A renaissance man is defined in the Free Dictionary as a man with broad intellectual interest and is accomplished in the areas of both the Arts and the Sciences.
I was discussing with an A level student this morning about what it would be that a Head of Government would prefer to confront when he arrives in Sri Lanka.
It would definitely be a Renaissance man or woman to act as their Liason Officer/ Guide/ Chaperone one for each delegation. This person would be well versed with all the particulars of the VIP, his family’s full names including the names of the pets in their homes, and about their country and its Government and a little bit of history and current affairs in that Country of the past 3 months.
This person would also be well versed in Sri Lanka’s history, and the current political dynamics and have the Statistical Pocket book of SL 2013 with him at any time to give exact figures of population, by province, ethnicities etc. Needless to say the command of the English Language must be sufficient enough to be able to communicate unambiguously with the foreign delegation.
It would be best to know what kind of accent that delegation has by spending some time with the local High Commission of that Country, to understand the various nuances, so that communication will be made easier. I would give these Officers a 6 month paid (min of Rs50K a month) traineeship to get up to speed about the Country to which they will be attached, thereby giving them sufficient time to prepare for this very interesting, but no doubt important task of making Sri Lanka not only look good to the outsider, but also as a nation that really knows how to take care of their guests!!
Ask yourself, who are the people who will act in this role presently? I wish some protocol officer would read this, and ensure the people assigned to the delegations, get some basic training on matters referred to above as well as a whole host of related topics such as the agenda, and what has been laid out for them. We are good at assigning security Defender jeeps manned by 8 fierce gun toting Forces Personnel. (Their own personal security has been banned from accompanying them) If I was David Cameron, who is NOT used to this kind of back up, I would be a little wary of this protection! (He often walks from his house with his little daughter to take her to her Montessori in the morning)
Instead of all the more important aspects of Protocol referred to above we know for sure that the Govt. in their desire to impress are thrusting a new 2014 model Hybrid Benz 400S on him, to travel in. It’s Sticker price of US$100,000 or Rs 13.3M. See Link : http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/161832-2014-mercedes-s-class-review-the-best-most-technologically-advanced-car-you-will-ever-drive means Rs 718M which if they (GOSL) were smart enough would have got it from Daimler Benz with a discount of at least 25%, that is about Rs500M for the 54, if they had used me to negotiate with them, and I was able to persuade them(Benz) that it would definitely be a head of state or Govt.(HOG) would go in it for the first time, they would give it to me for US$75K, that is only vehicles that I can prove a HOG has used to get this rebate. It is simply because then when he gets back home, they can purchase one if they want, bullet proofed for the African Dictators, and is simply a sales promotion. Alas that is not what happened!
When it is the Country’s money, the importer would have got a big commission and the person in Govt. who agreed to the deal in with it, and so the loot would be shared without the Country benefitting or getting a massive discount! Benz is getting a free sales pitch (gratis) thanks to Sri Lankan ineptitude and greed. I must confess if the fixer has not already taken the discount to himself, it is possible and shared it with you know who! So no wonder Benzes make more sense than Humans to them.
Please remember the import of cars was discussed for months, with the Govt. promising not to incur an expense instead breaking it clearly in this instance, and lying, knowing a deal to make a cut was already in place for this import!!
It is sad that again the fixers are more interested in Deals than in what Sri Lanka has always been known for, namely that we treat our guests like Royalty from time immemorial (throughout the 2500 year history) but with local products, and not imported ones.
We have enough raw material in Bright Young and personable people to fulfill this role. I saw an ad in the paper for them to be involved, but I do not think they were going to be paid, nor were they going to be given a training like I have suggested here, where each country has a specialist assigned to that delegation, that leads to a good networking opportunity for that young person if he shines, with that Country for their future needs if that ever arises.
We talk about showing our country off to visitors, but have NO clue how to! What better way of using the best resources we have at our disposal that we are proud of, namely of our Youth. We have wasted them for the youth conference in Hambantota, instead of using them for the big event in Colombo.