process. A very human philosophy of non-self. To day Instant gratification is the name of the game a condition promoted by the advertising media to enhance growth of market s which is the aim of the new world order. More capital growth by more capital investment whether it is necessary or whether it is of value is the driving force of economy and development. This incesous relationship between politicians, Economists and Bankers are destroying society. By advocating secularism the input of morality and societal values by religious authorities are legally excluded and the native culture abandoned so that the natives are excluded from their own culture. It is interesting that Adam Smith the godfather of the present world economics through his book Wealth of nations also advocated morality in markets in his book Moral Sentient that the present rulers have conveniently ignored. In the process Human values are abandoned and self becomes more important. This is a process of dehumanizing of humanity the consequences are felt in every aspect of social life as humanity faces the side effects of this newfound development. Professionalism and service to others, which are part parcel of all professions, has been abandoned in search of self-gratification.

The Internet and the newfound technologies liberally used cause the disruption of the human element of emotion in interpersonal communications, thus exacerbating the anti human behaviour that has been unleashed by market forces.

Urbanisation and apartmental living which has restricted the living space has also created increased insecurity thus most people living in apartments rarely inter act with the next-door neighbour unlike in the rural areas. This is a form of emotional disconnect with society, an essential element of humanity that has been destroyed by self-centeredness encouraged by this economy. Research in New York has confirmed an increase incidence of Domestic violence and Substance abuse when people are confined to restricted areas.

In Holland a study done has confirmed a decrease in incidence of Diabetes, Hypertension etc in societies living away from the metropolis in the green zone.

A recent World Bank report advocates further urbanisation as a means to improving the economy of the Sri Lanka. It is said to improve the GDP growth. Of course it will improve the GDP as housing and utilities have to be provided. But is it necessary. This growth is at the expense of the welfare of Humanity and a phenomenon geared to destroying the native culture and society. The price of urbanisation is unaffordable real estate, expenses to improve the infrastructure for utilities, new environmental and health care issues to be funded by the Monopoly money of the World Bank. The final result is unnecessary expense, compromising human well-being and enslavement of the future generations to debt.

Motherhood is another basic need of humanity that has been ignored as women are recruited into the ever-increasing markets as cheap labour. In 1970 a boy of 16 years had a better chance of the mother being at home than a 6 month old child in 2005 in the US (Elizabeth Warren Professor from Harvard). A recent study from Oxford University has confirmed that children who go to nurseries have a higher incidence of mental disease. If this is not inhumanity what is? Emotional deprivation results in inhuman behaviour.

The results of this self-centeredness and emotional deprivation are the causes of inhuman behaviour of Rape and indifference to killing, corruption and social irresponsibility in society. The recent rape and killing of a 5-year-old girl in Sri Lanka is a standing example, the gun violence in the USA is another. Age is no barrier as children are now exposed to the Internet at an earlier age with maternal deprivation adding to the stunting of their emotional growth. Recently in the US an eleven year old shot an eight year old, as he was not allowed access to a litre of puppies. This inhumanity unfortunately is an accepted form of behaviour in this new world order it was none other than JR Jayewardene the Ex president of Sri Lanka who pardoned a rapist.

The dehumanisation of humanity has created a yearning for happiness. Happiness was achieved by humanity by social interaction. The greatest pleasure according to neuroscience is the practice of non-self. In the USA according to the Times magazine 7.5 Billion Dollars are spent every year by Americans yearning for happiness through the market system. This is how ridiculous the whole system has become. Can markets give happiness?

Mindless Development Policy

Mahaveli accelerated irrigation project is an example of a mindless development programme carried out by so called foreign experts who had no idea of the local conditions aided and abetted by JRJ government that took any advise from the IMF and WB and their experts. The fertilizer poisoning of the water in the North Central province has created kidney disease in 15% of the populace. I am sure the people in this Sri Lanka did not embark on this programme to infect disease on its own population. It is easy to understand how insecticides and weedicides used in the tea industry, which is in the catchment area of Mahaweli River, could be directed to the North Central Province. This is made worse by felling trees and deforestation carried out in the last 10 years. Not forgetting the need for insecticides and weedicides for the highbred varieties of paddy and the pollution it entails. Another result of greed and money economics and a linear format of western thinking. The self-sufficiency in electricity that was promised is a far cry. Mr 10% has disappeared into thin air! Leaving the rest to suffer.

Genetically Modified Plants 

Another good example of a mindless development is the import of high yielding fruit plants. This has changed the biodiversity and new pests have been introduced that has destroyed many a jak tree, Breadfruit tree, bananas etc The result of money economics the greed of which obliviates one to the side effects of the new varieties and the genetic modification and vulnerability to new diseases of the local varieties. The genetic modification and vulnerability of the local varieties to disease has completely destroyed the native flora that only the varieties that need insecticides are left thus promoting poisoning of humanity. It is difficult even to get a local variety of Papaya today! In Sri Lanka.

Poisoning Of Fruit And Vegetable And Water 

To day carbide is liberally used to ripen fruit and insecticides are used to preserve grain like mung beans, dhal etc in the endeavour to make profit. The liberal thoughtless usage of Insecticides, weedicides has become a health risk to humanity. Degradation of these substances are slow and will be there to damage the future generations as well. As the accumulation on earth of these substances continue and harm humanity, our rulers are ignorant to the harm it is doing to humanity continue the same policies advocated from the illiterate elite who are only interested in money.
The recent scare of industrial pollution of water in Rathupaswala and Keleni rivers are well known. The response of the government in Rathupaswela when people protested was to suppress the protest killing one person. This is democracy as practised in this new world order. Greed and corporate profit takes precedence over humanity.

Detrimental Effects On Health Care 

The high incidence of Mental Disease, Diabetes, Hypertension and virtual doubling of incidence of cancer are casing points to the effects of this newfound market economy. In Sri Lanka detection of cancer per year has increased from 8 per thousand in 2005 to 14 per thousand in 2014. These new health care issues need new investment and expenditure that is a burden on an economy that cannot afford extra expense.

The Present Economy 

On the long term this economy creates more disease, more environmental problems and bigger expenses than the return of equity, which is assed on the short term. Hence from a human point of view it is inefficient and should be abandoned. The monetary gain is limited to the bankers, corrupt politicians and the corporatist, which is the 1% that owns 70% of wealth even in America. The rest suffer.

Asian Philosophy

The Asian philosophy of oneness in Hinduism, Harmony in Confuciusanism and the Buddhist philosophy of dependant origination were the guiding principles of development in the years gone by. It is a holistic assessment of development, which is cyclical in nature, and the analysis of the reality as of this moment. This in conjunction with a policy that is geared to the benefit of the many is the least riskiest and most sustainable.

The western philosophy is one of objectivism the basis is a plan decided on logic and informed decision-making and planning geared to earn money. It’s a linier form of assessment purely geared to the objective. The objective is to earn money. A statistical analysis of the growth of GDP.The time interval between the origin and the end of the plan are subject to vagaries of time be it environmental or economic. The present western order uses a philosophy of Might is right and creative destruction to achieve the financial aims. The long-term effects on humanity are ignored by a format of creative accounting. Most times the objectives are only partially achieved. It is said in jest that if you wish to make god laugh you should tell him your plans. This philosophy is not sustainable and proven by the immense damage it is causing to the environment and humanity. It is time to rethink.


Should we in Asia blindly follow this present western civilisation or should we review our heritage of 2500-5000 years and analyse as to what we have given up before we further plan our future is a question all Asians should address. It is illogical to accept a 500-year-old civilisation and abandon 2500-5000 year old civilisation.

It is said that the problem with Mexico is that it is too close to America and too far from God. The problem with Asia is that we are too close to the West and too far from our own Culture. It is time Asia unites to save humanity and end the slave mentality.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    Dr. Janaka Goonetilleke,

    Your ideas will lead Asians to be like the Amerindians, Aborigines and other such human civilizations that have, or are on the way to become extinct.

    Civilization is a dynamic process whereby different communities absorb the latest advance in many fields from other advanced communities to become strong and be able to survive and thrive.

    West for the last 6 centuries have lead in many worthwhile fields of knowledge: Science, technology, medicine, astronomy and space travel, military, finance and other fields. We have to absorb all these, and fast otherwise we will be left by the way side like primitive communities.

    If you look at many of the things which we take for granted and enjoy, they were invented, discovered or developed by different civilizations at different times and absorbed by all the existing civilizations.

    There is no choice, we have to absorb the advances of the West and produce our own innovations, if we are capable of.

    Look at Singapore: They are advancing taking in Western advances while keeping the Asian cultural aspects of life; that’s the way to go if we were not to stay in the back waters like the Aborigines or Amerindians of today.

  • 2

    Perhaps we could become the Amish people of SE Asia? The Amish in US live in an area in Pennsylvania. Here are some of their ways, which may perhaps please the author.

    1) Non use of electicity

    2) Non use of motor vehicles for transport (They use horse drawn carts)

    3) Non use of mechanized implements in agriculture (they use horse drawn ploughs0

    4) Non use radios (there is no need to mention TV, internet, smart phones etc.)

    5) attendance of special schools separeted fromnormal schools.

    But they are laso extermely violent on their children and their own people, who brak this strict rules of conduct.

  • 4

    Excelent articale of Sri Lankan philosophy from minds exploring our journey of life.

    There has been lotsa of mistake done in the past, I wonnder how our socity can improve from our past mistakes or wrong decitions.

    humanity and Civilisation are keywords with knowlidge and technology.

    Earlier Lanka’s population was much lower in the period of international Spice market in Calicut-days.

    Due to increase in population, the old cultivation methods and individual shelter(houses) are insufficent around the world as our forfathers did centuries ago.

    We are living much longer due to bio chemical technology and due to physical conditions.

    Bio-Chemical technology has side effects and also advantages.
    Hope Humanity will win over narcism and materialism.

    Lanka is a small island with a sizable population where we have much stable climate and less pollution. We should desire to learn from other developments, but maintain the quality of living to provide better social wealth rather than individual exploitation.

    Better Social wealth with sufficent food and shelter will bring peace to our socity.

    Racial, Religious and Linquistic basis to explain the inequality in Sri Lanka will only benifit few individual’s rather than developing the socity.

    The link between popularity laws and legistations will only develope unbalanced development in Sri Lanka.

    China and India’s development toward materialism has costed the countries greater distruction in other area’s. Example in another 20 years China will have more older people than young working force without sufficent resources to take care of older generation. India will have problems related to water and air pollution.

  • 2

    Western civilization is not such a great example to follow. The destruction of the enviroment and the family are two of their achievements, and this in the last 100 years, so we are talking about the post WW II west and the Cold War era.

    There are many things that Asian countries can be proud of and continue. Indegenous medecine is effective in treating many diseases effectively. The junk food that is fed to us originated in the West. Many disease are caused by unhealthy foods and lifestyles. Traditional morals are best.

    Look at Japan – are they the “West”? But they have developed technologically.

    We cannot tread the path of internal self-destruction of the Roman Empire and the Western enterprise.

    Good Governance and peace seems to be answer – without losing our culture and our traditional values – values that America once had before it became ‘troubled’ shall we say.

    Of course there are good people everywhere, but in the West they have to fight an increasingly troubled environment. We need to connect with these people, not the government and industry.

  • 3

    There are two problems with this analysis.

    It fails to recognise that the savage way in which the Tamils were treated during the war and after the war are not reflective of the 2500 years of liberal heritage. And if the author claims that the heritage is not liberal, then why do we want it anyway?

    Had the Sinhala state learned to recognise the Tamils as indigenous and give them those rights 50 years ago, Sri Lanka could have trod its on path. It didn’t 50 years ago and won’t today.

    The second problem, is that the West today is the dominant proponent of the powerful and welcome idea of liberal democracy. Yes, the West commits abuses, but domestically they have the most tolerant societies, with the rule of law and the lowest corruption. It is not perfect, as Charleston will show, but it is the most advance.

    There is a lot to be gained by finding liberalism, which is inextricable from recognising indigenous Tamils and their rights. I.e. Buddhism can’t have foremost place in Sri Lanka’s constitution.

  • 3

    Edwin, Thiru,
    The failure of the west is obvious. Enviormental damage, Rising poverty, War in the middle east, Rise of cancer ,disrupted societies etc. No one wants you to go back but use your wisdom to choose what is right. Folowing the same path will only create more destruction. One advise with out criticism look at the philosophies you have given up if you are Sri Lankan not a coconut.

    • 1

      Vass, I am serious. We can adopt with modifications the Amish model to suit our culture, religion and circumstances.

      The main thing I want to emphasize is the single mindedness of the Amish living in the world’s most powerful, richest country and yet resisting the temptations that are around them day in and day out but yet refusing to change their beliefs.

      Thiru, if you are unhappy about not having electricty or air conditioning for example, throw it in. But be strong! Can we do that?

      See the Oscar winning 1985 movie ‘Witness’, with Harrison Ford, which unfolds in the Amish country.

      • 0

        ” Greed is good ” coined a Khazar financier, wh ended up in jail for several years. A film followed the lead role being played by Douglas.

        A British politician, Margaret Thatcher, warmed to the theme, and dismantled nearly all of the regulations protecting us from the vile banksters resulting in the ‘financial crisis’ faced by the West today, for which the fine is being extracted from the unwilling poor. The banksters on the whole left unscathed, though some regulations were reintroduced.
        A leading banker was forced to admit recently that the bankers contribution to a country’s economy was in fact zero, though they distil a fabulous living for themselves out of what others do.

    • 1

      “The failure of the west is obvious. Environmental damage, Rising poverty, War in the middle east, etc.”

      Environmental damage – There is more of this in Asia than west i.e China, India etc

      Rising Poverty – Absolutely rampant in Asia than west

      War in the middle east – Heck! not west

      • 1

        sorry, that is why these countries need to rethink of a way forward

  • 0

    “ as the government bends backwards to appease. “

    Obviously an error. The present government bends forwards. Apparently it is the modern way to make ‘friends’.

  • 0

    Development and Destruction has become to the turning point of Modern Capitalism, that were fail to address and accountability of their responsibility of US led destructions of Global Economy and political order.

    The writer has skipped US key responsibility and accountability of Western system of Capitalism came into being since 1648 after Peace accord of Wespaliya diplomacy of Capitalism.

    Well capitalism and Capital played progressive role of Politics of Democracy, Technology and Science last 300 years by their New Innovations in many arenas.

    Indeed 1917 under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin Union of Soviet
    Socialist Republic -USSR has an open new path of Socialist development to be replace Capitalist development. In addition that since 1949 that Peoples Republic of China under leadership of Mao Zedong Communist party has enrich socialist cause and values of development in all round way.

    In fact USSR has been disappears in world map, its mission of to learn lessons that more of past experiences of USSR; and ongoing Chinese path and model of development by wise men in world has to study in long-term perspectives of Development is never ending mission of humankind.
    It want more tested experiences of whole human efforts by Global team and pool work.

    But mission of Capitalism has come to end.

    There is no prospect for Capitalist path of modernism in Globally.
    The very Imperial system giant of US led entire industrial structure old way of life are sun setting. And fossil fuel energies that made the old technology are become antiquated.

    The result of is that unemployment is rapid rising to limitless beyond dangerous level globally. The ruling Governments of stats and Governors of democracy in standstill.
    Business and consumers are awash in huge debt and living standard are plummeting. The record one billion of human beings, specially Indian Republic nearly one sixth of human race —–face hunger and starvation.

    The right thinking wise men in Globally and scientist warn that face a potentially cataclysmic changes in temperature and chemistry of plant ,which threaten to destabilize of ecosystem around the globally.

    We want increasingly clear we demand New Economy narrative that can take us into a more equitable and sustainable development for future not for FEW, but for cater Billions of people in our Globe.

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