Everything is ready to celebrate the national Independence Day ceremoniously. It was because of our forefathers who shed their blood for the sake of motherland that the nation was free of British imperialists who exploited the spirit of people. The nation, since independence, has faced lots of challenges, some of which dragged the country back. However, for a nation, its independence day means not just celebrating the glory but also looking back to re-correct errors and assure that they will not come about again.
This is to discuss the independence with an economic perspective. We, as a nation, have to celebrate the Independence Day in a situation where other neighbouring countries, especially India, that struggled and won the independence in parallel with us, have just passed us in this competition to development. Poor countries, although politically independent, are still exploited by the rich countries, former imperialists, as they are not economically independent.
Economic independence means the real political independence. Political independence is only a facade, if the nation is not economically independent. Economic independence is the control of the wealth of a nation by a majority of its citizens, creating local ownership of resources and the means of production for the utilization of natural wealth. If the resources within a political boundary are owned and exploited by foreigners or a few elite, that country is no longer capable of keeping its political independence.
Freedom from fear
Sri Lanka suffered from a 30-year long war and all its citizens wanted was freedom from fear. People shed their blood and sacrificed lives, due to the barbaric terrorist activities on the rise those days. Human resources, the most valuable asset for development, were inhumanely destroyed. Investors looked away, as they did not want to invest in a cemetery.
However, fortunately, it is a story of the past. Sri Lankans have won the peace, setting an example for the whole world. That is why Sri Lanka ranked 114th on the Global Peace Index conducted by Australian-based Institute for Economics and Peace, which measured national peacefulness in 162 countries.
Freedom from fear is visible, as the right to life is assured in the country. Now, people are able to live without any fear or doubt. This kind of freedom is to a great extent is connected with
It is important to note that sources whereby people lose their freedom from fear can be a war or conflict which claims for lives, destroying the peace. Even if there are various and numerous reasons for a war to be waged, economic reasons are leading forces among others. Hence, freedom from fear must not be kept stagnant; it has to continue, until needs are met.
Freedom from want
The country is at a stage where people want freedom from want, in other words, to get rid of poverty. If people do not have an access to basic needs, they do not have freedom to enjoy their lives. Poverty can be considered the most powerful human rights violator. Bad economic policies will inevitably result in a situation where people are prevented from achieving freedom from want.
Researchers have proved that when people become unemployed and unable to meet their ends, they are forced to be engaged in illegal activities, leading to rebels and conflicts like those that the country experienced in the past. Hence, it is needless to say that economic prosperity ensures peace. However, a significant programme for alleviating poverty has not been implemented yet.
The Sri Lankan economy grew by 5.2 percent during the first nine months of 2015 compared to 2.4 percent recorded in the corresponding period of 2014. Nevertheless, there are many more things to be done to achieve the expected growth rate of 6 percent in 2016.
Not only essential food items but also education, healthcare and upgraded infrastructure facilities should be equally available for all citizens. Sri Lanka was ranked 73rd in the Human Development Index in 2014. All the areas of the economy should be developed, ensuring equality to be ahead in the index. However, regardless of what various indices say, people should feel that the country is being developed, creating equal opportunities.
A country can be considered independent, only if that country has achieved economic independence.
(Amila Muthukutti holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Colombo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)