UNLOCKED Blog 7: What does it take?

02 Apr 2015

It’s quite a simple recipe if you ask me. But even the simplest of recipes require attention and effort; simple never meant easy. Looking at the current atmosphere and the mentality of people in Sri Lanka, it wouldn’t take Einstein to figure out that we, as a single population, need to strongly start believing in a nation that is united at all levels.

Yes, I agree that the government can do more, the United Nations can do more, the international community can do more and so can the lengthy list of institutions that we’re very comfortable in playing the blame-game with. Let’s leave that aside for a moment;

It’s interesting that we Sri Lankans are hospitable and helpful by nature to foreigners. At least our parents were. Unfortunately, those qualities don’t appear to be the same towards our own. The Sri Lanka National Human Development Report 2014 on Youth and Development: Towards a More Inclusive Future (NHDR) highlights a few key elements of the national policy framework for social integration.

The emphasis on “fostering an integrated and informed society founded on the pillars of ethics, education and empowerment” is a well-suited 3-step process for wholesome national progress.

If Sri Lanka was an ethical society, religions would be respected, the environment would be looked after and people wouldn’t think twice before helping someone in need, regardless of whether the cause of begging is in fact a “business”.

We’re 6 years into recovering from 30 year old civil war ignited by ethno-communal issues. With the latest change in the political context, we have a Bribery Commission working 24 hours, 7 days a week. We have a down-to-earth President, who has shown interest in serious national reconciliation by allowing the national anthem to be sung in Tamil, which has been practiced since the 1978 constitution, and here are some examples from other parts of the world where the national anthem is sung in multiple languages. 

•    New Zealand, which is ranked 7th in the Human Development Index (HDI), sings its national anthem is both English and Maori.

•   Fiji, which is ranked 88th in HDI ranks, has lyrics of their national anthem in both English and Fijian, which are not translations of each other.

•  Canada, ranked 8th on the HDI, has her national anthem in both English and French.

If you thought that was cool, South Africa has 11 National Languages and its national anthem is so unique, it includes 5 languages out of the 11.

And for the grand finale, we have Switzerland, formally known as the Swiss Confederation, ranked 3rd on the Human Development index, which also has individually written lyrics for each of its National Languages (French, German, Italian and Romansh) in her national anthem.

Why the HDI? Because it’s a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices used to rank countries into 4 tiers of human development, and the above mentioned countries fall in the top 2 tiers of ranking (Sri Lanka is ranked 73, in the high development category), which basically means that these countries are doing pretty well in terms of their standard of life and economic capacity and stability.

This brings us to the pillar of Education. If Sri Lanka was an educated society, the logical reasoning behind respect and cooperation would be understood, and she would be better aware of the best global practices and its influences on development. Sri Lanka would be able to make informed decisions on electing able political representatives and powerfully contribute to national development on a cellular level of input.

Empowerment? That’s the easiest. People don’t realize that empowering someone else is all about spreading good vibes. Inspiring people with your own success story, giving them hope and encouragement that Sri Lanka is moving towards an era of inclusive development, where no one is left behind, because to be a Sri Lankan, is to be a part of a family of 20 Million exceptional people, who share the same love that you have for your country.

“What does it take?” We asked two very different young Sri Lankans and this is what they had to say.

Nipuna Ambanpola, founder and CEO of ‘I Volunteer Sri Lanka’, and also former Head Boy of Royal College, believes that Communication is needed for a better Sri Lanka. He said, “I think people need to be more human towards the country. If you see a piece of paper lying on the floor, all you got to do is pick it up. I mean, if everyone has that attitude, Sri Lanka would see progress in days. Also, working with brains is important, but a good mix of heart and brains can carry any country to be prosperous.”

Amrit Edirisooriya, House prefect at S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia, Council member of Interact District 3220, Sri Lanka and The Maldives and a diehard vegetarian, said “Everyone should be like Forest Gump; people need to be genuine. Genuine people would mean less corruption and more room for efficiency and responsibility - simply a Sri Lanka with people working for less personal gain and more national betterment.”

I think we need to be ourselves, to be more Sri Lankan.

Sri Lanka is love, Sri Lanka is caring, Sri Lanka is tolerating, Sri Lanka is united, Sri Lanka is a country that believes in one people and one nation no matter what it takes.

Sri Lanka means respect and equal opportunity for everyone regardless of their cast, creed, culture or gender. Sri Lanka means good vibes!

But most importantly Sri Lanka is you.

What do you think it takes for Sri Lanka to grow? Tell us in your comments below, but remember who Sri Lanka is. So what does it take?

Join the conversation here:  http://goo.gl/KX7Qfj

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Sri Lanka 
Go to UNDP Global