By Vishwamithra –
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
When the Covid-19 virus attacked the globe, firstly The People’s Republic of China and thereafter indiscriminately all over, those countries whose leaders adopted policies based on science and plain simple logic managed the containment of the virus to an acceptable level that can be called satisfactory. But the counties which have narcissistic leaders at the helm, who thought that they are bigger than the country they lead, chose to play a very self-centered game. For them the pandemic crisis was another opportunity to display their self-proclaimed uniqueness. As usual, the United States of America, the sole ‘mega super power’ in the world, took the lead in this idiotic venture.
Ironically each of these countries had to grapple, instead of one, with two viruses. America had two viruses: 1. Covid-19 2. Donald Trump. With Trump’s political defeat, now America has to cope with only one, the Covid kind. Brazil and India too experienced the same; Jair Bolsonaro and Narendra Modi respectively share that contemptible credit of being the second virus that has gripped their respective countries. Now Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the leader of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has come into the mix. Bravo! What a glory to be in the same category with Trump, Modi and Bolsonaro!
Tisaranee Gunasekara’s column under Patriot, Bared dated May 23, published in Colombo Telegraph is undoubtedly one of the most illuminating pieces of journalism that combined facts with a lot of truth-telling. A portrayal of a perishing island, focus on the malignancies of a regime so bent on making profits at the expense of those who voted them to power and a ruthless analysis of a malfunctioning government are all enunciated in the most understandable lingo, Tisaranee, as always, never pulls her punches nor does she give any quarter where such is not necessary.
Yet, the abysmal truth is the caravan keeps meandering along the same old path of corruption, nepotism and dishonesty, towards the same goal: profits and more profits. Therein lies the bitter misfortune. Avarice and indulgence in appalling cruelties go hand in hand and the ‘Cabal’ does not seem to comprehend the nuances of human behavior; or they simply reject the opportunity to employ curative measures when such processes are deemed imminent.
The ‘Cabal’s’ scope of understanding is narrow and unreservedly shallow. Deep appreciation of any socio-economic and political issues evades them; space for any counteraction is ‘to let’, as the saying goes. Those sycophants who surround them are fearful of punishment if they happen to disagree with the Master. These are no findings of a deep psychoanalysis; they are commonsensical observations.
As it was with Donald Trump, Nandasena’s inadequacies and complete void of empathy were bared open like rotten wound kept under rags of corruption and dishonesty. The oozing became apparent in the presence of the deadly Covid-19 and unfortunately the virus began its own destructive course, claiming the lives and livelihoods of the average voter more than it affected the ‘cabal’.
Waiting in the wings of this monstrous virus was another clan of vultures: Rajapaksa cabal and its unquestioning stooges. Their purpose of life has always been one of avaricious travels. Ever ready to pounce upon the littlest hint of a ‘deal’, these political scavengers are now showing their true colors. Ancient Roman author/writer Pliny the Elder describes avarice as follows: ‘the lust of avarice so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than they possess their wealth’. The current crop of the scroungers of the Rajapaksa cabal fits perfectly into this description of avarice and its facilitating comedians. The double jeopardy of the Covid-19 coupled with the Rajapaksa-corruption has slowly begun to take hold of the local body politic.
The irony is that the Covid virus will go away one day; it is possible that with mass vaccination and methodical contact tracing, Sri Lanka might attain the stage in which the spread of the Covid virus would remain contained.
At the current rate, The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects that Sri Lanka would have a whopping 11,907 COVID-19 deaths by September 1, 2021 (Source: IHME Website). The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is a research institute working in the area of global health statistics and impact evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. Its reliability and accuracy is largely trusted by the scientific community, not only in the USA, but all over the world.
The following graphic illustrates the true situation in our region:
It gives a full presentation of the Covid-19 Projections for September 1, 2021
Even daily deaths data are projections for September 1, 2021
For whatever reasons, North Korea, South Korea and Bhutan data is not available.
See where Sri Lanka is placed. It’s right in the middle of the table. It’s not a palatable read at all. No one is blaming the current rulers for the Covid-19’s arrival in Sri Lanka. But the total responsibility for the management or lack thereof the crisis that followed is certainly theirs. There is enough anecdotal evidence as to the corrupt practices of the Rajapaksa henchmen who readily made profits out of the spread of the Covid. In addition to their absolute incompetence in handling such a massive pandemic, the total insensitivity displayed by them through their greedy money-making practices is fundamentally immoral and downright diabolical.
When a nation faces a crisis of this magnitude, it is the foremost duty of its leaders to be honest, forthright and bold. It is precisely those qualities that they did not show. At the same time, what else could we have expected from these half-past-two-thirty political leaders whose intentions were in vivid display when they were in power from 2005 to 2014? The Covid crisis is not only playing havoc in the country, it has allowed its own twin brother to reach adulthood and the corruption crises is progressing at much faster rate and the ruling cabal is looking ridiculous.
The unfortunate spectacle is that, the cabal has chosen to play this atrocious and devilish game under the cover of the Covid-19. The black fabric of corruption is being woven and the ungodly threads are being supplied by a virus called Covid-19. How ironic are the social conditions to produce such malignant human maladies?
Nandasena Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is not a clever leader, neither an astute statesman nor an honest person, period. If Mahinda Rajapaksa was an insensitive and corrupt leader, his brother Nandasena is one hundred times worse. Real leaders, they say, are tested in crises. Such crises not only provide challenges to those who dare, wise leaders attempt to learn from these crises. But Nandasena is not a daring person. As a soldier, he ran away from the war against LTTE when the going got really tough in the nineties. Arriving back in the country when his elder brother was the President and being at the right place at the right time when General Sarath Fonseka led his troops to victory is no accomplishment of a General; it’s just being lucky.
His capacity for leadership and professional aptitude were put to a grueling test when the Covid-19 hit the country. And he failed miserably. What seemed to be under control in the early part of the pandemic-spread is running amok now, when other nations, except perhaps India and few others, have shown the collective discipline of a nation-state when confronted by a national crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. When the leader is viewed as a joker by the general public, it is extraordinarily difficult to lead. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has been bitten by that bug- inability to understand that he has a problem. He seems to be suffering from a touch of narcissism and an acute sense of inferiority. That is why he’s acting like an unwise man. Human wisdom is usually attributed to experienced men and women; Gotabhaya is an experienced man but that experience is undoubtedly misplaced, it seems.
The Rajapaksa cabal has set in motion a rapidly degenerating process of social condition in Sri Lanka. Corruption was not created by the Rajapaksa, nor was it a creation of the Bandaranaikes. Each and every government that Sri Lankan voter voted into power had their own quota of corruption. But the Rajapaksas take the credit for turning that corruption into a virus of pandemic proportions. In their rush to willy nilly corrupt the nation; the Rajapaksas forgot one of the basic tenets of human development, justice. Their sacrifice of justice for immediate results have in turned resulted in a lack of justice. That is very sad.
Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote: ‘Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice’. The Rajapaksas cannot claim ownership to such a serene human virtue.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org