I am neither a philosopher nor a great visionary, and I lack extensive knowledge in geopolitics . Nevertheless, I have developed my own set of principles which I diligently follow throughout my life’s journey spanning 58 years. Those close to me are well acquainted with these principles. One of my core beliefs is firmly opposing racism, a value I believe I inherited from my school days and the influence of growing up in a Sinhala-Buddhist family and culture.
After the July riots of ’83, it’s possible that our young minds misinterpreted the events due to our age at the time. During my tenure in the Navy, the intense combats we faced might have contributed to the growth of animosity. Our guidance then was fueled by a sense of hatred. However, my stint in the Navy was short-lived, and I later had the opportunity to explore the world when I joined the merchant Navy.
During my travels, I noticed that many other countries had already established laws condemning racism, and some groups were actively working against it. Unfortunately, these aspects took longer to be addressed in Sri Lanka, and it has become a significant issue hampering our development. This delayed response is one of the reasons why we are perceived as a failed state.
The reason I mentioned learning about opposition to racism from my school days was that I recall listening to “Bradby shield” commentary. The commentators would mention names like Pushparaja, Senanayake, Bandaranaike, and Mohomeds, which always gave me a pleasant feeling. Perhaps this signifies that our school not only holds prominence within Sri Lanka but also across Asia.
Most of the developed countries have strongly condemned racism, and this has played a crucial role in their development. Without delving too far into history, we can consider the example of our neighboring prime minister, Mody.
Initially, he was labeled as a racist by the opposition, but when he engaged with the international community, he wisely distanced himself from such views and led the nation towards progress and development.I am aware that the US had imposed travel restrictions on Mr. Mody, but interestingly, during his first term as the prime minister, the US invited him to visit their country. Following these incidents, Mody adopted a different approach in governing the nation, abandoning any racist tendencies he may have had.
This demonstrates that there are numerous individuals like him who have undergone similar transformations. It is possible that there are comparable figures in Sri Lanka as well, which is why I’ve brought up this point.
Not long ago, I attended a lecture delivered by Mr. Erik Solheim, organized by the Ocean Cartographer Think Tank chaired by hon. President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The lecture proved to be captivating, as I discovered that there were individuals who shared similar thoughts to mine. It reinforced the idea that despite our differences in ethnicity, religion, and colour, we can eventually unite as one global family. Inspired by this concept, I took the opportunity to ask a question after the speech.
During the lecture, I had the question in mind, and I tried my best to express it in English, though my language limitations made it challenging to convey accurately i guess. The question revolved around the concept of a unified global family and the importance of protecting the environment through sustainable practices from Indian Poaching.
What I intended to ask was, “Regarding our concerns about the Indian trawlers, is it necessary to persistently worry about them, or can we collectively adopt a different approach that prioritizes environmental protection?”
However, I believe my question might not have been clearly articulated, and Mr. Solheim answered it thoughtfully. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet him in person later, where I could explain my question more comprehensively, and he was able to understand my intention.
The reason I share this is that it’s something we cannot openly discuss with the political factions in our country. Speaking about it might be misconstrued as unpatriotic. However, it is essential to consider finding a way to access resources collectively, which could lead to a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties involved.
As an example, India currently earns 2 billion dollars from prawn catch exports, while our collective fish export income stands at 300 million dollars. By aiming to capture 25% of that market, we could potentially reach 800 million dollars in revenue. To truly become a unified global family, we must recognize our boundaries and strive to reach agreements on a common platform for global trade. This approach would foster cooperation and prosperity among nations.
Imagine if China were our neighbor instead of India. It’s important to understand the implications of countries neighboring China; China often imposes its will on the countries around it, dictating their policies. In contrast, we should appreciate having India as our neighbor, given that it is a democratic nation. This advantage provides us with greater flexibility and cooperation.
I firmly believe that we should stand together with India on various matters. As for Sri Lanka, I envision a leader with qualities similar to Mody, and I see Mr. Patali Champaka Ranawaka as a suitable candidate for this role. It is my hope that he could work in parallel with Mr. Ranil Wikremesinghe, especially for the next five years, during which he can gain valuable experience in handling geopolitics. Such collaborative leadership could potentially lead to positive outcomes for our nation.