By Vishwamithra –
“Only the solitary seek the truth, and they break with all those who don’t love it sufficiently” ~ Boris Pasternak
A nation’s journey through the ages has always been forward. Her physical and administrative structures, her people and the basic architecture of her societal change may have experienced temporary setbacks and even breakdowns every now and then, but her forward hike through many proverbial summits and valleys, though on a few occasions has been excessively painful, yet always, without exception, has striven to straighten herself and go ever so forward again. Trekking backwards has never been an option.
March of a nation’s history is inevitable, as a concept, as a moving organism and as a pure matter of fact. Nevertheless, when marching forward comes to even a temporary halt, the process throws out so many signals, some direct and other vicarious as the case maybe. Yet a prudent observer would find within his tools, experience and character enriched by proper education and sociocultural poise, and ways and means to analyze and theorize as to what comes next and what action, even if rudimentary, is necessary to circumvent looming disasters and destruction of the societal fabric he has been educated to weave and sustain with care and compassion.
But it is also not strange to find that some nations after gaining so-called independence from their colonial masters, in their own maddening way, began running amok, making the colonial masters look like very compassionate grandfathers as opposed to the popular and historical postures of hard and cruel exploiters of the first order. What made this phenomenon true was the most brutal and unreasonable fashion in which the succeeding new masters, although local, was no second to the colonial masters who had perfected a system of governance that was exclusively one-sided on the one hand and latently democratic on the other.
Ceylon falls into this camp of newly independent countries in the immediate aftermath of the nineteen forties and fifties and later in the twenty first century. We, in the beginning of the third decade of the twenty first century, are experiencing the full range of offensive effects of a failed process whose beginnings were fairly encouraging, but half way down the line, became utterly mediocre at best and hopelessly irredeemable at worst.
Evidence for such a deep and sudden fall in the nation’s economy and sociocultural growth can be attributable to a sustained efforts by those who chose to rule the country and those who choose the rulers both decided to subordinate the nation’s traditional and established norms of decent living and unexciting ambitions to faster pace to achieve success and do precisely that at any and all costs. What once commenced at the top of the leadership ladder, political, religious, private and public sector and academia spheres, began its spiraling down to the lower levels of the social make-up, the very identity of the infirmity became blurry and almost invisible. And we did not realize its tormenting process because it has become an integral part of the whole social fabric. Corruption, an ugly, obscene yet one single trait in our society has paradoxically become the whole.
This sociocultural decay has had its drastic consequences on the body-economy of the country in a reverse way. Instead of the economic hardships imposing their brutal repercussions on the sociocultural organism, the decay in the sociocultural life has damaged the economy beyond repair. That is exactly what the Rajapaksas proved, once again beyond any reasonable doubt.
The Rajapaksas set out to do what they as a bunch of siblings who did not enjoy all the luxuries and comforts during their growing up age. Although Anura Bandaranaike, the son of two Prime Ministers and a grandson of the Gate Mudaliyar during the colonial era, used to be very friendly with Mahinda and Basil and was a frequent visitor to Mada Mulana residence of the Rajapaksas, the aristocratic finish of the Bandaranaikes did not touch on the much more rustic Rajapaksa family. Even S W R D Bandaranaike did not have all that political faith in the Senior D A Rajapaksa although old D A was the one of the few parliamentarians who crossed over from the United National Party-led government in 1951 with S W R D. Bandaranaike’s token of appreciation was just an appointment as Parliamentary Secretary (now known as Junior Minister) to the Minister of Lands and Land Development. The then Rajapaksas were not good enough, either in professional capacity or social standing, to hold a Cabinet portfolio for the Bandaranaike’s low country aristocracy.
Ironically it’s another Hambantota man, Mahinda Amaraweera, who happened to be gainfully engaged in ‘front entrance-bus transport’ industry prior to his entry into common man’s parliament who is now preaching to his passengers to cycle their way to and from their usual and unusual chores of the day. Accordingly, a Cabinet paper has already been prepared to take steps to promote the use of foot-bicycles, the Minister said. Amaraweera says that steps will be taken to provide an eco-friendly approach to the promotion of bicycle use due to its ability to reduce air pollution, prevent wastage of time as well as the ability to control many non-communicable diseases. It has also been decided to set aside a lane on each road for cyclists and to introduce a regulatory program to provide certain promotional benefits to cyclists in institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Environment.
Amaraweera did not make this announcement on his own volition. He has neither the spine nor the will to do it. He was obviously directed by a higher authority (your guess is as good as mine) to send this trial balloon and tragically no one has taken note of it.
When the cyber revolution is sweeping the global marketplace and private space-travel is being robustly sponsored by private sector mega entrepreneurs, advertising for cycle traveling by none other than the Minister of Transportation, Power and Energy in Sri Lanka is a pathetic storytelling of another dimension.
Three Cs: Corruption, (In)Competence and Cost of Living
The three Cs, Corruption, (In)Competence and Cost of Living are going to cost the Gotabaya regime big time. Mahinda Amaraweera and the rest of the Gotabaya-Cabinet are not aware what’s awaiting them at the polling booth. Whichever elections come first, Presidential or parliamentary, unless there is massive irregularities on the election day, both at the polling booth and then followed at the counting centers, there is no way the Rajapaksas could prevail after what they did during the last two and half years.
They added new dimensions to the words of corruption and nepotism. They also enriched the Sinhalese dictionary with words which were not yet known to be used in the presence of elderly or adolescents. It’s not the members of the Gotabaya-Cabinet and their parliamentarians that are coming for harsh and merciless attack, it’s their mothers who have to face the brunt of this ruthless onslaught by very ordinary, non-aristocratic gentry. Sinhalese language is a very rich and ever-expanding language, the language of Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula and Wettewe Theros, the language of Parakramabahu the Sixth and that Professor Ediriweera Sarathchandra and Mahagama Sekara. But the language of these pundits is being loosely abused by the ordinary folks in the country to the stain our government leaders to such contempt and dishonor, the language itself is being subjected to nasty exploits.
Such philosophical discourses and prudent arguments are not deserved by the current rulers of the country. When they realize that the coming signs are no good and that at the back of all these nasty episodes that bear resemblance to the chaotic manner of governance and idiotic and self-serving application of policies and principles, they tend to disown the bad sides and fully own whatever that might be there as tolerable and worthy of praise. They belong in another circle of vicious sin and intellectual poverty.
One cannot begrudge the successes of those who have started as paupers and climbed up the ladder of prosperity through their own free will and labor. Such men deserve every credit and success they have achieved. The Rajapaksas do not belong to that rare class of hardworking men and women. They clung on to the Bandaranaikes so long as they knew that it was necessary for them to do in order to climb the proverbial greasy pole. Once they got there, it was totally a different story altogether.
In 2005 they got there. And ever since then, it was they and only they that mattered. The obscenity of their corrupt rule and the extravagance of their greed and avarice overpowered everything and everyone else. But fortunately or unfortunately for all Sri Lankans, the grand entry of the Covid pandemic changed the rules of engagement for the Rajapaksas. Total lack of capacity on the part of the Rajapaksa family to manage the Covid crisis and the attendant repercussions blew open the bare nudity of their intellectual capacity as well as avaricious tendencies of a family who treated the crisis well below their own needs and wants. The country is going to pay for this sin very harshly and with painstaking torture. The Rajapaksas are going to take the country back cycling to poverty and it’s going to be a very unpleasant and tormenting one.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org