GR Presidency: Paradigm shift in national progress | Daily News


GR Presidency: Paradigm shift in national progress

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swearing-in before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya at the Ruwanwelisaya temple in Anuradhapura on November 18, 2019. Picture by Wasitha Patabendige
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swearing-in before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya at the Ruwanwelisaya temple in Anuradhapura on November 18, 2019. Picture by Wasitha Patabendige

All Sri Lankans were waiting for a drastic change and to achieve that goal, the new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) was appointed with a huge majority on November 17, 2019. Since the coming to power of the new president, there are many changes happening in all areas like political, administrative and economic systems.

In Management, we have two types of changes: incremental and drastic change and what is happening in Sri Lanka today is a drastic change. When we do a drastic change, people who used to think as the traditional and prevailing on-going frameworks, models and thinking do not understand and are not willing to accept those changes at once. As a result, they may get frustrated and might react negatively and criticize openly and closely. Since they were used to an old system and thinking they are not willing to accept the changes happening now in the country in a positive and proactive manner.

To overcome this negative effect successfully, there is “prerequisite” condition to be applied. It is called “shifting paradigms”. In other words, if you need to do an incremental change, attitudes and values change might be enough. But if you do a drastic change, your pre-requisite is to “shift the paradigm and mindsets” of the target audience, together with attitudes and values, to make a successful drastic change. If any leader try to do a drastic change without understanding the value, gravity and importance of the “shifting the mindset and paradigm” he or she may face many resistance, obstacles and delays and as a result it may have ended as a failure.

Albert Einstein has said that “No problem can be solved by the same kind of thinking that created it”. In other words, if you want to resolve the present chronic problems and issues in the country, it has to be resolved with new thinking only. Same thinking will give the same old results. “Change your thinking, change your mindset and paradigm”. On the other way “drastic change is not possible, without shifting mindsets or paradigms effectively” is a fact. Now we see many changes are happening at the top since the new top management of the country follows “new mindsets and paradigms” but the others in the old-system will not accept those changes at once but the general public, since those are the changes expected by them for a longer period of time.

Public admin. system

In short “paradigm/mindset shift” has been defined as “a time when the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something change completely.'’ For example, people thought earlier “World is Flat” and later found that “World is round and moving around the sun”. It's called “paradigm shift”. The new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is also doing exactly the same thing and he is showing that country has to be managed “in a totally new and different way”. The general public is very happy but few other segments who believe the old system at the top-middle and bottom levels, may get frustrated and respond negatively. Especially, the traditional politicians, alliance and supporters, administrative members of the prevailing public admin. system might get frustrated. For example, not using VIP facilities at the airport and if any one uses it, should pay $1,000, small Cabinet of 15 ministers, no photos on the ministry walls, no family members to their personal staff, no appointments as chairman and DGs to the people who supported the presidential campaign, if they contesting in the next election, appointing top board members and chairman from professionals who are honest and pragmatic; are the good changes for the country and society but not to the people who used to the older way and expecting the same. As a result we can see few frustration and negative reactions from the old minded people. To avoid or minimize this frustration the best remedy is to change their mindset and paradigm then they will understand the logic behind the new changes and accept those.

The main objective of this article is to explain that process in brief to support the change leaders. Therefore, the main paradigm shifts which are needed at this critical juncture are as follows:

In Japan, when they take decisions as politicians, administrators, business, and the general public they give priority as “K-K-K-B” order. Means:

Kuni - Country - first priority

Kaisha - Organisation / Party next

Kasoku - Family - 3rd

Boku - self - last

But in Sri Lanka, we used to give the highest priority to Self (Boku) first and family 2nd, etc. on the reverse order.

This new president’s, ‘country first and self last’ paradigm should be accepted by all segments of the society and then everyone can easily accept and be positive towards most of the changes introduced by him proactively. Most of the changes the new president has done based on this paradigm.

New projects

On the other-hand when we do a drastic change we should expect a roller-coaster effect when we implement those changes. Roller-coaster first drops drastically on a “U”shape curve and after reaching the “bottom” it will climb the “hill” smoothly. Every change should pass this all three segments of change (drop, bottom, hill) and if we implement the change knowingly these three stages well, we will not get afraid and stop the changes at an early stage as few ex-presidents did except President Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR). For example, Norochole power project and upper-Kothmale housing projects were started during the President Chandrika’s time but when the projects were initiated various parties responded negatively and she stopped the projects but President Mahinda Rajapaksa managed to implement those successfully. At the “tail end of the war” same thing happened but President MR did not stop the war.

In Sri Lanka today, the new changes are just started and while the general public and the parties who follow the country first paradigm support all the new changes while people who follow the “old paradigm” (self-first) might get offended, frustrated and react negatively. But after passing the “bottom” they also may join the mass after understanding and accepting the value of this new thinking and mindset.

All these changes done by GR can be summarised under two main subjects as “Gota-nomics” and/or “Gota-ism”. Since it is totally new to us, I will try to explain the major concepts and principles which I gathered from the practice of Gotabaya Rajapaksa before and after the election.

(The writer is a former Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education. Email: [email protected] )

(To be continued tomorrow)

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