Politicians' idle dreams and the
There is once
again a rash of work stoppages and public protests and the state
would do well not to misguide itself into believing that these
signs of unrest would just fade away. Apparently, the ongoing
'trade union' action by university teachers has been a
forerunner of sorts to a multiplicity of protests over salaries
and wages, but one would be foolish to dismiss this wave of
unrest as consisting of merely disruptive acts aimed at
embarrassing the government.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's current visits to the provinces
are most timely and he knows for a fact that all is not well and
that there is more than meets the eye. If this were not so, the
President would not have stressed that politicians should
carefully organize their 'development' work in consultation with
the authorities, rather than squander state funds on ill-planned
projects. He would not also emphasize that work, purportedly
development-oriented, should benefit the people and that this is
the standard of value of any programmes undertaken by the
representatives of the people.
These observations by the President, we hope, would prove to
be eye-openers for all concerned; very specially the so-called
representatives of the people. As we see it, the challenge
before the state is to ensure that wealth flows-down to the
people very steadily. It is not clear whether this is happening
to the desired degree and at the right pace. These all-important
sides to development must be constantly probed by the state.
Government politicians wax lyrical about our growth rate and
the connected matter of our GNP per capita, both of which are
comparatively impressive, but not a murmur do they make about
True, local economic growth is high by the standards of
developing countries, but to what degree is such growth evenly
distributed? How equitably does our population receive the
stated per capita income?
These are questions which usually go unanswered but the time
is ripe to take them on because economic grievances are growing
in some sections and not all such grouses could be said to be
politically-motivated. In other words, the current development
effort must be taken to its logical conclusion, in that the
people need to be truly empowered.
The state should continue to work out effective wealth
redistribution strategies and we hope development approaches,
such as the Divi Neguma programme, would yield the required
Allied to this process, there needs to be hard, inexhaustible
diligence and hard work on the part of the people's
representatives to take development to the people. The work
ethic, in other words, is very much in demand and the state
needs to ensure that government politicians truly put their
shoulders to the wheel of national development.
The impression we get is that these and many more issues are
yet to be discussed and debated in local society with any
seriousness and vigour.
While one could be glad that infrastructure development is
proceeding apace, we hope that more thought will be given to the
question of redistributive justice. If economic grievances among
the people are to be contained, the issue of economic justice
would need to be addressed and resolved.
Meanwhile, the people's representatives should ensure that no
wasteful dreams and schemes of theirs would be hatched at the
expense of the public.
The dream of the people of this country, as regards their
representatives, is to see the latter selflessly working towards
the common good. Rather than see some of them riding rough shod
over the people, puffed-up with the arrogance of power, they
would prefer to see these representatives working in a spirit of
humility towards the well being of the people.
The people would also prefer to see their representatives
leading simple lives, with no inclination to show off the
symbols of power, such as, palatial houses and vehicles of
monstrous proportions, along with overbearing retinue, which
roar past the public, with no care for life or limb.