Opinion : Economists advocate leader of ‘altruistic’ quality | Sunday Observer

Opinion : Economists advocate leader of ‘altruistic’ quality

Altruism should be the prime quality of any State leader if he or she plans to transform the country into an economically developed nation, a cross section of economists and think-tank representatives said.

Their views came at the time when the country is gearing for an election cycle commencing from either the presidential or provincial council elections to be held towards the end of the year.

Senior Lecturer, University of Sri Jayawardenepura, Dr. Anil Jayantha said altruistic leaders are willing to sacrifice; such persons could provide leadership not only to bring the country out of economic impasse but also to achieve social development for the benefit of all the citizens.

A good leader abides by social principles of serving the ‘public Interest’. The welfare of others will come first before self-interest.

It is extremely hard to find people of this caliber in a society driven by self-serving neoliberalism, unless he or she is disciplined by philosophical ideologies, public spiritedness, self sacrifice, generosity, benevolence, determination, respect for moral obligations and principles of social ethics. Such leaders will work for the country without expecting anything in return, Dr. Jayantha said.

The question is whether the public is concerned about those qualities when electing a leader. To a greater extent, the answer is ‘NO’. Instead, many camp around idols decorated with popularity, stolen wealth, artificially created social status and propaganda boost. It is great, if people could rally round competencies, qualities and policies rather than infused individuals.

Dr. Jayantha said, if people do not act wisely, unsuitable people will be crowned once again. “A simple exercise that everyone can do is to have a checklist of qualities and qualifications of candidates and compare them objectively without being carried away by bogus promises and unattainable goals set by those who have taken this country on a ride for over 70 years.

“Voters must act using their brains and not emotions. Before casting one’s preference, voters should ask themselves many questions –such as - do the candidate follow any philosophical and political ideologies and are those ideologies intended to serve the public interest, has any policy document been presented to develop the country, is the candidate ready to look for an alternative development path instead of following wrong policies used by all the previous regimes, are there any charges of fraud or corruption against the candidate, is there any pending litigations against the candidate, do any people or organisations accused of fraud or corruption support the candidate, has the candidate in the past fought against fraud and corruption, does the candidate possess adequate formal education, what sacrifices has the candidate made for the betterment of society, is the candidate ready to work with people rather than ordering people to work?

“Answers to these questions will certainly help any voter who has an iota of intelligence to select the right candidate for the country. Ruling a county is not the duty or responsibility of one or two persons but it is the collective responsibility of all citizens,” Dr. Jayantha said.

Economists and think tank representatives say all those with criminal and fraud track records must be out rightly rejected by paving the way for honest patriotic leaders to rule the country.

“There should be a ‘None of the Above’ cage in the ballot card for voters who feel none of the candidates are suitable to be elected as practiced in certain countries,” a think tank representative said.