Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Future for our youth 2010 onwards


What have we as a country planned for our youth who form the backbone of a prosperous future? Without them any talk of development or projects and investment become meaningless. There is a well intentioned slogan called “tharunyata hetak” or “a tomorrow for our youth” but it has been completely hijacked by its founders as another political platform with which to hoodwink the electorate thereby barstardizing the future of our young people.
Let us follow this logically so that we can implement a program of inclusiveness and empowering of youth so they truly have a future that is full of hope and promise, as well as a path, which if followed will help them in achieving goals.
Firstly we should provide direction to these people who are currently rudderless to the point of drifting in the high seas. Education has failed them for the most part in setting objectives and attainable goals. This has to be corrected without delay. Living skills so that they are aware of how to survive in an increasingly sophisticated world, from obtaining their own bank accounts and skills in managing finance and understanding savings and investment are important. Relationship skills, such as fulfillment in relationships, are important as parents have failed to explain some of the harsh facts. I am still amazed how 18year olds are fully committed to the first relationship they have entered into and are convinced this person will be the person they marry at a future date, when circumstances are appropriate.
Income earning skills are equally important so they know what it is they are good at, what is practical that pays, and how one goes about obtaining the job, or going ahead with a business opportunity. Here again we have failed miserably, and seeing 40,000 graduates who have been waiting, some for 10 years, for the government to provide them with jobs is a case in point.
Commitment skills, both to one’s career, goals and relationships is another that seems to be sadly lacking. Then taking responsibility for ones actions and for one’s commitments is a part of adulthood is non-existent. Cooperative and participatory skills, so that they can be useful members of society is yet another area that requires further development. It is surprising how poor our youth are in pooling their resources to achieve a common objective, as they do not understand how to work as a team, not believing that often, compromise is inevitable.
This list should form part of the mandatory education of youth prior to them leaving school so that they end up with a clear direction to follow.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

why kalpanakaranna as my blog address

A new life given to a rocking chair that had been discarded and picked up from a rubbish heap

I was with some acquaintances recently and was asked about my blogging and why I had so many. What I have tried to do is separate different subjects out as otherwise it would further confuse the readers. My main blog tags the day to day travails of life in Sri Lanka that I have chosen to lead, warts and all.Then I have tried to devote exclusively to the subject of farming and note some of the issues I am confronted with in this regard. Then is to showcase the little lodge at the edge of the forest that I hope one day will be my permanent home, where I can pursue my hobbies and finally live my dream. This still appears a long way off! I have recently opened another blog for my two dogs, Sinha Bahu and Megha as a pictorial record of sinha bahu's view on life.

This blog is to take the subject that Sri Lankans are least proficient at, namely lack of thinking, and illustrate the pitfalls we fall into due to the lack of thought attached to what we do. In my view we have a tendency in Sri Lanka to live our lives for someone be it for show, or to please someone, and thereby lose any sense of identity of ourselves and fail to do what we like within reason and practical possibilities, and then fail to rationalize our lives into some logical and meaningful path.

Due to these weaknesses in the national psyche I have found it very hard to explain to people that we need to have some purpose to our lives as well as some goals which we aspire to and not let ourselves be led by others.

It is important that in these complicated times using very sophisticated technologies and especially in the era of the Internet that we take stock of our lives, and attempt to summarize the lowest common denominator so we move forward in a more purposeful and meaningful way. We have never been pushed in so many directions by so many people all offering conflicting advice that complicate our already confused thoughts.

We must go back to basics, find what is important to us individually, and then make a plan to attain some of those desires as otherwise we will just live for the sake of living, where we would rather be dead if we have no reason to live!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is anyone born to lead? I believe it is earned through struggle and experience!

I touched upon the characteristics which I believe are required for leadership in Sri Lanka, in my previous blog entry below, which I believe is expected to be published in a Newspaper on Sunday. The major disqualification I believe is a lifetime in Politics which tends to remove the person from the real world. That then becomes more a game of playing one lawmaker against the other to get the requisite backing for one’s agenda, a game that is learnt through years of insider horse-trading. Another is having dynastic politics saying a person of such and such a name has been in parliament since the year dot, as if that is proof of service of a family to a country, which is automatically not.
One must note that even in India, a dynasty gave way to meritocracy, where the dynasty is on the sidelines; as trustees only of the party, so that the capable new blood, with a fresh outlook can govern. Dynastic secession can be a self fulfilling prophecy, as elder members can groom younger ones due to the privileges and access they have to get elected. This presumption that the next generation will be as committed to the development of the country, as the prior is grossly erroneous. This should also be considered a disqualification as the logic is suspect.
Once we eliminate these usurpers or princes, depending on your point of view, one levels the playing field a little more, though not totally as that is impractical. I have advocated that the time servers act as trustees and bring in fresh ideas from people out of the mainstream political pool, and develop and promote them, through clever use of the media and advertising; persons who are more capable of being objective in leadership of the nation. We will then give those people who are really capable a chance at fair leadership, not tainted with years in the wilderness, waiting for the opportunity to take the reigns by fair means or foul.
It is obvious that power so gained as is the case in Sri Lanka, is such that they will do their utmost to hold onto, at all costs for as long as possible. Power gained on a meritocratic rise is more likely to be result oriented and limited to a time frame. This latter principle is very important so that time servers who cannot see the failure of their performance will not hold onto power. Why is 5% growth publicized as being good, when 10% should be the norm. This lack of accountability and failure on the part of the public to punish poor performance is what keeps an extremely incompetent regime in power, as the criteria that they and the public have set them is not challenging, and incompetence is shrouded. If only a fraction of the energy expended to hold onto power is used for development what then would be the result? It is time we all raise the goal post so failure is obvious.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

whose life is it anyway? it is all about me stupid!


Is it any wonder that in discussions accross bedrooms, boardrooms and reception rooms and public places we fail to concentrate on the obvious but dwell on the heresay in this election campaign?

In my opinion it is playing to the baser instincts of man when we use election propaganda and advertising to imply that without mentioning names, and just using images and words, that the future can only be guaranteed by one leader with no name!!

Little guessing who that person is. It is important to be direct and not sidestep the issue as both parties can then say it is them that the message is trying to promote!

I see the blue and green flags now together in one place crisscrossing the roads while I drive about the country, something I have never experienced before. Is that also a subtle message? that being it does not matter what the color is! At present I see one side far outspending the other, and that too in private media more than in state media, another quite novel phenomena. So is there overkill by one and quiet confidence that overkill is killing by the other?

All these observations together make me uneasy with the whole campaign, which is not specific about what one or the other is going to do, thereby easily saying they did not promise anything so nothing needs to be delivered.

This kind of double speak makes potential voters very cynical about the whole process, isolating them from reality and the feeling that they can make a real difference to the quality of life of themselves personally.

After all lets go back to basics. It is all about me, however we couch it. Am I happy now, will I be happy in the future and am I being shown a realistic path of attaining this happiness? Answer that simple question and we may then be able to make our personal decision. What if we come up with the answer that there is noone offering even a semblence of the solution we so desire? Then do we not vote?

Of course we all have our personal loves and hates and we should each be entitled to form our own opinions. One hate is that I hear so often that only a professional politician is capable of leading the country, and those with the most experience supposedly with the best credentials. To me those with the least experience in politics, but the most experience in life, especially having had to undergo hardship and who have made it to a certain stage of attainment make the best leaders, truly understanding what it is like to be poor, and what it takes to achieve success. They are then more able to motivate, encourge productivity, empower, provide confidence and leadership and finally pride in patriotism.

So ask the question, try and answer it as best you can and then go for the lesser of evils. Look at the mirror ask not what you wish for the country, just what you wish for yourself. You will then find the answer, as the sum total of the individual needs is what the nation needs!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Which way is the rural voter in the hinterland likely to vote?

I am asked this question time and again in conversations with my customers in Colombo on my delivery route as I lug bunches of thambili or shake the coconuts to ensure they are sufficiently mature for their consumption.
I will honestly say that it is a very difficult question to answer and more so at this Presidential Election. One must realize that in rural areas in villages, political patronage is a very important thing. I have known households who have lost Samurdhi (welfare benefits) for being on the losing side of an election. Job recommendations are given by the local Grama Sevaka(the state’s bureaucrat at village level) and recently a host of Samurdhi officers have been given appointments as Grama Sevakas. It is extremely sad that this position is becoming more like a political appointment and not one on merit, resulting in security of tenure only as long as your party is in power. No wonder then that with so much at stake, an entrenched bureaucracy will try to preserve the status quo at all costs.
As a broad generalization, people know which households are PA, JVP and UNP. This is referred to sometimes as the block vote, and the others the floating voter. Needless to say the block vote is also susceptible to permanent change due to personal circumstances where either a promise was not fulfilled or if a household determines that changing sides will help them get a benefit such as electricity to their home or such like. These examples of a highly politicized system affect the openness with which people are likely to speak their mind. I have referred to the two faced approach earlier where they may tell me something on the basis of what they think I want to hear, and not what they really think.
To explain this further, if they determine you are of a particular party they may sing praises to you about them, and if you make clear to the contrary that you are in fact fed up with them, the person in an instant is likely especially if he was lying initially to completely change his tune in an instant.
No wonder opinion polls will never work to gauge public sentiment. To get back to the original point, as General Fonseka is really of no particular party, there is absolutely no reason why one would want to openly stake allegiance to him, as they have nothing personal to gain from and a lot to lose. This will be the first election where either the result is a foregone conclusion, or one that is completely a surprise due to the different ground rules. The first time voter is also less likely to toe the household line, and be more independent depending on what they perceive as the opportunities or lack of open to them to achieve their personal goals.