World Conference of Youth, at the Hambantota ICC tomorrow
The World Conference of Youth 2014, (WCY 2014) one of the major international conferences held in Sri Lanka, will commence at the Hambantota International Convention Centre tomorrow. The technical sessions and discussions of the five day conference with the participation of Youth Affairs Minister, youth delegations and official representation from nearly 160 countries will be held from May 7 to May 10 at the BMICH. The Colombo Declaration of World Youth, a blue print of destinies of World Youth beyond 2015 is to be issued on the final day, May 10, 2014. The Dailymirror
discussed the pros and cons of the WCY 2014 with Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dulles Alahapperuma, who successfully suggested holding this global event in 2014 in Sri Lanka at the last WCY held in Mexico in 2010.
Q: Does this type of a global event have any significance to the Tamil and Muslim youth in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, who were deprived of their youth and also the majority Sinhala youth in rural areas?
In 1975 when the Non-Aligned Movement was held here, cynics shouted “Kapiri Magula” (Black feast) or the government is spending to pamper the rich Middle Eastern leaders to an exotic treat. But none raised the fact that, the so-called event opened the doorway to 1.5 million work force to be employed in the Middle East. This event will represent not just the young urban professionals, but rural unskilled and the unemployed. Their needs are also being met here at the WCY 2014. Let me put it this way. We send 1000 uneducated, unskilled, unprofessional, untrained house maids from those same rural areas to the Middle East for a monthly salary of 200 US Dollars. As a result of this event and its implementations if we can send 100 professionally trained nurses or caregivers to North America or Europe for a monthly salary of 2000 US Dollars, don’t you think that would make a positive impact on them. The whole area would succeed. We have to understand “Thisahami” not going to UN conference, but the foreign minister of the country does and like that WCY 2014 will represent their interests as well. I would like to add that we have invited young MPs of the local parliament from both ruling and opposition parties to participate in this event and also invited one youth observer from every political party in the country to attend as well.
Q: It is reported that this event will cost the government around 700 million rupees. How do you justify that? How are we going to regain any of these expenses in the future?
I have to question your conscience when you press on an investment on youth on that point of view. How do you put a price to it? Let me ask you this? This is a country where two youth uprisings took place. How much did it cost for the government to neutralize the uprising in 1971 or 1988 and 1989. And how much public property and lives were destroyed as a result? Can you put a price tag on them? How about the brutal war fought by youth for three decades depriving a whole nation of a bright future? Isn’t that priceless? This is a nation which spent 130-140 billion rupees a year on war and if an event like this can stop another youth uprising in ten years from now, wouldn’t you call it fair trade?
I assure you that I will take the responsibility to conduct this global event successfully with less than half of the suggested expenditure of Rs. 700 million. I will also let any organisation, a Sri Lanka citizen or the Opposition to go through the full accounts of the event after its conclusion.
Q: Do you view Sri Lanka becoming the first Asian nation to host this global event, even before Asian giants as Japan, China and India?
United Nations has set Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. Some nations might achieve it completely, some partially and some will fail miserably. There is no contingency plan for the aftermath of the MDG or post 2015 and that is the main reason why in the past WCY in Mexico City 2010, I, with my leader President Mahinda Rakapaksa’s permission, requested this opportunity to bestow upon us to host WCY 2014 to set forth plans for post 2015 MDG.
It may have seemed audacious when I made that request in 2010 just months after ending a brutal war on terror, but it justifies our nation’s determined effort to reconcile and rehabilitate after three decades of warfare. At a time where international focus is mainly pointed at us on the note on war crimes, I see this as another significant post war victory. After the freedom wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and liberating them, those countries still struggle for stability. But we, after just five years, are able to make such a giant leap towards the development of local youth with the aid of this WCY 2014.
Q: How do you plan to optimize this opportunity? What future plans are based on this?
The world is at crossroads. Social and environmental tensions are growing. Technology has made the global village increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent. People everywhere are seeking transformative ideas, new resources and new leadership to ensure a peaceful and sustainable future. And, through WCY we are preparing the younger generations to rise to meet this challenge. This event will be led by 20 members of the International Youth Task Force and for the first time we have given the complete decision making and policy making freedom to youth themselves. This event will mark the significant occasion which a nexus will be built between the elderly and the youth with the elderly passing youth the torch. For generations these two groups were at opposite ends and mutual mistrust.
Q: Can you guarantee that there will be no youth uprising ten years from now?
Youth is the twin of war. Wars are fought by youth and uprisings are always raised over shoulders of the youth. That is because youth can be easily manipulated and provoked. If they seem to be unfocused, misdirected, misguided, or misled it is much easier to drive them into self destruction. They have been pawns for all kinds of causes. As an individual I can guarantee so much. But as the current caretaker of youth and a vital member of this administration I can assure you what we are trying to do is the complete opposite of all of the above. In ten years if we can put a computer mouse instead of a grenade in youth’s hand and pen drive instead of a cyanide capsule, I believe we have succeeded and there will be no room for uprisings or wars. We can’t undo the past. But we have the control of the future.
Q: UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon has not been a popular figure among Sri Lankans in the recent past. But he has publicly praised and endorsed this event.
Since the formation of United Nations there has not been another secretary general who was focused more on youth issues than Ban Ki moon. The WCY 2014 is not a UN mandated event but a UN supported event and Dr. John Ashe the President of the United Nations General Assembly will participate in WCY 2014 with UN special envoy on youth Ahmad Alhendawi. This event is a very positive sign for the international community to identify our honest efforts on reconciliation and rehabilitation. I personally believe this is the best and most effective way to win your foes. That is by impressing them at global level. It is a better answer to their allegations than ground level protests. This type of positive strategic by product is very valuable when you are fighting the international community. Those same principles can be found in Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people”, Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and even our very own Kumaratunga Munidasa’s “Heen Saraya”.
Q: What would you believe to be the success of this event?
For the first time in our nation’s history, we launched the national youth policy recently. In 122-year-old history of our country’s skills development education, now we are able to offer them degrees. No matter where you live what your craft is, local youth can get a professional qualification for their skill through the combination of high school and work shop, university colleges and several vocational training institutes. First the time we have an elected youth parliament which is allowed a completed discretion to make policy for their development.
As the first ever minister to have been a former youth club member I take pride in contributing to the success of everything we do in the name of youth. In a global scale, 1.7 billion of the world’s population falls into the youth category. And in the next ten years if they can have equal opportunity to follow their dreams despite their birth, place, origin, if the road map of the world atlas changes where every youth with desire, passion and courage can enter that road without restrictions to run for the success and if this WCY 2014 will be the starting point for that road to success, I believe this event will fulfill its purpose to the maximum and its ultimate success will be only Nirvana I personally seek.