Recipe for progress
From time immemorial the common ambition of man has been to progress
in life. History reveals that in every generation evolution in social
standards, coupled with knowledge and education, have taken place. Why
do parents go through every financial risk to educate their children?
Naturally, to make their second generation better educated and
progressive individuals in life. This theme is not confined only to man
but applies to countries, business houses, political parties and
governments alike because no one likes to stay put all the time like
gigantic mountains but like to widen their horizons and grow like tress
with new branches shooting up all the time.
A country's progress is directly proportional to its strategic,
economic and development plans with positive and long-term policies.
What are the ingredients required for a country to be economically and
financially advanced? To find answers to this question one does not need
to be a professor of philosophy or an eminent economist, but common
sense will prevail. As much as a good foundation is needed to build a
solid house, grass root policies of a country should be to identify and
recognise the local talent and develop such genius into national
Simultaneously, it will be important to maintain an open-eye attitude
on foreign and international market forces too. Combination of these two
factors in this economic equation and balancing out the act will not
only create employment opportunities but will open doors for more
innovative and new ideas and local industries alike. If this concept is
focused on Sri Lanka, what do we see today? A handful of local
industries and manufacturers have reached the industrial winning post in
a very short period of time.
Can a local industry function effectively and profitably on its own?
Definitely not, and it does need the fullest cooperation, support and
assistance from the State as much as from the general public. Assistance
from the Government should focus on cutting down red tape in
administration and duty in case of compulsory import of raw materials
needed for local productions. A good transport network either by road or
rail is vitally important in distributing functions. A minimum political
interference by opposition political parties in these areas is paramount
for a nation's progress. By getting caught up in critical policy warfare
rather than thinking positively on issues the country will only make the
whole nation suffer as a consequence. Therefore, the underlying factors
towards the progress of a country rests on the blessings of the
Government, collaboration of the opposition and also the cooperation of
the consumer in recognising local products and becoming one hundred per
cent national minded in their purchases.
Advanced countries in Asia, such as Malaysia and India, are good
examples. Their national policies being to recognise the local product,
local industries and local manufacturers have successfully paved the way
to industrial expansion and helped them to build up a sound economy and
become profound foreign exchange earners simultaneously.
Sri Lanka needs to focus her economic and manufacturing strategy on
Malaysia and India and learn a lesson or two from them as to how they
give their first preference to local products and manufactures. No doubt
there will be major challenges in such a climate with giant
international institutions coming to play a major role, at times to
serve the local industries with sledge hammer blows or to steam roll
them completely with their crooked marketing strategies where sometimes
even the Will of the strongest political hero will be tested and sapped
with the root evil of the world today! Therefore, as nationalists who
are keen to develop our own affairs and economy we need to grasp the
situation and understand the subtleties of foreign invasion. The
Government and the opposition alike have a major role and a bounden duty
in this regard in backing up the local production to the extent even in
imposing law and order on classified imports, if Sri Lanka has the
qualitative local manufacture which could challenge any foreign produce.
The role played by the local manufactures in a competitive world is
equally important in this regard. They need to be reasonable, rational
and regularly responsibly in terms of quality control of their products
with a fair pricing policy to give the consumer value for money.
Short-sighted policies of making a 'quick buck with one shot' attitude
or producing cheaper quality goods for bargain basements will only help
them to 'dig their own industrial graves'! Such foolish and selfish
motives will only kill the local industry and encourage the local
consumer to alienate from local products altogether and to seek solace
on foreign imports.
If people do not support their local industries not only will they
aid a foreign exchange drain out of the country but the backlash of such
irresponsible moves may lead to the collapse of local factories, loss of
employment and ultimately towards a national catastrophe. Another
unfortunate factor that has been very successfully managed to condition
people's minds is that 'foreign goods are much superior to any local
product', a concept which is far from the truth.
Today many foreign inferior quality goods entering Sri Lanka can be
seen abundantly on high street payments.
A typical example is the so-called energy saving bulb sold at cheaper
rates which burns out immediately or within a day or two of burning! The
danger of using such inferior quality electrical goods can be highly
dangerous too, as the saying goes, one should not play with fire! Fake
electrical goods can kill and there are stipulated standards, either
British or international, as safety measures for this very purpose. The
Government authorities will become duty-bound in these areas to
introduce strict controls on import of such inferior and dangerous
If Sri Lanka is seriously thinking of attaining an advanced and
progressive state, like her neighbours, Malaysia or India, then the
Government, politicians of all hues, local manufacturers and consumers
alike need to work in unity and harmony. Local industries who produce
quality goods and create employment opportunities should be recognised,
encouraged and given the fullest support. Then local products will not
only be adequately available in the consumer markets at reasonable
prices but Sri Lanka's economy too will start to boom with international
exports. On that day a new era will dawn on Sri Lanka to be on a par in
development with either India or Malaysia.