Sri Lanka’s businesses need to play an active role in eradicating extremism, particularly among younger employees by approaching them in a personal and relatable manner in order to curb extremism, which is now threatening to influence consumer decisions.
Spa Ceylon Director and Co-Founder Shalin Balasuriya told a recent forum that businesses along with schools and higher education institutes are positioned uniquely to positively influence their younger employees or students curbing racism.
“48 percent of Sri Lanka is under age of 30; they are in schools, universities and in entry level jobs. These are the people who are most impressionable; these are the people who we need to start communicating to, if we want to nip these racial problems in the bud. “Have we been doing enough? This is a great call for actions from all of us to ensure we are doing enough for these young people,” he elaborated.
Hemas Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd Managing Director Kasturi Wilson noted that extremists and certain benefiting parties are pushing their agendas by calling the public to boycott certain products on a racial basis.
“Even teachers are telling small children not to buy certain stationary brands,” she said. Balasuriya opined that the public should be convinced on the adverse impacts of such decisions driven by racism on personal and economic grounds, which are more related to them. “If you can’t convince them on moral grounds, then you need to convince on them that what it would mean to them at the end of the day. We need to talk to people in the language that they understand. Sometimes, that is all it takes,” he said. Meanwhile, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka President, Sanath Ukwatte urged business leaders to take a clear stance on extremism irrespective of which community they belong to.
He pointed out that although business chambers and associations have condemned the Easter Sunday attacks and extremism, the businesses individually are yet to condemn the recent events, which have devastated the country and its economy. “So far, I have not seen a single business, either Sinhala or Tamil, coming forward and condemning this extremism and this kind of radicalisation,” he said.
Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy opined that the country would see a rise in communalism in time to time until a common Sri Lankan identity is created.
He noted that it is now up to the younger generation to curb this menace as the immediate post-independence generation failed in creating such an identity. (NF)
Pix by Nimalsiri Edirisinghe