By Rishard Najimudeen –
Reforming a society is not an easy and convenient process as many of us think, but it requires a long term and perseverance from each and every one of particular society without any exception. As an initial step, the society must be educated continuously on the concepts of “pluralism and diversity” due to its consistency of various groups, approaches and interpretations. It is impossible to march forward in the reforming progress unless a society instils in its people the value of accepting ‘others’ and ‘Non-’. The society will be able to take further steps if it could initiate and operate a new “we” successfully that includes all people irrespective of the religion, ethnicity, race, caste and status. Taking this very basic understanding into our consideration, we move to some fields where major crises exist in order to come out with a very comprehensive framework.
For several decades, our country has been struggling with major issues in various disciplines. Particularly, after eradicating the three decades of war, the governmental institutions and private organizations funnelled all their efforts to uplift the country. But, it is unfortunate to see our country to be stagnant at the point where we used to be during the civil war without finding proper mechanisms by which primary obstacles should have been uprooted. For instance, Mass-Media with its different dimension deems one of the power institutional spaces in our country. However, number of problematic questions over its reliability is still prevailed without having a serious discussion on it or long term strategies in order to find meaningful answers.
Some statistics related to internet usage have revealed a negative and unhealthy trend of our nation, particularly trend of our youngsters. Sri Lanka, for the fifth consecutive year, topped the list of countries that searched for the word “Sex” in Google. Interestingly, the search shows a spike during the months of August and December, which are obviously school holidays. This information clearly points out that the collective mentality of our young generation on gender relationship is very dangerous as well as unhealthy. In psychological perspective, it would be very difficult for a student who gets addiction to pornography, to concentrate on his or her studies. The question how we are going to deal with this issue is one of the key questions of present days.
Similarly, environment related issues have predominantly grabbed the attention of several groups due to its recent phenomena and deadly impacts on human life. We can summarise the problems as follow: Deforestation, soil erosion, wildlife threatened by urbanization, coastal degradation, freshwater resources being polluted by industrial waste and sewage runoff, waste disposal and air pollution in cities and suburbs due to emissions from vehicles, factories and other industrial establishments. In the early period of 20th century, Sri Lanka had a 49 percent forest across the island but by the year of 2005 this percentage had fallen approximately by 20 percent. Within a decade particularly between 1990 and 2000, Sri Lanka lost an average of 26800 hectares of forest per year. This amounts to 1.14 percent of average annual deforestation rate. During 2000 and 2005 periods the rate increased yet further until 1.43 percent per annum. These statistics and data clearly illustrate the fact that the whole nation is likely to encounter a great challenge in near future if we do not pay proper concern on environmental issues. It is worthy to ask again how we are going to deal with these issues.
It is very obvious that the economic issues of Sri Lanka, is pathetic. Debt burden and corruption are two transparent evidences. Initiating new projects such as highway, port-city and airport in order to develop the infrastructure of the nation has plunged Sri Lanka into a pit of debt, pushing the country to the brink of bankruptcy and prompting an IMF to bailout. According to a statement which was revealed last year, the official estimate of what Sri Lanka currently owes its financiers is $64.9 billion – $8 billion of which is owned by China. The country’s debt to GDP stands around 75% and approximately 95% of all government revenue is currently going towards debt repayment. Conversely, corruption and Bribery have emerged as one of the big issues in Sri Lanka. According to Transparency International, Sri Lanka is ranked 79 amid other 174 countries in the corruption index for last year. Particularly, most corruptions and briberies are carried out by the officials who are in respectable positions. It is also very sad to state that whenever we read a local newspaper, there would be a case related to either corruption or bribery. As we all know that corruption distorts the democratic process as well as violates the basic human rights. Working against the corruptions is not only limited to one or two organizations, but media, organizations, academics, journalists and civil society should involve in this process and come forward even to minimize the frequent occurrence of such crimes to certain extent.
As such, our country has witnessed a dramatic behavioural change in social sphere such as drug addiction and wrong gender relationship. According to some records, Sri Lanka’s daily consumption of drugs amounts to 450 million rupees and it is estimated that there are more than 250,000 youths addicted to drugs, as said by the Dangerous Drug Control Board. A valuable research, conducted by Dr Silva and P Fonseka, reveals that a majority (70.1%) started using drugs when they were in the age group 10-20. It is a clear indication that drug addiction has become a glaring problem of the country and negative consequences will be appeared if we do not involve in protecting our young generation from drug usage and drug mafia.
Above statistics are just random instances when comparing to other major issues that we have to deal with as well. All citizens of this nation have the responsibility, according to their level of status and intellect, to take necessary steps in order to minimize the problems gradually. Apart from researches and studies that have been conducted by intellectuals and professionals on respective fields , we should create a wide range of awareness among the general public on ethical revolution, in which all fields must be discussed within the frame of ethics. Religious movements and leadership of each ethnic group prevailing in our country could play a pivotal role in reforming communities by emphasising their respective ethics and values. Moral values should be centralised in our whole discussions and projects. This is the right time for “Sri Lankan citizens” to work together to reduce and minimize the above mentioned crises.
Finally, the reason why I have pointed out all these facts is, creating unwanted new problems such as ethnic clashes and violations for mere political as well as personal interests, will definitely ruin entire efforts towards an ethical revolution in our nation. Let’s create new ‘We’ which includes all diversities without any discrimination and dissention to carry on an ethical revolution in all fields and to make our country a wonder of Asia in its real meaning.
*Writer is a MPhil Student in University Teknologi PETRONAS- Malaysia