Positive attitude in society: Mandatory for progress | Sunday Observer

Positive attitude in society: Mandatory for progress

5 January, 2020

Positive and constructive change in society’s attitude is mandatory for sustainable prosperity and progress in every sphere of a society and in life. Sri Lanka, at this juncture desperately calls for a substantial attitude adjustment in the general public. The citizenry as a whole must be guided to think and act positively towards the common goal, the overall prosperity of the country.

As is usual, the country stepped into 2020 with many pledges, promises, wishes and vows. However, the bitter truth is that these individual commitments are realistically not sufficient to create atrue impact. Nation building in all forms requires good work and social ethics upon which sustainable growth is based. Therefore, every member of society should make a vow to offer their honest, committed, responsible and optimistic service to the country in the economic, social, environmental and cultural spheres.

As the supreme leader, the new President has already provided many valuable lessons on positive attitude by making decisions the common man yearned for a long time. In his private citizen capacity, the President has shown his team how simple and cost effective an individual can be, while in the official capacity he has guided his state workers to be attentive to public need. In both fronts the leadership was clearly evident and the message delivered that all the decisions are to be followed compulsorily.

In an extremely positive demonstration of attitudes, the Sri Lankan youth has taken the initiative, absolutely voluntarily, to beautify the country through a wall painting campaign and to cultivate abandoned lands. The willful involvement of youth, the most valuable human resource of the country, is a clear sign of future prosperity.

There were many media reports over the years that plant, machinery, equipment and other items, many of them seeming usable, in many state owned institutions are creating an enormous loss to the state coffers. This clearly is the ghastly attitude of politicians and the lackluster and sluggish viewpoint of Government officials towards public property, largely bought by utilizing tax payers’ money. Obviously, such management attitudes are unheard of in the country’s private sector.

At this juncture, the most important attitude change required is in the public sector employees. A top official revealed recently in a television program that the Government is spending close to a staggering nine billion rupees for the training of state sector workers. This is being done without proper periodical analysis of the training needs, particularly, people’s skills need, and also without any monitoring of the post training outcome. In contrast, many private sector organizations, large, medium or small, carry out more structured and well analyzed training programs not only to teach the subject matter but also for personal development. The common viewpoint of the common man, including Government servants themselves, is that the state machinery not only runs at a snail’s pace but with an extremely negative attitude towards public need. It is no secret in the public domain that the vast majority of the Sri Lankan public service is comprehensively inefficient and unproductive. Also, it is common knowledge that many of these public servants tend to be involved in corrupt practices. The integrity of the state sector worker is always questionable to the common citizen. When a member of the public visits a Government office to get an errand done, almost all of them are prejudiced that these are corrupt places. Therefore, they resort to get things done by devious means. The new President’s recent commendable approach towards Government service has made the entire country to eagerly look forward to a swift and substantial change in the Government worker attitude towards public needs. He has issued unmistakably stern instructions to the public service and has meant it to be carried out.

Having discussed the crucial state sector attitude crisis, it is imperative to concentrate on the general public’s attitudes and behaviours on the aspect of social responsibility. The abuse of polythene in numerous ways, irrespective of media efforts to create awareness, is a classic example on the attitude of many Sri Lankans. Despite warnings, people tend to dump polythene products haphazardly and mindlessly without any concern about its treacherous consequences. This would be revealed if a common recreational location is scrutinized after a holiday season where litter is chaotically and recklessly dumped everywhere. Scores of such mindless, disorderly and unruly behaviour is seen among many Sri Lankans.

Party politics of consecutive post independence governments played a pivotal role highlighting the absence of positive attitudes and lack of discipline in the common citizen. On positive attitudes, there are two schools of thoughts about setting examples, ‘top down and bottom up.’ After many years, the country is currently witnessing the example of the top. The first citizen keeps on setting examples since the day he came to power, with a variety of day to day activities such as, curtailing ceremonial expenditure, curbing his security detail, limitations on overseas delegations, avoiding tamashas, and so on. These positive acts by the top administrator in the country is an inspiration for the whole society. It is a definite and visible attitude shift in the entire history of the post independent political arena.

As for the second sentiment of ‘bottom up’ on changing attitudes, an alteration and a modification in the education system is an absolute necessity. Sri Lankan education system is totally based on examinations. This system not only exerts undue pressure on children but also makes them needlessly competitive at a very young age. It is reported that Finland, the country ranking number one in the World Happiness Index, begins student examination process at Grade eight, which provides the student adequate time to learn without unwarranted stress.

The attitudes of the Sri Lankans were amply demonstrated in the good old days when society was peaceful, and much more disciplined due to the absence of the prevailing fierce competition.

If a mechanism can be developed to reduce the examination burden, more time could be allocated to develop positive attitudes, moral values and to face the future with a cheerful outlook. Therefore, in essence, the most effective as well as the most effective period to inculcate positive qualities, social responsibility and moral sense is during the early stage of education. Hence, it is the obligation of the relevant authorities to gather required expertise and devise a structure for the future progress of the nation.