By Tharanga Thilakasiri
Having completed three years after eradicating terrorism, this is an ideal time for all of us to look back and analyse our recent achievements in many aspects such as social, economic, etc. Thus, citizens of a country who suffered almost three decades terrorism brutality need to rethink about the way they live their lives. Hence, people have to have a change in their attitude in order to move forward towards sustainable development.
Why we need change?
Nowadays, most of us speak and write about world economic downfall, climate change, global warming issues, sustainability, business ethics, CSR, etc., yet, how many of us indeed concerned aboutour “attitude”. First of all, are we really aware the meaning of “attitude”? According to the definition given in the Oxford Dictionary attitude means, “A fixed way of thinking”.
There is a question that we should ask from ourselves, i.e., whether have we, Sri Lankans, adopted a right attitude towards sustainable development of this country ever since we obtained independence? Or even after the defeat of terrorism in 2009? I believe that we as a single nation could not follow a right and positive attitude until today. We are still arguing with each other and criticizing what is to be done. But at the same time our neighbouring counties have progressed towards unprecedented heights in development.
“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. -Herm Albright, quoted in Reader’s Digest, June 1995”
If we have adopted a right attitude since independence, we will not be labelled as a developing county today. We were not able to reach that height purely due to the poor attitude along with poor policies towards development. Hence, we as Sri Lanka too need to adopt a positive attitude sooner rather than later to achieve county’s social and economic goals and make this country a developed one.
After defeating terrorism, we have set an ideal stage to re-think of our past failures on attitude. Even, today, I feel that we are not too late. Thus, I believe that this is an ideal period for us to think again and again of our own attitude and policies and to change them accordingly in order to make sure we become a strong nation in the world map so that no one can really interfere in our matters both internally and internationally. I firmly believe that we have ample resources to make this country a developed one and thus we require an attitudinal change immediately.
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. - Lord Buddha –“
Yet, Sri Lanka has to learn lessons from other countries especially from our neighboring countries on how they have become what they are today; for an instance, Singapore can be taken as an ideal example and also our immediate neighbor, India. These counties have reached such heights due to the change in their attitude on national issues. Political and social leaders like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Mahatma Gandhi of India led the change in attitude of the people of these countries quite successfully and as a result, today these countries stand on their own feet quite strongly.
So, if these countries can reach to that height, why cannot Sri Lanka? Can we achieve the same level of development? Certainly we too can. No doubt that positive attitude with correct policies will take us to that goal easily.
Where to begin?
Since independence, Sri Lanka has achieved so many goals in the education sector and thus, regarded as a country with high literacy rate. Yet, can we really be happy about the progress made on our higher education system over the years? Therefore, I believe that we should really focus more on developing right policies in this particular sector, and it is quite crucial if we are to reach set development goals. Thus, correct and positive attitude towards education will make other things easy for us in the development effort.
As mentioned earlier, though we have been recognized as a highly literate county in the world, our present attitude towards education will not help us to make our development goals a reality, as it does cater neither to today’s requirements nor future requirements.
We should pay more attention to teach subjects in English medium as there is no other option for our children to compete with the rest of the world. In fact we Sri Lankans are too late, when compared with our immediate neighbors. For an instance, today India dominates the world in many areas, thanks to their positive attitude towards the education system after independence in 1947. They kept English as a medium for both primary and higher education levels, and now they are reaping good results.
But unfortunately, we are still wasting our precious time arguing on issues such as whether we should set up private universities here in Sri Lanka or not. By the time our neighboring countries like India, Bangladesh have gone pass us and managed to attract foreign students into to their higher education systems. Nevertheless, let us forget what has happened in the past and let’s change our education policies to suit 21st century market requirements.
Other sectors too need change
Similarly, I believe that Sri Lanka needs a substantial change in the industrial sector as well. Since, we have an educated labour force that can be changed or adapted to suit today’s needs quickly than our regional counterparts we can still go for the change.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”, and that define what is attitude all about. -Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of Great Britain-
I also believe that our service sector too requires a drastic change with regard to the changing government and private sector employee attitude. Especially the government sector should take necessary initiatives to transform the lethargic attitude of the most government employees who are not ready to accept any change. Correct motivational remedial actions will certainly help to eliminate this type of attitudes amongst the employees. However, private sector has shown noticeable change in attitudes when compared to the government sector.
Let me conclude this brief article with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, since I feel his words are quite relevant even today and those words say everything about attitude. “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” - Sir Winston Churchill (1874 -1965) - (Tharanga Thilakasiri, M.B.A (International), MIM (SL), MIMA, MCPM can be reached via email@example.com)