'Mahinda Chintana' and the Middle Path
THE THIRD WAY - a concept which is no
stranger to the local Buddhistic ethos and which found entry to the
Lankan political lexicon through mainly the Social Democratic principles
of the founding father of the SLFP, SWRD Bandaranaike, is the
cornerstone of 'Mahinda Chintana'. This is the socio-political vision of
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, which forms the substance of his
election manifesto, which was released yesterday.
'Mahinda Chintana' is a plan for national rejuvenation which finds
its inspirational source in the New Social Democratic movement sweeping
parts of the West. As a glance at the manifesto reveals, the aim of
Presidential hopeful Mahinda Rajapakse is to restore to every Lankan his
dignity and inner strength which have suffered severe erosion over the
years on the release of the cataclysmic winds of the open economy.
The open economic policy of the Rightist UNP administrations of the
Seventies and Eighties was in radical revolt against the Statist,
largely closed economy of the early Seventies, which resulted in a rigid
regimentation of Lanka's economy. The latter has been popularly
conceived as a "queues, shortages and rations" era which had a
stultifying impact on economic enterprise.
The open economy which followed, went to almost the other extreme and
allowed the market mechanism to mould nearly every aspect of local life.
The result was the rapid commercialisation and commodification of almost
everything, including things mental and spiritual.
'Mahinda Chintana' is an effort to steer a Third Way between these
extremes. While overwhelming State intervention cannot be permitted to
kill individual enterprise and initiative, we cannot swing to the other
extreme and allow the market to play too predominant a role in the
economic life of the people.
For, the poor would be ground further into the mire of deprivation if
they were left at the mercy of market forces. Therefore, we need to
steer a Middle Path between these extremes and this is the road opened
to us by 'Mahinda Chintana', which models itself on the Social
The Lankan citizen should be saved from the ravages of economic
globalisation and the market but he cannot be reduced to an inwardly
paralysed, passive recipient of State aid. We must make selective and
judicious use of the economic opportunities brought our way by economic
liberalization but cannot shy away from the responsibility of empowering
every man, woman and child to reach economic prosperity and social
Thus Premier Rajapakse's emphasis on education needs to be greatly
commended. 'Nena Bala Neguma' aims at providing educational
opportunities for all, combined with computer literacy.
Needless to say, over the years market forces even penetrated the
once - State protected bastion of education resulting in many children
dropping out of school. 'Nena Bala Neguma' would aim at restoring a free
education to every child.
Likewise, the 'Janasetha', 'Janasevana' and 'Navoda Villages'
projects aim at providing essential resources for the economic
empowerment of the rural poor. While the 'Nanasetha' aims at providing
employment to at least one member of ever poor family, 'Janasevana'
hopes to provide a house and plot of land to every poor citizen.
A national pension scheme aimed at providing financial sustenance for
elders, is equally timely and welcome. This will ensure the financial
sustenance of our increasing greying population.
Even on the subject of devolution of power, 'Mahinda Chintana' is
most clear. While every community is promised equality and dignity,
power devolution would be aimed at without compromising the country's