- By Lahiru Thilakarathne ,Law Student
There are a number of reasons why the educated and talented youth of this country desire to leave Sri Lanka. I do not wish to pass judgment on those who want to migrate but to explore reasons why they want to do so at various levels; state, society, family and personal.
Prior to exploring these reasons I must mention the distinction between the concepts of nation-state and state. A nation-state, as the compound noun implies, is composed of two essential components; state and nation. A state is generally defined as a group of humans possessing territory and a government; it represents the physical and political aspect of a country. The nation represents the human aspect of a country or more importantly the concept of nationality; it suggests that the people living within the state shares a distinctiveness as a people which could be based on language, religion, ethnicity or on a more general and amorphous sense that “we are one people’’. Thus it is clear that a nation-state is country that has a territory, a government and a citizenry that shares a sense of nationality. A state is only an entity that has a territory and a government but not a citizenry that shares a sense of nationality. This distinction is relevant to this article since it is proposed herein that the ever increasing lack of a sense of nationality is the main reason causing youths to choose other countries as their home.
The reasons at state level can be divided into political, bureaucratic, economic and even non-recognition of capable youths. It is common to observe that youths around the world, have lost faith in the incumbent political systems and generally perceive them as corrupt, impure and carrying out functions improper; not in the interest of the public. These concerns are expressed in the form of protests from Tahir Square to student protests in Chile and covers wide range of subjects from climate change, regime change to education. Although there are bona-fide actors and bona-fide attempts by the current political system of Sri Lanka, the history of stigma and disappointments in our country’s political track record has made it difficult if not impossible to strike the nerves of trust and hope in the young generation. Thus, the relevance of politics in the formation of a sense of nationality has become almost meaningless for the young generation. However, it must be stressed that youths in other countries do not just employ the policy of ‘criticize and abandon’ but they take a stand and have the long term vision, patience and a sense of loyalty to bring about the change they desire.
In respect of reasons affecting youths to leave are strongest at the level of family and no other unit, except oneself can exert more influence on a youth than one’s family. The basic values upon which we model our lives, nevertheless build loyalty to one’s country, are mainly instilled in us by our families. I have traveled to developed countries in the world and every time I saw a better life there than what I have in Sri Lanka, but the values I received from my father reminds me the duty I owe to my nation; after all it is my home, where I was born.
Personal reasons that can influence a person to leave are various and shaped by the factors mentioned above but in general a person would want to leave because he/she sees more opportunity, luxuries in developed countries and also for disappointments experienced here. Hard work of nationals of developed countries made them so and keep them so, thus it is obvious that hard work is needed any where to succeed. In Sri Lanka sometimes hard work might go unrecognized but I believe that as the youth we have a responsibility to work hard even so, as our country needs it the most at this critical turning point of her history.
The loyalty should also not be seen as blind faith that requires one to put one’s country above and beyond the basic values of humanity, which transcends borders, but it is a plea to the talented youth to be with their country at a time she most needs them. The reasons noted above indeed restrain a youth’s ability to progress and reach success but each of them are better viewed as challenges that we have to overcome as a nation-state as we can never do it as a mere state, then we can be proud of achieving not just personal success but success together.