In the name of sovereignty, democracy and human well-being | Sunday Observer

In the name of sovereignty, democracy and human well-being

When the ‘Yahapalanaya’ coalition took over, the country had a surfeit of paddy even having to store it at the Mattala International Airport.
When the ‘Yahapalanaya’ coalition took over, the country had a surfeit of paddy even having to store it at the Mattala International Airport.

Sovereignty is an abstract concept while democracy or democratic rule is contingent upon the opinion of the majority, and for the benefit of all.

The notion of state sovereignty contains four aspects: territory, population, authority and recognition. Human well being basically constitutes the people’s ability to meet their basic needs, such as food, housing and healthcare.

Here in Sri Lanka, sovereignty seemed to be under threat during the Yahapalanaya government as some communities tried to create ethnic enclaves, thereby undermining social cohesion. Foreign funded Non-Governmental Organisations became so prominent as to dominate governance while undermining governance itself.

The incident surrounding the cremation of a Buddhist monk in the Mullaitivu District amply demonstrated the extent of ethnic polarity in the country. The Yahapalanaya dispensation’s much hyped reconciliation mantra seems to have instead promoted mistrust among communities, letting religion-induced terrorism spring up on the one hand while disrupting public life in such ways as not allowing members of one community to settle in an area to which another community has laid claims based on ethnic purity, (thereby preventing even the cremation of a Buddhist monk).

The economy was in tatters with economic indicators having tumbled to a record low. The economic growth rate has come down to rock bottom registering a mere 1.6 % growth rate, the previously buoyant share market ( which was in the recent past the second -best performing Stock Market in the world) became subdued and companies were forced to practice layoffs and downsizing to ensure survival.

Trade slowed, as people’s spending power got thinner with little productive economic activity in the country. The agriculture sector was lagging, putting farmers into great distress (some even committed suicide), and food prices skyrocketed. When the Yahapalanaya coalition took over government, the country had a surfeit of paddy to the extent that it had to be stored even at such a vital national asset as the Mattala International Airport. With four and a half years neglect of the agriculture sector, the price of a kilo of rice had gone beyond Rs. 100.

Unemployment has become widespread and even those who are employed get a mere pittance as remuneration. Education has become hollow creating walking dummies sans thinking skills, validating Nobel Prize winning British Biologist Peter Medawar’s statement, “Higher education has created a large body of people of cultivated tastes educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.”

National security evaporated, undermined by suicide bombers raiding religious places and the spectre of terrorism re-emerging. The security establishment was weakened and became a scapegoat for revenge.

People’s day-to-day activities were hindered by unending waves of strikes in essential sectors, and the absence of governance.

Democracy mouthing bleeding hearts decimated the country in every aspect. ‘Democracy’ diluted governance, and ‘transparency’ offered a field day for vociferous charlatans, a cabal of cronies of government bigwigs to plunder government coffers. The Constitution was emasculated through the 19th Amendment giving rise to hydra-headed power centres- the President, Prime Minister and the Speaker combining, creating anarchy in the country.

The true spirit of democracy flagged in an anti-democratic milieu with elections, (which are a major denominator of democratic norms), being inordinately postponed and media institutions threatened with consequences for not toeing the Yahapalanaya’s line. Justice was warped to enact revenge on political opponents, discredit national leaders, and rein in potential future leaders.

In this grim backdrop, the country was aching for a leader, not a puppet mouthing ‘democracy’. A leader who can act and usher in modernity so that sovereignty can be preserved and true democracy can be enjoyed by people in a prosperous country.

Now that a visionary leader is at the helm to lead the nation, progressive forces must be on alert to stem reactionary elements that wish viciously to sabotage the plans, so that the leader can implement the programs outlined during his campaign.