Overseas Sri Lankans form the bulk of my blog readership. So it was not surprising that my entry earlier in the day about remittances from the Sri Lankans working overseas led to a huge increase in hits in the past few hours.
So let me elaborate on this topic, so that many of you can reflect on your contribution or lack of it to the overall improvement in the quality of life of us living in Sri Lanka, and the various arguments as to how you can really help.
I have some knowledge in the area, after a 33 year stint living and working overseas in the UK and USA, and how ‘looking in from out’ has changed from ‘looking in from in!’ There are many very curious aspects, where one cannot generalize at all.
Many of the Sri Lankans who emigrated to the Western Countries have established roots there, and therefore merely come to Sri Lanka on vacation, and don’t as a practice send money back for investments or to family. There are of course exceptions to this, with a notable amount of people who now feel it is safe to return for longer periods in retirement, where they have purchased apartments that they can keep closed when not in use. Some have purchased them by investing inherited assets which they sold, for a more manageable asset, namely a flat in Colombo.
This keeps the market for expensive flats buoyant when one wondered who would buy them. Then there are those who send money to help poorer relatives, such as parents’ care, and for study or other reasons. They are also from the Western Diaspora. There was the famous recent speech by Vigneswaran who said this money going to youth in Jaffna has resulted in a number of spoiled lazy young Jaffna Tamils, when the old impression of them was anything but!!!
It is the responsibility of us in Sri Lanka to inculcate an attitude of a productive worth ethic, when many are so fortunate as to be helped from overseas without strings. It is the fault of our education system that has instilled a culture of entitlement that makes us ungrateful for anything we receive without effort!!!
I would therefore request the giver to consider how the recipient intends spending this largesse, in a land of lotus eaters, as I can assure them that some recipients have a quality of life that is far superior to that of the giver, as his needs and wants are less, and technically subject to food costs, US$100 can buy a US$10,000 life style when the home is paid for and one has a servant to do everything for one.
I am a pauper in income terms now, as compared to the heady days when I had a great income in Santa Barbara, California in the early 1990s, a place where Billionaires and old money Americans call their home, and I attended Gatsby parties in true Gatsby style. However, I have a better a quality of life measured by the services I receive, respect and regard, the inner feelings of contentment from my surroundings. I live on an estate, with few western luxuries, but as I have people to do what I want, it is some daily grind that I don’t have to contend with.
Today, I had my clothes washed, shirts ironed, house completely cleaned and mopped, fridge de frosted and cleaned, 4 dogs fed, and today’s and a few more day’s food cooked. Limes picked from my trees and squeezed and left for me to make fresh lime juice on tap, with even the fresh milk from the cows heated and refrigerated, all for a wage of Rs 1000 (less than US$8) for the day, twice what I really need to pay her, how can I complain. As I am not home for most of the time, I don’t need a full time person, and this once a week help is sufficient.
Whilst my only problem is political, seeing this country ruined by a bunch of thugs some of whom are supported by our misguided overseas sycophants who are unable to appreciate the shortcomings in government, bearing in mind the true potential of the Country and its hardworking people who see little benefit when the lotus eaters in Govt. share the spoils amongst themselves at great public cost, as detailed in most of my blog entries here.
Diaspora don’t be taken in by the rhetoric, as the temporary guest workers in Middle Eastern and other Countries from Italy, Cyprus, to Singapore and Korea pump this economy with US$10B a year, that props up the wasteful spending of the regime, and little accrues to those who actually earn the money.
These 2million plus workers don’t have a vote, and if they had, they would change the face of this leadership at a whisker, which makes it all the more galling that the disenfranchised actually permit the lie to take hold and all our efforts at pointing this out to the gullible voter comes to naught.
However that is another subject, so in conclusion all our sins are covered by the dedication and hard work of our most productive citizens who feel their labor is more appreciated from without than from within, we must never forget their notable contribution in winning the civil war, and propping up a regime that is saying one thing to their audience that includes you whilst doing something completely different. We, who labor after much sacrifice to speak the truth, as we have no other financial stake in this, need your support as well in this venture.